Who says only Spain has bullfights? San Joaquin has it’s version of this festivity, too.
During the town Fiesta of San Joaquin, every 21st day of January, the best breeds of bulls and horses are brought to the town arena to take part in one of Iloilo’s most celebrated festivals. The annual horse fight called “Pahibag” and bull-fight called “Pasungay” is held at the San Joaquin Sports Stadium starting 9 in the morning onwards.
Pasungay and Pahibag have progressed over the years from a precariously amusing event to a thrilling competition. Viewers of all walks of life get to enjoy the ferocious display of power and skills of the bulls. Lively and delighted spectators thunder over the hillside as raging bulls brawl, demonstrating their might, competing to be the Alpha bull. In this festival, betting is placed which made this event more remarkable and thrilling as well-to-do people of the pueblo try their luck. This one of a kind festivity had helped fashion an exquisitely charming culture that it won global appreciation.
Historians said that bullfights were already being held in the town as far back as the Spanish era. It is believed that Pasungay begun when two furious bulls were set loose by the cow keepers and the fighting bulls in the hillside was witnessed by the resting farmers. It captured the interest of the townspeople, thus eventually making it a popular amusement in most of the Barangay fiestas. Since then, bulls of top breed and physique are raised mainly for the purpose of preparing for the event where they will be pitted against other prized bulls of different Barangays. It was in the 1970s that bull and horse fights were institutionalized and gradually acquired the significance they have today.
The “Pasungay sa San Joaquin” is the concluding part of a week-long activity of Bayluhay Festival. Bayluhay Festival reflects the history of Panay of which the ancestor Aetas bartered to the datus of Malay in the 13th century. The festivity of the Bayluhay is conscientiously planned and series of rituals are solemnly done as one journey through many phases of life.
The yearly Pasungay is promoted primarily by the San Joaquin Mayor Nimfa S. Garin and other public officials, parish priest, and festival committees who aspire for progress and amity for the greater future of San Joaquin.