San Joaquin, Iloilo, already renowned for its strong cultural ties, its vivacious colours and lively music, Bayluhay tend to pull out all the stops when it comes to festivals. From days of traditional bull fighting and special events, the town immerses its visitors to its rich local culture, a beautiful expression of the town’s unique character.
Bayluhay, to be set this year on January 18 (Thursday) at 2 p.m. draws on diverse cultural traditions. It showcases a mixture of indigenous rituals and local traditions and customs. These include the native culture of the Borneans that inhabited the area prior to the arrival of the Spanish whose presence derives from a long history of Christianization.
Bayluhay, coined from the Hiligaynon word Baylo meaning to barter or to exchange is an annual tribal dance competition that highlights the folk history of the re-enactment of the historic barter based on the Maragtas Legend. It was said that sometime between the 13th and 15th century, ten Shri-VijayanDatus led by the Sultanate Minister DatuPuti, together with DatusBangkaya, Dumalugdog, Sumakwel, Lubay, Paiburong, Dumangsil, Balensusa, Paduhinog and Dumangsol, along with their families and followers boarded their balangays or boats and sailed across the Sulu Sea on their quest for the Promise Land.
The group skirted to the southern tip of the island of Panay and landed in Siruanga (Siwaragan River in San Joaquin) where they met the Ati (Aeta) Chieftain Marikudo and his wife Maniwantiwang. They had peaceful intentions with the natives, and later entered into a trade alliance and negotiated the purchase of Panay Island. The Borneans bartered the lowlands, plains and valleys for a golden Salakot and a Manangyad or golden necklace said to have touched the ground. After the transaction was sealed, the Atis were believed to have retired to the mountains and the Malay took complete control of the lowlands.
The performance also explores on the rich ancient rituals practised by our early ancestors who believe that Spirits dwell in many natural features such as trees, rivers and mountains that is why various forms of offerings were made to appease the spirits. Places where malign spirits were believed to dwell were avoided. The preservation of these traditions were observed spirituality and in their communal way of life.
Bayluhay is San Joaquin’s annual appreciation and recognition of its historic past. Every Ilonggo must celebrate it to honour our rich culture and tradition. It is our way to connect to our past that had made us what we are today.
San Joaquin is a Second Class municipality, the last town south of the province. It is 85- kilometer away or an hour and twenty minute drive from the city. With a total land area of 23,135 hectares, the town is subdivided into 85 barangays.
To get to San Joaquin, visitors can take a jeepney at the Don Benito Q. Acap Sr. Southern Iloilo Perimeter Boundary Terminal in Barangay Mohon, Oton, Iloilo or at the market terminal along Mabini St. in Iloilo City. Metered taxis are also available. For more information, please contact ErlynAlunan – Municipal Tourism Officer at 09085129189.