BULACAN, PHILIPPINES - In the frontier of a Saturday morning, in between sips of your favorite morning drink and a bite of your homecooked Tapsilog while sitting on the dining room you find yourself thinking on where to spend the rest of your weekend at. You thought hard, thought deep but gave up when you realized that you are devoid of any exciting options. You live in the metro where different sizes of shiny malls abound. But you do not want to stroll the whole day in a money-vacuum; besides you do not feel like shopping or watching any movie, so going there would be a waste of your precious time. You want to escape the metro but not too far from it, you want to frolic under the sun, to learn something new, to food-trip, but there is no place you can think of, nowhere you can go to where you can do all those things without the extra distance. Or is there?
We were confronted by the same question last week while we were thinking of a place we can go to that fulfills the above criteria; until my dad thought of going to Bulacan. No particular destination in Bulacan, just in Bulacan. We packed our bags with just a handful of shirts and info about the place and populated the family van in an instant. We were expecting an aimless drive, a drive that would lead us to unknown places and surprises, a drive that seeks for an adventure because that's how we sometimes bond as a family; but the universe had a better plan for us. Most of my family members are walking GPS's but not too long our drive, we found ourselves parked in one of the gas stations along NLEX, already calling a family friend who is based there to ask for directions. But he just did not answer our queries, he unconditionally left what he was doing to accompany us on our adventure, just wanting to make sure that we arrive to those notable attractions in lesser time. The universe really has its own way of taking care of us.
Our first stop was the Barasoain Church. I think this is the first time that I was able to go here and it makes me happy to see landmarks that I have only known through movies and history books. I fell in love with the carvings on its doors, paintings inside the church and its altar beaming in all its glory, but most of all I fell in love with its old-age, essence and contribution in building our history. To those who wanted to know, the Barasoian Church is the most important religious building in the Philippines, and the site of the First Philippine Republic. It is here that the First Philippine Congress convened, the Malolos Constitution was drafted and the First Philippine Republic inaugurated.
After much ogling and appreciating, we transferred to the museum standing beside the church. The Barasoain Museum is the 1st modernized museum by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines bearing the theme "Independence and Constitutional Republic". Everytime we visit a museum in another country, we could not help but be envious with how modern, organized and educational their museums are, making sure that their visitors would not leave the place without catching something new. I adore how they are putting much effort into preserving their history and making it known to the world through their museums, and I am always secretly hoping that we would have something like those, too, back home. The Barasoain Museum was the answer to our prayers. It entertained and filled our minds to the brim. It was like going through a refresher course of our history courses. It was also through the museum that I learned again that Malolos once served as the capital of our short-lived republic from 1898 to 1899. During those times, Manila was already colonized by the US.
The building served as a university once, too. During the Spanish era, less than 10 percent of the Filipino population knew how to speak, read and write. This was due to the fact that education was only given to those children of the Spaniards and the well-to-do families. With this deprivation, our leaders wished to eventually have an educational system for the Filipinos because of the belief that education plays a major role in nation building. The Universidad Scientifico Literaria de Filipina which offered Law, Medicine and Pharmacy, was the first University that filled in that void felt by our countrymen during the time of the Spaniards.
Other notable attractions in the museum includes this one gallery that offers a 7-minute light-and-sound presentation with life size dioramas of leading personalities involved in the Malolos Congress. The Light and Sound presentation schedules are at 10:00 am and 3:00 pm.
The Silid Stereoscopy also offered a different kind of activity that everyone will definitely enjoy. The room features a stereoscope which is a device used for viewing a stereoscopic pair of separate images, depicting left-eye and right-eye views of the same scene, which results to a single three-dimensional image when viewed through it. Different images of the old Philippines populate a box beside the stereoscope, which you can all go through when you have ample time. I could not share vicariously the experience I had here, that is why I strongly recommend that you visit the museum instead to see what we saw through the stereoscope. If you get excited and feel goosebumps whenever you see old photos of Manila or the Philippines, you will strongly appreciate what this room has to offer.
Innovation in the Barasoain Museum includes also the e-learning, research facilities and audio visual room. The e-lessons present the Philippine history highlighting the Malolos Congress through an interactive way that even kids will appreciate.
I also want to give a shout-out to our very knowledgeable tour guide, Jun Mabini, who happened to be a descendant of the great Mabinis, who gave us endless tidbits and more trivia about our history and who kept our attention until we descend the stairs of the museum. A salute to the passion you carry in what you do!
If you find yourself bored out of your wits in your house on a weekend, yearning for something fun and worthwhile to do; I would definitely recommend going to Malolos to visit the Barasoain Museum instead of going to the malls. Not only will you regain lost knowledge of our roots and appreciate once again the courage and selfless act carried out by our revolutionary leaders to attain our independence during your visit but each one of your family members will surely have a great time, too!
You can visit their Facebook page at Barasoain Church Historical Landmark to keep yourself updated on events and activities they host there. For inquiries and group tour reservation, you can call them at (+6344) 794-1674 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.