Tanauan: Mabini Shrine, A Fitting Tribute to the Brain of the Revolution
Located in Barangay Talaga, about 7 kilometers from Tanauan town proper. The shrine is just one of the two sites (the other one being in the PUP campus in Sta. Mesa) devoted to the intelligence, conviction, and heroism of Apolinario Mabini.
The Historical Shrine is one of our favorite places to visit. Because its admission is free, we did not think twice about entering it when we passed by the site from our trip from Talisay. The entire complex consists of a museum, a tomb, library, garden and a reproduction of Mabini’s house. It was opened in 2014 by the National Historical Commission (NHC) to commemorate Mabini’s 150th birth anniversary, and it is one of the largest NHC-managed museums in the Philippines.
APOLINARIO MABINI, QUICK BIO
Readily noticeable upon the shrine’s entrance is a small hut that shows the simple way of life Mabini. He was born in 1864 from a poor family and is the second eldest of the eight siblings, but his financial constraints did not stop him to pursue a proper education. His grandfather, noticing his remarkable intelligence, transferred him to another school. He also supported himself in his schooling by working part-time as a servant and in other low-paying jobs.
In 1881 he was awarded a scholarship in Colegio de San Juan de Letran and moved to Manila. But his education is frequently interrupted by financial constraints. Nevertheless, he managed to endure these hardships and managed to obtain the Bachelor of Arts and Professor in Latin with highest honors. He continued his education at the University of Santo Tomas where he finished a Law Degree in 1894 and passed the bar exams the following year.
During his residence in Manila, he lived with his brother Agapito in Nagtahan Street in Sampaloc, Manila (A bridge that was constructed on the site was named after him.) While studying in UST Mabini established contacts with the reformists both in Manila and in Spain, often serving as a coordinator between the two groups. He became a member of La Liga Filipina founded by Rizal and started to write his patriotic thoughts which the Spanish regime found seditious.
In 1986 Mabini was crippled by polio, losing his use of his legs. His agony was further exacerbated when he was arrested by the Spanish authorities for being allegedly involved in the Philippine Revolution.
The latter years of the life of Mabini were the most agonizing. He served as one of the leading Philippine revolutionary heroes. He was often called the Sublime Paralytic because his disability did not deter him from serving the country. As a trusted mentor of Emilio Aguinaldo, he was one of the significant contributors to the drafting of the First Constitution of the Philippine Republic.
During the American occupation, he was arrested by the authorities and exiled to Guam. He was eventually allowed to return to the Philippines by the authorities, only after swearing the oath of allegiance to the colonizers. Soon after returning from exile, he continued writing his patriotic thoughts.
Unfortunately, his passion was cut short by death. He died on 13 May 1983 from cholera, which he got from drinking unpasteurized carabao milk.
Mabini’s complex contributions to Philippine History are often distilled into two historical monikers – “Brains of the Revolution”, and “Sublime Paralytic.” Contemporary historians such as Ambeth Ocampo point out, though, that these two monikers are reductionist and simplistic, and “do not do justice to the hero’s life and legacy.”
“Brains of the Revolution”
Because of his role as an advisor during the formation of the revolutionary government, and his contributions as statesman thereafter, Mabini is often referred to as the “Brains of the Revolution”, a historical moniker he sometimes shares with Emilio Jacinto, who served in a similar capacity for the earlier revolutionary movement, the Katipunan.
Mabini is also famous for having achieved all this despite having lost the use of his legs to Polio just prior to the Philippine revolution. This has made Mabini one of the Philippines’ most visually iconic national heroes, such that he is often referred to as “The Sublime Paralytic” (Tagalog:”Dakilang Lumpo”). Contemporary historians, however, point out that the title obscures Mabini’s many achievements.
Behind the Mausoleum of Mabini is the museum. Taking advantage of the latest technology, it offers an immersive and interactive presentation to the guests. The museum is divided into seven galleries that tackle on the life of the great hero and his contribution as a reformist and a revolutionist. The fourth up to six galleries are devoted to the war against the United States not only in Luzon but also in Visayas and Mindanao. The seventh gallery focuses on Mabini’s heritage for the future generation. There is an audio-visual room that shows a film about the life of the hero, produced by the NHC. The museum is designed by the renowned National Artist Juan Nakpil.
The artifacts showcased in the exhibit includes Mabini’s personal things, such as eyeglasses, rattan chairs, newspaper clippings about his death from cholera in 1903 and the coffin used to transfer his remains from Manila to his hometown Tanauan. Copies of his works are also displayed here, such as the El Verdadero Decalogo (“The True Decalogue”, or the Code of Ethics) and the A Mis Compatriotas (“To My Co-Patriots”, an essay on the moral transformation of society).
After Mabini succumbed to cholera, his cabinet was found with a single coin – the only money he was left with. This coin was given to him by his mother, and he swore that he would never spend it as a way of showing his love and tribute to her until his last breath.
DID YOU KNOW?
The famous Filipino musical group APO Hiking Society was not named after the Philippines’ highest mountain, as what many could assume. It was founded in 1973 by a group of Ateneo de Manila high school students as the “Apolinario Mabini Hiking Society”, deriving from the initials of their alma mater and as an irreverent reference to the paralyzed hero by attaching “Hiking Society” next to his name. The group decided to use its current name during the Martial Law years when they were placed under constant surveillance by the authorities for their supposedly subversive songs.
Before settling on the “Apolinario Mabini Hiking Society”, the group considered using other names such as “Jose Rizal Bulletproof Vest Company” (an obvious pun to the National Hero who was executed by firing squad), “Kataas-taasang Kagalang-galangang Kombo” and the “Purple People”.
Take the SLEX/STAR Tollway and exit at Sambat. From here take the road going to Talisay. It only takes five minutes going from the shrine from the toll plaza.
Take the bus going to Tanauan and get off at the town proper. From here take the jeep to Talisay or take a tricycle and tell the driver to get you off at the Mabini Shrine.
National Historical Commission of the Philippines made this video in celebrating his 150th birth anniversary