National Heroes Day of Philippines

On the last Sunday of August, Filipinos commemorate National Heroes’ Day, known as Araw ng mga Bayani in Tagalog. This commemorative holiday pays tribute to admired revolutionary figures key to Philippine history and independence. On this day, the nation honors these brave leaders’ courage and sacrifice in paving the way for a sovereign Philippines.

National Heroes Day of Philippines

Let us explore the establishment of this holiday, its major observances, the lives of honored heroes, and how Filipinos carry on their bold legacy today. From scholars and soldiers to activists and statesmen, National Heroes’ Day recognizes those who fought colonization and sought justice. Their stories inspire coming generations.

Origins Honoring Bonifacio and Other Revolutionaries

The first National Heroes’ Day was celebrated on March 22, 1901 as an observance established by President Emilio Aguinaldo honoring Andres Bonifacio, leader of the Katipunan society opposing Spanish rule. Bonifacio is considered the Father of the Philippine Revolution for his radical activism galvanizing anti-colonial sentiment in the 1890s after centuries of Spanish authority.

This date coincided with Bonifacio’s death, allowing solemn tribute. In the decades that followed, commemorating National Heroes’ Day evolved into a collective observance for various champions of independence who helped shape the nation.

Now held on the last Sunday in August, National Heroes’ Day honors the collective spirit of reformers, intellectuals, soldiers, activists, and statesmen who fought Spanish and American control to establish the Philippine Republic.

Major Figures and Leaders Memorialized

While countless contributors aided the development of an autonomous Philippines, the most prominent heroes celebrated include:

  • Andres Bonifacio – The Father of the Revolution led the Katipunan movement for independence. His radical activism roused populist support for the 1896 Philippine Revolution against Spain.
  • Jose Rizal – This scholar, writer, and polymath inspired political reform through his novels critiquing colonial abuses. His works were instrumental in awakening nationalistic fervor.
  • Emilio Aguinaldo – The first president of the short-lived First Philippine Republic resisted American annexation after the Spanish-American War before surrendering and later supporting the US.
  • Antonio Luna – As a bold general under Aguinaldo, Luna modernized guerilla military strategy against American forces before his assassination in 1899.
  • Apolinario Mabini – Paralyzed by polio, Mabini became a key adviser pushing for Philippine independence and later served in Aguinaldo’s cabinet.
  • Gabriela Silang – Silang bravely led guerilla forces against Spain in the Ilocos region after the death of her rebel leader husband Diego, becoming the Philippines’ first female revolutionary protagonist.

Though imperfect, their collective defiance of oppression still motivates patriotism and hunger for justice.

Ways Filipinos Honor Their Heroes’ Legacy

On National Heroes’ Day, observances nationwide inspire civic memory and nationalism:

  • President Rodrigo Duterte and other officials lay wreaths at monument landmarks like Bonifacio’s shrine on Mount Samat.
  • Historic sites like Rizal Park and museums offer educational programs on revolutionary Philippine history for guests.
  • Television specials, movies, documentaries, and books retell the dramatic stories of beloved heroes.
  • Processions,Masked dance-dramas reenacting conquest history engage audiences.
  • Schools lead flag ceremonies and lessons teaching children about the heroes’ biographies and bold contributions.
  • Families unite for festive picnics honoring their ancestors’ roles in shaping the Philippines.

Though clouds of struggle may still linger, commemorating past courage guides Filipinos forward.


National Heroes’ Day crystallizes the resilient, justice-oriented spirit Filipinos still draw from today. Honoring courageous ancestors who fought oppression despite overwhelming odds inspires ordinary citizens to shape society for the better. Their sacrifices pave the way for each generation’s fresh fight for progress. On this reflective holiday, Filipinos renew unified determination to advance their communities and nation.