Province of Bulacan

Province of Bulacan
Provincial seal of Bulacan
Provincial seal of Bulacan
Map of the Philippines with Bulacan highlighted
Map of the Philippines with Bulacan highlighted
Region Central Luzon (Region III)
Capital Malolos City
 - Independent cities 0
 - Component cities 3
 - Municipalities 21
 - Barangays 569
 - Congressional
1st to 4th districts of Bulacan, Lone district of San Jose del Monte City
 - Total (2007) 2,826,936 (2nd out of 80)
including independent cities:
2,826,936 (4th out of 80)
 - Density 1,018.7/km² (4th out of 80)
including independent cities:
1,018.7/km² (5th out of 80)
 - Total 30000 km² (48th out of 80)
including independent cities:
2,774.9 km² (50th out of100)
Founded August 15, 1578 (still debatable)
Spoken languages Tagalog, Kapampangan, English
Governor Joselito R. Mendoza (2007-2010); Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado, HumD (Vice Governor) (2007-2010) 


Pre-Historic Era

The story of Bulacan really begins with cataclysmic changes in the earth’s crust which, started during the late Cretaceous period, about 65 million years ago and eventually led to the formation of the Philippine Archipelago and the China Sea out of the vast expanse of the Pacific.

In this group of islands gradually isolated at the end of the last glacial period from the Asian underbelly on the largest island of Luzon, three mountain ranges, the Sierra Madre, the Zambales and the highlands of Laguna and Batangas conspired with the great Central Valley to produce tectonic stages and the patient gathering of effluvia more than one million years ago, the Bulacan River and its delta on which, Bulacan is now built.

Pre-Hispanic Period

The earliest Bulacan men came on the scene towards the end of the Paleolithic age about 250,000 years ago and was preceded by elephants and rhinoceros whose fossils have been found in what are now parts of the Province of Bulacan. He was like the rest of the human family of his time, a caveman, feeding on small animals like bats which he trapped and on the snails, crabs and shellfish which he found in the mud of the deltaic swamp of his still nameless home. In time he developed flake tools, adzes and chisels and drills and small stone knives and suddenly mobile one day he began to move up and down the Bulacan River in crude boats.

And thus he learned to communicate and to trade. After many more years he began to mine metal, to plant, to weave and to make glass and jade ornaments for the women. The large Manila Bay, the Binoangan, the Maycapiz and the Wawang Dapdap Rivers joined with the mighty Pampanga River and the Bulacan River attracted a new population, the slim, brown, lank haired Malays from the Malay Peninsula and Indonesia.

They came in ships called balangay, the name they gave their first social unit, the clan village. During the reign of the Tang emperors in the 10th century, Arab and Chinese traders began to come to Bulacan, with both Indian and Chinese influences intensifying in the 11th and 12th centuries. Bulacan had by this time became an entreport and the Bulakeños expert seafarers.

They built and sailed ships of many kinds, river canoes as well as larger vessels to carry merchandise and as many as a hundred rowers and 30 fighting men. They lived in comfortable houses made of wood, bamboo and palm leaf thatch, had a syllabary written on bark and bamboo, played music, wore silk doublets and loin clothes or flowing skirts and flimsy blouses and a great deal of jewelry.

They had devised a complicated social scheme of nobles, freemen and serfs and buried their dead in formal graveyard (with grave furniture consisting of imported Chinese pottery) at least one example of which can still be seen in Bulacan today.

The history began when a small settlement of fishermen lived along the coast of Manila Bay before the coming of the Spaniards. Later on, these settlers became farmers after moving inwards as they discovered that the land in the interior part was fertile and very much drained by the network of rivers and streams. These settlers grew and flourished into large and prosperous settlement now known as the province of Bulacan.

Quite interesting more on the country's prehispanic highlights was the discovery of the Laguna Copperplate Inscription or the LCI at the Lumbang River in Laguna in 1991 (and deciphered by Antoon Postma of Mangyan Heritage Center in Mindoro). Historians such as Zeus Salazar of the University of the Philippines considered the date of the LCI AD 900 as the start of the recorded Philippine history, not of 1521. This copperplate was written in Kavi, an ancient script related to baybayin, and contains the placename Binoangan (now a barangay of Obando), Pailah (now Sitio Paila, San Lorenzo, Norzagaray), and Puliran (first to be said somewhere in Laguna, but Postma announced that it was much near to be Pulilan of Bulacan), and a native chieftain named Bukah in to which Gatbuka in Calumpit probably derived. All of these were now part of Bulacan.


