The celebration of National Heroes Day began during the American colonial period when the Philippine legislature, then dominated by Filipino leaders who represented the national aspiration for independence, first enacted the holiday into law through Republic Act No. 3827 on October 28, 1931. The Act declared the last Sunday of August every year as an official national holiday.
However, as per tradition, National Heroes Day was continued to be celebrated concurrently with Bonifacio Day on November 30 until 1952, when President Elpidio Quirino reverted the date back to the last Sunday of August.
On July 24, 2007, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed into law Republic Act No. 9492, which moved the celebration to the last Monday of August as part of her “Holiday Economics” program.
National Heroes Day is a day to honor the bravery of all Filipino heroes, who struggled for the nation’s freedom, including those who vanished into anonymity. It is usually marked with parades and laying of wreaths to honor those who lost their lives in the pursuit of the Philippine nation.
If there is anything living under the pandemic over the past two years have taught us, the Philippines is a country of unsung heroes. There are our poorly paid healthcare workers who have been manning their posts through wave after wave of infections. We have the civic-minded organizers of community pantries, who have stepped up where the government has been lacking, braving the dangers of the pandemic and red tagging while helping the less fortunate whose lives have been upended by the world’s longest and strictest lockdowns and quarantine restrictions.
Moreover, our appreciation goes to the country’s ubiquitous delivery riders, who continue to ply their routes and provide their essential services despite the hassles and dangers of working in the midst of a pandemic.
National Heroes Day was originally meant for Filipinos who got their names into history books by virtue of their words and deeds. But the holiday also does not name a single hero, giving us the opportunity to celebrate the bravery, selflessness and patriotism of all the Filipino heroes, who have laid their lives and limbs on the line so we can continue to live our lives in relative comfort, safety, and freedom.
Let us celebrate today’s holiday by showing our appreciation to the heroes around us and also by trying our best to be as heroic as we can when the opportunity presents itself.*