Today, August 30, is National Heroes Day, a day on which we commemorate our country’s heroes: those who served the country and its ideals, who may even have sacrificed their lives in order to give our nation its freedom. But too often, when we're naming national heroes like Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo, and so forth, we forget that undying patriotism was not just something for our country's men. From Gabriela Silang who took up the torch after her husband, Diego Silang, died to Josefa Llanes Escoda, the founder of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines who advocated women’s right to suffrage, Filipinas have played their part in helping us grow as a nation.
You don’t have to become publicly recognized, however, to become a hero. Every day, heroes live among us, often overlooked and taken for granted despite their chivalric actions. This National Heroes Day, let us also take the time to thank these people who inspire us to be better persons just by being them.
We asked a few celebrities and FN readers to answer this simple question: Who’s your personal hero and why? Read on to find out what they have to say.
My personal hero is my little sister Clare Bear that passed away. As young as she was her eyes showed nothing but strength when we were around her and she would smile in spite of the pain she felt at the time. That's always a reminder for me that whatever we may be going through, even how much it hurts, there will come a time when you have to show your strength above all of that for the people you love and for the people who care about you. It is an act of selflessness. - Anne Curtis, actress and TV host
Queen Rania of Jordan. She is the epitome of elegance, class, dignity who has used her influence and power to bridge the gap between the west and the Middle East. She champions human rights and focuses her campaigns on children and women. Queen Rania is my hero! - Ruffa Guttierrez, actress and beauty queen
My achie (aunt) Bernadette. Ever since our father died, my mom has been heartbroken and our achie stood strong for us. She's always been there for us any time of the day. She fetches us from school, buys groceries for us, drives us to places, pays bills, etc. She was our guardian angel. She even left her one and only love for us (we didn't want that to happen). She saved us from the bad things around us. She's our hero. I just hope and pray her prince charming would still come. - Erica, 28, mother of three
My mom, of course, she's my hero because she never loses faith in me. She supports me in all of my decisions, warns me about their implications, and comforts me during trying times. She is, in fact, very considerate of my gender and I admire her for the love and care she gives to each of us, her family. - July, 23, crediting accountant
Mother Teresa. She lived out the word of God and emulated Jesus to the best of her ability. She lived amongst the lowest of the low, saved the poor, the sick and the condemned, with no want for any reward except to be the hands and feet of Jesus and be the vessel to carry out God's work. There's no greater hero than this woman, with her unshakable faith in God and unconditional love for strangers. - Amanda, 23, Corporate Communications officer
My girl best friend named Rachelle because ever since we were in kindergarten until now, she’s always been here for me, taking care of me. She’s the only girl friend that I can tell everything to. Because of her strength and confidence, I was able to face my fears and accept all challenges in life. - Candace, 25, Trade Marketing Officer
My heroine is one of my best buddies Irish Vidal, because she opened up my mind to having a positive outlook in life, that in spite of problems, all we need is to trust God and ourselves and everything will turn out to be okay. Just always smile. Even though she experienced hardships in her life (a kind of cancer in her left ear), still she managed to overcome them. Now she is still fighting that sickness and hoping that she will be cure in time. And now every time I encounter a problem or have worries in my life, I always stay positive and didn’t make it affect me at all, I know there are solutions for that and I will work it out positively. Thank you very much! - Mary Fatima, 26, Circulation Admin Supervisor
My mom, because she always has solutions to my problems. She's always one step ahead of me and I admire her for that. - Auwie, 22, in between jobs
I think my mom and my aunt are both heroines of mine. I know that's a bit cliché, but they have both been through so much in their lives—painful childhoods, painful relationships, financial struggles, personal struggles, and yet they've managed to stay such good people the whole time. And they've basically both raised me—showing me their (rather opposite) personalities and good qualities. I really admire my mom's strength and my aunt's depth, and I really do want to end up being really resilient and kind like they are. – Kailey, 17, student
Cory Aquino. She united the Filipino people and showed them a different take on the meaning of a true leader. There should be more people like her in this world. - Anna, 22, advertising associate
Lady Gaga. She reawakened the music and fashion scene with her unique style and frank personality. People may rag on her for being crazy, but I know that’s because they just all want to be her! Empowering women (and everyone else) all over the world—that’s Lady Gaga for you. How can you not love her? - Dominique, 18, student
I think it has to be Angelina Jolie. Sure, a decade ago she was notorious for her wild ways, but I think she's a great woman now. She's moved on from her old habits and look at what she’s accomplished now: a UN ambassador, a proud mother of 6, and her career is still flourishing. I admire her will because she could have bought loads of food just like everyone else, but, no, she chose to starve to bring awareness to the plight that Afghanistan and other countries are suffering from. – Silvia, 19, student
My personal hero is, as cliché as it is, is my dad. He has gone through so much being a single parent and having to pick up the pieces of our family after my mom left. He works so hard to ensure that my sister and I are happy and comfortable. He's even gone back to school so that he can get a higher paying job so that we don't have to worry about any financial problems. I just really love my dad and don't know where I'd be or who I'd be without him in my life. - Angela, 18, college student
I honestly think we are all our own heroines. A person grows through the decisions he or she has made. Whether these decisions are right or wrong, we learn from them. Only we can dictate what happens in our own lives. I say we should all give ourselves a pat on the back for getting this far and doing the best we can whatever the results may be. - Joanna, 32, sales manager
The first time I lived alone, I didn’t know anyone in my new neighborhood and felt inadequate because of it. My next-door neighbor, a little old lady with two children all grown up and working abroad, visited me and welcomed me with a smile. Noticing that I looked a little sad by myself, she invited me over for dinner the next day. I have my own family now and she has already migrated to be with her children, but I’ll never forget her act of kindness. It’s the little things like this that make me feel living in the world is worthwhile. - Sarah, 35, manager
I won’t give you her name but I’d just like to thank the woman who was my benefactor because she made my college education possible through a scholarship. I finished with an honorable mention in college and I couldn’t have done it without her help. I plan to one day finance a scholar just like my benefactor did so that I may be able to spread the good will that was once extended to me. - Belle, 25, nurse
Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. She taught me, by example, everything that shouldn’t be done to become a good leader. - Rowena, 31, accountant
Charice. She is a living example of how you can become successful as long as you keep working hard. People kept telling Charice that she would never be good enough, but she brushed off their negative comments and concentrated on getting better. Now that she’s at the top, people will keep trying to bring her down, but I know with confidence and a great personality like hers, she will keep going. - Liza, 30, mother of two
Madonna. As a woman, her music empowered me to speak up for myself and make my own decisions. She also helped me learn to respect myself, something that people often take for granted but is actually hard to gain. - Laura, 27, housewife, mother of one
My personal heroine is beauty queen Venus Raj who finished as 4th-runner up in the Miss Universe 2010 pageant. After the tragedy on Monday, she gave us a reason to still be proud of being a Filipino. - Bea, 18, student
(Photos courtesy of PEP.ph)