The forgotten tale of the PH’s “other” Independence Day.

There’s another date in history, known only by very few Filipinos as our “other” Independence Day, that could very well alter our perception about the idea of the Philippines ‘as free and independent nation.

While we’re used to celebrating our “Araw ng Kaalayaan” every June, facts suggest that it was only on the 23rd of January 1899 when we were able to establish a true, Filipino-led government – otherwise known as the “Malolos Republic” – to earn ourselves a distinction as the Asia’s First Democratic Republic.  However, the question that now stands in front of us is this:  have we really paid attention to the significance of January 23rd in our lives as Filipinos?

For a few Filipinos, January 23 will always be remembered as the day the Philippines was catapulted to global prominence.  Unfortunately, it seemed like a huge chunk of the population – even a good portion of Malolenyos themselves – have completely written off the story behind this historic and very significant milestone.

Reawakening Love for Flag and Country

One of the most ardent advocates of reintroducing the national significance of the January 23rd celebrations is none other than the proudest son of the historic Malolos City himself, Hon. Mayor Atty. Christian Natividad.

Driven by the passion to reignite the Filipinos’ love for flag and country, Natividad introduced the vibrant Fiesta Republica in 2010 to raise awareness and a greater appreciation for what he calls as the most important date in Philippine history.

“We were the first one to establish a Constitution in Asia – the Malolos constitution – and it was a milestone we all achieved as a nation,” he says.  “It was where are all the other fundamental rights and privileges that we enjoy today – our gill of rights and the freedom of the press, for example – emanated, so why are we not giving this date the same reverence that we’re giving to June 12 or the Araw ng Kagitingin (The Day of Valor)?”

To illustrate his point further, Natividad revealed the fact that not many remember why the Barasoain Church is historically significant.  Apart from being a temporary residence of General Emilio Aguinaldo, the church also became the site of the three most decisive events that led to the Philippine Independence:  the convening of the First Philippine Congress, the drafting of the Malolos Constitution, and the inauguration of the First Philippine Republic.

“We have fiestas and festivals for nearly every religious and cultural significance, but why aren’t we celebrating the very first Philippine Republic, which was founded here in Malolos?” Natividad noted.

In 2013, the city’s initiative led to a Presidential Proclamation that declared January 23 as “Araw ng Republikang Filipino 1889.” This, in turn, promoted the Fiesta Republica on a national scale.  From the yearly ceremonial event, the city’s government of the Malolos Republic has since become a month-long festivity that culminates on January 23.

“For us here in Malolos, Fiesta Republica stands as the ultimate celebration of Philippine democracy, Filipino history, and homegrown art and culture,” Natividad explains.  “It started out as a tourism program for Malolos in 2011 highlighted by events and activities that aim to educate Filipinos about Malolos “historic” role and commemorate the gallantry and wisdom of the forefathers of Philippine revolution.

Celebrating true Filipino Identity

Aside from its history, key events happening throughout Fiesta Republica 2017 highlight the rich culture and heritage that make Malolos a vibrant, multi-faceted city.  There’s Kalutong Malolos, which showcases the rich variety of its cuisine through a culinary contest, while Hataw sa Sining aims to surface the prowess of Malolenyos in performance arts with dance and music competitions.  As part of the promotion of sports tourism in the city, cyclist and bike enthusiast are also invited to the Malolos Bike Festival.

The historic date itself will kick off with the Parade ng Republika from the Malolos Basilica Minore to the Malolos Sports & Convention Center, to be joined by Mayor Natividad himself.  Other events set to make the day exciting include, among many others, the Dulansangan, a street dance-drama competition to promote local history among the youth, and the Pasiklaban ng mga Banda competition, which showcases the unique brass band tradition of Malolos.

Some of the Happenings at the Fiesta Republica. 
(Marching Band - Dunglasan -  Float Parade)

More than simply celebrating the vibrancy of the city of Malolos, Mayor Natividad has a bigger dream for everyone who will join in on this meaningful occasion.

“The one thing I’d like every Malolenyo and every Filipino – from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao – to take away from this celebration is that we all must learn to love our flag, our country, first and foremost,” Natividad explained.  “Let’s all remember and celebrate our very roots for us to have a deeper understanding of how we can best move forward towards a progressive future.”

Know more about the City of Malolos is reigniting Filipinos’ sense of pride and love for flag and country via Fiesta Republica 2017 by visiting