Saturday, May 17, 2014

Bulacan: the Cradle of Democracy in the East

10 Day 10K Challenge: Malolos, BULACAN
Date: MAY 17, 2014

A prosperous province forged by history and heroism - that’s what the province of Bulacan is all about. Represented by one of the eight rays of the sun on the national flag, Bulacan played a huge role in the liberation of the Philippines against Spain. This province also contributed a lot to the field of arts, literature, culture, and history. Welcome to my birthplace: the home of the courageous revolutionaries, the talented artists, and the cradle of Asian democracy.

Barasoain Church facade

Exhausted and sweating, I rode the Golden Bee bus bound for Malolos, Bulacan. Going around the metro was very tiring, but I felt some comfort right after riding this air-conditioned bus. My eyes wanted to sleep, but I forced my mind to stay awake. Now, I see myself leaving the metro, and entering the gates of Northern Luzon. For those who wanted to go north, NLEX is the fastest and the most accessible route to take. Almost all provincial buses bound for North Luzon choose NLEX, versus the traffic congested McArthur Highway.

Standing in front of the provincial capitol
As the bus entered the Balintawak Toll Plaza, I took my phone and looked at my itinerary. I am a little bit worried because it was already 4:15 PM, and by the time I arrive at Malolos, it’ll be 5:00 PM – far from the original plan that I wrote down. My mind was telling me that I won’t be able to visit Barasoain Church because it’ll be dark by then. I just shook my head and leaned over the seat so I could relax. The conductor then gave me my ticket, and I paid 51 pesos for my fare.

We passed through the towns of Meycauayan, Marilao, Bocaue, Balagtas, and Guiguinto, and then we left the expressway via Tabang Exit. I saw the arch of Malolos from a distance, welcoming its curious guests and visitors alike.

I arrived on the capitol grounds at 4:56 PM, and looked at the white, sparkling building that houses the office of our governor. Believe it or not, even though I was born here in Bulacan, this is the first time I’ve seen our provincial capitol building in person. The sun was already setting down, so I immediately took out my digital camera and my video camera and document as many things as possible.

Bulacan Provincial Capitol
Gregorio del Pilar's tomb
In front of the capitol building stood the tomb of Gregorio del Pilar – one of the youngest generals in the Philippine Revolutionary Forces during the Philippine-American War. He is the nephew of Marcelo H. del Pilar, and he is known for his courage and patriotism. He died during the Battle of Tirad Pass at the age of 24, and his remains were moved from Ilocos Norte (where Tirad Pass is located) to Bulacan. His tomb is white and has his equestrian statue on top of it.

Just steps away from Gregorio del Pilar’s tomb is the golden monument of Marcelo H. del Pilar. He is known as the last editor of La Solidaridad, and through his written works, he managed to inspire the Katipunan. In his honor, the town of Quingua, Bulacan was renamed into Plaridel, Bulacan (after his pen name).

After taking a couple of photos, I decided to leave for Barasoain Church. This is the second time that I’ll be visiting this historic site. The first one happened back in 2003 (during my 5th-grade field trip), and we managed to get inside the church and its museum. I left the capitol at 5:21 PM, took a jeep going to Malolos downtown, and get off at the church’s gates at 5:28 PM.


Marcelo H. del Pilar's Monument Barasoain Church Bell Tower

It has been 11 years since the last time I saw Barasoain Church – and it stays unchanged. It is still the same old, mighty church that became the cradle of democracy in the East. It is considered to be the most important religious building in the Philippines because of its historical importance among the Filipino people.

Barasoain Church - the birthplace of Asian democracy
There was a mass going on inside the church when I came, and I didn’t manage to get in, so I sat around the plaza and took some photos and videos instead. There were also a small number of tourists visiting the church square at that time.

Emilio Aguinaldo's Monument
Facing the church’s façade is Emilio Aguinaldo’s monument, and it has a historical marker inscribed in it. The marker tells the story of how the First Republic of the Philippines was formed, and how Barasoain Church became a part of it.

Dusk is drawing closer, so I decided to leave the church and head home (to Pulilan, Bulacan). While walking down the road, I noticed a text message on my phone. It came from my mom, asking me to buy her any pasalubong from Malolos. When talking about pasalubong and Malolos, the first thing that comes to my mind is ensaymada, so I asked the residents where to buy one. They directed me to the downtown, saying that lots of bakeries there sell ensaymada.

I walked through the streets of Malolos and headed to the downtown, where numerous landmarks and monuments are located – including the Casa Real de Malolos, Malolos City Hall, and the Malolos Cathedral. I entered the church’s courtyard and checked out the cathedral’s architecture. The light from the sun setting down the horizon glows against the walls of this colossal church – and that was indeed a beautiful sight.

Malolos Cathedral
Yummy ensaymada
Looking around, I saw this bakery just across the road, selling different kinds of cakes and pastries. The name of the bakeshop was Cindy’s, and I went straight to this store, checking if they have ensaymada. The sales lady pointed out the shelf where the ensaymadas are, and I bought one for 61 pesos.

Right after buying my pasalubong, I rode a jeep bound for Pulilan and paid 18 pesos. The sky was already dark the moment I rode the jeep, and the trip lasted for 1 hour and 23 minutes. There were traffic jams everywhere, and then there was an accident right in front of Robinson’s Pulilan.

Nilagang Baka for dinner!
I went home at 7:33 PM, and gave my mom the ensaymada she wished for. I headed straight to the kitchen and grabbed my plate, and ate my dinner – nilagang baka.

This ended the first day of my epic road trip across North Luzon, and tomorrow, things will be tougher than ever. I will be miles away from home - walking with strangers, and venturing places I’ve never been to. I checked my itinerary that night and marked the next destination on my list: Calumpit, Bulacan.
Welcome to Barasoain Church!
Expenses - Bulacan (as of May 17, 2014)

This post is part of my 10 Day 10K Challenge that took place between May 17-26, 2014. Read the first entry here. Read the post about the previous destination here. Proceed to the next destination here.

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