It is believed that flowers bloomed in the region when the Spaniards came. Because of these sprawling green orchards, vegetables and profusely flowering plants, as well as the beautiful women, this lovely land had come to be called Bulacan as sort of shortened term for "bulak-lakan" and/or a derivative of the word "bulak" (kapok or cotton) which abound in the province even before the Spaniards came.

But many historians disagree on where the name Bulacan came from: some say from the Kapampangan word burak, because the place was swampy and muddy, while others say from the word bulak, since the road to the capital town was once upon a time lined with rows of cotton trees. According to Bahay-saliksikan ng Bulacan (Center for Bulacan Studies), this assumption was derived on the controversial Will Of Pansonum (Christened as Fernando Malang Balagtas, descendant of the Kapampangans who came from Kingdom of Achem in Sumatra, somewhere in 1380's - 1400's, and born at Tambugao [a topoplace between Calumpit and Apalit] in Calumpit).

Another point of disagreement is the year it became a province: one document says 1578, but most other documents say Pampanga covered practically everything between Manila and Ilocos; even Tondo inhabitants spoke Kapampangan. With the research conducted by the Bahay-saliksikan ng Bulacan in 2005, then its director Prof. Reynaldo S. Naguit agreed that it was founded in August 15, 1578. But if you will reviewed his references, more particularly the report of the encomiendas of the Governor-general Gomez Perez Dasmariñas to King Philip II and found something interesting:

According to the Relación de encomiendas en las Islas Filipinas, which may be considered as the first census report of the Philippines prepared by Governor Gómez Pérez de Dasmariñas in 1591, there were 75,000 "souls"in "Pampanga, which included Bataán and Bulacán."

Under the Provincia de Pampanga, its encomiendas was divided into 4 alcaldias,

  • The Alcaldia de Bitis y Lubao (encompasses the today's towns of Lubao, Guagua, Floridablanca, Sasmuan, and Sta. Rita, and its capital was the Betis y Lubao [Betis is now part of Guagua]),
  • Alcaldia de Candava (encompasses the today's towns of Northern Apalit, San Simon, San Luis, and Candaba as its capital),
  • Alcaldia de Calonpite (more likely the Alcaldia de Calumpit and encompasses the today's towns of Macabebe, Masantol, Minalin, Sto. Tomas, part of Apalit, Hagonoy, Paombong, and Calumpit as its capital), and
  • The Alcaldia de Bulacan (where its capital was at the present-day town of Bulakan and encompasses he today's entire Bulacan, except those towns that were part of Alcaldia de Calonpite and the Northern Bulacan, because the northern part of Bulacan and Pampanga were then at the progress of Spanish exploration.

All of these alcaldias under Provincia de Pampanga, with one corrigmiento, and that was the Corigimiento de Batan (the today's Province of Bataan) were all became alcaldias during the time of Governor-General Gonzalo Ronquillo de Peñalosa somewhere in 1580 according to Gov. Gen. Dasmariñas' report. Even though there were created as alcaldias, still there were part of Provincia de Pampanga, and the more exciting fact here was that Dasmariñas' report tells us that the town of Bulakan was recognized as "the capital-town and encomienda of Provincia de Pampanga" and it only means that the seat of Pampanga's capital was then at Bulakan, Bulacan before it became a separate province in Pampanga somewhere in 1680 (according to Dr. Jaime B. Veneracion's book 'Kasaysayan ng Bulakan') or in 1755 (according to the Erreciones that can be found at the Pampanga documents in the National Archives and also appeared at Fr. Pedro A. Gallende's Angles in Stone: Augustinian Churches in the Philippines).

In fact, many places in Bulacan bear Kapampangan names: Barangay King Kabayo in San Miguel (king is a preposition that means "in" or "at"); Quingua (now Plaridel) (quingua or kingwa is a verb that means acquired); Similarly, some folks believe that barrio Batasan (also in San Miguel) on the border with Candaba came from Batasan Pambansa, but it's actually the Kapampangan word for "shortcut"; Other places in Bulacan with Kapampangan names include barrios Kapitangan, Longos, Calumpang and Iba in Hagonoy; Pinaod and Makapilapil in San Ildefonso; Mayumu,Ilug Bulo,Biclat and Cabio in San Miguel; Masukol and Binakod in Paombong; Dalig, Batin and Balagtas in Balagtas town; Penabatan and Inaon in Pulilan; Taliptip and Bambang in Bulacan town; and Talaksan in San Rafael.

