Sunday, March 20, 2016

Bulacan: An adventure just waiting for you (Part One)

The Bustos Rubber Dam

Our first unofficial stop for the Lakad Pamana San Rafael Tour was the rubber dam. Once serving the lowlands, the rubber dam has since fell into disrepair and is now full of water hyacinths and other water plants. Fisherfolk in the towns of Bustos and San Rafael (on opposite banks of the river) both use the higher water for fishing and the muddy lower part as their footbridge. 

Arki's Tambayan. the tour's official caterer, served as delicious native breakfast at the makeshift park built right beside the dam (on the San Rafael side). It seems that the towns of Bulacan is a crowd favorite for bikers from the nearby metropolis too. Several bikers popped up, crossing the dam while we ate breakfast.

In the distance, the old residents started singing the age-old traditional Pabasa. Interestingly, however, they used a tune that was not familiar to my ears unlike the usual tunes of the Pabasa used by those in Manila and its south-lying provinces. 

Our next stop is the San Rafael Church, an age-old structure that was witness to one of the bloodiest battles in the Revolution of 1896. Said to be like the last stand of Alamo, the residents keep telling the tale of how a thousand men from both sides of the battle, Spanish and Filipino, died on the once pristine floor of the church and showered the walls of this hallowed ground with their blood. 

No wonder this church was hailed as one of the most haunted places in the country. 

The town takes pride in its place in history. Besides being the site of the Battle of Sane Rafael, some events and people in the town are said to be the inspiration behind some of the characters of what is one of the most influential pieces of literature in the country's history, the Noli Me Tangere, by Jose Rizal, which was one of the books that awakened the feelings of the nation, said to have been read by no other than Andres Bonifacio, the first president of the Republic and the prime mover of the revolution.

It is said that the hand mark, coming from the real-life Crispin (a character in Noli Me Tangere), still stains the walls of the convent, along with his blood. In the story, Crispin was whipped and beaten to death inside the church convent. Beside the hand mark, a well right beside this well was said to be where his body was thrown after he succumbed to the lashing.

More horror fuel for you.

But besides all of this, the San Rafael Museum is home to an interesting collection of antiquities and objects that relate to the town's industry and history, from farm tools to religious literature. One exhibit features garments and metalwork which were commonly used during pre-Vatican II masses. Latin missals were also present, alongside with prayer books and records from the offices of San Rafael's Parish. The church and the museum is open to the public for free but it is advised to donate to the church, for its maintenance. 

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