CALINOG: Iloilo’s Underrated Historic Gem

Text and photos by: Bombette G. Marin

CALINOG, Iloilo is an underrated gem where a curious visitor can always see something new to discover. The town boasts a wealth of exciting destinations. Clean townscapes and natural wonders, architectural highlights and lovely man-made attractions, there is something for everyone to discover here.

The town center is a historic streetscape which makes walking a must. History is there to see, touch and experience, practically everywhere in the area.

Walking along the main streets, or exploring other areas around, you will encounter a variety of historic sites from different eras, each one adding an individual piece to a historical mosaic that spans the centuries.

The Municipal Hall of 1937

The Calinog Municipal Building in Quezon Street was completed in 1937 under the leadership of Municipal President Geronimo Celo and Javier Celo as Vice President. It is the only municipal building in the entire province designed with a watchtower.

The historic sunken plaza complex was built during the Spanish time and serves as a venue for many of the town’s historic monuments. The centerpiece is its candy-colored octagonal bandstand built on May 19, 1930 during the terms of Geronimo Celo as town president and Restituto Celeste as its vice president.

CPU tourism students at the historic bandstand.

The bandstand served as a venue for talented Calinognon performers willing to showcase their talent especially in singing and playing musical instruments during special occasions.

The Rizal Shrine of 1929

The Jose Rizal monument was completed on May 10, 1929. The full-body Rizal statue that faces the Catholic church stands with its right arm raised and its left arm carrying a book is elevated on a two-level triangular base. The upper base is decorated with three stars and a sun, while the second and lower base has Spanish writings.

The Bonifacio Shrine of 1930

Joining our National Hero is a bust of another historical icon from Jaro, Iloilo, Graciano Lopez Jaena. The Andres Bonifacio monument popularly, known to the locals as “Bato” or “Bugtong Bato,” was erected in 1930 and the statue stands on a huge mound made of stones of different sizes and colors.

The Ramon Magsaysay monument holding a steering wheel of a ship was built in 1956 till 1959. Behind the statue of former President Magsaysay is a farmer. The monument was donated by the Association of Barrio Teniente’s League of the town to honor the late president. It was constructed during the time of Mayor Severino C. Fernandez and Vice Mayor Victor Plagata.

The Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Parish Church

The Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Parish Church in Rizal Street, Poblacion Ilaya is of Baroque architectural style. The church was reconstructed in 1874 and was inaugurated on September 27, 1883. It measures 76 meters in length and 17 meters in width. A grotto built by the delos Reyes Family in 1948 to commemorate the centennial celebration of the first apparition of the Blessed Mother in France is located on the left corner of the church complex.

The Gabaldon building of Calinog Central Elementary School

The Gabaldon building, the first structure of Calinog Central Elementary School in Delgado Extension street was built in 1915. Sitting on a small lot from the total area of 32, 304 square meters, it is elevated 10 steps from the ground. It is home to 1,761 students from kindergarten to grade six and 62 teaching staff.

The sundial is another attraction of the school which also served as a Japanese Garrison during World War II. Until now, this Gabaldon building is still intact and pupils and teachers are still using it. It had become a part of the history and culture of Calinog residents and many professionals have graduated from this school.

The 1965 Muscovado Chimney of Hacienda Jaycon

In Barangay Libot, the Hacienda Jaycon (Jayme – Concepcion) is proud of its ruined Muscovado Sugar Chimney that was built on May 6, 1965. It was constructed by the owners of the hacienda, Don Jose Jayme and Dona Lourdes Concepcion.

Landlocked Calinog remains one of the lesser-explored municipalities of the province, leaving it to feel otherworldly and far-removed from anywhere you have visited before. Venture around its area and the reward will be a compelling insight into a town full of surprises.

Calinog is a first-class municipality situated 59.3 kilometers central from Iloilo City. It is bounded on the north by Tapaz, Capiz; northeast by Bingawan; northeast by San Remegio, Antique; south by Lambunao; southeast by Dueñas, and; southwest by Valderama, Antique.

It has a total land area of 23, 280 hectares politically subdivided into 59 barangays and populated by 60, 413 inhabitants based on the 2015 Census on Population data.

To get to the town, one can take a van at the Ungka Transport Terminal (fronting Christ the King Memorial Park) in Barangay Ungka-II, Pavia, Iloilo. For more information, please contact the Municipal Tourism Officer Ma. Angela Forro at 09562757412.

Know more about Calinog during the 15th Tumandok Celebration in celebration of Tourism Month on September 18-22, 2019 at the event center, fountain area of Robinsons Iloilo main mall. The event is brought to you by the Office of Culture, Arts, History and Tourism, DOT-VI, Robinsons Place Iloilo and Daily Guardian.