The Philippines has just celebrated Independence Day, June 12. The primary place of celebration is, as it should be, in Kawit (Cavite). This is where the Declaration of Independence was made by General Emilio Aguinaldo, and where the existing form of the Philippine flag was also unfurled for the first time, on 12 June 1898.
What would be the other venues to commemorate Independence Day? Perhaps you’d say the Rizal Shrine at the former Luneta Park, now Rizal Park. This is understandable considering that Dr. Jose Rizal is the national hero. Still, if the reason is commemorating the fight for independence, then all heroes — including Andres Bonifacio, Apolinario Mabini and Diego/Gabriela Silang even, should receive a wreath as well. We have another holiday for heroes, the National Heroes Day on August 29 (see 2011 holidays).
What is usually overlooked is the place where the first Philippine Congress convened (15 September 1898), where the first Philippine Constitution was passed (also known as the “Malolos Constitution”, drafted from 29 September 1898 to 21 January 1899), where the first Philippine Republic was inaugurated (23 January 1899) and where the first Philippine President took his oath of office (also on 23 January 1899) — the Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan.
The Barasoain Church is, well, a Roman Catholic church, first built in 1630. The old church was destroyed by fire in 1884, rebuilt in 1885. This may be a favorite among Roman Catholics for visita iglesia. The historical significance of this place, however, transcends religious and regional diversity.
This is the birthplace of the First Philippine Republic.
The first President of the Philippines, General Emilio Famy Aguinaldo, took his oath of office as President in this church on 23 January 1899. Should you want more trivia, only two Philippine Presidents were inaugurated here. The first is, as previously noted, Pres. Aguinaldo. The other one is Pres. Joseph “Erap” Ejercito Estrada, who took his oath of office in the Barasoain Church on 30 June 1998.
The historical marker placed in front of the church reads in part: “This church as the seat of the Revolutionary Congress which convened from the middle of September, 1898, to the last week of February, 1899, under the Presidency of Pedro A. Paterno. Among the important measures passed by the Congress was the Malolos Constitution, drafted mainly by Felipe G. Calderon.” The opening of the First Congress of the Philippines was on 15 September 1898.
So, the next time you visit Malolos, Bulacan, drop by a historical landmark, the Barasoain Church. Or imagine if you get married here, you’re going to be a part of history. You could add a comment in this blog, say you got married in Barasoain Church, and voila, you’re in the same page as Aguinaldo and the First Philippine Republic! =)