National Heroes Day in the Philippines

31 August 2020

In the Philippines, the National Heroes Committee was established in 1993 under President Fidel Ramos, and the last Monday in August is designated as National Heroes’ Day, a public holiday.

The day marks of the beginning of the Philippine revolution in 1896 when Filipinos, under leadership of supremo, Andres Bonifacio, finally refused to accept Spanish colonial dominion over the Philippines, leading to the establishment of the first Philippines Republic in 1899.

The work carried out by the National Heroes Committee has focused on what defines a hero, and there are 9 heroes on the unofficial list: Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo, Apolinario Mabini, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Sultan Dipatuan Kudarat, Juan Luna, Melchora Aquino, Gabriela Silang.

Three criteria were initially laid down by the committee in 1993.

  1. Heroes are those who have a concept of nation and thereafter aspire and struggle for the nation’s freedom. The Filipinos’ freedom was begun by Bonifacio and finished by Aguinaldo, the latter formally declaring the revolution’s success. In reality, however, a revolution has no end. Revolutions are only the beginning. One cannot aspire to be free only to sink back into bondage.
  2. Heroes are those who define and contribute to a system or life of freedom and order for a nation. Freedom without order will only lead to anarchy. Therefore, heroes are those who make the nation’s constitution and laws.
  3. Heroes are those who contribute to the quality of life and destiny of a nation.

Additional criteria were added in 1995.

  1. A hero is part of the people’s expression. But the process of a people’s internalization of a hero’s life and works takes time, with the youth forming a part of the internalization.
  2. A hero thinks of the future, especially the future generations.
  3.  The choice of a hero involves not only the recounting of an episode or events in history, but of the entire process that made this particular person a hero.
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