Next stop is San Joaquin. From the outskirts entering the town can be seen is the coral stone walled cemetery of San Joaquin with an iron gate. Before you enter the cemetery and go beyond its gate with its intricate design, you will be caught in a catchy phrase attached to the arched iron grill above the main gate confronting everyone with the inevitability of death. It says “What you are I was, What I am you will be.” The two pillars supporting the decorative archway were ornately carved with flowers and tendrils showing the influence of Gothic architecture. Ascending the 20 steps staircase, it was flanked on both sides with a stone balustrade. One can then reach the main entrance of the hexagonal chapel on top which is ornamented by a rose window. The chapel is made of coral rocks and built in 1892. San Joaquin was formerly called “Soaragani,” “Suiragan” and “Suaraga” based on the name of the river Siwaragan which, in turn, was named after a poisonous snake “suiraga.” It was the former “encomienda” of the Spanish king under the stewardship of Esteban de Figueroa. It was also the place where the Jesuit scholar and historian Fr. Pedro Chirino was first assigned. San Joaquin was once a “visita” of Hamtic, Antique. It became an independent parish known as San Joaquin only in 1801. The popular San Joaquin parish church facade commemorates the 1859 Spanish victory over the Moroccan forces at the Battle of Tetuan, North Africa. Considered as the most militaristic church in the Philippines, the pediment’s bas relief sculpture entitled “Rendicion de Tetuan” which reveals the cavalry and infantry led by St. James, the Moor-slayer, breaking the Moorish defenses under a minaret tower against a landscape of date palms. The sculpture was so intricate that even the expression of wounded soldiers is visible. The original pigments of blue, yellow and red have remained unfaded on the stone through the years. The mural portrays beautifully and graphically the triumph of good over evil.
After Banate, the next town is Ajuy where a very relaxing resort called Hilltop will allow anyone to see the islets between Negros and Iloilo. Dangulan Camping Hill can also be found in this town where you can stroll along its shaded, grass-covered grounds and is suitable for picnics, excursions, camping and jamboree with its location overlooking the scenic view of the sea beyond. Santa Ana Waterfall is the favorite bathing place of excursionists from the town proper and the neighboring barangays. What is distinct in this waterfall is its cute natural basin which invites even the little children to swim without endangering them to be drowned. The small cave beside it serves as a shelter for the farmers and strangers who are unluckily caught by sudden downpour. It is also a place where picnickers cook and eat their meas after swimming at the pool.
Darangkulan Waterfall is a secluded spot surrounded by tall trees where a waterfall is found on its rock walls. It can be reached only by a long, winding rocky trail. This fall is located at the foot of Mount Manyakis, the highest peak in the town of Ajuy. The place is exceedingly cool and relaxing. The smooth and flat boulders bulging around the rim of the falls are used as seats by the bystanders who would be contented of watching only the swimmers enjoying their swim.
Another attraction in Ajuy is the noted Dumingding Cave. Following the path towards the interior, one can find a small stream gently flowing from the inner portion which came from a spring beneath the rocky walls. Though the interior of the cave is not totally pitch dark because of the sun's rays streaking partially inside its mouth. Calabasa Island is a government-owned island in Ajuy but only a few people benefited from it. This island has a great potential as a tourist attraction if it is converted as a beach resort. On the depths around this island is a vast underwater playground for scuba divers and marine sports enthusiasts. Following a winding, ascending, rocky trail , one can plod to a grassy plain at the upper portion of the island. This part of the island is suitable as playground for any athletic game.
Only 450 meters away from Calabasa Island is Nasidman Island another famed island ideal as potential beach resort. It's most distinctive feature is its immaculately clean waters and shore. Reaching the topmost portion of island, they viewed the whole area which they felt is ideal for relaxation and meditation. Punta Buri is 6 nautical miles from the town proper of Ajuy. One can take the winding, ascending trail after disembarking from the pumbboats to reach the topmost portion of the island. This area is frequented by picnickers and excursionists for their day and night swimming. Tagubanhan Island is the biggest and farthest island of Ajuy. The island is composed of two barangays. This Barangay Tagubanhan is the larger portion of the two. The smaller, eastern portion is called Bagongon. This portion is a part of Ajuy while the other one is a part of the town of Concepcion. The whole stretch of the beach surrounding the island is covered mostly by white sands while the depths of the sea are the best side for scuba diving. The town next to Ajuy is Concepcion.
Igbon Island in Concepcion has a long stretch of white sand beach. A lighthouse can be found in the nearby island and was erected to guide fishing boats and other shipping vessels in order to avoid any mishaps or accident. This island is part of the cluster of islands serving as protective cover of fishing boats and other vessels which were caught offshore by a raging typhoon. This group includes the big islands of Malangabang and Botlog and smaller other islands. The waters on this island is also ideal for scuba diving. This is also one of the richest fishing grounds in Northern Iloilo. In fact, most of the fish caught in the surrounding waters of this island are sold to Estancia. Once there was even a big whale caught in the waters off this island.
