Jimenez may be a faded has-been of a town in Misamis Occidental but it is in its timeworn character that blushes of sepia mood become a rare brilliance. It is quiet & nonchalant, beautifully candid in its folksy ambience.
But how could a town brimming with century-old treasures not talked about by travellers or even taught at school?
I am a homegrown Mindanaoan, yet I have to admit that I didn’t know there is a heritage township sitting seemingly anonymous in Jimenez. And yes, it’s just right behind the national highway, a road that I used to drive a lot around in the past.
But back then, tourism was oblivious in this province. Thanks to the re-energized Department of Tourism-Region 10, this old town is finally taking its spotlight on the heritage tourism stage.
Discover Jimenez, Misamis Occidental
Misamis was already a Spanish settlement as early as the 16th century. At the close of the colonial era, it had built massive stone houses around the province & a fort called Fuerte dela Concepción y del Triunfo that still stands to this day in Ozamiz City.
Jimenez was an opulent municipality that produced abaca & copra. This abundance drew many merchants & traders to settle in that later created the wealthy profile of the town. Among the most notable old families here are the Ozámiz, Tamarongs & Bacarros.
It is then no surprise that Jimenez has a community filled with grand ancestral houses — not just 1, 2, 3 but more than a hundred spread across a small agricultural town.
The Ozámiz Mansion is one of the most important architectural landmarks in Jimenez. It was built in the early 1900s & belonged to Don Genaro Ozámiz & Basilisa Fortich, whom sired Don José, the hero of Misamis Occidental.
This principalia mansion, a classic wood & masonry style, received many political dignitaries in its time. It is still lived to this day by Señorita Carmen Ozámiz.
The only 3-storey cultural property in Jimenez is the house of Rosito Z. Bacarro. Built in the 1910s, it stands imposing in white ornated with appliqued carvings, grill works & arched windows. It is commonly known as the old Bacarro Printing Press where the emergency bills during the Japanese government were printed.
Today Mr. Aldren Nacion owns the house but still keeps many memorabilia from the yesteryears.
The oldest house in Jimenez is the one of Don Ygnacio Tamarong built in the 1800s. He was the 7th mayor during the Spanish colonial government. Over time it has been resold to various owners like Mr. Daniel Lee, to taipan William Chiongbian & to Constancio Balais. Today its current resident Mayor Rosario Kais Balais administers it.
Restaging Heritage Finery
Jimenez is the kind of town where the simplest of pleasure is found in leisure walks around its old narrow streets & soaking in all the feeling of nostalgia. It’s a whimsical experience of being in a place that is graceful & where whammies of big city crimes, traffic & pollution are seemingly absent.
With the support of various agencies, the glow of its bygone luster is finally rekindled through staging its heritage district to tourism. And at the heart of its nostalgic showpiece is the Church of St. John the Baptist expressed in 1898 Baroque aesthetics.
Declared as a National Cultural Treasure, the church is made of hewn coral & keeps a beautiful fresco on its ceiling. Interestingly, it is also home to one of the country’s oldest pipe organ & the relic of St. Faustina.
Running straight from the church is Rizal Street, a long stretch of homes reminiscent of 1900s colonial architectural styles. Save for some minor restorations & tidying up of wires, the core heritage district is otherwise ready for the spectacle. Construction of brick pavements is also in full swing, to be followed by lampposts & house markers.
I can imagine how lovely it would be when all of its plans are completed. Soon, there’ll be more locally-owned period-themed restaurants like Bloomsbury Café that adopted retro-style. Craft shops will begin to sprout in the “silong” of these houses. And I can’t wait to find myself bedding down on vintage flair in what would be their version of exquisite homestays.
Jimenez is my kind of high — quaint, full of character, vibrantly raw & easygoing. Tourists may have overlooked this spot but with its old town revival in the grind, it wouldn’t take long ‘til we see them flocking here on cultural trips someday.
I have been to Jimenez twice & I still can’t get over the lucid sepia feels. I love the face of its bucolic townscape filled with the bequests of heritage splendor. My heart is aflame to see it soon on UNESCO’s precious list of heritage sites in the Philippines. Help us make it happen, visit Jimenez someday too.
Discover Jimenez with Earth Explorers Travel & Tours
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Special Shoutout of Love to:
Tourism Promotions Board – Domestic Promotions
Department of Tourism – Region 10
Provincial Tourism of Misamis Occidental
Municipality of Jimenez