Confused About the National Heroes Day?

We know that there’s a National Heroes Day in the official list of public holidays throughout the Philippines. We know there’s supposed to be no work or school on National Heroes Day, just like any holiday. When we dug deeper, we realized that there’s more confusion surrounding this holiday.

Where exactly is the apostrophe?

This is a bit petty but we’ve seen the variations. Some place the apostrophe before the “s” (National Hero’s Day), some after the “s” (National Heroes’ Day) and still others don’t use any apostrophe (National Heroes Day). The official government issuances don’t use any apostrophe. It’s simply National Heroes Day.

Who is it in honor for?

Why are we celebrating the National Heroes Day? Who exactly are the heroes that we honor when we celebrate the National Heroes Day? The usual answer that we know, and the most probable answer that you also know, is that the Philippines celebrate the National Heroes Day to honor ALL heroes.

But there’s more than meets the eye in that statement — ALL heroes. You see, we celebrate specific days for some heroes. It’s understandable to have a national holiday for the national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal (Rizal Day is December 30, the date of his death by firing squad). We celebrate a separate national holiday for another hero, Gat Andres Bonifacio, on November 30, also the day of his death. Then we have a third hero on the list of official national holidays, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, with his special day on August 21, the date of his death. This makes us wonder — why is it that holidays fall on the death of these heroes?

We’re sure any hero wouldn’t mind having a separate holiday for Jose Rizal. He’s the man, anyway. THE national hero. Of course, the heroes we celebrate under the umbrella of the National Heroes Day might not have any beef with having Bonifacio Day and Ninoy Day, but if the government lumped all of these heroes in one day, and have separate holidays for others, we’re not sure if the heroes we’re honored in the National Heroes Day wouldn’t rise in revolt.

So, who are these “other” heroes? It seems that the National Heroes Day does not include our teachers (heroes no doubt, entitled to a separate special day for them) and our OFWs (who are lauded no end by politicians and demagogues as the “new heroes”). The question is best answered after we talk about the next confusion surrounding the National Heroes Day —

Why August 25?

“Why do we celebrate National Heroes Day in August?” Good question. Yes, we, too, have been asked the question a couple of times: why celebrate National Heroes Day on August 25? What’s the significance of this date? Is it really August 25 and not August 30?

We distinctly remember celebrating the National Heroes Day on August 30 when we were younger. Perhaps the older generation will remember that the National Heroes Day was actually celebrated on the day of Bonifacio’s death, November 30.

Confused? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s truly confusing even our laws show it. Republic Act No. 9177, signed in 2002, permanently added Eidul Fitr to the list of national holidays and also fixed the celebration of National Heroes Day on the “last Sunday of August.” Five years after, in 2007, the National Heroes Day celebration was slightly changed to the “last Monday of August” under Republic Act No. 9492, an “Act Rationalizing the Celebration of National Holidays.” It stayed on the “last Monday of August” with the addition of Eidul Adha as a national holiday in 2009 under Republic Act 9849.

The confusion doesn’t end there. Our historical agency, as shown in the official marker of the National Historical Institute on the actual site, fixed the Sigaw ng Pugad Lawin (another confusion why the English version is better known as the Cry of Balintawak, which, apparently, is a separate place) on August 23, 1896. This is the date when Andres Bonifacio, joined by 1,000 other members of the Katipunan shouted “freedom” and tore their cedulla (community tax certificate), the symbolic declaration of independence from the Spaniards.

Earlier that month (August 1896), the Spaniards learned about the secret society and proceeded to hunt down its leaders and members. Andres Bonifacio, the man for whom we celebrate November 30 as a national holiday, had no choice but to declare the revolution. Bonifacio was the head of the KKK. Jose Rizal, the man for whom we celebrate the December 30 as a national holiday, advised against the revolution, either believing that the armed revolution is not ready or that a peaceful turn-over of independence is possible. Rizal was still implicated in the revolution and shot in Bagumbayan on December 30, 1896.

So, who are the heroes under the umbrella of the National Heroes Day? It’s most likely that these heroes are connected to the Sigaw ng Pugad Lawin. We’ve read somewhere that there was a committee created to answer just that but we don’t what came of it. Why don’t we kick this article all the way up to the appropriate government office? Exactly what’s that government office, we’re also confused.

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