and erected on July 15, 1976, a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Capiz. The first bishop was Juan Nilmar. The second and present bishop is Gabriel V. Reyes, installed
on January 12, 1993. The diocese comprises the civil province of Aklan, which was separated politically from the province of Capiz in 1956.
Aklan occupies the northwestern portion of Panay Island, with its
northern coastline facing the Sibuyan Sea. Its southern boundary touches that of Capiz. Its western boundaries are the highlands bordering the province of Antique.
Before the Spaniards came, that part of
Panay which now forms the provinces of Aklan and Capiz was a settlement of Daty Bankaya, one of the Bornean datus who bought the lowlands of Panay Island from the Negritos in the 13th century. He and his
descendants settled in the area for the next few centuries. In this same place ruled Kalantiao, the fierce datu who drafted a code of laws known in Philippine history as the Code of Kalantiao in 1433, and this
code remained in force while he ruled.
The faith was first brought to Aklan as early as 1569, particularly to Kalibo, which is the present capital of the province. Kalibo became a parish in April 1581. The
parish then comprised the entire province of Aklan, and two towns of Capiz: Sapian and Ibisan.
In 1570 Martin de Goiti landed in Batan, and from there secured the entire island of Panay for the Spanish rule
until the Philippine Revolution of 1896. It is recalled in Philippine history that General Ananias Diokno overran the American forces in Aklan. But the gains of the First Philippine Republic were
short-lived, and Aklan finally fell under American administration.
Aklan first became administratively independent of the entire Panay group in 1656, but it was part of the province of Capiz. In 1956
the territory of Capiz by which name the settlement of Datu Bankaya was known for centuries, was divided into two, and Aklan became a separate province.
Today the economy of Aklan is dependent mostly on its
agriculture. Its leading food crops are rice and corn, while commercial crops include coconut, sugar and fruit products. Deep-sea fishing and fish-pond production are also major sources of income, with the
coves and bays nearby providing a sizable supply of fish.
The Diocese of Kalibo comprises a land area of 1817 square kilometers, with a population of 388,737, of which 89 per cent are Catholics. Economically the
province is what one might consider average. It is not first class, yet neither is it among the depressed nineteen provinces of the Philippines. One good feature is that the land is well distributed and much
of its forests is still preserved.
The province is famous for its celebration of the feast of the Santo Niño, known as the ati-atihan, celebrated on the third Sunday of January. On this day the people dance on
the streets with paint on their faces, honoring the Santo Niño and asking for favors. A beach resort, Boracay, is also internationally famous.
The people in Aklan are religious with a simple faith. There
have been many religious vocations from Aklan. The first Filipino archbishop, the late Gabriel M. Reyes of Manila, Jaime Cardinal Sin of Manila, the late Bishop Cicero Tumbokon of Cabanatuan, Bishop Raul Martirez
of Antique, and Bishop Gabriel V. Reyes, the present bishop of Kalibo, are natives of this province.
At the present time the diocese is in transition because of the change of bishops in 1993. However,
preparations are underway for the first diocesan synod to be held in June 1996. Meanwhile the pastoral thrust of the diocese is catechesis, social action and worship or liturgy – these being the three components
of integral evangelization which, according to the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines, is the mission of the entire Philippine Church.
The diocese is composed of 22 parishes served by 35 diocesan and 1
religious priest, assisted by a total of 55 religious sisters. Among its institutions are 2 diocesan Catholic schools, 1 diocesan seminary, and 9 pastoral centers. BEC's are now operative in 11 out of the 22
parishes of the diocese.