June 12, 1898—the monumental date that marked the independence of a country enslaved under a 333-year rule by the Spanish. And even as the Filipino people continue to celebrate this day each year with pride, numerous accounts throughout the centuries led to the freedom we hold so dear now. However, Independence Day is not only a celebration of our freedom from Spanish rule, but also an homage to the valor of the heroes that fought for this country—something we could learn from in these dark times.
1. Bonifacio Monument
A commemorative monument designed by national artist Guillermo Tolentino, this towering shrine remembers Andres Bonifacio, Supremo of the Katipunan, and how he spearheaded the Philippine Revolution.
2. Cry of Pugad Lawin
Location: Quezon City
At the center of a small plaza in a present-day residential district, the commemorative monument of the Cry of Pugad Lawin continues to stand tall. Commissioned by national artist Napoleon Abueva, the monument depicts the moment when Andres Bonifacio met with a thousand Katipuneros and tore up their cedulas—an act of defiance that symbolized their desire to finally begin the Revolution.
3. Bonifacio and the Katipunan Revolution Monument
Originally named The Life and Heroism of Gat Andres Bonifacio, this sprawling monument by the late visual artist Eduardo Castrillo features Bonifacio amid various scenes of events that led to the Philippine Revolution. Behind the entire sculpture is the Kartilya ng Katipunan, the charter that the Katipunan was founded on, authored by Bonifacio himself.
4. Museo ng Katipunan
Location: San Juan City
Just behind the Pinaglabanan Shrine, the site of the first major battle of the Philippine Revolution in 1896, the Museo ng Katipunan features memorabilia from the Katipunan, from Bonifacio’s letters to some of the artillery used by the Katipuneros themselves.
5. Bahay Nakpil-Bautista
Amid the madness of the city of Manila, the Bahay Nakpil-Bautista is a rare historical refuge that has withstood the wear and tear of urbanization throughout the centuries. It is known as the ancestral home of Gregoria de Jesus, Bonifacio’s widow, who was an active member of the Katipunan’s women’s chapter and married Julio Nakpil years after Bonifacio’s death.
6. Aguinaldo Shrine
Location: Kawit, Cavite
Undeniably the most symbolic of sites for Independence Day, the Aguinaldo Shrine is the exact location where the first president proclaimed independence on June 12, 1898, waving the Philippine flag from the window of the grand hall of the manor.
7. Tirad Pass
Location: Vigan, Ilocos Sur
While the famed Battle of Tirad Pass happened a year after Philippine Independence (December 2, 1899, to be exact), the event is a testament to the bravery of the 60 Filipino soldiers under the brigade of General Gregorio del Pilar against 300 American soldiers. The monument stands where the youngest general was killed, replicating the final scene of his life: mounted on a horse, wielding his saber, and ready to die for his country.
8. Mabini Shrine
Location: Tanuan, Batangas
An entire museum dedicated to Apolinario Mabini, who was considered the “Brains of the Revolution”, in his birthplace. The museum also houses his tomb along with numerous memorabilia that include his writings and even the chairs he sat in.
9. Gat Andres Bonifacio Trial House
Location: Maragondon, Cavite
In 1897, the brothers Andres and Procopio Bonifacio were tried for sedition and treason following the scuffle during the Tejeros Convention that installed Aguinaldo as president. The original bahay-na-bato which held venue to the trial is now a museum that houses five galleries of the events that led up to the tragedy.
10. Rizal Monument
Location: Luneta Park, Roxas Boulevard, Manila
Luneta Park (know commonly known as Rizal Park) is the site where the national hero Jose Rizal was executed on December 30, 1896. This tragic event would be the spark that fueled the Philippine Revolution. The vast park features the towering Rizal Monument which serves as his tomb, as well as the Independence Flagpole.
11. Fort Santiago
Location: Intramuros, Manila
The walled fortress within the walled city was where thousands of Filipinos were imprisoned during the Spanish colonization, with Jose Rizal as its most famous captive. The fortress was occupied by invading Japanese forces in World War 2 and continued to serve as a prison for numerous Filipinos and Americans.
12. World War 2 Museum
Location: Balanga, Bataan
Fast-forward decades into the Southeast Asian leg of World War 2: Bataan was the last stronghold of the American forces during the invasion of the Japanese forces. Bataan is also the site of the infamous 97-kilometer Death March that claimed the lives of thousands of prisoners of war—both Filipino and American soldiers. Nowadays, just behind the Balanga Elementary School is a commemorative museum with numerous dioramas depicting the events that transpired at that time. It is also the site where Major General Edward King signed the document of surrender to Japan on April 9, 1942, and is commemorated by its own monument of life-sized statues depicting the historical moment.