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The Municipality of Kawit, Cavite

The Municipality of Kawit (formerly Cavite El Viejo; Filipino: Bayan ng Kawit) is a first class urban municipality in the province of Cavite, Philippines. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 78,209 people in a land area of 22.86 square kilometers. Kawit is the birthplace of Emilio Aguinaldo, the first president of the Republic of the Philippines. It is also the location of his home, the Aguinaldo Shrine, where independence from Spain was declared on June 12, 1898. The name Kawit is derived from the Tagalog word kawit (hook) which is suggestive of its location at the base of a hookshaped shoreline along Manila Bay extending to the tip of Cavite City.

 
Legend, however, gives another version on how the town got its name. One day a Spanish visitor asked a native blacksmith about the name of the village. The latter was busy at the time pounding on the anvil a piece of hot metal that looked like a hook. He hesitated to speak, not understanding what the stranger was asking, but when pressed for an answer, and thinking that he wanted to know what he was doing, he merely said kawit (hook). The Spaniards left muttering the word kawit. In the course of the time the word kawit evolved into "cawite," and finally "cavite". 

Kawit was the most thriving settlement prior to the coming of the Spaniards. In fact, the town provided the first anchorage of the Spaniards in the province, whence colonization and proselytization of the Christian religion began, spreading to all corners of the province. For a long time, the place was called by the Spaniards "Cavite el Viejo" or Old Cavite to distinguish it from "Cavite la Punta" or "Cavite el Puerto," the commercial port and naval base (now Cavite City) whence came many Spanish marines on shore leave who made frequent visits to Cavite el Viejo, eventually turning it into a red light district.

 

The bad reputation of the place, however, was completely wiped out when it was placed under the spiritual supervision of the Jesuits during the administration of Manila Archbishop Miguel Garcia Serrano (1618–1629) by placing St. Mary Magdalene as Patron saint of the town. In the barrio of Binakayan, where the Aglipayan Church is located since 1902, the church honors Saint Michael, the Archangel. Cavite el Viejo was then a big town, comprising the municipality of Kawit today, Cavite la Punta (now Cavite City), Noveleta (called Tierra Alta by the Spaniards), and Imus. Eventually, these three barrios seceded as their population grew and became independent municipalities. An original Kawit tradition that takes place every Christmas Eve, a dramatic retelling of the Virgin Mary and Joseph's search in bethlehem for a place to stay called "Panunuluyan". This reenactment happens on the streets of Kawit with different floats depicting different biblical scenes from Adam and Eve up to Mary and Joseph. The "Panunuluyan" takes place in several houses and is done in singing until it reaches the 300 year old St. Mary Magdalene Church of Kawit where the Virgin Mary and Joseph are welcomed by angels in a giant "belen" (Nativity Scene) which covers the whole Retablo or Altar of the church. The songs performed by the angels acted by little girls are mostly in Spanish and Tagalog.

 

     



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