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    While many of us merely read about historical events or visit heritage sites, Hon. Cesar Virata has walked through history for most of his life.

    He is one of the descendants of Emilio Aguinaldo, Cavite hero and the country’s first president. Emilio Aguinaldo was the first cousin of his grandfather Baldomero Aguinaldo, who himself was very much part of the revolution. PM Virata, as he is called, grew up in Cavite, living in his grandfather’s house, which is now known as the Baldomero Shrine.

    Destined like his distinguished relatives to become a public servant, he began his government career in 1967 when he joined the Presidential Economic Staff, now known as the Presidential Management Staff. He served as Secretary, then Minister of Finance for 16 years, and then as Prime Minister until 1986.

    Today, PM Virata remains active in business as the Director of a number of corporations, and as Chairman of the Cavite Historical Society. The group has had several initiatives, like completing and updating the histories of all towns in Cavite.

    “We want the history of Cavite be extensively written even before the Revolution, during, and after it,” he says. “This is because Cavite has changed a lot today. “ He recognizes the progress in the province – which is the site of four SM Supermalls – and its changing demographics. “There are now 3.3 million people in Cavite,” he notes. “ Of these, 70% are no longer born in Cavite.”

    Here he takes us on a historical tour of his Cavite, and his SM.

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    PM Virata at the Ground Floor of the Baldomero Shrine

    “ The Cavite Historical Society has a project called histourism wherein we use our country’s rich history to promote tourism. There are three types of tourists who go to Cavite: those who want to unwind and refresh go to Tagaytay, those who want to swim go to Tanza or Naic, while those who are interested in the country’s past go to the historical sites.

    Our youth can learn much from the bravery and nobility of the Filipinos who fought for freedom. The Revolutionaries fought for three years without salary. They did it all for the love of country.”

    PM at the Ground Floor of the Baldomero Shrine, the residence of Gen, Baldomero Aguinaldo, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo’s first cousin and right hand. He was the President of the Magdalo Council, which was established in Imus and the first President of the Associacion de los Veteranos de la Revolucion Filipina.

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    PM inside his bedroom in the Baldomero shrine

    “When I was young, Cavite was full of grass and bamboo trees, streets were made of gravel. We used to walk to school in groups.

    I grew up in my Lolo Baldomero’s house, and I remember that, as children, we used to play downstairs.”

    PM Virata is photographed inside his former bedroom at the Baldomero Shrine, where he lived until 1949. He inherited the house from his mother and donated it to the government.

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    PM with the US flag, Phil flag, and photo of General Baldomero Aguinaldo in the background.

    “It was my Lola Petrona, the widow of my Lolo Baldomero, who would tell me stories about life during the revolution, and how my Lolo Emilio had a great part in leading it.

    Lolo Baldomero was the Secretary of Finance during the Revolutionary Government. And by chance, I also became Secretary of Finance in the 1970s and 1980s.”

    A History of Service. PM Virata with a photo of his grandfather General Baldomero Aguinaldo in the background. The large US flag was a gift to his father.

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    PM by the ruins, the façade of the new building, and PM in the new building with the mural

    “The Tejeros Convention held in General Trias, Cavite on March 22, 1897, was the meeting that brought together the members of both the Magdalo and Magdiwang factions of the Katipunan. It is considered as the first Presidential and Vice Presidential election in the history of the Philippines, where General Emilio Aguinaldo was elected as president of the revolutionary government.

    It was also in Tejeros that Josephine Bracken served as a nurse after Rizal was executed in Bagumbayan, and where the wife of Emilio Aguinaldo established the Philippine Red Cross.”

    The Casa Hacienda of Tejeros then and now. PM by the ruins of the the Tejeros Convention site, and the façade and interiors of the new building built on the site of the Casa Hacienda of Tejeros.

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    Fort San Felipe, Cuenca House, Museum

    “Cavite is where Philippine Independence was declared, and the first Philippine Republic was established. There are a lot of other things that happened in Cavite.”

    Some historical and cultural attractions in Cavite: Fort San Felipe, built between 1609 and 1616, was the Spaniard’s offshore patrol guarding the anchorage of Manila; the Cuenca House in Bacoor became the headquarters of General Emilio Aguinaldo and it was where Apolinario Mabini stayed while in Cavite; and the Museo de La Salle in Dasmarinas, a lifestyle museum that showcases the 19th century Filipino ilustrado lifesyle.

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    PM with Malen’s owner, Mr. Rudyardo V. Bunda

    “ We have lots of seafood in Cavite. I also love eating kare-kare and sinampalukang manok (chicken with tamarind).”

    PM Virata with friend and Malen’s owner Mr. Rudyardo V. Bunda.
    Malen’s Restaurant serves food with revolutionary names: Kare-Kare sa Katagalugan (Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Aguinaldo used this word in their writings); Filibustero, fried rice, beef tapa, and scrambled eggs prepared for a mercenary; and Independencia, two garlic sausages, fried rice, a fried egg, and fruit salad.

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    SM City Dasmarinas

    “With its economic progress and large population, Cavite is a good setting for malls. That is why SM has four malls in Cavite – in Bacoor, Dasmarinas, Molino, and Rosario.”

    SM City Dasmarinas, one of SM’s four malls in Cavite, brings world-class shopping, leisure, and entertainment to the province.

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    PM during last year’s My City, My SM launch

    “Aside from bringing in more revenues for the government, the SM malls have brought about much convenience for the Cavitenos. They go to the malls for their daily needs, as well as for dining and entertainment. SM is where families spend quality time together.”

    PM Virata during last year’s My City, My SM launch in SM City Rosario with honorees CNN Hero Efren Penaflorida, Emilio Aguinaldo IV, and Sheryl Santarin, and Rosario Mayor Jose “Nonong” Ricafrente, Jr.