In 1595, the Franciscan Missionaries under the leadership of Fr. Juan de Placencia and Fr. Diego de Oropesa, founded a “visita” for Morong on the present site of Bosoboso, south of Painaan with Apostol Santiago as its patron saint. It was know as “Visita de Santiago” or Santiago until such time that it became Baras. Baras was then inhabited by 400 Aetas and other mountain people.
There were many versions on how the town of Baras finally got its name. One version stated that the seashore of Baras was used for harboring sailboats against sea pirates and during inclement weather. It was called Barahan which mean “means a place of anchorage.” The Spanish conquerors shortened it to Baras.
Another version stated that a Spanish priest named Fr. Francisco Barasoan, known for his kindness to the parishioners, became a byword and thus, the community was named Baras.
The third version recounted that when Baras was a hinterland, there were plenty of hardwood which were made into “barras” or two pieces of wood between which the horse was harnessed. Barras later became Baras.
In 1636, the town was transferred to a place called Ibayo, one and one-half leagues southeast of the first site due to the hostility of the Aetas and the mountaineers who burned part of the town and church in 1635. San Salvador became their patron saint. The site was under the jurisdiction of the Jesuit Fathers of Morong.
In 1639, 13,000 Chinese rebels retreating from Manila towards the Sierra Madre burned the towns and churches of Baras and Tanay.
In 1679, the ecclesiastical administration of Baras was given back by the Jesuit to the Franciscan in Exchange for Binangonan.
In 1682, the town was transferred to its present site where they will not be menaced by marauding tribes of the mountaineers. Construction of the present church ensued in the same year. It was completed in 1685 and the first mass was held in honor of its new patron, Saint Joseph.
During the years from 1601 to 1853, Baras was under the province of La Laguna and 1853 to 1900, its administration was transferred to the Distrito de las Montes de San Mateo.
In 1728, under the direction and management of Franciscan Fr. Dela Parilla, then parish priest of the town, the stone bridge across Baras was constructed to facilitate communication among neighboring towns. After the completion of the bridge, six principal streets were laid, three streets on each side of the river.
Between 1728 to 1750, the estimated population of the town was 1,028 paying 299 tributes to the Spanish authorities.
In 1750, Baras was divided into “barangays,” each under a cabeza de barangay, appointed by the head of the town, the Capitan Municipal. However, it was the parish priest who was the actual ruling party in the community.
Baras was divided into eight barangays, each under a cabeza. The different barangays of the municipality in 1860 were as follows: Barangay San Jose, Barangay Santiago, Barangay San Bernardino, Barangay San Miguel, Barangay San Salvador, Barangay Primera Concepcion, Barangay San Antonio and Barangay de los Dolores. By 1845, Baras had 209 houses, 1,268 inhabitants who paid 300 tributes.
Baras was under the jurisdiction of the Province of Laguna from 1606 to 1853. Its administration was transferred to the newly created Distrito de las Monte de San Mateo in 1857. This district was changed to Distrito de Morong whose capital was in Antipolo but was later transferred to Morong.
In 1872, the jurisdictional conflict between Tanay and Baras ended. A monument, which can still be seen today, marks the boundaries.
On October 14, 1876, the controversy between jurisdictional limits of Morong and Baras was interceded and pacified by the civil government. The people enjoyed tranquility for a period of 15 years.
In July 1895, the representatives of Katipunan came to inform the people of Morong, Tanay, Antipolo, Baras and Pililla about the cause of the secret society. The Katipuan of Baras established the Real or Military Camp at sitio of Gogo or Pamitinan. On November 21, 1896, the Katipunan attempted to capture the town of Morong but were driven by the Guardia Civil. By 1898, Baras had joined the Revolutionary Government of Emilio Aguinaldo.
After the defeat of the Spaniards in Morong, the Aguinaldo Headquarters ordered the establishment of the municipal township. A special election was held. However, the Revolutionary Government of Aguinaldo did not last last because of the outbreak of the Filipino-American War. On March 29, 1900, Military Order No. 40, by Governor General Meritt came in effect. This order was for the election of an Alcalde Municipal, Vice Alcalde, and the Municipal Council. This was implemented in October of the same year.
In 1901, delegates from the towns of Rizal met for the purpose of renaming the province of Morong to Rizal, after the national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. Act 942 was passed by the Philippine Commission in 1902. This Act provided for the consolidation of the Municipalities of Morong, Binangonan, Cardona and Baras as one municipal district, with Morong as its capital. This consolidation took effect in 1903.
From 1903 to 1906, Baras was made a Barrio of Morong. The representative to the municipal council of Morong were Leopoldo Digma and Gaudencio Mediavillo. The progress of the town was neglected by Municipal Officials of the central government of Morong. Funds were not appropriated for town improvements including educational facilities. The situation caused resentment and discontent amongst the Baraseneans. Digma presented the case to the Provincial Governor and asked for immediate separation of Baras from Morong.
On January 16, 1906, Baras was annexed to Tanay as a barrio by Act No. 1442. The town was divided into Districts No. 8 and 9 for efficiency in its administration. During the election of 1912, not one councilor came from Baras. All the councilors were from Tanay. This was a great blow to the people of Baras, now clamoring for independence. This request for independence was denied by the Provincial Governor due to the economic insufficiency of Baras.
Under the leadership of Leopoldo Digma, the claim for independence was realized. Executive Order No. 57, dated November 24, 1920, of his Excellency, the Governor General of the Philippines, changed the status of Baras from a barrio of Tanay to the Municipality of Baras.
Baras was officially separated from Tanay through Executive Order Number 57 issued by Governor General Francis Burton Harrison.
The administration of Mariano Vallestro saw the creation of Calle Trabajo, on the eastern side of the town and the improvement of school buildings and public places.
Adriano Ferrera was elected Municipal President in 1922. During his term, a new site for the municipal building was purchased through donations from the townspeople and with P 500.00 from the provincial fund, the construction of the municipal hall was undertaken.
From 1922 to 1928, Baras improved its educational facilities through additional classrooms, construction of school buildings, and increased school grounds. An artesian well was drilled at Barrio San Jose. A site for the public market was also purchased.
From 1929 to 1931, Baras was classified as a fifth class municipality and had settled its boundary with Tanay and Morong. The following years saw the continued development of Baras: reconstruction of the municipal building; repair of the municipal artesian wells; construction of more classrooms; constructions of additional school buildings at Barrio Pinugay; and
construction of an irrigation dam for the farmers.
The war broke out on December 8, 1941, and Baras was occupied by the Japanese Imperial Army on February 6, 1942. Many young men of Baras joined the guerilla forces. On February 4, 1945, the Japanese army ordered the Baraseneans to evacuate their town and to move to other adjacent towns and provinces. The town of Baras was razed to the ground on March 10, 1945. This signified the liberation of the town but also left the Barasenians homeless. The rehabilitation of the town began. War damage claims were filed to the amount of P 300,000 to be used for the construction of new houses.
Then mayor, Mariano Golla, focused on the improvement of roads and the construction of a public dispensary. Under his term, Baras was elevated to a fourth class municipality due to an increase in income.
Under the succeeding administrations, improvements of road networks were implemented; seven liberty wells were constructed; the number of school houses were increased; river controls in Barangay San Juan and San Jose were constructed; rehabilitation of the existing government building continued; and a reforestation program was launched.