Panay is an island in the Philippines located in the western part of the Visayas. Politically, it is divided into four provinces: Aklan, Antique, Capiz, and Iloilo, all in the Western Visayas Region. It is located southeast of the island of Mindoro and northwest of Negros, separated by the Guimaras Strait. Between Negros and Panay Island lie the island-province of Guimaras. To the north is the Sibuyan Sea and the islands of Romblon; to the southwest is the Sulu Sea and the Panay Gulf.
The island has many rivers including Akean, Halaur River, Banica, Iloilo, and Panay.
Panay was the seat of the ancient Confederation of Madja-as—the first pre-Hispanic Philippine state within the Visayas islands region, and the second Srivijayan colony in the Philippine Archipelago, next to the Sulu Archipelago. The island is purportedly named after the long-lasting but betrayed state of Pannai which was a militant-country fronting the strait of Malacca and responsible for policing the shipping of the area as well as expelling invasions from Arabs, Indians and Chinese until the state was felled by a surprise attack from the back-flank emanating from the occupied capital of Sri Vijaya. Madya-as was established by nine rebel datus or high officials connected with the court of Brunei, who were forced to leave that are on account of enmity of the Rajah at that time ruling the land. The datus, together with their wives and children, as well as few faithful servants and followers were secretly escorted out of the country by the Rajah’s Chief Minister, whose name was Datu Puti. The local folklore says that the name of the Bornean Rajah was Makatunao.
Their ultimate origins may be traced to the sacking of the kingdom of Pannai at North Sumatra by the Chola dynasty who had placed puppet Rajahs on the throne after their invasion. (Hence the motive for the Sri Vijayan Datus to rebel against this, and go elsewhere). The island of Panay having been named after the dissolved kingdom of Pannai.
They embarked on sailing rafts of the type used by the Visayans (the term used in the Malay settlements, of what is now Borneo and Philippines, to refer to Srivijayans) in Sumatra and Borneo. According to tradition, which survive in the local culture of Western Visayas, this seafaring vessel is called Balangay, from which Barangay—the smallest social unit in the present-day Philippines—came from.
The semi-democratic confederation reached its peak during the 15th century under the leadership of Datu Padojinog when it warred against the Chinese Empire, the Rajahnate of Butuan, and the sultanates of Sulu and Maguindanao. It was also feared by the people of the Kingdom of Maynila and Tondo. It was integrated to the Spanish Empire through pacts and treaties (c.1569) by Miguel López de Legazpi and his grandson Juan de Salcedo. During the time of their hispanization, the principalities of the Confederation were already developed settlements with distinct social structure, culture, customs, and religion. Among the archaeological proofs of the existence of this Hiligaynon nation are the artifacts found in pre-Hispanic tombs from many parts of the island, which are now in display at Iloilo Museum. Another testimony of the antiquity of this civilization is the longest and oldest epic in the region, the Hinilawod.