The Kamistisuhan Houses of Malolos City (Bulacan)

From the basilica, we made a walking tour of the city’s Kamistisuhan Houses which are mostly located along Pariancillo St. These houses, built by landed Filipino-Chinese families, typify the intricate architectural design of Spanish buildings.  When Pres. Emilio Aguinaldo moved the seat of government to Malolos, he established the various cabinet offices at these houses. Some of these houses are still inhabited by the descendants of the original owners and in a good state of preservation.  Others have been demolished or have been converted to commercial establishments.

The beautifully restored Adriano-Vasquez Mansion, a perfect example of adaptive reuse, once housed Aguinaldo’s Gobierno Militar de la Plaza.  Now the Meralco Bldg. (Meralco bought it in 1995 and restored it in 1997), it has a filigreed cast iron staircase that wind up to the balustered rampart.

The Adriano House
 The 2-storey Bautista Caryatid House, behind the Adriano House, has ornately sculpted Neo-Classic touches and was built in 1855 and redecorated in 1877 in the French Art Noveau style.  It was the Secretaria de Fomento and home of Antonio Bautista, Aguinaldo’s Secretary of the Interior.  It contains heirloom memorabilia including the original KKK flag and here, Jose Rizal and Marcelo H. del Pilar spoke to the 21 women of Malolos on June 27, 1892.  Through the years, the house has been used as a municipal hall, a primary school and a barracks for Japanese soldiers.  Restored in the 1970s by descendant Basilidez “Dez” Bautista, its ground floor has an arched double door while the second floor’s columns are decorated by unique caryatids.
 
The Bautista Caryatid House 

The Erastro Cervantes House, beside an old movie theater, once housed Aguinaldo’s Department of the Interior.   The Arcadio Ejercito House housed Aguinaldo’s Department of War.  The Lino Reyes House, across the side entrance of the cathedral, once housed Aguinaldo’s Secretaria de Exterior.  Built by couple Lino and Maria Reyes probably after they were married in 1892, it was progressively renovated in the 1930s.  The house has an octagonal rose window and a weather vane on top of the roof.  

A sad case in point is the Ponciano Tiongson House which was demolished in the 1980s.  Formerly located across the Erastro Cervantes House, it had intricate balustered windows and once served as Aguinaldo’s Commisaria de Guerra.  An internet cafe now stands in its place.

The Hermogenes Reyes House

Other ancestral houses were built during the early American era.  The Hermogenes Reyes House, located a few blocks from the cathedral, was built in 1904 by couple Hermogenes and Teodora Reyes.

The gabled roof Lomotan House
The Dr. Luis Santos House, built in 1933 by an EENT doctor, has a spacious front garden with a fountain with a pair of lovely nymphs. The house sports a pastel blue and white, Art-Deco-inspired facade.

Dr. Luis Santos House

Adriano-Vasquez Mansion: Pariancillo St., Malolos City, Bulacan.
Arcadio Ejercito House: cor. Estrella and Pariancillo Sts., Malolos City, Bulacan.
Bautista Caryatid House: Sto. Nino St., Malolos City, Bulacan
Erastro Cervantes House: Pariancillo St.,Malolos City, Bulacan.
Hermogenes Reyes House: F.T. Reyes St. (formerly Calle Electricidad), Brgy. Sto. Nino, Malolos City, Bulacan.
Lino Reyes House: Estrella St., Malolos City, Bulacan.
Lomotan House: Sto. Nino St., Malolos City, Bulacan

Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception (Malolos City, Bulacan)

After our Barasoain Church visit, Jandy and I proceeded on our way to the nearby Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, the ecclesiastical seat of the Diocese of Malolos.  Located in front of the city hall, this Neo-Classical church, and its convent, were first built with light materials in 1591, rebuilt and enlarged in 1691 by Fr.  Roque Barrionuevo, rebuilt with stronger materials in 1734 by Fr. Fernando Sanchez and completed in 1740 by Fr. Juan de Meseguer. Fr. Jose de Vivar did minor restorations in 1753.  Both were destroyed by fire in 1813. From 1963, several restorations were pursued by Engr. Alfredo Aldaba, affecting the facade, dome, transept and main altar.  The present church was started in 1819 by Fr. Melchor Fernandez and consecrated on October 14, 1826.  Severely damaged during the June 3, 1863 earthquake, it was restored from 1859 to 1872 by Fr. Ezekiel Moreno.
Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception

The convent was damaged during the July 19, 1880 earthquake, restored in 1883 by Fr. Juan M. Tombo and completed in 1884 by Fr. Felipe Garcia. It was the official residence (Palacio Presidential) of Pres. Emilio Aguinaldo from September 10, 1898 to March 29, 1899.  The convent was reconstructed in 1975.  In 1976, both church and convent were blessed  by Rev. Bruno Torpigliani, the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines.

