Top Adsense

History of Malolos Bulacan, The Barasoain Church, Heritage Structures and Notable Historical Places [Malolos Heritage Zone]

In the 13th century, a Chinese chronicler Chao Ju Kua referred to a place called Li-han, which was known for its fertile lands. Later identified by Ferdinand Blumentritt as Malolos, this center was also an important trading base for the Japanese, and most likely, other foreign traders as well. Politically, this community was governed by native leaders like the Gatsalian and Gatmaytan.

Church of Nuestra Señora del Carmen in Barasoain
Church of Nuestra Señora del Carmen in Barasoain, 1899 (Nicanor G. Tiongson Collection)

In 1580, Diego Ordonez de Vivar, OSA arrived by boat from Calumpit and set up a small chapel in Canalate. Converts to the Catholic religion increased and a succession of bamboo and nipa churches were built to accommodate them. Finally, in 1817, Melchor Fernandez, OSA, using donations and forced labor, started the construction of a bigger church of stone and mortar, now known as the Malolos cathedral. A huge convento was also erected beside it.

With the arrival of the Spanish colonizers, Malolos became the encomienda of a certain Tirado, with 900 tributes. Justice was initially administered by the alcalde mayor (governor) of Bulacan, while the native chiefs continued to rule, but under Spanish control. For the offices of government, a stone casa real was completed in 1843, through the contributions of the principalia (wealthy inhabitants). In the 18th century, the natives of the town were subjected to the vandala (compulsory selling of rice to the governor). The oppressive practice was later abolished and eventually replaced by the cedula personal or personal taxes.

Over the decades, Malolos grew in size with the addition of barrios like Bulihan, Longos, Dakila, Caniugan, Sumapa, Tikay, Santor, Matimbo, and Ligas, which were linked to each other and to other barrios of Malolos through paved roads and stone bridges erected in the late 18th and early 19th century. As the boundaries of Malolos expanded, so did its population which at 33,547 was the largest in Bulacan in 1848. By then, the inhabitants of Malolos included not only the natives but the Chinese mestizos, mostly descendants of Chinese merchants who married native women and settled in Malolos in the 18th and 19th centuries. These native and mestizo entrepreneurs worked the land, producing rice, indigo, and sugar, as well as nipa shingles, baskets, lime, and all kinds of fruits. These products were sold to buyers from Pampanga, Manila, and Bulacan itself.

Bridge of Malolos taken from the Tanchanco House
Bridge of Malolos taken from the Tanchanco House, 1899 (Nicanor G. Tiongson Collection)

With the flourishing of commerce in the 19th century, a new land-owning elite rose to prominence. This included the Chinese mestizo families, like the Buison, Chichioco, Chiong, Cojuangco, Jacinto, Santos, Reyes, Tanchanco, Tantoco, Tanjosoy, Tengco, and Tiongson as well as native families like the Aldaba, Borlongan, Buendia, Crisostomo, Dimagiba, Gatchalian, Gatmaitan, Lakindanum, Lugo, Maclang, Pulumbarit, Robles, and Victoria. Later, intermarriages between the mestizos and Indios erased the division between these two racial groups and made possible united action against the friars. With their economic ascendancy, the members of the new elite assumed the leadership in town governance, as gobernadorcillos (mayors), delegados (delegates), and cabezas de barangay (barrio heads).

Because of the marked increase in the population of Malolos, which posed problems for both secular and religious administration by the Spaniards, the central government divided the town into three separate pueblos with their own local officials in 1859. These three towns, which now functioned as separate parishes with their own Augustinian parish priests and churches, were Malolos, Barasoain (named after a town in Spain), and Santa Isabel, whose borders followed the natural divisions created by the rivers and esteros that ran through or around them.

With friar abuses mounting from the 1840s to the 1890s, the principalia of Malolos launched a movement for reforms, working for the expulsion of the friar orders from the parishes, independence of the secular officials from friar control, reform of the system of taxation, and the advancement of education, among others. First led by Marcelo H. del Pilar who had close relatives in Malolos, the reformists managed to have their own leaders elected. Among these were Manuel Crisostomo and Vicente Gatmaytan, who defied the frailocracy by implementing the government rule on immediate burial of cholera victims and by rejecting the tax list of the cura (parish priest), which the friars deliberately bloated to increase their 12 percent share from actual taxes collected. Confrontations with the friars and threats of imprisonment from the alcalde mayor only served to intensify the campaign for reforms, even after the departure of del Pilar for Spain in 1888.

In support of the movement, 20 young women of Malolos, closest relatives of the leading reformists, signed a letter (written by Teodoro Sandico) asking permission from the newly appointed Governor-General Valeriano Weyler to open a night school to be financed by them, where they could learn the Spanish language. The women personally presented the letter to Weyler when the latter visited Malolos on 12 December 1888. But the friars, correctly reading the letter as a political move, later convinced him to turn it down. The women persisted and finally opened their school in February 1889 under the progressive Guadalupe Reyes. But it lasted only till May 1889 when Sandico had to flee the country to avoid arrest. The courage of the women, who belonged to the Reyes, Tanchanco, Tantoco, and Tiongson clans, was lauded by La Solidaridad and prompted Jose Rizal to write his famous “To My Young Countrywomen of Malolos” dated 22 February 1889, which encouraged women to educate themselves, follow their consciences instead of the friars, and be partners of their male relatives in the struggle for reforms.

With the frailocracy becoming even more paranoid and punitive in the 1890s, many reformists joined the masonic lodge Kupang starting in 1892. Knowing this, the cura Moises Santos, OSA denounced the reformists as masons out to destroy the Church and overthrow the government. On 25 May 1895, the eight “maginoo” (gentlemen) of Malolos were arrested and exiled to Mindanao, Sulu or Palawan: Manuel Crisostomo, Ceferino, Valentin, and Juan Aldaba, Vicente Gatmaytan, Justo Teodoro, Saturnino Buendia, and Luis H. del Pilar. All their associates like Antonio and Ponciano Tiongson, Jose, Florentino, and Graciano Reyes, Anastacio Crisostomo, Padre Rafael Canlapan, Silvino Torralba, Jose and Felix Bautista, and Felipe Estrella, were harassed with raids and interrogations.

