CITY OF MALOLOS, Philippines – The historical and cultural treasures of the Malolos Congress are now on display at an interactive museum beside the historic Barasoain Church here where the Philippine revolutionary government first convened 114 years ago.
The National Historical Commission formally opened the upgraded Barasoain Historical Landmark and Museum on Saturday during the 114th commemoration of the Malolos Congress, the revolutionary body led by Pedro Paterno which convened at the Barasoain Church in 1898, and which later drafted the Malolos Constitution on which the first Philippine Constitution was based.
The Barasoain Museum is the first of the 22 museums in the country that the Aquino administration intends to upgrade into digitally enhanced institutions in order to advance historical studies, said Dr. Maria Serena Diokno, NHC chairperson.
The upgraded museum boasts of interactive digital displays that allow students and museum visitors to respond to a history quiz about the Philippine Revolution.
The museum, however, interacts only in Filipino.
“Foreign researchers and cultural tourists should learn to speak our language. In other countries, when we research historical documents, we must first learn their language,” Diokno said.
She said the academic community would find the Barasoain museum a rich source of historical data, including documents and artifacts that explain how the Malolos Congress was put together on Sept. 15, 1898.
“The Malolos Congress was far from conventional because none of the delegates were paid for their work. The Malolos Congress was an inclusive entity because it represented all sectors of the country of that period,” she said in Filipino.
She said it was ironic that the Malolos Congress convened simultaneously with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, the pact which ended the Spanish-American war and by which Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States in exchange for $20 million.
Cabinet officials who attended the commemoration activites equated the 1898 revolutionary movement’s legacy with President Benigno Aquino III’s reform agenda called “Tuwid na Daan [Straight Path].”
The wisdom “displayed by our forefathers in the Malolos Congress continues to guide us now in our battle against the cancer of society that is corruption. The 1986 Edsa Revolution is similar to the Malolos Congress [because it brought] freedom to the people,” said Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.
He said history provided the present generation with worthy and valuable lessons. “We are shaped by our past, although we choose only the historical legacies we believe are relevant…. It is frustrating for me to see our youths emigrate and patronize the lifestyle and culture of other nations,” he said.
He said the museum will help make history relevant again to new generations. He said P128 million of the NHC’s P230-million budget would be used to build national heritage facilities.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro said the interactive museums were useful educational tools for the new generation, and would be supplied with new information from libraries that would soon serve readers online.