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Searching for the Datu (Part 2): Lawigan and Sinogbuhan

Submitted by on May 14, 2012 – 9:23 am5 Comments

Imbidayan Rock San Joaquin

A month ago, I started sharing the first part of our adventure in the coasts of San Joaquin (Part 1 here). Looking for the Imbidayan Rock, we found the beauty of the pristine and unspoiled beaches of San Joaquin, Iloilo’s southernmost town. Going back, Imbidayan Rock was the subject of a popular folklore telling the birth of the Malay civilization in Panay. It was said that the purchase of the Panay Island by the ten Bornean Datus from the Aetas under King Marikudo took place atop the big flat rock sitting on the beaches of now Barangay Sinogbuhan. There’s much more in the history and ecotourism destinations in the coasts of San Joaquin. Let’s explore them:

From Cataan, we drove south to Barangay Igcadlum where a surprise awaits us. Along the road we saw a rock formation and decided to take a rest from the long trip. It was past noon when we reached the area and what we saw stunned us – the beach was glistening below the beautiful blue sky. One of the most beautiful scenes I saw in years. Though the rest of the shore was off limits, the view from the rocks was enough to blow out all your stresses. The fresh sea breeze is refreshing really. What I experienced was one of the most relaxing moments I had in years.

The Barangay Lawigan-Igcadlum Marine Sanctuary is one of the 15 MPAs in San Joaquin. Spanning at an area of 20,000 square meters (2 hectares), the marine sanctuary is home to a diverse community of marine life. No wonder San Joaquin has one of the richest produce of sea catch in the province.

Here are some of the photos of the Lawigan – Igcadlum Marine Protected Sanctuaries:


I also would like to share these beautiful underwater pictures taken at Lawigan – Igcadlum, courtesy of Destination: San Joaquin (FB Page). I wish I could go back soon and do snorkeling in the allowed areas of San Joaquin’s coasts.

iloilo beach

marine san joaquin

snorkel lawigan

Moving forward in our search, we drove further south. It took a while before we reached Barangay Sinogbuhan. No online map can tell me where the exact location of the rock is, so I have to trust my intuition. As I looked at the side of the road, I saw the familiar marker of the rock. We immediately stopped and hopped out of the car, excited to see this jewel of our heritage.

I first inspected the marker. There are two markers actually; one is old while the other one is artistic. But they have the same inscription:

“Welcome! Imbidayan Rock, Sinogbuhan, San Joaquin Iloilo. On this spot was perfected the purchase of Panay between Datu Marikudo of the Negritos and Datu Puti of Malays in the early 1200 AD with colorful ceremony.”


And at last! A few meters from the side of the road, there it is – the Imbidayan Rock, sitting alone in the beach – undisturbed except by the waves pounding the coast. I ran towards the rock and touched it. It was supernatural. Mystical.

Touching the rock seems like going back to the past. With the sound of the winds and the waves at the background, there’s no doubt why the Datus stayed here and bought this beautiful island with a gold saduk (sort of hat / helmet) and one golden necklace.

If only the datus know the impact of the barter, they would have written in the stone, “Datu Puti was here.”

Sinugbuhan San Joaquin

Imbidayan Rock

The feeling was indescribable. I could have sat untiringly in the beach from noon till the sunset watching the waves crash against the rock. It was immense. You could feel the history of the beach. This is the birthplace of the great Ilonggo nation that thrived way before the arrival of the Europeans.

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 there

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 Sinogbuhan

For Private Transportation:

– San Joaquin is the last town in the southern part of Iloilo.

– The 75 Km drive along Iloilo- Antique National Road then taking the San Joaquin-Anini-y Road would get you in Cataan in about 2 ½  hours.


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  • Vic says:

    there other contesting places where the purchase of panay took place like malandog antique or aniniy.. where did it really happen?..
    May I ask , are there any cottage there for overnight stay? the place looks so nice for vacation…

    • Mark Segador says:

      Unfortunately, there are no commercial resorts near the rock. I believe the nearest one is at Cataan, which is about fifteen to twenty minute drive from Sinogbuhan, and around ten minutes from Lawigan. i maybe wrong, if one of our readers can help us enlighten on this one, please do so. San Joaquin has lots of tourism potential.

  • Vic says:

    @Mark Segador thanks i guess the tiolas area is beautiful and those coastal road on that area

  • Julius Reinheart Blanco says:

    Yes! their is a cottage for overnight stay. Actually from the sinogbuhan rock you can walk 20 mins. minimum or you my take a ride in motor or in jeepney it just take 3-5 mins. minimum then you’ll find your way to sinogbuhan sanctuary. Their you can rent a cottage for overnight stay and also it is a nice spot for swimming.

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