I was lucky enough to be part of a historical tour last February of 2020 (when covid 19 is not yet present in the country and all public attractions like the Aguinaldo Mansion are still open for public viewing). Now allow me to share these photos and maybe consider this as a virtual tour to the historic mansion of Emilio Aguinaldo, the first Philippine president. My recent visit to Aguinaldo Mansion was quite special because we were able to access the upper areas of the mansion that are not normally accessible for visitors (only for special occasions maybe). The mansion technically has five floors but only the first two are normally available for public viewing.
As a Caviteño, I grew up seeing the Shrine so often especially when I’m going to work or when traveling outside Cavite. The Shrine is located near the town plaza in the oldest municipality in the province of Cavite, known as Kawit. I already made a 3-part blog post about Aguinaldo Mansion that you might want to revisit here. The posts, however, are already five years old and a lot of things were changed since then. Without any further ado, here’s a virtual tour to Aguinaldo Mansion (Museo ni Emilio Aguinaldo).
The Ground Floor
The ground floor contains a two-lane bowling alley and a swimming pool. The ground floor is now converted into an exhibit hall with special features and galleries. It is important to note that there is no entrance fee in Aguinaldo Mansion (but donations are well accepted). Visitors will be greeted with friendly tour guides. During our visit, we were warmly welcomed by Lolo Vener. The museum was reopened to public in 2015 after the major renovation and modernization of the building. The fully air-conditioned ground floor was transformed into a museum, displaying all the memorabilia of the late president and historical trivia about Cavite and its role during the revolution. The gallery presents the life of the general, the province of Cavite during the Spanish colonial period, and the revolution against Spain until the proclamation of independence on June 12, 1898.
The bowling alley is one of the most prominent features of the ground floor
Lolo Vener sharing his knowledge about the historical oath taking in Tanza. This event took place in the convent near the Santa Cruz de Malabon Church (now the Diocesan Shrine of Saint Augustine) in Tanza. Check : Santa Cruz Convent Museum
The Oath Taking in Tanza diorama
One of the most fascinating things about the Aguinaldo Mansion is the fact that it houses a overwhelming number of secrets. There are secret passages and secret compartments everywhere. This concrete tunnel will actually lead you to Saint Mary Magdalene Church. The tunnel, however, is no longer accessible on both ends as it is already filled with water.
Some of the interesting memorabilla displayed in museum. This is an unused box of tobacco.
Shoes used by the former President
A leather wallet
A leather-made picture frame with Aguinaldo’s photo. To check more of the displays in the ground floor, feel free to visit my previous entries
The Second Floor
Once you stepped out of the museum, you will be greeted by a wooden stair made out of narra wood. The stairs leads you to a spacious sala or living room. The second floor consists of the General’s bedroom, the grand hall, the dining room and kitchen, a conference room and an azotea. The first thing you will notice upon entering the second floor aside from the antique furniture are the intricate designs on the ceiling. In the early 1920s, when the General was having his house reconstructed, the symbolical depictions on the ceiling became the expression of his ardent nationalist yearnings.
The central part is decorated with an eight-rayed sun representing the eight Philippine provinces that first rose in arms against Spanish sovereignty.
Another symbol on the ceiling is that of Mother Philippines holding the flag against a backdrop of sea, sky and sun peeping over the mountains.
On the ceiling of the formal dining room is a colored relief map of the Philippines.
The Dining Hall
An Antique Piano
Another room adjoining the sala (living room)
Also adjoining the sala is the big bedroom of the General and his second wife, Maria Agoncillo. Here can be found the couple’s beautiful antique four-poster bed and wardrobe closets.
Behind the stairwell toward the northern part is the Family Wing, which contains rooms for the Generals daughters. These two suites open out into a corridor that overlooks the garden behind the house.
A bathroom near the family wing.
The Family wing ends into an azotea or balcony known as the Galería de los Pecadores, or Gallery of the Sinners, where many of the General’s subversive schemes were plotted.
Going back to the sala, you’ll find the Veteran’s Hall where the General used to meet his comrades-in-arms.
Lolo Vener showing us some of the hidden compartments in this hall.
A door connects this room with the kitchen.
Here, you’ll find some antique white-tiled iceboxes on the walls. You’ll also see how the foods are being stored back in the day.
An Antique Refrigerator. You can also spot one in Baldomero Aguinaldo Mansion in Binakayan
From this area, a door opens to the east patio. From here, you will also get access to the indoor swimming pool.
The Mezzanine Library
Before you access the tower, you’ll pass by the mezzanine library that overlooks the grand hall like an alcove or balcony.
You’ll also find some bust statues here as well as other memorabilla.
The Fourth Floor
Another flight of stairs will take you to the Ambassador Room, once used as a study room by the late Ambassador Jose Melencio, the General’s son-in-law.
Another secret compartment in this room
The room is filled with antique furniture
I believed this is the portrait of Jose P Melencio, the son-in-law of Emilio Aguinaldo and husband of Carmen Aguinaldo.
The Fifth Floor
The next set of stairs leads to the General’s other bedroom, said to be the one he used in his last years.
A huge roll-top escritoire. This one was quite a mystery on how they managed to place it here since its size couldn’t have permitted it to be transported through the narrow stairway
A brass bed for the General
The room will also give you access to a terrace where one may have an excellent view of the Manila Bay and the shoreline of Cavite.
The Gable Room
A narrower flight of stairs, now barely a foot wide and almost ladder-like, leads finally to the tower, said to have been the General’s favorite spot.
A steep narrow wooden ladder leads up to a hatch, which is the access to the gable room. With its spire-like gables, it manifests the aspirations of General Aguinaldo and passionate love affair with history and his country.
An even narrower stair will lead you to the so-called mirador. It has four windows where lookouts are provided with just enough space to sit on the attic floor.
Behind the mansion lies garden with a marble tomb where the first president is interred.Aguinaldo died on February 6, 1964, at the age of 94 at the Veterans Memorial Hospital in Quezon City. The same year, the government declared the mansion as a National Shrine on June 18 through Republic Act of 4039 signed by President Diosdado Macapagal.
There’s also a large chico tree in the garden. They said that this tree was personally planted by General Aguinaldo. It surely withstand te test of time and witnessed some of the important events in the history including the proclamation of the Philippine Independence. It was also said that Aguinaldo wrote his memoirs under the shade of this tree.
The Iconic Window
Of course, a tour to Aguinaldo Mansion will not be completed without seeing its iconic front window! During the independence celebration, the Philippine flag designed by Emilio Aguinaldo was formally unfurled to the people of the nation from the front window of the house. It is also the time when our national anthem was heard! The old five peso bill also featured the historic event.
The Aguinaldo Park
It front of the mansion is the Aguinaldo Park. It features a bronze equestrian statue (on horseback) of Aguinaldo set on a marble pedestal surrounded by the Declaration of The Philippine Independence Mural ~ Acta de la proclamación de independencia del pueblo Filipino (Act of the Declaration of independence). Check more about the Aguinaldo Park here
- Exploring Aguinaldo Shrine
- Baldomero Aguinaldo Mansion
- 10 Things You Should Not Miss When Visiting Aguinaldo Mansion
- Kawit Celebrates Christmas with Historical Touch
- Create Your Very Own Aguinaldo Shrine Paper Craft