The poblacion of Banton, Romblon
Map of Romblon with Banton highlighted
|Region||MIMAROPA (Region IV-B)|
|• Mayor||Jory Faderanga (NP)|
|• Vice Mayor||Rolo Fainsan (Ind.)|
|• Councilors||Loijorge Fegalan
Ricardo Familara, Jr.
|• Total||32.48 km2 (12.54 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||596 m (1,955 ft)|
|• Density||180/km2 (480/sq mi)|
|Time zone||PST (UTC+8)|
|Patron saint||San Nicolas de Tolentino|
|Languages||Asi, English, Tagalog|
Banton (formerly Jones) is a fifth class municipality in the province of Romblon, Philippines. Founded in 1622 during the Spanish colonial period, it is the oldest settlement in the province. However, the discovery of an ancient burial cloth, human remains, and other archeological finds by the National Museum in the 1930s show that the municipality is already inhabited by an advanced civilization during pre-colonial times. During the American colonial period, the municipality changed its name to Jones in honor of American congressman William Jones, who authored the Philippine Autonomy Act of 1916.
Today, the municipality has a population of 5,963 people, according to the 2010 census. Its inhabitants, the Bantoanon people, speak the Bantoanon language, one of the five primary branches of the Visayan languages. Its economy is currently dependent on copra farming, fishing, raffia palm weaving, and tourism. With a rich culture and heritage as well as pockets of beautiful white sand beaches dotting the island's coastline, Banton has a huge ecological and heritage tourism potential.
Banton was already inhabited during pre-colonial times as proven by ancient artifacts found in caves in the island in 1936 by a team of researchers from the National Museum. The artifacts include wooden coffins which date back to the 13th up to the 14th century AD. These coffins feature skeletal remains wrapped in a traditional burial cloth or ikat, which is the oldest burial cloth found in Southeast Asia. These artifacts are now preserved at the National Museum of the Philippines in Manila.
The municipality of Banton was established by Spanish colonial authorities in 1622, the first town established in the entire province of Romblon. It was initially founded in a site in Bacoco Hill (now part of Barangay Hambian), some two kilometers southwest of its present site. The administration of the other islands of Romblon were put under the jurisdiction of Banton until 1631, when Pueblo de Romblon was founded. In 1640, due to frequent Muslim raids the looted and pillaged the settlement, a limestone fort and church was constructed under the leadership of Fr. Agustin de San Pedro, also known as El Padre Capitan. The construction was completed in 1644, and in 1648, San Nicolas de Tolentino was installed as the town's patron saint. The fort protected the town against further Muslim raids and has since been named Fuerza de San Jose by local authorities.
When civilian government was introduced in Romblon by the Americans in 16 March 1901, Banton was one of 11 new municipalities reinstated or created. In 1918, the municipality was renamed Jones in honor of American congressman William Jones, who authored the Philippine Autonomy Act of 1916 that provided for greater autonomy for the Philippines under American colonial rule. In 1959, Republic Act No. 2158 restored the island to its former name. 
Banton is composed of the main island of Banton and the uninhabited islands of Bantoncillo, and the Dos Hermanas Islands (Two Sisters), composed of Carlota and Isabel. It has a total land area of 3,248 hectares. The main island has a mountainous and rocky topography due to its volcanic origin, hence the name Banton which is from the Asi word Batoon, meaning "rocky".
There are very few flat patches of land in the island making farming difficult. Mount Ampongo, an inactive volcano, is the tallest elevation in the island at 596 meters. Several beaches dot the coast including Macat-ang, Tabunan, Mahaba, Togbongan, Mainit, and Tambak beaches. Some of these beaches like Macat-ang, Tabunan, and Tambak have fine, white sand, while others, like Togbongan, are pebbled and rocky. Caves can be found in nearby hills like Silak and Ipot Cave in the Guyangan hills.
