Who would have thought that this simple yet elegant Church in Baler made a huge contribution in the history of the Philippines? This historic church was originally built in 1611 and more commonly known as the major site of the Siege of Baler which happened back in 1898 to 1899.
During the 1896 Philippine revolution, Filipino rebels joined american forces against spanish rulers. Back then , the town of Baler was stationed by spanish military forces headed by Captain Enrique de las Morenas y Fossi. He led to strengthen and fortify the church compound in Baler’s town against any possible attack . At that time , the church was the only stone building in town.
Filipinos counted the days and made several attempts to get the spanish to surrender . When the siege continued , spanish ran out of food and water supply. Spaniards suffered from diseases such as dysentery , beriberi and fevers.
Only around thirty Spaniards survived in the 11 month Baler seige out of fifty spanish men who entered the church. The spanish survivors were called Los Ultimos de Filipinas in spanish which means The last Ones of the Philippines.
Lt. Gilmore Rescue Party
Lieutenant commander James C. Gilmore, U.S.N. Commanding the U.S.S Gunboat Yorktown was captured together with all his command, save, two , who were instantly killed and two mortally wounded by insurgent forces when he came to Baler in April 1899 to relieve the half famished spanish Garrison that had been besieged in the town church for nearly a year. Lt. Gilmore and the survivors were taken to Nueva Ecija and then to Northern Luzon. They were later rescued by American Forces and taken to Manila. – Dated 1939
The Baler Catholic church is still standing at the south of Quezon Memorial Park which is close to the town museum called Museo De Baler. You can also notice a plaza near the church of Baler a marker where American Military forces stood when they appeared and came out to negotiate with the spanish forces who were besieged in the church in 1899.
Photo of the real soldiers who formed the last colonial outpost garrison of Baler (1898-1899), in the island of Luzon, known as the “last of the Philippines”. – source
The impressive and historical church stands still in the province of Baler in its proud majesty. However , buried in silence are the roots of the history of spanish colonization in the Philippines Islands.It was in 1939, when the First Lady Aurora Quezon started a movement to rebuild and renovate the historical church. The stone church was painted and the interior was highly been preserved.Today, the church serves as one of the great tourist spots in town.