The Aguinaldo Shrine is where the independence of the Philippines was declared on June 12, 1898. The shrine is the ancestral home of President Emilio Aguinaldo, the first president of the First Republic of the Philippines. The house was originally built of thatch and wood in 1845 and reconstructed with limestone and hardwood in 1849. Aguinaldo was born in the house on March 22, 1869.
The house is located along the Camino Real, the town’s main street, signifying that the Aguinaldos were among the elite of the town. Emilio’s father Carlos, and brother Crispulo, both served as gobernadorcillos (town mayor). Emilio would later be elected to the same position when the title was changed to capitan municipal.
Beside the property is the Marulas River, a reminder that water transportation was very important during the Spanish colonial period. On the day he was inducted into the Katipunan, Aguinaldo took a banca to Cavite el Puerto, where he boarded a ship to Manila.
The Act of the Declaration of Philippines Independence was read from the window of the house by Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista who authored the document. Contrary to popular belief, it was Bautista who waved the flag during the proclamation, not Aguinaldo. The house was renovated and expanded between 1919-1921 to its current form, including the construction of the Independence Balcony from which Philippine officials commemorated Independence Day celebrations. On June 12, 1963, Aguinaldo donated his home to the Philippine Government “to perpetuate the spirit of the Philippine Revolution of 1896 that put an end to Spanish colonization of the country.” It was declared a National Shrine on June 18, 1964 through Republic Act No. 4039 and is currently under the management of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines. The remains of President Aguinaldo are interred in the property.
The Liwasang Aguinaldo is a park constructed in front of the Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine in 1997 for the Philippine Centennial. It has an equestrian statue of Emilio Aguinaldo by Napoleon Abueva, National Artist. The park was designed by Iluminado P. Santos, National Artist for Landscape Architecture. Behind the statue are granite walls where the Acta de Proclamacion de Independencia is engraved in Spanish, English, and Filipino. The original document was written and read by Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista, a former member of La Liga Filipina, and War Counselor for the Philippine Revolution.
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Philippine Independence Day is a major celebration at the Aguinaldo Shrine since the declaration of Philippine independence was made from the balcony of the house. When Aguinaldo was still alive, the celebrations were very festive especially in Barangay Kaingen, where the house is located. Aguinaldo would instruct his neighbors to prepare for the arrival of the veterans of the revolution and host them in order for them to be able to attend the celebrations. On Independence Day, the veterans would parade around town wearing their original rayadillo uniforms.