Pasungay Festival – San Joaquin, Iloilo
In Spain, the bullfighting festival is called Corrida de Toros or literally, the Running of the Bulls. In these festivals, the bulls are let loose in the streets and the people literally run away from them – after provoking it, of course because where’s the fun it that if you just run, eh?
In San Joaquin, Iloilo, the bullfighting is left between the two bulls, or more specifically the “kalabaw” or the Water Buffalo. These bulls are groomed and handpicked months before the festivities, to ensure the success of the fight. There’s nothing more disappointing than going to a fight and just see them staring at each other. It would be like American Idol without the “nuisance auditions”.
Bulls are not the only ones featured in this animal fight club. Stallions or male horses are given their time in the arena as well. Betting is a common activity during this festival just like in sabong or cockfighting.
The Pasungay Festival is the highlight of this week long celebration that gives homage to the Sto. Nino or the Child Jesus. But while you’re in Iloilo, why don’t you go see other attractions that they have as well:
1. Plaza Libertad - This was where the flag of the First Philippine Republic was raised after Spain surrendered Iloilo to General Martin Delcago on Christmas Day in 1898.
2. Andonna Creek – Located in Baranggay Siwaragan, this was the landing site of the 10 Bornean Datus that came to Iloilo and were said to have been the forefathers of the Ilonggos
3. Fort San Pedro – Built in the early 1600’s by the Spaniards, it has been attacked by the Dutch, British, American and Japanese troops from whence then tried (and some succeeded) to colonize the area.
4. Guimbal Watchtowers – Also called the “Bantayan”, it was built as a viewing deck to look out for and warn the village of incoming pirates.
5. Rosendo Mejica Museum – Situated in Molo, Iloilo City, the museum houses memorabilia on social and cultural literature in English, Spanish and Hiligaynon from the last part of the 19th century up to the present
6. Jaro – See the old colonial houses of the sugar barons of yesteryear and the colonial houses of the old rich.
7. Isla de Gigantes – See the 15th century burial caves and natural rock formations. Take a dip in the natural swimming pool as well.
8. Nadsadjan Falls – It is a 100 foot high falls that drop on a giant natural pool
9. Sampunong Bolo Wildlife Sanctuary – Take an adventure at the 52 hectare timberland and get a chance to watch purple herons that feed there during the day.
10. The multitude of churches.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Book your flight with Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, http://www.airasia.com/ph/en/home.pageor Air Philippines and then take a cab to our preferred hotel. The most common mode of transportation is the jeepney.
WHERE TO STAY:
There are a number of nice and affordable hotels in Iloilo:
- Amigo Terrace Hotel – It’s about 10 minutes from the city airport and rooms have airconditioning, cable TV, Internet connectivity in the room and NDD/IDD. Amigo is located at the corner of Isnart and Delgado Street in Iloilo city. Call them up in Iloilo at (033) 3350908 local 8301 or 8302. You can contact and book with their Manila office as well by calling them at 5242264 or 5213166 local 171 and 182.
- Hotel Del Rio – Located at MH Del Pilar St., in Molo, Iloilo, a standard room will cost you Php 2,188.00++ for a night. The room can accommodate 4 people with extra cots. Their room has hot and cold shower, colored TV with cable, a phone and a fridge. Call them up at (033) 3351171 – 74 in Iloilo and at 4251340 in their Manila branch.
- Sarabia Manor Hotel – What is nice about this hotel is that they have “The Manor” for the budget conscious traveler. Their rooms start at Php750/night for the budget room and can go up to Php2,500 for their Deluxe room. They have airport pick up and drop off options, Wifi access, laundry services, car rental services and it’s only 15 minutes away from the downtown area. Call them up at (033) 3351021-27 in Iloilo or book with their Manila office at 8894620.