Philippine Heroes Then and Now

Philippine heroes are the people that have fought for freedom and independence or fought back against oppression.

Many of the heroes of the Philippines were revolutionaries in fight for independence against Spain. There are also those that have fought to uphold freedom and independence.

Philippine Heroes - Chief Lapu Lapu
Chief Lapu Lapu


Lapu-Lapu was the first of the Philippine heroes. He was the chief of Mactan Island. When Ferdinand Magellan "discovered" the Philippines and landed in Cebu, he ordered Filipinos to honour the king of Spain. Chief Lapu-Lapu refused his demand. Magellan and 48 of his soldiers met Lapu-Lapu on Mactan Island for battle. Magellan and 15 of his men were killed.

Francisco Baltazar

He was born in Bigaa, central Bulacan. Balagtas labored under strict friar supervision. He expressed his political views through poetry. The friars thought that Florante at Laura, his best known work, was about Christians and Moors duelling in mythical kingdoms to the correct ending. In reality, he depicted the injustices Filipinos suffered in the hands of the Spaniards and the evils that beset them during the Spanish regime. This poem contained ideas from which people of today can deduce morals and is considered one of his best poems. Balagtas is known as the King of Tagalog Poems. A Poet among Philippine heroes.

Mariano Gomez

One of the priest-reformist GOMBURZA martyrs. Born in Santa Cruz, Manila, Gomez went on and studied at the University of Santo Tomas. He served as priest in Bacoor, Cavite. Like Fathers Jacinto Zamora and Jose Burgos, Father Gomez was implicated in the Cavite uprising and subsequently, all three Philippine heroes were publicly executed by garrotte.

Melchora Aquino AKA Tandang Sora

Famous among Philippine heroes, born in Banilad, Kaloocan, she was married to Fulgencio Ramos and had six children. Her husband died early, and she supported her children on the produce of rice and sugarcane from their 25 acres of land. In 1896, the Katipuneros of Andres Bonifacio declared war on her land against the Spaniards. Secret meetings of the Katipuneros were held at her house, and she tended Filipinos who managed to escape by dressing their wounds, feeding them and hiding them from the Spaniards. When the Spaniards learned of her underground activities, she was exiled to Marianas Island along with 171 Filipinos charged with rebellion. Melchora Aquino returned in 1903 during the American regime. She was called Mother of the Philippine Revolution. Philippine heroes do what is necessary to succeed.

Jacinto Zamora

One of the priest-reformist GOMBURZA martyrs. He received his education in Pandacan then Colegio de San Juan de Letran and later continued his studies University of Santo Tomas. He served as a parish priest in Marikina and Pasig and was later appointed to Manila Cathedral after passing an exam. The Archbishop of Manila chose him and Jose Burgos to examine new priests. They became outspoken members of the Comite Reformado which championed the secularisation of parishes, alarming the Spanish authorities and friars. An uprising in Cavite provided the priests' enemies with the opportunity to implicate the priests falsely. Accused of sedition, the two, along with Father Mariano Gomes were arrested and tried at Fort Santiago on February 15, 1872, and were found guilty. The trio were publicly executed by garrotte, an iron collar that slowly throttled the victims two days later. True Philippine heroes do not waiver from what they know is right.

Jose Burgos

One of the priest-reformist GOMBURZA martyrs. Born in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, his mother was his first teacher and taught him to read and write. After finishing his early education, he went to Manila in 1849. He enrolled at the San Juan de Letran College and later, studied priesthood at the University of Santo Tomas. Burgos' liberal and nationalist views pointed towards reform and establishment of more native clergy and Filipino priesthood. He gained a reputation as a defender of the native clergy and subsequently, with the Cavite mutiny on 1872, the Spanish authorities and friars falsely charged Father Burgos with being involved in the mutiny. After a mock trial and fake witnesses, Burgos along with Fathers Gomes and Zamora, was publicly executed by garrotte. Philippine heroes stand up for their beliefs.

Marcelo H. del Pilar

He established the newspaper Diaryong Tagalog and in Spain he became the editor of La Solidaridad founded by Graciano Lopez Jaena. His newspapers criticized the way the Spaniards ran the colonial government and treated its people and his articles were based on the theme of liberty and equality for Filipinos. Tagalog copies were smuggled into the Philippines and read by revolutionists. He died of tuberculosis in Barcelona, a pauper, away from his family. Philippine heroes know the importance of how to communicate effectively through writing.

