Celebrating National Heroes Day: 4 Modern-day Filipino Heroes

Each year, the Philippines celebrates Araw ng mga Bayani, or National Heroes Day, on the last Monday of August. This year, August 28 marks this special day in honour of all national heroes, past and present, who have devoted their lives to the cause of freedom, justice, peace and nation-building.

The Official Gazette of the Philippines states that National Heroes Day pays tribute to no specific hero. “The law that put into practice the celebration does not name a single one. And this lack of specifics offers an opportunity to celebrate the bravery of not one, not a few, but all Filipino heroes who have braved death or persecution for home, nation, justice, and freedom.”

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To celebrate this momentous occasion, let’s take a look at four Filipinos who serve as the country’s modern-day heroes.

Efren Peñaflorida

Despite growing up in the slums and being bullied as a child, Efren still wanted to help those in need. He started a kariton klasrum, a pushcart classroom filled with reading, writing and learning materials that he brought to impoverished areas to help educate children.

In 2009, Efren was named CNN Hero of the Year. He continues his advocacy with the Dynamic Teen Company, an alternative learning avenue for the youth.

Robin Lim

Robin is a Filipino-American, having been born to a Filipina mother and spending part of her childhood in the Philippines. She is a midwife and maternal health advocate best known for her work with Yayasan Bumi Sehat (Healthy Mother Earth Foundation), an organisation she established in Bali, Indonesia to help women have a healthy pregnancy and birth. She was awarded as CNN’s Hero of the Year in 2011.

Cris “Kesz” Valdez

At the age of four, Kesz ran away from home due to maltreatment and abuse from his family. Despite his struggles, he found it within himself to help others with his project, Championing Community Children. He gives street children “Gifts of Hope” — packages containing clothes, slippers, hygiene products and toys. He also teaches them basic hygiene practices to promote better health. Kesz was awarded the 2012 International Children’s Peace Prize for his efforts.

Overseas Filipino Workers

Filipinos working abroad are considered as the Philippines’ bagong bayani, or new heroes. They leave their loved ones behind to find higher-paying jobs in other countries. They sacrifice time with their families to provide them with a better life. Supporting family and loved ones back home while being away from them is no easy feat, so in honour of their sacrifice, we’re celebrating them as heroes of their nation.