Every month of June since 1962, the Philippines has been celebrating Independence Day to mark the historic event when it gained freedom from Spain in 1898. What better way to honor our national heroes and heroines than to make their shrines part of our travel list? Here are four attractions to remind Filipinos that we are free because they have fought.
Rizal Park and Shrine
Dapitan (via Dipolog)
Though Luneta Park in Manila remains the most popular shrine to Jose P Rizal, there are over 160 known shrines and monument to the national hero across the Philippines and abroad. One of the most important is the Rizal Park and Shrine in Dapitan, Zamboanga Del Norte (pictured above). Sitting on 439 hectares overlooking the Talisay seaside, this is where Rizal was held in exile from 1892 to 1896 by Spanish colonial authorities after being accused of sedition and plotting the Philippine revolution. During those four years, Rizal kept himself busy with civic work – farming, building a dormitory for boys and opening a clinic to treat the sick and to perform eye surgery – on top of finishing several books. This is also the place where Rizal famously fell in love with Josephine Bracken.
Tandang Sora Shrine
Quezon City (Metro Manila)
Melchora Aquino, also known as Tandang Sora, was already 84 when the Katipuneros began revolting against the Spanish rule in 1896. Despite her advanced age, this Mother of the Revolution was able to play a vital role by nursing, feeding and providing shelter for wounded Katipuneros. During the Cry of Balintawak in 1896, Aquino hosted as many as 1,000 men in her home. Learn more about her life and legacy by visiting her shrine along Banlat Road in Tandang Sora, Quezon City. It features her life in a series of sculptures designed by Filipino multimedia artist Abdulmari “Toym” Imao, Jr. There is also a mini museum that carries old photos, her family tree, and coin memorabilia that carried her image.
General Jose Ignacio Paua Park and Shrine
Compared to Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio, Paua belongs to the set of lesser-known national heroes. Born in Amoy, Paua was a Chinese immigrant who fought side by side Filipino revolutionaries in battles held in Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, Pangasinan and Tarlac. Paua became known as the only general of Chinese descent in the Philippine Revolution. His patriotism didn’t stop with the end of the Philippine revolution. During the Filipino-American War, he also helped raised funds for the resistance in Bicol. Today, Paua is rightfully honored with a monument in an eponymous park along Rizal Street in Legazpi City’s barangay Sagmin.
Graciano Lopez Jaena Park
Graciano Lopez Jaena was the founder and first editor of La Solidaridad, the paper that became the voice of the Propaganda Movement during the late years of Spanish rule. In 2017 the Dr Graciano Lopez Jaena Foundation started building a shrine to the propagandist at his birthplace in Jaro district. It is still in the works, and the city government, which took over the project in December 2020, plans to create an e-library featuring works of the national hero. In the meantime, visitors can head to the Graciano Lopez Jaena Park (formerly Jaro Plaza) in Iloilo City to get a glimpse of the hero’s monument. While you’re there, check out the historical buildings such as the Jaro Cathedral and belfry, and old mansions that surround the park.