I’m back for a much needed vacation in the town where I grew up in the Philippines. It’s a lovely little town with a beautiful plaza and a slower pace of life, yet with all the modern conveniences. Even the plaza has free wi-fi for everyone to enjoy!
The town is called Malinao, its name is derived from the river on its southern part called Malinao (meaning calm and clear). Because indeed, our town is calm and relatively unspoiled.
So far as I can recall, the plaza itself was built in the mid to late 1800’s. The church was completed in 1889 while the Rizal Monument was finished in 1928. The present municipal building and some elements of the plaza (like the kiosks and the now covered bandstand) were built in 1955 – 1957. There was a massive remodeling of the plaza done by architect Nap Iledan in the mid to late 60s, I think under the Mayor Juanito Rondario and continued by Mayor Gaudencio Yatar. This was when they blasted a mountain on the northeast side of town – and uncovered rocks that were naturally white. So they hauled a few tons of these white rocks to build a wall around the sunken plaza. Before this time, the mayors that I recall were Johnny Iturralde and Juanito Rondario and perhaps (way before my time), Sancho Inserto.
Several rounds of beautification were done under Mayors Victor Inserto and especially under Rosie Igubann during the 1990s. We interviewed Mayor Iguban in 1998 about what makes Malinao so beautiful (compared for example, to neighboring towns). She said, “Because I am a woman.” Next was my brother’s turn to be mayor (Jodyi Ilio) in the 2000s with more rounds of beautification, like tiling, benches, trees, etc. Then more rounds of improvement came under Ariel Igoy in the 2010s. Presently, Mayor Jojo Iquina who just started being the chief of the town in June of this year is aggressively sprucing the plaza up.
(Note: I am not sure when the Levantamiento de Liloan monument was built, to commemorate the uprising of Malinao against Spain in 1897. This levantamiento was a large part of Philippine history due to the fact that its leaders, particularly Candido Iban from the barrio of Lilo-an donated the printing press to the Katipunan. There is also another (ugly) monument for WWII heroes next door to the municipal hall, again, I don’t know when it was built, probably in the 2000s.)