IN PHOTOS: The ‘real heroes’ at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani

Mara Cepeda
IN PHOTOS: The ‘real heroes’ at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani

LeAnne Jazul

On the birth anniversary of Katipunan founder Andres Bonifacio, and on the same day, anti-Marcos protests are conducted, 19 men and women are given honors for standing up against Ferdinand Marcos' dictatorship

MANILA, Philppines – Evening had settled when the names of 19 patriots were added to the wall of remembrance at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani on Wednesday, November 30. 

The following were honored by the Bantayog nga mga Bayani Foundation as the “real heroes” who valiantly fought the dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos in their respective fields: 

(Check and share Rappler’s Facebook album to know what these new heroes did to fight the Marcos regime.)

For Salonga’s son Steve, the ceremony could be considered as a “homecoming” for his father, the founding chair of the foundation, which, for the past 3 decades, have annually been naming the martyrs who strongly opposed Martial Law.

Their relatives, contemporaries, and other guests lit candles and sang “Bayan Ko” as the honorees’ names were finally revealed at the wall of remembrance. 

Steve Salonga speaks after receiving the citation from the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation for his father, former Senate President Jovito Salonga.

Former priest and NDF peace negotiator Luis Jalandoni raises his fist as the citation for Bishop Julio Labayen is read

Ian Estella kisses the citation awarded by the Bantayog ng mga Bayani for his sister journalist Chit Estella-Simbulan

For new Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation chair Wigberto Tañada, the annual ceremony had an added significance because it occurred around two weeks after the stealthy burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani

Sana sa okasyong ito, maipahatid namin ‘yung mensahe na kailangang-kailangan na maisulat natin, mapalaganap natin ‘yung katotohanan ng ating kasaysayan. Dahil kung hindi natin patuloy na magagawa ‘yan, ay ‘di nakakalungkot ‘yan, ano? Dahil nakita na natin ‘yung nangyari ngayong buwang ito, nung nga nakaraang buwan, na ‘yung mga may kasalanan sa sambayanan, sa ating bayan, ay nalilibing pa sa Libingan ng mga Bayani,” said Tañada.

(I hope on this ocassion that we can deliver the message, the truth about our history. Because if we don’t, that would be sad, right? Because we saw what happened this month, when the person who sinned against the nation was buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.)

The family of labor leader and KMU founding member Simplicio Villados on stage after receiving the citation at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani

A relative of Joel Jose turns emotional after receiving the citation for the former student leader/organizer from Ateneo de Davao who was killed by the military during Martial Law

Relatives of former soldier turned rebel Danilo Vizmanos show the citation awarded to them by the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation

Dr Carlos Magsanoc receives the citation for his wife, journalist Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc

Marcos’ interment at the national shrine for heroes in Taguig City sparked public outrage, with various anti-Marcos groups and other institutions staging protests across the country. 

Tañada, a Martial Law victim himself, saluted the Filipino youth who participated in the protests. (READ: Students in anti-Marcos burial protest: ‘We will never forget’)

Ako ay nagulat dahil ako taling-tali na sila sa kanilang computer, sa cellphone, sa mga iPad. Pero nakita natin, ano, maski hindi nila naranasan ‘yung karahasan, ‘yung kalupitan, ‘yung mga pagnanakaw na naganap nung nakaraang rehimeng Marcos ay nakuha pa rin nilang kumilos at sumama sa protesta na nananawagan na hindi dapat ilibing si Ferdinand Marcos sa Libingan ng mga Bayani. Kaya ako po ay saludo sa kanila,” he said.

 (I’m surprised because I thought they were just hooked on their computers, cellphones, and iPads. But we saw that while they did not experience the atrocities, the abuses, the theft that was widespread during the Marcos regime, they still managed to mobilize and join protests saying Ferdinand Marcos should not be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. That’s why I salute them.)

Mel Cortez raises his clenched fist after receiving the citation for his fallen brother fallen and trade union organizer Hernando Cortez from the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation

Relatives of the 19 'heroes' place the Philippines flag to a half staff to honor those who fought repression during Martial Law

Relatives of victims of Martial Law light candles at the Bantayog ng mga Baynani wall of remembrance to honor the heroism of their fallen kin

Former Senator Rene Saguisag is also happy that there are Filipino millennials who are actively opposing Marcos’ interment. 

I’m elated na dahil sa katraydoran nitong mga Marcoses, itong mga millennials, nae-educate, nagigising,” he said. (I’m elated that, because of the Marcoses’ betrayal, these millennials are educated and enlightened.)

Other personalities were present during the event: Vice President Leni Robredo, Senator Francis Pangilinan, Northern Samar 1st District Representative Raul Daza, Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, national artist Bienvenido Lumbera, communist leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, and National Democratic Front of the Philippines negotiating panel chair Luis Jalandoni.

Vice President Leni Robredo joins former senator Wigberto Tanada in a flower offering for 'heroes' at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani's wall of remembrance

National artist Bienvenido Lumbera and DSWD secretary Judy Taguiwalo onstage as the Bantayog ng mga Bayani announces its list of new 'heroes'

Ruth Zumel (far left), wife of former journalist and NDFP peace negotiator Antonio Zumel chats with NDFP peace consultant Wilma Tiamzon during the awarding of citation for heroes at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani

Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party, said the annual naming of Martial Law victims serves as a reminder of the state-sanctioned human rights abuses during Marcos’ 21-year rule.  

That is right. That is why napakahalaga nitong paggugunita ng mga panahon ng diktadura na marami ang nagbuwis ng buhay, nagsakripisyo, nanindigan para sa demokrasya at sa kalayaan sa ating bansa,” he said.

 (That is right. That’s why it’s important to commemorate the time of the dictatorship when many sacrificed their lives and stoop up for democracy and the country’s freeedom.)

Pangilinan said it was also important that the honoring ceremony was held on November 30, the birth anniversary of national hero Andres Bonifacio.

Siguro sa ating pagninilay at pagkilala sa naging sakripisyo ni Ka Andres Bonifacio eh maliliwanagan tayo kung sino ba ang totoong bayani at kung sino ba ang huwad na mga bayani. Kaya dapat tuloy-tuloy nating kinikilala at pinaparangalan itong mga nagsakripsyo,” said Pangilinan.

(Perhaps in our reflections and in our recognition of the sacrifices of Ka Andres Bonifacio, it will be clear to us who are the real heroes and who are the false heroes. That’s why we need to continiously recognize and honor those who sacrificed.) –

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.