In the Footsteps of Heroes: The Legendary Dads of Philippine Independence Day

Joanna Marie Santos

June 9, 2023

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Just hearing the names of our Filipino heroes can already bring up overwhelming feelings of pride and admiration. Knowing their incredible journeys, the stories of the battles they fought, and their direct influence on the way we perceive and live in our country today helps us understand the struggles that they went through. Truly, the remembrance and acknowledgment we give them may not be enough, but it is the best we can do.

The history of the Philippines is a rich and vibrant one, where multiple stories of our heroes and brave countrymen are intertwined and connected, weaving together a culture that we can all be proud of. But what many of us might not know is that behind some of the brave faces of our Filipino heroes are people who wanted to simply become a father to their children. Beyond the role that they play as our nation’s heroes, are men who started families and were the heroes of their own children.

Many people who fought for our independence have demonstrated their courage, fearlessness, and strength as heroes of our nation. Many of these men also showed the same characteristics as the head of their households. In this article, we feature brave men who fought for our country’s independence while tackling the challenges of being a father.

Juan Luna de San Pedro y Novicio Ancheta

Juan Luna pictured with his son Andres Luna (around 6 in this image) and his brother General Antonio Luna 

Father to Andrés Luna de San Pedro, Juan Luna de San Pedro y Novicio Ancheta, also known simply as Juan Luna, is a celebrated Filipino illustrator, painter, sculptor, and political activist at the time of the Philippine Revolution. With his strong influence as a well-known artist and brother to General Antonio Luna, Juan Luna made use of his incredible talent in the arts to create masterpieces that caught the attention of international audiences, with some showing political undertones to reflect his support of the Philippine Revolution.

Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy

Emilio Aguinaldo pictured with one of his five children, Emilio Jr. in 1906.

Leader of the Katipuneros, Emilio Aguinaldo, is a revolutionary, a statesman, and the president of the first Philippine Republic. We all know and regard Emilio Aguinaldo as the fearless leader of the KKK and the face who prompted the Philippine Independence, but behind the battle scars was a person who fought hard for a free country that can be enjoyed not just by his countrymen but by his family and five children. 

Benigno Simeon "Igno" Quiambao Aquino Sr.

Benigno Aquino Sr. with his family retrieved by PhilStar from the Presidential Museum and Library/PCDSPO/ "Ninoy: Ideals & Ideologies 1932-1983

Father of Philippine national hero Benigno "Ninoy" Simeon Aquino Jr. and grandfather to the 15th president of the Philippines Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III, Igno Aquino was one of the county’s politicians who served the Japanese-puppet government, Second Philippine Republic who ultimately became one negotiator of the Philippine Independence from the U.S., as a member of the Philippine Independence Mission in 1931. 

Not All Heroes Wear Capes

As national heroes who dedicated most of their lives to fighting battles and bringing independence to our country, it's hard to find a thorough and authentic recollection of how these men fulfilled their roles as fathers. What we know, however, is that these fathers have left such indelible marks on our country’s history that not only did their own children continue to have great achievements in their lives, but many Filipino children today also look up to them as their own heroes.

The feeling of being a county’s hero and fighting for independence is something that only a few people can describe. Being a father who watches and looks after their children as they grow up, however, is a feeling that many of us can fondly talk about. To our children, we can also be heroes —  adults in their lives who can run for protection whenever they need it. And as we look back to the Filipino heroes who also took on the role of ‘dad’, we can begin to appreciate what they have done for the country and learn from their example as heroes of our own family.