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A Walk to the Rising Historical Sites of Kawit Cavite

Kawit Cavite

June 12, 1898, is probably one of the most memorable and important days in the Philippine history. It was the proclamation of our independence, the day we won our freedom from more than 300 years of Spanish colonization. It was the day the Philippine flag was unfurled for the first time while the national anthem played in the background by the band of San Francisco de Malabon. Imagining this scene alone gave me goosebumps on my recent trip in Cavite El Viejo presently known as Kawit, Cavite.


Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine


Through the help of our friend John Ray Lomugdang of, I and some travel bloggers were invited by Ms. Kara Garilao, program director of Fundacion Santiago for a heritage tour in Kawit. Fundacion Santiago is a private, development services delivery organization founded in 1993. Kara explained that their organization aims to make historical awareness to the community so that people can see the value of their historical sites, which in turn may encourage them to help sustain and protect them. After training some people, they could now work as tour guides, which could be another source of income.




I didn’t think twice accepting this invitation because it’s a great opportunity to understand our history beyond what was written on our elementary textbooks.


Less than an hour away from Makati, we arrived at Kawit 2 hours before noon time. Seeing Emilio Aguinaldo shrine for the first time made me excited to discover and learn more things about the birthplace of the Philippine independence.


Our tour began at St. Mary Magdalene Church of Kawit, considered as one of the oldest churches here in the Philippines. The first wooden church was constructed in 1638.


Mary Magdalene Church


Some interesting facts about Kawit Church

  • Emilio Aguinaldo was baptized in this church.
  • The body of Emilio Aguinaldo’s father was buried in the church.
  • From the aerial, it can be seen that the church is shaped like a cross.
  • The church is earthquake-proof.
  • According to some researchers, Mary Magdalene is not the original patron saint of the town, but Our Lady of Loreto.
  • It was declared as a historical structure in the Philippines in 1990.


Mary Magdalene


Our next stop was the Pandayan (Blacksmithing) owned by Nanay Germinia Santulan. It is one of the few pandayans that can be found in Kawit. Sadly, once a booming industry is now a dying business in the province of Cavite. On this part of the tour, we met Kuya Waldy Cabigona one of the blacksmiths who showed us the art of blacksmithing. If today’s generation will not show support and will no longer be engaged in this kind of industry, we may no longer see the masterpiece of a true panday.





Moving to our next destination was the house built by Gen. Baldomero Aguinaldo in 1906. He is the cousin of Emilio Aguinaldo, one of the organizers of Magdalo Chapter of the Katipunan, and the president of the said council.


Baldomero Aguinaldo Shrine


The architecture of Baldomero Aguinaldo Shrine reminds me of the houses I visited in Vigan and Las Casas in Bataan, which normally have bodega or basement. It’s a two-story well-ventilated house predominantly painted with white, blue and green colors. The sala, which faces the street has big windows allowing the air to circulate inside. You will also see their 2 bedrooms, dining area, and kitchen on the second floor. The body of the late Aguinaldo was originally interred at Manila North Cemetery but was moved in this house.


Inside Baldomero Shrine


By simply looking at their furniture and knowing his state of life during his era, I could say that he had a modest kind of living but still above than most Filipinos during that time.


Baldomero Aguinaldo body


We came now to the most exciting part of the tour, the house that has witnessed a bloody part in history, the Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine. This is the ancestral house of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, the first president of the first Republic of the Philippines. Because of its significance to our country’s history, it was declared as a National Shrine in 1964, the same year Aguinaldo died at the age of 94.


Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine 1


In front of the mansion is a park created for the centennial celebration of our independence in 1998. Here you will see the highlight of the place, a large bronze statue of Aguinaldo that added artistic beauty in the house.


Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine front view


The house is surrounded by a wide garden and a river at the back. It has a relaxing ambiance, which is a perfect place to sit, talk to your friends, read a book, or do nothing.  Right in the middle of the garden is a tomb where the body of Aguinaldo was laid to rest.


Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine museum


The entire mansion is over 14,000 sq. meters. Imagine how big this is but only a few lived in there. I wonder how often the people in the house saw each other. The first level of the mansion serves as a museum that houses some memorabilia of Aguinaldo. On the second level, you will see some fine antique furniture showing that without a doubt, Aguinaldo came from a prominent family.


Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine garden


Living and dining rooms are grand and wide, ceilings and walls are decorated with symbols, such as flag and map. The bedrooms are too large for just one person. Indeed, everything you will see here reflects how comfortable life had been to the Aguinaldo family.


Furthermore, the mansion has grand halls that can hold a large meeting, a library, a swimming pool, and a hospital. Yes! You read it right, they had their own hospital inside the house. What interest me more is how the house was designed. Evidently, with secret passages for quick escape and types of furniture that can safely hide documents and weapons, this mansion showcases how revolution influences its design.


Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine grand hall


One advantage of availing the tour with Cavite el Viejo Heritage Tourism Association was an access to the five-story tower built in the middle of the house. Not everyone is allowed to enter that place so I felt privileged to see it. We even went to the very top of the house where they say, was used to by Aguinaldo’s snipers.


Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine design


We ended our tour by visiting a salt farm, which is another dying industry of Kawit because of climate change. It is a vast farm, which I first saw from an aerial view after taking off from NAIA. I didn’t know that it was a salt farm until I visited the place. The process of salt farming is fairly simple; farmers take sea water, filter it for a number of times, then leave it on the bedrock until it evaporates. They then collect the salt after a few days.


Salt Farm


I hope that Pandayan and Irasan (salt farming) industries would receive equal support from the government before they’re gone. It would be such a shame if they would end and just be a part of our colorful history.


I would like to thank Fundacion Santiago and Cavite el Viejo Heritage Tourism Association for the invitation. If you are interested to avail of their heritage tour you may contact, Lean at 0923-2389768 and Lotlot at 0928-9390917. You can also like and follow them on Facebook.


Rate per person is at 1200php (Group Discounts and other packages available) inclusive of transportation within Kawit, morning snack and lunch, bottled water, and tour guide fees. Together let us support and be part of the promotion of the heritage tour of Kawit, Cavite.


  • I’m hoping to do history travel with my daughters in the near future. It’s never too early for them to learn Philippines history.

  • I can barely remember the last time I was here, that was 10 years ago?! but I can clearly remember how amazed I was with the houses!

  • I am from the South but never visit this place and its nice to know ay ganito pala dun. I just passed by kawit if we are gping to Puerto Azul

  • This post is simply awesome! I learned a lot just by reading your blog. Even though, never been to Kawit Cavite, the history of the place is something that we are proud of. Thank you for sharing. Love to explore that place someday.:)

  • I’ve never been to Kawit before. But the men making itak takes me back to my childhood days, our neighborhood has a blacksmith and everyday, as in everyday, we’d hear the noise every time they make their products. It’s incredible how these things are made.

  • I’m officially in LOVE with your country. I just returned from the Philippines but I’m sure I need to go back because there’s so much more to see everywhere! So much history and natural beauty. Great post.

  • I have been there more than a decade ago when we had our educational field trip. I had goosebumps looking around. The place is so peaceful and quiet e.

  • Bringing back the time. I like historical places, it is like a virtual tour that educates as well. Thanks for sharing your tour.

  • Historical tours are always awesome, it’s definitely one of the things I enjoy when visiting a place. This tour must have been a lot of fun, I’m sure you had a great time visiting all these lovely places!

  • This post gives a wonderful and different perspective of Philippines, something other than its beautiful islands and beaches. Really loved to read about its history and culture. Thanks for sharing.

  • I truly enjoyed this tour, yung init lang ang di ko naenjoy hahaha… Nevertheless, I learned so much from it, including the juicy information not available on textbooks. It was fun discovering the nook and cranny of the Aguinaldo Shrine when before I only viewed it from afar pag nadadaan sa Kawit. I’m so happy that I was part of this tour. I hope to attend more tours like this in our country.

  • 1,200 seems like a good deal. I’ve never been a fan of history because we needed to memorize a lot of things, but this tour is interesting compared to the lectures in school. I wish I can do this soon!

    Nina |

  • I really love Kawit Cavite kasi andami talagang tourist spots na super magaganda kaya pinupuntahan ng tao. Maybe the government must allot some funds para mapatibay and make some better. Love all your shots here! It’s really more fun in the Philippines 🙂

  • I had been to these places but I was not able to go inside Aguinaldo Shrine. We went there last year to watch the light show telling the story of the Philippines. My kids enjoyed it. It’s interesting to know that the church is cross-shaped. I didn’t know that. Thanks for sharing that info! 🙂

    • I heard maganda nga yung show.. Sayang na missed ko yun.. mukang ndi n yun mauulit dahil million ata ang ginastos dun heehhe 😉

  • Visiting places of history beats reading a textbook any day! I never knew much about Philippine history but I’m looking forward to learning more when I visit. Your posts on the Philippines are great!

