Where it got its name: MALOLOS

March 18, 2023

The usual stories about the origin of town names are made-up myths. I remember at the beginning. Many sites discuss the origin of the name of Malolos to have originated from the word “Malo”. This story goes that the Spaniards had referred to Malolos as being a land of heathens. Thus, the word Malo, which means bad in Spanish. There were probably other stories and legends associated with the name.

The local writers have a habit of either writing myths and legends, or blaming the Spaniards for how the present-day names came to be (that the Spaniards misheard the local term). Among those who deserve credit for recording our local languages is the Spanish. In the modern era, historians still refer to the dictionaries created by the Spanish missionaries.

Most of the towns were name by ancestors from the vegetation and trees that grew in abundance the area if not, it’s geographic features. Unlike us today, our ancestors were very simple in their approach to naming places. They don’t have the narcissism are politicians and leaders today possess.

Now back to Malolos, the local LGU has this to say about the term Malolos:

“HISTORY. The name of Malolos was presumably derived from the Tagalog word “Paluslos”, meaning ” downwards”. The name resulted from a misunderstanding among the first Spanish missionaries who reached the place.”

The second sentence is not accurate and was probably written to disparage Spanish missionaries. But “paluslos” is indeed a word that is related to Malolos.

On this subject, I have consulted two dictionaries. The first was the staple for Tagalog word research, “vocabulario de la lengua tagala” Frs. Noceda and Sanlucar. The second is a 20th-century dictionary “Diccionario Tagalog-Hispano”, by renowned Filipino scholar Pedro Serrano Laktaw, a Bulacan native (a Filipino who deserves much more recognition than he has received, even in Bulacan he is almost forgotten), once a tutor to the Spanish future king!

In  “vocabulario de la lengua tagala” the rootword “lulos” meaning is as follows: 

“Pasar de largo sin detenerse” Passing directly without stopping. 

The word “lulos” ( mentioning Malulos ) was elaborated on in more detail by Serrano Laktaw:

Lulos:  paalulos. (1) Corriente abajo; a favor de la corriente (2) Directamente; sin parar; sin pasar. — Umalulos; malulos; maalulos.  (3) Pasar de largo, o sin detenerse.  Dejarse llevar por la corriente. (4) Ir corriente abajo. 

1. Downstream, in the current’s direction.  2. Directly, without stopping.  To pass without stopping.  3.  To go with the current.  4.  To go downstream.

For ease of reference, I have placed the number and translation. These are not included in the original text.

As I do not possess a copy of “Diccionario Tagalog-Hispanic” nor mastery of Spanish, the translations were provided by the person I consulted, the Fil-Chilean historian-writer Liz Medina.

I hope that this article will help locals better understand their town’s history. We own a small property near the capitol. Back in the 1990s, I spent many vacations in Malolos, even though I haven’t lived there for a long time—memories of the town and its people are fond, and it feels like home to me.

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