Bayluhay Festival

3rd week of January
Municipality of San Joaquin
1st District, Iloilo

Bayluhay Festival of San Joaquin, annually celebrated every 3rd week of January showcases the historic barter based on folk history of the Maragtas legend.

Visitors step back in time and relive the period of the historic landing of the ten Bornean Datus in Panay. The festival commemorates the barter of the island that ultimately lead to the inhabitation of the Malays in the entire Philippine archipelago.

It was said that sometime between the 13th and 15th century, ten Shri-Vijayan Datus led by the Sultanate Minister Datu Putih, together with their families, households and subordinates fled Bornay (Borneo) using their balanghais boat for sea travel) in search of a new life. It was said that the group landed in Siruanga (Siwaragan River in San Joaquin) where they bartered their gold and jewelries with the local “Ati” (Aeta) Chieftain Marikudo with his wife Maniwantiwang for the lowlands, plains and valleys of the Aninipay Island (Panay) they called “Madya-as” or paradise. 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 celebration also showcases the various ancient customs and traditions that San Joaquinhons have inherited from their ancestors, colourful rituals that had deeply ingrained in their lives.

Excerpts of the performances will also include the portrayal of everyday life during the ancient times. Ritual drama are also incorporated which includes music, song, drumming, chanting and mass participation. These ritual traditions have left a lasting impression on our Malay brothers that are very much visible to this day.

Bayluhay Festival is an opportunity for the people of San Joaquin to express their pride and honour, known to be progenies of these great and noble ancient rulers of the land. It is proof of the greatness that springs from unity among the people in their community; the local government and the private sector, cultural advocates come together.