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The Katipunan's Ladies' Man, Balintawak's Reyna Elena, And Other Interesting Facts About Our National Heroes

Unlike the 'Why was Mabini always sitting down?' mystery, these are not so elementary.
by Rampador Alindog | Oct 5, 2015
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Have you heard of actor Epy Quizon's epic Facebook story about his character Apolinario Mabini from the critically acclaimed Jerrold Tarog biopic Heneral Luna?

Even Epy himself isn't amused.

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Yes, it was funny—and sad and stupid too, with Quizon himself lending voice to our thoughts when he asked that question.

Well, we don't know exactly, having been done with college eons ago. Oh, wait. We do remember being told that Mabini was a paraplegic due to polio.

(During the revolution, with various parties eager to discredit Mabini in the eyes of then-President Emilio Aguinaldo, rumors emerged that the former's condition was caused by syphilis. This was debunked only in the '80s; Mabini's bones were exhumed and the autopsy proved once and for all that it was indeed due to polio.)

In light of that head-scratching exchange between Epy and those unwitting juveniles, we further probed on the other not-so elementary facts about some of our national heroes, hoping to avoid embarrassing questions in the future, like the aforementioned about Mabini.


Are you familiar with the trio of personalities in the P1,000 bill? Do the names José Abad Santos, Vicente Lim and Josefa Llanes Escoda (clockwise from top in the photo below) ring a bell?

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Photo via Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas website

Some might scoff at the idea of them being placed in such a valuable banknote, given they are not as popular as, say, Jose Rizal. But these three are, no doubt, worthy.

For one, they all died serving the motherland during the days of the Japanese occupation.

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Abad Santos, who was appointed by then-Philippine President Manuel L. Quezon as acting president while he established a government in exile in the United States, was quite the badass. In fact, he refused to be blindfolded prior to his execution by the Imperial Force. It wasn't known if he also gave them the middle finger while at it...

Lim, on the other hand, was among those who offered resistance against the Japanese in Corregidor. Like Abad Santos, he refused to cooperate with the invading country even in defeat. He was eventually beheaded by the enemies and buried in an unmarked graved.

Escoda is not just the founder of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines, but is also considered the Spiritual Leader of the Underground resistance during World War II. She and her husband provided medicine, food, and other goods to both Filipino and American war prisoners in concentration camps. Both of them was said to have been killed while incarcerated in Fort Santiago.

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Among the more popular Pinoy heroes is Andres Bonifacio. Yup, that shoeless guy depicted in a monument in Caloocan.

Photo via the Presidential Museum and Library website

Many would think they know everything about the man, but actually, some facts about him have been muddled through history.

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For one, he never actually went about without shoes. National Artist Guillermo Tolentino, the creator of his Caloocan monument, simply decided to depict him as such in an effort to romanticize his Tondo roots.

He is often called the Father of the Philippine Revolution, but Bonifacio was only one of several individuals who started the Katipunan. If anything, he was the one who insisted that armed struggle is the only way to go if Filipinos wanted independence. Bonifacio didn't see that come to fruition, with Aguinaldo ordering his execution.

And the leader of the execution team? Lazaro Macapagal, a direct descendant of Don Juan Macapagal, a prince and ecomendiero of Tondo, and ancestor of Diosdado and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, father and daughter, and the ninth and 14th Presidents of the Philippines, respectively.


After watching Heneral Luna, we all know now how colorful a character Antonio Luna was. Not many are aware however, that his brother, painter Juan Luna, was just as interesting. (No, we're not talking about that sleek moustache).

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Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Initially gaining acclaim for his works, among them the award-winning pieces Spoliarium and La Batalla de Lepanto, he earned notoriety after killing his wife and mother-in-law, and wounded his brother-in-law in a fit of rage. Apparently, he has long been suspecting of his wife having an affair with a French man. Juan would be eventually acquitted on grounds of temporary insanity.

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Temporary? Heck, the brothers are crazier than Absinthe.

Luna would succumb to heart attack years later after learning of his brother's murder. We could only imagine what would have happened if he got his hands on his brother's murderer. In any case, his ghost is supposed to be roaming San Agustin Church.


Photo via the official Tumblr page of the Presidential Museum and Library

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Many are acquainted with Macario Sakay as the last rebel holdout against the American forces. He is also known for his long hair, which he promised not to cut until the country was free. That was awesome, considering that at the time, those sporting long locks were branded as either gay or uneducated.

But did you know that prior to the revolution, he was among the country's more in-demand theater actors, perhaps like the Robin Padilla of his time? Well, whatever, he was eventually hanged as a bandit at the ripe old age of 29.


Now, there was this lady considered among the prettiest in Balintawak. Melchora Aquino was such a looker that she would always be tapped to play the role of Reyna Elena during Santacruzan. She was also a sought-after performer due to her angelic voice.

Photo via the Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines

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She became more famous, however, during the Filipino revolution, being an avid supporter of the Katipunan. Melchora didn't bear arms for at the time she was already old and frail. She earned the names Mother of Balintawak and Mother of the Philippine Revolution; who would've thought she would be known eventually as Tandang Sora?

When the Spaniards learned of her activities, she was deported to Guam. Tandang Sora returned from exile when the Americans took over, succumbing years later at 107.


Jose Rizal is touted as the chickboy of all the chickboys. Though, he is not the only hero to be considered one. Enter Goyong, otherwise known as General Gregorio del Pilar y Sempio—the Boy General.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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This Atenista, who was also somewhat of a gangsta (he was supposedly sporting at least one gold tooth and loved to rap—just kidding on that last part), was believed to have swooned many and had several girlfriends during the revolution.

Just like a rock star, he had girls fawning over him whenever he marched into town astride his white horse. It helped probably that he was young, good-looking and brash. Well, we would be too if we were made a general at 22.

Ever the ladies' man, when he died at the hands of the enemy at 24, found among his possession was a hanky with a woman's name—no, it wasn't Lola Nidora—stitched on it.

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