But for the progressives there was no turning back. In March 1896, Isidoro Torres, Ramon de Leon, and Victorino Gatmaytan were initiated into the Katipunan in Manila and authorized to open a branch in Malolos called Balangay Apuy. The latter was headed by Luis Gatmaytan. In the same year was founded the Katipunan del Norte with Father Agustin Tantoco, coadjutor of Calumpit, as head, and supported by his brother Gabino and the latter’s sons Juan, Antonio, and Ezequiel. With the arrest and torture of the brothers Luis and Victorino Gatmaytan, Torres became president of the Balangay Apuy, and headed the revolutionary forces in Malolos after the outbreak of the revolution in August 1896.

With the help of the former reformists and other progressive citizens of Malolos, the Katipunan forces under Torres and Anacleto Enriquez were able to defeat the Spanish forces decisively in the Battle of Malolos on 1 June 1897. And even after Aguinaldo and other revolutionary leaders were exiled to Hong Kong in December 1897, Torres continued to lead the revolutionary forces in Malolos. When Aguinaldo returned in May 1898 to launch the second phase of the revolution, Torres and his forces readily responded to his call to action. After the surrender of the Spanish forces to the Americans on 13 August 1898, Aguinaldo decided to move his headquarters to Malolos—because of the town’s invitation for him to move there, the churches and houses that could be used as offices of the revolutionary government, and the town’s accessibility to the new rail system.

From September 1898 to March 1899, some of the most momentous events in Philippine history happened in Malolos. On 15 September 1898, the first ever Philippine congress opened at the Barasoain church and immediately set about its task of writing the very first democratic constitution in Asia. On the 18th, Aguinaldo proclaimed Malolos as the capital of the Philippines. On the 29th of the same month, the ratification by Congress of the 12 June declaration of independence was celebrated in grand manner with parades, and balls. On 21 January 1899, the Malolos constitution was promulgated. On the 23rd, the first Philippine Republic was inaugurated with Aguinaldo as president and a new cabinet headed by Apolinario Mabini and composed of Teodoro Sandico, Baldomero Aguinaldo, Mariano Trias, and Gracio Gonzaga. The Universidad Literaria de Filipinas was inaugurated and housed in the Barasoain convento from 1898 to 1899. On 17 February 1899, the first Cruz Roja or Red Cross organization was founded at the Malolos convento, with Aguinaldo’s wife, Hilaria del Rosario, as president.

Malolos Church burned during American occupation
Malolos Church burned during American occupation on 31 March 1899 (Mike Price Collection)

With the advance of the American forces toward Malolos, Aguinaldo left the town two days before the American soldiers arrived on 31 March 1899. About 7,000 citizens, fearing violence from the invaders, went on a mass exodus with Aguinaldo. General Torres, now politico-military governor of Malolos and Bulacan, and his forces tried to block the American entry into the capital but after two hours, the Americans, led by General Arthur MacArthur, hoisted their flag at the Malolos plaza and placed the town under military rule. Underground activities against the Americans continued, waged by a revolutionary shadow government. Two of the guerillas, Santiago Lucero of Santa Isabel and Father Gregorio Crisostomo, then parish priest of Malolos, were arrested and exiled to Cabanatuan. But weeks after, most citizens came back to town, and after the fall of the revolutionary leaders, including Aguinaldo, resigned themselves to American rule. In February 1901, the Americans appointed their own municipal president and later made Malolos the capital of the whole province. By 1903, Malolos, Barasoain, and Santa Isabel were unified into one town once more.

American troops occupying Malolos
American troops occupying Malolos on 31 March 1899 (Mike Price Collection)

In the American colonial period, many changes were instituted in Malolos. As in most towns that fell under America, the new colonizers immediately set up elementary schools where children of both sexes could be taught English and other subjects by American soldiers, and later, the Thomasites. With the coming of foreign films around 1913 and radio in the 1920s and with the sending of Malolos pensionados (government scholars) to the United States, the process of Americanization was well under way in Malolos. Many former revolutionaries assumed government positions under the new dispensation, while others joined the Iglesia Filipina Independiente and supported the movement for independence either through the Partido Nacionalista or the Independence missions. In the first and second decades, some of the women of Malolos continued to be active in community affairs, joining the Asociacion Feminista Filipina in 1906 and its local counterpart the Club de Mujeres, helping to establish the Centro de Puericultura in 1917, and working for women’s suffrage in the 1930s. By the time the Japanese occupied the country in 1942, most of those who figured in the movements for reform and independence at the turn of the century were gone.

Historic Center and Heritage Structures

Individual buildings in Malolos had been marked by the government since the 1950s but it was only on 15 August 2001 that the National Historical Institute, by virtue of the powers vested in it by Presidential Decree (PD) 260, officially declared the historic town center of Malolos as a National Historical Landmark and a Heritage Town. This historic center covers two general areas: a part of Barasoain and the old Malolos poblacion (town center).

Parade of Emilio Aguinaldo and his retinue across the main plaza of Malolos on their way to Barasoain Church
Parade of Emilio Aguinaldo and his retinue across the main plaza of Malolos on their way to Barasoain Church in 23 January 1899 (Nicanor G. Tiongson Collection)

Paseo del Congreso

In Barasoain, the major heritage structures are linked by the old road called Paseo del Congreso, so named because here passed the parade from the Malolos convento to the Barasoain church for the opening of the Malolos Congress. Most important historical building here is Barasoain Church, which was already marked by the National Historical Committee in 1940 and later declared a National Landmark through PD 260 on 1 August 1973 because it was the site of the first Philippine Congress convened by Emilio Aguinaldo on 15 September 1898. Here met 92 delegates, both elected and appointed, who put together and approved the first democratic constitution of the country. Here too, the same congress ratified the “Act of Declaration of Independence” proclaimed in Kawit on 12 June 1898. On the other hand, the Barasoain Convento was marked by the National Historical Commission in 1969 because it housed the offices of the Malolos Congress as well as the first secular university of the country, the Universidad Literaria de Filipinas from 1898 to 1899.

