JUST A THOUGHT: ‘People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.’ —James Baldwin
KAWIT AND CAVITE: I had just come from a familiarization tour of Kawit, Cavite, still savoring its sweet air of history and culture and friendly people when this thought struck. Is Kawiteño the right term for Kawit natives?
Turns out present-day Cavite City used to be part of Kawit itself.
The name Kawit is said to have originated from the hook-shaped shoreline that stretches from present-day Kawit to Sangley Point in Cavite City.
The Tagalog term for hook is “kalawit” or “kawit.” The long-stemmed one that I use to draw dried leaves and other wastes together in my yard is called calaycay.
ONE DAY IN KAWIT: Our small group of media persons came to Kawit on invitation of its good mayor, Angelo Emilio Aguinaldo, who treated us to a day-long immersion to the historic town’s culture and present-day development. The good mayor’s prominent name rightfully suggests that he’s a direct descendant of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, Kawit town’s most popular son.
Mayor Angelo, joined by other town officials, recently led formal launch of Kawit’s tourism campaign, dubbed as #TaraSaKawit. Binibining Pilipinas International 2019 Bea Patricia “Patch” Magtanong, though not a town native, has been tapped as Kawit’s tourism ambassadress.
Patch is representing the country in the Miss International pageant in Japan on Nov. 12.
Upon learning that some of us covered the movies as our beat, the 37-year-old mayor requested us to make a pitch among film producers to use Kawit as their location for shoots. The town offers much more than history, he said, aside from its proximity and easy access to Metro Manila.
OLD, OLD SETTLEMENT: Records reveal that even before the arrival of the Spanish colonial government, Kawit was already a thriving settlement. It is the oldest municipality in Cavite having been established in 1587.
At the time of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade, the Spaniards established their first anchorage in Kawit.
Cavite served as the main staging ground for the large galleons, thus becoming the most important port that linked the Philippine islands to the rest of the world. It became a major center for exchange, where Chinese merchants traded silk and porcelain with goods from the New World and Spain.
Little wonder that a Creole language called Chavacano had developed in Cavite with the vibrant mix of traders, Spanish seamen, and local residents.
EASY ACCESS TO KAWIT: These days, getting to Kawit is no longer as difficult as it used to be. On a free day, with the opening and full operation of the Manila-Cavite Expressway, it normally takes a mere 30-minute drive to reach this town of living history.
Then, the visitor can soak himself in places where historic events unfolded, such as the declaration of Philippine Independence from Spain. The Aguinaldo Shrine is the ancestral house of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo where it all happened on June 12, 1898.
The same event witnessed the unfurling for the very first time of the Philippine flag and the playing, also for the very first time, of our national anthem.
Other places of historic interest in Kawit even to non-History majors include the Baldomero Aguinaldo Shrine, the Battle of Binakayan and Dalahican site, General Candido Tirona Monument, the 400-year-old St. Mary Magdalene Church.
PRESERVING HISTORY: History plays a major role even in the development of a modern Kawit. The local government believes that even as a new Municipal Hall has risen in barangay Batong Dalig, town officials have preserved the old Municipal Hall as a testimony to the Kawiteños’ struggles and victories in the past.
It was there where Gen. Aguinaldo held office. Its ground floor currently houses several government offices, such as the Kawit Post Office.