In my more than three decades of life’s journey I’ve had the chance to visit various parts of the Philippines. And through these opportunities, it made me realized how beautiful my country is:  Her mighty lakes, like oceans of liquid silver; her mountains, with their bright aerial tints; her valleys, teeming with wild fertility; her tremendous cataracts, thundering in their solitudes; her boundless plains, waving with spontaneous verdure; her skies, kindling with the magic of summer clouds and glorious sunshine; her unrivalled and pristine beaches, rolling with the rhythm of the surfs along the shore. These are the things I conjecture why many travelers like to keep on visiting my country. But behind all these things, there lies a treasure trove of eventful and war-torn chapter in my country’s history, which spanned 333 years under Spain, another 40 years under American rule and 4 more bloody years under the Japanese occupation. Yet, my motherland had eventually found its freedom after all those struggling years and this house in Kawit, Cavite which I visited lately had made a mark in our history as the home of first Philippine Independence.


Sprawling along the stretch of Tirona Highway in Kawit, Cavite is the 163-year-old mansion, illustriously known as the Aguinaldo Shrine. The house has a lot floor area of about 1,300 sq m and stands on a 5,000-sq m lot. This piece of land is part of the original Aguinaldo estate which covered several hectares and included the fishpond seen from the garden. A typical Spanish architecture is what one can intuitively think of by truly gazing the house due to its elaborate white stone walls, capiz shell window panes, thatch roofing, wooden parquet floors and sturdy hardwood pillars.

Built in 1864 and reconstructed four years later, it was in this ancestral house where the first president of the First Republic of the Philippines, General Emilio Aguinaldo, was born.


It was also from its living room window, 29 years later, on June 12, 1898, where he first waved the Philippine Flag, while our then- instrumental national anthem was played in the background, as Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista read the Proclamation of Independence in front of an elated crowd.

The house is eloquent proof that time does not stand still. Buildings are renovated, rooflines and styles change, towers are added, balconies built, windows put in, walls torn down. New mechanism are invented and installed. Spanish styles give way to American forms as architecture follows politics.

On June 12, 1963, Aguinaldo donated the house to the Philippine Government. Barely a year later, he passed away at age 95.


On June 18, 1964, the house was declared a National Shrine through Republic Act 4039, signed by then president Diosdado Macapagal. Aguinaldo’s tomb can be found in his garden, facing by the river. It’s then a perfect idea to be laid to rest within the boundaries of his personal palace.

 This is the Master’s Bedroom occupied by the widowed General and his second wife, Maria Agoncillo. In this bedroom found secret passages leading to other exit areas of the house.

This is the Sala and on the edge side is the Dining Area. Every design and symbol that can be seen in this house conveys the General’s patriotic message to all visitors.

This is the Veterans Hall. It is here that the general reportedly met and reminisced with his old comrades. On the walls are pictures of many revolutionaries which are believed to have been put up while the General was still alive. Photographs are all of men mostly Caviteños. Because of the hall’s proximity to the kitchen, those nostalgia sessions conceivably involved refreshments.

Music Room

Aguinaldo’s Canon

This way is leading to Gen. Aguinaldo children’s room.

The Aguinaldo Shrine

To this day, the house stands proud and vibrant. The ground floor now serves as a museum, where relics of Aguinaldo’s life and presidency are prominently displayed. The Aguinaldo Shrine is indeed a firm pillar in the edifice of Filipino history.


~ by sherwinportillo on November 1, 2012.


  1. how many flags in the Aguinaldo Shrine ?

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