In school, we were taught of the Declaration of Philippine Independence as it happened on June 12, 1898 in Kawit, Cavite. It was diligently remembered and has been declared a national holiday. Good for us. Because that day reminded us how, we Filipinos, fought for our freedom and independence from the colonial rule of Spain.
But what about January 23, 1899? How many of us remember what significant event happened during this date? The province of Bulacan, particularly in the city of Malolos remembers because that date was the day the Malolos Constitution declared the Filipino-led government – otherwise known as the “Malolos Republic” and that earned ourselves a distinction as the Asia’s First Democratic Republic.
“We were the first one to establish a Constitution in Asia – the Malolos Constitution – and it was a milestone we all achieved as a nation,” said the proudest son of the historic Malolos City himself, Hon. Mayor Atty. Christian Natividad. “It was where all the other fundamental rights and privileges that we enjoy today – our bill of rights and the freedom of the press, for example – emanated, so why are we not giving this date the same reverence that we’re giving to June 12 or the Araw ng Kagitingan (The Day of Valor)?”
Dubbed as the Agila ng Malolos, Mayor Natividad spoke before the press during a media conference held inside the Don Antonio Bautista ancestral house, also known as Tanjosuy White House along Calle Burgos cor. Paseo del Congreso Road, a heritage house in Malolos, Bulacan that serves as a reminder of the lifestyle and struggles of the Filipinos during the colonial period. A stone house built in 1892 famous for its Art-Nouveau Interiors.
“Gaano ba natin pinapahalagahan ang ating pagka-Filipino? Hindi ito para sa Malolos lang. Hindi ito Araw ng Malolos, hindi ito Araw ng Bulakan, ito ay Araw ng Unang Republika ng Pilipinas. This is for each and every Filipino people,” Natividad echoed the significance of this special day.
Actor Robin Padilla and actress Vina Morales graced the 118th anniversary celebration held at Malolos Barasoain Church. “Mga mahal kong kababayan! Ang araw na ito ay dapat po nating kilalaanin bilang bagong Filipino. At kailangan po nating ipagdiwang upang ang ating bagong henerasyon at ang paparating ay mamulat sa maganda at matamis na kasaysayan ng Pilipinas. Ang pagkilala sa araw na ito ay pagkilala sa adhikaing maka-Diyos, maka-Inang Bayan at maka-kapwa tao. Ang araw na ito ay prutas na itinanim mula sa hirap, pawis, dugo, at buhay ni Dr. Jose Rizal, Supremo Andres Bonifacio, at libo-libong rebolusyunaryong Filipino na naniwala, nakipaglaban, pumatay at namatay para sa kalayaan at independensiya. Ika-23 ng Enero, 1899, itinatatag ang Republica ng Pilipinas dito sa Malolos. Sa loob ng simbahang Barasaoin, ay isinilang ang kauna-unahang republika sa buong Asya alinsunod sa mga bansa sa Europa katulad ng rebiolusyon ng Le France, katulad ng rebolusyon ng American colonist. Isang bagay po yan, mga mahal kong kababayan – kayong mga kabataan, na dapat ninyong ipagmalaki sa kapit-bansa natin, lalong-lalo na sa mga malalakas, sa mga makapangyarihang bansa na nais tayong sakupin muli,” said Padilla who acknowledge his love for the province of Bulacan. His grandfather Jose Padilla, Sr. was the fromer governor of the municipality of Plaridel.
“Hindi nagpabaya ang ating mga ninuno. Hindi nag-situlog at nagpayaman bilang mga puta ng mga dayuhan. Sila ay tumindig. Sila ay lumaban. Ang alab sa kanilang mga puso ay nanatiling buhay hanggang kamatayan. Mga mahal kong Tagalog, lahi ng mga taga-ilog, hubog sa mga lakan ng Tondo. Dugo ni Lapu-Lapu ang mga tunay na anak ng bayan. Hindi po aksidente o swerte o pagkakataon na dito ginawa ang pagtatag ng Unang Republika ng Pilipinas. Sapagkat katulad ng Cavite, ng Nueva Ecija, ng Pampanga, ng Rizal, ang Bulacan ay nagsilbing pundasyong ng rebolusyon noong 1896. Napaka-makasaysayan po ng Bulacan. Ang probinsyang ito ay lumaban na kasama ang mga Macabebe sa Pampanga, lumaban na sa Bangkusay, Tondo noong 1580. Ganun pa ho ang lahi niyo ay lumaban, ninunong maharlika ang inyong mga ninuno. Ang probinsyang ito, mahal na mahal ko ho ang probinsyang ito dahil ang Padilla ho ay galing naman ng Plaridel. Ang lolo ko ho ay ang dating gobernador, ang inyong hampas-lupang gobernador,” Padilla mentioned during his speech on the stage in front of Barasaoin Church.
Barasoain Church in Malolos was a temporary residence of General Emilio Aguinaldo and the site of three most decisive events that led to Philippine Independence: the convening of the First Philippine Congress, the drafting of the Malolos Constitution, and the inauguration of the First Philippine Republic.
Malolos Fiesta Republica was promoted on a national scale in 2013 when the city’s initiative led to a Presidential proclamation that declared January 23 as “Araw ng Republikang Filipino 1899.”
This year, the commemoration started with a program held in front of the Malolos City Hall and Basilica Minore before a float parade which started right away after the ceremony at Barasoian Church.
The float parade showcased marching bands – Pasiklaban ng mga Banda competition from the different regions of the country. It also featured the unique brass band tradition of Malolos.
The street parade continued with the much-awaited Dunsalangan street drama-play reliving the events that took place during the 1800s Philippine revolution.
It was a good thing that we were invited to cover this big event. We believe that this should be a national event where the President of the country should be in attendance to give it more emphasis of the significance of this historic date. Mayor Natividad foresees a future where all the Filipinos around the world will remember this day and commemorate the gallantry and wisdom of the forefathers of Philippine revolution.
To know more about the City of Malolos and Fiesta Republica, visit www.facebook.com/fietsarepublica.
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