The Spanish Colonial Era in the country lasted for 333 years and while much has happened since that lengthy period of time, the Spaniards left lasting influences on the Philippines’ culture and heritage. The town of San Miguel, Bulacan is no exception to that.
The municipality of San Miguel was originally known as Miguel Mayumo, named after Miguel Pineda, the founder of the town, and the Kapampangan word for “sweet”. A timely sighting of the image of St. Michael the Archangel by its residents added the word san (Spanish for “saint”), which extended its complete name to San Miguel de Mayumo. The town’s San Miguel Catholic Church is likewise named after him.
San Miguel has a rich Spanish colonial history with two of its popular tourist destinations related to Emilio Aguinaldo, the first president of the Philippines. One of which is the Biak-na-Bato National Park. This is where Aguinaldo established the Republic of Biak-na-Bato in opposition to the Spanish rule in the country.
Today, Biak-na-Bato, declared a national park in 1937, is now home to a diverse variety of wildlife, including bats, monkeys, and a number of different birds. Its rock formations and hanging bridges are a favorite of those seeking a healthy dose of adventure. Biak-na-Bato also has numerous caves, including the Bahay Paniki Cave, Aguinaldo Cave, and Madlum Cave for those who enjoy spelunking. Cap off your trip to the park with a hike to the Tilandong Falls.
The second destination related to the first president is the Tecson House. Originally owned by Simon Tecson, the house served as the headquarters of Aguinaldo. The Tecson House is one of the many colonial houses still existing in San Miguel that draw tourists and locals alike.
Despite still being in good condition, local stories say that the house of Don Miguel Slojo, a former municipal president, is said to be haunted by the ghosts of those murdered in its premises during the Japanese occupation. While this certainly is not for the faint-hearted, paranormal enthusiasts may want to include it in their itinerary.
Three other colonial houses in the area were once owned by the prominent de Leon family. The de Leon ancestral house, built by patriarch Pelagio de Leon and his wife Eladia Santiago, was where the couple raised their five children. One of those is Ceferino, the father of Trinidad de Leon-Roxas, the wife of President Manuel Roxas.
The Sempio House was built by one of the five children, Crispina, and husband Damaso Sempio. Lastly, the grand Sevilla-de Leon-Joson House was home to Valeriana, another daughter, and her husband Catalino Sevilla. A story famous among locals is that Catalino Sevilla, who was once a farmer, wanted his father-in-law to look up at him, even literally, which resulted to his house being three floors tall compared to the latter’s two-storey home.
Complete your trip by bringing home some pastillas, a milk-based treat originally from San Miguel, and a bottle or two of atsarang mangga or pickled green mangoes.
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