When do children ‘meet’ our heroes?

Published August 31, 2020, 6:22 AM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

  • School kids ‘meet’ Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio in school
  • Philippine money introduces kids to heroes 

* The country pays tribute to them on National Heroes Day

The country commemorates National Heroes’ Day today, August 31, and the prominent figures in Philippine history will be honored through many ceremonies.

But, have you ever wondered when do people first “meet” these heroes and how do their perspectives on their significance change over time? 

In reality, many children first learn about Filipino heroes through the Philippine money. Even before they attend school, many children are already introduced to national heroes when they receive cash gifts on special occasions such as birthdays or Christmas.

Later on, they become more familiar with Dr. Jose Rizal, Emilio Aguinaldo, Andres Bonifacio, and Apolinario Mabini – to name a few – because these Filipino heroes are immortalized in Philippine coins or peso bills.


While children are introduced to national heroes in various ways, it is in school that they really get to know who they are. The very first introduction will be when the National Symbols of the Philippines are discussed in the lower grade levels. This is also probably the reason why Rizal – the country’s National Hero – is memorable and popular among pupils.

 Heroes you meet in school

As they move into higher grade levels, students learn more about the national heroes through in-depth discussions about their lives, contributions to the country’s history and their significance — even in the present times.

Ryuichi Andrei De Guzman, 8, was first introduced to the lives of national heroes when he was in second grade when the matter was discussed under his Filipino subject. Now a Grade 3 pupil at the Infant Jesus Montessori School in Angeles City, Pampanga, he considers the life of Rizal as very memorable for him.

For brothers Jacob and Joshua Gonzales, the life of the national hero, Jose Rizal, remains very memorable. Jacob, 10 is in Grade 4 and Joshua, 12 is in Grade 6 at the Our Lady of Fair Love Academy in Trece Martires, Cavite. 

Aside from being known as the country’s national hero, Rizal is also popular for his powerful novels including “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo” which depicted the Filipino people’s struggle under the Spanish colonial rule.

Aside from Rizal, Clarence Blessy Campos, 11, said that the contributions of Lapu-Lapu and Andres Bonifacio were also memorable for her. A Grade 6 pupil at the Barcelona Academy in Marilao, Bulacan, these national heroes became her “favorites” especially when their lives are discussed during Araling Panlipunan (AP) classes.


Bonifacio is known as the “Father of the Philippine Revolution” for being the leader of a secret society called the “Katipunan” which fought for Philippine independence during the 1896 Revolution. Lapu-Lapu, on the other hand, was the chieftain of Mactan Island in Cebu who led native warriors to battle and killed Ferdinand Magellan.

National heroes in the curriculum

DepEd Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction Diosdado San Antonio told the Manila Bulletin that the lives of Filipino heroes are first introduced to pupils in elementary.


San Antonio noted that the lives of national heroes are first introduced in “Grade 2, during the third quarter” when “Pagmamalaki sa mga Bayani” is discussed under the Araling Panlipunan subject. He added that the national heroes and their contributions to the country are also discussed in various topics and other subjects – both in private and public schools as part of the K to 12 curriculum.

Likewise, San Antonio noted that Philippine history – including local and national heroes – is also taught in higher grade levels such as Grades IV, V, and VI. As part of the school calendar, DepEd also conducts extracurricular activities that touch on the lives of prominent Filipinos in various occasions and national celebrations.

A closer look at the Araling Panlipunan K to 12 curriculum guide showed that the lives and contribution of national heroes are discussed in various grade levels at the elementary level.


For instance, the beginnings of the archipelago, the Filipino culture and its diversity- including the significance of the country’s national symbols – are discussed in Grade 4.

In Grade 5, students are introduced to the history of the Philippines and to the significant events until the 19th century. In the second and third grading periods, colonialism and its context in relation to the Spanish conquest of the Philippines are discussed as well as the struggle of the ancestors to maintain their freedom amid Spanish colonialism.

However, it is in Grade 6, when Philippine history – from the 20th century to the present – are discussed in detail. Students are given a deeper understanding of Philippine history from different eras. In the first quarter, for instance, the life of Rizal as the National Hero is discussed as well as the Propaganda Movement – among others.

Historical events and the prominent personalities during the Cry of Pugad Lawin, the Tejeros Convention, and the Pact of Biak-na-Bato are also discussed in the sixth grade. 

The life and contributions of Andres Bonifacio, the Katipunan, and how the 1896 Revolution paved the way to the formation of the Philippines as a nation are tackled. Students are also introduced to the lives of Emilio Aguinaldo, Gregorio del Pilar, Miguel Malvar and other prominent Filipino heroes.

While the National Heroes’ Day is held in August, students and the public are enjoined to honor all the nation’s heroes – both known and unknown – at all times.