Under the Köppen climate classification system, Banton features a tropical savanna climate that borders on a tropical monsoon climate. Together with the rest of the Philippines, Banton lies entirely within the tropics. Its proximity to the equator means that the temperature range is very small, rarely going lower than 20 °C (68 °F) and going higher than 38 °C (100 °F) . However, humidity levels are usually very high which makes it feel much warmer. It has a distinct dry season from late January through May, and a relatively lengthy wet season that covers the remaining period. Southwest monsoon or Habagat can occur from June to October and can cause rough seas in Sibuyan Sea and Tablas Strait making traveling by sea difficult.
|Climate data for Banton, Romblon|
|Average high °C (°F)||28
|Average low °C (°F)||23
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||102
|Avg. rainy days||14||12||9||11||20||20||21||22||19||21||17||17||203|
|Source: World Weather Online|
|Population census of Banton|
|Source: National Statistics Office|
According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 5,963 people. Artifacts found in the island in the 1930s suggest a vibrant and complex civilization in Banton before the Spanish colonial era. The island is the center of Asi or Bantoanon language and culture which has spread to other municipalities like Concepcion, Corcuera, Calatrava, and Odiongan.
Professor R. David Zorc, a scholar on Philippine languages from the Australian National University, notes that Asi/Bantoanon speakers may have been the first Visayan speakers in the Romblon region. He also suggests that Asi may have a Cebuano substratum and that many of its words may have been influenced by the later influx of other languages such as Romblomanon.
Pursuant to Chapter II, Title II, Book III of Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991, the municipal government is composed of a mayor (alkalde), a vice-mayor (bise alkalde) and members (kagawad) of the legislative branch Sangguniang Bayan alongside a secretary to the said legislature, all of which are elected to a three-year term and are eligible to run for three consecutive terms.
The incumbent and long-time mayor is Jory Faderanga of the Nacionalista Party while the incumbent vice-mayor is Rolo Fainsan, who ran as an independent candidate.
Banton has a primarily agricultural economy, with copra farming and fishing as the main sources of livelihood. There is also an indigenous raffia palm handicraft industry. Other crops grown in the island are root crops (such as cassava, sweet potatoes), fruits and vegetables. The locals also engage in livestock raising for local consumption, and small-scale shipbuilding of wooden boats and launches.
Due to the island's rocky topography and lack of a stable supply of freshwater, rice production is difficult in the island. Rice from Mindoro, Marinduque or Quezon is supplied to the island by local traders. In recent years, the island has also become a small tourist hub for Asi expatriates and foreign tourists from the United States and other countries.
Electricity in the island is supplied by the Banton Electric Cooperative. However, electricity service is only available in early morning, from 4:00 to 6:00 a.m. and at night, from 5:00 to 11:00 p.m., due to limited fuel supplies. As for water supply, potable water for drinking and washing comes from water pumps, artesian wells, springs, and rainwater collection tanks in individual homes. The island has access to cellular phone and Internet service through Smart and Globe. Terrestrial and cable television service are also available.
As seas surrounding Banton can be rough during the wet season, the best time to visit the island is from March to May during the dry (summer) season. This is also the typical time for Asi families living in Metro Manila or abroad to visit the island since it coincides with the Lenten season and barangay fiestas.
- By sea
- Banton is accessible via wooden launches and motorized boats that regularly travel from Lucena City, Quezon. Tourists and visitors can also take RORO vessels that ply the Manila-Odiongan, Batangas City-Odiongan, or the Roxas-Odiongan route. From Odiongan, Banton can be reached by jeepney and motorized boat via Calatrava, Romblon. Another RORO route is from Lucena City to Boac or Mogpog in Marinduque. From these towns, travelers can take jeepneys to Buenavista, which is only three hours away from Banton. Another alternative route is through Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro by motorized boats.
- By air
- The closest airport with active airline service is Tugdan Airport in Alcantara, Romblon. Fil-Asian Airways offers four weekly flights while SkyJet offers charter flights to Romblon from Manila. From Alcantara, Banton can be reached in 5–6 hours by jeepney and motorized boats from Calatrava.
Within the island, the main forms of transportation are passenger motorcycles (known elsewhere as habal-habal) and motorized boats. A circumferential road connects the 17 barangays of Banton to each other.
