For almost 300 years, the Philippines have been colonized by the Spaniards with the intention of extending its territory, of making the trade and commerce flourish and spreading the Christian faith in the Far East. Given the distance from Spain, it was difficult for the monarchy to monitor what was really happening in the then colony, which lead to the many abuses of the church and the government. With these, revolts ignited in the provinces of Central and Southern Luzon, which eventually spread to the whole country like a wildfire.
As the Philippines celebrate its Independence Day, let us look back and relive some of the noble acts of heroism that these Filipinos from various parts of the country showed, through the monuments and shrines built in honor of them.
1. Jose Rizal (June 19, 1861 – December 30, 1896)
José Protacio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda is national hero of the Philippines and known for his works Noli Me Tangere, El Filibuesterismo and Mi Ultimo Adios. He served as inspiration to a lot of revolutionary Filipinos during his time to fight fot the country’s independence. Aside from being a poet and novelist, Rizal is also an ophthalmologist/ physician, visual artist, botanist, agriculturist, fencer, educator and the ultimate Pinoy traveler. In fact, he has travelled around the world three times.
Place of Birth: Calamba, Laguna | Southern Luzon
Location of the Monument: Manila
Getting There: From EDSA Taft or Monumento, take the LRT 1 and alight at UN Avenue Station. Few meters from UN Avenue is the Rizal Park Complex.
2. Andres Bonifacio (November 30, 1863 – May 10, 1897)
Known as the Father of Philippine Revolution, Andres Bonifacio y De Castro is the founder of the Kataas-taasan, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan or KKK, a movement that aimed Independence of the country from the Spaniards. He was often referred to as Supremo.
Place of Birth: Tondo, Manila | National Capital Region
Location of the Monument: Caloocan City
Getting There: Northbound busses with UE-Letre Signage pass through the rotunda where Andres Bonifacio’s monument stands. If you are coming from SM North Edsa, there are jeepneys in the Public Transportation Terminal to Monumento. Fare is Php 9.
3. Lapu-Lapu (1491-1542)
Known as the first warrior who defied the Spanish take-over in the Philippines, Lapu-Lapu was a datu or chieftain of Mactan Island famous for being the responsible for the death of Ferdinand Magellan in the bloody Battle of Mactan. This Cebu native is regarded as the first Filipino hero. There are even arguments onto what his real name is – whether it was Kalipulako, Pula Pula, Cilapulapu. Even the depictions of his physical features were just based on oral chronicles. There were also no accounts on his death.
Place of Birth: Mactan, Cebu | Visayas
Location of the Monument: Mactan, Cebu
Getting There: From Mactan – Cebu International Airport, ride a Punta Engano-bound multicab and ask the driver to drop you at Mactan Shrine. Fare is around Php 15 for around 30 minutes travel time. Alternatively, you may take metered taxi for less than Php 100 and around 15 to 20 minute-travel time.
4. Sultan Kudarat (1581–1671)
Sultan Muhammad Dipatuan Kudarat was a Maguindanao sultan who successfully resisted the colonization of the Spaniards in this part of Southern Philippines. He was a descendant of Shariff Kabungsuwan who brought Islam to the Philippines around 13th and 14th century.
Place of Birth: Maguindanao | Mindanao
Location of the Monument: Sultan Kudarat
Getting There: General Santos City is the gateway to the SOCCSKSARGEN Region. From Gen San, you may take a bus to Isulan, Sultan Kudarat for about two hours. The monument is located in front of the provincial capitol.
5. Leona Florentino (April 19, 1849 – October 4,1884)
Unlike our usual image of a hero, Leona was not part of any revolutions that fought for our independence. But instead, pen was her sword in fighting her battle. Considered as the Mother of Philippine Women’s Literature and the Bridge from Oral to Literary Tradition, Leona started writing at a very young age and used Ilocano, her native language, as her medium. Her lyrical poetry in Spanish and Ilocano gained popularity in their various international forums that also inspired many Filipinos. Interestingly, she’s the mother of Isabelo De Los Reyes, who also became a writer, an activist, and a senator.
Place of Birth: Vigan City, Ilocos Sur | Northern Luzon
Location of the Monument: Vigan City, Ilocos Sur
Getting There: There are daily bus trips from Manila going to the Ilocos Provinces. From the bus station in Vigan, ride a tricycle on your way the world famous Crisologo Street. You’ll find the monument at the end of the street near the church.
“Mamamatay akong di man lang nasilayan ang maningning na pagbubukang liwayway ng aking inang bayan. Sa inyong makakakita, salubungin ninyo ito. At huwag kalilimutan ang mga nangamatay sa dilim.”
Kabanata 63: Ang Noche Buena, Noli Me Tangere