National Heroes Day

National Heroes’ Day is a holiday observed on the last Monday in August every year. This holiday commemorates the Cry of Pugad Lawin—the beginning of the Philippine Revolution against the Spanish Empire in August of 1896. In 1899, the First Philippine Republic under a democratic constitution was established, but the U.S. annexed the Philippines. During WWII, Japan briefly took control of the Philippines from the U.S., and this island country wouldn’t truly gain independence until after the war had ended.

A Brief History of the Cry of Pugad Lawin

The Cry of Pugad Lawin, also known as the Cry of Balintawak, marked the start of the Philippine Revolution against the Spanish Empire. Near the end of August 1896, Katipuneros (members of the Katipunan secret revolutionary society) led by Andres Bonifacio rose up in revolt in Caloocan.

This was the initial clash between the Katipuneros and the Guardia Civil (Civil Guards). It also roughly coincided with the tearing up of community tax certificates in defiance of their allegiance to the Spanish Empire—an event that was accompanied by literal shouts of patriotism. However, the revolts were not successful.

The Spanish eventually defeated Bonifacio and his forces. However, this inspired revolts across the country, which led to the Spanish-American War in 1898. So it did have a lasting effect on the Philippines and would lead to the formation of the First Philippine Republic.

The Philippines wouldn’t gain full independence, however. After the Spanish-American War, they came under the rule of the U.S., and they faced a brutal occupation by Japanese forces during World War II. It wouldn’t be until 1946 that the Philippines would eventually become the free country it was destined to be.

Some National Heroes of the Philippines

A year before the centenary anniversary of the Cry of Pugad Lawin, in 1995, a committee in the Philippines came up with a list of key national heroes who should be celebrated for the anniversary. The following names are some of the heroes that were put on that list:

  • Andres Bonifacio
  • Gabriela Silang
  • Jose Rizal
  • Melchora Aquino
  • Emilio Aguinaldo
  • Sultan Dipatuan Kudarat
  • Apolinario Mabini
  • Juan Luna
  • Marcelo H. del Pilar

Observing National Heroes’ Day

This holiday is observed through various activities and functions all over the Philippines. People also use the hashtags #NationalHeroesDay or #SigawNgBalintawak on their social media accounts to spread the word about this holiday. It’s also a day that can be celebrated with food and time spent with family. Wreaths can also be laid on the graves of those who lost their lives in the pursuit of Philippine independence.

Where is it celebrated?
Philippines (Regular holiday)
When is it?
This year (2024)
August 25 Sunday
Next year (2025)
August 24 Sunday
Last year (2023)
August 27 Sunday