Barasoain Church

Built in 1885 by a maestro de obras (master builder) M. Magpayo under the supervision of Juan Giron, OSA, the church has a facade that can be divided into three vertical sections and three horizontal levels. On the first level are three arched entrances separated by flat pilasters decorated with fluted ovals. Over the two side entrances are media naranja (semi-circular) capiz-covered windows, while on top of the larger main entrance is a big rose window also fluted and covered with capiz window. Half of the rose window occupies the second level, where it is flanked by pilasters like those of the first level and topped by a small niche for a santo. On either side of the central panel on the second level, the two side wall panels rise in matching graceful curves from the left and right ends toward the center, connecting to the media naranja pediment on the third level, which is surmounted by a cross, and marked at center with the words “J. Giron dirigio / Magpayo construyo / 1885.” The media naranja is flanked by two stone finials, matching those on the left and right sides of the second level.

The church has a wide central nave separated by columns from two wide aisles on either side. The aisles lead up to simple neo-classical retablos of carved stone with a single niche for life-size santos on the epistle and the gospel sides. The central nave leads up to the sanctuary which has the same width as the nave. Raised a few steps from the nave floor, it is dominated by a stone retablo with two levels, the first of which has three niches, with the central and bigger niche being occupied by the patroness Nuestra Señora del Carmen. On top of the central niche is a small niche with the image of the Santa Cruz. The retablo, altar, and sanctuary are naturally lighted by three pairs of arched windows on either side. These are similar to but smaller than the arched windows carved out of the church’s thick adobe walls along the two aisles, which provide light and ventilation to the whole church, as do the two side doors. Over the main entrance of the church is the koro (choir loft). The black and white cement tiles of the original church were restored, but the original wooden trusses and galvanized iron roofing were replaced with iron trusses and a tile roof when it was “restored” for the 1898 centennial of the Malolos Congress.

To the gospel side of the church is a simple kampanaryo only a few meters higher than the facade. The bell tower of stone has a tall square base, on which rise three progressively smaller hexagonal drums, decorated with six blind arched windows. The third and smallest drum, which is made of bricks, has six open arched and balustraded windows. Patterned after the original, the present roof is an inverted cone. To the epistle side of the church and aligned with its facade is a long, two-story convento with six Roman arches supporting the long volada (overhang) on the second level, which has sliding capiz windows resting on pasamanos (window sills) under which are ventanillas (sliding window panels) framed by sets of wooden panels. On the first floor of the convento is a zaguan (first floor entrance area) for storage, now divided into offices and exhibit areas. A stone and wooden staircase leads to the second floor which has a long continuous sala (receiving room) and three big rooms overlooking the plaza.

At the plaza in front of the convento is a historical glorieta of stone. It is an octagonal platform with two entrances with a few steps on either side. The platform is dominated by an obelisk which contains the names of the Congress delegates and above it a relief of Congress president Pedro Paterno’s face. It was inaugurated in 1931 by Emilio Aguinaldo, Gregoria de Jesus, and other dignitaries to memorialize the Malolos Congress. In the 1980s, a statue of Emilio Aguinaldo, first president of the Malolos Republic wearing a formal frac and carrying a cane and top hat, was installed facing this obelisk.

Cojuangco-Chichioco bahay na bato

Cojuangco-Chichioco House
Cojuangco-Chichioco House, 2017 (Kiko del Rosario)

The Cojuangco-Chichioco bahay na bato (stone house) on the Paseo del Congreso, was built in the 19th century by Melecio Cojuangco and his wife Tecla Chichioco. Here lived their children Jose, Juan, Eduardo and Antonio, and Melecio’s sister Isidra Cojuangco who was allegedly wooed by General Antonio LunaLuna, Antonio. The house used to stand right next to the street but when it was renovated in the 1980s, it was pushed back a few meters away from the street and made higher than it actually was.

Tanjosoy-Bautista-de los Santos House

Located right on the corner of Paseo del Congreso and Burgos Street is the Tanjosoy-Bautista-de los Santos House built in 1812 by Pedro Tanjosoy and Geronima Villanueva. The oldest surviving Spanish period bahay na bato in Malolos, the house has a big sala with windows looking out onto the two streets; two bedrooms adjacent to the sala; a large komedor (dining room) that runs along Burgos Street; and at the back a kusina (kitchen) and azotea (open terrace on the second floor) with stone stairs leading to the garden. In 1906 a smaller version of the house was attached to the right side, for extra bedrooms, a caida (landing) for an exterior wooden and stone staircase, and a garage under the bedrooms. In 1910, Emilio Alvero was commissioned by Antonio Bautista to renovate the house. He used an indigenized Art Nouveau style for the new wooden chandeliers, picture frames, curtain valances, furniture, and wall paintings.

Casa Real

Restored Casa Real of Malolos
Restored Casa Real of Malolos, 2017 (Kiko del Rosario)

Across the street from this house and at the foot of the bridge is the Casa Real, which was also known as the Casa Presidencia Municipal during the American colonial period. It was declared a National Shrine through Executive Order 173 on 4 October 1965 and marked by the National Historical Institute in 1990, because it housed the office of the gobernadorcillo in Spanish times and the presidente municipal or mayor in the American era. And when Malolos was the seat of the Republic, the revolutionary publications La Independencia and El Heraldo de la Revolucion were printed here in 1898 and 1899.

The original Casa Real, which was completed in 1843, was a two-level box-like structure of adobe with a tiled roof. Its main entrance was on the first level, flanked by square windows with iron grills and media aguas (awnings). On the second floor were three windows which had media aguas and balustrades. There were similar windows at the two sides and at the back. The main entrance led to a small lobby and then at center to a stone-and-wooden staircase leading up to the second floor. Over the years, the spaces on the first and second floors were divided into different configurations of halls and rooms according to the needs of its many occupants. In 1918, the building was renovated. Two big open balconies with balustrades, all in concrete, were attached to the left and right sides of the building. One window on each side of the building was converted into large doors to connect the balconies to the second floor hall. The balconies were supported on the first floor by independently standing concrete posts on the front and a concrete structure with windows to the back. Over the main entrance was also built a smaller balustraded balcony of concrete resting on two posts, protecting the main entrance from the elements. Art deco motifs were carved atop the doorways leading to and from the balconies. The building degenerated over the years and was almost completely demolished in the 1950s but for the timely intervention of heritage advocates like Jose P. W. Tantoco. It was practically reconstructed in 1981 following the general dimensions of the original building and reproducing the balconies added in 1918. Today it serves as a museum of Malolos history under the management of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).

