Heritage Conservation Society

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San Joaquin Church

Posted by admin on January 2, 2007

Originally called Suaraga, Soaragam, Suiraga, the settlement was an encomienda under Esteban Rodriguez de Figueroa. Suaraga was a visita of Antique from 1591-92, when it became an independent town. In 1687, a resident priest was assigned to Suaraga. In 1692, Suaraga was made a parish with Miagao as its annex; later, in 1703, Guimbal was annexed to Suaraga; and in 1731 returned to Miagao. Finally in 1793 it became an independent parish and in 1801, Fr. Agustín Rico was assigned resident priest. The present church is attributed to Fr. Tomás Santaren while he was parish priest from 1855-66.

Heritage Features: Built of coral stone quarried from Igbaras, the church is flanked by a three story bell tower to its right and the ruins of a building, probably the convento to its left. The bell tower, however, is now damaged and the upper most story, a construction in reinforced concrete. The two stories of the façade are uneven in height, the second being about one-half the dimension of the first. The first story is decorated with rosettes and divided vertically by engaged columns on tall plinths like Guimbal. Composite capitals crown the columns. A plaque above the arched portal displays the Augustinian seal flanked by cherubs. The second story is plain compared with the lower floor. The façade’s striking feature, however, is the disproportionately large pediment. When Fr. Santarén was still building the church news of the victory of Gen. Leopoldo O’Donnel over the Moroccan Crown Prince Muley Abbas reached Iloilo. The Spaniards recaptured Tetuan. Santarén’s low relief mural captures the excitement of victory where cavalry and infantry are tearing down Moorish defense, near palms and a minaret. The troops are composed in an ascending spiral with figures of horse and rider becomes smaller the higher they reach. Spaces between the figures are filled with vegetation. The title of the composition “Rendición de Tetuan” is carved at the base of this animated relief. (Panublion)

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