National Heroes Day in The Philippines: What you need to know

It’s National Heroes Day here in the Philippines. 

This holiday serves to remind us that the freedom we enjoy now as a nation was fought with the blood, sweat and tears of our valiant Filipino heroes. 

Every last Monday of August is dedicated to honouring and remembering not just the prominent figures that fought for Philippine independence but also the unsung heroes, past and present, who have contributed much to the cause of justice, freedom and nationhood. 

Holiday Facts

The holiday was established in 1931

The first celebration of National Heroes Day was during the American colonial period 

That’s right, the Philippines was still an unincorporated American territory when the holiday was first observed. 

The Philippine legislature at the time enacted Legislature Act 3827 declaring the last Sunday of August an official national holiday for that purpose.

‘Holiday economics’ moved the holiday from Sunday to Monday 

In 2007, former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued Republic Act 9492, which moved regular or nationwide special holidays to the nearest Monday or Friday of the week. For example, holidays that fall on a Wednesday may be moved to the Monday of that week, and holidays that fall on a Sunday are moved to the Monday of the following week.

With the so-called ‘Holiday Economics’ as rationale for the Act, the administration believed that extending the weekends will boost the economy by reducing mid-week work disruptions and promoting domestic leisure and tourism.

August is the month of the historic ‘Cry’

The “Cry of Pugad Lawin” or “Cry of Balintawak” signalled the formal start of the Philippine Revolution against Spanish rulers. This was initiated by the hitherto secret revolutionary movement called Katipunan.

In an act of defiance, members of the Katipunan tore up their cedulas (tax certificates) at Pugad Lawin/Balintawak (the exact location is still being disputed), sometime in August. Although nobody can tell exactly when the Cry happened, the general consensus is that it took place in the last week of the month, hence we celebrate National Heroes Day around this time.

Only two national heroes have their own assigned holiday

These are Jose Rizal (Dec.30) and Andres Bonifacio (Nov.30), the former being the Philippine National Hero and the latter being the head of the Katipunan. National Heroes Day specifies not a single hero, which includes even those who didn’t manage to get their names written in our history books.

How do Cebuanos celebrate National Heroes Day?

The local government normally holds a formal ceremony to pay homage to our brave heroes and, at the same time, recognize modern-day heroes who bring pride and honor to the country. Last year, the recognition went to the country’s fastest speedcuber, Leo Borromeo, and the Philippine Accessible Disability Services Adaptability Dragonboat Racing Team who won back-to-back titles in the International Paradragon Boat Championship. 

But like any other holiday, we take National Heroes Day as an opportunity to take on leisure and recreational pursuits. Many would flock to nearby islands and beaches, while others trek the mountains or take to the roads. 

The island of Cebu is rife with beautiful beaches and natural attractions, a long weekend wouldn’t even suffice. Still, any holiday is an excuse to go out and about.

Check the coworking spaces schedule on National Heroes Day.

About the author

Hey, it’s Chenzi! A writer made in Cebu. Stringing words is my bread and butter, but baking and mothering my 3-year-old are what feed my soul. I have an insatiable thirst for learning.