Do you see yourself in some of Philippine history’s best?
Illustrations by Ariana Maralit
Throughout history, there have been remarkable Filipinos who had gone through great lengths to make our country a better place. These people fought for the future of the Philippines, so we owe it to them to at the very least remember their names.
Celebrated in the country every Aug. 31, today is Araw ng mga Bayani or National Heroes Day, a regular holiday that honors the bravery of all Filipino heroes who struggled for our freedom, including those lost in anonymity. At this moment, we look back to the lives of our heroes their birth, sacrifice, and end. By remembering these special Filipinos we get to emulate and appreciate them.
This day does not necessarily entail boring history lessons. Manila Bulletin Lifestyle has thought of revisiting the lives of our heroes, particularly focusing on their zodiac signs.
Emilio Aguinaldo was a revolutionary, politician, and military leader, officially recognized as the first and the youngest President of the Philippines. He was the first president of a constitutional republic in Asia, seated in office 1899 to 1901. He led the Philippine forces first against Spain in the latter part of the Philippine Revolution, then in the Spanish–American War, and finally against the United States during the Philippine–American War.
Gregoria Álvarez de Jesús or Aling Oriang, was the founder and vice-president of the women’s chapter of the Katipunan. She was also the custodian of the documents and seal of said revolutionary society. She married Gat Andrés Bonifacio, the Supremo of the Katipunan and President of the Katagalugan Revolutionary Government. After the death of her first husband, she married Julio Nakpil, one of the generals of the revolution.
José Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda was a nationalist and polymath during the tail end of the Spanish colonial period. He is tagged as the pambansang bayani or national hero of the Filipino people. An ophthalmologist by profession, Rizal became a writer and a key member of the Filipino Propaganda Movement, which advocated political reforms for the colony under Spain.
Apolinario Mabini y Maranan was a revolutionary leader, educator, lawyer, and statesman who served first as a legal and constitutional adviser to the Revolutionary Government, and then as the first Prime Minister of the Philippines upon the establishment of the First Philippine Republic. He is regarded as the “utak ng himagsikan” or brain of the revolution.
Mabini is also famous for having achieved all this despite having lost the use of his legs to polio prior to the revolution. This has made Mabini one of the Philippines’ most visually iconic national heroes, such that he is often referred to as The Sublime Paralytic. It is recognized that Mabini’s birth date is July 23, however, historians contest and say that it is on the 22nd.
Also referred to by his initials MLQ, Manuel L. Quezon was a statesman, soldier, and politician who served as president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines from 1935 to 1944. He was the first Filipino to head a government of the entire Philippines. He was the second President, after Emilio Aguinaldo.
Marcelo Hilario del Pilar y Gatmaitán is known by his pen name Plaridel. He is a writer, lawyer, journalist, and freemason. Del Pilar, along with José Rizal and Graciano López Jaena, became known as the leaders of the Reform Movement in Spain.
A general during the revolution and the Philippine–American War, Ricarte is regarded as the Father of the Philippine Army, and the first Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines though the present Philippine Army grew out of the forces that fought in opposition to, and defeated the Philippine Revolutionary Army he had led. Ricarte is also notable for never having taken an oath of allegiance to the United States government, which occupied the Philippines from 1898 to 1946.
Regarded as one of the fiercest generals of his time, he succeeded Artemio Ricarte as the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. A sharpshooter himself, he organized professional guerrilla soldiers later called the “Luna Sharpshooters” and the “Black Guard.”
Despite his commitment to discipline the army and serve the Republic which attracted the admiration of people, his temper caused some to abhor him, including people from Aguinaldo’s Cabinet. Nevertheless, Luna’s efforts were not without recognition during his time, for he was awarded the Philippine Republic Medal in 1899. He was also a member of the Malolos Congress. Besides his military studies, Luna also studied pharmacy, literature and chemistry.
Often called “The Father of the Philippine Revolution,” Andres was the revolutionary leader and the president of the Tagalog Republic. He was one of the founders and later the Supreme Leader of the Kataas-taasang, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (KKK) or more commonly known as the “Katipunan,” a movement which sought the independence of the Philippines from Spanish colonial rule and started the Philippine Revolution.
Melchora Aquino de Ramos is known as the “Grand Woman of the Revolution” and the “Mother of Balintawak” for her contributions during the revolution.
In her native town, Tandang Sora (Elder Sora) operated a store, which became a refuge for the sick and wounded revolutionaries. She fed, gave medical attention to and encouraged the revolutionaries with motherly advice and prayers.
Julián is famous as the composer of the music of the Philippine national anthem, formerly known as “Marcha Nacional Filipina,” now the Lupang Hinirang.
When the revolution broke out, hejoined his fellow Cavitenos who fought against the Spaniards. He was arrested and jailed at Fort San Felipe in Cavite. When freed, he again joined Emilio Aguinaldo’s troop.
He composed nationalistic songs that inspired his compatriots to continue fighting against the Spaniards.
Grabriela Silang was a revolutionary leader best known as the first female leader of an Ilocano movement for independence from Spain. She took over the reins of her husband Diego Silang‘s revolutionary movement after his assassination in 1763, leading the Ilocano rebel movement for four months before she was captured and executed by the colonial government of the Spanish East Indies.