The famous Pan de Azucar Island is aso found in Concepcion town. The white sand beach of this famed island is mixed with various seashells of the kind and shape like the ones in Igbon Island. The two peaks if viewed from the mainland seemed to look like one because they are adjoined by each other. The highest peak in the island, Manaphag resembles a sugar loaf like the Sugar Loaf Mountain of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil with its steep, tapering, rocky summit. In fact, the name itself of the island Pan de Azucar is Spanish for "sugar loaf." The virgin forest surrounding these two mountain peaks remained unexploited and unspoiled and its lush vegetation served as a shield concealing the rare fauna and exotic flora in its bosom. This island is actually consists of five barangays or local villages namely: Tambalisa, Talutoan, Looc, Macatunaw and Baguntao.
The people of these villages benefited much from the large scale mass production of dried fish found in nearby Malangabang Island which also serves as docking area of fishing boats from the neighboring islands. Also found in the island of Malangabang is cape-like point of the island which extends to a few meters into the sea. This scenic spot is a favorite rendezvous of promenaders, especially in the late afternoon when they could see the picturesque seascape by sunset.
The next town after Concepcion is Sara. San Juan Falls is a popular waterfall in Sara. This fall consist of a series of smaller cascades falling on top of each other forming each time a pool on a natural basin. The stair-like form of this fall is so attractive and refreshing that once you started bathing on one of those pools, you will feel that you will not like to leave the place anymore. The thickly growing trees and the lush vegetation around contributed greatly to the coolness and the abundance of the clear water of this place. This is a favorite picnic ground of the people in this town and neighboring towns. Another popular waterfalls in Sara is Puruguan Falls. Barangay Ardemil is a hilly barangay or village perched prominently atop a rocky plateau. This barangay is located on a highly elevated site overlooking the wide plains and smaller hills below. During sunset one can see the whole panorama of ricefields with the surrounding trees, hills and mountains bathed in the golden glow or the amber shade of sunset.
Next stop is the town of Estancia where the famed Sicogon Island is found. One can reach it by the wharf on the waterfront just a few meters away from the market. Sicogon Island has a whole long stretch expansive beach fully covered by as thick mantle of white sand fringed only on the far outer edge by thick rows of coconut trees. This island consists of three barangays namely San Fernando, Alipata and Buaya. It was on the white sand beach of San Fernando where the former Miss Universe 1969, Gloria Diaz had her location shooting of her first film "Ang Pinakamagandang Hayop sa Balat ng Lupa" in 1974. Besides this white sand beach, the island boasts also of numerous natural springs and some unexplored mammoth caves with underground streams and nature-carved walls. With properly maintained cottages and improved resort facilities, this 1,104 hectare white sand, palm-fringed island resort could be made more alluring to tourists in the years to come.
After Estancia is the town of Balasan and the last and the northeasternmost town in Panay and in Iloilo Province is Carles. Carles is a town with several islands and islets that not only the town can be proud of but the whole Iloilo province. Once on the coast of Calagnaan and Sicogon, en route to the famed Gigantes Island of Carles there is a sharp, rugged promontory jutting on the northern tip of the island of Sicogon can be found thousands of seagulls perching on the tip of the pointed rocks and on the branches of the trees growing on the rocky walls of the ravines thus, it is called Molupulo or Seagull's Point. This is the area where the seagulls flock because the waters around this area are bountiful of fish. Gigante Islands in Carles consist of several islets where there are long stretches of white sand beaches with shiny, tiny and white washout pebbles. The expansive white sand beach was fringed on the upper portion with a high, rugged, pointed coral rocks serving as a cliff and seawall. The island of Gigantes popularly called "Islas de Gigantes" is divided into two - the North and the South Gigantes where the latter is the larger of the two. These two islands are called Gigantes or giants because they looked like sleeping giants as what we can see at a distance while approaching these islands. The upper part of the island has a damp ground before which was partly dug by a wide excavation exposing an inner layer of the thick, viscous, clammy, light-colored clay, some of which spilled over the rim of the shallow digging. The moist, viscous clay is the rare and costly ceramic clay used in making expensive ceramic products.From among the nooks surrounding this damp area are numerous natural springs which provide natural, icy-cold water for people's consumption. There are also some caves in the island where several bats live. In the inner portion of these caves are numerous chambers some of which cavernous while some are small. In one of these cavernous chambers, some huge broken antique jars containing some decayed skulls and broken bones of human beings was found here several decades back. The cave in this island is one of the numerous caves which served as the burial ground of the 15th century early inhabitants of the islands. The cave was discovered with lots of antique pottery and crude tools.
Beneath the small forest with a well lighted though cavernous mouth is a mammoth cave. The cave's floor is below sea level so certain amount of seawater is flowing freely into the inner portion of the cave through the depressed portion at the entrance of the cave so one will be cautioned to walk slowly along the narrow pathway beneath the sidewall so as not to get wet. In the innermost portion of the cave, the stream flowing in from the sea was joined by the fresh water coming from the underground spring inside the cave. Thus the combined waters formed into a natural swimming pool inside the cave. In one of the cave's chambers, one granite stone was carved into a monstrous shape of an elephant. The cave is called Langub Cave and was one of the abodes of the ancient cave dwellers. The stone elephant was perhaps carved out of stone by the cave dwellers a long, long time ago using their stone tools and implements. The natural swimming pool inside this cave is now used as a favorite swimming pool of those who are not good swimmers at the beach. Here, they could swim all they want without fear of being carried off into the middle of the sea by the gravitational force of the low tide.
Other islands in Carles are Balabagon, Naburot and Binuluangan which are also equally beautiful and proud of its tranquil islands and white sand beaches.