  • I have to admit I know nothing about Philippine history. This was a very interesting tour you took, and I can see that it was very meaningful for you. I love history, whether it’s the history of countries or people, or the history of my own family–it’s all fascinating to me.

  • I am happy and proud that I took part in this expedition with you guys! I love history but I never wanted to be a historian. We are lucky enough to be born in the 21st century where we have the freedom to almost anything. Imagine life before ours, it’s too complicated with wars and all. xD Everyone should visit these places because it’s very different in the books. The feels, the story, the reality is all written in a picture, what more if you see it in real life dba?

  • One of the heritage tours that should not be missed in the Philippines. That salt farm looks fascinating. I wish as well that salt farming would be given more opportunities and let it expand in different markets.

  • Wow! I so love heritage tours! It’s actually my first time to hear one in Kawit, Cavite. I am just amazed of how the different places in our country can offer so many things. I’m glad to discover these sites in Kawit. I would love to see the Pandayan and Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine. Hope to join the tour one day!

  • Wow Cai! Dami ko natutunan. Antagal na kasi nung last akong nakapunta sa Kawit. High School days pa yun hehe. And clearly I wasnt paying attention to the tour. A return trip is really necessary. Thanks for sharing!

  • No doubt June 12 is an important date to most Filipinos, next perhaps to our birthdays and Christmas. Touring our national heroes’ places is indeed both a learning experience and a privilege.

  • I hate to admit but I live in South Luzon but I haven’t visited Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine. Nice to know that there are more sites that we can side trip.

  • That is quite a trip! It felt like I was time traveling. Hoping to more historical sites posts from you! 😀

    P.S. I’m just curious, why was Emilio Aguinaldo’s father buried in the church? :/

    • If my memory serves me right. Their Family has a lot of contribution to the church. As an honor, he was buried inside the church.

  • Thank you for this little tour of Filipino history! In the US, we don’t get much about it. I agree that the government should subsidize traditional arts like salt farming and blacksmithing. Those kinds of things are what make a culture special. It sounds like a very educational experience!

  • Alam mo, Cai, maganda ang tour na ito kasi natututunan ang history natin. Iba ang libro, iba rin ang nakakarating sa mga historical places. Sa YouTube nga, I always tell people to watch videos of the war when Manila was liberated from the Japanese. Lessons na hindi dapat kalimutan because the past is what made us who we are.

  • This is one of the reasons why I’m planning a Luzon trip after I graduate college. Getting in touch with being a Filipino would, for me, involve visiting these sites where our brave heroes fought for our country. Thanks for this informative writeup!

  • Wow Cai. Galing naman. Napressure na tuloy ako isulat ang Kawit Heritage Tour natin.

    Me too, I’m happy that I was also invited to take part of this tour. I realized that our history is so rich that its sad that it’s not being given much attention now. I was so amazed with Aguinaldo Shrine it was my first time there and we were given a chance to explore the rooms which are not really open to public. When I was there I could almost imagine the lives of the Aguinaldo family back then which also depicts the lives of the rich and powerful Filipino families in the past. My favorite was the rooms of Aguinaldo’s children. Sosyal sila anlalaki ng kwarto lol! And it was surprising to know that the boys’ rooms were located in the inner part of the house, nakatago! Haha and of course ang makasalanang balkonahe hahaha!

    The pandayan and asinan amazed me. Especially the asinan. I couldn’t believe that making salt is not that easy that it has 5 stages! The primera, segunda, trisera, quarta then ultima. Parang manual driving lang except the ultima hahaha nice blog post Cai I hope more people especially the local government will take some actions to preserve this industry. Napahaba ang comment ko. Nice one Cai. Time to go write na hahaha!

    • Na pressure naman ako sa comment mo HAHAHA! Edi ikaw na ang kabisado ang stages sa pag gawa ng asin HAHAHA pwede ka ng maging Asindero! Oh diba taga Cavite ka na pero ndi mo pa napupuntahan.. Madami pa tayong pwedeng i discover na malapit lang satin. Thanks Jon! Till our next travel 🙂

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