April 30, 2021 – Reflecting on the contributions of national heroes to Philippines independence, Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones underscored that physique and age should not be the basis of being a hero but on one’s persistence and commitment to fight any challenge instead.

In her message at the Department’s simultaneous flag-raising ceremony on Tuesday in celebration of the Battle of Mactan’s 500th anniversary, Secretary Briones mentioned a new development from a European historian that described the first Filipino hero Lapu-Lapu as a “pudgy 70-year-old man,” disproving earlier claims of his fit body.

“Heroes don’t look like comic book characters all the time. Our idols don’t have to look as if they emerged from the gym or the beauty parlor. Our heroes are real people who may be 70, who may be 30 or 40, but have the determination and the will not to be conquered by a foreign country,” Sec. Briones emphasized.

While acknowledging the need for verification, Sec. Briones still welcomed the new information as it can bring a lesson to everyone.

“I’m very glad that this point of view emerged at this point because it teaches us that leadership, bravery, courage, and intelligence, skill in warfare, skill in tactics are not limited to those who look like they emerge from the gym,” she said.

The Education chief also clarified that this celebration is for the victory of Lapu-Lapu and Filipino ancestors who defied foreign powers and not for the circumnavigation of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan.

“Today as we reflect and remember the victory of Lapu-Lapu, let us remind ourselves that this is a victory of people who resisted colonialism and eventually were called Filipinos,” she said.

Aside from paying tribute to Lapu-Lapu, the Education chief also underscored that it is time to recognize lesser-known heroes in Philippine history such as Leon Kilat, Arcadio Maxilom, Juan Climaco, Teresa Magbanua, Gat Tamblot, Francisco Dagohoy, Juan Araneta, and Graciano Lopez Jaena.

In her opening remarks, Undersecretary for Finance Annalyn Sevilla urged every Filipino to imitate the self-determination and resilience of Lapu-Lapu and his colleagues as we battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Department of Education joins our fellow Filipinos to inspire one another to commit to a higher level of servitude and nationalism. We have drawn inspiration from individuals among us who have been galvanizing forces contributing to our community and country at large,” she said.

Meanwhile, Undersecretary for Legislative Affairs, External Partnerships and Project Management Service Tonisito M.C. Umali, Esq. prompted all the Department’s stakeholders to take to heart the significance of the event.

“I enjoined all of us in DepEd, not only our DepEd officials, our parents, our teachers, our children to feel the meaning of this day. Para po kapag naitaas ang watawat na yan, kapag umawit tayo ng ating pambansang awit na Lupang Hinirang, tandaan po natin ang mga Pilipino na nagbuwis buhay,” he ended.