In a patriotism-themed campaign launch-cum-talk of an internationally renowned Scotch whisky brand last year, Dr Ambeth Ocampo—a respected historian, writer, and academician—emphasised that "being a hero doesn’t always require grand gestures, but rather the ability to inspire and provoke others to dream and make the world better." Indeed, we have a number of countless unsung heroes not only from wars and revolutions but as well as of modern-day strife and endless struggle for peace. We always give high praises to heroes whose glorified and romanticised lives have been taught to us at school—even named after some of them one way or another. But what about others whose fervent passion for the country also brought us to independence but their names were just lines etched on memorial markers?
As we are looking forward to the coming long weekend holidays, we've rounded up historical sites and shrines declared by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines you may want to visit to pay tribute to the fallen heroes, either declared as National or unsung.
A few minutes off the Mactan Cebu International Airport is the Mactan Shrine in Punta Engaño. Here, you will see the towering 20-metre high bronze figure of Lapu-Lapu, the country's first hero, who defended his people against the Spanish explorers led by Ferdinand Magellan. It was erected in 1941 by the then National Historical Institute a few metres away from the obelisk built in 1866 in honour of Magellan. It was on this site that the epic Battle of Mactan in 1521 happened, which drove the foreigners away with their leader left for dead. In this monument, the Cebuano rajah looks differently from the Sentinel of Freedom statue in Agrifina Circle, Rizal Park, Manila. Here he is standing tall with a shield in his left hand and a curved kampilan sword in his right. Like his troops that have fought against the Spaniards, as well as today's Philippine National Police and Bureau of Fire Protection that bears his figure on their coats of arms, the monument celebrates the readiness of brave warriors to confront aggressors.
Punta Engaño, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu, Visayas
Sights to see in Cebu: Basilica del Santo Niño, Cebu Taoist Temple, Museo Sugbo, Fort San Pedro, Magellan's Cross, Temple of Leah, Sky Experience Adventure
Where to stay: Marco Polo Plaza Cebu, Shangri-La Mactan Resort & Spa, Crimson Resort and Spa Mactan, Mövenpick Hotel Mactan Island, Radisson Blu Cebu, The Henry Hotel Cebu