General Felipe Estrella Bridge

River landing at Malolos along the Tampoy River with the Tanchanco House beyond the 1810 stone bridge
River landing at Malolos along the Tampoy River with the Tanchanco House beyond the 1810 stone bridge (Nicanor G. Tiongson Collection)

Connecting Barasoain to the Malolos poblacion is a stone bridge called General Felipe Estrella Bridge. Built in 1810, it was renovated in 1926 and provided with concrete balustrades, lamp posts, and sidewalks on both sides. Named in honor of General Felipe Estrella who was killed in the battle of San Ildefonso, the bridge is seen prominently in the picture of the parade held in Malolos on 29 September 1898. Over it has passed all important personalities that had something to do with the history of Malolos as a town and as the seat of the Malolos Republic. It spans the Tampoy river, which used to be an important artery of transportation and commerce for the town.

As one descends the bridge, the road divides right where stands the Francisco Baltazar Monument, featuring a cement bust of the Bulacan poet by Guillermo E. Tolentino, commissioned and installed by the Panulat at Wika, the local group of poets and writers in 1959. About 50 meters behind the monument is the center of the Malolos poblacion­—the cathedral, convento, and plaza, the latter enclosed by a fence with several pedestrian and vehicular gates.

Malolos Cathedral

Much larger than Barasoain church, the Malolos Cathedral, now also known as the Basilica Minore of the Immaculate Conception and the original convento on the gospel side, were built in 1817 to 1819. In the convento transpired many historical events, like the confrontation of the friar curate with the cabezas who refused to follow the friar’s tax list and the presentation of the letter to Weyler by the Women of Malolos in 1888. Markers from the National Historical Institute installed in the mid-1950s underscores the convento’s historical importance, having served as the presidencia or palacio presidencial during the Malolos Republic. Here Aguinaldo and his wife Hilaria del Rosario lived, here the president held meetings and formal balls, and here too his wife and other women of Malolos founded the first Cruz Roja or Red Cross in 1899. On the first floor were printed the official seals of the president and the Republic.

Church and convento of the Inmaculada Concepcion in Malolos before the 1863 earthquake
Church and convento of the Inmaculada Concepcion in Malolos before the 1863 earthquake (Nicanor G. Tiongson Collection)

The church has a facade that can be divided, like that of Barasoain, into three vertical sections and three horizontal levels. On the first level is the main entrance with the date 1817 above it, flanked originally by two arched windows which were converted into arched portals in the 1950s. The main entrance is separated from the two side entrances by two pairs of classical columns standing on tall square bases decorated with bandeja (square) motifs. Two classical columns of the same design stand one each on the left and right sides of the first level. On the second level are three arched windows, aligned with the windows/portals below. The same number and design of classical columns, but a little shorter, are used on the second level, perfectly corresponding to the columns below. Over the central window on the second level is a niche with a very old image of the Immaculate Conception. On the third level is a triangular pediment with a cross on top of it. The pediment is flanked by two urn finials, which perfectly match two other finials located at the ends of the second level walls, on the right and left sides. On the epistle side of the church is the kampanaryo which has four progressively smaller hexagonal drums forming one tower, all decorated with blind arches except the topmost which has six arched and balustraded windows so that the sound of the bells can be heard. The kampanaryo had an inverted cone roof with a weather vane before it was replaced in the 1970s by a gigantic sculpture of the Immaculate Conception a la Murillo.

The church has one wide nave which ends in a transept, whose left and right wings have their own newly made retablos. The original 19th century retablos burned down when the church and convento were put to the torch by Aguinaldo’s men on 31 March 1899 so that the buildings would be of no use to the invading Americans. On the slightly elevated sanctuary today is the single niche retablo for the Image of the Inmaculada Concepcion with Baroque and Regency influence designed by Alejandro Caudal in the pre-World War II era. After Vatican II, the wooden altar in front of the retablo was demolished and an elevated altar of marble was built several meters away from it. With the removal of the altar, the retablo lost its aesthetic base. In the 1950s, the high arched windows with capiz panels were extended downward to allow more light and air into the church and fitted with steel frames and colored glass, later with stained glass windows. The old koro still survives though it is no longer used as often.

On the gospel side, the church used to be connected to the long convento which had six wide Roman arches supporting the volada on the second floor, which in turn had an assemblage of pasamanos with sliding capiz windows on the top and sliding ventanillas underneath. The entire roof was covered with tiles. Entrance was through the second arch (from the right) and led to a zaguan with stone floor and the staircase which had piedra china (granite blocks from China) on the first ascent and then wooden steps and balustrades on the second. The second floor, which was of wood, had an enormous sala and commodious rooms, and a kitchen at the back. In 1835, a clock tower four levels high was added at the end of the convento, perfectly balancing the kampanaryo at the opposite end. Before the clock collapsed in the earthquake of 1863, the Malolos church was considered one of the grandest in the country. Nothing remains of the old convento. The present convento and bishop’s palace was built in the 1960s, after Malolos became the seat of the new diocese of Bulacan, and further extended in the 1990s.

The Three Poblacion Barrios

From the Estrella bridge a road runs around the church block, connecting the large plaza to three poblacion barrios: San Vicente on the clocktower’s side, Santo Rosario at the back of the church block, and Santo Niño or Pariancillo on the kampanaryo side. The barrio of Santo Niño is also called Kamestisuhan or “place where mestizos live,” because here were found the houses of the mestizos sangleyes.

