San Joaquin Cemetery (1892)


The San Joaquin Cemetery is situated beside the highway of San Joaquin town approximately 50 kilometers southwest of Iloilo City. Built in 1892 and was made of coral rocks, it features 20 stone steps near the entrance that is adorned by stone balustrades on both sides that leads to an eye grabbing mortuary chapel designed in Baroque architecture standing solidly on the center.

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I arrived here after a brief stop-over at Miag-ao Church the day prior the first day of the Dinagyang Festival weekend and the sun was at its highest, its ray of lights shining directly over my head and with sweat drenching all over my face and my shirt reduced to a mop-like cloth, I persevered and frolicked at the sight that greeted me upon entering the cemetery.

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I've never been to a cemetery as old as this before. Though the residents of this place have changed through the years with the oldest being entombed in the late 70's. There is still a presence of its century old existence as I gazed upon the mortuary chapel which stood like this one thick, strong structure unmindful of the beatings of time.

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I slowly rose through the steps and encountered dozens of funeral-goers about to bid goodbye to a love one. I watched them for a few minutes amidst the sounds of cries and agony from those who remained on Earth. As the cemetery caretakers started to pour cement into the departed man's final resting place and throngs of family members slowly go down on the stone stair I directed my eye on the unwavering statues around me. 

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It was an eerie feeling as a few minutes later I was left all alone in the cemetery. The people have slowly faded into the sleepy town of San Joaquin, a few moments later a couple arrived to take a few pictures while I rested my tired body under a shade near the gate of the cemetery.

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Then a few moments again afterward, the couple was gone and I was left again in the company of the departed. Just like in life in general, people coming and going and only the mere fact that we are mortals remains the same. Soon, everyone (including me) will be gone and unto our own specific resting place.

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I stayed for about an hour inside the cemetery sitting under the shade and the clear blue skies and white clouds formed by genius brush strokes of nature hovers above me. I was wondering about death for a moment while bodies of the departed rots below me and their souls up in the sky looking down upon me and this rustic and appealing final resting place known as the San Joaquin Cemetery.

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I grabbed my backpack after an hour of amazement and went walking further down the town of San Joaquin where again i was greeted by another stunning Spanish colonial church and a town plaza that is both peaceful and charming.

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As the sun shone bright and the cool wind coming from the beach, I was tempted to sat under a tree and make an attempt at a short sleep, but my couchsurfing host Joanne was just an hour away from getting off work and meeting me back in downtown Iloilo. The walk I made from the cemetery and unto the town plaza passing by near the shoreline, I've nothing on my head but gratitude at such opportunity to travel and visit places like this.

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