San Joaquin Church, San Joaquin, Iloilo
A few observations. Reportedly built in the last half of the 19th century (accounts of construction dates vary), this wonderful church has Romanesque flesh on its Baroque bones. Why? -- a few thoughts; simplicity of form and ornamentation, arched main entrance door and niches, flanking paired columns, straight rather than curved pediment, the very classical use of urns rather than religious statuary.
San Joaquin Church; bas relief, Battle of Tetuan
At the very time of the construction of the San Joaquin Church in 1859-60, the Spanish were involved in a colonial war in North Africa to protect Spanish territories in Morocco. The decisive battle was waged at Tetuan (or Tétouan), Morocco and resulted in a decisive Spanish victory when Tetuan fell on February 6, 1861.
Subsequently Spanish general Leopoldo O'Donnell returned with his forces to Spain; they camped at spot north of Madrid while a triumphal entry into the capital was arranged. The camp, which acquired permanent structures as well as shops over time, became the Madrid neighborhood known as Tetuán de las Victorias. O’Donnell acquired the noble title of "First Duke of Tetuán."
For the Spanish, this was a heady victory in the centuries-old and bitter struggles between Catholic Spain over their Moorish adversaries. For the Muslims of North Africa it must have been another bitter humiliation, one that combined with all the rest, may still be an open wound.
It's amazing that news of the victory came to the friars building the new church in remote San Joaquin, Iloilo in the Philippines and that the friars instructed the stone carvers to celebrate the victory with bas relief carving of Tetuan battle scenes on the church facade. As others have pointed out the facial features of the Spanish and Moroccan combatants have a Chinese appearance. This should not be a surprise. Studies have shown that most of the stone masons working in the Visayas were Chinese. The San Joaquin carvings provide some fascinating physical substantiation of this.
Bear in mind that at the time the Moro slavers were still a real threat to the inhabitants of coastal Iloilo communities. It's no wonder that the victory at Tetuan resonated so strongly in the Philippines. Is it possible that the Tetuan bas relief was really done after the church was completed?
San Joaquin Cemetery Gate - Blue Sea Beyond
San Joaquin, Iloilo Cemetery
The "capilla ardiente" or mortuary chapel of the San Joaquin cemetery. Masses for the dead are or were conducted in this building.
San Joaquin Cemetery from Cemetery Chapel
Magpatao-Hay Eatery on National Highway before Tiolas
This seafront eatery is on the left before Tiolas. Watch for a Jolibee sign. One time we had them fix us a take-out lunch which was very good. Another time we dined there and had very fresh BBQ grilled Yellow-fin Tuna, rice and a Coke for P82. It was as good or better than the well-known seafood restaurants of Iloilo City. We also bought a four kilogram Brown Speckled Grouper which has just been caught just off the shore of the eatery. Usually there's a stand in front selling the fresh fish. This is a dirt-floored place that may not be for every tourist but the people running it are very nice and the food good.
Buying fresh Yellow-Fin Tuna steak at Magpatao-Hay Eatery, San Joaquin, Iloilo
Beach on coastal road south of Tiolas, Iloilo
We stopped to swim here, no sand but smooth pebbles, clean water, beautiful views.
Abdon and Andrea Greet Guests at LSDC Dive Resort
Coming from Iloilo City, drive through the pretty towns of Oton, Tigbauan, Guimbal, and Miagao, past Tiolas, Iloilo turning left on the road to Anini-y. In a few kilometers you'll see a sign for the Lhetz Snorkel and Dive Camp aka LSDC Resort. We were warmly greeted by Abdon and Andrea. We had coffee and merienda and then took a tour of the resort. You can come for the day (P30 adults, P20 children or stay overnight in aircon or fan cottages. You can also pitch a tent for P150.
Lhetz Snorkel and Dive Camp Resort, San Joaquin, Iloilo: Sitting Area
The public areas are done with an aesthetic elan. This is a modest resort, not for those who feel uncomfortable outside of Hilton or Marriott, but it has a nice and very quiet location away from the road, a considerable property and shore front, good maintenance, good rates and friendly owners. Be sure to make reservations and discuss dining requirements in advance. Abdon: 0918-603-3946 Andrea: 0916-765-6146
Lhetz Snorkel and Dive Camp Resort, San Joaquin, Iloilo: Dining Area
Lhetz Snorkel and Dive Camp Resort, San Joaquin, Iloilo: SCUBA Lessons
LSDC offers SCUBA instruction and services. Call in advance to arrange: Abdon 0918-603-3946 Andrea 0916-765-6146.