A few blocks from Pastrana Park, Kalibo’s main public park, is a revered shrine dedicated to Aklanon freedom fighters.
The most prominent figure in the Aklan Freedom Shrine belongs to General Francisco del Castillo, a close associate of Andres Bonifacio. This Aklanon Katipunero was tasked by Bonifacio to establish Katipunan in Panay Island. On March 17, 1897, the young patriot, defender of liberty and leader of the Aklan revolutionists was killed by an assassin during a fight in the present-day Pastrana Park.
The untimely death of Gen. del Castillo had signaled the end of the major struggle for freedom in Aklan. His close friends, assistants and soldiers were forced to give up arms, some due to the promise of receiving amnesty. But such promise was quickly broken.
So on the fateful day of March 23, 1897, the 19 Martyrs of Aklan were executed. They were: Roman Aguirre, Tomas Briones, Valeriano Dalida, Domingo dela Cruz, Claro Delgado, Angelo Fernandez, Benito Iban, Candido Iban, Simeon Inocencio, Isidro Jimenez, Catalino Mangat, Lamberto Mangat, Valeriano Masinda, Maximo Mationg, Simplicio Reyes, Canuto Segovia, Gavino Sucgang, Francisco Villorente, and Gavino Yunsal.
In order to commemorate the death anniversary of the 19 Martyrs of Aklan, Republic Act No. 7806 was made into law setting the 23rd day of March of every year as a special public holiday in the Province of Aklan. A former general himself, President Fidel V. Ramos let RA7806 lapsed into law without his signature. And on September 1, 1994, in accordance with Article VI, Sec. 27(1) of the Constitution, RA7806 became law.
Note: This part of LegendHarry’s July 30-August 8, 2013 Panay Island Backpacking Trip. (1105)