Thursday, March 7, 2013

Bacoor: Gateway to the south

A tour in Luzon's south is not complete without passing by the historical city of Bacoor. A bustling place that is emerging from its Spanish-woven cocoons, the city is one of the most progressive ones in the whole province. If you have plans of visiting the wonderful places here that are all important to the history of the Philippines then I suggest you follow my simple guide. 

Bacoor City
The town was founded by the Spanish in 1671 and, according to a folk tale, was named Bakood (Fence) due to some men mistaking the question of the conquistadors of what the place was called with that of what they were doing to which the men replied that they were making a fence -- from Bakood to Bacoor, the city has undergone a lot of changes in the past century, with a blooming economy that catches up with the nearby metro. 

The once rustic seafood town was witness to the clashes of revolutionaries and foreign forces, that of Spaniards and then of the Americans, in what is now the Zapote Bridge and was the first seat of the Philippine Revolutionary Government. The city now offers a lot to the foreign eye, from delicious seafood and colorful desserts -- to the shadows of great men in battles.

To get to the city one must past through Coastal road-Aguinaldo Hi-way and NOT through the Cavitex line, the latter going to the Kawit area and thus cuts pass the city of Bacoor. Turn right at General Evangelista Street, the destinations in this post will be in the exact order as how they are located in that road.

But, if you want a longer trip, pass by Cavitex and head to Kawit, follow the past post, and when you are at Tirona Highway, turn left at Mabolo III Barangay Hall. The destinations, then, will start from my last area (St. Michael Parish) up to the first (Seat of Government)

The Seat of the Revolutionary Government of 1898

Whispers of what was still lurk in the halls of this home -- where groups of men planned to wrest power from their captors, this home is now back to it's old use as a residential home and is, as far as I know, not open to any curious people. The house still exhibits the familiar Spanish architecture relative of its time. The whole street, actually, is dotted with structures like these -- ranging from lime and wood castilian influence to post-war homes.

The Mariano Gomez Memorial

Before the revolution started, a trio of priests were executed by the Spanish curia due to their requests for reforms and due to the false accusations that they were involved in the Cavite Mutiny, either real or imaginary. One of them was Father Mariano Gomez who served in the town's parish as the priest-in-charge. Their execution in Bagumbayan (now Rizal Park) in February 17, 1872. He served for 48 years in the Bacoor parish and was active in the publication of "La Verda."

During the American Era, along with the construction of numerous plazas in the country in honor of town heroes, the people of Bacoor honored him by erecting a monument. The place was once the main center of the town.

"This Town of Filipinos, regardless of distinction in political creeds or religious beliefs, do dedicate this monument to the memory of Father Mariano Gomez of the Angels, who has served as a parish priest here for 48 years. The Blood of the martyr Gomez and his companions, Fathers Burgoz and Zamora, is the fruitful seed of the martyrs of Liberty!"

It is quite a shame now that the plaza is fronted by a large tarpaulin of a local politician. A marker in front of that statue commemorates the independence day ceremonies of July 4, 1946.

Beside that plaza, quite visible is the Parish of Saint Michael the Archangel, the same church where Father Mariano Gomez once served, now it still stands of the days when the bells tolled hours of prayer and warned each one of any impending danger.

The parish of St. Michael, the Archangel was created as a separate parish from Kawit on January 18, 1792 by virtue of the Royal Cedula issued by Ferdinand VI, King of Spain, to the Spanish Governor General in the Philippines, Luis Perez DasmariƱas. Record shows that the chapel in Bacoor, that would later become the Parish of St. Michael, the Archangel, was established in 1669 where it was constructed by bamboos, straws, and nipa. The current structure was built under the leadership of Fr. Gomez.

It is said that the statue of the triumphant Archangel, is a gift from the king of Spain himself. History and walls aside, there are other stuff beyond history in Bacoor.

Additional Tid-bits:

Digman's Halo-Halo sells the best version of that native cooler around the country, to get there just drive past the plaza and turn right at the street before the Bacoor City Hall. A must try is the homemade siopao and the famous Halo-Halo. Buy from the first big store you find at the end of the street. 

Ocean Fresh Tahong Chips, the pride of the city, is one of the main exports of the city. Made of green mussels, it is quite the delight for the palette. In any other way you could find stores that sell this awesome road snack in Evangelista Street. Match and pair this with the delicious seafood that goes on sale in the nearby stalls and wooden stands by the roadside.