Iloilo | The Historical Camposanto de San Joaquin

Philippines is a country rich in culture and natural resources, and Iloilo has its abundant share of the many jewels of attraction Filipinos are proud of - one of which is the San Joaquin Cemetery. Located along the national highway in the town of San Joaquin, which is 50-60 kilometers away from Iloilo City, the historical site is one of the oldest cemeteries in Panay Island; its founding dates back to 1892 by Fray Mariano Vamba in the Spanish era.

San Joaquin Cemetery

The architecture of the Roman Catholic cemetery is adorned with statues of Christ and the holy saints, embedded on the doorway, on the passageways, and even on the hallways. The moment you enter the acclaimed historical piece of structural art, you will behold a sculpture of Jesus with arms wide open between angelic figures. The entrance to the cemetery is also marked with cherubim and skulls to signify peaceful death. The beauty and splendor is nowhere near finished, because the stonewall of the mortuary chapel “Camposanto” in the next section is carved in intricate floral and leaf patterns. In fact, the Camposanto is very famous for its baroque-style architecture. Not to mention the fact that the mortuary chapel, including the 20-stone steps leading to it, is amazingly made of white coral rocks and fossil stones! There is even a beautiful replica of the iconic La pieta statue found inside the chapel.

There are a few stories relating to San Joaquin cemetery that will certainly add a much deeper, historical feel to the place. One of which is the legend that the ancient Datus of Bornea once traded gifts to the Aetas on the very grounds where the cemetery now stands. This could be the basis of the “hidden treasures” that is believed to be buried underneath the chapel. 

San Joaquin Cemetery

San Joaquin Cemetery

San Joaquin Cemetery

San Joaquin Cemetery

San Joaquin Cemetery


The first step in going to Camposanto de San Joaquin is to go to Iloilo City, whether you come from Luzon or other provinces of Visayas or Mindanao the easiest way to get to Iloilo is by plane. 

From Metro Manila 
Take an airplane ride going to Iloilo City. All local airlines has direct flight from Manila to Iloilo City. Iloilo is part of Panay Island. Aside from Iloilo City International Airport, Panay island has 2 other airports - Caticlan in Aklan and Roxas in Capiz.

Other option, if you come from Luzon you can even go by land (and sea) via RORO buses from Metro Manila to Iloilo City through Laguna-Batangas-Mindoro Oriental-Panay Island nautical highway.

From Visayas provinces/islands
If there are no plane route to Iloilo City from where you are, you can travel to Cebu. From Cebu, you can choose to travel by air or sea going to Iloilo City. 

Bacolod City (Negros Occidental) is very close to Iloilo. Just ride in a fastcraft or RORO ship from Bacolod Port going to Iloilo City - more or less 1 hour sea travel.

From Mindanao
There are direct flights from Davao City, General Santos City and Cagayan de Oro City going to and from Iloilo City.

  • Once you get to Iloilo City, ride a San Joaquin jeepney either at the Terminal Market near Robinsons or at Molo, then inform the driver to drop you at the San Joaquin Cemetery. The journey takes 30-45 minutes depending on the traffic situation.

The Philippines is rich in history, culture, and beautiful attractions! When you think of Philippines, remember San Joaquin Cemetery because it is definitely worth the visit. 


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