How are we affected by the places we visit?
Most of the time, we hop from a tourist destination to another to relieve our stresses in life; the fatigues brought about by our work and or our studies. We all wanted to get lost in a so called paradise and wish time will temporarily stop even just for a while. We allow ourselves to be devoured by the scenic views nature offers, most especially that the Philippines has so much of these natural wonders.
As we let our euphoria took over our senses, we failed to realize that beyond these God-given natural masterpieces lie a rich history we do not usually read from our history textbooks; oftentimes they remain anonymous.
Almost 53 kilometers away from the hearth of Iloilo City, a three-hour trek from Bgry. Ginot-an, San Joaquin, Iloilo, Sampaw Bato offers both history and beauty. It is a place that houses several rock boulders placed on top of the other and some of these are bigger and taller than humans.
Sampaw Bato is just another exciting place to visit especially to earthlings who like nothing but adventure. As you reach higher altitude, you’ll be lulled by the cool-soothing air of the mountain while viewing the beautiful sunrise and sunset in a much nicer angle. From above, you’ll find yourself seeing the whole municipality of San Joaquin and its neighboring towns, plus, the horizon stretching infinitely –separating the sky from the sea.
Beyond the lavish beauty that Sampaw Bato offers, is a story unfamiliar to most of us.
According to Romeo Nicar, a barangay councilor of Sitio Balabago (a sitio close to Sampaw Bato), Sampaw Bato served as a secret hiding place of the armed weapons of the HUKBALAHAP (Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon) headed by Poras. Before, the mountain where the rocks are situated is filled with trees and tall green grasses that served as shield against terrifying eyes of the Japanese soldiers. Filipinos hike the steep trails of this mountain for the hope of escaping torture and death from the Japanese. In those days, Filipinos no longer cook their food; rather, they eat root crops so not to create smoke that may cause suspicions from the said alien invaders.
The experiences and accounts behind these rocks sprouted a truth that there is a special space of history in the farthest town in the south of Iloilo, the town of San Joaquin. Truly, the past, even how far and elusive it is it will still be exposed by those who dared to find it.
Sampaw Bato does not only give us a glimpse of paradise but also brings us back closer to our roots and have us a truer understanding of our identities as Ilonggos. IMT