The Malolos Cathedral, also known as Basilica Minore dela Inmaculada Concepcion, served as the first presidential quarters of General Emilio Aguinaldo, president of the First Philippine Republic. During Aguinaldo's presidency, Malolos, particularly the Cathedral, was the seat of the government.
From September 10, 1898, until March 29, 1899, the convent of Malolos Cathedral served as the Palacio Presidencial de Aguinaldo or the Seat of the Aguinaldo’s Presidency of the First Republic of the Philippines. On March 31, 1899, while General Aguinaldo and his men were fleeing from the Americans, Aguinaldo ordered it burned to the ground as part of his scorched earth policy.
Pope John Paul II declared the cathedral “Basilica Minore of the Immaculate Conception on Dec. 4, 1999” in recognition of the Bulakeños great love for Virgin Mary.
The only landmark that remained from the revolution was a huge century-old siar tree where Aguinaldo is said to have conducted many political discussions. The historical Siar Tree, now known as the Kalayaan Tree, was said to have been planted by Aguinaldo during a lull in Congress proceedings. Beneath the shade of the tree is a monument that depicts the meeting of Filipino revolutionaries represented by Generals Gregorio del Pilar and Isidoro Torres, the legislator Don Pablo Tecson, a nationalist leader of the Church Padre Mariano Sevilla and a woman freedom fighter Doña Basilia Tantoco.
The convent and the church of Malolos Cathedral was first built in light materials in 1591 and later on was rebuilt with stronger ones. This century-old church is of Neo-classical and Baroque architecture. The present structure was constructed in 1819 by Fr. Melchor Fernandez and consecrated on October 14, 1826.
However, by the outbreak of the Philippine-American War in 1899, the capital was transferred to San Fernando, Pampanga and the Cathedral burned down to delay the pursuing American soldiers. It was later reconstructed to house the Bishop of Malolos.
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