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The Aguinaldo Mansion: A Freedom Shrine

First President of the Philippine Republic
At about four p.m. on the twelfth of June 1898, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy proclaimed the independence of the Philippines. The Declaration of Independence was read by its author, Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista, and drew lusty “vivas” and tears from the thick crowd in front of the house and in the street. Banda Malabon * struck up a martial beat to play the Philippine anthem composed by Julian Felipe, and the first national flag went rippling up  –– its white triangle, and red and blue trapezoids glistening silkily, its sun and stars golden.

Preceding this moment of glory were gory battles, privations, bereavements, and tragic intra-party strifes – painfully vivid in the minds of the revolucionarios standing under the sun.

Time has fast decimated the ranks of the rayadilloed veteranos, but the Freedom House stands rejuvenated on green landscaped grounds.

It was built as a wood and nipa thatch in 1845 on the Camino Real (main street) of Kawit by the parents of Aguinaldo. The house was enlarged into a concrete and stable edifice of limestone and hardwood in 1849.  Through the years, it has undergone additions and alterations. 

Its best known feature is the “Independence Balcony,” mistakenly thought by most to be where the Act of Independence was proclaimed. Actually, the balcony was added only after 1919, as were the right wing and the gabled tower. The proclamation was read from the center window in the facade of the main section of the house.

On June 12, 1963, a year before his death, Aguinaldo turned over the house and a portion of its grounds to the government. By this act, he sought “to perpetuate the spirit of the Revolution of 1896*” through the coming  generations of Filipinos.

After the death of Aguinaldo, President Diosdado Macapagal issued Executive Order No. 373 on March 13, 1964, assigning the house and all its contents to the care and custody of the National Museum.

Three months later, Republic Act No. 4039, dated June 18, 1964, declared the Aguinaldo Mansion as national shrine.

On September 24, 1971, the members of the National Historical Commission sent a resolution to President Ferdinand E. Marcos requesting the transfer of the shrine from the National Museum to the National Historical Commission.

The house measures 1,324 square meters, and the lot initially donated comprised 3,364 square meters. Later, the heirs of the general donated 1,500 square meters more to include the portion where the red, white
and blue Tambuli Boy stands.

A historical marker placed by the Commission in 1972 beside the main door of the ground floor reads:

Sa bahay na ito, na itinayo noong 1849, ipinanganak si Heneral Emilio Aguinaldo noong Marso 22, 1869. Sa durungawang nahaharap sa daan ipinahayag ni Aguinaldo ang kasarinlan ng Pilipinas noong Hunyo 12, 1898. Ipinagkaloob ang bahay sa Pamahalaang Pilipino bilang ala-ala sa mga nakihamok upang makamtan ang kalayaan. Inilibing siya sa loteng kinatatayuan ng bahay noong Pebrero 16, 1964.

Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo was born in this house which was constructed in 1849. At the window facing the street Aguinaldo proclaimed the Independence of the Philippines on June 12, 1898. The house was donated to the Philippine government in commemoration of those who fought for freedom. Aguinaldo was buried in the land on which the house stands on February 16, 1964.

–– From Aguinaldo Shrine
National Historical Institute
Manila, 1978


By: WILLY B. PAÑGILINAN│Operation Eposé Vol. 9 Blg. 48 June 10-June 16, 2012 issue

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