“VAMOS A MALOLOS!”: CELEBRATING THE RENAISSANCE CITY
The heritage city of Malolos proclaims its glorious past, its future thrusts for development, and its rich cultural legacies through “Vamos a Malolos! Both a slogan and a festival “Vamos a Malolos!” features three distinct highlights that put focus on the significance and spirit the city and its people: “Parangal sa Kongreso (held last September), “Pistang Pasko sa Malolos” (to be held every December) and “Fiesta Republica” (to be held in January).
Meaning “Tara sa Malolos!” in Tagalog and “Let’s go to Malolos!” in English, “Vamos a Malolos!” aims to project Malolos as a major historic-cultural tourism destination north of Manila. It is phrased in Spanish to connote Malolos as a historical city that established its crowning glory during the Filipino-Spanish war when the first democracy in the continents of Asia and Africa was founded at the Barasoain Church in Malolos.
As a tourism centerpiece program, “Vamos a Malolos!” aggressively promotes the city during the last quarter of every year when the historic Malolos Congress came into being—a patriotic act that culminated in the proclamation of the First Philippine Republic.
Taking the initiative of Hon. City Mayor Atty Christian D. Natividad to make Malolos City a key destination for art, history and culture lovers, the City Mayor’s Office-Arts, Culture and Tourism Office (CMO-ACTO) designed “Vamos a Malolos!” as a festival of arts, culture and tourism events to boost the city’s historical and cultural attractions in the local and international arena.
To achieve this, the CMO-ACTO strategically planned a 10-year program to usher the rebirth of the golden era of Malolos City. The program is committed to pursue the revival and full-flowering of the city’s historical and cultural heritage as an integral part of the economic and tourism development of the city. The highlights of “Vamos a Malolos!” include “Parangal sa Kongreso”, “Pistang Pasko sa Malolos” and “Fiesta Republica” with “Bayanihang Barangay” as the underlying theme.
“Parangal sa Kongreso”
“Parangal sa Kongreso” commemorates the founding of the historic Malolos Congress. From September to November, various cultural and tourism activities focusing on history, heritage and tradition took place in the city. Through the “Lakbay Republika” Historical Tour, visitors were enjoyed walk-touring the city and experiencing its various sights, sounds and flavors. In the first part of “Bayanihang Barangay”, the 51 barangays of Malolos showcased the various arts, culture, cuisine and industry of the different communities within the city. Led by the different Barangay Council Chairmen and their Tourism Coordinator with their mother-leaders, each barangay presented community life and culture, and its concern for environment protection and sustainable development.
Other events under “Bayanihang Barangay” include “Tatak Malolos”—a barangay arts, culture and trade expo with a Booth Design Contest and Trade Fair that promote the industry and socio-cultural framework of the barangay. “Hataw sa Sining” is a showcase of various talent programs such as the Solo-Singing Contest, Dulawit Glee Contest, Hip-Hop Contest and Rakrakan participated in by members of each barangay cluster. “Luntiang Malolos” is an advocacy program that puts focus on sustainable development, environment protection and cleanliness. Under this, each barangay was encouraged to practice composting to exercise waste management and practice organic farming.
“Pistang Pasko Sa Malolos”
“Pistang Pasko sa Malolos” celebrates the Christmas fever in the city. Various events welcome the holiday season with hope and enthusiasm. The “Parada ng mga Parol” is the Christmas parade where each barangay displays its unique giant Christmas Lantern. All lanterns are on display around Barasoain Patio from which judges will choose the “Best Giant Christmas Lantern” and the “Most Creative Lantern”.
For the “Pasko sa Barangay Décor Contest”, all 51 barangays of Malolos were encouraged to decorate their respective barangay halls with the Christmas spirit. They were tasked to use only indigenous, natural and biodegradable materials to creatively showcase the cultural heritage of their respective community.
Those bitten by a sense of nostalgia will enjoy “Larong Pinoy”. Promoting the local Filipino games, this event encourages the youth and children of the different barangays to learn and enjoy traditional Filipino games like sipa, harangang taga, palo sebo, and more. Eight barangay clusters compete in the different sports events.
“Viva Malolos” commemorates the 15th cityhood anniversary of Malolos. Set on December 18, all barangay of the city will have a simultaneous clean-up drive in fifty-one barangay communities that will be monitored with a Bike Run at 6 am led by Hon. City Mayor Atty. Christian D. Natividad.
“Fiesta Republica” is a national celebration of Philippine history in the City of Malolos. Conceived to arouse the consciousness of the Filipino people on the significance of the founding of the First Philippine Republic (also known as the Malolos Republic) on the 23rd of January 1899, the festival involves the participation of the different provinces, cities and municipalities from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
Set from January 17 to 23 of every year, the festival is a week-long activity featuring various socio-historical-cultural events that culminate in the celebration of Araw ng Republikang Filipino 1899.
