A few hundred meters more before I arrive at the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite, I received a text from a fellow travel blogger and friend.
“Jon, where are you?”
Apparently, they were already at the Freedom Park, our rendezvous for that morning. I was invited to take part of a heritage tour organized by Fundacion Santiago and Cavite el Viejo Heritage Tourism Association (CVHTA), I’ve been living in Cavite for a few years now but I’ve never been able explore the historical towns of the province, such as Kawit, so when I received an invite, I did not hesitate to say yes.
All other participants are from Manila, and since I am from Cavite, I just told them to meet me in Kawit. It was my first time in Aguinaldo Shrine. I would love to explore it more, but the organizers told us that we would all have a chance to explore it later. So the tour started and here are just the highlights and tourist spots that we visited.
St. Mary Magdalene Church
This is the oldest church in Cavite built in 1639 using seashells, cement and mud. Kawit is a coastal town and surrounded with water, so that explains the materials used in building this church. This is currently known as Kawit Church.
The façade of the church has this old and classic feel, and once you go inside, it’s just amazing how people were able to preserve the old feel of the place. Inside lies the tomb of Don Carlos Emilio Aguinaldo, the father of the first President of the Philippine Republic. During those times people who are rich and powerful were given the privilege to be buried inside the church. Aguinaldos belong to that group of privileged families.
Our tour guide mentioned that Kawit formerly known as Cavite El Viejo was a “red light district” during the Spanish times. This was where Spanish marines visit to enjoy and have some good times. That was the reason when the Manila Archbishop Miguel Garcia Serrano ordered the dedication of the church to St. Mary Magdalene. Since then, Mary Magdalene has become the patron saint of Kawit Church, and luckily in time, the town’s reputation changed from a red light district to a coastal and port area where business flourished.
During the Philippine-American war, Kawit Church was bombed several times and was almost destroyed. It was believed that most Filipino leaders at that time were hiding in the church, that’s why it was a target of the American soldiers. Good thing that the church was repaired after the war.
Final renovations of the church happened in 1990 through the efforts of the residents of Kawit thru the leadership of Fr. Luciano Paguiligan.
When we went outside the church, we saw this monument of a Filipino soldier. Our tour guide said that it’s the statue of General Candido Tria Tirona, a revolutionist and one of the Filipino generals who fought the Spanish forces. He died during that Battle of Binakayan. He also led the successful “agaw armas” against the Spaniards during those times.
The Battle of Binakayan Monument
I am aware of the place called Binakayan in Kawit, Cavite. That’s where I usually drive from work going home whenever I don’t want to pass thru Cavitex and pay their hefty fee. I already noticed this monument of soldiers just beside the Island Cove resort. It was only that time when I joined this tour that I learned that it was a commemoration of the Battle of Binakayan, one of the successful battles won by Filipinos against the Spaniards.
Our van just parked outside on the side of the road and we were able to witness the monument before our very eyes, a reminder of Filipinos’ heroism.
The Battle of Binakayan happened during the Philippine revolution from November 9 to 11, 1896. This happened on the shores of Kawit and the nearby towns of Noveleta, Imus and Bacoor. The Spanish attacked with the goal of recapturing Cavite and be under their control, but through the decisive planning of the Katipuneros and Filipino soldiers, Spaniards retreated and failed.
The Baldomero Aguinaldo Shrine
Going through the road in Binakayan, Cavite we stopped to this two storey house with bluegreen and white colors. It has an old classic design, our guide said that it was called Baldomero Aguinaldo Shrine, the house of General Baldomero Aguinaldo, the leader of KKK Magdalo Council and the cousin of Emilio Aguinaldo.
Just like most of the old house, the first floor serves as a bodega or working area. Going up the stairs will lead you to the living room or sala which was decorated with old furnitures and well-ventilated. On the same floor, there are also two bedrooms, kitchen and dining area. The place is filled with old and antique pieces of wood and decorations.
The house is currently being protected and restored by the Intramuros Administration. In 1982, Cesar Virata the grandchild of Baldomero donated the house to the government.
Freedom Park of Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine
This is the park in front of Emilio Aguinaldo’s house. It’s a concrete place with a bunch of trees, and very conducive to rest and just enjoy and kill some time. It has a good place for parking for tourist buses and all. Mainly the place comprises of the monument of Emilio Aguinaldo while riding a horse. Inscribed there was the “Act of Proclamation of Philippine Independence” written by Aguinaldo himself in Spanish with Tagalog translations.
