Saturday, November 27, 2010

Trek to Tanauan, Batangas: Mabini Shrine

* Mabini Shrine’s main building

* a bust of the Sublime Paralytic

* Mabini’s final resting place

* different photos of Mabini; the one in the middle shows Mabini when he was not still paralyzed

I first visited Mabini Shrine six years ago. It was one of my first few attempts to travel outside our city after graduating in high school. My revisit was to fill in my regret for making the first trip for trip’s sake. And since I am now hooked into Philippine history, the proximity of Tanauan City (yes, it is now a city) enabled the revisit.

The Shrine

Barangay Talaga, where the Mabini Shrine is found, still has that rural feel to it. And I wonder if the serene atmosphere and the simplicity of the place where he grew up conditioned the young Mabini’s mind for making things plain and simple as some opined about him and his works.

Upon entering the shrine, you will see a wide area for rest and leisure. It was more like a park. The centerpiece is the building which houses several offices, the museum, Mabini’s mausoleum, and a function hall of some sort at the back. The replica of the nipa hut of the Mabinis somehow breaks the symmetric view.
At the heart of the building is the mausoleum, made of white marble, inscribed plainly with his signature. A bust is erected in front. No other extraneous designs.

The museum contains several of the hero’s belongings from his Nagtahan home. The perceived bias in favor of other heroes (for Rizal most prominently) has its drawbacks of course. Although Mabini can be said to be a ‘victim’ of such bias, I am beginning to doubt whether it really relegated him to the background of ‘historical prominence’.

For one, those belongings which managed to survive are, for me, strong motivations for one willing person to dig in more about Mabini. It gives one a sense of reality about him. ‘Yung tipong talagang nabuhay siya. We are overfed with details about the other heroes to the point of making them abstract things in our minds. Given his works, Mabini is indeed worth studying. Those surviving relics may be small compared with the constellation of what we have at hand related to Rizal, for example. But then, the invitation to know more about the other heroes will never be outmoded. I, for one, am a recipient of this encouragement for I have only managed to read his Decalogue, some notes on his biography and briefs mentions by historian Ambeth Ocampo, and saw the Decalogue paintings from Center for Art Ventures and Sustainable Development or CANVAS. Much more can still be learned about him.

Looking through his portraits in the shrine, he had what I can call good bearing even when he became paralyzed. I wonder what more could he have done (for the Philippine Revolution for instance) if he was not paralyzed. Joined the fighters maybe? Who knows? But then, we now see that his strength lay in his thoughts transmitted to writings. And we, Filipinos, should really take the time to read his works.

* Mabini’s house in Nagtahan

* shot during the transfer of Mabini’s remains to Talaga

* Mabini’s coffin, the one on the right wearing a suit was Emilio Aguinaldo

* Mabini’s hair

* Trailer Pransis with Lola Pelagia Mabini

The Man

I have just rummaged through my books and found a compilation of short biographies of Filipinos who figured in our history. And here’s what I found about Mabini.

One: his nickname was Pule. As a child, he was schooled under Simplicio Avelino, later transferring to the school of Fr. Valeriano Malabanan where he studied Latin. He studied in Colegio de San Juan de Letran and University of Sto. Tomas. It was there that he received his law degree. His career figured the most under the budding government of Emilio Aguinaldo. But I am leaving out the details, for although I know some information about it, one willing learner would find enjoyment in digging into books and notes about him. (Rummaging through the internet should be a second resort.)

Also, in thinking back, I cannot recall being with anyone who has relations with some of the heroes from the American period and earlier. (President Noynoy, who I met last summer, could count, being the son of a hero, but Ninoy was a more recent historical figure.) And what more can I ask? I have just met a descendant of Mabini, Lola Pelagia Mabini! A willing conversationalist, I think that her enthusiasm comes from the thought that she is sharing things about an important person in our history. And it made the visit more interesting, hearing details from a direct descendant.

She was born in 1948, so she was not able to see Lolo Pule alive, but she was there when the remains of Mabini was finally transferred to his Talaga home. I tried to say about the rumor that Mabini died of syphilis but she dismissed it with a laugh, saying that he died of cholera. She also said that Mabini was ‘studious’ and this assertion, of course, can be readily gleaned from his works that are well thought-out.

Concluding Thoughts

As I go and proceed with these amateurish trips and historical diggings, several things come to me now as insights. For one, maintaining that you are a visitor allows you to discover more things, however little they might be. The purpose of travel and visits anyway (as in my case) is to learn, so why deny that you are a visitor? Corollary to this is the need to speak up. Ask. Converse. Things can be done by observations. But we can get surprisingly more if we engage people to share things about the places and people that we visit.

Post-Script: For a nice read about Mabini, visit this particular blog.

[How to go to Mabini Shrine: From Manila, one has to board a bus bound for Batangas Pier via Lipa and Tanauan. Drop off at the main junction of the city. A Jollibee store and a 7-11 store are prominent landmarks of the place. Turn right and walk until you reach another Jollibee store. Just beside it is a small side-street where jeepneys are parked. I think it is just a makeshift terminal. Board the jeepney bound for Talisay (Batangas) and say to the driver that you are going to the Mabini Shrine (they call the place simply “Shrine”). The fare was 13 pesos when we did this revisit.]


  1. This is very nice Francis. I like this.

    Well, the rumor was spread by the Americans and her Filipino allies that he died of syphilis. He died of cholera after drinking contaminated carabao milk. He almost died in Guam (forgot what was his ailment) but I guess it was a gift from the heavens that he die here in his land.

    I used to think about this as one of those conspiracy stuff, then came Ambeth Ocampo who confirmed it. You know, reading about him changed my perception of what a Filipino hero is. Napakahusay at tapat na tao nitong si Mabini sayang at hindi natutuunan ng tamang pansin.

  2. ayun.. Talisay pala ang jeep na sasakyan papunta dito.. hehe. salamat!

  3. "He almost died in Guam (forgot what was his ailment) but I guess it was a gift from the heavens that he die[d] here in his land."

    [Super late response to your comment Kuya Nold]: I think it's dreadful to die in a foreign land. Mabini can be said to have been blessed. (It must have been more dreadful to Claro M. Recto who died abroad for he was a foremost nationalist during his lifetime.)

    Mabini definitely had a different line of thinking but I cannot say that I could probably expound on his thoughts now. His writings (much like Rizal) deserve attention from scholars and serious historians delving into the interim period between the Spanish and the American times in the Philippines.

  4. No problem Ivan. Glad to be of help!