On the San Vicente side and on the road beside the former clocktower are found the aguas potables or water cistern, erected in 1923, which is an 80-foot high depository of clean water which served the town for decades. On the small plaza in front of it and at the crossing of three roads stands the General Isidoro Torres Monument erected in the pre-World War II period. Standing on a high pedestal, the hero of Malolos is shown in military uniform with saber, beside a broken wheel symbolic of death and next to an upside down small canon signifying the end of the Revolution.

On the San Vicente side and next to the Estrella bridge to the left stand the remains of what was once the Tanchanco-Mendoza House. In this bahay na bato lived former gobernadorcillo Tomas Tantoco Tanchanco and Rosenda Macalanda Mendoza, prominent leaders of the reform movement in Malolos, and parents of two of the Women of Malolos, Eugenia and Aurea. The main entrance faced the plaza and it had a long balcony running the length of its komedor, an enormous sala, several rooms, and a caballeriza (horse stable) below and near the river. To this house came Father Jose Burgos in 1869 to stand as godfather to the Tanchanco first born, Francisco. In this house, the Tanchancos hosted Jose Rizal when he came home to visit in 1888. During the period of the Revolution, the house served as the intelligence center for military operations, under the protection of and with the support of Rosenda, then already a widow. In 1905, Rosenda hosted a lunch here for William Jennings Bryant, democrat who favored independence for the colony. After Rosenda died in 1925, the house was partitioned among her five children. What remains of the house are a few zaguan walls.

To the right of the bridge is the Malolos Munisipyo, which faces the cathedral. It was built on what used to be an open space with an artesian well, beside the old river landing. Completed in 1940, the munisipyo is a two-level structure of steel and cement elevated by about ten steps from the street level. The higher central portion juts out a few meters from the two sides of the facade. The stairs lead up to the entrance which has a portico with two square pillars. Atop these pillars is a wide panel on which two Philippine Commonwealth seals flank the words “Pamahalaang Bayan / Malolos, Bulakan / 1940.” The portico has one main door between two large art deco grilled windows, while the second floor has three smaller windows perfectly aligned with the windows and door below. The same proportion and alignment of windows are seen on the two sides of the facade. Inside, there is a lobby which is flanked by offices on either side and leads to a staircase with art deco grills. On the second floor are a small sala and two large rooms for offices. Sometime in the 1960s, a third floor, also of concrete, was added on what used to be a roof garden. In front of the munisipyo stands the Marcelo H. del Pilar Monument. Dated 1905, the bust of del Pilar, leader of the Malolos reformists, stands on a pedestal in the middle of the 25 square meters plaza officially named after the hero.

Other Notable Bahay na Bato Houses

Notable and rare is the Ramon de Leon House on Tampoy or Cigarillera Street overlooking the Tampoy river to the back and left side of the munisipyo. This well-preserved tsalet (chalet, in English) was built by the former Katipunero, mayor, and civic leader, in the early American period. Elevated above the ground by more than two meters, the one-level art deco house is rectangular in shape. In front, its graceful stone stairs lead up to the open veranda. While the front veranda is common to many tsalet, unique is the house’s veranda because it continues to the left of the entrance, turns right at the corner, and runs all the way to the back of the house, wrapping two thirds of the front and the entire left side of the house with an extended balcony with a wooden floor. The main door opens to the main sala, which are directly connected by three pairs of wooden doors to the three bedrooms of the house. To the left of the sala and running down to the back of the house is a komedor. At the back is an azotea overlooking the Tampoy river.

Lino Reyes House
Lino Reyes House (Nicanor G. Tiongson Collection)

On the Santo Niño side and right across from the epistle side of the church stood until a few years ago the Reyes-Tantoco House, a 19th century bahay na bato owned by Lino Santos Reyes and his second wife Maria Tiongson Tantoco, one of the women of Malolos. During the Malolos Republic, the house served as the office of Apolinario Mabini, in his capacity as secretary of foreign affairs and prime minister. The house was sold a few years ago.

On the same street but nearer the patio of the church is the low Reyes-Tantoco House, owned by reformist leader and former gobernadorcillo Jose Tiongson Reyes and Catalina Tengco Tantoco. In this 19th-century bahay na bato, the two raised their four children, two of whom were Elisea and Juana, who belonged to the barkada (ship crew) of the 20 women of Malolos. What remains of the house can no longer be seen, as it has been engulfed by commercial establishments.

On the corner of Estrella and Pariancillo Streets stood the magnificent 19th century Jose Villanueva Tiongson House. This is the bahay na bato that looms large behind Aguinaldo and his carriage in the photo of the parade for the proclamation of the Malolos Republic in 1899. The house was owned by landowner and local official Jose, whose grandson Judge Arcadio Tiongson Ejercito inherited it. Since the 19th century, the lower floor of this house had shops in it so that the main entrance was at the left. On the second floor, the huge sala which had the usual set of capiz windows, pasamanos and ventanillas overlooked the main street as well as Pariancillo Street. Rooms were on the Pariancillo side. In this side, Aguinaldo allegedly signed the Malolos Constitution. What remains of the Jose Tiongson house are parts of the first level stone walls on which has been built a modern structure.

The Jose Tiongson house is the first of many houses on Pariancillo Street, whose original owners belonged to the Tiongson clan. Right next to the Jose Tiongson house on Pariancillo is the 19th-century Antonio Chichioco Tiongson House. The second floor facade has three vertical sections, with their own sets of sliding capiz windows, pasamanos, ventanillas, and wooden panels with exquisite carvings and one continuous media agua running above the top of the capiz windows. On the silong or ground floor of this house, Antonio’s grandaughter Asuncion, ran a store and restaurant, so two entrances were created on the first level.

Antonio Tiongson and Erastro Cervantes House
Antonio Tiongson and Erastro Cervantes House (Nicanor G. Tiongson Collection)

Right next to this house still stands the 19th century Cervantes bahay na bato where the church composer Erastro Cervantes used to live and which became the property of Rafael Chiong, and now of Faustino Chiong. The latter house hosted the Secretaria del Interior during the Malolos Republic. Like the house beside it, the second floor facade of this house also has three vertical sections, with three sets of capiz windows, pasamanos, ventanillas, wooden bandejas, and atop the windows a continuous media agua of galvanized iron. The entrance is on the left side of the first floor, but the rest of the ground floor seems to have been opened up for a store at the time the house was built. Over the lintel of this store area is carved the year 1892, which could be the date of the houses’s construction.

