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Searching for the Datu (Part 1): Tiolas and Cataan Cove

Submitted by on April 10, 2012 – 8:10 pm18 Comments

It was another adventure for us – this time searching for the steps of the old Datus. Centuries ago, in this part of Panay Island (the town of San Joaquin), balangays of ten Datus from Borneo landed in these shores. Awed by the beauty of the island, the Datus bought the land from the Atis and settled in Panay. And the rest was history. Now we’re retracing the steps of the datus, and searching for the place were the barter was made – the famous real estate purchase that ushered in the birth of an Ilonggo nation and eventually the life and vein of preHispanic Filipino civilization.

It was noon when we left Garin Farm at Barangay Huna and we’re looking for a place to take lunch. I have been to San Joaquin a couple of times, and I’ll never forget the place where my father used to take us. So we jumped in at the car and headed to Barangay Tiolas, a few kilometers southwest of the town proper.

Barangay Tiolas is famous for its eateries along the cliffs, giving the diners a spectacular view of the Sulu Sea while enjoying the beauty of the fire trees that grows on the rocky shores.

Tiolas Iloilo

The sea breeze cools the restaurant we’re eating at. It was relaxing. It was splendid.  We climbed at the top of the restaurant and we’re amazed at the beauty of the scene. Not far is the fishing port of San Joaquin.

San Joaquin

Before leaving the restaurant, we asked we’re the Imbidayan Rock is. It was in Barangay Sinugbuhan. As to how far the place is, I have no idea at that time. Such an adventure awaits us then.

Cataan Iloilo

Barangay Tiolas is where the road separates into two. We took the road by the beach – the San Joaquin-Anini-y Road where we traversed several barangays in search of Sinugbuhan.

Along the way, we stopped at another eco-tourism landmark of San Joaquin – the Cataan Cove. This curve-like coast along Barangay Cataan is rich in marine biodiversity. Kilometers of the beach are declared marine sanctuary and few resorts are allowed to operate there. But the scene is breathtaking – pristine beaches and clear blue water will definitely wash away your stress.

Cataan Cove


Even though the coast is rocky, several parts of the beach are open for swimming and boating. An enticing view that definitely seduced the Datus into staying at this island.

After savoring the beauty of Cataan Cove, we hopped back in the car and moved on. We’re in a quest. (To be continued)

For the conclusion, you may read: “Searching for the Datu (Part 2): Lawigan and Sinogbuhan”

Getting There:

From Iloilo International Airport:
– You can take the Shuttle Bus going to SM City, Iloilo.
– From SM City, Iloilo, take the SM Mandurriao jeepney and take a stop at the nearby intersection under the overpass and ride the Oton bound jeep going to the jeepney terminal located in Mohon, Oton.
– In Mohon Oton Terminal, there will be several San Joaquin (Lawigan) jeepneys ready to take you at Cataan

From Iloilo City Proper
– Take the San Joaquin bound jeepney from Super terminal, Iloilo City.
– You can also take buses going to Anini-y or Dao Antique in Molo Terminal. Tell the bus conductor to drop you off in Barangay Cataan

For Private Transportation:
– San Joaquin is the last town in the southern part of Iloilo.
– The 63 Km drive along Iloilo- Antique National Road then taking the San Joaquin-Anini-y Road would get you in Cataan in about 2 hours.

Tips in Visiting Cataan:

  • Enjoy the scene. Few resorts operate in the area.
  • If you decide to go swimming, be careful of some of the rocks. Stay together and don’t go swimming alone. Be safe. The waves of the open sea are strong especially in afternoon or when the sea breeze is strong as well.


  • Alfred Adrian P. Chavez says:

    I hope the province could build a landmark and make it as a tourist spot.

    • Mark Segador says:

      yeah, we really need to boost and improve this area, it’s virgin and pristine, and according to some govt agencies looking after the cove, it’s also rich in marine biodiversity. tourism and sustainability must work together there.
      Now that Garin Farm is there, folks would definitely want to experience the beautiful coasts they see atop the pilgrimage area.

      • tetuan boy says:

        tnx iloiloilove for writing about my town. sj has a lot to offer, aside from beaches, we got caves too. this datu thing, is based on oral accounts only, handed from generation to another. i feel my bornean blood flows rapidly inside me every time i read articles about my town, esp. the landing. skeptics are sour about this matter, as always, but the feeling is undeniable. It’s written on the history books. We only need proof. We better start digging .

