MALOLOS CITY — The Malolos Congress, which opened at the historic Barasoain church here on Sept. 15, 1898, has produced the best Constitution the country has ever had, historians claimed.
Engineer Marcial Aniag, president of the Bulacan Historical Society, said Gen. Emilio Aguialdo arrived in Malolos from Cavite on Aug.13, 1898. A month later, he convened the Malolos Congress with 85 delegates.
Of the 85 delegates, 43 were lawyers, 17 were doctors, five were pharmacists, three were educators. There were also seven businessmen, four painters, three military men, a priest and four farmers.
Historians said despite the fact that five of the 85 delegates did not have a college degree, they participated in the lively discussions. The Constitution was finished in only four months and eventually ushered in the creation of the first democratic republic in Asia on Jan. 23, 1899.
"There’s a big irony between the Congress then and now," Isagani Giron, the immediate past president of the Samahang Pangkasaysayan ng Bulacan (Sampaka).
Compared to the elected members of the present bicameral Congress, the delegates to the 1898 Malolos Congress were appointed.
"It was more like a substitute Congress compared to what we have now," Giron said, "but they came up with the best Constitution the country ever had."
He said members of the current Congress appeared to represent only their interest but not the people’s.
Lawyer Cris Santiago, another former president of Sampaka, shared Giron’s view on the Constitution produced by the Malolos Congress.
However, he expressed indifference with regards to the importance of Barasoain as far as governance at that time.
In a telephone interview with The STAR on Friday, Santiago said the Malolos Congress was no more than a decoration of the then revolutionary government.
"That is to show to the foreign correspondents that we Filipinos are civilized, but the bulk of the work in nation building were done at the Malolos Cathedral by the executive branch of government led by Aguinaldo, who was in command of the army fighting the Americans," he said.
Santiago said more than a dozen decrees were approved and sent out by Aguinaldo from the Malolos Cathedral. However, Barasoain gained a greater stature as foreign correspondents focused on the daily activities of Congress.