Malolos the Magnificent

Saturday, March 17, 2018

malolos travel guide

This is the ninth installment of the Spread the Impact series -- a collection of travel narratives and guides to less-traveled places in the Philippines, with the aim to spread human impact to the environment as well as uplift the lives of communities through tourism.

Stripped of rolling hills or noteworthy seascapes, Malolos and its carpet of character is instead woven with pieces of historical jewels. The place doubles as a living, breathing historical journal, tactile and rousing. In its hallowed folds, men are reared to become heroes. A republic no less was born within its walls.

It harbors countless stories. Why, even how its name came to be has several versions. There's the one about the many rivers (from the Tagalog "paluslos" meaning downward), the one about the abundance of the "Lulos" reed, and, of course, the archetypal linguistic misunderstanding with Spaniard conquistadors. 

Adventure may have come to mean forays into unknown landscapes, and/or adrenaline-pumping stunts, but its real meaning, in truth, is more versatile. "An exciting or very unusual experience," the word is formally defined. And in Malolos, experiences, that both excite and incite, abound.

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Stand Where Our Forefathers Stood
The constitutional convention of 1898, which birthed the first Philippine Republic, took place in Malolos, inside the sanctuary of the Barasoain Church. For this, it is dubbed as the "most important religious building in the Philippines", and it should also be noted that the Malolos constitution at the time was the first of its kind all over Asia
celine murillo celineism
Photo courtesy of Potpot of Travel Trilogy

During the revolution, Spaniards nicknamed the church as baras ng suwail (dungeon of the defiant) for serving as the meeting place for anti-colonial Illustrados. Interesting, isn't it, especially when most of us only know the building for concealing a cat in the now defunct 10-peso bill. 

Another church, the Malolos Cathedral, served as the presidential palace of Emilio Aguinaldo. The president of the first Philippine Republic used the church's convent as his office.  

Learn How the City Shaped the Country's Political Landscape 
Barasoain Church and the adjoining convent comprise the Barasoain Historical Landmark. In addition to these structures, there is also the Museo ng Republika ng 1899 (Museum of the 1899 Republic) where five galleries detail the timeline of the First Philippine Republic, from the revolution, to the Biak-na-Bato pact, to the establishment of the Malolos Congress, to the drafting of the Constitution, all the way to the Filipino-American War. 
stereographs fil am war

The galleries also feature a light and sound presentation as well as a stereoscopy room that allows viewing of stereographs from the Fil-Am war.

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Meet the Filipino Icons of Feminism 
Along FT Reyes Street (formerly Calle Electricidad) in what is now known as the Kamestisuhan District stands the Uitangcoy-Santos House. The 20th century stonehouse belonged to Paulino Santos, and his wife Alberta Uitangcoy-Santos – one of the greatest Filipino icons of Feminism. She was the leader of the Women of Malolos, the group of rich Meztiza-Chinese women who famously "ambushed" Governor General Valeriano Weyler in order to petition the establishment of a women's night school (which they won in spite of strong opposition from the friars). 
women of malolos

The house now displays artifacts including a reproduction of Jose Rizal's "Sulat sa mga Kadalagahang Taga-Malolos" in which he congratulated the women for their efforts towards reform. 

Stroll Through Streets Pulsing with History
The Kamestisuhan (also Camestisuhan) District was where rich Meztizo-Sangley families lived. The area boasts rows of houses steeped in historical significance. The Adriano-Vazquez House in Calle Pariancillo is a good example of adaptive reuse. Once the Gobierno Militar de la Plaza, it now serves as the city's Meralco office all the while keeping the facade of glinting hardwood, iron filigrees, and stained-glass windows.
Camestisuhan malolos

adriano-vasquez house malolos

Not far from the Uitangcoy-Santos House is the home of ophthalmologist Luis Santos – son of Alberta – which boasts works by two National Artists: a lawn fountain by Guillermo Tolentino, and a ceiling mural by Fernando Amorsolo.
kamestisuhan houses

