By Anthony Giron
KAWIT, Cavite –The 174-year-old Aguinaldo House or Shrine in this municipality has become a most-visited museum that shows the patriotism and bravery of General Emilio F. Aguinaldo, top revolutionary leader and the country’s first president, and the other heroes in the struggle for independence at the turn of the 20th Century.
The memories of the symbols, artifacts, photographs, and other materials at the Shrine on Tirona Highway in Barangay Kaingen bespeak of stories of nationalism of Aguinaldo and the other revolutionaries against the Spaniards at that time.
The eventual declaration of independence from Spain on June 12, 1898, and the waving of the new Philippines flag would have not existed had it not been for the bravery of Aguinaldo and the other heroes during the revolutionary years.
History reveals that Aguinaldo himself was the designer of the Philippine flag that the revolutionaries first waved in victory at the “Battle of Alapan” in Imus with the capture of 270 Spanish soldiers on May 28, 1898.
The flag was also displayed at the gathering at Teatro Caviteno in Cavite Nuevo (now Cavite City) following the Alapan battle and again waved in victory during the independence proclamation at the Aguinaldo House in Kawit.
The flag was sewn in Hong Kong by Marcela Agoncillo, her daughter Lorenza, and Delfina Herbosa de Natividad, a niece of Dr. Jose P. Rizal.
The flag was made while Aguinaldo was living in exile in Hong Kong.
Proclamation of independence
History also revealed that the Acta de la Proclamacion de Independencia del Pueblo Filipino or the Declaration of Independence of the Philippines was read out by its author, lawyer Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista.
The proclamation drew shouts of “vivas” (cheers) and shed tears from the crowd in front of the Aguinaldo House.
A band from San Francisco de Malabon (now General Trias) reportedly struck up a martial beat to play the Marcha Nacional Filipina (Philippines national anthem) composed by Julian Felipe as the revolutionaries waved the Philippine flag by the window of the house which is now the “Independence Balcony.”
Actually, the historical balcony was a window before the house was rebuilt in the 1920s or two decades after the independence declaration event with Aguinaldo and the revolutionaries.
Today, June 12, thousands of officials and residents will again gather at the sprawling white-painted Shrine vicinity to reminisce and honor the revolutionary heroes, the flag and the independence declaration 121 years ago.
Re-elected Senator Cynthia A. Villar, the guest of honor and speaker, will lead the wreath-laying at the Aguinaldo tomb and the flag-raising ceremony at the Shrine veranda at 8 a.m.
Also expected to attend are the top provincial and local officials, the Aguinaldo descendants, military and police officers and other luminaries.
The Independence Day celebration will start with the traditional parade, including the sector march and band-playing, in the alley fronting the Shrine.
The theme for the celebration is “Kalayaan 2019: Tapang ng Bayan, Malasakit sa Mamamayan.”
The house was first built in 1845 from wood and thatch by Carlos Jamir Aguinaldo and Trinidad Valerio Famy, the parents of General Aguinaldo.
The general, fondly called “Miong,” was born in the house on March 22, 1869.
The house was reconstructed in 1849 and then remodeled in the 1920s by the general himself with symbols reflecting national pride.
The National Historical Commission reported that the intent of Aguinaldo was to create a monument out of the 1,324 square-meter house dedicated to the Philippine revolution.
On March 22, 1963, his 93rd birthday, Aguinaldo donated the estate to the government to perpetuate the spirit of the Philippine revolution.
After Aguinaldo’s death in 1964, the house was declared a national shrine by virtue of Republic Act 4039. It first operated as a museum under the National Museum agency.
The Aguinaldo Shrine custody was formally transferred from the National Museum to the National Historical Commission on January 31, 1972, by virtue of Executive Order 370.
Under the Commission, the museum on the ground floor was renovated before the New Millennium. The Shrine audio-visual room was constructed.
The Shrine’s second floor – the sala – is a showcase of hardwood furniture and polished woodwork adorned with carved symbols, which convey Aguinaldo’s patriotic fervor.
Near the sala is the dining room decorated with two wooden Doric columns, occupied by a large round table with Veinese cane chairs and a big aparador de vajilla (dish closet).
At the side area is the ceiling with multi-color bas-relief map of the Philippines with Cavite, the revolution focal point, painted red.
The central part of the ceiling is decorated with a giant sun image with eight rays representing the eight provinces that first uprising against the Spaniards at the turn of the 20th century namely Cavite, Manila, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Laguna, and Batangas.
Most visited shrine
The Provincial Tourism Office said that the Aguinaldo Shrine is the most visited spot by students and local and foreign tourists in terms of educational tours in Region IV-A or the Calabarzon (Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon) area.
Among its attractions are the renovated Museo de Aguinaldo (Aguinaldo Museum) which displays artifacts, photographs, paintings and dioramas of Cavite province, as the cradle of the revolution and the birthplace of independence.