Jean Baptiste Mallat described Bulacan in his accounts, "The Philippines"(published in 1846), as "one of the richest, best cultivated , happiest and cleanest [province] in the whole archipelago." According to him, Bulacan's major products were as follows: rice; corn; coconut, the oil of which is used for lighting and fuel; nipa; sugarcane; indigo which is made into liquid paste; a little cacao; coffee which is as good as that from Moka and of the same quality as that from Indan and Silang in the province of Cavite.

Mallat further described Bulacan's economic life during the 1840s:

Trade is very abundant in this province: its connections with Manila, by sea as well as by land, facilitate development of trade. Inhabitants of the coasts engage in fishing; in the province are counted about 15 hundred looms of which are manufactured stripped cloths of silk and cotton, tapis, cambayas, sinamay. Shops are primarily kept by women. Moreover, Bulacan has a great number of beggars; it is not that they would lack work if they looked for it, but it seems that in the lower class, there are many lazy and indolent people.

Spanish Period

The history of the province from the Spanish occupation has been replete with events worthy of recollection. As early as the time of the coming of Legaspi to conquer Manila with two of his subordinate officers, Martin de Goiti and Juan Salcedo, the 1000 Moro Bulakenyos through their seafaring brothers from Hagonoy showed their instinctive love of country by helping Bambalito, a brave datu of Macabebe, a quite near town to Bulacan in Pampanga (which according to Conquistas de las Islas Filipinas of Fray Gaspar de San Agustin in 1590's he was a brave youth from Macabebe), and another 1000 Kapampangan Moros of Macabebe, Lubao, Betis, and some records tells also Calumpit fought at the naval Battle of the Bangkusay Channel on June 3, 1571. For Bahay-saliksikan ng Bulacan, as Bokal Ernesto Sulit of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan ng Bulacan on May 2008 recognized it as part of Bulacan's celebration to the month-long National Flag and Anthem Month (May 15-June 30, 2008), as the first recorded heroic deed of the Bulakenyos in history. Here also in this battle, Spanish friars and chroniclers recorded that Bulakenyos and Kapampangan Moro warlords sent 40 caracoas (an ancient warboat and trading boat of the Austrsnesians) to Tondo with lantakas (a native cañon believed to be made in Capalangan, Apalit, Pampangan by Panday Pira) and during that time a barangay having this caracoa means royalty, prosperity, and power in the seas and rivers. This is also recognized by Dr. Sonia M. Zaide as the first ever naval battle in the country.

By the time of Governor-General and adelantado Miguel Legazpi in 1571, Bulacan was reported to be well populated. The Spaniards organized the then existing barangays in Bulacan into pueblos (towns). The first pueblo established in Bulacan is the town of Calumpit. Calumpit was also the birthplace of Christianity in the province.

”The recorded history of Bulakan might as well start in 1572, when Fray Francisco Vivar of Guadalajara, an Augustinian, opened missions in Bulakan, Malolos and Hagonoy. He was the first to plant the Cross on Bulakan soil with the help of the Sword. He arrived in the Philippines from Mexico in 1570 and died in Pampanga in 1603. Three years later, in 1575, Calumpit was founded as a town. In 1578, Bulakan, Bulakan was established as the capital town of the province. With Bulakan as the center, the missionaries and the military might of Spain worked hand in hand to subjugate the pagan population to accepth the Christian faith. Fray Agustin Albuquerque established a mission in this town, then with 4,000 inhabitants. According to Fray Juan de Medina, O.S.A. “All the Manila religious extol the “Indians” of this town as the most tractable and most attached to the church.”

In the year 1578, the Franciscans founded the town of Meycauayan thru the zealous work of Fray Juan de Plasencia and Fray Diego de Oropeza.Old Meycauayan is composed of the different towns in the southern part of Bulacan namely Bocaue, Polo,San Jose Del Monte, Obando, Santa Maria, and Marilao.

It was in 1580 that the town of Malolos founded. According to Blair and Robertson, the name “Li-han” was the ancient Chinese name for Malolos, whose princess bore the title of “Gat-Salihan” or Gatchalian. The western town of Hagonoy became an independent town from Calumpit in 1581. The first Bulakeño uprising against Spanish rule occurred in 1587. The Chief of Bulakan, Esteban Tasi was executed with other Bulakeño chieftains in the same year. Felipe Salonga who started the revolt was exiled from Polo, Bulakan to New Spain, Mexico.