        • Mark Segador says:

          tetuan boy, i definitely agree with you. san joaquin is very special to me, it’s where my roots came from. our surname segador is native of san joaquin and my connection with this town makes me proud as a Filipino whose ancestor may stem from the first malay settlers themselves. =)
          yeah, we really need to find evidence of the maragtas and that may once solve the accuracy of this account once and for all.
          caves? certainly I shall visit them soon. I’ll see more of san joaquin in the future and share it here in Iloilo I LOVE!

  • Vic says:

    One thing i can say Mark is you got wonderful photos. they are way clear and perfect contrast. everything in the picture seems like living and so vivid.

    • Mark Segador says:

      thanks vic! yes, i want readers to feel how amazing the beaches of Iloilo are. i hope we can ignite ecotourism here in our province. more to come on this, as I’m preparing the part 2 of this article. =)

  • Vic says:

    Hello Mark who was the Datu that confront Miguel Lopez De Legazpi ? is it makabaog or Disayaran? and where’s the location in Ogtong or in Suaga…( San Joaquin)

    • Mark Segador says:

      hehe. it’s my first time to know that vic. wow. i haven’t read yet Ilonggos’ reaction to the colonization of the Spaniards. if we based on the write ups from our tourism offices, we might as well think that the Spaniards just came like tourists and we’re embraced by the Ilonggos.
      it’s interesting to know how the ilonggo nation fell into the hands of the spanish. how did the confederation of madia-as reacted?

  • Vic says:

    @Mark , if we dig the history and accounts of Legazpi , Martin De Rada , Miguel Loarca and Don Gonzalo De Ronquillo. There was no mention of resistance of village people of Ogtong ( Oton) or Araut ( Dumangas) unlike in Cebu where they wrote down fierce battle with Datu Tupaz. If there was resistant battle occured in Iloilo when they saild in the Straight of Guimaras, Loarca and Martin De Rada would have mentioned it. They did not also mentioned any Datu as what they identified in Leyte , Bohol and Sugbu. It was in Arevalo that the first book was written . Good indication that Loarca found a safe place to write down Spanish Accomplishments peacefully without any threat from the natives of Iloilo or Portoguese raids . He wrote ” They are open to conversation “(1569) unlike in people in Mindanao. My theory is Explorers should have brought Cebuano speaking native ,acted as interpreter and convinced the ancient people of Ogtong ( Oton) that Spanish came with no real harm as what the Moros of Mindanao are doing to them , and they are there as traders , and protect the natives from Portoguese and offer many economic advantage if they will follow the Spanish … Tourism office is guilty of reconstructing history if the are saying Spanish came in Iloilo as Tourist…

    • Mark Segador says:

      ah. that’s why i was wondering how easily the Spanish was able to convert the prehispanic Ilonggos. hmmm the spanish didn’t mention anything about the confederation of Madia-as or any datu ruling here in panay. hmmm. more research then is needed.

  • Vic says:

    @Mark yeah , it leads to an idea a fact that , Iloilo was land of the free and people enjoy that liberty and harmony than the other part of the archipelago… There was no oppresive ruler like those in Manila or Cebu where there’s Empire of Muslim and Indian respectively … and Miguel Loarca wrote extensively about Iloilo due the fact that he wrote the book in Arevalo , and an encomendiero of sorrounding Islands of Panay up to Romblon. So he would have ampple time to get every information as possible. He detailed the relative peace of Iloilo . One thing Loarca notice is “Very rarely do they become angry when drunk, for their drunkenness passes off in jests or in sleep ” another is “Its villages stand very close together, and the people are peaceful “…In other areas Loarca wrote that in Luzon, Manila , Bulinao, Mindanao people are warrriors and punishing their wife to death , torture their victms etc… that must the reason why reception of Spanish Conquestatores was easy in Iloilo.

    • Mark Segador says:

      well up to now Ilonggos are really peace-loving people. this is very important for us to understand – how was the Ilonggo Nation like before the spaniards came. and how did the colonization went?

  • Vic says:

    I am collecting information Mark , hoping I can find the best book ” Remnant of Ilongo Nation ” . I dont know where to find a copy … and other books also that may help enhance our knowledge obout Pre-Spanish Iloilo , yet if we base on the current culture , we might have some insights about the belief and way of living before , thier religion , proto-iloilo language and so on

  • tip says:

    fishing port of san joaquin (view from the cliff)…this is privately owned by the Lucero family 🙂

  • ceilo says:

    i like cataan cove.
    for the first time i jump in the water

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