A Spanish colonial era structure with a distinctive feature on its facade, the San Joaquin Parish Church was constructed from 1855-1869 through the efforts of Fray Tomas Santaren.
The church distinguishes itself from similar buildings of the period in the bas relief of “Rendicion de Tetuan” that occupies the whole pediment.
Shallow carvings on the upper triangular part of the facade depict the triumph of the Spanish army over the Moors in the Battle of Tetouan of 1860 in Morocco. It is probably the only church in Panay and even the whole Philippines with a military theme.
St. Joachim who is venerated together with St. Anne as the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the titular patron of the San Joaquin Parish. Considered the secondary patron and revered just as deeply by town parishioners is the Sto. Niño del Joaquin.
Information from the San Joaquin Parish said the design of the church, with its walls made from coral stone blocks quarried from nearby barrios, is neo-classical.
It added that the location of the structure and the adjoining areas for the Casa Real, town square, and burial grounds was donated by Tan Esta (Atanacio Santiagudo) who was then the Gobernadorcillo of Pueblo de San Joaquin. He was also the chief collaborator of Fr. Santaren, the parish priest who served for over 30 years, in the church construction.
According to church records, San Joaquin existed as the Parish of Suaragan from 1692 to 1703. When the central area was moved to Punta Talisay, the territory was merged with the Parish of Guimbal and then added to the Parish of Miagao 28 years later.
It was finally established as San Joaquin Parish in 1801.
Historical site, cultural treasure
Filipino guerillas reportedly burned the church, damaging its interior, as well as the convent and all buildings in the town center during wartime in 1943. Only the facade of San Joaquin Church remained intact.
The structure’s belfry also sustained heavy damages from the strong earthquake called Lady Caycay in 1948.
When it was declared a National Historical Site through Presidential Decrees No. 260 in 1973 and No. 375 in 1974, this marked the start of the earnest restoration of the building.
The San Joaquin Parish Church was also identified as a National Cultural Treasure in 2001.