Friday, January 3, 2014

San Joaquin Comes Alive Again for Pasungay

photo by Ray Tabafunda

Once again the historic town of San Joaquin will come alive for the annual fighting of the bulls and horses celebration. The San Joaquin Sports Stadium has long since been the focal point for this town’s annual celebrations such as the 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. The annual Pasungay and Pahibag sang Kabayo will be celebrated this year on January 18 (Saturday) at 9 a.m.

photo by Ray Tabafunda

Pasungay in San Joaquin is filled with tradition. It has existed for hundreds of years when Spanish culture was introduced. Its display has been entertaining people for many years.

Traditionally, the bouts occurred at the end of every harvest, or to celebrate a marriage, or the arrival of an important guest to the village or town. People attend bullfights for the color and excitement. The bulls would then fight until one was wounded by the other. The fight was usually followed by a feast and drinking sprees.

photo by Ray Tabafunda

Bull fighting is practiced till this day in San Joaquin. Huge crowds gather to watch such event. There are bulls raised exclusively for this purpose with a special type of diet and special training. They are known to have remarkable agility, quickness and balance, which make them perfect for mounted bullfighting.

photo by Ray Tabafunda

Horse fighting is also a spectacle in this town. It is the pitting of two horses in a combat fight. Horses are not normally aggressive towards each other however prior to a horse fight a young mare will be introduced to the arena to stir up sexual rivalry between the two males. In a typical horse fight, two horses are pitted against each other until one wins through injuring the other. Just like the Pasungay, spectators also place wagers on the outcome of a fight.

In San Joaquin, bull and horse fights provide entertainment and harmless fun. Undue excitement and a sense of expectation grip the audience on this occasion. Many San Joaquinhons breed prized bulls that they present during these contests. It is a matter of an animal-to-animal fight. The bulls and horses are nourished both physically and psychologically in preparation for the contests.

photo by Ray Tabafunda
While animal rights advocates hold that it is inhumane, a blood sport resulting in the suffering of bulls and horses, supporters of bullfighting however believe that it is a culturally important tradition. It is an ancient culture which must be preserved for the future generation.

The municipality of San Joaquin is the last municipality in the southern district of the Province of Iloilo. To get there, one can take a jeepney at the Don Benito Q. Acap Sr. Southern Iloilo Perimeter Boundary Terminal in Barangay Mohon, Oton, Iloilo or at the market terminal along Mabini St. in Iloilo City. For more information, please contact Mrs. Erlyn Alunan – Municipal Tourism Officer at 09179857804.

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