Cavite is the historical capital of the Philippines and the closest province south of Manila. With its balanced mix of urbanity, natural beauty and history it is considered as the most accessible vacation getaway and refuge for those seeking a quiet life far from the bustling Manila metropolis.
Cavite is a coastal province situated approximately 9 miles (30 kilometers) south of Manila. It is composed of 20 municipalities and 3 key cities – Trece Martires City (provincial capital), Tagaytay City and Cavite City. The geography of the province varies differently, from flat and coastal in the north and west, to mountainous and hilly in the south and east. Its close proximity to the capital makes it highly urbanized especially in the low-lying municipalities of Bacoor, Imus, Dasmarinas, Kawit, Cavite City, and General Trias where various industries thrive. But in the towns south of the province, agriculture is still the main livelihood and boasts a great amount of preserved forests and wildlife. Corregidor, the former island fortress during World War II, situated at the mouth of Manila Bay is also under the jurisdiction of the province (see page on Corregidor Island).
Photo by storm-crypt
Cavite’s main tourism magnet is its rich history being the Cradle of the 1896 Philippine Revolution and the birthplace of Philippine Independence in 1898. The name of the province came from the Latinized Tagalog word kawit meaning “hook” which is the shape of the small peninsula situated in Cavite City. During the Spanish Era, it was settled in by Spanish friars who built their estates out of the local’s lands and by Spanish dignitaries who were given royal land grants (encomiendas) by the Spanish king. A naval fort, Fort San Felipe, was erected at what is now Cavite City, in the vicinity of Sangley Point, which served as the main headquarters of the Spanish Navy in the country. During 1600s, Spanish Catholics in the small Spanish enclave of Ternate in Moluccas were evacuated and permanently resettled at what is now Ternate and Maragondon towns.
One of the main catalysts for the Philippine Revolution occurred in Cavite when in February 1872 a revolt by workers at Fort San Felipe implicated three Filipino priests, namely Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos and Jacinto Zamora (GomBurZa). The execution of the three priests inspired Philippine national hero and novelist Dr. Jose P. Rizal to dedicate his second novel to them, the El Filibusterismo. During the start of the Philippine Revolution, many Cavitenos rallied to the Katipunan cause led by Andres Bonifacio. Caviteno leaders like Mariano Trias and Emilio Aguinaldo led the victory of the revolution in the province. Eventually, due to its successes, the Cavitenos of the Katipunan took charge of the revolution from Andres Bonifacio and created a revolutionary government that would lead to the first republic in Asia.
Photo by bethelabs
Photo by bethelabs
On June 12, 1898, after 333 years of Spanish rule, Philippine independence was declared at Kawit, Cavite by the first Filipino president Emilio Aguinaldo. This year, the 111th Independence of the Philippines is being celebrated in the entire nation. Today, you can visit the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit to relive that fateful day in Philippine history. Other historical sites in the province that are worth visiting are: (1) The Bonifacio Trial House and Execution Shrine at Maragondon (2) The Tejeros Convention site at Rosario (3) The Battle of Zapote Bridge in Bacoor (4) The Battle of Alapan Monument at Imus (5) and the Battle of Binakayan Monument in Kawit.
But aside from the history, the other main tourism magnet of Cavite is Tagaytay City. With its cool climate comparable to that of Baguio City and a spectacular view of Taal Lake and Taal Volcano in neighboring Batangas province, it is the perfect alternative for those wanting peace and tranquility near Metro Manila.
If you are looking for adventure and nature in the highly urbanized province, then explore Cavite’s southeast section. For avid mountain climbers, Mt. Pico de Loro, a 664-metre mountain between the province and Batangas is the perfect challenge. On its summit lies a vertical rock formation called the Parrot’s Beak which rock climbers can ascend. Below the mountain are the coasts of Ternate town famous for its Puerto Azul Beach Resort with its white sand beaches and solitary havens which provides an oasis of comfort not far from Manila. Many beach resorts also scattered in Cavite’s coastal towns from Ternate to Kawit. Near Mt. Pico de Loro are the towns of Gen. Aguinaldo and Magallanes where in between lies the majestic Malibiclibic Falls. The falls lie below a steep ridge accessed only by a 20-minute trek through lush rainforest. Its waters gush down to a wide natural pool where tourists can swim or go rafting.
Photo by Miko.Alino
One Philippines festival which headlined Cavite in recent years is the Kalayaan Festival. The Kalayaan Festival which commemorates the first raising of the Philippine flag in victory is held in Imus town from May 28 to June 12. Since 2008, the provincial government coordinated with the towns of Bacoor, Imus and Dasmarinas to set the Guinness record for the longest chain of flags in the world. This year, it successfully broke its own record. The Kalayaan festival also showcases reenactments of the Battle of Alapan at the monument where which marks the event.
Aside from being a highly urbanized and industrialized province, much of Cavite is still agricultural land. Silang town and Tagaytay City boasts excellent fruit produce such as pineapples and watermelons as well as vegetables such as cabbages, xicamas, basil, oregano, and other spices. Amadeo town near Silang boasts the best coffee brew in the country and earned itself the title of Coffee Capital of the Philippines. Café Alamid, which is coffee made from coffee beans eaten and digested by wild civet cats are sold here and are touted as the most expensive coffee in the world.
Photo by infiniteshutter
Why Not Go
At initial response, Cavite doesn’t have much difference than Metro Manila. In fact, it boasts one of the heaviest traffic jams in the country which occur everyday along Aguinaldo Highway from Dasmarinas to Bacoor. The highly urbanized and industrialized setting of the towns near border with Manila won’t get tourists attracted.