To celebrate the historic event, the City of Malolos has lined up several events that commemorate the city’s illustrious past. The final stage of the “Bayanihang Barangay” gets underway with the “Hataw Sa Sining” Barangay Final Competitions, a performing arts competition participated in by the different barangays in the city. “Hataw sa Sining” will showcase the different talents of the community in the different genres of performing arts to include singing, acting, dancing and music (glee style, rock bands and brass bands). The competitions include the “Barangay Idol Singing Contest Finals (January 17), the “Barangay Hip-Hop Dance Showdown” (January 18), the Rakrakan sa Barangay Band Contest (January 19), “Dulawit: Barangay Cluster Glee Club Contest” (January 20) and the “Malolos Brass Band Competition” (January 21).
Long famous for its culinary culture, Malolos City will put the spotlight on the rich flavors of its local cuisine in “Kalutong Malolos”. The culinary competition was created to promote the local cuisine of the city. Here, each barangay cluster will prepare their best fiesta food under different categories in a culinary showdown: Pampagana (Appetizer), Sopas (Soup), Ulam (Main Dish), Pamutat (Dessert) and Pampalamig (Juice). Foodies and connoisseurs of heritage cuisines will certainly enjoy this food festival that celebrates one of the richest culinary cultures of the Philippines.
Malolos and its Attractions
Although the city is poised to embrace the changes that progress brings, it is also a city proud of its history. The site of the first democratic constitution in Asia and Africa, Malolos boasts of having numerous historical attractions that also highlight an opulent design scheme in architecture.
The Barasoain Church is the venue of the 1898 Malolos Congress which gave birth to the first Philippine Republic in 1899 and the Basilica Minore Church (formerly Malolos Cathedral) was the ‘official residence’ of the first Philippine President, General Emilio Aguinaldo.
The cluster of old houses in the poblacion served as important clearing houses during the revolution and as government offices in the early days of the Republic. Today, they stand as monuments to an era of heroism and patriotism. These include the Bautista House, Ejercito House, Reyes House, Adriano House and Santos House among others.
Malolos City was also home to many heroic sons and daughters who fought during the 1896 Philippine Revolution. These valiant sons and of the city include, among others, Gen. Isidoro Torres, Mariano Crisostomo, Ramon de Leon, and the 21 “women of Malolos” who bravely pioneered the reform movement against Spanish feudal rule. Indeed, Malolos played a very significant role in the discovery of Filipino nationhood.
Malolos City is also the sanctuary of excellent Filipino artists such as the prolific Guillermo Tolentino who sculpted the epic “ onument” in Calolocan City and the iconic UP Oblation in its campus in Diliman. Ernani Cuenco is a musical genius who composed widely-popular Filipino modern-classics like “Gaano Kita Kamahal” “Kalesa” and “Bato sa Buhangin”. Just recently, another Malolenya was also bestowed the National Artist honor and title: Alice Reyes, the founder of Ballet Philippines.
Other famous contemporary personalities and artists who call Malolos City their hometown are former presidents- the late President Corazon Aquino and Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito-Estrada, Joey de Leon, Eddie Katindig, 2007 WYCOPA champion Aria Clemente, actresses Erra and Michelle Madrigal, Dr. Nicanor Tiongson, Dez Bautista, among others.
The 2005 Gawad CCP para Sa Sining - Barasoain Kalinangan Foundation, Inc. (BKFI) and the Bulacan Dularawan Foundation (theater), Sining Bulakenyo and BSU Lahing Kayumanggi (folk dance), BSU Saring Himig, CEU Chorale Ensemble and Koro Bulakenyo (chorale singing), and visual artists like Buddy Ching, Danny Pangan, Rex Tatlonghari of Bahaghari ng Malolos are among the home-grown art groups and individuals that continue to actively participate in the growth of Filipino arts and culture.
Religious traditions are still very much alive and devoutly practiced in Malolos City. Its people still observe such rites as Senaculo, Salubong, Desposorio and Panunuluyan. Thankfully, traditional arts like Inukit (wood carving), Borlas de Pastillas (paper cut art), Palaspas and Puni (decorative crafts) have been revived by the Puni de Malolos, a group that specializes in the preservation of Malolos artistic heritage.
Malolos City is, naturally, a gourmet haven. It is said that many cooks from Pampanga actually originated from Malolos. In truth, the city his to a mouthwatering menu of old and revered culinary treats a Lechon de Leche, Estofadong Pabo, Hamonadong Malolos, Pochero, Adobo and others. These historical dishes are now being revived and promoted by culinary guru Milagros “Tita Mila” Enriquez’s protégées to keep the city’s traditional flavors alive. Pastries and delicacies like Enseimada de Malolos, Empanada de Kaliskis, Pilipit and Pastillas de Leche are still the favorites in local bakeshops and food stores.
The traditional sarswela, a musical revue that took root in Malolos, is also being brought back into the consciousness of younger audiences by the stalwart group BKFI. The group envisions Malolos City as the “Sarswela Capital of the Philippines.”
Certainly, in all these cultural treasures, relics from a proud and illustrious past, will make visitors appreciate the City of Malolos. Hopefully, “Vamos a Malolos!” will give them the chance not just to experience history but a renewal in Filipino pride, not only learning but appreciation, not just pleasure but awe. “Vamos a Malolos!” rekindles the rebirth of our heart and spirit as a Filipino.