Lauded as the ‘most beautiful public plaza in the city’, Molo Plaza is a must-visit. Molo has a long history steeped in culture, tradition, and heritage. From its bustling colonial streets to the iconic churches and monuments, Molo is a must-see destination on any visitor’s list. Molo, a district in Iloilo City, is the most densely populated compared to other districts. Unbeknownst to many, Molo was the original ‘Parian’ (Chinese district or Chinatown) of Iloilo City. Molo used to be a separate municipality before it was incorporated to the then-municipality of Iloilo via Act No. 719 of 1903. It is also lauded as the ‘Athens of the Philippines’, as it was the center of learning in the Visayas. It is also the birthplace of prominent figures and illustrados, including philosophers, political leaders, government officials, to mention a few.
Highlights of Molo
Molo Plaza, with its recent renovation, is now adorned by statues of Greek goddesses and a monument of Maria Clara. A fountain is also found at the center of the plaza, breaking the monotony of artworks. Another highlight in Molo Plaza is the Molo Church, also known as Saint Anne Parish, a Spanish-colonial church and heritage site. It is known for its all-women ensemble of saints, as represented by 16 saint statues inside the church. It was declared a national landmark by the National Historical Institute in 1992 and is the sole Gothic church in the country outside of Manila. Moreover, just across the church and through the plaza is the Yusay-Consing Mansion (Molo Mansion). It was built in the 1920s and has been home to Molo’s powerful and influential families. With its preservation, it is now a heritage museum housing products, delicacies, art and crafts by Ilonggos.
Cultural Heritage Sites in Molo
Other historically relevant sites in Molo are the following: Dominican Sister Motherhouse, Don Roque Locsin Sanson Mansion (Harp Fence), Maria Clara Monument, Molo Cemtery Arc, Molo Cemetery Camposanto, Rosendo Mejica Monument, Carpenter’s Bridge, Locsin Ancestral House, Molo Convent, Plablo Araneta y Soriano Marker, Pison Ancestral House, Rosendo Mejica House, among others.
Molo Plaza Rehabilitation
It has been known that the local government is eyeing restoration of historically and culturally relevant sites. One of Iloilo City Government’s initiatives is the rehabilitation of district plazas to create an environment that will encourage physical activities and interaction within the community. One of the recently renovated is the Molo Plaza. “The plazas are being restored by the city because we want to make public spaces available to our constituents for free. Public spaces are very important as it gives people a place to rethink and recharge,” states Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas. “The revitalization of our district plazas aims to bring back community patronage and appreciation of our public open spaces where ‘everyONE knows every JUAN,’ a diminishing trait or character in an urbanized society,” states City Architect Regina C. Gregorio. Turnover of Restored Molo Plaza To signify the completion of the Molo Plaza restoration, a ceremonial turnover took place earlier this year (2022), and was graced by Senator Franklin Drilon, Mayor Jerry Trenas, Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon, mention a few. “I have to admit that as I visit the other sides of the country, I would say that Iloilo was really able to preserve its open spaces, unlike in other places. Here in Iloilo most of the plazas remain open,” states Dr. Rene Escalante, Chairperson National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) “This plaza brings back memories of my childhood and that is why it is appropriate that I go back here as among my last visits as a senator. Two weeks from now I am no longer senator, I will just be an Ilonggo who will be a friend to all,” states former Senator Franklin Drilon. Moreover, More Electric and Power Corporation (More Power Iloilo) President Roel Castro was also invited to partner with the Iloilo City Government and the National Historical Commission to highlight the value of Molo Church by setting up lighting facilities. The lights were donated by More Power Iloilo to add value to the restoration of the church and preserve its redevelopment while ensuring safety of the public. According to Castro, he “plans to light up Iloilo and make it more tourist friendly. The beauty and history of Molo is indeed astounding. From its origins to its current glory, Molo has something for everyone. So come on board and explore this beautiful city for yourself!