There’s this one item on display inside theMuseo Diocesano de Malolos in Malolos, Bulacan. It’s a faded book called Batitismos 1672-1775. It’s a record of people baptized inside the Malolos church since 1672.
It is one of the many discoveries that one will find in Malolos. The Barasoain Church may be the city’s main attraction but there are many more to discover. Malolos is as heritage city. It has several Spanish colonial churches, historical sites and landmarks and period houses.
Long before the Spaniards arrived in the Philippines, Lihan, the ancient Chinese name for Malolos, was already doing trade with China as early as 1225. In 1571, when the Spaniards arrived, they found several flourishing villages along Malolos River and they formed them into an encomienda The name Malolos was derived from the Tagalog word “paluslos”, meaning “downwards” to refer to the many rivers flowing out to Manila Bay.
The economic progress of Malolos started in 1670 when the Chinese merchants returned, settled and married some natives. Malolos became the center for trade north of Manila, and it also became a production center for textile, rice and sugar. This made Malolos the wealthiest town in Luzon.
During the 1880s, Malolos became the hotbed for insurrections against the Spanish regime. Marcelo H. del Pilar and a group of reformists began exposing the abuses of the colonizers and gave voice to the need for reforms. In 1884, several local officials argued with the town’s friar curate, Fray Felipe Garcia, over the collection of exorbitant taxes. In 1888, 21 young women from prominent Chinese-mestizo families wrote the Governor a letter petitioning that they be allowed to attend school.
All these events prepared Malolos as the capital of the First Philippine Republic after historic proclamation of independence from Spain on June 12, 1898. The Malolos Congress convened on September 15, 1898 inside the Barasoain Church, and on September 29, 1898, it ratified the proclamation of independence in Kawit, Cavite. On January 23, 1899, the Malolos Congress proclaimed General Emilio Aguinaldo as the first president of the Republic.
But all the gains under the Malolos Congress were erased when the Philippine-American War ensued. After the victory of the American forces, the national seat of power was returned to Manila. In February 27, 1901, Malolos officially became the capital of the province of Bulacan.
In 1998, 100 years after the Malolos Congress, Joseph Ejercito Estrada chose Malolos as the venue for his presidential inauguration.
How to get there
Drive north via NLEX and take Tabang Exit (the exit immediately after Shell Station). Turn left to Guiguinto and continue drive to Malolos. After reaching the flyover (Malolos Crossing), turn right and continue drive to Barasoain Church. There’s ample parking inside the patio. Most of the attractions in Malolos are a short walking distance from the Barasoain patio.
What to see, what to do
No visit to Malolos will be complete without checking out the Barasoain Church. Built in 1885, this was the site of the very first Philippine Congress in 1898. Adjacent to the church are two museums: the Barasoain Museum that showcases photographs and memorabilia from the First Philppine Republic; and the Museo Diocesano de Malolos that houses religious items such as priestly robes with gold threads, antique prayer cards, Santos and original baptismal records.
A short walk from Barasoain is the Malolos Cathedral or the Basilica Menor de Nuestra Senora de la Imaculada Conception. Founded in 1580, the church served as the Palacio Presidentia during the First Philippine Republic.
The Casa Real de Malolos, with the original building constructed in 1580, served as Casa Tribunal and Casa Presidentia of the town gobernadocillos. Around poblacion are many historic and heritage houses that belonged to the town’s elites. There’s the house of Don Ramon Gonzales, a gobernadorcillo, which was built in 1923. The house of Don Jose Bautista was built in Art Nouveau manner in 1877. Another house by Dr. Luis Santos, a renowned eye doctor, was built in Art Deco fashion in 1933. There’s the Hermogenes Reyes House, built in 1904. There are many more fine examples of pre-war era houses built during the time when Malolos was the trade and commercial capital of Central Luzon.
Along MacArthur Highway stands the Bulacan Capitol Building. It was built in 1930 in Art Deco style and was designed by Juan Arellano. In front of the Malolos Cathedral is the Malolos Municipal Building, built in 1940 in Neo Classical style. In front of the building is the statue of Marcelo H. del Pilar.
Where to stay, what to eat
Malolos is good for a day trip, so it is not necessary to stay overnight. However, for those who wish to cool off after a long day of exploration, there are many resorts nearby like DJ Paradise and Villa Reina where one can stay overnight.
For those who wish to try the heritage dishes of Malolos, there’s plenty of restaurants to visit. Bistro Maloleno at Capitol View Park serves Emilio Aguinaldo’s favorite dish, nilagang manok sa puti with Asparagus, and Marcelo del Pilar’s favorite, pocheroni plaridel. It also serves local favorites like gurgurya and pinaso. Kabisera Restaurant at Alido Heights serves Pinoy comfort food like fried chicken, pusit adobo, steamed tilapia and pinakbet. For quick and filling meals, try the goto and dinuguan at Citang’s Eatery where carabao’s meat is used instead of beef and pork.
Thinking of something to bring home from Malolos? Why not visit the Eurobake store right beside the Welcome to Malolos arch. Introduced in 1983, Eurobake’s “inipit” or thin chiffon sandwich with custard filling and moist ensaimada with sliced salted eggs and grated quezo de bola toppings can make the long trip to visit the city’s attractions even more meaningful.