There are several legends pertaining to the origin of the name Bolinao. Some believe that the name “Bolinao” came from the fish called “monamon” or what Tagalogs, Bicolanos, and Visayans call “bolinao”. Another legend is about the “Pamulinawen” tree that abounded in the town long ago. Some people also believe in the legend of a couple named Bolido and Anao. Their love story captured the minds of the locals, creating the portmanteau “Bolinao”.
The town was part of the province of Zambales, along with other western towns, before being annexed by the province of Pangasinan through Public Act No. 1004 on November 30, 1903. The people of Bolinao speak Pangasinan, Ilocano, Tagalog, and their own native language called Bolinao. The language resembles the Sambalic language spoken in the province of Zambales.
It was claimed that the first mass in the country took place in St. James the Great Church, located at the heart of the town. In fact, a marker in front of the church states that the Franciscan missionary ‘Blessed Odorico’ from Friuli (now Udine), Italy, officiated the first Catholic mass in the Philippines, particularly in the town of Bolinao. As the “pioneer of missions in spreading the gospel of the Bible to Asia”, Blessed Odorico was said to have visited the Philippines from China in 1324.
The town of Bolinao is part of the first congressional district of Pangasinan and is 81 kilometers from the capital town of Lingayen. It has a land area of 19,722 hectares and a population of 83,979 according to the 2020 census.
Its massive fishing industry inspired the creation of the Mangunguna Festival, which translates to the Fisherman Festival, attracting thousands of tourists annually. Bolinao is dubbed the Boracay of Pangasinan due to its powdery white sand beaches and coconut trees planted along the coast of Patar beach. Balingasay River is another attraction owing to its title as the ‘cleanest river’ in Region 1. It is also the ‘home of the giant clams.’
While on vacation, tourists also indulge in a Bolinao delicacy called binungey, a sweet sticky rice inside a bamboo cooked slowly over charcoal or woodfire.