Jose P. Rizal

Dr. Jose Rizal, the national hero, was born in Calamba. His education began at home with his mother and at the age of nine, he was sent to study in BiƱan, Laguna. Rizal went on to Ateneo Municipal de Manila and finished Bachelor of Arts with highest honours on March 23, 1876. At the University of Santo Tomas, Rizal studied medicine. He then went to Europe and finished medicine and philosophy at the Central University of Madrid in 1885. He took up graduate studies in France. Rizal became a linguist and learned Greek and Latin. During his time in Europe, He wrote "Noli Me Tangere" (Touch Me Not) and "El Filibusterismo" (The Rebel), which told of the oppression by Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines.

Rizal returned to the Philippines in June 1892. He founded La Liga Filipina, a forum for Filipinos to express their hopes for freedom from Spanish rule. His writings and La Liga Filipina were banned. Rizal was arrested as a revolutionary and imprisoned in Fort Santiago on July 6, 1892. On July 14, he was exiled to Dapitan. He stayed there for four years, treating the sick, opened up a school and tried to make the place beautiful and safe. In order to escape his exile, Rizal volunteered to serve as a doctor for the Spanish forces with the breakout of the Cuban revolution for independence.

Rizal was arrested while in transit to Cuba and sent back to the Philippines. Again, he was jailed in Fort Santiago and on December 26, 1896, the Spanish authorities tried him and found Rizal guilty of inciting rebellion and sedition. Rizal was executed by a firing squad on December 30, at Bagumbayan (now Luneta). A hero among Philippine heroes.

Juan Luna

Juan Luna, The Great Painter, was born in Badoc, Ilocos Norte. He studied at the Ateneo de Manila and enlisted for Maritime service but later quit to continue studies in painting. In 1876, he studied at the Academia de Dibujo y Pintura in Manila which was managed by the famous teachers Agustine Saez and Lorenzo Guerrero. In 1877, Luna went to Spain to specialise in the art of designing and entered Escuela de Bellas Artes in Madrid. The Philippine colonial government chose Luna as pensionado to Europe. He was given a pension of 600 pesos per year for four years and in return, Luna would paint a picture every year to be used in the various government buildings. While in Europe, Luna was accompanied with his teacher, Alejo Vera. He made his debut as a professional painter for his painting Death of Cleopatra in 1880. In 1884, he was awarded a gold medal for his Spoliarium, his best painting at the time. He transferred his studios to Paris in 1884 and married in 1886. Luna returned to Manila in 1894. He was imprisoned along with his brother, Antonio Luna as suspected revolutionaries. Juan Luna was pardoned and returned to Spain to work for the release of his brother. There he joined other famous Philippine heroes such as Dr. Jose Rizal and Marcelo H. del Pilar. In 1898, Juan Luna was designated as a revolutionary diplomat in Europe by General Emilio Aguinaldo. Luna died in Hong Kong from a heart attack. Philippine heroes study and understand the arts.

Philippine heroes bonifacio

Andres Bonifacio

Andres Bonifacio, the Great Plebian and The Father of the Katipunan was born November 30, 1863. For Bonifacio, revolution was the only way. He founded the Kataastaasan Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng Mga Anak ng Bayan (Highest and Most Respected Association of the Sons of the Country) or Katipunan for short. The Katipunan was a secret organisation aimed at overthrowing Spanish rule by revolution. It was Bonifacio who started the revolution in 1896 with The Cry of Balintawak. He and his men tore their cedulas (tax receipts) and waved their red war banners with the KKK initials. Liberty or Death was the battle cry.

As the revolution progressed, the Katipunan became divided into two factions, those loyal to Emilio Aguinaldo and those to Andres Bonifacio. A revolutionary government was formed in which Bonifacio was excluded and Aguinaldo became president. Bonifacio began to withdraw his men. In response, Aguinaldo had him arrested and tried in a court consisting mainly of Bonifacio's enemies. Bonifacio and his brother were sentenced to death. They were shot in Cavite. Bonifacio belonged to the common masses. He grew up in poverty but overcame it to be a great leader loved by the people. Philippine heroes overcome adversity.

Apolinario Mabini

Mabini was born in Talaga, Tanauan Batangas, his life being a constant struggle against poverty and illness. He became a lawyer and despite becoming paralyzed in 1896, he served as Secretary of Foreign Affairs and president of the Cabinet to General Emilio Aguinaldo. Mabini wrote the constitution for the Philippine Republic and most of the decrees of the revolutionary government. His sound counsel and good judgement guided Aguinaldo. He was known as Brains of the Katipunan and the Sublime Paralytic as people liked to call him. Mabini died of Cholera. Philippine heroes struggle and never give up.

Antonio Luna

General Antonio Luna was born in Binondo. He studied in a private school at age six then transferred to the Ateneo Municipal de Manila. In 1881, he obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree then enrolled at the University of Barcelona finishing a degree in pharmacy. Luna continued studies in 1890 and obtained his doctorate in pharmacy from the University of Madrid. Luna also wrote many articles for various periodicals and magazines, both national and international. With the outbreak of the revolution, Luna and his brother Juan Luna were arrested. He was a great military leader and founded La Independencia on September 3, 1898. Antonio Luna was assassinated in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija. Philippine heroes fight the battles that must be fought.