Cavite’s Tagaytay is the perfect alternative to Baguio City which is just an hour and a half drive from Manila. If you’re looking for cool climate, spectacular scenery and peace and quite, then this is the place for you. Mt. Pico de Loro is the best option for mountain climbers and other tourists looking for extreme adventure without going far away from Metro Manila. Puerto Azul Beach Resort gives you a taste of what Boracay or Puerto Galera can offer in just an hour’s drive from the city.
Best Time to Visit
For those who want to experience the cool weather in Tagaytay City or escape to warm climate during the summer, then the best time to go is from December up to May. Temperatures in the city go down to up to below 20 degrees Celcius. For those who want to try mountain climbing at Pico de Loro or swimming at Malibiclibic Falls, the summer months of April and May are the most recommended time of the year. But if you are keen on experiencing history in Cavite, then June (Philippine Independence month) is the definitely what you should watch out for.
For those going to Tagaytay, the Taal Vista Hotel (+63 2 887-6191) along Aguinaldo Highway is the recommended domicile. The hotel has 128 guestrooms and offers a wide assortment of amenities and facilities including swimming pools, golf arrangements and guided tours of Taal Lake and Volcano. Rates start at PHP 4, 950.
For those going to Amadeo, try the Microtel Inn and Suites (+63 46 509-3333) at Eagle Ridge Country Club. Since it is situated inside Eagle Ridge, the inn offers golfing facilities aside from the 57 rooms and other various recreation facilities.
For those going to Ternate, the Puerto Azul Beach Resort and Country Club (+63 2 524-0019) and the Caylabne Bay Resort (+63 2 892-1397) offers excellent accommodations and swimming facilities.
If you plan to stay near Metro Manila, then, Island Cove Resort and Leisure Park (+63 46 413-0349) in Binakayan, Kawit is an ideal getaway. Aside from room accommodations and pool facilities, the resort has floating huts that cater to diners who want to experience fishing and chowing down on their own catch.
Photo by snl-orbz
Where & What to Eat
There are lots of restaurants in Cavite that caters to tourists with epicurean tastes, from seafood to vegetarian, from Filipino to Greek. In Kawit and Bacoor towns, floating restaurants like the one in Island Cove Resort or Balsahan in Barangay Mabolo, Bacoor offers diners with the opportunity to fish and eat their own catch. They also serve the best tasting talabas (oysters) and tahong (mussels) in the country. Restaurants also line the main throughfare in Tagaytay City. Leslie’s Restaurant (+63 46) 413-4271) and Antonio’s Restaurant (+63 46 413-0975/1054) serves Filipino dishes while Manos’ Greek Taverna (0916 429 8358) offers the best in Greek cuisine. Santi’s Delicatessen in Imus (+63 46) 414-2337) and Treffpunkt (63 0920 664 3423) in Tagaytay has an assortment of Italian, Swiss and German dishes. Coffee lovers can flock to Bag of Beans (63 46 413-2724) in Tagaytay and Gourmet’s Café (+63 46 414-0209/0138) in Silang. Various food pasalubongs are also available along the way to and from Tagaytay.
Various nightclubs, beerhouses and karaoke bars can be found along Aguinaldo Highway in Imus and along Molino Road in Bacoor. But bars that feature acoustic performances and dancing can be usually found in Tagaytay.
My to do List
1. Visit the Aguinaldo Shrine and discover its many underground and secret passages.
2. Challenge yourself to a climb up Mt. Pico de Loro.
3. Try the zipline at Tagaytay Picnic Grove and have your breath taken away.
4. Taste various seafood recipes at Balsahan in Barangay Mabolo, Bacoor.
5. Experience the unique taste of Café Alamid in Amadeo.
6. Trek down to Malibiclibic Falls and swim below the cascades.
7. On Maundy Thursday, go visita iglesia in Cavite’s churches.
8. Join in the annual Guinness record try for the longest chain of flags at the Kalayaan Festival.
9. Go horseback riding at Tagaytay Picnic Grove.
Stay Away From
Stay away from traffic in Cavite especially in Bacoor and Imus during the early morning and late afternoon by trying a different route of entry (such as Carmona exit or Santa Rosa exit from South Superhighway or Daang Hari Boulevard from Alabang). For mountain climbers, it is not advisable to climb Mt. Pico de Loro without the assistance from local mountaineering clubs and permission from the DENR (unless you know your way around already). Avoid eating oysters and mussels sold in Cavite if there are red tide advisories for the area. Beware of fog in Tagaytay during the cold months as streets can reach zero visibility.
Bacoor town in Cavite is just 15-20 minutes drive from Alabang (via Daang Hari) or from Manila via Coastal Highway. Tagaytay City, Ternate and Maragondon are an hour and half drive from the city. It is best to travel here if you have your own vehicle. For commuters, buses companies such as Saulog Bus Lines, Erjohn and Almark, and San Agustin can take you to many parts of Cavite from Liwasang Bonifacio (Plaza Lawton). Fares should be around Php 25-60. Jeepneys and vans can also take you to Bacoor or Imus from Baclaran in Pasay for P35-50. There is also a ferry service from the Manila Ferry Port (near the Manila Yacht Club) and to Sangley Point in Cavite City.
Epi Fabonan is a history teacher with a wide array of background on local history and geography. He loves to travel and document his adventures through photo-essays, slideshows and short films.