Guimbal sprawls in the heart of the First Congressional District. Despite the obvious rapid development in the area, a spectacular richness survives within and around it. It is one of Iloilo’s beautifully preserved colonial towns, located 40 minutes by car from the city. Boasting one of the largest, beautiful and clean town squares in Iloilo, Guimbal offers a unique cultural experience to its visitors.
This Fourth Class municipality is situated south of the province and is 29 kilometers or almost an hour away from Iloilo City. The town shares borders with Tigbauan in the east; in the northeast by Tubungan; Igbaras in the northwest; and west by Miagao. It has a land area of 4, 448 hectares that is politically subdivided into 33 barangays.
Guimbal is populated by 33, 820 Guimbalanons. Market day is every Tuesday. It annually celebrates its religious fiesta every 10th of September in honour of San Nicolas de Tolentino.
To get to the resort, one can take a Guimbal jeepney at the Don Benito Q. Acap Sr. Southern Iloilo Perimeter Boundary in Barangay Mohon, Oton or at the Iloilo Terminal Market in Barangay Rizal Pala-Pala I, Iloilo City.
Originally, the name of the ancient Malay settlement was called Gibuangan, describing the point where the river connects to the open sea. The modern name Guimbal was derived from the Old Spanish word attabal meaning a small drum. The Spanish observed that the natives used the instrument to warn the people of the coming of Moro raiders who would come to capture the natiuves to be sold as slaves in Mindanao and Malacca.
Since then the Spanish had recorded the name os the town as Guimbal. The History of the Agustinian Order in the Philippines, a book of records compiled by Fray Juan de Medina, OSA., the appendix of which was added by Fray Coco, referred to the establishment of a convento in Guimbal, Iloilo in 1590.
ST. NICOLAS OF TOLENTINE PARISH CHURCH is of Baroque architectural style. The first church was built in 1774 under the supervision of Father Juan Aguado and was finished by Father Juan Campos. Its outside walls are of yellow sandstone. The church was destroyed in an earthquake in July 13, 1787. The church was reconstructed under the supervision of Father Jose Oranguren in 1893. He also started the construction of the town cemetery. However, the church was burned in December of 1895. Father Agustin Llorente restored the church and started building its tower in January of 1896.
The present church is of two levels. Its pediment was integrated in the second level. It has a semi-circular arch with a row of rosettes for its main entrance. The church was originally facing the street across which is the sea. When the municipal plaza was built at its back, the back side was converted into the front side to make it the church facing the plaza. It has undergone some reconstruction after it was destroyed twice, during the Second World War and during the 1948 Lady Kaykay earthquake.
BANTAYAN or Moro watchtower is one of the most valuable ruins built in Guimbal in the 18th century. They have lasted for hundreds of years with remarkable strength. The town has four such towers that remain to this day and are situated in the barangays of Nanga, Rizal-Tuguisan, Generosa and Pescadores.
TAYTAY TIGRE is a short Spanish Arch Bridge located along Rizal Street along the highway a few meters away from the town plaza. It is known as Taytay Tigre but four coral stone lion structures are placed in both sides of the bridge. These lions are believed to be the only existing medici lions (sculptures depicting standing male lions with a sphere or ball under one paw) in the Philippines. The arch bridge measures 4.5-meter in length.
GUIMBAL STEEL BRIDGE constructed during the American period is considered as the Longest Steel Bridge in Western Visayas. It measures 348.40 meters kilometers long and 10.50 meters wide. When you are coming from the town proper it starts in Barangay Bagumbayan and ends in Barangay Bongol. It is made of Pittsburgh Steel from Virginia, USA. The construction was ordered by US President Roosevelt and it took the builders 399 working days to finish it sometime in 1932.
AYAW-AYAW MONUMENT is a historical landmark which was built on a hill in Barangay Igcocolo. It has the life-sized image of Andres Bonifacio, the founder of Katipunan. The landmark was built on the place where the American soldiers had a bloody encounter with the Filipino revolutionaries.
BANTAYAN, celebrated every first week of April. Derived from the Hiligaynon word Bantayan or Spanish-built stone towers (rootword bantay or to watch or guard) used as viewing decks to spot the arrival of the Moro pirates by sea. Bantayans also served as defensice platforms to repel the invaders. The Spanish constructed many watchtowers to protect the town and parishes from the Moros alonmg the coast of Panay. The festivity’s background not only combines celebrating the few remaining Spanish watchtowers but also the practical function of the little drum, the attabal then used by the natives as a means to warn the community of the arrival of the invaders.
Highlight of the celebration is the dance-drama presentation of the battle between the natives of Guimbal and the Muslim pirates. The winning tribe gets to perform the re-enactment nthe following year as part of the series special events showcased before the dance-drama competition during the Banatyan week celebration. The festival was launched in 2003.
DISYEMBRE SA GUIMBAL CELEBRATION is a two-week extravagant celebration of Christmas usually starting on the third week of December until New Year. It is a tradition celebrated since 1975 and now synonymous to a merry, colourful, large-scale and elaborated rejoicing of the yuletide season. It includes musical and cultural presentations such as lantern parades, drum corps exhibition, beauty pageant, food festival and talent shows. It is to provide entertainment to the people waiting for midnight mass.
BARI-BARI is a Holy Week tradition of putting up 14 Kapiyas or Stations of the Cross. After the Holy Thursday and Good Friday processions, people do the bari-bari where they trace the route of the procession to take a closer look at the intricately-crafted Kapiyas.