Today marks the commemoration itself of Apolinario Mabini’s 150th birth anniversary. What better way to close off this special than a feature on the house that has long been talked about: Mabini’s Nagtahan house now known as the Mabini Shrine in its new and permanent “home” right at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines’ (PUP) main campus, which is also known as the Mabini Campus. (even before the move of the shrine) While it may seem odd to find such a house looking out of place in the middle of a busy campus, it does seem to complement the campus in a way, serving as a sort of a quiet spot that is insulated from all the activity going on around it.
Its transfer in 2009 was made possible thanks in part to the efforts of the PUP President at that time, Dr. Dante Guevarra. For the move, the house was actually taken apart and put back piece by piece in such a way that it remained faithful to the original house’s design. In 2010, it was decreed that the PUP site would be the permanent home of the shrine, thus ensuring its legacy from any possible future movements.
Apart from the significance of the person who lived in the house, the Mabini Shrine is also notable for being one of the few remaining examples of late 19th century Philippine housing that is not a “bahay na bato” type. Some have described the house as a “bahay kubo,” which may be true with regards to its roofing. Other than that, the house is more of a hybrid or upgraded type of bahay kubo such that its materials are mostly of wood, unlike typical bahay kubos.
The house’s interior layout is comprised of two rooms, a kitchen, a sala or living room, and the antesala or waiting room for guests. Perhaps the most notable area in the house is the antesala which was where Mabini died. It also served as his study; Mabini would use a convalescent chair which is also on display here.
One of the 2 bedrooms served as a guestroom where Mabini slept. The kitchen that is complete with the utensils used during that period. There are also portraits inside the house that were done during his centennial birth anniversary in 1964.
A few meters outside the shrine is a newer structure which is the Apolinario Mabini Museum. Keep in mind though thatyou won’t see much here, as the main Mabini museum is located in his hometown of Tanauan, Batangas so most Mabini memorabilia can be seen there. Despite that, the Mabini museum in the PUP Santa Mesa campus has its own charm that is worth even fir a short visit. On display in the museum are some of his writings: some original, others are reproductions. Quotes are also plastered on the museum walls.
There is also a little section in the museum dedicated to the Philippine-American War, showing some photos of the war, as well as the personalities who figured on this war.
Perhaps the most prominent item here is the reproduction of a hammock, the kind Mabini used to go around after polio adversely affected the use of his legs. It is also the “peg” of this Mabini museum as the hammock is used to symbolize Mabini’s sacrifice and triumph despite the physical and external challenges he faced.
The Mabini Shrine. as well as the nearby museum, is open from Tuesday to Sunday. (at least that’s what the signage says, but be warned that you may find the museum closed especially on some weekends) If you are interested to know about Mabini and/or heritage houses, then this is a Manila gem of a landmark to visit.
This concludes the Urban Roamer’s Mabini150 coverage. In closing, it is my fervent hope that Mabini’s ideals and struggles for our country will live on in each us not only on this occasion but for all time. Mabuhay ka, Apolinario Mabini!
Acknowledgements as well to Wikipedia, National Historical Commission of the Philippines, and the Philippine Presidential Museum and Library