Almost opposite this building used to stand the Tiongson-Crisostomo House of former gobernadorcillo Manuel Pulumbarit Crisostomo and his wife Laureana Tiongson. In the 1950s, their son Aurelio constructed on this lot a new house in the 1950s style, designed and built by Engineer Alfredo T. Aldaba. The 1950s Aurelio Tiongson Crisostomo House, which is interesting for its combinations of many modern motifs, was inherited by his children and still stands.

Two lots away from this house was the magnificent Ponciano Santiago Tiongson House. Wealthy businessman and land-owner Ponciano probably built this bahay na bato in the 1870s. The house was used as the office of the Comisaria de Guerra during the period of the Malolos Republic and also served as living quarters for American officers during the occupation of Malolos in 1899. This house was notable and unique for its decorative neo-gothic arches at the caida and at the two sides of the big sala. Similarly, the fine filigree carving of the calados atop its wide hardwood doors are outstanding, as well as its floor which had dark and light colored hardwoods alternating to form stripe patterns on the floor. At the back, next to the kitchen, was a huge azotea which had a stone staircase leading down to the garden. Still strong and standing, it was sold for its wood in the 2000s.

Next to the Ponciano Tiongson house is the Vicente Tantoco Tiongson House designed and built by Emilio Alvero in 1923. The house proper was already finished when Vicente died in 1925 but the original exterior staircase was never completed, because Vicente’s widow, Salud Tanchanco Reyes, and her five young children left the house after his death. When the family returned to live in the house after the war, the facade was completed but no longer according to the original 1920s design of Alvero. Instead, Engineer Alfredo Aldaba, who married a daughter of the house, designed and built a 1950s facade and a fence to match it.

Adriano-Vasquez Mansion
Adriano-Vasquez Mansion, 2017 (Kiko del Rosario)

Opposite the Vicente T. Tiongson House is the magnificent Adriano-Vasquez Mansion owned by Ignacio Adriano and his Tiongson-descended wife. Built in 1923, it is still a bahay na bato with first floor of stone and upper floor of wood but it has introduced innovations on the bahay na bato. In the absence of a volada, the front part of the house facade is supported by four ionic columns to form an open space underneath, that serves as caida and foyer to the main entrance. From the left and right corners of the house, two curving staircases of stone lead the visitor from the ground level to the porch entrance on the first floor. The first floor is no longer a dark stone-covered zaguan but a large area with warm wooden floors that could be used for big parties. Designed in the art deco style, it has deco plant motifs carved onto the balustrade of the staircase, which leads up to the second floor. The second floor landing connects to a huge sala. At one end of the sala toward the front of the house are the three bedrooms. At the other end of the sala is a beautiful art deco arch-divider of wood and colored glass which separates the sala from a corridor flanked by rooms. In the sala, staircase, and bathrooms may be seen beautiful glass works by the Manila-based German stained glass maker, Kraut. The original Puyat furniture for the sala and bedrooms, now gone, were all in a matching art deco design. Because the lot extends to the next street, a big azotea at the back is furnished with a cement staircase leading to the paved backyard.

Next to the Vicente Tiongson house on Pariancillo is the old casa tribunal. In the 19th century, it served as the hall of justice and a jail. During the Malolos Republic, it was the headquarters of Isidoro Torres in his capacity as gobernador militar de la plaza. It had a facade which had an arched entrance on the first floor, and on the second level three semi-circular cup-shaped stone balconies with iron grills and wooden pasamanos. Over the balconies were semi-circular cup-shaped stone canopies which matched the balconies in size and in the style of their intricately carved decorations. Perpendicular to the right and back side of this rectangular building was another building whose sides also had the same balconies and canopies. In the 1950s, all the openings of the building were cemented (except for one) when it was turned into a bodega by its owner Ignacio Adriano.

American soldiers on Pariancillo Street in front of Ponciano and Vicente Tiongson Houses and the casa tribunal at the far end
American soldiers on Pariancillo Street in front of Ponciano and Vicente Tiongson Houses and the casa tribunal at the far end (Nicanor G. Tiongson Collection)

Across the road from the casa tribunal is the Tantoco-Santos House built by Teresa Tiongson Tantoco, one of the Women of Malolos, for her daughter Anita when she got married to Gonzalo Uitangcoy Santos in 1931. Typical of the 1930s, the two-story house has a central portion jutting out of what basically is a square box. Elevated from the ground, the entrance on the first floor of the covered entrance is accessed through a low stone staircase in front. Like a foyer, the entrance area is protected from the elements by the upper floor, but its two sides are open, except for low, grilled pasamanos on either side. Upon entering the house, one steps into a small lobby with wooden floor which connects immediately to a wooden staircase leading to the second floor. On either side of the staircase on the first floor are rooms which can be used as living spaces or offices. On the second floor is a wide sala, which extends to the central portion above the entrance area, and rooms on either side of the staircase landing.

Farther down, Pariancillo Street ends on the bridge over the canal that is the boundary of barrio Santo Niño and the poblacion. About 100 meters before the bridge, Pariancillo connects perpendicularly to Santo Niño Street (formerly Agapita Tiongson Street). On this corner stood three important bahay na bato in the 19th century. On the corner of Pariancillo and Santo Niño itself was the Antonio Morales Tiongson House. Antonio was a leading reformist who held several public offices. He and his wife Juliana Reyes had several children, five of whom—Basilia, Paz, Aleja, Mercedes, and Agapita—were part of the 20 Women of Malolos, with Mercedes acting as one of the three leaders of the group. Mercedes eventually married Teodoro Sandico, a profesor de latinidad. The first floor of the house was made of stone and housed the zaguan. The entrance was on the left side of the house. On the second floor, the sala overlooked both the Pariancillo and Santo Niño. On the Santo Niño side, the sala connected to the komedor and a long corridor that ended up in the kitchen. The azotea at the back had stairs going down to the garden. It is said that the sala was decorated with half body portraits of Antonio and Juliana, while on either side of the piano hung full-body portraits of Mercedes and Agapita. Only the stone steps of the azotea and the two posts of the exterior gate remain of the house, which burned down in 1934.