The convent
The basilica has a moderately-decorated, symmetrical facade divided into 3 segments by superpositioned Doric columns and dominated by large, semicircular arched openings on the first level.  The triangular pediment, decorated by a stylized Augustinian emblem at the center, is topped by acroteria and torch-like finials.  The horizontal Doric frieze is decorated with triglyphs and the fluted pilaster-flanked, statued niche is topped by a segmented canopy crowning the tilted frame of the center window.
 
The basilica’s interior
The basilica has a slender, 4-storey bell tower on its right.  It used to have a triangular cone which was replaced, during the basilica’s renovation in 1970, by a concrete statue of the Immaculate Conception (donated by Amparo Bautista).
 
The Kalayaan Tree

In front of the basilica (at the right side of the plaza) is a 12-m. high siar tree (Peltophorum pterocarpum), now known as the Kalayaan Tree.  It was said to have been planted by Gen. Aguinaldo during a lull in the convention. proceedings.  Under this tree is a monument depicting a meeting of Filipino revolutionaries Gregorio del PilarIsidoro Torres, Don Pablo Tecson, Fr. Mariano Sevilla and Dona Basilia Tantoco.

The monument under the Kalayaan Tree

Barasoain Church (Malolos City, Bulacan)

After breakfast and swimming at DJ Paradise Resort & Hotel, Jandy and I checked out of our room, boarded our Toyota Revo and proceeded to the city proper where we plan to visit Malolos’ historical sights.  The first item in our agenda was, fittingly, the Barasoain Church (also called the Church of Our Lady of Carmel), the site of the Revolutionary Congress which ratified independence, framed the Malolos Constitution and inaugurated the short-lived First Philippine Republic (Malolos Republic). Former president Joseph E. Estradaalso took his oath of office here.  
 
Barasoain Church

This noble and dignified church, with its beautiful concerto of rhythmic layers, has a Neo-Classical facade with a recessed main entrance with concentric arches (a Romanesque feature) flanked by two smaller doors, fluted  flat pilasters (a Renaissance feature), a Baroque segmental pediment,  and sharp line moldings at the cornice, base and top of the piers.  The two sides of the facade, with its sweeping concave lines at the upper wall, curve inward to form an oval shape.

The altar frontal
The church interior
The church pulpit

Inside is a unique 18th century altar frontal with beautiful stone columns and murals on the walls and ceilings done by Baliwag artists and the National Historical Institute.  The church is now airconditioned during Sunday mass.

The bell tower

The 4-storey, octagonal bell tower on the left, was built in 1889 by Fr. Martin Arconada and is crowned by a conical roof.  It has 3 bells installed in 1897 and has alternating open and false windows rising in uneven modules that end up in the crenellated base of the pointed pinnacle.

Barasoain Convent

Beside the church is the convent.  First built in 1859 by Fr. Francisco Arriola, it was restored in 1889 by Fr. Martin Arconada and in 1894 by Fr. Miguel de Vera.  During the short-lived Philippine Republic, it was again restored by Arcadio Arellano and used as the Universidad Cientifica y Literaria de Filipinas.  It now houses two museums: the Ecclesiastical Museum and the Barasoain Museum.   Both church and convent were declared as National Landmarks on August 1, 1973 and on January 23, 1999.

Carriage used by Pres. Aguinaldo during his inauguration
The convent courtyard
Barasoain Church: Paseo de Congreso, Malolos City, Bulacan.  Tel: (044) 662-7686.

