Happy 120th anniversary of the Philippine Declaration of Independence! To celebrate this historic day, I will be featuring the Holy Rosary Parish Church, also known as Angeles Church, in Angeles, Pampanga. Why a church? Well, this particular church was where Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo celebrated the first anniversary of the said declaration of independence. On June 12, 1899, thousands of Filipinos celebrated Mass at this church and afterwards, Aguinaldo gave a speech to commemorate the occasion. It should be recalled that the First Philippine Republic, which was established in January 1899 in Malolos, Bulacan, was then in the midst of the Philippine–American War against the American forces. Manila and Malolos had been captured by the United States earlier that year and so Aguinaldo and his forces were forced northwards and found themselves in Angeles by June 1899.
Eight years ago to this day, I blogged about the nearby Pamintuan Mansion, and said that that was where Aguinaldo celebrated the first anniversary. Angeleños used to commemorate the occasion by reenacting Aguinaldo giving a speech from the mansion’s balcony and waving the Philippine flag as can be seen in this photograph. However, based on recent historical research, it turned out that this was completely incorrect. As mentioned in an Inquirer news article from last year, a local historian discovered that Angeles Church was the actual site of the celebration, not the Pamintuan Mansion.
This wrong narrative even tripped up the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, who was forced to remove two historical markers installed at the mansion that contained this incorrect history. (See this photograph of the English marker that stated: “Here, celebrated the first anniversary of Philippine independence, June 12, 1899.”) The NHCP then unveiled a replacement marker (see this photo) containing the correct information last year, and at the same time also unveiled a pair of historical markers, one in Tagalog and the other in Kapampangan—the first and so far only NHCP historical marker in this local language—at Angeles Church that highlights the unique place of that place of worship in the country’s history.
Angeles Church, fondly called Pisamban Maragul (Kapampangan for “big church”) by the local citizens, is also historic for other reasons. Constructed from 1877 to 1896, the church and its twin towers were used by Filipinos as a watchtower against advancing American troops in 1899. Afterwards, the Americans repurposed the church and its convent as a field office and hospital from 1900 to 1902. During World War II, the Japanese also occupied the building and used it as a garage for their military vehicles.
As always, if you want to read up a bit more on the church’s history, you should visit the Wikipedia article.