Commemorating the 118th Anniversary of the First Philippine Republic in Malolos, Bulacan

While most of us know of June 12, 1898 as the Proclamation of Philippine Independence, it was on January 23, 1899 when the First Philippine Republic was formally established. It was also this revolutionary act that helped place our country on the map as the First Constitutional Republic in Asia. 

As the First Philippine Republic was inaugurated in Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan, the cathedral also stood witness to two more key events in the history of the Philippines: the convening of the First Philippine Congress, and the drafting of the Malolos Constitution. 

And as a way of memorializing this momentous event in history, the City of Malolos, under the good governance of Hon. Mayor Atty. Christian Natividad, introduced the vibrant Fiesta Republica in 2010. It was the mayor’s passion to revive the Filipinos’ love for the flag and country that pushed him to raise awareness and a greater appreciation for what he calls as the most important date in Philippine history. 

The 118th anniversary of the First Philippine Republic was celebrated last January 23, 2017 at Malolos, Bulacan. Several activities were organized that day, one of which was graced by city officials and local celebrities like Ms. Vina Morales and Mr. Robin Padilla, who spoke so passionately about our country's freedom, and how it is truly worth dying for. Mr. Padilla believes that the time is now to unite as Filipinos, and to honor the importance of this historic event, while setting aside political views. He also said that we, as Filipinos, should never forget the hardships and sacrifices of our beloved patriots who fought for our country’s right to self-government and independence.

According to Mayor Natividad, “For us here in Malolos, Fiesta Republica stands as the ultimate celebration of Philippine democracy, Filipino history, and homegrown art and culture. It started out as a tourism program for Malolos in 2011, highlighted by events and activities that aim to educate Filipinos about Malolos’ historic role, and to commemorate the gallantry and wisdom of the forefathers of Philippine revolution.” 

Soon after, the Parada ng Republika started and proceeded from Malolos Basilica Minore to the Malolos Sports and Convention Center; and was followed by a band of musicians -- the Pasiklaban ng mga Banda, a competition that showcased the unique brass band tradition of Malolos. 

Of course, my favorite from the list of activities was the Dulansangan, a national street dance-drama contest that promoted local history among the youth. Despite the presence of rain, the youth performed eagerly with their vibrant costumes and distinctive props.

A press conference was also held at Bahay Tanjosuy (a.k.a. Tampinco Don Antonio Bautista Heritage House) after Dulansangan, where Mayor Natividad delivered some great words about their advocacy. He emphasized to the media how significant it is to give justice on the declaration of the First Philippine Republic. His aim to bring proper recognition to this historic event wasn’t just for him, for Malolos, or for Bulacan alone, but for each and every Filipino people. 

“We were the first one to establish a Constitution in Asia—the Malolos Constitution—and it was a milestone we all achieved as a nation,” he says. “It was where all the other fundamental rights and privileges that we enjoy today—our bill of rights and the freedom of the press, for example—emanated, so why are we not giving this date the same reverence that we’re giving to June 12 or the Araw ng Kagitingan (The Day of Valor)?” 

Having witnessed such a glorious and eventful day in Malolos, Bulacan, made me feel more proud to be a Filipino. And I am grateful for local official's like Mayor Natividad who genuinely took the time and effort to push for an advocacy that continues to give recognition to our history and to our beloved patriots. Like what the mayor said, “Let’s all remember and celebrate our very roots for us to have a deeper understanding of how we can best move forward towards a progressive future.” Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

To know more about the City of Malolos, visit the Fiesta Republica 2017 Facebook Page.

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