WHEN you live or work in Davao City, August is the best month to spend vacations with friends and family. Most of us take advantage of the opportunity to travel, especially with the holidays falling on August weekdays.

Last Kadayawan weekend, I was forced to make new plans since I was among the unfortunate passengers affected by the cancelled flights. Instead of sulking in the airport, I traveled to Bulacan, my hometown, and explored Malolos City’s symbolic landmark—the Barasoain Church.

If you were born in the 1900s, you would remember seeing the Barasoain Church on the reverse side of the old 10-peso banknote, which circulated from the late 1980s to 2002. You were probably among the kids who fondly scrutinized the bill to spot the cat perched on the topmost structure of the church.

But the cat is not what makes the Barasoain Church deserving of attention. Significant events in the history of the Philippines have unfolded within this Roman Catholic church also known today as Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish.

Founded by Augustinian Missionaries, the Barasoain Church was originally built in the 1600s for the Catholic masses living in Malolos, Bulacan. In 1898, General Emilio Aguinaldo transferred the Revolutionary Government capital from Cavite to Malolos. The First Philippine Congress — also known as the Malolos Congress — convened in the Barasoain Church, which was then a frequent gathering place for anti-oppressors.

A year later, the Barasoain Church became the site for the ratification of the Malolos Congress and inauguration of Aguinaldo as the President of the First Philippine Republic. Eventually referred to as the Cradle of Democracy in the East, the Barasoain Church was also where former President Joseph Estrada took his Oath of Office as the 13th Philippine President.

Despite undergoing several renovations, the church still reflects vintage architectural design suggestive of Baroque and Neoclassical structures. With its historical importance and religious significance, the Barasoain has become the favorite church wedding reception for couples coming from different areas in the Philippines.

So if you’re ever in the mood to reminisce our country’s rich history, you can embark on a road trip to the north and visit the Barasoain Church — one of the National Shrines in the Philippines.

From Davao City, you can reach Malolos City through the North Luzon Expressway (Tabang Exit) from Clark International Airport.