When you ask a Filipino to name the country’s heroes, typical answers would include the usual rosters found in history books – Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, and perhaps the hero casts featured in the biopic film “Heneral Luna” that made many young Pinoys acknowledge that the likes of Apolinario Mabini and Antonio Luna did exist one time in the past.
So now we name at least 10 of these unsung heroes who, by their own rights, are on equal footing with such big names as Rizal and Bonifacio, in the aspect of heroism.
- Hadji Butu Abdul Baqui – Sulu prime minster, first Muslim senator
There’s one figure from Mindanao worth mentioning when it comes to the unification of Christians and Muslims. Hadji Butu Abdul Baqui, a native of Jolo born in 1865, came from a reputable political clan, specifically that of Mantiri Asip, the minister to the Muslim prince of Sumatra.
Continuing his family’s legacy, the young Butu became prime minister of the Sultan Badarud Din II at 16, and thereafter bore the Hadji title. Sultan Badarud Din II was a sultan and National Hero of Indonesia who established a civil in Jolo in 1884.
Despite conflicting interests, both Datu Harun and Amirul Kiram, on separate occasions, asked him to be their prime minister. But his greatness did not stop at being prime minister twice in a row.
Hadji Butu, represented Hadji Mohammed Jamalul Kiram II (Sultan of Sulu), and signed the Bates Treaty with General John C. Bates. The treaty was to “respect Moro autonomy” among other things, but was deceptively used by the Americans to “neutralize” the sultanate.
Hadji Butu was later named Senator in December 1915, and was the first Muslim to assume the position. As senator, Hadji Butu sponsored the bill to establish the Philippine Military Academy, Philippine Naval Academy, and even the now optional program, ROTC. He continued his advocacy for the independency of Mindanao and Sulu from 1919 to 1934, asking Muslim Pinoys to support Christian Pinoys for the sake of Philippine freedom.
- Pascual P. Hicaro – writer, editor, translator, feminist
Pascual P. Hicaro’s name and achievements may be overshadowed by that of Marcelo H. del Pilar and Jose P. Rizal, but he remains a great Philippine writer and active feminist.
He was well-educated and finished Bachelor of Arts at the Liceo de Manila. He co-founded the Diarong Tagalog together with MH del Pilar, founded another publication, the Revista Popular de Filipinas, and edited Patnubay ng Catolico and Ang Pliegong Tagalog.
During the Philippine Revolution, he was captured and deported to Spain and then to Africa, but was later on recognized for his talent in writing and editing. He arrived back to the Philippines in early 1900s and edited El Grito del Pueblo of the Nacionalista Party and Ang Kapatid ng Bayan. He also translated Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere in the vernacular and published Rizal’s works in his Dia Filipino publication.
- Datu Amai Pakpak – Maranao warrior, anti-Spanish
Datu Amai Pakpak aka Datu Akadir may have lost two great battles against the Spanish, but he lived and died a hero for the Muslim cause.
He fortified the infamous Kota Marahui (Marawi) nka Camp Amai Pakpak with earth and stone, cannons and guns, and defended it for four years until his death in 1895. This was all in an effort to preserve the whole of Lake Lanao’s freedom from Spanish rule.
He led the battle against the Spanish Governor General Valeriano Weyler’s attack in 1891 and against Governor Ramon Blanco’s invasion in 1895, to which he died fighting about 5,000 heavily armed Spanish armies backed by powerful gunboats attacking the lake settlements.
- Juan “Palaris” de la Cruz – leader of the Palaris Revolt
Juan de la Cruz was best known as the leader of the Palaris Revolt in 1762 to 1765 in Pangasinan. He could very well be the first “chop-chop” victim in the country, with the various parts of his body cut and displayed in various locations across Pangasinan to instill fear among the people upon his capture in 1765.
Palaris was aggressively leading protests against the abusive provincial governor Don Joaquin Gamboa and presented their petitions to Fr. Andres Melendez, the head of the friars in Lingayen.
The Spanish had trouble defeating Palaris and other uprisings, particularly during the Seven Year’s War. However, after signing the Treaty of Paris and the end of the Seven Year’s War in 1763, the Spanish was able to successfully end the Palaris Revolt, with the help of his sister, Simeona, who betrayed Palaris over the latter’s “abuse to her”.
- Simeón Ola y Arboleda – Katipunero from Bicol, anti-American
Simeon Ola, a philosophy student at the University of Nueva Caceres, was born in Guinobatan, Albay. He became a Katipunero in 1896 and launched guerilla attacks against the American troops and won battles in several Albay towns like Camalig, Oas, Ligao and Jovellar, which caused his speedy promotion from Captain to Major.
Amidst the death of his cousin Jose Arboleda during the war, Ola regrouped the Filipino soldiers and attacked Oas and Ligao. After which the Americans opted to negotiate for Ola’s surrender, granting his men amnesty upon his capture in 1903, becoming the last Filipino general to surrender. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison but was pardoned in 1904 and became municipal president.
- Panday Pira – first Filipino cannon-maker
Panday Pira lived from the late 15th century through the late 16th century in Manila, working as apprentice to a Portuguese blacksmith. He later mastered the art of weapon making, particularly in the design of handmade cannons, which would later prove helpful in the battle against Spanish forces.
Panday Pira’s handmade cannons were reportedly used by Rajah Sulayman in defending Manila against the Spanish invaders headed by Martin de Goiti. The battle ended in favor of the colonizers who sequestered Panday Pira’s cannons for their own advantage. A street in Tondo is named in his memorial.