Opposite this house on Pariancillo was the Marcos Ramos Tiongson House. This bahay na bato was owned by Antonio’s second cousin Marcos and his wife Juana B. Oliveros, whose daughters Filomena, Cecilia, and Feliciana, also belonged to the group of the Women of Malolos. It was in this house that the friar Agustin Fernandez came to convince the sisters to come to the church more often. The house and its kamalig burned down in 1914 and the siblings decided to build another house farther into the huge property. This was a two story house with a mirador (look-out) on the third level, all in art deco style. A stone staircase outside went up to the second floor. The first floor had its own side entrance, below the stone staircase. This was the house where the Rizal sisters, Trinidad and Maria, used to stay when Maria had to have her eyes treated by Dr. Luis U. Santos, pioneering eye, ear, nose, and throat (EENT) specialist, in prewar era. The house was demolished when the property was sold in the 1960s to the Iglesia ni Cristo who built a huge kapilya on it.

Opposite the house of Antonio Morales Tiongson on Santo Niño was the Fabian Morales Tiongson House. Fabian, Antonio’s brother, had two famous children by his first marriage to Norberta Tantoco Maclang, namely, Vicente and Anastacia Tiongson, the latter being one of the Women of Malolos. After the Philippine-American war, Fabian and his family migrated to Dagupan City where they engaged in different businesses with much success. In the American period, the present two-story house was built, probably using parts of the old house. The present house has a two-part staircase going all the way up to the entrance porch which juts out of the square box of the house. The second floor has a sala, three rooms, a komedor, and azotea. The first floor, which is elevated from the ground and has its own entrance has living quarters independent of the upper floor. The house, which is in the art deco style, is now occupied by the Crisostomo and Vinluan families.

On Santo Niño was the Reyes-Tengco House. This bahay na bato was owned by Clemente Tiongson Reyes and Maria Tengco, whose daughter Rufina Tengco Reyes was one of the Women of Malolos. In this bahay na bato the women attended classes under the maestra Guadalupe Reyes from February to May 1889. The house was replaced in the 1930s by one built by Rufina’s sister Segunda when the latter married Francisco Gatchalian. All that remains of the first house is one stone wall perpendicular to the street, on which the National Historical Institute put its marker in 1961 to commemorate the Women of Malolos and Rizal’s letter to them.

As Santo Niño turns the corner, one finds the American period Jacinto-Lomotan House. This house was built by Clara Santos Jacinto, who volunteered to work for the Cruz Roja (Red Cross) in 1899, and her husband Cipriano Chico Lomotan, who held positions in local government. Like other American period houses in Malolos, its central portion protrudes, in this case with an open balcony-foyer-entrance accessed through an open stone stairway ascending in front of the right side of the facade. The lower floor is for storage while the second floor has several rooms, the komedor, kusina, and banyos (bathrooms).

Next to the Jacinto-Lomotan house on Santo Niño is the Tantoco-Reyes House. Inherited by Vicenta Tiongson Tantoco who married Epifanio San Agustin Reyes, the 19th-century bahay na bato was originally owned by Ana Morales Tiongson (sister of Fabian and Antonio). This is where Ana and her husband Hermogenes Tengco Tantoco lived with their four daughters, Teresa, Maria, Vicenta, and Teodora. Teresa and Maria signed the letter to Weyler. The house has a stone kamalig with arches in front supporting an open roof garden on top. The original house burned down in 1974 and was not replaced till 2011 when two of Vicenta’s grandchildren—Lydia R. Balatbat-Echauz and Oscar Reyes decided to reconstruct. In the reconstruction, the lower floor of the house was raised by several meters to accommodate the karos that would be kept under the house.

Next to this house is the 19th-century Santos-Tantoco House of Barbara Reyes Santos and Hermogenes Tengco Tantoco. (After Hermogenes’s first wife Ana died, he married Barbara.) This low bahay na bato, which still stands, has storage spaces on the first level and living quarters on the second. The house has several rooms and a sala that overlooks the street. It used to house the half body portraits of Barbara’s parents, now with the Casa Manila Museum. The house is now owned by a direct descendant, Ching Tantoco-Lopez.

Santos-Bautista House
Santos-Bautista House, 2017 (Kiko del Rosario)

Opposite the Santos-Tantoco house is one of the most distinguished houses of Malolos, the Santos-Bautista House built by Rufina Capistrano Santos and Jose A. Bautista. In this house, Rizal met with Jose Bautista, Vicente Gatmaytan, and Manuel Crisostomo in 1892 to tell them about La Liga Filipina that he was forming. The house was inherited by Antonio Santos Bautista, revolutionary leader, former mayor, and civic leader, who also inherited the Tanjosoy-Bautista house in Barasoain. Built in 1877, the house has its main entrance on the first floor, under the second floor volada, and flanked by two buntis na rehas (pregnant grills) windows. On the second level of the facade are the usual two sets of sliding glass and persiana (wooden louvers) windows, pasamanos, and ventanillas. But unique are the four Grecian caryatids which are evenly distributed across the facade: two at each corner of the house, and the other two placed at equal distances between them. To the left side of the zaguan, an entresuelo stands, right next to the staircase which leads to the second floor. The main sala overlooks the street and connects to two bedrooms on the side of the garden. The house was later expanded with the addition of another wing, attached perpendicularly to the side of the house parallel to Felix T. Reyes Street. Here is found the komedor which leads to the kitchen and more rooms at the back.

