Offering up beautiful landscapes, unique culture, fun-filled festival and adrenaline pumping activities, it’s not a question of what to see and do in San Joaquin, rather, it is a question of knowing which sights and experiences simply cannot be missed.
San Joaquin is a Second-Class municipality situated in the southernmost tip of the province. It is 85 kilometers away or an hour and a half ride from Iloilo City. The town is bordered by mountains in the north and Sibalom, Antique; west by the towns of Hamtic and Tobias Fornier in Antique; east by the town of Miagao, Iloilo; south is a coastline facing the Panay Gulf. It has a total land area of 23,135 hectares that is politically subdivided into 85 barangays.
San Joaquin is populated by 51, 892 San Joaquinhons. Market day is every Wednesdays and Fridays. It annually celebrates its Religious Fiesta every 3rd week of January in honour of St. Joaquin.
To get to the town, one can take a San Joaquin jeepney at the Don Benito Q. Acap Sr. Southern Iloilo Perimeter Boundary in Barangay Mohon, Oton or when in the city, take any bus at the Antique Terminal in Molo or at the Iloilo Terminal Market in Barangay Rizal Pala-Pala I, Iloilo City.
According to Maragtas, legend begins in the latter of the 12th century when ten (10) Malayan Chieftains or Datus together with their families, warriors and slaves on board ten “binidays” (boat for sea travel) landed at a place called Andona, near the north of the Siwaragan (Suagan or Sugan) River. The chieftains headed by Datu Puti fled from tyranny of Sultan Makatunao in Borneo in search of and establish a new land for the free.
At that time, Panay Island was inhabited by the “Atis” or Negritos under the rule of King Marikudo and Queen Maniwangtiwang. Datu Puti and his men, instead of subduing Chieftain Marikudo and the lowly Atis, made negotiations of all the lowlands of Panay at the price of one golden hat called “saduk”, along gold necklace believe to have touched the ground, called “manangyad” and various gifts. The said negotiations successfully took place at Imbidayan rock, Sinogbuhan, San Joaquin, Iloilo, now a historical site.
After the transaction was sealed, the Atis retired to the mountains and the Malay took complete control of the lowlands. Datu Puti continued his travel. The settlement was left to the able leadership of one of the chieftains, Datu Sumakwel whose wife was Kapinangan. Later Datu Sumakwel divided Panay Island into three districts- Irong-irong, Hamtic and Aklan. Irong-irong was given to Datu Paiburong as his territorial domain. It was Datu Sumakwel who decreed the Code of Kalantiaw and Panay Island lived in peace and prosperity for three hundred years until the Spaniards came.
San Joaquin was annexed to Miagao in 1904 for the purpose of efficient administration under the American rule. By virtue of Executive Order No. 21, Series of 1910 issued by the American Military Governor-General, San Joaquin became a municipality in December 10, 1910.
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH OF SAN JOAQUIN is of Baroque architectural style. The first church was said to have been finished earlier than 1850. The present church was built on the same foundation with the old church in 1869 under the supervision of Father Tomas Santaren and was assisted by a Spanish engineer named Felipe Diez.
Considered as the most militaristic church in the Philippines, the pediment’s bass relief sculpture entitled “Rendicion de Tetuan” commemorates the 1859 victory of the Spanish over the forces of Morroco in Tetuan, North Africa. It revealed the cavalry and infantry led by St. James, the Moor-slayer, breaking the Moorish defenses under a minaret tower over a landscape of date palms. The sculpture is so intricate that even the expression of wounded soldiers is visible.
The church was made from gleaming coral stone called “sillar” that were rectangularly shaped into a given dimension. Skilled masons and craftsmen, famous sculptors and painters from Spain and Mexico were employed to work for the construction of the church. The limestone used in the construction of the church is found along the seashores on Punta Talisayan, Punta Malagting Tubus, Talus and Sinugbuhan in San Joaquin.
The church was used as a fort during the Muslim raids. It was burned in January 29, 1943 and was rocked by the 1948 Lady Kaykay earthquake. It was declared as a Historical Landmark in 1974.
ROMAN CATHOLIC CEMETERY is of Neo-Gothic architectural style. It was built in 1892 under the leadership of Father Mariano Wamba. This coral stone walled cemetery with an iron gate is fenced by wrought iron with walls of carved stone. The two pillars supporting the decorative archway were ornately carved with flowers and tendrils showing the influence of Gothic architecture. Its 20-steps ascending stairway is flanked a stone balustrade on both sides leading you to the grandiose hexagonal mortuary chapel popularly known as “Camposanto.”
NETWORK OF MARINE PROTECTED AREAS are seen along its coasts that protect its incredible variety of marine life and help sustain its communities. Of the 15 Marine Protected Areas that spans from it first Barangay nearing the border of the neighboring province of Antique, the Kulyatan Marine Sanctuary in barangay Sinogbuhan and the Bugnayan Point Marine Sanctuary and Park in the bordering Barangays of Lawigan and Igcadlum are two of the more popular and frequently visited MPAs of this town.
GARINFARM is an inland resort that has all the adventure you need on agriculture, leisure and pilgrimage. It offers extensive farm attractions open to the public. This inland resort offer unique experiences to see, feel, and taste agriculture at its source. It has a lot of activities and is great for friends and families especially the children. Enjoy gorgeous mountain views while hiking up to and down from its 480-step viewing deck at the base of its 100-feet Blazing Cross and Heaven. On your way to the steps from the main base, you will see nine life-sizes religious scenes from Creation until the Ascension of Christ. Visitors can also avail of golf carts on their way to and from the viewing deck. It is situated in Purok 11, poblacion and opens daily from 8 am until 9 pm. Jeepneys from the city bring their passengers direct to the entrance of the resort
BAYLUHAY is celebrated every 3rd week of January. Derived freom the Hiligaynon word baylo, meaning an exchange, freplace or barter, the festivity is based on folk history of the Maragtas Legend commemorating the flight of the ten Bornean Datus from Borneo to the island of Panay using their binidays or boats. It was said that sometime in the first half of the 13th the datus purchased the land from the Aeta Chieftain Marikudo for a golden Salakot and a Manangyad or golden necklace.
The festival also highlights the various ancient customs, colourful rituals and traditions that the people of San Joaquin have inherited from their Bornean ancestors.
PASUNGAY-PAHIBAG is celebrated every third week of January and third week of August. Bullfighting exists in San Joaquin and is an important part of their history and culture. The town has always been famous for its Pasungay. There is no other place in the region where bullfighting is observed. It is the most common thing associated with San Joaquin, and rightly so for its origins date back to early 1900s.
The San Joaquin Sports Stadium has long since been the focal point for this town’s annual celebration of Pasungay (bull fight) or Pahibag sang Kabayo (horse fight). In order to keep alive the traditions of the past, the local government has reintroduced this time-honored celebration which is unique to San Joaquin.
JUEGO DE ANILLO (Game of Rings) is celebrated every 31st of May. Originally, it is a traditional game of Spanish influence. In the hinterland barangay of Lomboyan, an ancient courtship ritual is still being practiced as single females, hoping to find their future partners in life, would hang their rings on a suspended wire attached to a tree or similar structure. The males on the otherhand are required to catch the ring of their future partner using a small bamboo or wooden stick while riding a horse.