A Force of Intellect
Apolinario Mabini was born on July 23, 1864 to a poor family in Talaga, Tanauan, Batangas. His poverty was immaterial; his true riches were his intellect. Each day he walked the six kilometers to school in Tanauan. Although he did not own a single book, he always knew the day’s lessons.
When Mabini finished his fifth year at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran in 1885, he had earned the right to a bachelor’s degree. He did not get it, not because of poor grades, but because he could not raise P29 for the final examination fee. It would be another two years before he was able to take the one-hour oral test. When he did finally take the exam, he got a perfect score.
A Memorial to a Sage
His intelligence set him apart from his classmates in law school at the University of Santo Tomas. After reading Mabini’s paper, his professor was quoted as saying: ” The work seems to have come from the mind of a sage. I would like to live long enough to see how a mind like this will lead society.”
He did lead society as General Emilio Aguinaldo’s most trusted adviser and through his political writings. Many regarded him as the brains behind the Revolution.
The Mabini Shrine Tanauan contains a museum and a library, designed by National Artist for Architecture Juan F.Nakpil.
Visitors to the shrine will first come upon two pylons guarding Mabini’s tomb. Inside the museum are artifacts relating to the hero’s life, including a painting showing him in a hammock, being carried to Aguinaldo’s camp in Kawit, Cavite. As a young man, Mabini contracted polio and lost the use of his legs to get around. He was confined to a wheelchair the rest of his life.
Display cases contain copies of Mabini’s “El Verdadero Decalogo” a code of ethics teaching love of God, country and fellowmen. This, along with “A Mis Compatriotas,” an essay on moral transformation, reflected his belief that only a society built upon virtue could demand civic responsibility from its citizens.
Also on display are Mabini’s eyeglasses, cane, rattan chair, and a newspaper article announcing his death in 1903 from cholera. The museum also contains the coffin used to transfer Mabini’s remains from the Mausoleo de los Veteranos de la Revolucion in Manila to Talaga in July 1965.