Who are the Descendants of our Heroes Today?
There is a long list of people who have made great sacrifices for our country and sometimes we tend to think of them as simply larger than life. It’s important to remember though that these heroes were people, too, with hopes, dreams, and families just like us.
Some of these heroes have descendants still living in the Philippines. The Rizal clan, for example, still enjoys prominence in Calamba, Laguna, while former DOTr Secretary Jun Abaya can proudly say that his great-grandfather was the Emilio Aguinaldo. Take a look at other heroes and what their descendants are doing today.
Mindanao Royalty: Sultan Kudarat’s Descendants
Sultan Muhammad Dipatuan Kudarat is one of the most important yet unsung heroes in Philippine history. As Sultan of Maguindanao during the 17th century, Kudarat managed to resist Spanish encroachment in Mindanao, ensuring the its freedom from Spanish colonization.
Once, Kudarat called on the Maranao with this great exhortation: “What matters if the Castilians at first are successful? That means only the loss of a year's harvest. Do you think that too dear a price to pay for liberty?”
Beyond having a province named after him, his legacy lives on today in Mindanao culture and tradition. The Sultanate of Maguindanao still exists, though in a more ceremonial role. Nevertheless, the descendants of Kudarat figure prominently in the local community. The 25th and current Sultan of Maguindanao is Sultan Abdulaziz Guiwan Salem Mastura Kudarat V.
Anak ng Bayan: The Sons and Daughters of Andres Bonifacio
Andres Bonifacio was the Supremo of the Katipunan and sought to free the Philippines from Spanish colonial rule. Bonifacio took cues from the French Revolution and from Rizal’s La Liga Filipina, forming a concrete idea of Filipino nationalism and bourgeois liberal enlightenment.
Unfortunately, Bonifacio did not live to see his dream come to fruition. After the Tejeros Convention, Bonifacio was captured and sentenced by Emilio Aguinaldo to die after a trial. He was survived his wife, Lakambini Gregoria de Jesus with no children.
That did not mean the end of the Bonifacio line, however. Bonifacio lives on today through his siblings Procopio and Espiridona. His great-great grandson through Procopio is Gary Bonifacio, who is currently a lawyer. Gary once wrote about his family’s lineage as part of his course requirements. His family still lives in Mindoro and other parts of Luzon.
As for Espiridona’s side of the family, she ended up marrying an Emiliano Distrito. Her family now lives around Cavite and Manila.
Keeping Tradition Alive: Juan and Antonio Luna’s Descendants
The Luna clan is perhaps championed by its two most famous sons, the brothers Juan and Antonio. A botanist turned tactician, Antonio Luna became one of the most important generals during the Philippine-American War. Juan Luna, meanwhile, is regarded as one of the greatest artists of the nation. Today, his Spoliarium figures prominently in the National Museum as a point of pride for all Filipinos.
Juan’s artistic legacy still lives on through his descendants. In Luna, La Union live the Resurreccion brothers, Rafael, Teodoro Jr., and Reymundo. They are painters by trade, much like their grand uncle, and the house they live in also serves as a museum to Juan Luna. The brothers keep the family's artistic tradition alive, too, by teaching young artists how to paint.
More history: Meet the Nobles of the Philippines
More history: Meet the Chinese Patriots of the Philippines
The Unsung Ilustrado: Isabelo de los Reyes
Isabelo de los Reyes is an ilustrado you may not have heard of, but the importance of his contributions cannot be understated. A writer, journalist, and scientist, he founded the first newspaper written in Ilocano, and he took to researching about Philippine folk culture. He was a part of the Propaganda Movement, arrested during the Revolution, and then jailed in Barcelona. During this time, he read Malatesta and Bakunin before returning to the Philippines.
His greatest contributions can still be felt today: In 1902, Don Belong founded the first worker’s union, the Union Obrero Democratica. That same year he co-founded the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, or the Aglipayan Church. The next year he presided over the first May 1 celebration in the Philippines.
Today, both the independent church and the tradition of fighting for workers’ rights live on. During his lifetime, de los Reyes had 27 children from four different wives. One of his sons, Isabelo Jr., became Obispo Maximo of the Aglipayan Church. Today, the de los Reyes clan still lives in Ilocos Sur. One of the more famous de los Reyes’ is Elias de los Reyes, who owns a law office in Mandaluyong.
A Family of Heroes: Jose Alejandrino and His Descendants
During the Philippine-American War, Antonio Luna was aided by Jose Alejandrino. An engineer by profession, Alejandrino was part of the Propaganda Movement and became a general in the army during the Revolution. He and Luna suggested a guerilla strategy to Aguinaldo, who initially refused before adopting the strategy anyway, when the war seemed unwinnable through conventional means. Alejandrino and his family survived the war.
During the Second World War, one of his nephews, Casto, took up the call and fought the Japanese as a second in command of the HUKBALAHAP. Casto himself lived until 2005.
Today, the Alejandrinos still hold influence in their hometown of Arayat, Pampanga. The current mayor of Arayat is Emmanuel Alejandrino. Another nephew, Carlos, is the president of the Hukvets Foundation.
Castro, A. (2018, Aug. 27). Mindanao Royalty: In the Realm of Muslim Majesties. Town&Country.
Pagusara, D. (2015, Mar. 17). What Price Liberty. Davao Today.
Nawal, A. (2017, Mar. 3). Muslim leaders stage summit on peace and security. Inquirer.
Rocamora, J. (2017, Nov. 30). An appeal from a hero’s descendant. Philippine News Agency.
Bernal, B. (2013, Nov. 30). A family tree: Where are Bonifacio’s descendants? Rappler.
Sotelo, Y. (2017, May 21). Juan Luna descendants push town’s revival. Inquirer.
Sotelo, Y. (2017, May 21). Low-key Luna museum draws crowds. Inquirer.
Mojares, R. (2006). Brains of the Nation: Pedro Paterno, T.H. Pardo de Tavera, Isabelo de los Reyes, and the Production of Modern Knowledge.
Bragado, E. (2002). Sukimátem: Isabelo de los Reyes Revisited. Philippine Studies, 50(1), 50-75.
Attorneys of the Philippines: Elias de los Reyes.
Kerkvliet, B. (1977). The Huk Rebellion: A Study of Peasant Revolt in the Philippines.
Senator’s Profile: Jose Alejandrino.
Orejas, T. (2014, Jul. 30). Neglected, Huk vets seek recognition. Inquirer.