A Royal Decree in 1595 created the Archbishop of Manila, which has jurisdiction of all the parishes in the province of Bulakan. The power of the church bells was now encompassing more and more pueblos under its sway. The Cross and Sword worked marvels in the organization of the pueblos during the 17th century: the town of Bocaue was founded by the Franciscans in 1606, followed by the town of Polo in 1623 by the Franciscans and in 1628 Captain Fernando de Perona was appointed Alcalde Mayor of the Province of Bulakan and also as military commander.

A three-year war occurred in Bulakan province (1638-1640) where Chinese in many parts of Luzon revolted against Spain. There were more than 300 Chinese rebels killed in Bulakan by the Spaniards and the Bulakeños. Three years later (1643) another revolt took place led by Don Pedro Ladia, a native of Borneo. Ladia claimed that he was a descendant of Rajah Matanda, the petty King of Maynila in 1571. Ladia styled himself King of the Tagalog. This rebellion was checked by Fray Cristobal Enriquez. Ladia was arrested and sent to Manila where he was executed.

The last town in the 17th century succumb to the power of the bells was Paombong which became a town in 1650. The 18th century found Baliuag a separate pueblo from Quingua in the year 1733. In 1750 the Augustinians had 11 parishes in Bulakan, namely; Angat, Baliuag, Bulakan, Dapdap (now the barrio of Sta. Ana), San Miguel, Guiguinto, Malolos, Quingua, Hagonoy, Paombong and Calumpit while the Franciscans had 9 parishes:Meycauayan, Bocaue, Polo, San Jose Del Monte, Obando, Santa Maria, Marilao, Pandi, and Balagtas . October 4, 1762 marked the Fall of Manila from the British invaders.

That same night Simon de Anda y Salazar left Manila aboard a small banca for Bulakan, Bulakan. Early in the morning of October 5, 1762 Simon de Anda landed on the Bulakan, Bulakan pier. Incidentally, the exact location of this wharf is the site of this writer’s residence. On the same day Anda issued his first proclamation naming himself Captain General and the Supreme Governor of the Philippines and President of the Real Audiencia on account of the Fall of Manila to the British.

During the years 1745 and 1746 there were agrarian revolts in several provinces near Manila, which included Bulacan, on account of occupations of Filipino lands by religious orders.In a royal decree of November 7, 1751, it noted that in the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Morong (Rizal) (especially in the towns of Hagonoy, Taguig, Parañaque, San Mateo, Bacoor, Cavite Viejo (Kawit), Silang, Imus, and Biñan the people revolted because the religious orders had usurped "the lands of the Indians, without leaving them the freedom of the rivers for their fishing, or allowing them to cut wood for their necessary use, or even to collect the wild fruits; nor did they allow the natives to pasture on the hills near their villages the carabaos which they used for agriculture."

On January 18, 1763, Capt. Slay left Manila for Bulakan with a force of 400 British soldiers, 300 Malabar Negroes and 2,000 Chinese allies. The Alcalde Mayor and Fr. Agustin de San Antonio, the Recollect Curate of Bulakan, fought them courageously but in vain. Fr. San Antonio died heroically in defending this town against the British invaders. But his death paved the way for unifying force among the Spaniards and Bulakeños.

It was in this first battle of Bulakan that the Catholic Church was burned. The British did not stay long in Bulakan, Bulakan. By June 1763, a strong force of Filipinos and Spaniards estimated at around 8,000 stormed the town under the command of Jose Pedro Bustos. With heavy casualties the British were forced to retreat to Manila. For the first time the valor of the Bulakeño soldier was recorded in our history.

In an article by Isidro C. Gregorio of Aliaga, Nueva Ecija published in The Philippines Free Press on September 29, 1962, the following portion appears: “The British issued a proclamation declaring Anda a bandit and promising a reward of P5,000 for his capture, dead or alive. Anda countered with an edict awarding 10 million pesos to anyone who could kill or capture a British officer. While the fighting raged in the Philippines, the Seven Years War came to an end, resulting in the signing of a peace treaty on February 10, 1763. Called the Treaty of Paris, it gave the Philippines back to Spain.

Accordingly, on May 31, 1764, Anda and his men entered Manila to receive the city form the enemy. The turnover rites took place on that same day in the patio of the Sta. Cruz Church. The British sailed away after having occupied Manila for a year and a half.” The story of the British occupation cannot be told without mention of the courage and fighting spirit displayed by the Filipino warriors. In this connection, General Draper wrote in his journal: “Had their skill or weapons been equal to their strength and ferocity, it might have cost us dear.