The Pandayan (Blacksmith)
Ever wonder how your tatay or lolo’s itak are made? Or just a simple knife?
Well, you will understand it all and even get a first hand experience on how to make it by just joining this heritage tour. Just a few minutes of drive from Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine, we reached this house in the residential area where we met a local Panday while busy making knives and farm tools.
The place is where traditional way of making swords and knives happen. Sadly, this is now a dying industry in Kawit. The younger generations are not that interested anymore in this kind of work. Currently there are just a few families in Kawit who are engaged in this business.
We met Tatay Waldy who was the one working there when we arrived. He just showed us the traditional way of making these tools. Metal is heated, and when it reached a certain degree, it is then taken out and placed in a flat metal for shaping. It is being repeated until reaching a certain desired shape. It was definitely a difficult job to do.
Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine
Of all of the attractions we visited this was my favorite. Maybe because this place is very popular and I usually read this in history books.
Aguinaldo Shrine was where the Philippine independence was declared on June 12, 1898. A trivia for you, it has been reported and even written on history books that the Philippine flag was waved at the balcony of the mansion. Well, there was no balcony at that time, it was just constructed in 1919. What really happened was, the flag was waved from the window of the grand hall.
The moment I saw the Aguinaldo Shrine, I realized how rich and powerful the Aguinaldos at that time. The mansion has 7 levels and has so many secret passages. The first floor was transformed into a museum where memorabilia, guns and other personal belongings of the family were displayed.
On the second floor, we first explored the east wing of the house where the rooms of Aguinaldo’s daughters are located. The sala is like a huge ballroom with hardwood furnitures and antique materials.
Our guide said that the higher part of the mansion is usually restricted but for a rare occasion we were allowed up until we reached the watchtower or mirador, Aguinaldo’s most favorite spot in the house.
Outside the house is a huge property with parking and laundry area. Gen. Aguinaldo passed away at the age of 94 on February 1964. His remains were buried at the back of the mansion.
This was the last attraction that we explored during the tour and probably the most interesting.
It was my first time to witness a saltern or Irasan, a place where traditional rock salt is made. The place is located near the shores and it has different levels. As our guide explains the levels of land is the levels of filtration of the water until it becomes rock salt. It’s funny that what they call with the levels are like the levels of engine power while driving a car with manual transmission. Hahaha! They have these levels called primera, segunda, tresera then quarta but the last level is called Ultimo.
It takes a lot time and a long process of evaporation until such time that they are able to harvest some quality rock salt. Before, they are certain that during summer the place will be a saltern and during rainy season it is transformed into a fish pen. But due to Global warming, that the weather has become unpredictable compromising their production of salt.
It’s nice to visit this place. I learned a lot about how rock salt is made. All in all it was a worthy tour of Kawit, Cavite.
Kawit Cavite DIY Travel Guide
How to get to Kawit, Cavite
It is so easy to go to Kawit now because of Cavitex (Cavite Expressway). If you have your own car, just pass through the coastal road going through Cavitex. After reaching Cavitex, Kawit will be the first town to welcome you in the province. The first intersection you’ll see after Cavitex is the Binakayan road. Turn right and a few meters more, you’ll see the Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine.
Using public transportation, buses going to Noveleta and Cavite City will pass through Kawit.
Where to eat in Kawit?
There are now a lot of restaurants in Kawit. But in case you visit the town, don’t forget to check out Hidden Tapsihan and try their delicious tapa. It is best when dip to their homemade vinegar. They also offer Filipino dishes!
We experienced Hidden Tapsihan during our tour!
Address: Mascardo St, Brgy. Wakas in Kawit, Cavite
Phone: (046) 686 – 1341
Where to stay in Kawit?
If you need to stay in Kawit, Cavite and explore more of the town, there are more hotels now that can accommodate you, your friends and family. Over the years, more and more hotels were built in the town because of the growing needs from tourists and travelers.
One of the most popular resort and hotel in Kawit is the Island Cove Hotel and Leisure Park. Check the room rates below.
ZIP Code: 4104
IDD: area code: +63 (0)46
District: 1st District of Cavite
Kawit Cavite Map
Note: This heritage tour was made possible through the help of JR of Travelbook.ph and Ms. Kara Garilao of Fundacion Santiago, an NGO that promotes the restoration of heritage and culture.
Thank you to Cavite el Viejo Heritage Tourism Association! Want to try the Kawit Cavite Heritage Tour? please contact them at thru their Facebook Page here!