fernando amorsolo works in malolos

guillermo tolentino works malolos

There's also the Instituto de Mujeres, the most famous in the District, which was the former site of the night school by and for the Women of Malolos. Meanwhile, the former carcel or jailhouse can be identified by its sealed half-moon balconies. Another popular structure is the Jose Bautista House, visited by Jose Rizal when he was recruiting members for La Liga Filipina. It's probably the only house in the country that has a caryatid – a draped female sculpture used as a pillar – in its facade. 
Camestisuhan jailhouse

caryatid in the philippines

Take Part in Age-Old Traditions
Aside from the historical sites, visitors can also immerse themselves in a couple of Maloleño art: Puni, and Pabalat. The former is the craft of leaf-weaving – a once popular pastime among children. It uses dried palm leaves or buri to create decorative trinkets such as flowers, doves, and baskets. 
malolos leaf weaving

Pabalat, meanwhile, is the intricate wrapping of pastillas de leche – a local delicacy. It's made from papel de hapon and can take many forms – from a maiden's outline to bouquets of flowers.
pabalat malolos

malolos pabalat art

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Eat Like Our Heroes
For a meal that appeals not only to the taste buds but also to the mind, head over to Bistro Maloleño and let its menu feed your imagination. Dishes like arroz a la cubana, a favorite of Gregorio Del Pilar, and pinaso – crushed crackers with egg yolks, sugar and milk – are served here, allowing one to imagine what it's like to dine in the days of the revolution. 
pinaso malolos

Sample Something Sweet
We've talked about pabalat, but what it covers is also worth mentioning. Pastillas de leche is one of Malolos' treasured culinary offerings and it's not hard to see why. It's simple and delectable, and also inspires nostalgia. It's also quite empowering when you realize that men like Jose Rizal used to enjoy this local treat. 
bulacan local delicacy

Hoard On the Local Pastries 
In the days of church-building, when egg whites were used to bind rocks and corals, Maloleños were left with vats of egg yolks. Refusing to discard it, the locals experimented and eventually gave rise to a handful of egg-based desserts. There's pinaso, and also inipit – a yummy flat bread made of flour, milk, sugar, and lard. It's our version of sponge cake, and the ones sold here are so much better than the mass-produced kind.

There is also empanadang kaliskis with its furrowed, crispy shell. Gurgurya (also gorgorya, and golloria), meanwhile, is made from flour, margarine, eggs, sugar, and rinds of a dayap (native lime). The traditional recipe also calls for kalumata leaves or "dahon ng anis" which is found usually around old churches in Bulacan. 
empanadang kaliskis malolos

malolos local delicacies

Malolos also has its own version of ensaymada. According to a reader who owns and runs "Eurobake", in a comment on my Things You Probably Didn't Know About Malolos article, said bakery uses the same recipe as Panaderia La Concepcion – the original maker of ensaymadang Malolos. 

In Cubao, head to Baliwag Transit Bus Station and get on a bus bound to Bulacan. Tell the driver to drop you off near the Malolos Crossing. Alternatively, there are UVs in SM North EDSA, in front of SM annex. 

Once in Malolos Crossing, get on a jeepney with a "Derecho" or "Karatig" signboard. This will pass by the Barasoain Church which is a good place to start your adventure. 

For more options on commuting, check here

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7:30AM to 9:00AM - Explore Barasoain Church and Museum of the 1899 Republic 
9:00AM to 12:00NN- Walk around the Kamestisuhan District 
12:00NN to 1:00PM - Lunch at Bistro Maloleño 
1:00PM to 3:00PM - Watch Puni and Pabalat demo (must be arranged beforehand)
3:00PM to 4:00PM - Have merienda and buy pasalubong (inipit, gorgorya, ensaymada, empanada)

Jose Roly Marcelino
History and Heritage Section Head
City of Malolos Tourism Arts and Culture Office
+63 995 167 1978

Rheeza Santiago-Hernandez
Heritage Tourism Volunteer (for Puni Demonstration)
+639 989 934 509

Naty Ocampo-Castro
Pabalat and Pastillas de Leche
83 Inang Wika St. Caniogan Malolos, Bulacan

Enjoy traveling to off-the-beaten paths? Check out the rest of the Spread The Impact series.

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