Aguinaldo Shrine, Cavite

My craving for adventures concerning historical sites rages on. As I finished taking pictures of almost all the ancestral houses in the town of San Miguel and had explored Intramuros (yet not satisfied), I decided to take a field trip to Cavite. My retired aunt was so gracious enough to go with me, and she was able to practice her driving skills which she hasn’t used for a while. We journeyed down to Cavite. With all the traffic crossing Manila from Quezon City, our travel time took us almost 2 hours than the usual 1.

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Aguinaldo Shrine Facade

Once you entered the Coastal Highway, you will see signs directing you to the site. Just follow the Aguinaldo Highway to the town of Kawit where you will see the imposing tower of Aguinaldo`s house in the distance. The old highway which passes in front of his house have been blocked off and a new road was created to loop around the property where you will get a magnificent view of the house. On the middle of the loop is the park facing the house and stands the equestrian monument of the First President of the Philippine, Republic Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy. The shrine itself is a National Historic Landmark and is popularly known as the symbol of Philippine Independence.

 

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Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo’s Monument

A little background about the man himself.  According to his historical marker, “First President of the Republic of the Philippines, 1899-1901, and leader of the Filipino people in the revolution against Spanish rule (1896-1898), and the Filipino-American War (1899-1901). Born in March 22, 1869, Kawit, Cavite. Became Municipal Captain of Kawit, inducted into masonry and initiated into the Katipunan under his chosen name, Magdalo. 1895. Led in the capture of Kawit, Imus, Bacoor and other towns in Cavite during the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution in 1896. His military victories provided prestige which led to his election in Absentia as President of the First Revolutionary Government during the Tejeros Convention on March 22, 1897, went to self-exile in HongKong in accordance with the Pact of Biak-na-Bato and forged an alliance with the United States of America to overthrow Spanish rule in the Philippines. Returned from Hongkong May 19,1898 and resumed the struggle for freedom. Proclaimed Philippine Independence on June 12,, 1898 at Kawit. On this occasion the Philipppine National flag made in Hongkong by Doña Marcela de Agoncillo was officially unfurled and the Marcha Nacional which became the Philippine National Anthem was played publicly for the first time. Convened the Revolutionary Congress in Malolos, Bulacan, September 15, 1898. Led the Filipino forces during the Filipino-American War and was captured in Palanan, Isabela on March 23, 1901. Died at the Veterans Memorial Hospital. Quezon City, February 6, 1964.”

Emilio Aguinaldo is considered one of the most controversial figure in Philippine History. He is believed to be the one who ordered the death of the Katipunan leader, Andres Bonifacio and his brother Procorpio Bonifacio. Also, the assassination of Gen. Antonio Luna was credited to him. Even so, the role he played during the Philippine Revolution is critical to the future of the country. Even though it only shifted from another Western power to another, 333 years of Spanish rule ended. Now that I shared some history about him, here are some history of his house:

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Living room

Aguinaldo’s house is a mansion over 14,000 square feet (1,300 m2) in floor area designed by Aguinaldo himself. The house features secret passages and hiding places for documents and weapons and is filled with antique furniture and decorated throughout with motifs of the Philippine flag and other national symbols. The building is divided into three sections – the main house on the west side of the building, the family wing on the east, and the tower located in between. The middle section is a five-story tower with a spire at the very top. The mezzanine level on the second floor is sometimes counted as an extra floor.

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Aguinaldo and his first wife Hilaria

The ground floor of the house was previously unwalled which is typical of the houses during the era. Today, it houses a museum of Aguinaldo’s memorabilia and other historical artifacts. A hologram depicting Aguinaldo during the eve of June 12, 1898 is one of the exhibits.

This is the reason why his home is a famous historical landmark and a symbol of Philippine independence. On that same balcony on June 12th of 1898,  the Philippine flag was formally unfurled in proclamation of the Philippine Independence. The same flag was sewn by Dona Marcela Agoncillo, Lorenza Agoncillo and Delfina Navidad during the time they were exiled in Hong Kong.  The balcony was renovated several times that it is totally altered from its original form. As you go around the house, the second story mostly functions as the residential house while the first story is mostly used for storage and carriage house. The stairs lead to the dining area and living room where paintings of Aguinaldo’s daughters adorned the wall. On the other side of the house, mostly added later in his life, are the locations of his daughters’ rooms while the tower served as the rooms of his two sons.  Here are some more information about the second floor:

Aguinaldo and family SF Chronicle Aug 4 1901
Captured of Emilio Aguinaldo

“Located on the second floor is the grand hall, a large meeting room with the historic front window from where the Declaration of Independence was read. The front Independence balcony was added by Aguinaldo during the 1919 renovations. The dining room located on the same floor is highlighted by a raised-relief map of the Philippines on its ceiling. Also on this level is the bedroom of Aguinaldo, the kitchen, a conference room, and a partially covered terrace on the western end of the building. On the east wing are three bedrooms for the general’s three daughter’s. A covered balcony (azotea) at the end of the wing was christened by Aguinaldo as Galeria de los Pecadores (Hall of the Sinners) as military plots against the Spanish authorities were planned there.

The next level is a mezzanine library which overlooks the grand hall below. A plight of stairs takes the visitor to the Ambassador Room used as a study by the general’s son-in-law, Ambassador Jose Melencio. The next floor is the other bedroom of Aguinaldo which he used during the latter part of his life. A tiled terrace on this level gives a commanding view of the town to as far as Manila. A very narrow ladder takes one to the top of the tower which is allegedly the favorite spot of Aguinaldo.”

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Aguinaldo and his second wife Maria

 

When you walk to the back heading down the stairs, you will see a bathtub on the right know as the mini “swimming pool” which was where the former president used to bathe at. Walking straight out to the back, you will find his tomb made of marbles and see a flag pole and the Philippine flag waving proudly.

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Well

We headed down the side of the garden where there are some benches for people to sit and billboards displaying all the presidents of the Philippines.The grounds of the house is lush with greenery bordered by a river on the east and backed by a fish pond to the south. On display outside the house is Aguinaldo’s personal car in a glass case, a 1924 Packard limousine restored in November 2009.

General Emilio Aguinaldo’s Car – 1924 single Six Packard Model 226 Seven Passenger Limousine. Restored by the Philippine Motor Association Vintage Car Club of the Philippines.”

Afterwards, we gave the caretaker/tour guide a tip and made a donation for the maintenance of the mansion. Then we headed out and drove back to the city as the rush hour will soon be coming. Gaining a little knowledge about the history of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo’s provides a nice insight about one of the most controversial figures  in Philippine History.

 

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