Not all Heroes Wear Capes: Stories of Filipino Hero Artists | Knowledge Channel

Not all Heroes Wear Capes: Stories of Filipino Hero Artists

When you think of a hero, who comes to mind? Is it superman, with superhuman strength, speed, and stamina? Or maybe Darna, with supernatural abilities capable of beating the bad guys? Perhaps a character from television with extraordinary weapons who saves the world while wearing capes? But have you ever heard of a hero who loves art and uses it to save the world? Isn’t it nice to have an icon from the artistic side of the world?   


In a world where arts are often confined to being perceived as a hobby, a source of entertainment, and a means of self-expression, there emerge people who defy these limitations. Meet our five (5) heroic Filipino artists, whose strength lies not in the cold steel of a weapon but in their artistic capabilities and the unwavering nationalism that courses through their veins. They are figures that your kids can emulate to embrace and nurture the little artist inside them. 


1. Juan Luna (Painter) 

Juan Luna painted one of the pivotal works in the history of Philippine art, the Spoliarium. In Spoliarium, he depicted the country as a gladiator drained by its ruler, ending up battered, lifeless, and helpless. He won the gold in the prestigious Exposici√≥n Nacional de Bellas Artes in 1884 for the painting, becoming the first Filipino artist to do so.  

But beyond just winning an award, the images in Spoliarium evoked sympathy and inspired people to fight for the betterment of the country. Through his art, he showed the actual situation of Filipino people under an oppressive colonizer.  

For Luna, his paintbrushes were his weapons to resist the colonizers exploiting our natural resources and people. Watch his story in this episode of Bayani! 


2. Francisco Balagtas (Poet) 

From visuals to words, Francisco Balagtas, a renowned Filipino poet, creatively portrayed the maltreatment of Spanish colonizers in the love story of Florante at Laura. He addressed injustice, bad governance, and revolution through allegory, satire, and paradox. 

The censorship imposed by the Spaniards didn't stop Balagtas from exposing the chaos in the country; instead, it ignited his creativity in storytelling. Consequently, Florante at Laura was more than merely seen as a work of literature. It evolved into a tool to arouse and organize the country, eventually contributing to the 1896 Revolution.  

For Balagtas, the pen is as mighty as the sword. Learn more about him in this Bayani episode! 



3. Aurelio Tolentino (Playwright) 

Meanwhile, in the stage area, you'll find the artistic contributions of Aurelio Tolentino. His best-known play was  Kahapon, Ngayon, at Bukas (Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow). It told the tale of Inangbayan (the Philippines) and Tagailog (eight rebelling provinces) fighting for freedom and overcoming challenges from Haring Bata (China), Halimaw (the Friars), Dilat-na-Bulag (Spain), and Bagong Sibol (the United States). It played a vital part in ensuring that the idea of a free and independent Filipino nation remained in many people's thoughts as the twentieth century started. 

For Tolentino, theater's impact is like an arrow that can pierce through the consciousness of Filipino people. Check how he brought to life his plays in this Bayani episode! 



4. Atang De La Rama (Theater Actress) 

The art of theater won’t be complete without its skilled actors. At age fifteen, Atang De La Rama received praise and recognition for her debut lead role in Dalagang Bukid in 1917. The extent of her excellent portrayal goes far beyond. It sparked the development of fresh Tagalog sarsuwelas and propelled the growth of the lyrical stage. 

Through her roles, De La Rama revised the definition of Filipina femininity that rebelled against the traditional expectations of women's behavior. She performed at rallies and events organized by women's groups.  

De La Rama had a weapon capable of breaking the status quo and used it for various advocacies. Watch Atang’s life roles in this Bayani episode! 



5. Ditto Sarmiento (Journalist) 

Ditto Sarmiento devoted his life to journalism. He was Editor-in-chief for the Philippine Collegian during the Marcos Sr. Regime when press freedom was curtailed.    

By employing artistic elements and techniques in his storytelling, Sarmiento captured his readers’ attention and motivated them to get involved in current events. His renowned phrase, "Kung hindi tayo kikilos, sino ang kikilos? Kung di tayo kikibo, sino ang kikibo? Kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa?" coined in one of his editorial articles, still deeply resonates with young activists and student leaders. 

For Sarmiento, the creative weaving of news stories could inspire nationalism. Discover more about his writing journey in this Bayani Episode! 



Who’s your favorite art hero on the list? Show your admiration for these exceptional Filipino artists by sharing this article with your family and friends! For more educational and engaging content like this, be sure to follow Knowledge Channel on YouTubeTikTokFacebookInstagram, and Twitter (X)!