DJ Paradise Resort & Hotel (Malolos City, Bulacan)

Upon arrival in Malolos City, Jandy and I checked in at the very popular DJ Paradise Resort & Hotel.  This wasn’t the first I’ve been in this 5.7-hectare, Class AAA resort, having been here during Jandy’s school excursions, but this would be our first time to stay overnight.  We stayed in one of the hotel’s 11 airconditioned standard rooms with bath, phone, fridge and cable TV.  The hotel also has 4 de luxe rooms, 5 executive rooms, and 2 suites.  It also has 12 airconditioned cottages with bath, 12 airconditioned rooms with bath and an apartelle with 20 de luxe twin rooms and 8 dormitory-type rooms.  

DJ Paradise Resort & Hotel

Come morning, we both tried out the resort’s bevy of swimming pools.  One of the original Bulacan resorts to offer large pools with water slides, it has 9 swimming pools (including a 1,500 sq. m. wave pool with cascading waterfall), all open 24 hours, with 4 fiberglass water slides, and a jacuzzi.  

Our standard room

There’s also a restaurant, coffee shop (Sampaguita), 300-pax banquet/convention hall, 3 airconditioned function rooms, 8 poolside kiosks, picnic sheds, disco, basketball court, driving range, putting green, business center, amusement park (kiddie train, bumpcars), bowling lanes, video arcade and tennis court. 

One of the resort’s huge pools
The kiddie pool
The restaurant

DJ Paradise Resort: MacArthur Highway, Brgy. Dakila, Malolos City, Bulacan. Tel: (044) 791-5129 (connecting all departments), 662-4135 & 791-5384.   E-mail: info@djparadise.com.ph.  Website: www.djparadise.com.ph

Church of St. Ildelfonsus (Guiguinto, Bulacan)

Our slow progress along the MacArthur Highway was finally halted at Guiguinto where the bridge to Malolos was being repaired.  Parking my car at the municipal hall, we walked over to the nearby Church of St. Ildelfonsus.  This stone church and its convent, located near a saltwater stream, was built sometime in the late 17th century (1621 to 1691?), finished by 1734 (?) and was severely damaged during the June 3, 1863 earthquake where the upper part of its belfry fell off.

Guiguinto Municipal Hall

The church has Baroque and Muslim features with 4 sets of paired, superpositioned Doric columns, a large, semicircular main entrance in the center and Muslim-inspired geometric motifs on one of the side entrances.  The triangular pediment has a circular window almost at the base and a raking cornice decorated with volute crestings.

Church of St. Ildelfonsus

Its 4-level, octagonal bell tower, on the church’s left, has a blind surface that ends up in a balustraded pinnacle.  Of its existing bells, one dates to 1889 and was cast by Hilario Sunico and installed by Fr. Pedro Quiros.  A smaller one was installed in 1887.

The church’s interior

Back at the municipal hall, it was now time to make our way to Malolos City via the  alternative use of a confusing maze of narrow alleys and byroads.  Luckily, there were assigned personnel to safely guide us along the way.

MacArthur Highway (Bulacan)

Guiguinto Welcome Arch

This day, Jandy and I planned to stay overnight at the DJ Paradise Resort and Hotel in Malolos City.  However, instead of using the faster but monotonous North Luzon Expressway (and entering Malolos via the Tabang Exit), I plan to leisurely traversed the length of the more interesting but traffic-laden MacArthur Highway to get to Malolos City.  Formerly called the Manila North Road, this old, 2 to 6-lane highway was named after Lt.-Gen.  Arthur MacArthur, not after Gen. Douglas MacArthur, his more famous son, as I previously thought.

Valenzuela City Hall

The highway starts from the Bonifacio Monument in Grace Park, Caloocan City and extends through the Central Luzon provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga and Tarlac up to the Ilocos Region provinces of La Union and OPangasinan.  I entered it at Valenzuela City, a former Bulacan town that is now a city and part of Metro Manila.  Here, we made a short stopover at its city hall. 

Balagtas Public Market

From the city, we now entered the province of Bulacan,  absorbing the rural and urban feel of a number of Bulacan towns (Marilao, Bocaue, Balagtas and Guiguinto) and Meycauayan City along the way.  The highway is not as smooth as the newer NLEX and can be sometimes chaotic as you vie for road space with buses and the slower tricycles and jeepneys.  However, here you drive underneath a canopy of trees and the roadside scenery is more charming.

MacArthur Highway at Meycauayan City