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Baler Church, Aurora
Part 12 of the Libotero Baler Roadtrip series
From Aurora Aragon – Quezon’s house, the Church of Baler is just 10 meters away, across the street.
The Church is a national historical landmark, because it was the site of the last and final traces of Spanish forces in the Philippines.
The Church was declared as a national historical landmark by the National Historical Institute on February 29, 2000 based on Executive Order 260 of August 1, 1973 which was then amended by Executive Order 375 of January 14, 1974 and 1505 of June 11, 1978.
The Siege of Baler marker in front of the Church mentions, “A Spanish Garrison of four officers and fify men was besieged in this Church by Filipino insurgents from June 27, 1898 to June 2, 1899. Offers of peace and demands for surrender were refused on five occasions. From newspapers dropped into the court by an emissary of General Rios on May 29, the Garisson learned for the first time that the Philippines had been lost to Spain and that for many months there had been no Spanish flag in Luzon, excpet the one waving over Baler Church. Broken by starvation and tropical diseases, the depleted command arranged a truce with the insurgents and marched out of this Church across the mountains to Manila on June 2, 1899. Of the original Garrison, two officers, the priest and twelve men had died from disease; two men had been killed by insurgent bullets; two men had been executed; two officers and fourteen men had been wounded; six men had deserted. The fortitude of the garrison was praised by General Aguinaldo in a public document issued at Tarlac on June 20, 1899. Upon their return to Spain, the survivors were rewarded by the Queen Regent in the name of Alfonso XIII and the Spanish nation.”
The interiors of the small Church
The Baler Church was first built using palm leaves and bamboo by Franciscan priests in Tibag (now Sabang), supported by San Luis Bishop de Tolosa.
The main altar
It was transferred under the care of the Recollects in 1658. Authority was returned to the Franciscans on 1703. The church was destroyed by a storm surge on December 27, 1735.
Stations of the Cross and an altar with a Holy Water Font at the right side of the Church
It was transferred to its current location and a new church made of stones was built. The first president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, Manuel L. Quezon was baptized here on 1878.
Stairs to the choir loft
One 54-person garrison of Spaniards was besieged by Filipino revolutionaries on June 27, 1898 until July 2, 1800. The Church fell under Secular rule on 1899. The Church was rebuilt on 1939 following the instruction of the President and Mrs. Quezon. The Church was transferred to the care of the Carmelites on 1947 and was returned to the Seculars on 1983.
The Baler Church is such a humble structure with a very deep and significant history. A visit to Baler will never be complete without dropping by the historic Baler Church.
By the way, did you actually notice the footsteps going out of the Church in the previous photos?
Those footsteps actually represent that of Manuel Quezon’s and leads to a picturesque nipa house where he was born (in Quezon Park). The footsteps basically connect the important historical landmarks in Baler so if you’re in Baler and you don’t know where to go, following the footsteps would be a start…
…to be continued