Over-shadowed by the famous Miag-ao because of its UNESCO-inscribed church, this last town in the southernmost part of the province of Iloilo withstood the test of time. It just celebrated her 100 years as an independent municipality.
Even being over-shadowed, I find San Joaquin interesting, picturesque and unusually charming. So enamoured by this town, this is my second post about it. Here’s the first one.
I always said that I grade the places I go to by three criteria: people, places, and food. San Joaquin has some of the nicest Ilonggos I met, old-fashioned places I visited and best food I tasted. I also find its history interesting. It has been told that this town traces its past back in the 12th century
when 10 Malayan chieftains or “datus” lead by Datu Puti together with their families, warriors and slaves boarded ten “binidays” or boats landed at Andonna Creek, near Siwaragan River. These huge seafarers was said to fled away from the dictatorship of Sultan Makatunao of Borneo and find a new land.
When they landed on the town, they were met by Marikudo and his people. They negotiated and the ten datus offered to give a golden hat called “saduk,” a long necklace called “manangyad” some other precious gifts. The negotiations happened at Imbidayan Rock, Sinogbuhan, San Joaquin. This concession made the Atis or Negritos (original inhabitants of the island) move to the highlands while the Malays took control of the lowlands and the leadership given to Datu Sumakwel. Datu Sumakwel decreed the Code of Kalantiaw and the town was prosperous until the Spaniards came.
Before calling it San Joaquin, it was alternatively called Kamanghilum, Mat-i, Binanwaan or Talisayan.
Note that Antique, particularly in Hamtic where you can see the “Malandog Marker” has a similar history as that of San Joaquin. My guess is that San Joaquin and Hamtik is considered one big territory with one leader- Marikudo. And because pre-Spanish history was burned during the Spanish colonization, official documents regarding where exactly this “negotiations” happened is impossible to identify. Important thing is, it happened somewhere in Panay Island. And that its people, the locals are cultured as they know how to treat their visitors well.
So much for that pre-Spanish history, let me share at least two heritages the Spaniards left in this part of the Island.
The San Joaquin Church. Built in 1859 and finished 10 years after (1869), the San Joaquin Church rivals the stone carvings of Angkor Wat in Siam Reap, Cambodia. The church’s facade depicts the Battle of Tetuan- the war between the Spanish Christians and the Moroccan Moors. With its militaristic motif, this church distinguishes herself from other old churches in the Philippines. It was said that one of the artists of this beautiful bas-relief was honoring his father who was one of those who fought at the siege of Tetuan.
Campo Santo. Literally, “Field of Saints” a 19th century cemetery build on a hill over-looking the sea. This place, not freaky would make a nice venue for pre-nup photos. Yes, seriously its heavenly!
Finally, these little elements make the town oddly amusing, every traveler want to experience:
- See the biggest flower in the world- Raffleasia.
- Taste the best Batchoy in Iloilo. I think San Joaquin offers something that is better than Ted’s Batchoy. I tasted it at Charlyn’s Batchoy Eatery (near the church, infront of the public market) for only P25.
- Take home some “tsokolate” and drink hot chocolate in an old-fashioned manner. Buy a pack from the local market and bring some “pasalubong” to your relatives’ delight.
- Watch the battle of the carabaos called “Pasungay Festival.” This is one bull fight worth watching, scheduled every 2nd Saturday of January as part of the town’s fiesta. Watch here.
Unseen. Sadly, because town is over-shadowed it has become almost unseen, almost forgotten. It should not be, that is why I’m promoting this sleepy town, I think every traveler should not stop from Miag-ao and continue traveling until reaching this “unseen town.” So let’s see what CNN can say about this little town:
In a province crammed with Spanish colonial monuments, you’d hardly think that a little church tucked away in a sleepy town would cause a stir.
Wrong. The little-known San Joaquin Church in the Filipino province of Iloilo is a shocker. Instead of limestone bricks and Virgin Marys, its bass relief disquietingly depicts a bloody battle scene, complete with rifle action and men jostled off horses.
The only church in the Philippines with a “military theme,” the San Joaquin Church was erected in 1869 to commemorate how the Spanish thrashed the Moors in the Battle of Tetuan.
The church stands in the seaside town of Iloilo, which has one of the most gorgeous sea coasts in the Visayas.
Good thing, I’ve seen the UNSEEN and the shadow of San Joaquin church over-shadowed me. So, when do you plan to see the unseen?
How to get there:
San Joaquin is situated 54kms from Iloilo City. The most popular mode of transportation to this town is the jeepney, terminal is at Cor.Fuentes-De Leon Street, Supermarket, Iloilo City.
All buses and jeepneys going to Antique pass by San Joaquin, the Antique bus terminal is located at San Pedro Street at Molo.
From Panini-y, Antique: Its just an hour and 30minutes bus/jeepney ride.
This is my addition to the many “QUAINT PLACES” in the Philippines one should visit and experience as suggested by Pinoy Travel Bloggers. Thanks RV of Living in a Backpack for hosting the 2nd Blog Carnival.
Just click the Blog Carnival Logo to see the previous topics.