National Heroes Day focuses on past, contemporary heroes

Filipinos honored their past and contemporary heroes, both known and unknown, when they commemorated National Heroes’ Day last Monday, August 31.

Past heroes include Filipino revolutionaries who laid the foundation for the country’s independence after centuries under foreign rulers including Spain, the United States, and Japan. Contemporary heroes include overseas Filipino workers whose dollar remittances support the home economy, the frontliners in the current war against the Covid-19 pandemic.  

This day also commemorates the Cry of Pugad Lawin revolt that started the 1896 Philippine Revolution against Spanish imperial rule.

National Heroes’ Day used to be commemorated on the 30th of November, the birthday of revolutionary Gat Andres Bonifacio who founded the Katipunan which bravely fought against the Spanish colonizers. The date was set by Executive Order No. 20 issued on March 20, 1942 by former President Jose P. Laurel.

In 1952, President Elpidio Quirino reverted National Heroes Day back to the last Sunday of August through Administrative Order No. 190, s. 1952 to perpetuate Andres Bonifacio’s memory and legacy.

Under the Administrative Code of 1987, then President Corazon Aquino adopted the Executive Order No. 292, Book 1, Chapter 7, which provided for a list of regular holidays and nationwide special days, setting National Heroes Day as a regular holiday celebrated on the last Sunday of August, but also provides that the list of holidays and special days may be “modified by law, order or proclamation.”

On July 24, 2007, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed into law Republic Act No. 9492, which amended Book 1, Chapter 7 of the Administrative Code, under which the National Heroes’ Day is now celebrated every last Monday of August.

The move was part of Arroyo’s “holiday economics”  policy which adjusts national holidays normally celebrated on weekends to the nearest Monday or Friday of the week, allowing longer weekends as well as revving up domestic leisure travel and tourism.

National Heroes’ Day is a day for Filipinos pay tribute to all known or unknown individuals who contributed and sacrificed lives to help promote our national identity and justice against tyranny, peace, and freedom.

This year, as the world grapples with the dreaded Covid-19 virus, Filipino frontliners in the war against it have been designed as modern-day heroes who sacrificed their lives to save others. President Rodrigo Duterte, in a short message, joined the entire country in paying tribute to the heroes who risked their lives fighting for liberty.

“Today, we honor not only the valor of our forebears who fought for our motherland’s freedom but also the heroism of those who risked their lives fighting a different kind of enemy (Covid-19),” he said.

“Present-day challenges posed by the current public health crisis have given rise to modern-day heroes — the country’s Filipino frontliners here and abroad who are battling the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Photo courtesy of: Wikimapia

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