Jun 27, 2012

National Heroes’ Day 2012: Honoring the Men of Freedom

National Heroes’ Day is a public holiday in the Philippines celebrated every fourth Monday of August. This day marks the Cry of Pugad Lawin (or Balintawak) which occurred sometime at the end of August 1896.

What is National Hero’s Day?

National Hero's Day Bonifacio

via: I_Believe_

During this historical event, Andres Bonifacio and his men tore up their community tax certificates as a sign of their separation from Spain and her tyrannies against the Filipino people. Though there had been other revolutions in the past, many historians consider this as the beginning of the Philippine Revolution. There are various accounts stating that this event happened between August 23 and 26, 1896. Since the exact date and place of the “Cry” is unknown, it is observed every fourth Monday of August.

Originally, National Heroes’ Day was celebrated every November 30, the birth date of Andres Bonifacio, the founder of the Katipunan and Father of the Philippine Revolution. Eventually, it was moved to the last Monday of August to also pay homage to all unnamed men and women who fought and died for the country’s freedom. In 1911, during the American occupation, a monument in Balintawak was erected in memory of the heroes of the 1986 Revolution. Though the lone Katipunero in the monument is unnamed, many associate it with Bonifacio. Other monuments honoring other heroes of the Revolution have also been erected usually at the hero’s hometown.

National Heroes’ Day is often a big celebration in the Philippines. Wreaths are placed on the different monuments honoring not only the heroes of the 1986 Revolution but also of other events such as World War II and the 1986 People Power Revolution. Aside from the parades and gatherings, the President of the Philippines makes an annual speech at the Libingan ng mga Bayani to honor the great men and women of the past who helped liberate the Philippines. Since this holiday falls on a Monday, many schools and offices often hold programs and parades on the Friday following the fourth Monday of August. This is often celebrated together with the Buwan ng Wika culmination where in students and employees dress up either in Filipiniana attire or costumes of indigenous tribes of the Philippines. They also perform patriotic songs and local dances and hold plays depicting various historical events of the country. The Cry of Pugad Lawin is a particular favorite of many people and has been depicted countless of times in various schools around the country. It is also common for people to bring Filipino food such as suman, bibingka, tsokolate and other delicacies to offices and schools to share with friends and classmates.

But despite all the flowers, parades and songs, National Heroes’ day isn’t simply a day of remembering the past but also reminding ourselves of the future. Every generation who enjoys the painstakingly won liberty is also reminded to strive to for the betterment of the Philippines and her people. For the best way to truly honor the heroes of the past is to help transform our nation into a prosperous one and ensure that our freedom will never be lost again.

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