Most Filipinos, young and old treat National Heroes’ Day as any typical non-working holiday in the country. However, it seems that kids and adult alike need to be reminded of the roles our Philippine heroes played in the past – and continue to play today. In this time and age when historical revisionism seems apparent, it’s time to get a closer look at the lives of our real life superheroes.
If you were to be asked: Who is your favorite Philippine National Hero?
Who would you pick?
Gregorio “Goyo” del Pilar
It really helps that he’s got a movie (Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral) playing in cinemas today, General Gregorio del Pilar is known as one of the youngest general of the Philippine Revolution (both Spanish and American era). Apart from his successful military assaults, he was most known for his sacrifice in the Battle of Tirad Pass. Being President Aguinaldo’s rear guard, he successfully delayed the capture of the former by American troops as his 60-man battalion fought off the 500-man army of the Americans. Del Pilar and his men were stationed at the tricky terrain of Tirad Pass that gave them the advantage to shoot at the enemies on the climb. President Aguinaldo and his men were then able to escape to avoid capture. However, del Pilar’s men were clearly outnumbered and succumbed to defeat. Gregorio del Pilar, died on December 2, 1899. The Philippine Military Academy was named Fort del Pilar in honor of the valiant young general.
Founder and Supremo (Supreme Leader) of the Katipunan, a Philippine revolution society, Andres Bonifacio is known as the “Father of Philippine Revolution”. Despite his controversial death, Andres is considered the one who spearheaded Philippine independence through armed revolt. He had a knack in organizing people and bringing them together for a cause.
Bonifacio called thousands of Katipunan members to a mass gathering in Caloocan, where they decided to start their uprising. The event, marked by the tearing of cedulas (community tax certificates) was later called the “Cry of Balintawak” or “Cry of Pugad Lawin”; the exact location and date of the Cry are disputed.The Supreme Council of the Katipunan declared a nationwide armed revolution against Spain and called for a simultaneous coordinated attack on the capital Manila on August 29. – Wikipedia.
The pro-Filipina activist group in the country, Gabriela, takes it from this first female revolutionary leader of the country who fought against the Spanish regime. When her husband, Diego Silang, was assassinated, she took over the role and lead the Ilocano movement for four months. Unfortunately, she was captured in Abra and martyred by hanging in Vigan’s central plaza by the Spaniards.
Sultan Muhammad Kudarat
In honor of the Sultan, the Soccsksargen province of Sultan Kudarat was named after him. He was the 7th Sultan of Maguindanao who mightily fought the Spaniards in the island of Mindanao (1619-1671). Just like the rest of the sultans in Mindanao, he contributed in keeping Islam as the core religion of the region by preventing the spread of Catholicism. His descendants of Datus are still active as political heads in Maguindanao. President Ferdinand Marcos declared Sultan Kudarat a national hero.
Sultan Kudarat overshadowed his father, Buisan, and ruled with a strong hand. He was probably the strongest and greatest Mindanao sultan that ever lived. He fought the Spaniards well and held their sovereignty in check for many years. His sea warriors constantly attack Luzon and Visayas for allowing themselves to become foot soldiers of the newly arrived Iberians, and providing them provisions and passage. His Sultanate controlled the southern seas for a long time.
In 1636, General Corcuera led an expedition against him and after considerable difficulty reduced his fort and defeated his forces. Kudarat had a large quantity of gunpowder and firearms, and his fort was very strongly fortified. The Spaniards captured 8 bronze cannons, 27 Lantaka or culverins, and 100 muskets. – Wikipedia
After the massively successful movie, Heneral Luna, a lot of Filipinos took notice of this fiercely passionate general of the Phil-American era. During President Aguinaldo’s term, he was Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. General Luna was highly educated not only in military studies, but also in the sciences and arts. He completed his studies (with flying colors) in Chemistry, Pharmacy, and Literature. He was educated both in the Philippines and in Spain. General Luna was regarded as a sharpshooter, training his own professional guerilla soldiers known as the “Luna Sharpshooters”. The Americans respected him as a real military professional who gave them the hardest time beating the “Luna Defense Line”, a three-tier defense that he instituted in the northern provinces of Manila. This has resulted to the creation of a military base in Cordillera.
Of course the list isn’t complete without our national hero: Dr. Jose Protacio-Rizal. With the intellectual caliber, and visionary talent of Jose Rizal, he is no doubt the epitome of the greatness of the Filipino. His life is a solid proof that Filipinos can be at par with the world in all facets. He was an ophthalmologist by profession, a literary genius, and a political reformist. His writings of Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo were too powerful to actually ignite a revolution that spread throughout the country. Jose Rizal was martyred in Bagumbayan (Luneta/Rizal Park) on a case of rebellion/sedition.
If we fully learn about the lives of our national heroes, their background, passions, and sacrifices for the country – we’ll surely realize that we may have come short of becoming like them, or pursuing what they fought for, or at the very least honoring them. This month of August, lets choose to be heroes in our own capacities with the strong perseverance and resolve like that of our own Philippine heroes.
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