Aklan is the oldest province in the Philippines, organized in 1213 by settlers from Borneo as the Minuro it Akean to include what is now Capiz.
The capital of Aklan changed location several times. Towards the end of the 14th century, Datu Dinagandan moved the capital to the present site of Batan which was captured in 1399 by Chinese adventurers under Kalantiaw, who forthwith ruled Aklan. In 1433 the son of Kalantiaw, Kalantiaw III laid down a written code of laws now known as the Code of Kalantiaw. The short-lived Kalantiaw dynasty ended when Kalantiaw III was slain in a duel with Datu Manduyog, legitimate successor to Datu Dinagandan. When Manduyog became the new ruler, he moved the capital to Bakan (ancient name of Banga) in 1437. Several datus succeeded Manduyog when Miguel Lopez de Legaspi landed in Batan in 1565, Datu Kabayag was ruling Aklan from what is now the town of Libacac.
Lopez de Legaspi divided the Minuro it Akean into five encomiendas which he distributed among his followers. Those encomiendas were in Mambusao, Baan and Panay. Along with political changes, the Spaniards introduced Christianity and in a short while thousands of Aklanons were baptized.
Towns were laid following the Spanish pattern, each organized around a plaza with a church, municipio and school. Roads were carved out of forests to link principal towns. In 1716, the area of the Minuro it Akean was designated a province. But to the dismay of Aklanons it was called Capiz and until Aklan became a province on its own in 1956, the Aklanons never knew rest.
In 1896 an Aklanon member of Bonafacio’s Katipunan arrived in Batan and organized Aklan for the fight against Spain. Battles marking this struggle are commemorated today with numerous municipal holidays, notable among them, the New Washington’s “Pacto de Sangre” celebration.
Having developed an identity of their own, a distinct dialect being no problem, the people of Aklan felt they should govern themselves. After the Americans took the country from Spain in 1901 an Aklan delegation petitioned the Taft Commission, which structured the new civil government of the country for separation from Capiz.
The petition was not turned down, but it was not granted either. As an S.O.P the Americans promised to set up at the right time a separate court of first instance for Aklan at Batan. They appointed Simeon Mobo Reyes as first provincial secretary. But the struggle for separation never let up. The newspaper “Aklanon” which began publication in 1914 advocated the creation of a separate province while Aklanons in Congress filed numerous bills for the same purpose, including the Urquiola-Alba bill in 1920, the Laserna-Suner bills in 1925 and 1930 and the Tumbokon bill in 1934.
Aklan finally became an independent province when president Magsaysay signed into law on April 25, 1956, Republic Act 1414 separating Aklan from Capiz. This law authored by Congressman Godofredo P. Ramos and the province was inaugurated on November 8, 1956.