By Gladys S. Pino
KAWIT, Cavite, March 22 (PNA) -– Officials of the Cavite local government, Tourism department and National Historical Institute (NHI) led on Wednesday the 148th birth anniversary celebration and tribute to General Emilio Famy Aguinaldo in fitting rites in this historic town.
Gen. Aguinaldo who is tagged as the country’s first President, emerged as Cavite’s foremost historical figure who has outlived most of his successors and revolutionaries during the country’s colonial period from Spain, the Americans and Japan.
Kabitenyo officials especially from Aguinaldo’s birth town in Kawit lined up activities and events to relive the life, advocacy, role and contributions in the country’s political history.
March 22 has been declared as a special non-working day in Cavite. The festivities started with a memorial mass at Sta. Maria Magdalena Church in Kawit town, followed by a karakol (a religious dance procession) by LGU officials, employees and townsfolk to the Kawit Shrine.
Department of Tourism (DOT) Assistant Secretary Maria Lourdes F. Jopson with Kawit Mayor and the General’s descendant Angelo Emilio G. Aguinaldo and Philippine Navy Assistant Chief of Staff Lt. Col. Edward Vincent S. Arriola offered the ceremonial wreath at the general’s grave inside the Shrine’s compound.
NHI Chair Rene R. Escalante, Cavite Governor Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla, Kawit Vice Mayor Armand V. Bernal, Directorate for Naval Museum – NIC Commander Laurence A. Alega of the Philippine Navy; Kawit chief of police Chief Inspector (PCI) Dhefry Punzalan and tourism police unit head PCI Rodelino B. Aspiras also graced the event.
Escalante shared the historical significance of Gen. Aguinaldo’s role at the Tejeros Convention and the proclamation of the Philippine Independence at the Kawit residence balcony.
The event also highlighted roundtable discussions and presentations of published books about Gen. Aguinaldo’s accomplishments.
Gov. Remulla, a fan of historical books, has cited Aguinaldo’s countless contributions in history but said that unlike the “popular” Philippine heroes, Aguinaldo did not die fighting for freedom, describing some points to ponder to NHI that “the General is not in the top choices of heroes of the land”.
Speaking in Filipino, Remulla lamented that heroism was measured on the basis of sacrificing one’s life, noting that the heroic general fought ‘till the end to proclaim the country’s independence we all enjoy today.”
In a message from DOT Secretary Wanda Teo, Asec. Japson expressed the two-pronged benefits of the event as a creative and non-traditional approach to promote history and the rich cultural traditions of the host town besides the town’s historical landmark as a premier tourist destination.
Parallel events were also conducted by the local tourism office headed by Aguinaldo grandson Angelo Jarin Aguinaldo such as the special screening of Mark’s Meily’s “Emilio Aguinaldo: Unang Pangulo” to schools around Cavite.
The occasion was also spiced up by the educational tour of Araling Panlipunan (Social Studies) teachers, bloodletting, and will be capped by a fireworks display during the night.
Angelo Jarin expressed “let the people learn not just about the General’s life and times, but the rich cultural traditions of Cavite which was home to the First President of the Philippine Republic.”
Born in Kawit, Cavite on March 22, 1869, General Aguinaldo came from a family engaged in business and trade and began his political career as cabeza de barangay (barangay chief) of Barrio Binakayan and later as capitan municipal (Mayor) of Kawit in 1895.
Aguinaldo was one of the revolutionary leaders of the Katipunan, which movement sparked revolts in Cavite against the Spanish colonizers and was catapulted to become President of the Revolutionary Government in 1897 on his birth anniversary.
He succumbed to coronary thrombosis on February 6, 1964 at the age of 95.