By Rene Calalang
June 14, 2016
DAY TWO was a whole day affair.
The day started when very early in the morning of February 8, 2014, a chartered bus picked us up at the hotel for a tour of Malolos.
Yes Virginia, we would tour the place where we all grew up and visit the churches, monuments and other historical landmarks, we knew were there decades ago, but just ignore them because we were from Malolos.
But now, because of our maturity, history was more appealing to us than ever before; and because with the passage of time, many of these historical landmarks had changed, mostly for the better.
Our tour guide was a special person and a friend of mine, Alex Balagtas – curator of the MHPHS Shrine in Bulacan, Bulacan and Cluster Head of Bulacan and Zambales.
Regularly, he doesn’t act as a tour guide, but did it because of our friendship. For me, there was no better person to guide us than Alex, as he has been, for a long time, involved in the preservation of historical sites in the Province of Bulacan.
THE FIRST place we visited since it was just across the highway from the hotel where we were staying was the Provincial Capitol and the mini park on its front.
But it was Saturday and the Capitol, being a government building was closed. We felt we did not miss any because we had seen the interior of this edifice many times before, and we had the feeling nothing much had changed.
We decided, for souvenir sake, to take some group pictures with the front of the capitol building on the background.
We then proceeded to the mini park in front of the Capitol to view some monuments and landmarks notable of which were the monuments of Marcelo H del Pilar, the Great Propagandist and General Gregorio del Pilar (nephew of Marcelo H del Pilar), known as the Boy General, the youngest General of the Revolution and the Hero of Tirad Pass.
Also still there was the old Spanish Cannon, perhaps used by the Spaniards against the Filipinos during the revolution and against the Americans during the revolution Spanish-American War.
Oh the flowering shrubs and the dwarf trees were still there, and how nice to see they survived the global warming and the increase in pollution because of the urbanization of Malolos.
With the hired photographer being part of our group, we took some group pictures with the monuments of Marcelo and Gregorio del Pilar on the background. Others decided to take some individual pictures with the other attractions on the mini park on the background.
Facing east on the mini park is an area, which is now a mini forest and a green area covered with many different kind of trees, but used to be an open space covered with grass, where on its northeast corner, a big, sprawling acacia tree once proudly stood.
I remembered very vividly that this was the place we used to have our exercises for our Physical Education class. It was also the place where, during our third and fourth year in high school, some of our Preparatory Military Training were held.
But being a green space now, was for me, a big improvement, and a small step in the right direction to combat global warming.
We then proceeded to the old site of our beloved MHPHS high school, witness to our most memorable and happiest days, which is about five hundred meters from the Provincial Capitol.
But alas, to the shock of many, the buildings were no longer there.
When the high school in general, was moved to another location because of the rapid increase of her population, the main building, which we used to call then the New Building, was made into a government building named Marcelo H del Pilar Land Technology Building.
My opinion was: it should had been preserved as an Annex, since it had produced many successful and outstanding graduates, some even nationally; or better still, maybe, it should had been declared a Heritage Building, and should had been used as a Special School e.g. School for Gifted Students or Science High School….etc.
But everything was too late now as when it was a government building, it was totally destroyed by a mysterious fire, and all that was left for us to remember it was its entrance. Sadly, we then, for memories sake, took some more group pictures with the remains of our beloved high school on the background.
There are also many new government buildings around the area, most notable of which is a building named after Ka Blas Ople, a famous Journalist, Secretary of Labor during the Marcos era, Senator and Senate President and Secretary of Foreign Affairs.
In front of the building is a bust of Ka Blas. Many of us, Lourdes O in particular took some pictures with the bust on the background.
WE THEN proceeded to the historical Barasoain Church, seat of the first Philippine Republic.
To explain the historical significance and the present condition of the church, let me quote some sections of the article I wrote “Home Away from Home” part 4.
And I quote:
“The church consists of two structures: the church itself and adjacent to it is an L shaped convent, now a two part museum.
The front part of the museum is dedicated to the struggle against Spain, which includes an audio visual presentation commemorating the Declaration of Independence against Spain on June 12, 1898. Also on display is a facsimile of El Heraldo de la Revolution, the official newspaper of the First Philippine Republic.
The back part, an Eccliastical Museum, is dedicated to the collection of religious artifacts accumulated through the years.
There are three major events that made Barasoain Church very historical:
1. It was here where the Malolos Congress (First Philippine Congress) was convened on September 15, 1898, with ninety five delegates coming from various parts of the country.
2. It was here where Congress drafted the Malolos Constitution on September 29, 1898 and approved it on January 21, 1898.
What makes the Malolos Constitution very interesting, in my opinion, was that it was drafted by Pedro Paterno, an Illustrado. What if the head of the Malolos Congress then was Apolinario Mabini, the “Sublime Paralytic” and “The Brains of the Revolution?” He was also an intellectual, a known nationalist and a member of the masses. Could the Malolos Constitution been different and would the lives of the Filipinos now been different. It makes me wonder.
3. It was here where the First Philippine Republic was inaugurated on January 23, 1899.
Because of these events, Malolos was made the capital of the Philippines, but only for a short period of time. In 1901, the Americans changed the capital when they occupied the country, relegating Malolos as the capital of the Province of Bulacan.
The church was returned to how it looked in 1898, in time for the inauguration of then elected President Joseph Estrada and Centennial celebration.”
We viewed with great interest, as many of us are devout catholic, the Ecclesiastical Museum and the interior of the historical church. And of course, for souvenir sake, we took many pictures, both individually and as a group.
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