Banton has a well-preserved natural environment and high potential for eco-tourism. Some places of interest in the island include:
- Fuerza de San Jose: A 15th century limestone fort in Brgy. Poblacion erected by the Spanish to protect Banton from Muslim raids.
- Church of San Nicolas de Tolentino: A limestone church in Brgy. Poblacion erected in 1644 and is considered one of the oldest Roman Catholic churches in the Philippines. It serves as the island's primary Catholic church.
- Asi Studies Center for Culture and the Arts: Located in Brgy. Poblacion, it serves as an information center for the Asi language, Banton history, and preservation of Banton's cultural heritage and natural environment.
- Punta Matagar: A pointed rock formation at the edge of Brgy. Poblacion in the main town.
- Guyangan Hill: This rocky hill in Brgy. Toctoc is home to some caves such as Ipot Cave where remains of early Banton settlers were found in 1936.
- Macat-ang Beach: A beach of fine, golden sand in Brgy. Mainit, not far from a local fish sanctuary. The public can rent huts and picnic umbrellas in the beach from the barangay government.
- Tabonan Beach: This beach in Brgy. Yabawon is Banton’s Best Tourist Site in the 2003 Site Development Contest sponsored by Banton 2003. It has a long stretch of fine, golden sands. There is an uninhabited islet a few meters from the shore.
- Tambak Beach: Located in Brgy. Banice, it is a beach of fine, white sand (finer than Boracay) with shallows extending far into the sea.
- Recodo Beach: A beach in Brgy. Balogo lies in the middle of a cove with a near-perfect arc.
- West Side, Northwest Wall, and Times Square: Reefs for snorkeling and scuba diving.
- "Municipalities". Quezon City, Philippines: Department of the Interior and Local Government. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
- "Final Results: Banton, Romblon". 2013 Philippine Polls Results. Odiongan Online. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
- "Province: Romblon". PSGC Interactive. Makati City, Philippines: National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
- "Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay: as of May 1, 2010" (PDF). 2010 Census of Population and Housing. National Statistics Office. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
- "Banton: Brief History". Banton Official Website. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- Ocampo, Ambeth (19 October 2011). "Looking Back: History and design in Death Blankets". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
- Buencamino, Felipe & Villamor, Ignacio (1920). Census of the Philippine Islands Taken Under the Direction of the Philippine Legislature in the Year 1918, Volume 1. Bureau of Printing.
- Fabonan III, Epi (29 May 2009). "Banton Island". Tourism Philippines. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- "Collections: Banton Cloth". National Museum of the Philippines. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
- "R. A. No. 2158". An Act Changing the Name of the Municipality of Jones, province of Romblon, to municipality of Banton. PhilippineLaw.info. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- "Municipality: Banton". PSGC Interactive. Makati City, Philippines: National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
- "R.A. No. 1014". An Act Creating the Barrio of Yabawon in the Municipality of Jones, Province of Romblon. PhilippineLaw.info. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
- "Banton, Romblon: Average Temperatures and Rainfall". World Weather Online. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
- "Province of Romblon". Municipality Population Data. LWUA Research Division. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
- Zorc, R. David Paul (1977). The Bisayan Dialects of the Philippines: Subgrouping and Reconstruction. Canberra, Australia: Department of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University.
- "An Act Providing for a Local Government Code of 1991". 8th Congress of the Republic of the Philippines. Retrieved April 21, 2014.
- "How to get to Romblon". Romblon Lifestyles. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
- "Fil-Asian Airways completes inaugural flight". Philippine Flight Network. 24 June 2013. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
- "SkyJet to make Romblon accessible to tourists". Philippine Flight Network. 3 July 2013. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Banton, Romblon.|
- Banton, Romblon Official Website
- Banton, Romblon - Tourism Philippines Travel Website
- Banton, Romblon on Facebook
- I-Witness documentary: "Mga Yaman ng Guyangan" (Aired in GMA Network on 15 March 2014)
- Philippine Standard Geographic Code
- Philippine Census Information
- Local Governance Performance Management System
|Concepcion / Sibuyan Sea||Sibuyan Sea|