Hero holding Philippine flag

5 Weird Tidbits about Filipino Heroes

“We are living in trying times — again.”

So says Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales in an interview with a leading newspaper. Sure, the majority will respond that what we need in these trying times is new hero.

But when we say heroes, we’re thinking of men frozen in time. Who would dare to say that heroes were humans too?

Klippers, pull a chair and shake your wits with these “5 Weird Tidbits about Filipino Heroes”. We know that we all grew up with images of our heroes standing on pedestals. We’re thinking that it’s high time to realize that they were once like us — made of flesh, blood, and a lot of quirks.

1. Tita Cory NEVER hid under the bed

Girl hinding under the bed from black shadow

Former Pres. Corazon Aquino has swept millions with her “Cory Magic”, up until her death in 2009 — which also happened in August.

However, her presidency was plagued with all sorts of intrigues. An official document released by Malacañang showed destabilization attempts against her administration. It was during the 1987 coup attempt when journalist Louie Beltran wrote that “the president hid under her bed while the firing was going on.”

Needless to say, Aquino sued Beltran with libel. The journalist lost the case and was sentenced with a two-year imprisonment and a PHP 2-million payment for moral damages.

Beltran recanted his words, saying that he was just using figurative speech. In reality, Aquino was in her residence in Arlegui Street and eyewitnesses reported that she maintained her composure during the ordeal.

According to former PSG (Presidential Security Group) Commander Voltaire Gazmin, Aquino “was very calm” she even had time to fix her hair!

The verdict was overturned almost three years after Beltran died of heart attack in 1994, with the court citing that Beltran’s statements were not published with malice.

2. Quezon’s ‘barong Tagalog’

A man Holding a barong Tagalog

While male presidents of the republic are now often seen wearing ‘barong Tagalog’, this was not the case in the past. It was the late Pres. Ramon Magsaysay who first wore the baro ng mga Tagalog as his official attire.

Almost 10 years before Magsaysay led the country, Manuel Quezon ruled the Philippine Commonwealth, a time of American colonial rule.

It was then that Quezon thought of combining the Filipino and American spirit.

How did he do that? Quezon wore a ‘barong Tagalog’ that was embroidered with intertwined Philippine and American flags.

Designers who specialize in history chose to call Quezon’s ‘barong Tagalog’ as the Commonwealth Barong Tagalog. For some, it became a symbol of the emerging Filipino identity in the midst of colonial rule, while others see it as a proof of Philippines’ longstanding dependency to America.

3. Infighting is ingrained in our bones

A man going to stab the back of a man saying freedom

We lost most of our wars not because our opponents were more superior, but because we had enemies from within.

Historians agree that the Philippine history is filled with a lot of traitors. It was a Filipino, in the person of Teodoro Patiño, who exposed the Katipunan (KKK) to Spanish authorities.

Speaking of the Katipunan, the death of Andres Bonifacio is still a controversy these days, with most of the circumstantial evidences pointing to Emilio Aguinaldo as mastermind of Bonifacio’s assassination.

In fact, the famous phrase “Sa’yo ang Tundo, akin ang Cavite” might have originated by the factionalism between Bonifacio’s and Aguinaldo’s men, who came from Tundo and Cavite respectively.

Aguinaldo himself was not exempt from back-fighting. While hiding on the mountains of Palanan, Isabela in 1901, Aguinaldo was captured by Filipinos who defected to the American side. His Filipino captors dressed up as soldiers of the Philippine revolution, while Brig. Gen. Frederick Funston pretended to be a prisoner of war.

4. The “Artistahing Andres”

A man singing in the stage with a happy face

Since we have mentioned the Philippine Revolution, it is worthwhile to delve deeper into Andres Bonifacio’s past showbiz career.

Yes, Klippers, you heard it right. Bonifacio was once a theater actor before he founded the Katipunan.

In fact, he first founded a theater group before he founded a revolutionary movement.

Guess who the other actors are? Of course, fellow revolutionaries Macario Sakay and Aurelio Tolentino were part of Bonifacio’s artist’s troupe.

5. Andres was probably vain

a man holding a tookpick and umbrella

Historians are still at war whether Bonifacio’s bones have really been found. When the Supremo and his brother Procopio was assassinated on May 10, 1897, their remains were hastily buried somewhere on Maragondon’s mountain range.

A set of bones were found in 1918, believed to be those of Andres Bonifacio. Though many historians doubted the bones’ authenticity, some bought the idea that they really belonged to the Supremo.

Upon closer examination, the skull’s teeth were obviously made smooth through a file. The suspicion that the skulls really belonged to Bonifacio was strengthened with statements from his sister Espiridiona. Bonifacio’s youngest sister confirmed that her brother used to smoothen his teeth with an earthenware shard.

If the skull is authentic, it can prove that Bonifacio might have lived a vain lifestyle, as he was concerned with how his teeth would affect his appearance.

Another possible proof of Andres Bonifacio’s preoccupation with personal grooming was his habit of bringing an umbrella regardless of the weather. During those times, bringing an umbrella as a walking stick provided men with a fashionable look.

JUAN-na be like them?

While it isn’t easy to be a hero, we’re always facing the challenge of being one these days.

These tidbits, though not “weird” in the literal sense, are often regarded as historical “rumors”. “Rumors” of these kind are not intended to disparage; instead, they highlight the long-forgotten fact that heroes were humans, too.

So, if they are humans in the same way that we are, we can probably imitate them to some extent!

Don’t just take everything in! If you enjoyed our list, comment your reactions or whatsoever thoughts. of course, let us know if you have quirkier tidbits to share!

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About Arli Joshua Atienza

Arli Joshua Atienza is a native of Bataan, an English teacher by profession, and a passionate member of Clark’s Jewish community.

He began his career in journalism since his high school days. It culminated when he joined his college’s radio station and news publication. Now, he works as a journalist at KLIPP TV.