Apolinario Mabini Memorial Shrine (Tanauan, Batangas)

We usually associate something, or someone for that matter, with a trait, condition or an opinion. For instance, when you hear Boracay, you think of white sand beach and great fun under the sun. When you hear Cory Aquino, you think People Power and yellow power.

Apolinario Mabini. When you hear Apolinario Mabini, what first comes to mind?

[See Map: Destinations on how to get there]

Lumpo. Crippled. The Sublime Paralytic. It’s secondary, even unknown to many, that Mabini is a lawyer, an educator, and a political writer. He is, of course, a statesman and a patriot.

He is the chief adviser of General Emilio Aquinaldo during the revolution. He is also known as the Brains of the Philippine Revolution.

It’s also unknown to many that there’s an Apolinario Mabini Shrine. I’m one of those who didn’t know that a shrine for Mabini exists, until last week, when we stumbled by accident on the shrine on the way to a weekend trip.

We took the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) route, taking the Batangas exit (Exit 50), then entering the Star Tollway. A moderately-sized sign at the roadside, just before the Star Tollway entrance, announces that the Mabini Shrine is up ahead, as well as the distance. Just under 10 minutes  from the Star Tollway entrance, we took the first exit (Tanauan Exit), taking the first right turn and driving straight towards the direction of Talisay. The shrine is at the right side of the road, around 15 minutes from the Star Tollway exit.

The shrine stands just right by the side of the national highway in Barangay Talaga, municipality of Tanauan, province of Batangas.

It basks in solitude even if surrounded by residential houses, just  7 kilometers from Tanauan town proper. I don’t know if the drizzle and the dark clouds reflect Mabini’s  solitude in this shrine. Not a car or any vehicle in the parking area inside.

I was the only guest that roamed the premises.

We made our “surprise” visit after lunch on a Saturday, which is ok because the shrine is open daily, except holidays, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. My companions, mostly with children, decided not to go down because of the drizzle. There would be no extra cost if everybody went it because there’s no entrance fee.

Anyone who maintains a lawn knows if the grass is regularly trimmed and if you’re wondering how a regularly-cut grass looks like, you’ll see it here in the Mabini shrine. The grounds are well-kept and the staff very courteous. One staff will accompany you and explain an interesting detail or two as you go around the modest museum. Or, just a thought, maybe make sure that you don’t take away an item of importance.

Let me see, it’s hard to take out the casket. This is the coffin used to transfer the remains of Mabini from the Mausoleo delos Veteranos de la Revolucion in Manila North Cemetery to this shrine, which is the where Mabini was born. That was on 23 July 1956 (died in 13 May 1903, after his exile from Guam). Apolinario Mabini came home to his place of birth.

The museum, as expected, holds a number of items of historical interest. There’s the Decalogue of Mabini and his other writings. There’s a walking cane (perhaps used during the time that Mabini was about to lose the use of his legs, he was born on 23 July 1864, paralyzed in January 1896). There’s a handkerchief given by Mabini to a lady teacher (smooth, huh?).

Among the items that caught my attention was something that you’ll see in popular culture — eyeglasses. Kids today easily recognize Harry Potter in his round-rimmed clear glasses. The hippies of the past generation remember John Lennon of the Beatles, with his round eyeglasses. You’ll recognize Mahatma Gandhi, born more than 10 years after Mabini, by his teachings and his round-shaped eyeglasses.

But even before Potter, Lennon or Gandhi, all wearing their iconic glasses, there already was Apolinario Mabini of the Philippines. And who says a museum visit is boring?

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