MONUMENTS TO HISTORY. Visiting historical landmarks in Cavite is a glimpse to the historical high points of the 1898 Philippine Revolution. Our actual travel itinerary followed the road going to Kawit, Imus, General Trias, Rosario, Tanza, and finally to Maragondon.
But for the purpose of reviewing the historical events that took place in these towns before June 12, 1898, we thought of starting our travel narrative in the town of General Trias where the First Cry of Cavite occurred.
GENERAL TRIAS. Upon arriving in the town of General Trias, we went to see its church. The church’s façade has been described as an almost exact replica of Santa Lucia Church in Bantay, Ilocos Sur. It was in this church where the Banda de Malabon practiced the Marcha Nacional Filipina before it was played for the 1898 declaration of independence.
Many have thought that the national anthem was first played in Kawit by a band imported from Malabon or Tambobong in Rizal. Historical accounts were actually referring to the town of San Francisco de Malabon, the old name of present-day General Trias.
According to local historians, the name Malabon may have come from the local term maraming labong, or referring to the abundant plantation of bamboo shoots. When the town’s native son Mariano Trias joined the Katipunan, he used labong as his nom de guerre pertaining to Malabon.
FIRST CRY OF CAVITE. On the morning of August 31, 1896, Mariano Trias together with Diego Mojica, and Nicolas Portilla led Katipuneros in attacking the town tribunal. The event became known as the first uprising in Cavite against Spain or the First Cry of Cavite.
In 1897, General Trias was elected Vice-President of the Revolutionary Government in the Tejeros Convention.
SITIO TEJEROS. On the foundations of the old Casa-Hacienda de Tejeros, a friar estate is a charmingly landscaped shrine dedicated to the first revolutionary government.
On March 22, 1897, the two Katipunan councils of Magdalo and Magdiwang met in the friar estate house in Sitio Tejeros to settle the issues on form of government and its presidency.
TEJEROS CONVENTION. During the meeting, Andres Bonifacio of the Magdiwang council presided over the election of a new government that was to replace the Katipunan he founded in 1896. The Supremo of the Katipunan lost the elections while Emilio Aguinaldo of the Magdalo council won the poll as president in absentia by a largely Magdiwang assembly.
Bonifacio on the other hand was elected director of interior which the Supremo accepted calmly until Daniel Tirona publicly questioned his credentials. The humiliated Bonifacio threatened to shoot Tirona but was restrained. Perhaps with a mix of disgust and frustration, Bonifacio declared the election results void and then walked out on the gathering with his supporters.
The next day, March 23, 1897, Bonifacio and 45 supporters went back to the estate house in Sitio Tejeros. Convinced that the election the previous day was fraudulent, they drew up the Acta de Tejeros, a document which stated their reason for not recognizing the Revolutionary Government. Bonifacio and his men then proceeded to Naic in an attempt to establish a government separate from that one established in Tejeros.
STA. CRUZ DE MALABON. After being notified about his presidency, Aguinaldo who was preparing for battle in Pasong Santol, refused to leave his men, but his elder brother Crispulo Aguinaldo, convinced him to take his oath of office, promising to take the lead in the battle.
Aguinaldo proceeded to Sitio Tejeros but found the estate house close. Believing that Bonifacio did not want him to use the estate house, Aguinaldo went to the convent in Sta. Cruz de Malabon, present-day Tanza where he and those who where elected on the previous day, except for Bonifacio took their oath of office before the miraculous cross.
TANZA CROSS. Enshrined in one of the side retablos inside the church is a replica of the cross where Aguinaldo and Mariano Trias took their oath of office as President and Vice-President of the Revolutionary Government.
We were told that the original Tanza cross is kept in a master Mason’s house.
BONIFACIO TRIAL HOUSE. Believing that Bonifacio has refused to recognized the Aguinaldo government and it was feared that he could convince revolutionaries to act the same, Aguinaldo ordered his arrest. Bonifacio with his wife and brother Procopio was taken to Maragondon to face trial by military court headed by Brigadier General Mariano Noriel.
In the ancestral house of Teodorico Reyes, a life-size tableau reminds us of what historian Adrian Cristobal refer to as the Tragedy of the Revolution. On the morning of May 10, 1897, Bonifacio and his brother Procopio were executed by orders of the revolutionary government for the crime of treason and sedition. Procopio was hacked with bolos to death while Bonifacio was shot in the hills of Maragondon. The brothers were buried were they fell.
MARAGONDON. A few walks from the Bonifacio Trial House is the church of Maragondon. Built by the Jesuits and renovated by the Recollects, the church building dates back to 1714.
The church is a National Cultural Treasure. Its outstanding feature are its doors which are decorated with elaborately carved images of flowers, castle towers, and galleons -symbols of the Blessed Virgin and its heavily carved impressive retablos.
The next phase of the revolution covers the return of Aguinaldo from exile on May 24, 1898 to resume the war against Spain. Upon his arrival, he sought to reestablish the revolutionary government that remained dormant since the signing of the Pact of Biak-na-Bato in the cave of San Miguel de Mayumo Bulacan.
IMUS. He brought with him from Hong Kong a draft of the constitution prepared by Mariano Ponce and the Philippine flag sewn by Marcela Agoncillo who was assisted by her daughter Lorenza and Jose Rizal’s niece Delfina Herbosa.
Contrary to popular belief, the Philippine flag was first unfurled not in Aguinaldo’s House in Kawit but during the victorious Battle of Alapan in Imus on May 28, 1898. The day is remembered as the National Flag Day and Imus as the Flag Capital of the Philippines.
IMUS CATHEDRAL. In the Imus town plaza is the 1930 statue of General Licerio Topacio set near two vintage artillery pieces. Across the street is the Imus Municipal Hall and the Imus Cathedral.
Although heavily renovated through the years, the Imus Cathedral still bears an old world appearance brought by brick work on the walls and columns. Above the pillars along the nave is the Latin inscription of the Hail Mary a fitting tribute to the Nuestra Señora del Pilar.
KAWIT. Finally, on June 12, 1898, General Emilio Aguinaldo declared Philippine Independence from one of the windows of his home in Kawit.
Enlarged and renovated, particularly in the 1920s, the Emilio Aguinaldo House no longer appears the way it did in 1898.
AGUINALDO HOUSE. On our trip to the Aguinaldo House we were led to see the secret passageways, hidden contraptions, symbolic ornamentation in the furniture and motif-filled walls and ceiling of the house created as a fitting shrine for independence by a patriot and a self-made architect.
CHURCH OF STA. MARIA MAGDALENA. A few walks away from the Aguinaldo House is the Church of Santa Maria Magdalena. The foundation of the church as well as some of its contents dates back to the 17th century. The bombardment of Kawit by the Spaniards from the fort in Cavite heavily damage the church but the church was restored to its old world charm.
BALDOMERO AGUINALDO HOUSE. In a quiet neighborhood in Barangay Binakayan Kawit stands the house of Baldomero Aguinaldo, first cousin of Emilio Aguinaldo and president of the Magdalo Council. The Baldomero Aguinaldo House was built in 1906 and was restored by the Intramuros Administration in 1982.