Fifty- three kilometers away from the city of Iloilo is San Joaquin, the southernmost town of Iloilo and the gateway to the Province of Antique. San Joaquin is one of the oldest towns in the province. San Joaquin has a rich history and an abundance of cultural heritage, the most popular are the ancient architectural masterpieces, the San Joaquin Roman Catholic Church and the San Joaquin Cemetery.
The San Joaquin Church was built in 1869, under the administration of the Spanish priest Tomas Santaren. It is located beside San Joaquin’s town plaza. It has a carved pediment depicting the Spanish victory over the Moors at Tetuan. The unique features of the San Joaquin Church has received the admiration of its onlookers including the National Historical Institute, which has listed the church as a National Cultural Treasure.
The San Joaquin Cemetery is located along the main highway in San Jaoquin Town. The construction of San Joaquin Cemetery was commenced by Fray Mariano Vamba, the last Augustinian parish priest of the town in 1892. A statue of Jesus with his arms outstretched stands on top of a baroque style gate, and on each side of Christ, two columns with angelic figures are poised as guards. In addition, sculpted heads of two cherubs and a skull representing death marks the entrance of the cemetery. Twenty stone steps after entering the gate and you will be greeted by the Baroque designed mortuary chapel standing on the center.
San Joaquin has several famous festivals, too. The Bayluhay Festival, celebrated every third week of January, reflects the town’s unique mixture of races and cultures. Historical and religious themes, mostly anchored from the Barter of Panay, such as efforts with the preservation of rituals, are reflected through the dances presented in the festivity. Accentuated every annual municipal fiesta is the “Pasungay” or bull fight. During this affair, the best bulls from the different barangays are pitted against each other by weight category in a “bull derby”.
Other than its rich culture, San Joaquin is also known for its beautiful sea coasts in the Visayas. The Talisayan Beach Resort is a privately owned beach resort located in the Poblacion. The Cata-an Cove and Tobog Beach Resort in Barangay Cata-an, about 10 kilometers from the Poblacion, is a place perfect for scuba diving and weekend outings.