Feature Stories

Of Guimbal and Richard Garin

Guimbal, a fourth class municipality nestled within Iloilo province, seats nine kilometers away from the blue waters of the Panay Gulf. Over the years, the municipality has been lauded for its achievements – cited as the ‘most business-friendly local government unit’ in a fourth to six class municipal category by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce; and lauded as the ‘cleanest and greenest town in Iloilo’, among others.

Guimbal is home to historical and architectural landmarks – the newly restored 400-year-old church is one of the oldest in the country; the Moro Watchtowers, 17th century structures; Taytay Tigre, a bridge constructed during the Spanish era; Ayaw Ayaw Monument of Andres Bonifacio, father of Philippine Revolution, to mention a few, nearby a local elementary school.

The locality has also spawned several festivities – Bantayan Festival, Guimbal’s tribute to its ancestors highlighting the ‘gimba’ meaning ‘drum’ and ‘bantayan’ meaning watchtower; ‘Disyembre sa Guimbal’, a two week Christmas tradition that started in 1975; Annual Town Fiesta celebrated every 10th of September in honor of St. Nicholas of Tolentino; and the ‘Bari-Bari’, a form of religious tradition held during the Lenten Season.

Moreover, it is no secret that Guimbal is home to the Garins, a family composed of public servants – patriarch Oscar Garin Sr., currently serving as Municipal Mayor; Richard Garin, formerly Iloilo 1st District Representative; his wife Janette Garin, now serving the post and was formerly the Secretary of the Department of Health; Christine ‘Tingting’ Garin, now the Vice Governor of the Province of Iloilo; and Sharon Garin of the Partylist AAMBIS OWA, safeguarding the marginalized farmers of the Philippines.

During the stewardship of the Garins, Guimbal was recognized as National Winner in 2013, Hall of Fame Awardee for Most Business-Friendly Municipality in the Country; National Winner from 2009 to 2011, Hall of Fame Awardee on the implementation of Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Programs; Apolinario Mabini Awardee in 2015 as the Country’s Best Local Government Unit on the implementation of programs for persons with disability; and the Country’s Most Child Friendly Municipality from 2011 to 2012.

In terms of progress, the municipality has spawned twelve elementary and four secondary educational institutions. Guimbal is politically subdivided into 33 barangays, 11 within the Poblacion and 22 outside the town center. The town’s major product is mango, among other seasonal fruits. Farming and fishing are major industries.

Youngest of Garin siblings Christine ‘Tingting’ Garin was recognized as 2011 National Finalist for the PAG-ASA Award of the Civil Service Commission; the Country’s Outstanding Municipal Mayor in 2015; and Outstanding Alumni of the University of the Philippines in 2015.

Another sister Sharon Garin leads partylist AAMBIS OWA, being the farmer’s voice in the Philippine House of Representatives. To date, the party list has house measures authored and sponsored. These are some: House Bill No. 3864 – an act amending R.A. 8048 or the Coconut Preservation Act of 1995; House Bill No. 4179 – an act revitalizing the coconut industry; House Bill No. 4243 – an act creating the Philippine Coconut Research Institute to develop the Philippine coconut industry and for other purposes; House Bill No. 4036 – an act to promote the production, processing, marketing, and distribution of Philippine mango; and House Bill No. 4920 – an act to promote and strengthen the Philippine bamboo industry. One of the most prominent was the ‘Free Irrigation Act’ authored by representative Sharon Garin.

Sister in law Janette Garin held the post of Secretary at the Department of Health. Prior the post, she was Representative of the 1st District of Iloilo and also a Provincial Board Member of Leyte. As a congresswoman, she targeted health issues and advocated for women’s rights, including the passage of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012. Janette was also pivotal in the enactment of the Cheaper Medicines Law and the Magna Carta of Women.

Patriarch Oscar Garin, who has dedicated his life in public service, was pivotal in instilling passion into his children. Garin Sr. is deemed responsible for the achievements of the local government unit. Garin Jr., known to most as Richard Garin, is following his father’s footsteps in delivering progress to their hometown.

A Member of the House of Representatives of the Republic of the Philippines for two terms, Oscar “Richard” S. Garin, Jr represents the First Congressional District of Iloilo composed of seven (7) towns: Oton, Tigbauan, Tubungan, Igbaras, Miagao, San Joaquin and Guimbal, his hometown. Garin Jr served six consecutive years, from 2013 to 2019.

Garin’s tenure as mayor spawned pragmatic innovation and yielded policies and solutions based on real and actual situations. He was able to steer Guimbal into national recognition, including the Most Business-Friendly Municipality Award given by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry as a Hall of Famer.

As a legislator, he lobbied for comprehensive and affordable health and social services programs for the people, and the expansion of technical and vocational education for the youth. ‘Responsableng Gobyerno’, is his flagship initiative. Garin was also able to author legislation to provide social pensions for indigent senior citizens and establish independent high schools in the country. He has filed several bills in Congress and lobbied for social legislation, such as the Senior Citizens Ordinance of 2012, Person with Disability Ordinance of 2012 and the Solo Parents Ordinance of 2013.

Currently, a private citizen, former Congressman Richard Garin continues to pursue his advocacy for citizen participation not only in governance but in citizen participation as well, true to his advocacy that “every private individual has his own public responsibility.”

Garinfarm, a 15-hectare property in Purok 2 Poblacion is a farm/resort with a 5,000 sq m man-made lagoon, a 300-meter zipline, and a swimming pool. One of the farm resorts highlights is the 101-feet Divine Mercy Cross, the ‘Garinfarm Pilgrimage’, which can be accessed via a 456 step stairway. Along the stairway are life-like statues depicting stories from the bible. By far, the property has been pivotal in improving tourism in San Joaquin.

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