AURORA | Museo de Baler and Quezon Park, Windows to Baler's Rich Past


Museo de Baler's facade and Manuel Quezon's bronze statue

Next to the iconic Baler 400 Years Monument that has a 4-foot-tall standee of the town's name near its base, the Quezon Memorial Park just across the street is most frequented in town. Tourists are spotted there at any time of day taking snaps of Museo de Baler's imposing façade, collecting selfies with Manuel Quezon's statue at the center, or just taking a respite at one of the concrete park benches.

I once visited this historical surfing town years ago and like most town visitors, I spent some downtime in the park but without getting inside the local museum. It was only in my recent visit that I got to wallow in the museum's rich exhibits.

Baler's Quezon Park is dedicated to the town's most esteemed son, and the museum within the park grounds is a window to Baler's remarkable past.

READ ALSO: 11 Things to Do in Baler

Museo de Baler and Quezon Park's green environs


Quezon Memorial Park

Manuel Luis Quezon y Molina, the Philippine President from 1935 until his death in 1944, was a native of Baler. His house made from modest materials once stood in this spacious recreation ground at the heart of the town. He was born on Aug. 19, 1878 to Lucio Quezon of Paco, Manila and Maria Dolores Molina of Baler, both were primary grade school teachers; Lucio was also a retired sergeant of the Spanish Civil Guards or the commonly known Guwardiya Sibil.

Before becoming president, Quezon was a soldier, a prominent lawyer, and was elected to several positions in the government. He was Governor of Tayabas (now Quezon province where Baler formed part of), National Assembly Representative (present day Congressman), Resident Commissioner to Washington D.C. (representative of the Philippines to US Congress during the American occupation) and Senator—he is the country's first and longest-serving Senate President (19 years, 1916-1935).

Site's historical marker inscribed as the birthplace of Manuel Quezon

At the park's main entrance stands the site's historical marker dedicated to the late president. At the center was his bronze statue, sitting with elegance as he watches the passersby. On one corner stands the replica of the nipa house where Quezon grew up, beside it is a glass enclosure that formerly housed his vintage presidential car. The black 1937 Chrysler Airflow was still parked there when I first visited Baler in 2015. It was transferred and now on display at the Presidential Car Museum in Quezon City, Metro Manila.

Quezon Memorial Park is center to both locals' and tourists' recreation and a place to remember the illustrious son of Baler. Also on the park grounds stands Museo de Baler, the town's local museum.


Museo de Baler

Cold cast sculptures depicting Baler's historical moments cover the museum's red brick façade. Visual artist Toym Imao, son of the late National Artist for Visual Arts Abdulmari Asia Imao, created the intricate artwork.

Museo de Baler's main entrance

Inside, welcoming museum visitors are unfurled flags of Philippines and Spain, giving a hint to the town's Hispanic history. Baler is center to the Philippine-Spanish Friendship day celebration that falls on June 30, same date when the Siege of Baler broke out at the town's church in 1898. The siege is an important turning point in the country's colonial history that is overshadowed by stories of greatness of Manuel Quezon, the so-called "Star of Baler".

Museum's balcony where Philippine and Spanish flags are hung

Wall photographs depicting Baler's rich history

The two-story Museo de Baler houses pieces that are significant to the town's history. Old photographs and narrations of Baler's origin and early settlements, notable events that took place in town during the Spanish colonial era and important personalities that shaped Aurora province fill the museum's ground floor. It also exhibits pieces of archaeological finds in the region and some memorabilia of the internationally acclaimed 2008 historical drama film Baler.

Works of art fill the museum's upper floor. This gallery showcases the talents of the people of Aurora province.

Art gallery on museum's upper floor

Jeho Bitancor's 4-panel painting depicting Baler's history


Museo de Baler
Address: Quezon St. Poblacion, Baler, Aurora
Operating hours: 8 AM–5 PM
Entrance fee: PHP 30.00

Admission ticket to Museo de Baler also gives access to Doña Aurora Quezon's restored childhood home across the street. Doña Aurora, another noteworthy child of Baler, was Manuel Quezon's wife.

READ ALSO: Dona Aurora Quezon's House in Baler



DJ RIVERA

Filipino, dad, office guy, hobbyist. Writes computer programs on weekdays, works on just about anything on weekends. Click here to know more.

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