Living in the crowded city and enduring the flood for so many years, Cavite has been a breath of fresh air, literally and figuratively.Our home is just near the rice fields and trees so it’s very relaxing. Though it is quite far from work and in the city, I have no right to complain because our place also gives me the needed relaxation during weekends and holidays.
Enough of my story. What I just wanted to point out is, when I transferred to Cavite, I have been wanting to visit some of the historical sites in the province, like the Aguinaldo Shrine, the symbol of independence of our country.
I’ve been wanting that, planning and re-planning, and checking how this would fit in my busy schedule. Naks! LOL! I had so many travels at that time.
Well, then an opportunity came. The Head of Business Planning of Travelbook.ph posted an invitation for a Heritage Tour in Kawit, Cavite for travel bloggers and I was one of the 7 travel bloggers who got accepted. It was sponsored by Fundacion Santiago, a PCNC certified NGO that upholds the value of history and heritage in building national identity. One of their programs is Community Based Heritage Tourism or CBHT which includes the project, Kawit Cavite Heritage Tour.
We explored a lot of interesting sites in Kawit, and I plan to write a blog post for each. For now, let’s focus on the most popular one, The Aguinaldo Shrine, where the Philippine Independence was proclaimed on June 12, 1898. The Marcha Flipina Magdalo (the national anthem) was played by the marching band of San Francisco de Malabon (now Gen. Trias).
One important trivia for you. It has been reported that Philippine independence was declared in Aguinaldo Shrine by waving the Philippine flag at the balcony while playing the national anthem.
Well, it’s true. Except for the “balcony part.”The Philippine flag was waved from the window of the grand hall, there was no balcony at that time. The balcony was just constructed in 1919.
Aguinaldo Shrine is huge, a mansion that was designed by Emilio Aguinaldo himself. It is speculated that since the mansion has so many secret passages, the young Aguinaldo at that time might already be planning the revolution.
No one could confirm that, but one thing for sure is Aguinaldo family belonged to the rich and ruling class of the colonial times. The mansion has 7 levels and the first floor was transformed into a museum, where you could find some memorabilia, guns and other personal belongings of the Aguinaldo.
One thing that caught my attention was the bowling alley. Yes, Aguinaldo has a bowling alley, which only shows how affluent the family at that time.
Going up to the second floor, we first explored the east wing of the mansion where the rooms of Aguinaldo’s daughters are located. Carmen, has the biggest room of all girls. Walking further is a balcony with a nice view of the property. Aguinaldo coined this as “The Balcony of Sinners.”
When I first heard that name of the balcony, of course I had a different notion or a weird idea just popped out of my mind. LOL! But our guide explained that this was where Aguinaldo and the rest planned and plotted the revolution.
The sala of the mansion is a huge ballroom with hardwood furnitures and other antique materials. These wood works were designed with carved symbols depicting Aguinaldo’s patriotism.
The dining area was also fully decorated, one that is noticeable are the Doric columns. When you look up, the ceiling was also adorned with a multi-color map of the Philippines. This is the same ballroom where the independence was declared.
Aguinaldo’s room is also filled with secret passages and hidden small rooms. Our guide said that we were lucky because the higher levels of the mansion is not really being shown to the public. It’s restricted. But for a rare opportunity, we were allowed to go up until we reached the watchtower or the mirador, Aguinaldo’s most favorite spot in the house.
It has a spectacular view of the town. You could also see Manila and Tagaytay.
Our guide said that the watchtower served as a way for Aguinaldo and his troops to look out and check for any imminent attack. This was where the snipers were also located.
Outside the mansion is still a huge property where you could find the laundry area, parking and the rest. General Aguinaldo passed away at the age of 94 on February, 1964. He was buried at the back of the mansion.
I was expecting that the tour at the Aguinaldo Shrine would also give me the same usual perception and learning. Yes, I got that. We need to give value and learn from the past as a national identity for us to move forward to the future.
But surprisingly, I was affected in a different way.
Being a wealthy family, Aguinaldo had enjoyed some connections and privilege which were not given to a usual Filipino at that time. Emilio’s parents used their power to make him the youngest “Cabeza De Barangay” (now Barangay Captain) of Binakayan at an age of 17 years old (ridiculous!) for him to avoid being enlisted to the military.
At the age of 25, he became the Gobernadorcillo while on a business trip to Mindoro.
The past is not actually different from the present political system in the country. Rich politicians manipulate, trick the law and the people to get what they want.
Looking at Aguinaldo’s mansion, makes me think why some (a lot) of Filipinos don’t like him. He was rich, powerful and could make things happen. He is the officially recognized first President of the Republic, not Bonifacio and not Manuel L. Quezon.
A leader that should be respected, but his name is tainted with controversy that even history is unable to clear. First President of the Republic? but after the proclamation, the country was still under Spaniards then came the Americans. Were we really free when he was President?
And the question of all question, What really happened to Bonifacio? and what’s the real story behind Heneral Luna’s death?