Gregorio del Pilar

Gregorio del Pilar often received booklets written by Dr. Rizal and others from his uncle Marcelo H. del Pilar. He hid these booklets but sometimes gave copies of the booklets to his closest friends. At 24, he was the youngest general in the Revolutionary Army and fought bravely against the Americans with only 60 men. He was killed at Tirad Pass, a high narrow pass where both Filipino and American troops had to pass to reach Aguinaldo's camp. Philippine heroes volunteer and lead.

Emilio Jacinto

He was born in Trozo, Manila and learned both Spanish and Tagalog. He joined the Katipunan in 1896 and at 19, served as an advisor, a secretary and a fiscal to Andres Bonifacio. Jacinto was also the editor of the newspaper Kalayaan and he wrote the Kartilla, the oath of pledges. In 1898, as a general, he led troops against the Spanish in the Battle of Maimpis at Magdalena, Laguna. Despite being critically wounded and captured, Jacinto managed to escape by taking another man's identity. He died after contracting malaria. Philippine heroes fight to the end.

Claro M. Recto

His elementary education was obtained in Lipa, Batangas. He received a BA degree from Ateneo Municipal de Manila at 19, and at 24, a Master of Law degree from the University of Santo Tomas and was admitted to the bar. Recto served as legal advisor to the Senate in 1916 and later a Batangas representative during 1919 - 1925. He went to the US in 1924 as a member of the Independence Mission. After returning to the Philippines he founded the Democrat Party.. Nationalism resurfaced in the early 1950s and Recto fired the first shot in 1951 with a speech. He claimed the Philippine government allowed the US to continue their dominant pre-war interests in the financial, commercial, and industrial life of the country. For his speeches on the theme of economic and political nationalism, he was branded anti-American. He died of a heart attack in Rome, while on a cultural mission to Europe and Latin America. Philippine heroes study hard and obtain as much knowledge as possible.

Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino

Benigno Aquino Jr. was born in Concepcion, Tarlac. His elementary education began at St. Joseph's College and finished at the Ateneo de Manila, Intramuros. His high school education was at San Beda College.

In 1954, he negotiated the surrender of Luis Taruc, the Huk leader and was given an award by President Magsaysay and become an assistant to President Magsaysay. In 1955, at 22, Ninoy became the youngest mayor of his hometown, Concepcion, Tarlac. He served as press officer for the Philippine Military Bases agreement negotiations in 1956.

After President Magsaysay's death, he became a special assistant to President Garcia. At 25, Ninoy became the youngest vice-governor of Tarlac, appointed governor of Tarlac at 28 and elected governor of Tarlac at 30. It was believed that Senator Ninoy Aquino would be the next president after Marcos finished his term in 1973.

Marcos planned to use martial law to extend his term. When Ninoy learned of this, he exposed the plot. Shortly before President Marcos publicly declared martial law, Ninoy was arrested and detained and became the longest held prisoner of martial law. He was found guilty of subversion and sentenced to death, but the sentence was never carried out.

In December 1979, Ninoy was given a three-week release period to be with his family during his 25th wedding anniversary. During his time in prison, Ninoy developed heart disease. In May 1980, President Marcos allowed him to go to the US for heart surgery. He remained in the US for three years during which he became a researcher and lecturer at Harvard University and a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Due to the widespread poverty in the Philippines, Ninoy felt it was his duty to return and help his fellow countrymen. Despite the warnings his life would be in danger, Ninoy left Boston on August 13, 1983.

Ninoy Aquino's plane landed at Manila International Airport on August 21, 1983, at about 1pm. Three military personnel boarded the plane to look for Ninoy and escorted him out of the plane. Barely had Ninoy stepped out of the plane when he was shot in the back of head. Moments later there was another shot and the military escort brought out the body of Rolando Galman. The military claimed Galman was a communist dispatched to assassinate Ninoy. An investigative commission revealed the military was behind the assassination, however, the commission was under the control of the Marcos administration and so the case was closed with the final verdict that Galman was responsible.

Ninoy Aquino was buried at the Manila Memorial Park, as Philippine heroes are, after an 11-hour funeral march from Santo Domingo church through 30 kilometres of the streets of Manila. Almost two million people turned out for Ninoy's funeral. There was almost no media coverage from within the Philippines despite the large international coverage. The assassination of Ninoy angered the nation and seriously reduced the tolerance to the Marcos administration, which was overthrown by the EDSA Revolution in February 1986. Corazon Aquino, Ninoy's widow became the new president. Philippine heroes see possibilities, not obstacles.

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