See the historical events that shaped the current parish, as well as its colorful journey during the Philippine Revolution and the establishment of the Malolos Republic.
Some individuals who recognize the historical significance of the name Barasoain in relation to the Revolution suggest that it originated from the term "Baras ng Suwail," which translates to "dungeon of the defiant." According to this perspective, Barasoain represents the town of patriotic Filipinos who resisted foreign oppression during that period.
However, Jose P. W. Tantoco, the former president of Bulacan Historical, Inc., offers an alternative explanation for the name Barasoain. He asserts that it was derived from the missionaries who arrived in this town and hailed from a similarly named place in Spain, specifically the town of Barasoain in the District of Navarra.
Upon their arrival from Pampanga, the Augustinian missionaries made their way to Barasoain via Calumpit. In this town, they encountered a community that evoked memories of the natural beauty and landscape of Barasoain in Navarra, Spain.
It is conceivable that one of the missionaries from Navarra recognized his beloved hometown's resemblance in Barasoain and came to regard it as his second home, even residing in one of the houses there. During former President Joseph Estrada's visit to Malolos for the 1998 Independence Day Centennial Anniversary, he stayed in this district of heritage houses.
One of the noteworthy heritage houses in Barasoain today has been transformed into a commercial establishment: the Ancestral House of former President Corazon Aquino, the 11th president of the Republic of the Philippines.
At present, houses in Malolos City typically employ modern construction methods, utilizing materials like wood and cement. Nevertheless, some well-preserved old houses that reflect the heritage of the past can still be found in Barangay Anilao.
The history of Barasoain Church can be traced back to the year 1859 when the town of Barasoain, along with Santa Isabel, was separated from Malolos. Don Alejandro Valenzuela served as the first gobernadorcillo of this newly formed town, necessitating the construction of a church to meet the spiritual needs of its residents.
Initially, Barasoain Church began as a chapel established by Augustinian missionaries, with Fr. Fray F. Arriola as its inaugural parish priest. Since the construction of a stone church had not yet commenced, the initial worship space was located in the patheon of Casa Tribunal, now known as Casa Real de Malolos, situated near the bridge on the road leading to Malolos Basilica. In 1860, a church made of nipa and bamboo was erected on the site that would eventually become the present-day church's plaza. It was in 1862 that the necessary funds were raised to initiate the construction of a stone church.
The year 1863 witnessed the construction of the convent, constructed using stones and bricks, in the areas of Camino Real (now Paseo del Congreso) and Calle Republika (now Don Antonio Bautista Street). Fr. Emiterio Ruperas succeeded Fr. Arriola in 1871, and during his tenure, one of the existing church bells, dated 1870, was gifted to the church by the town of Malolos, dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Fr. Francisco Royo took over from Fr. Ruperas and served as the parish priest until a new one, Fr. Juan Giron, arrived in 1879. However, in 1880, a powerful earthquake struck, causing the bell tower and roof to collapse; these were subsequently rebuilt. In 1884, a devastating fire originating in Liang led to the church's second destruction. As a response, in 1885, the present church, constructed from concrete stone and adobe, was initiated. The project was led by Fr. Juan Giron, with Miguel Magpayo as the chief constructor.
In 1889, Fr. Martin Arconada undertook the reconstruction of the bell tower and the refurbishment of the convent. With the arrival of Filipino priests, significant alterations were made to the church, particularly to its facade. The old facade was replaced, and an image of Christ the King was installed, seemingly overseeing the entire parish as its protector. A cement floor was added to allow people to ascend to this image.
THE REVOLUTION YEARS
One of the most vibrant and pivotal periods in the history of Barasoain Church unfolded during the Philippine Revolution. As the Spanish rule in the Philippines came to an end, the American colonizers arrived on Philippine shores. During this era, General Emilio Aguinaldo played a significant role in establishing the First Philippine Republic.
Amid escalating tensions between Filipino and American forces, General Aguinaldo made the strategic decision to relocate the capital from Manila to Malolos. It was in this context that the early republic's congress convened within the walls of Barasoain Church. Here, they drafted a constitution that was subsequently ratified in 1899, marking a momentous step in the formation of the First Philippine Republic. This historic milestone culminated in the formal inauguration of the republic on January 23, 1899.
However, as the Philippine-American War erupted on February 4, 1899, the Congress held its final session during the last week of the same month. President Aguinaldo was forced to retreat to Nueva Ecija, ultimately leading to the capture of Barasoain and Malolos by American forces on March 31, 1899.
THE AMERICAN PERIOD
In February of the year 1900, American authorities took steps to appoint officials to govern several towns in the Philippines, including Malolos, Barasoain, and Santa Isabel. Specifically, Don Pedro del Rosario was designated to assume leadership in the town of Barasoain.
It is worth noting that in 1901, a significant administrative change occurred when the capital of the province of Bulacan was relocated from the town of Bulakan to Malolos. This relocation marked a shift in the regional governance structure.
Further organizational adjustments took place in 1903 when the towns of Barasoain and Santa Isabel were amalgamated with Malolos, bringing them back together under a unified administrative jurisdiction.
In 1973, Barasoain Church received the prestigious designation of a National Shrine, a distinction bestowed upon it by former President Ferdinand Marcos through Presidential Decree No. 260. Concurrently, a museum, overseen by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, was inaugurated within the church's convent.
In the year 1989, Msgr. Moises Andrade, who served as the parish priest at that time, embarked on a significant renovation endeavor. One notable change was the removal of the wooden retablo that had been installed in the past. This transformation revealed the original stone columns and altar walls, allowing the baroque design of the main altar to be fully appreciated.
In 1997, in collaboration with the parish priest, Msgr. Jose Aguilan, the National Centennial Commission initiated a comprehensive restoration and development project for Barasoain Church and its convent. This effort was undertaken in preparation for the centennial anniversary celebration of the Malolos Congress. The restoration encompassed the reconstruction of the church's entire roof, using replica clay tiles from the 19th century and elevating it by three meters above the original level. The marble flooring was replaced with a checkered pattern of black and white cement tiles, faithfully replicating the original motif and design of the ceiling and walls.
Upon its completion on 30 June 1998, President Joseph Estrada took his oath of office as the 13th President of the Philippine Republic at Barasoain Church. This significant event occurred exactly 100 years after the inauguration of the Philippine Republic and 100 years following the oath-taking of President Emilio Aguinaldo in 1889 as the nation's first president.
Today, Barasoain Church stands as a symbol and landmark of Malolos City. The vicinity around the church has seen considerable development, with public schools, banks, computer centers, shops, residential subdivisions, hospitals, and roads connecting the city to Manila and nearby towns. Despite the modernization, the city retains the charm of its historical roots, evident in the presence of farms, fishponds, and trees in the vicinity.
While the Universidad Scientifico Literaria de Filipinas, initially established by the First Republic within the church's convent, no longer exists, La Consolacion University of the Philippines (formerly University of Regina Carmeli) now stands beside the church. This educational institution is managed by Augustinian sisters and offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Arts and Sciences.
Within the parish, both church and civic organizations remain vibrant and active, carrying forward the strong foundation of faith passed down through generations. These organizations also play a vital role in preserving the historical and political heritage of Malolos, particularly that of Barasoain.