Love for country is a sentiment not exclusive to national heroes. But while everyone has a unique way of expressing patriotism, some share a similar style with a historical figure who was instrumental to a country’s freedom and destiny.
On National Heroes Day this August 31, we recall the acts of patriotism exhibited by some of Philippine history’s bravest men and women. Which national hero do you most relate to?
Do you express your thoughts and feelings in words?
You are Dr. Jose Rizal!
His greatest novels, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, featured scathing portrayals of Spanish characters such as pompous socialite Doña Victorina de los Reyes Espadaña and immoral priest Padre Damaso who co-exist with Filipinos during the period of colonization. (Read: Here’s why Jose Rizal is the original millennial the youth can look up to)
But Rizal was known for other works that showed his fierce love of country. His poem “Sa Aking Mga Kababata” (“To My Fellow Youth,” reportedly written when he was 7 or 8) includes the nationalistic line “Ang hindi magmahal sa kanyang salita, mahigit sa hayop at malansang isda.” (“Those who do not know how to love their own language, are worse than animals and foul-smelling fish.”)
Do you like to investigate and expose anomalies?
You are Marcelo H. del Pilar!
Founder of Diariong Tagalog in 1882, this Filipino hero was editor of its Tagalog section. Though it lasted for only five months, the paper pushed for government reform and exposed the abuses of Spanish friars.
Are you into symbolic acts and portrayals?
You are Andres Bonifacio!
Co-founder of the revolutionary society Kataastaasan, Kagalanggalang Katipunan ng Mga Anak ng Bayan (KKK or simply Katipunan), Andres Bonifacio gathered fellow Katipuneros in Pugad Lawin, Balintawak, on August 23, 1896. There, they tore their cedulas and in unison, cried “Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!” in an act of resistance against Spanish rule. The act is known as the Cry of Pugad Lawin and the start of the Philippines’ revolution against Spain.
Do you like offering assistance from the sidelines?
You are Melchora Aquino!
Though Melchora Aquino was not a member of the Katipunan, she was one of its staunchest supporters. Nicknamed Tandang Sora by Andres Bonifacio and his ilk, she donated 100 sacks of rice and 10 carabaos to the group. She also used her sprawling home in Balintawak to care for those wounded from the revolution, and as a secret meeting place for Katipuneros. In fact, she and her son Juan Ramon were among those who witnessed the historic tearing of the cedulas. (Read: What we can learn from the heroes of Araw ng Kagitingan)
So loyal was Tandang Sora to the cause that the then 84-year-old protector of the Katipunan refused to divulge any knowledge of the group or its plans when she was interrogated and arrested by Spaniards. Deported to Guam and placed under house arrest, she returned to the Philippines during America’s takeover in 1898, and lived till the ripe old age of 107.
Do you believe women can do anything?
You are Gabriela Silang!
The daughter of an Ilocano peasant, Gabriela Silang became a young widow when her much older businessman husband died three years after they were married.
She would find her true calling as a revolutionary when she met and married fellow Ilocano Diego Silang. Diego, who joined forces with British troops in his attempt to overthrow Spanish colonizers in Ilocos Province, saw in his wife a trusted adviser and personal assistant. Appointed by the British as governor of Vigan in 1762, Diego declared independence all over his native region.
His reign would be short-lived, as former allies Miguel Vicos and Pedro Becbec assassinated him in 1763 to claim a reward offered by the Spaniards. Gabriela valiantly took over as commander of Diego’s troops and proceeded to her mother’s hometown of Abra, to secure more forces from the mountains. (Read: Arci Muñoz Joins Philippine Air Force Reservist Training)
Though Gabriela managed to launch an unexpected attack on Becbec, Spain overpowered her with its more experienced fighters and better weaponry. Subdued by enemy forces, she and her remaining troops were captured, tortured, and executed by hanging in Vigan’s plaza.