Camposanto de San Joaquin Iloilo
Because its the Halloween season or nearing Todos Los Santos, I’ll be featuring several Spanish era cemeteries of the province of Iloilo within this week. Known for their unique camposantos, construction and baroque features, these has stood the test of time and an addition to the heritage sites that manifested Ilonggo, Spanish, Chinese and mestizo creativity along with its century old churches and houses.
Located 59 kilometers southeast of Iloilo City towards the province of Antique, this laidback southernmost town of Iloilo of San Joaquin is our first stop for the tour. It was believed to be one of the places of the mythical “Barter of Panay” where Bornean datus traded the legendary golden hat and long necklace to the native Ati or Aborigenies for settling in the lowlands.
Being the farthest town down south, it has maintained its rustic charm with a century old church featuring the relief of the Battle of Tetuan. Maybe a manifestation of the Christian settlers here against the marauding Moro raiders during the Spanish colonial era.
Aside from the church itself, the town is also proud of another baroque ingenuity at its finest. The Camposanto or the cemetery chapel at the century-old Roman Catholic cemetery is a marvelous feat besides the national highway, just a few meters away from the town proper.
Sitting on top of a hill overlooking the sea and has a grand stone staircase on its own, this coralstone-red brick chapel has been used by the locals where they celebrate the mass before the burial during the ancient of days. Looking like a sentinel guarding the departed Siwaragnons (old San Joaquin). It also has a red dome roof made of galvanized iron sheet, giving its unique feature along with the baroque elements. According to local folklore, the steps leading to the camposanto was made by the women of San Joaquin as an obligation to the Spanish crown.
Recently it has been restored from the damages of the elementals, the landmark of San Joaquin now gleams in its former white and red regal colours. Truly a mark of Ilonggo and Spanish ingenuity at its finest.
How to get there:
San Joaquin is about an hour and a half travel by either bus or the passad jeepney. Take a bus from Iloilo City bound for Antique province at Molo district. Another option is to take a jeepney labelled “San Joaquin” and ask the driver to stop at patyo nga daan or old cemetery before the town. The fare is more or less PhP50.00.
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