Heroes among us

Filipino heroes are remembered on the last Monday of August.

Before President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo changed the date in 2007, National Heroes’ Day was celebrated on 30 November under Executive Order 20 issued by President Jose P. Laurel in 1942.

Arroyo changed the date because of her holiday economics program which extends weekends to boost domestic leisure and tourism while reducing work disruption.

The nation is blessed with a long list of heroes but only nine made the official list.

They were chosen by the National Heroes Committee formed by President Fidel V. Ramos in 1995. The panel used the criteria laid out by Dr. Onofre Corpuz and Dr. Alfredo Lagmay.

The nine historical figures were named national heroes.

They are Jose P. Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo, Apolinario Mabini, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Sultan Dipatuan Kudarat, Juan Luna, Melchora Aquino and Gabriela Silang.

Rizal is best remembered for his novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo which inspired Filipinos to rise in arms against the Spaniards. His books exposed the Spanish abuses and led Filipinos to organize themselves against the foreign colonizers.

Known as the father of Katipunan, Andres Bonifacio found this secret society in 1892. It aims to oust the Spaniards and gain Philippine independence through a revolution.

Emilio Aguinaldo also led an uprising against the Spaniards. He fought alongside the Americans in the Spanish-American War and later turned against them. He conducted a guerilla operation against American forces during the Philippine-American War.

He became the country’s first president of the republic.

Apolinario Mabini used his pen and paper to inspire the Filipinos to fight for their freedom. He was popularly known as the “Sublime Paralytic” and the “Brains of the Revolution.”

Before the Philippine revolution against Spain, Marcelo H. Del Pilar was one of the country’s most vocal anti-friar figures. After his mother passed away in 1872 and his brother was deported, he tried to undermine the friars’ power and influence over the affairs of the nation.

A Maguindanao leader, Kudarat, fought the Spanish invaders in Mindanao and prevented the spread of Christianity in the region.

Luna, a general, rose to prominence for his valor, unique strategy, and unyielding discipline during the Philippine-American war as a general.

The women were well represented.

Melchora Aquino provided the revolutionaries with food, medical care, and encouragement at her home which also served as the Katipuneros’ safehouse.

Gabriela Silang, on the other hand, took over the helm of the Ilocos revolution after her husband Diego Silang was assassinated. She united Filipino forces to carry on with the war against Spain and fiercely fought together with her troops against overwhelming odds.

The shortlist doesn’t mean the nation is lacking in heroes.

There are many heroes among us — the health workers and non-medical front liners fighting the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, soldiers and policemen who keep the country safe, and overseas Filipino workers who bring much-needed funds to the country’s economy.

You and I can be heroes in our small way. We pay taxes on time, follow rules and regulations and go out of our way to assist those in need.

There is a hero in all of us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *