BEYOND being simply a holiday, the National Heroes’ Day has more meaning to it than many of us realize.
According to the Official Gazette, the official journal of the Philippines "National Heroes’ Day specifies no hero; the law that put into practice the celebration does not name a single one. And this lack of specifics offers an opportunity to celebrate the bravery of not one, not a few, but all Filipino heroes who have braved death or persecution for home, nation, justice, and freedom."
But what makes a national hero?
The National Heroes Committee (NHC) has three criteria to determine someone as a national hero - Heroes are those who have a concept of nation and thereafter aspire and struggle for the nation’s freedom; heroes are those who define and contribute to a system or life of freedom and order for a nation; and heroes are those who contribute to the quality of life and destiny of a nation. This was adopted by the NHC Technical Committee on June 3, 1993.
On November 15, 1995, the NHC Technical Committee added three more criteria on what makes a Filipino hero – a hero is part of the people’s expression; a hero thinks of the future, especially the future generations; and the choice of a hero involves not only the recounting of an episode or events in history, but of the entire process that made this particular person a hero.
These were the criteria that allowed the NHC to recommend Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo, Apolinario Mabini, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Sultan Dipatuan Kudarat, Juan Luna, Melchora Aquino, and Gabriela Silang to be recognized as national heroes. However, since the recommendation was passed on November 22, 1995, the nine historical figures have not been declared officially as national heroes.
"This was probably because this might trigger a flood of requests for proclamations. Another possibility is that the proclamations can trigger bitter debates involving historical controversies about the heroes," according to a May 18, 2015 post of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
Despite the nine not having been declared as "National Heroes" officially, for many Filipinos, they are regarded as a National Hero. In fact, there are other Filipinos, despite their flaws, in history who have continually been regarded as heroes by the Filipino people.
Day by day, we see new heroes coming into the limelight doing what they can to improve our country. Out of the spotlight, there are many unsung heroes who have done their part to help uplift the nation despite getting the recognition they should get.
To our heroes - those who are under the spotlight and those who work quietly -- thank you for doing everything you can to uplift the Filipino people. We also hope more Filipinos will learn from the lives of these heroes and become the solution to our troubled country.