EVERY Holy Week, specifically on Holy Thursday, predominantly Catholic Filipinos go on a Visita Iglesia, which in layman’s terms translates to visits to seven churches in one day. It’s a tradition that devout Catholics observe as part of the Lenten season. Some people choose to visit churches with historical and cultural significance. Others opt for churches that are in close proximity to each other. Yet others choose churches that have personal significance to them.
Flavors of Life attempts to present a series on churches that are worth visiting this Lenten season, not only as part of one’s Visita Iglesia on Holy Thursday but as an act of devotion to the Lord during this time of the year when we recall the sufferings and death of Our Lord Jesus Christ and his rebirth on the third day.
The first church that comes highly recommended is Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan. This historic church housed the Revolutionary Congress, which convened from September 1898 to February 1899, with Pedro A. Paterno serving as president. In this church, members of the Revolutionary Congress discussed and approved the Malolos Constitution, which was drafted chiefly by Felipe G. Calderon.
When Barasoain Church was originally constructed, Barasoain was part of Malolos. It was officially separated in August, 1859, but became part of Malolos again in 1903. Rev. Francisco Royo, O.S.A., constructed the old church, which was destroyed by fire in 1884, and then it was rebuilt by Rev. Juan Giron, O.S.A., a year later.
In one area of the church premises, near the gate, stands a statue of Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy, the first president of the Philippines. He temporarily housed the revolutionary government in Malolos, Bulacan, from September 10, 1898 to March 31, 1899, moving it there from Bacoor, Cavite, due to the impending breakout of the Philippine-American War. He convened the Malolos Congress in Barasoain Church to put together the Malolos Constitution that founded the Republic of the Philippines on January 23, 1899. Thus, the country became the first republic in the whole of Asia.