- Faustino Guillermo
Faustino Guillermo, born in 1860 in Sampaloc, Manila, fought alongside Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Jacinto in San Juan del Monte. He also led many armed rebels in northern Rizal, which the Americans labelled as Diliman gang.
He surrendered to the Americans in 1900 at Malabon and lived in Morong Province nka Rizal Province, but started recruiting Filipino soldiers to continue the fight against the American regime. He was captured in 1901, was jailed for 3 months before he was freed and appointed as police informer by Lieutenant Lucien Sweet.
He continued his American resistance work and was arrested under the custody of Inspector Licerio Geronimo in San Mateo, Rizal of the Philippine Constabulary. Geronimo then asked Guillermo to be the former’s spy.
Guillermo recruited more men and became a vagabond warrior, fighting alongside General Luciano San Miguel as Lieutenant Colonel in 1902 and as Colonel in 1903. He let spies into his camp, but prevented them from reporting details to the Americans by arresting them and buried them in dirt alive with their heads exposed to red ants.
Guillermo, Apolonio Samson and 25 others ambushed Geronimo and his troops while the latter were scouting Diliman, killing a few of Geronimo’s men with the PC lieutenant barely escaping capture with only his undershirt on. Guillermo then used Geronimo’s uniform and entered a PC garrison in San Jose, Bulacan in disguise, successfully taking hold of the garrison.
Sadly, Guillermo and Gen. San Miguel were surrounded by Philippine Scouts in Corral-na-Bato, Marikina in March 1903, which led to the death of the general. Guillermo escaped but was arrested in June 1903 by the PC and was sentenced to death over brigandage charges.
- Tabal Brothers – Rafael, Anatalio and Quintin
When the American Forces arrived in Cebu in February 1899 and gave the Cebuanos ultimatum to surrender, many leaders ceased resistance, leaving only a handful of heroes like General Arcadio Maxilom, General Nicolas Godinez, and the Tabal brothers to continue the struggle against the colonizers (Spanish and Americans).
The two generals and the Tabal brothers established a defensive stronghold that runs from Pardo, Cebu near the Buhisan Dam through the ridge near Guadalupe Church and Lutopan.
The Tabals led a formidable resistance that caused Colonel Taylor, the Constabulary Chief of Cebu, to set up re-concentration camps guarding some 5,000 barrio people and farmers who initially supported the resistance. With the loss of support, the Tabals surrendered to the admonishment of Governor Sergio Osmena.
In the book, The War of 1898 and U.S. Interventions, 1898T1934: An Encyclopedia, the Tabal brothers, along with Papa Isio, were named as outlaw chiefs.
- Dionisio “Papa Isio” Magbuelas – pro-Sacada, anti-Spanish, anti-American
Dionisio Magbuelas popularly known as Papa Isio led the main resistance against the Spanish and then the Americans in Negros. He and his men mostly runaway sacadas were actively devising skirmishes against the Spaniards and pro-Spanish Filipinos (mostly hacienderos) since 1896.
The hacienderos tag Papa Isio and his men as bandits and helped the Guardia Sibil catch them. Upon the arrival of the American colonizers, many of the hacienderos switched allegiance to America, and continued their support against Papa Isio and his men.
Papa Isio and his men began burning of haciendas, mills and other structures owned by their landlord foes, including those who abuse the sacadas. He remained fighting for the Katipunan cause (independence) despite the establishment of the Malolos Government that deals with the Negros ilustrados and gained the support of cane-cutters.
However, the bountiful harvest in 1905 that eased the people’s poverty and the continued prosperity of haciendas under the American regime, caused Papa Isio to lose support. He surrendered two years later, was tried and sentenced to death.
- The Other Bonifacio Siblings
We do know of Andres Bonifacio and the Katipunan and that his brother Procopio died alongside him upon the assassination plotted by the cunning Emilio Aguinaldo. But Procopio was as heroic as his brother, and so was their sister, Espiridonia, and another brother, Ciriaco.
Espiridonia, the youngest of the Bonifacio siblings was born in December 14, 1875. She served the revolutionary movement as a Katipunera along with husband Teodoro Plata. She was in charge of the looted goods that the Katipuneros captured, hiding stolen guns under her huge skirt.
Procopio born in 1873 fought alongside the Supremo against the Spanish forces. He founded the Katipunan branch in Kawit, Cavite called the Laong-laan Council together, Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Jacinto, Pio Valenzuela, and Candido Tirona. He later became the head of Tanglaw, a section in that council. The Bonifacio brothers met tragic ends upon the betrayal of Emilio Aguinaldo who usurped the Supremo or presidency title.
Hundreds if not thousands of Filipinos fought many battles in Philippine history to reclaim freedom that future generations may not live in slavery but in liberty, to proclaim that this country and all of its more than 7,000 islands belong not to foreign invaders, but to the Filipinos, and to remind fellow Filipinos that freedom doesn’t come cheap.
More than a hundred years later, we still ask: are we really free? Folks, the fight for freedom and independence remains and continues. The enemy may no longer be foreign invaders but our very own selves, our own conflicting mindsets. Let’s stop and think of these unsung heroes and ask ourselves if they had died in vain or not. Are we really free?
Spark a discussion by typing in your comments below. Discussions are not limited to this website alone. You may share this post to your social media pages (click on the social media buttons) so you can spread the word about these unsung heroes of ours, make them known to the rest of our kababayans.