Dumangas has developed over the years from a small settlement into a beautiful, thriving town. The town is known for its deep historic roots which reveal themselves throughout the town. The surrounding landscape is as picturesque as the town itself, with typical coastal and agricultural scenes of fishing villages, mangrove areas, rice paddies, and seafood restaurants that runs past the town center border from the coastal road. It offers opportunities for history and adventure.
The First-Class municipality of Dumangas is situated southeastern of the province and is 30 kilometers or an hour ride from Iloilo City. It is bounded in the north by the municipality of Barotac Nuevo; in the south and east by Guimaras Strait, and; in the west by the municipalities of Pototan and Zarraga. It has a total land area of 11, 677 hectares and is politically subdivided into 45 barangays.
Dumangas is populated by 69, 108 Dumangasanons. Market day is every Sunday. It annually celebrates its Religious Fiesta every 5th of May in honour of St. Agustine.
One can travel to Dumangas via the Monfort Coast Boulevard. Vans are readily available at Baldoza Transport Terminal in Barangay Baldoza, Lapaz, Iloilo City.
The early beginings of the settlement was during the Malayan migration to the Philippineswhere several immigrant clans settled along the coasts of Panay. One fleet of balangays (ancient long ships) made its entrance along the southeastern coast of Panay along the Talaguis River where the immigrants established the settlement called Araut. It was known as such until the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century. It is reputed that no less than Adelantado Miguel Lopez de Legazpi’s aide-de-camp Mateo del Sanz, in their exploration for food came across the settlement of Araut. Del Sanz’ party found the inhabitants to be of noble bearing; in fact they thought the natives were “the noblest people in the old archipelago.” Mateo del Sanz returned to Cebu loaded with plenty of provisions for Adelantado.
A year later, in 1566, Legazpi sent Capitan Luis de Hoaya to confoirm his friendliness and hospitality to the natives. de Hoaya was later appointed administrator of Araut. In 1569, Fr. Juan de Alva who accompanied Capitan Luis de Hoaya when they first came to Araut was appointed the first parish priest of Dumangas. Fr. De Alva belonged to the Agustinian Order, which served Dumangas for a very long time.
Araut was renamed Dumangas, the probable version was based upon the report of Legazpi’s Portugese officer who mentioned “Sitio Du Mangas” (settlement of the two mangoes) as a place where they got their supplies. The Adelantado chronicler noted the report and the name were duly recorded. It was later shortened to Dumangas.
ST. AGUSTINE PARISH CHURCH of Gothic Byzantine architectural style and was considered the most artistic church in the country after its completion in 1895, it was built using red bricks and coral stones. Construction started in 1887 under the supervision of Fr. Fernando Llorente. Fr. Rafael Murillo supervised its completion. The church measured 72 meters long and 22 meters wide. It was declared by the National Historical Institute as a National Shrine in January 14, 1974. The first church along with its convent said to have been built in 1572 under the supervision of Fr. Martin de Rada OSA was burned in 1628; the second structure finished before 1787 was destroyed by an earthquake.
RUINS OF THE FIRST STONE CHAPEL IN PANAY in Barangay Ermita, Dumangas was built in 1556 under the supervision of Fr. Juan Alva in 1572. Now in ruins, it is housed on an elevated land where the base made of coral rocks and old wood is exposed. Originally the chapel was made of nipa. It was declared a National Shrine by the National Historical Institute in August 28, 1989.
IGLESIA FILIPINA INDEPENDIENTE was constructed in 1918 the time when Tomas Buenaflor was Mayor of Dumangas.
RUINS OF A SMOKESTACK CHIMNEY in Barangay Rosario approximately 6 kilometers away from the town center had been left in much the same condition in which it was found. A huge Balete tree blends into its red brick walls with its old thick roots giving the structure a surreal appearance. The atmospheric combination of trees growing out of the ruins and the surrounding sugarcane farm makes it one of Dumangas’ most popular tourist attractions.
HAW-AS celebrated every last week of October is an annual thanksgiving festival for the bountiful fish harvest from the waters in the area. The festival uses the iconic bangus as its symbol because it is their number one product. Haw-as also celebrates the contribution made to Dumangas by those persons involved in the local fishing industry. The highlight of the celebration is the “Haw-as Guban: competition dance extravaganza where participating tribes depict and interpret the “haw-as” or fish harvesting through a vivid visual display, graceful gyrations and well-choreographed dances in colorful costumes.
Haw-as Festival has become a part of the local tourist calendar and a vital contributor to the economy of Dumangas. It is a unique attraction that offers fun and entertainment for both locals and visitors alike offering them the opportunity to learn more about the town’s culture and to better appreciate and understand its value to the community.