I’ve never been as excited in attending a church wedding as I did last January when I was invited to join L’s cousin’s wedding somewhere in Bulacan.
An hour of scenic view across NLEX and some minutes of dodging traffic among the local karatig jeepney’s (a smaller version of the usual jeeps) plying the streets of Malolos, and the historic Barasoain Church finally filled our windshield. Yes, the wedding’s gonna be held at the same place where the first Filipino Republic under Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo was founded on. Pardon my being a history geek, but I really love these kinds of stuff.
Barasoain Church, formally known as Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish, was built in 1630 by Augustinian Missionaries. It has been called the Cradle of Democracy in the East due to the historical events that transpired within its walls during the Spanish Regime in the country.
I’d have to say that the church looked smaller in reality than what my mind’s eye painted it, but it doesn’t mean it is less impressive. Designed in the Neo Classical tradition, its most prominent features are its huge rose window and its rounded outlines which contrast heavily with its pointed medieval belfry. All of this however, is only a reconstruction of the original which burned down in 1884 during the revolution. 1884 is still eons ago, so as far as antiquities goes, this church’s still pretty much an antique.
The name Barasoain was said to be derived from a similar looking village in Spain by the Augustinians. And the name got a further connotation as the war between the Spaniards broke out. Being the center of the Philippine Government, it became Baras ng Suwail or Dungeon of the Defiant.
Inside the church, the walls are painted white, and there’s nothing here to suggest the rough adobe materials that make up its facade. The ceiling is made of wood, painted with simple 3D-like artworks. The retablo, like most churches in the country is gilded to the hilt in gold, with angels and saints inside its niches.
At the back of the church, an old photo of the church interior is displayed circa Aguinaldo days. It’s fascinating to see that it hasn’t changed much, from the white-painted ceiling to its checkered floors. Pardon the glare though, the frame is covered in glass and the lighting’s quite bad.
After the ceremony and numerous breaks of fishballs, kwek-kweks and gulamans outside, I finally walked away to join the reception dinner.
My eye wandered to a group of kids scaling an old tree in front of the church and it kinda reminded me of my childhood days. It brought me back to those lazy summer days when with nothing to do, we looked up all sorts of unusual stuff printed at the back of peso bills, not the least of which was the small kitten at the upper frieze of the Barasoain Church.
I looked up, this time not at the back of a 10-Peso bill but at the real thing wondering if I’d see that same infamous kitten at the same exact location. It finally answered my question all those years back if the cat was a real cat or part of Barasoain Church’s design.
* Old P10.00 Bill from http://www.charleskeng.com/note.htm
Barasoain Church | Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish
Paseo del Congreso St., Barangay San Gabriel
Malolos City, Bulacan
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