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Page added on May 19, 2011

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FEATURE ARTICLE – by Marietta Pangan-Dutkoski – PT Press

Aguinaldo Shrine- The Home  and Birth of Philippine  Independence

(Kawit, Cavite)

***Author’s Note: Every year  on  the 12th day of June,  Filipinos all over the world commemorate and celebrate  The Philippine Independence. Therefore, since our issue goes out on the 15th of each month, I felt  this  month of May is a more appropriate time to open this Philippine travel series.  It has been my earnest quest to feature the beauty of our native homeland in a different light.

With the theme: “Huwag  Maging  Dayuhan  sa Sariling Bayan” (Do not be a stranger to one’s own land),  this travel series was inspired by beauty, historic, cultural and  significant events.  I was inspired by the Philippine Flag and all its symbolisms: the  eight rays of the sun, the  three  stars, and it’s colors of white, yellow, red and blue . The details, reflecting the  provinces and regions that have had significant contributions toward the liberation of our Philippine Republic, consist of  8 provinces, 3 major islands   inspire a country – now I can patriotically claim and  truly consider that my recent visit to the Philippines, is an accomplishment.  I am so proud to  provide our homeland  with a long overdue credit  to  be featured and highlighted.

Kawit Cavite

Our  visit  to Kawit, the oldest municipality in Cavite, has two main  purposes: to visit my sister’s mother –in-law and of course to pay homage to the seat of the Philippine democracy- Cavite. As mentioned earlier, Cavite is one of the provinces  in the  Eight Rays  of the Sun in the Philippine Flag- The eight rays of the sun represent the first eight provinces (Manila, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Laguna, and Batangas), which revolted against Spanish rule.

Kawit was founded for the Spanish Crown in 1587.  Formerly known as “Cavite El  Viejo” or old Cavite, it was changed in 1718 into  Kawit a Filipino  term for the word “hook” which derived from the hook- shape shoreline of the province. In Kawit, Cavite was where the Spaniards met their major defeat with Filipino revolutionist led by Kawit’s Capitan del Pueblo- General  Emilio Aguinaldo who was eventually elected President of the First Philippine Republic. (source: The Philippine Index, Millennium Edition, Vol . No.1)

The Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine**

On June 12, 1898, Philippine independence was proclaimed from the “veranda”  or balcony (the center window of the original house)  of the family of General Emilio Aguinaldo, now declared very historic  by the Republic Act No. 4039, promulgated on June 18,1964, the Aguinaldo Mansion was declared a national shrine. A year before his passing, General Aguinaldo himself donated the mansion to the Philippine government on June 12,1963 as an act “to perpetuate the spirit of the Philippine Revolution of 1896 that put an end to Spanish Rule.

Led by the museum’s curator, we were given a tour of the Aguinaldo  Shrine,  described as a “revelation of its owner’s inventive mind” given the several concealed secret passages, exits and storage areas. Here are a few areas of the house that were meticulously and uniquely built on purpose:

1.     The Museum-  The ground floor of the museum features a hologram depicting Aguinaldo.  It  houses photos and exhibits including memorabilia  of a diorama where General Aguinaldo  is sworn in as president of the republic. There are  several underground tunnels that connect  as  far as its town church of St. Mary Magdalene. It also features a  bowling alley, and a covered swimming pool.

2.     The main section of the house and the grand hall is a  pyramid-like structure capped by a  tower at the very top. It reflects a vital expression of one man’s affair with history and his country. Everyone will be amazed and adore each and  every post or pillar in the spacious reception hall,  which can actually be pulled out from the wall to serve as pot stands. There are a  number of chairs and cabinets with secret compartments, which  must have served a critical purpose in the past: either to conceal important documents, or weapons  and ammunitions. At the end of this rectangular room, is the historic window — a balcony has been added and used often by the General and state officials during Independence day celebrations — from which the Act of Declaration of Independence was read. The floor is a mosaic of wooden trapezoids, a waxed-and-polished jigsaw puzzle of flags. Even the pillars on the way to the dining room exhibit these mosaic flags. The ceiling is a gallery of soaring symbols: “Inang Pilipinas,” the eight-rayed sun depicting the revolt of the eight provinces; and the furled flags and dove. The latter is a symbol of the hero’s aspiration for Philippine recognition as a member of the League of Nations

3.     The dining room,  kitchen, conference room and azotea- The main highlight of this area is a wooden dining table top in the kitchen that conceals a passage way to the air raid shelter built below the ground.

4.     The Mezzanine library which overlooks the grand hall like an alcove or balcony. A corridor leads to the eastern wing of the mansion where the General’s daughters used to live with their families.

5.     The General’s other bedroom – Was said to be the one he used in his last years.  It has a  brass bed, and a huge roll-top escritoire which is a collector’s dream: a four post canopied bed, an armoire, a love-seat with inlaid ivory, Vienna rocking chairs, and China cabinets. From the tiled terrace, one has an excellent view of the Manila Bay and the shoreline of Cavite.

6.     The Tower- A narrower flight of stairs, barely a foot wide and almost ladder-like, leads finally to the tower, said to have been the General’s favourite spot.

7.     The  Grounds- Behind the mansion is a garden where the general’s remains were buried. He died of a coronary thrombosis on February 6, 1964. Also displayed  outside the house is Aguinaldo’s car – a 1924 Single Six Packard Model 226 seven passenger limousine – restored by the Philippine Motor Association and Vintage Car Club of the Philippines.

I hope with this article, your next travel back to the Philippines, you will set an hour and half trip south of Manila where you will  find your way to The Aguinaldo Shrine- The Home of Philippine Independence.


. **Source: Home of Indepenence, Emilio Aguinaldo House by: Ino Manalo – National Historic Institute


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