On Felix T. Reyes Street are several important bahay na bato. First on the right is the Reyes-Tantoco House owned by Hermogenes San Agustin Reyes, former magistrate, and his wife Teodora Tiongson Tantoco. According to their daughter Leonor T. Reyes, the house was bought and transported piece by piece from Bulacan, Bulacan to Malolos. Assembled in the American period (the date over the entrance says 1904), it has a central portion jutting out of the box-like house. The first floor has its own entrance, while access to the second floor is provided by a red stone staircase on the right side of the house.

Santos-Uitangcoy House
Santos-Uitangcoy House, 2013 (IJ Velas)

Next to this house is the Santos-Uitangcoy House, built in 1914 by Paulino Reyes Santos and his wife Alberta Santos Uitangcoy, one of the leaders of the Women of Malolos. Originally in the shape of a bahay na bato, this house acquired an additional structure on its left side when the couple’s son, the famous EENT doctor Luis Santos, decided to open a clinic in the silong or first floor, which had a wooden floor. The concrete structure, which added one azotea (later converted into a bedroom) to the second floor, housed a pharmacy on the first floor managed by Luis’s sibling Elisa, and in front a waiting room with benches for patients. The additional building followed the style of the original house whose staircase balusters, calados on top of room dividers, and arch dividers, were all in the art deco style. The house has a huge sala with a set of art deco furniture. A corridor leads from the sala to the rooms on either side. The house was restored through the efforts of the Women of Malolos Foundation Inc., which has converted it into a museum on the Women of Malolos.

Art deco Luis U. Santos Mansion
Art deco Luis U. Santos Mansion, 2017 (Kiko del Rosario)

Farther down the road is the magnificent Dr. Luis U. Santos Mansion, which is a gem of the Philippine art deco period. Designed and built by Alejandro Caudal from 1930 to 1933, the house follows the template of the American period houses—the central portion juts out from the left and right side of the facade. Accessed through a stone staircase (the whole house is sitting on a raised platform), the entrance on the lower floor of the central portion is open on all sides and is roofed by the balcony on the second floor. The first floor which has wooden floors has a long room on the left side which used to have beds for eye patients of Dr. Santos. A corridor divides this area from the private section of the house which is enclosed by a wall and has a grilled gate of its own. After entering this section of the house, one ascends the beautifully carved art deco stairs to the first landing which has a high wall of colored glass on one side, and then to the second floor sala which is dominated by a carved art deco ceiling with lights, with a round Fernando Amorsolo mural showing allegorical figures amidst clouds. On the right side of the sala, toward the back of the house, are two rooms with intricately carved art deco calados atop their walls. Against one wall stands a piano, above which used to hang the Fabian de la Rosa painting Afternoon Tertulia or El Kundiman showing Dr. Santos on a chair listening to a female singer in terno probably singing a kundiman beside the piano. (De la Rosa came to Dr. Santos for treatment of his eyes.) On the front side of the house is the balcony overlooking the street, which is decorated with Kraut stained-glass pieces showing the muses of arts and of sciences, and other motifs. To the right of this balcony is a room which serves as an oratorio (oratory). Next to this room and adjacent to the sala is the arch-divider showing images of a bountiful rice harvest, which leads to the komedor. All the furniture in the house, including the ambassador-style sala set and the upright chairs at the komedor, were designed by Caudal to match the rest of the house. The motifs of waves, flowers, fruits, and peacocks were carved by masters from Bulacan and Pampanga. In front of the house is a garden dominated by a fountain designed and executed by Guillermo Tolentino.

The Gabaldon School

Another notable structure, located on Estrella St in barrio Santo Rosario next to Santo Niño is the Malolos Central School or the Gabaldon School, and more recently, the City of Malolos Integrated School when it opened a high school. The building was financed by the Gabaldon fund and the contributions of the townspeople and completed in 1913. Aside from being the first elementary school in Malolos, the school also served as the headquarters of the Japanese soldiers from 1942 to 1945 and as the hospital of the Americans in 1945. Elevated from the ground by about two meters, this one-level building follows the shape of a U, with the bottom of the U forming the facade and longest side of the structure. The facade has a long central section flanked by two walls with swing-out capiz windows and a framed four-petal design on top of them. The central section has three pairs of flat columns evenly dividing the five-step staircase going up to the lobby-corridor. Along this lobby-coridor are three sets of hardwood doors that open into a big auditorium. The same corridor connects the central section to the two long corridors perpendicular to it on the left and right sides, which give access to the classrooms lined up at the two parallel wings, which still have operable swinging capiz windows. On the small plaza in front of the school are old monuments of Jose Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar, and a public school teacher dressed in a 1930s dress, holding a book in her left hand and gesturing with her right.

Malolos had many more structures with historical or artistic significance but many of them have since been demolished.


  • Agoncillo, Teodoro A. 1960. Malolos: Crisis of the Republic. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press.
  • Barasoain Church (A Historical Landmark). 1977. Manila: National Historical Institute.
  • Corpus, Jaime Salvador, and Erlinda Dungo Lalic, eds. 2000. Ang Malulos sa mga Dahon ng Kasaysayan / Mga Ulat ni Don Antonio Bautista na Isinaayos at Isinaaklat ni Jose P. Santos. Facsimile of 1934 first edition. Malolos: Center for Bulacan Studies, Bulacan State University.
  • National Historical Institute Resolution No. 2, S. 2001 “Declaring the Historic Town Center of Malolos in Bulacan a National Historical Landmark.”
  • Recto, Manuelito M. 1977. “History of Malolos, Bulacan : Some Notes.” Mimeographed copy. Manila: National Historical Institute.
  • Tantoco, Jose P. W., ed. 1956. Ang Plaridel, Tanging Babasahin ng Malolos Jaycees. Published on the occasion of the 58th anniversary of the Revolutionary Congress in Malolos under the leadership of the Malolos Jaycees and its president Jose P. W. Tantoco. Malolos: Malolos Jaycees.
  • Tiongson, Nicanor G. 2004. The Women of Malolos. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press.
  • This article is from the CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art Digital Edition. Title: Malolos Heritage Zone. Author/s: Nicanor G. Tiongson (2018). Publication Date: November 18, 2020. URL:

Related Articles: 

No comments:

Got Something to Say? Thoughts? Additional Information?

Powered by Blogger.