The Barasoain Church Historical Landmark in Malolos City has two faces: the church itself that served as the home of the first Philippine Republic and its adjacent convent that now serves as a reliquary of items that convey the narrative of the Filipino’s struggle for independence.
Today, the structures stand as a reminder that 117 years has passed since General Emilio Aguinaldo declared Philippine Independence in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898.
The church’s convent now houses the Museum of the Malolos Republic that has been converted into a venue for teaching visitors the lessons of the first Philippine Republic and the quest of Filipinos for freedom from foreign colonizers.
The history lessons at the museum are also conveyed through interactive and digital methods.
Jose Ruel Paguiligan of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and curator of the Barasoain Church Historical Landmark said the purpose of the interactive museum is to encourage the public to visit the historic place and learn the history through the aid of technology.
The museum is the first to be modernized by NHCP and was finished in 2012.
“The advantage of having an interactive museum is it makes the presentation of history more interesting and at the same time, more engaging,” he said.
Over an hour ride from Manila, the museum offers visitors at least five galleries of historical tours.
The first gallery demonstrates the struggle of Filipinos under the oppressive occupation of the colonial Spain, which held the Philippines under captive for over 300 years.
Two touch screens monitors in Gallery 2 showcase a historical overview of facts from years 1882 to 1899, including the proclamation of Philippine independence and the decrees of revolutionary government.
In Gallery 3, a seven-minute light and sound presentation is being showed to visitors narrating the highlights of the Malolos Republic, with life-size diorama of its leading figures displayed.
It was on September 15, 1898, when the first Philippine Congress headed by Pedro Paterno convened inside the Barasoain Church. There were 193 delegates, only 42 of whom were elected, while the rest were appointed.
The names of all the representatives who joined the Congress are listed in Gallery 4, with the bust of Don Felipe G. Calderon, who penned the Malolos Constitution.
The Barasoain Church, reconstructed in 1885 under the supervision of Juan Giron O.S.A., is under the management of NHCP after it was proclaimed as a national landmark on August 1, 1973 under President Ferdinand E. Marcos, Paguiligan said.