The Month of the Heart of Winter

the new leaf of January is my Month!

aguinaldo shrine

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I remember high school field trips visiting museums and parks all over the Metro and its nearby Laguna provinces but none that I remember my high school Alma Mater included our very own heritage in Cavite on the list. So all my 39 years, I never yet step foot to where our Independence Day was declared 115 years ago. What a shame for a pure-blooded Cavitena here. ūüė¶

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So this time when I‚Äôm now more capable to take charge of my own trips and schedules I find time to dig deep our Philippine history my way, my time, my money (buti na lang most museums don‚Äôt charge big and some even go with free admissions). ūüėÄ Anyhow, two weeks ago after our usual breakfast sundate we drove somewhere at the heart of Kawit, Cavite. I don‚Äôt have a good recall of the place especially that we don‚Äôt normally pass by this route when driving home, so the husband was in-charge of the road this time and I was his touristy passenger all along.¬†‚ô•

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Aguinaldo Shrine stood to its mighty at the highway of Tirona, even from outside its spacious compound denotes affluence and power other than it became a national symbol. It’s surrounding lush is a welcome feast for someone like me who’s thirst for history is never ending.

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These peragolas were meant to hold the uneven branches of a 200-year old sampaloc tree but when the old tree was hit down by lighting in the 70’s, the three peragolas has been made to symbolize Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

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At the rear side of the garden is Aguinaldo’s personal car, a 1924 Packard limousine which was restored in November 2009.

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And at the middle of the garden behind the house is the marble tomb of the first president of the Philippines.

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The Main House

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Aguinaldo’s house is a mansion over 14,000 square feet (1,300¬†m2) in floor area designed by Aguinaldo himself. The house, which features secret passages and hiding places for documents and weapons, showcases how the revolutionary zeal infused even the comfort of a Filipino home. The house is filled with fine antique furniture and decorated throughout with motifs of the Philippine flag and other national symbols.

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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. 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 exhibit.

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Located on the second floor is the grand hall, a large meeting room where from its historic front window, the Declaration of Independence was read. The front Independence balcony was added by Aguinaldo during the 1919 renovations.

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The dining room located on the same floor is highlighted by a relief map of the Philippines on its ceiling.

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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 daughters.

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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.

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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. {source: wikipedia}

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History speaks from every corner of Aguinaldo’s house, its rich architecture was tastefully designed from capiz shell, thatch roofing, wooden parquet floors and sturdy hardwood pillars. And the presence of carabao décor is very noticeable in several parts of the house including the Independence balcony. I wonder why? According to my quick research (thanks Google), by nature, carabaos are generally domicile animals but they can be deadly when pushed to anger and accordingly General Aguinaldo admired this quality and surrounded himself with carabao décor in his mansion. Read here. 

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The lifetime legacy to all Filipinos, Independence Day

On June 12, 1898, the Philippine independence from Spain was first proclaimed from the window of the grand hall of the mansion. The Act of the Declaration was read to the people of the country by its author, Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista. The Declaration of Independence was ratified by the Malolos Congress on September 21, 1898.  {source: wikipedia}

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And on February 6, 1964, the 94-year-old first president of the Philippines passed away due to a coronary thrombosis. Though he left behind a complicated legacy, his credit reigns after his long and hard fight for the Philippines‚Äô independence, and worked tirelessly to secure veterans’ rights. The same year, the government declared the mansion as a National Shrine on June 18 through Republic Act of 4039 signed by President¬†Diosdado Macapagal. To date the Aguinaldo Shrine museum on the ground floor is maintained by the¬†National Historical Institute of the Philippines. The house and museum are open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

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It‚Äôs worth a visit ‚Äďsome days to culminate and track back our history and independence. By the way, October is museum and galleries month and all national museums are of free admissions the whole moth. This includes all the 14 branches of National Museum and the flagship museums in Manila: the National Art Gallery (former Old Legislative Building), Museum of the Filipino People (former Old Finance Building), and National Planetarium. I hope to visit one during this time. ūüôā

 

 

Aguinaldo Shrine
Tirona Highway, Kawit, Cavite
Shrine Curator: Mr. Angelo J. Aguinaldo
T. 046 4847643

 

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