Marikina City: A Healthy City around the City Hall

Aside from the revitalized Marikina City Hall, there has been much development in the whole city and its public spaces. Across the street from the rear of the city hall is the Bulwagan ng Katarungan (Hall of Justice), which is a recent addition to the local government offices. On the façade of the building is a gigantic relief of Lady Justice, as created by Juan Sajid Imao in 2010.

2010 Juan Sajid Imao - Lady Justice, Bulwagan ng Katarungan 3
Juan Sajid Imao’s Lady Justice

Juan Sajid de Leon Imao(born 1972) is the second to the youngest son of Abdulmari Asia Imao (1936-2014), the first Moslem National Artist of the Philippines. Sajid, would go on to take up sculpture at the University of the Philippines (U.P.) College of Fine Arts (CFA), just like his father. Early on in his career, Imao was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), which would slowly diminish his eyesight. Although this would mean the death of any artist, Sajid took this as a challenge to continue making sculptures. This lead to many awards, such as the 2001 Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) award.

Around the city, one can spy light posts that are designed to look like bamboo stalks, which is a reminder of the once verdant fields of the Marikina Valley. This very lamppost is located right in front of the Bulwagan ng Katarungan.

Marikina Bamboo Lightpost

Right across the Marikina City Hall Freedom Plaza is the Marikina Public Market, which is considered one of the markets in Metro Manila. Beside it is the Marikina Public Library.

Marikina Public Market
Marikina Public Market

Just a stone’s throw for the Marikina Public Market is Teatro Marikina (Marikina Theater), which was built in 2002. Standing in front of the theater is a sculpture of a Banduria Player, which was also made by Juan Sajid Imao.

Built at the same time as the Marikina City Hall is the nearby Marikina Sports Park, which was then named the Rodriguez Sports Center after the governor at that time. Left to neglect over the years, it was taken over by Mayor Bayani Fernando and fully renovated by 2001. The façade of the Marikina Sports Park has similar bas-reliefs that feature images of sports and competition. These were created by Eugenio Bunuan, who was also responsible for the reliefs on the Marikina City Hall and Quezon City Hall.

Further down the road is the Marikina Healthy City Center, which is basically the local government hospital. In front of the health center is an unusual statue that features a doctor washing a child’s bum, which is an allegory to the sanitary practices of the city government. The statue is supposed to resemble Dr. Isaac Eustaquio, the first Filipino to earn a Public Health degree from Harvard University in the United States. This statue is part of the “Naghihintay ng Bayani” (Waiting for a Hero) sculptures found all around the city. This was designed Arch. Ernesto ‘Bong’ Leaño, and sculpted by local craftsmen.

11 Marikina Healthy City Center 2
Marikina Healthy City Center

From the developments done during the leaderships of the Fernando husband and wife team, Marikina has become the model of social discipline, good governance and cultural development for the whole Metro Manila. And the present mayor, Del De Guzman, is continuing that legacy for the city I consider as my hometown in the NCR (National Capital Region), even if I was born and raised in Quezon City.

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