Food, Entertainment and Culture Philippines

Rolling and Learning in Bulacan

by Jazel Kristin


Take a break from the bleak and dreary landscape that is Manila and take in the mix of colorful history, gastronomic delights and rich cultural heritage of Bulacan.



Take a break from the bleak and dreary landscape that is Manila and take in the mix of colorful history, gastronomic delights and rich cultural heritage of Bulacan.

Looking through an artist’s lens, I see things in sepia in Malolos, Bulacan – the ash tones of concrete relics and the brown hues of wooden structures stands out in this desaturated Malolos image – with matching film scratches just like in old movies.

Malolos, the capital city of Bulacan, is the perfect backdrop for our story, a crucial setting that played an important role in Philippine history. Locations of interest includes the Barasoain church, old houses in the Kamestisuhan district, a certain Kalayaan tree, and so much more.


Barasoain church, though a place of worship, was also a meeting place of intense red revolutionists who were against the Spanish colonial government in the 1800s.


The church is the site where the First Philippine Congress was convened, the Malolos Constitution was ratified, and the first Philippine Republic was inaugurated. This was Malacanang during the Spanish time.

             photo by Martin San Diego via NVPB


Across the church is the statue of Emilio Aguinaldo – the hero or, to some, the villain in our history. Do you notice something off with this scene though? Well, I didn’t at first, but a tour guide pointed out that the statue is not facing the street as what is supposed to. It is positioned with its back away from the people, as a form of protest by the residents of Malolos.

For them, Aguinaldo was not the proper president of the revolutionary government but Andres Bonifacio. An interesting twist in our history.



A stroll down the Kamestisuhan district will show you a unique collection of the city’s heritage structures. Kamestisuhan is the district intended for Chinese residents in Malolos in the 1700s. They were the only ones who can afford to own lands and build houses during that time. It’s now considered as the Forbes park of Bulacan.



Along this route you will get a good sense of what Bulacan was like in the early days.


             photo by Martin San Diego via NVPB


Drenched in brilliant glow is the art deco house of Uitangcoy-Santos, also known as the Museum of the Women of Malolos. This is home to Paulino Santos and Alberta Uitangcoy-Santos, leader of the women of Malolos, who made a big contribution to Philippine women’s rights.

The 21 women of Malolos were a group of young and affluent women from the Kamestisuhan district, who spearheaded a petition demanding for women’s education during the Spanish colonial period.

It was Uitangcoy who handed the petition over to the Governor General while the other women warded off the infuriated Spanish friars who wanted to know what was in the letter. Eventually, the women won the battle for approval and their request for a night school was granted. Later on, these women aided the revolutionaries who fought against the Spanish and American colonizers. I guess you can say that this is where “Girl Power” in the Philippines started.


This national heritage house showcases memorabilia and artifacts connected to the women of Malolos and the Uitangcoy-Santos family.

I love the fragments of the historical and cultural past that remained like multiple layers in an old master’s painting.



This tree is not just any structure under where school kids play, workers take a rest and lovers swear their undying love or get their hearts broken. The Kalayaan tree still stands proud because it played a role in our history – it is under its green canopy and brown muscled arms where the first cabinet meeting was held.

It entered the picture back when our heroes were still young. After all it’s been through, it is now cordoned off and protected, and gets its regular check-up twice a year.


             photo by Martin San Diego via NVPB

All that walking and soaking in history have built up my appetite. As I take it all in, time to take a break and savor the heroes’ feast at Bistro Maloleno.


 Their menu showcases heirloom dishes like Pochero ni Plaridel, Tinolang Manok ni Dr. Jose Rizal, and Arroz ala Cubana ni Gregorio del Pilar. The star for me here is the kalabasa in Rizal’s tinola, as this dish is usually cooked with green papaya. The orange kalabasa is a pop of color in the soup of greens.

While eating, here’s a parallel cut of images showing the dying art of “pabalat” (pastillas wrapper) and “puni” (leaf weaving).


Now that you are familiar with Malolos’ sepia past, the scene moves forward and transitions into full color, into a fun detour in San Rafael River Adventure.



Here cozy cottages and an array of activities for friends and families abound.

A classic ending to our Bulacan journey is the sunset river boat cruise. Similar to Bohol’s Loboc river cruise but certainly more accessible (than going to Bohol).

             photo by Martin San Diego via NVPB


As the sun goes down, Madonna’s “Crazy for You” is being sung in the background (Yes, there’s karaoke on the boat). It’s the perfect soundtrack as we cruise down the Angat dam, towards the fiery sunset.


             photo by Martin San Diego via NVPB


Now everything the light touches, turns to gold.


Disclosure: The Lakbay Norte trip was organized by North Philippines Visitors Bureau (NPVB) in partnership with NLEX Corporation, Tarlac Convention and Visitors Bureau (TCVB), and Victory Liner Inc. Lakbay Norte is an annual media familiarization trip that aims to promote Philippine provinces in the North.

Useful Information:

Barasoain Church and Museum
Paseo del Congreso St, Malolos, 3000 Bulacan
Telephone: +63 (044) 794 4340
Facebook: Barasoain Church
Twitter: @ChurchBarasoain

Bistro Maloleño
1 Valenzuela St, Bulihan Capitol View Park, Malolos, 3000 Bulacan
Operating Hours: 10AM-10PM
Telephone: +63 (044) 795.5655
Facebook: Bistro Maloleño

San Rafael River Adventure
Barangay Talacsan, San Rafael, Bulacan, Philippines
Telephone: +63 (02) 513 1569
Facebook: San Rafael River Adventure
Twitter: @SRRAph
Instagram: @sanrafaelriveradventure




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1 Comment

  1. Malolos is such a wonderful place! Gonna visit this place soon!

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