Although armed chiefly bows, arrows and lances, they advanced up to the very muzzles of our guns, and kept repeating their assaults…” The Fall of British in Bulakan marked a new epoch. It was a period of reconstruction: the government buildings were reconstructed but the church had to wait for another 50 years before it could be reconstructed from the ruins of war.

The Fall ushered in an era of peace that would last for more than a century. The Spanish colonizers also envisioned the use of the Cross and the Plow in giving the people of the pueblos under the bells an era of peace, progress and prosperity. In 1763 San Miguel was founded as a town by Miguel Pineda who became the first capitan municipal of the town. Vast tracts of land were cultivated and planted to the golden grain which brought bountiful harvest of the basic food. In 1782 Angat became a separate town from Bocaue.

The missionaries encourage the people of Angat to develop the iron mines for the production of harrows and plows for the peasants. The plows and harrows and other agricultural implements helped accelerate the agricultural development of the province. In 1792 the town of Sta. Maria was founded followed by Marilao in 1796. In that same year Pulilan was founded by Augustinian friars. The symbol of this town up to the present is the carabao, the peasants’ beast of burden.

In 1848, the towns of San Miguel, Baliuag (including Bustos), Pulilan, and Quingua (now Plaridel) was annexed to Bulacan from Pampanga.

First Philippine Republic

A session of the Malolos Congress at Barasoain Church.

At the height of the Filipino-Spanish conflict in 1890s, Bulacan was one of the first eight provinces to take up arms against the Spaniards in 1896. However the first phase of the revolution ceased in 1897 with the signing of the Pact of Biak-na-Bato in San Miguel. Under it terms the leaders were to go to Hong Kong and reside there. Under the illusory peace created by the Pact, the end of 1897 saw greater determination pm the part of the Filipinos to carry on the revolution. In early 1898, the provinces of Zambales, Ilocos, Pampanga, Bulacan, Laguna, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac. and Camarines rose again. In Central Luzon, a revolutionary government was organized under General Francisco Makabulos, a Kapampangan revolutionary leader of La Paz, Tarlac.

By the middle of 1898, the second phase of the revolution broke out and culminated with the establishment of the First Philippine Republic. Reynaldo Naguit's Hinubog sa Batong Buhay: Mga Dakilang Bulakenyo sa Kasaysayan (published by the Bahay-saliksikan ng Bulacan in 2004) noted that on June 1, 1898, Gregorio del Pilar attacked at the midnight the cazadores of the Spaniards in Bulakan, Bulacan. After the ranging smokes of the revolutionaries of del Pilar, at the break of the morning, Spaniards hided inside the Paroquia of the Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion and later surrendered with them. Also on this day, San Miguel de Mayumo was also liberated. June 10, 1898 San Ildefonso was next to be liberated. Following Biak-na-Bato on June 21, 1898, and finally on June 24, 1898 in Bulakan, Bulacan, the Spaniards finally liberated the Province and a treaty of surrendering was signed between the Spanish governor of the Province and del Pilar, the first Filipino governor of Bulacan appointed by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo on June 19, 1898 to be the military dictator of Bulacan and Nueva Ecija. For the first time, the Philippine flag was hoisted and the national anthem was played by a band for the first time while the Spanish flag was strikes down on the pole, with a feast celebrated for the whole day.

August 22, 1898 Gen. Aguinaldo announced that Malolos will be the next capital of the Philippines, as it was formally became the seat on September 9, 1898 upon the revolutionary government arrival at Malolos. The Malolos Cathedral and the Barasoain Church became the executive headquarter of President Aguinaldo and the legislative headquarter of the Malolos Congress, respectively.

American Period

The Americans established a local Philippine government in the Philippines when they held the first election in the country in the town of Baliuag, Bulacan on May 6, 1899.

In book, The Philippines and Round About (published in 1899), George John Younghusband described the town of Malolos during the height of the Philippine-American War:

In Malolos, we saw considerable numbers of Spanish prisoners, bare-headed, bare-footed, and in rags, performing all the most menial offices as domestic servants to individual natives or as public scavengers. Every railway station was guarded by insurgent troops, and every train at each station was carefully examined by them. Not even an American can travel without a passport, and the only safe and convenient nationality to assume is that of a British subject.

Japanese Occupation and World War II

In 1942, entering the Japanese forces in Bulacan.

In 1945, combined Filipino and American forces including local recognized guerrillas attack from the Japanese Imperial forces liberated in Bulacan.