The date was 23 March 2008 when we were tasked to do a project in one of our subjects in the Graduate School. The project was to verify with the old locals in Kawit, Cavite the truth behind the death of Philippines’ first president, Emilio Aguinaldo. This was brought about by the off-the-record pages of history. Anyway, I am not here to present matters that are based on opinions but tangible facts at how monumental my entry is for this week’s photo challenge.
I, together with five of my classmates, headed to the place I regard as the center of Philippine Independence: the Aguinaldo Shrine, a national shrine, located in Kawit (formerly Cavite El Viejo), Cavite.
Upon arrival at the gate of the house, we were greeted by a quadragenarian tour guide. When he asked us about what brought us to the place, we immediately told him what we needed. So he he brought us first to the old St. Mary Magdalene Church to seek information with a certain Mang Carding, who seemed to belong in a geriatric community. After an hour of interview, we decided to go back to the shrine to take pictures of the surroundings, the old mansion
turned museum, and the Freedom Park.
Among the pictures in the archive that I find most monumental literally and figuratively is the enormous marble stone topped and highlighted by a bronze equestrian statue of Aguinaldo, which was captured in a unique angle. There is a century old poem carved on the base. One noticeable thing about the horse is that one of his legs is in the air. According to the cicerone, the position of the horse’s legs signifies how the rider died. With one leg off the ground, the rider was wounded in battle and died later. When two legs are raised, the rider died in battle. Once the four legs are on the ground, the rider died of natural causes.
However, this is not what the military heroes statue says. There are two prime examples which refute those explanations. The well-known statue of Andrew Jackson in New Orleans (duplicated in Nashville and Washington, D.C.) in which the horse has two legs raised, yet said hero died of old age in 1845. Another one is the statue of Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard, also in New Orleans, in which the horse has one leg raised, yet said general also died of old age in 1893. Both of said heroes dressed in full military uniform. Undoubtedly, there are instances where the position of the horse’s legs might seem to confirm such significance, but these are merely coincidental–not a rule.
So what makes it monumental? This statue reminds us Filipinos that Gen. Aguinaldo was not only the first elected president of the Provisional Philippine Republic but the very pioneer of Philippine Independence from Spain when he proclaimed it on 12 June 1898 in Kawit, Cavite right on the very balcony of his mansion. It also through him that we have a national anthem, which was first sung on the same day while he was slowly raising the Philippine flag…The very tableau of what I can always recall from my history classes in my elementary days.
This statue will forever serve as a symbol of our right to be free and independent.
Weekly Photo Challenge: Monument (dailypost.wordpress.com)
Visit to Aguinaldo Shrine (TripOyet)
Aguinaldo Museum (cityofpines.com)
Aguinaldo Shrine (en.wikipedia.org)