Image above via rejectedprincesses.com (Kumander Liwayway)
Thanks to Jerrold Tarog’s Heneral Luna, the bayani genre of Filipino film has seen a resurgence. With that in mind, and with the fact that we will be celebrating Philippine independence this coming June 12, we listed down some of the most unsung heroes in Philippine history.
These heroes deserve to have their stories told on the big screen because people need to know who they are and what they did for this country. It doesn’t even matter if what they did was big or small, all that matters is they did it out of love.
If you’re looking for the real “Panday”, then there’s no need to look further. Panday Pira lived during the 15th century and throughout the 16th century in the Philippines. He was a Luzon native who traveled to Manila with his family when he was 20 years old. In Manila, he met a Portuguese blacksmith and started his apprenticeship to hone his skills in crafting weapons.
Pira was known as the very first Filipino cannon-maker and his creations were even used by Rajah Sulayman against invading Spaniards. Sadly, the battle was lost to the Spaniards and Pira’s creations were confiscated for the opposing side’s own use.
General Jose Ignacio Paua
Image via Wikimedia
Many will argue with the label “Filipino hero” when it came to General Jose Ignacio Paua. Why? Because he was a full-blooded Chinese. But despite that fact, the man considered himself Filipino through and through. Paua and his uncle migrated to the Philippines when he was only 18 years old, and like Panday Pira, he too apprenticed as a blacksmith and he specialized in producing weapons and ammunitions repair.
The young man was introduced to Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo and Gen. Pantaleon Garcia, and from there, he would be a member of the Katipunan and would fight against Spanish forces during the Battle of Binakayan. Paua would later be promoted to the rank of general. Make no mistake, he IS a Filipino, but most importantly, he’s a hero.
Image via taal.ph
Gliceria and her husband, Eulalio Villavicencio, were both ilustrados (basically the more fortunate Filipino middle class that the Spaniards respected) during the Spanish era of the country. Despite their acceptable standing in society, they still fought for the country and their countrymen’s freedom by spreading propaganda literature, La Solidaridad, to light a fire in the hearts of their fellow Filipinos.
The Guardia Civil frequently searched their house after suspicions of such activities, and after uncovering the couple’s involvement, they imprisoned Eulalio for sedition charges. Sadly, Eulalio passed away shortly after due to poor health and the Spaniards would tempt Gliceria in disclosing details about the Katipunan. She stood her ground as she believed that such acts would be an act of betrayal to her husband and for what he believed in. Now, THAT, is true love.
Josefa Llanes Escoda
Image via ilocanopride.blogspot.com
Josefa Escoda was a woman who endured the terrors of the Japanese occupation in the Philippines. Along with her husband, Antonio, they would send out food and supplies to war casualties, and the couple would even pass out messages for prisoners of war to their loved ones. Josefa was also known for founding the Girl Scouts of the Philippines.
At first, The Japanese would ignore her activities, but on June 1944, her husband, Antonio, was caught and was imprisoned in Fort Santiago, and she would follow him shortly after. The couple were tortured and ruthlessly interrogated by their captors, but no word came out of their mouths. They were executed by the Japanese before Manila would be liberated in 1945.
Image above via rejectedprincesses.com
If we could best describe Kumander Liwayway, it would be this - she has the looks that kill. Remedios Gomez-Paraiso, also known as Kumander Liwayway, was a beauty queen who swore to avenge her father’s death at the hands of the Japanese. She was as fierce as she was beautiful, as she joined the Hukbalahap (Hukbong Bayan Laban Sa Mga Hapon) and became a high-ranking commander.
Liwayway was known for heading into battle neatly made up, hair fixed nicely, and with bright red lipstick on her lips. She believed in being herself no matter where she is, and she was indeed a beauty queen through and through. Those under her command never questioned her with this because Liwayway was known for challenging doubters to a duel to prove that she’s not just a pretty face. Kumander Liwayway would live to experience the freedom that she fought for as she died in 2014 at the age of 94. Wow, what a life to live!
Image via dwdd.com
Macario Sakay was a rebel with a cause. The long-haired soldier would fight in two Philippine wars, he was part of the Katipunan during the Spanish period and would continue fighting towards the American occupation. Macario was a man of many hats because he used to be a barber and a Moro-Moro stage actor during his tenure as a Katipunero. His skills as an actor were perfect for espionage as he used this as a cover to recruit other Filipinos in the Katipunan while he was traveling from town to town to perform.
He fought alongside Andres Bonifacio during the during three battles - Montalban, San Mateo, and Marikina. He laid low during Emilio Aguinaldo’s presidential era, but he would continue to keep Bonificio’s legacy alive during this time. His country would call on him once more during the war against the Americans and he used guerilla tactics to fight the opposing side. Sakay lived in the mountains and he, along with his troops, would keep their hair long as a symbol for how long they have been fighting for their country.
Macario would eventually fall after he and his troops were betrayed by American sympathizer, Dr. Dominador Gomez. He was labeled as a rebel and a bandit, but during his final days he stated that he was not a bandit, but a revolutionary fighting for freedom. His last words before he was hanged on September 13, 1907 were, “Long live the Republic and may our independence be born in the future! Long live the Philippines!” *Of course it’s in Filipino and NOT English*.