Saturday, May 14, 2016

Exploring Exciting San Joaquin

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.

The Roman Catholic Church of San Joaquin  is made of gleaming coral stone called “sillar,” shaped in rectangulars of a given dimension was constructed in 1859 and finished in 1869 is considered as the most militaristic church in the Philippines. Its unique bas relief sculpture entitled “Rendicion de Tetuan” which reveals the cavalry and infantry led by St. James, the Moor-slayer, breaking the Moorish defenses under a minaret tower against a landscape of date palms. The sculpture is so intricate that even the expression of wounded soldiers is visible. Skilled masons, famous sculptors and celebrated painters and craftsmen from Spain and Mexico were employed for the construction of the church. Father Tomas Santaren, a Spanish priest, built the church with himself as master architect, assisted by a layman engineer, Don Felipe Diaz, and with an array of skilled masons, famous sculpture, celebrated painters and craftsmen from Spain and Mexico. On February 4, 1896, Father Santaren died and was buried right under the altar of the church. In 1974, the church was declared a national shrine. In 1982, reconstruction and restoration of the church was initiated by the National Historical Committee.

The Roman Catholic Cemetery is known for its Camposanto, a grandiose hexagonal mortuary chapel elevated on a 20-step stairway flanked a stone balustrade on both sides. This coral stone walled cemetery with an iron gate is located along the highway leading to the town center.  Before you enter the cemetery and go beyond its gate intricate design, welcomes you with its catchy phrase attached to the arched iron grill above the main gate saying “What you are I was. What I am, you will be.” The two pillars supporting the decorative archway were ornately carved with flowers and tendrils showing the influence of Gothic architecture.

The town is an important ecotourism destination for a quality diving, swimming, snorkelling and aquatic study activities. Due to its array of fish varieties and species of invertebrates, plants and micro-organisms, the town has identified networks of  Marine Protected Areas places along its coasts that protect its municipal’s incredible variety of marine life and help sustain its communities. As an important maritime area, San Joaquin has a special responsibility for the conservation and management of its marine and coastal environment and its resources. In order to establish a representative network of marine protected areas, San Joaquin’s marine environment has been classified and a range of habitats and ecosystems were represented.

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.

The scenic viewing decks of Kulyatan can be reached through bamboo bridges suspended in between huge coral rocks connecting it from the main areas. The site has a floating cottage, cottages for overnight stay, mini pavilion, refreshment huts and tourist information center. An environmental fee of P50.00 in charged upon entrance. Life vests and snorkeling gears are also for rent.  The Bugnayan Point Marine Sanctuary and Park’s most recognizable landmark is its rock formations. The rock formations are placed in such close proximity in a land area of 2,000 square meters. A few well-constructed steps will take you straight to the park. The rock formations do not only add aesthetics to the landscape but also provide excellent vantage points from which to better view the coastline.

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. These 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. 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

Bandi is the perfect sweet snack is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth in no time. Bandi, is a delicious candy made of peanuts with caramelized brown sugar topped with sesame seeds.  Peanuts make a classic brittle. The traditional way of making it is by heating a big saucepan then put-in sugar, water, and a little salt. Stir and bring to a boil till it caramelizes. Add the peanuts (toasted) then stir using a wooden spoon. Immediately remove the pan from the heat.  Quickly spoon out bite-size pieces onto the layers of banana leaves that serve as its tray.  Then allow to cool during which they solidify. They are crunchy, sweet, aromatic, with loads of peanuts and sinfully decadent and addictive. This popular livelihood endeavour is ideal in the provinces’ peanut producing areas. Barangay Qui-anan in is the home of Bandi, banana chips and bucayo

San Joaquin is a 2nd Class municipality and is 85 kilometers south from Iloilo City. It is the last town south of the province. It has a land area of 23,135 hectares subdivided into 85 barangays. It annually celebrates its patronal fiesta every January 3 in honour of San Joaquin. Market days are every Wednesdays and Fridays.

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 market situated at the back of Robinsons Place Iloilo. For more information, please contact Erlyn Alunan – Municipal Tourism Officer at 09176619120.

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