Friday, September 08, 2006


On our way to our company’s institutional assessment conference in the town of Silang in Cavite, I took Pare Amor and Pare Eboy for a historical trip along Cavite’s northwest Manila Bay coastline. After exiting from the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road, we went straight towards the town of Kawit instead of taking the much shorter route to Silang via the Aguinaldo Highway. This long detour will take us along the historic towns of Kawit, Noveleta, Rosario, Tanza, Naic and Maragondon before turning left to Magallanes, Aguinaldo and Alfonso where we exited to Tagaytay City and finally Silang. The detour took most of our day but we are very grateful for the experience of finally seeing with our eyes what we only read in textbooks. Of course, there are colonial churches of note along the way and I made sure that we did not miss them.

We arrived at the town of Kawit early in the morning and, unfortunately for us, found the Aguinaldo Museum closed because it was a Sunday. I’ve been there before so my kumpares have to content themselves with my stories of what can be seen inside. A commemorative plaza fronts the house where Philippine Independence was declared on 12 June 1898. Not far away is the church of Sta. Maria Magdalena that was built in 1737 and where Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo --- the first president of the Philippine Republic ---- was baptized in 1869. The mission of Kawit was first administered by the Jesuits in 1624 which they later handed to the secular clergy in 1768. A typhoon damaged the church in 1831 and was repaired before being handed to the Augustinian Recollects in 1894. The church has been extensively restored in 1990.

Kawit is the bailiwick of General Aguinaldo’s Magdalo faction and from there, we traced the events that led to one of the tragedies of the Philippine Revolution: Noveleta where in 1896 the revolution in Cavite caught fire with the assassination of the captain of the Guardia Civil and the legendary revolutionary Gen. Luciano San Miguel defeated a more superior Spanish force; Rosario, site of the 1897 Tejeros Convention that finally split the Katipunan with the election of General Aguinaldo as president and Andres Bonifacio’s refusal to recognize him; Tanza where General Aguinaldo organized his revolutionary government after the Tejeros Convention; and Naic where Bonifacio plotted against General Aguinaldo. Finally, we reached Maragondon.

National Heritage Site: A Church Built With River Stones

The Jesuits built the church of Maragondon that was dedicated to the La Asuncion de la Nuestra Senora. The mission was later handed to the Augustinian Recollects. The church is mostly made of river stones and features a distinctive horseshoe-shaped communion rail. Not far from the church is the house of Teodorico Reyes where Andres Bonifacio and his brother Procopio were tried by a military court headed by Brigadier-General Mariano Noriel. The great Bonifacio was executed on 10 May 1897 on nearby Mt. Buntis by his own countrymen and by the soldiers of the Katipunan that he founded.

Bonifacio’s revolutionary life is tragic. He started a revolution but never won a single battle and was accused as a power grabber by imposing his leadership among the Cavitenos who were on a winning streak. Bonifacio was a Manileno in Cavite --- a province steep in Cavitismo politics. He was treacherously arrested for rebellion against General Aguinaldo’s revolutionary government during which he was seriously wounded (i.e. a stab in the neck) and his brother Ciriaco killed, brought to stand a sham trial in the course of which an officer of General Aguinaldo’s army tried to rape or raped his wife, then carried on a hammock and shot in Mt. Buntis with his brother Procopio. He was buried there, lost and forgotten, until 1918 when a government commission located and excavated his alleged remains. But even in death, Bonifacio seemed to have no peace because various quarters (including General Aguinaldo and the Veteranos de la Revolucion) contested the authenticity of the alleged Bonifacio bones that was eventually used by Manuel L. Quezon as an ammunition in his feud with General Aguinaldo. The remains were later stored in a box and displayed at the Intendencia Building with other Bonifacio relics, and were lost forever during World War II.

From Margondon, we proceeded to Tagaytay City with a brief stop-over to take photos of the Alfonso catholic church. We reached Silang before dusk. I will make early morning pilgrimages in its centuries old church for the rest of our conference.

CREDITS: Photos of the Supremo (one of his only 2 known photographs) and the alleged Bonifacio bones were borrowed from "Kasaysay: The Story of the Filipino People" while some of the historical materials were sourced from Ambeth Ocampo’s “Bones of Contention: The Bonifacio Lectures” and Nick Joaquin’s “A Question of Heroes”.

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