Cover Photo: Mara Rivera on Unsplash

For Philippine Independence Day, Tatler celebrates the feats of heroes whose names and stories did not land the pages of many history books.

People have varying definitions of the word "hero". A hero could be an iconic fictional character whose cape is draped in red, a philanthropist who spends a fortune helping those in need, a close friend, or a face we grew up seeing in civic books and pamphlets. 

When the Philippines was put under the colonies of foreign countries, historical figures such as Datu Lapu Lapu, Dr Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Melchora Aquino, and many others had their stories etched on Philippine history. 

But unbeknownst to many Filipinos, there are heroes whose accounts were only passed down through lesser-known books and hearsay. Tatler honours them in this article.

Read also: Philippine Independence Day: 5 Inspiring Filipino Biographies And Autobiographies To Read

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Trinidad Tecson

Trinidad Tecson, also known as the Ina Ng Biak-Na-Bato, is the first Filipino who joined the Sanduguan or sacred blood compact. During the Philippine-American war, Tecson fought alongside the Katipuneros and even organised a group of women who nursed injured Filipino soldiers. Tecson also served in the Malolos Republic as the Commissary of War. 

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Mariano Trias

Considered as the first de facto Vice President of the Philippines, Mariano Trias is known for leading the first uprising in Cavite and other attacks against the Spaniards in Laguna. Before the revolution began in August 1896, Trias joined the Katipunan and became an active propagandist in Silang and Kawit.

Years prior to these events, he had primary schooling under the tutorship of local teachers Cipriano Gonzales and Eusebio Chaves. He was later sent to Colegio de San Juan de Letran for his Bachelor of Arts, then to the University of Santo Tomas for his medical degree.


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Gliceria Marella de Villavicencio

Gliceria Marella de Villavicencio or "Aling Eriang" had many generous contributions to the Philippine revolution. One of these is the SS Bulusan, one of the first revolutionary warships that carried food supplies, ammunition, and transported well as Filipino soldiers to Visayas.

Aling Eriang also lent PHP18,000 to Dr Jose Rizal just so the latter could publish his novels and the infamous La Solidaridad which he used to advocate for the reform of Filipino society under colonialism.


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Panday Pira

Panday Pira is a native of the Luzon province who came to Manila when he was only 20 years old. There he met a Portuguese blacksmith who trained him to make different types of weapon including cannons. 

Panday Pira's cannons were said to be used by Rajah Sulayman to defend Manila against the invading Spaniards led by Martin de Goiti. The Filipino warriors were unfortunately defeated and the canons were confiscated and used by Spanish soldiers. 

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Macario Sakay

Macario Sakay was one of the original members of the Katipunan. When Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo surrendered to American forces, the fate of the revolution fell into the hands of Sakay. 

Sakay declared himself the Supreme President of the Tagalog Republic and declared an open resistance to the US. He and his men conducted several guerilla raids that lasted for years. 

In one account, a General named Leon Villafuerte revealed that Sakay's forces intended to abduct Alice Roosevelt Longworth, the daughter of late US President Theodore Roosevelt, who was planning to visit the Philippines. The initial plan was to trade her to the Americans in exchange for the recognition of Philippine independence. 

The plan did not take place after Longworth postponed her trip. 


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Teresa Magbanua

Feisty and full of wit, Teresa Magbanua is Visayas' Joan of Arc. She was a school teacher and a military leader who led the Filipino revolutionists in the Visayas area. 

Magbanua is the only woman to lead troops in the Visayan area during the revolution. She is also one of the few Filipinos to have participated in all three resistance movements: the Philippine Revolution, the Philippine–American War, and World War II. 

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Pascual Poblete

Pascual H. Poblete was a writer and feminist who translated Dr Jose Rizal's Noli Me Tangere to Tagalog language. He also wrote a play titled Amor Patria (love for country) and seated as an editor of El Resumen which he used to question the atrocities during the Spanish regime. Poblete was exiled to Africa for his resistance. 

More from Tatler: Philippine Independence Day: 5 Inspiring Filipino Biographies And Autobiographies To Read