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A Question of Heroes

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  675 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Through his critical essays on ten key figures in Philippine history, Nick Joaquin provides a fresh point of view on Philippine heroes and their role in the Philippine revolutionary tradition.
Paperback, 244 pages
Published January 1st 2004 by Anvil (first published 1977)
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K.D. Absolutely
A very educational read. Nick Joaquin (1917-2004) was one of the National Artists of the Philippines so even if he did not use footnotes and references in this book, I could not help but believe him. After all, he was born in 1917 that was just about 2 decades after the Spanish-Filipino and Filipino-American wars. He also wrote many other great books, both fiction and non-fiction. So, I think he was credible enough to convince anyone that the events and claims he mentioned in this book actually ...more
Sep 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
An excellent introduction to some of the most prominent historical Filipinos. He provides a fairly well balanced viewpoint and cites his reasons for supporting one or another view about individuals that are controversial.

He is a very good antidote to the over-emphasis place on Renato Constatino's book, A Past Revisited. Joaquin finds the actions of individuals and groups to be that of obvious self interest and does not blame them for that in general, but acknowledges differing agendas.

Where he
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A book to reawaken one's patriotism or one's curiosity toward the truth of history. Do we believe everything taught to us in one book, one author, one perspective of events that have formed our nation? This book calls us to dig deeper and have a wider knowledge and wider appreciation (or disappointment) of who we place on pedestals and call heroes. A beautiful perspective on characters we are familiar with but may have never really understood with background.

Also, after a long search for the one
Topel Viernes
Feb 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book, written by a personal favorite, sheds light on the obscurities of our Philippine history, a palliative to the widespread brainwashing of the inaccurate accounts of our history books. It is spot-on with how unwarranted the adorations and "canonizations" our society have bestowed upon some of our heroes. Joaquin excellently recounted Burgos' sectarian uprising as a prescient to the Filipino nationalism's rise, the valiance of the Propaganda movement, Aguinaldo's superior captaincy, Luna ...more
Munting Aklatan
Oct 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I've read (or heard) somewhere that the problem with historians is that they view history as problems confronting people, not people confronting problems. Nick Joaquin, perhaps the first ever in the country, did the latter. Joaquin narrated history in terms of our heroes' (or anti-heroes') character, and his painting of each person's strengths and shortcomings offers a deeper insight on what hampered whatever Filipino dream for national democracy and independence there was. Again, they were peop ...more
Jane Glossil
A must-read collection of personal insights on our national heroes and our history. Thought-provoking.

Heroes are still humans after all, contributing the better and worse versions of themselves to the history of this nation. History is always painful, but the pain should hold a promise, otherwise these heroes, these persons, would have fallen for a continuing battle that remains uncertain when to be won.

(The longer and more personal review is unfit for posting. :D)
Danielle Austria
Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: atin, nonfic
Were History taught to be examined and not memorized, I would've engaged with it more. (Better late than never?)

Ours is a country given to (being ruined by?) idol worship; this book challenges that culture. In reality, our heroes were all too human—not always valiant, not all total romantics about the idea of a free nation. To uncover and accept their faults do not take away from their worth in history; it makes them richer subjects for study. (It makes them, dare I say, "relatable". I am a mill
Darlene A
Dec 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
from burgos to ricarte. the revolution that was started by the ilustrados. from spanish to japanese occupation i question myself are we really free?
Jason Friedlander
Jan 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Nick Joaquin’s A Question of Heroes pushes back strongly against the institutionally augmented narratives and themes that run through Philippine history, both deflating the hagiographies popularly championed by many a nationalist historian, and introducing a new way to fit them into a grander and more complex story of revolution that does not end with the capture of Emilio Aguinaldo in Palanan in 1901, but further down the line with the death of Artemio Ricarte in 1945.

I’m really glad that I was
Lyden Orbase
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've learned so much stuff that weren't taught in school. This is recommended to those who like controversies in history.
Thank you, Nick Joaquin.
Jason Sta. Maria
Aug 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book is a must read for every Filipinos who really wants to know the real story of our history. There are lots of different, hidden and underground stories in this book about the real scenarios and personalities of our heroes. I have already had a conversations with different Historians and History Majors regarding the real story of our history but I found out that there's really a lot of hidden stories out there and there's a lot of stories that the average Filipino didn't knew or taught f ...more
Emy Ruth
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Heroes are not just wax figures we adore and worship; more than anything, they are human beings first and are therefore prone to mistakes and failures. What makes them heroes are not the achievements they did, but mainly by how we want them to be-- strong, undaunted, smart, fearless, and many more. The sad but also beautiful realization is that our heroes are a reflection of the whole Filipino race-- fearless but doubting, strong but weighed too much by our pakikisama, resilient to a fault, and ...more
Michael Nelmida
Aug 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A different angle of Philipline History.However,I think Rizal's Retraction should be added,Aguinaldo's faggotism and A.Luna association with Ysidra etc.This consequently can burn the flame better,questioning their heroism. ...more
John Santos
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting perspective of many of the Philippines’ heroes. I especially liked how the individual essays were organized in such a way that often two intertwined personalities are juxtaposed to one another. It gives a good way to see their how their lives compare to one another.
Aug 15, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: filipiniana
nick joaquin should be read by pinoys. he provides an excellent combination of storytelling and history. led an interesting bohemian life. this is history by one of our finest writers.
Oct 27, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nick Joaquin puts everything that you think you know about the Philippine revolution and the Philippine American War under scrutiny. Though some minor information seem to have not been updated such as the Balangiga Massacre in the last chapter. (Researchers currently are questioning as to how accurate is figure for the massacre. New research shows many of the American soldiers did not even follow the kill order of General Jacob Smith). But still worth reading to gain a wider understanding to tha ...more
Lik C
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
It’s an interesting read about the less known (and mostly controversial) details in the lives of our national heroes taught to us in history class. Although it’s hard to believe which account Nick Joaquin (and including him) cites has the most accurate record, he writes his essays in a convincing way for me, with occasional memorable comments like “Who would want a cry of Kangkong” on his essay about Bonifacio.

It made me question our heroes, but they didn’t choose to be made as our heroes today
This took me a long time to finish - I started out strong but slowly lost interest, likely because my knowledge of Filipino history is so sketchy. Written like a professor lecturing, and interspersed with Filipino and Spanish terms that had ambiguous meanings, I also noted the lack of references. If Joaquin weren’t a renowned writer, I’d have lost total faith in this version of history. In my opinion, Joaquin is better with fiction, but this was an interesting diversion into Filipino readings.

Mar 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Nick Joaquin provides a glaring view behind our collective notion of the Philippine Revolution. Its bleak and oftentimes unapologetic scrutinising of our national heroes grounds them not as larger-than-life figures but beings filled with regrets, impulses, compulsions, and misgivings.
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Karl Ocampo
Oct 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Nick Joaquin's seamless mastery of both journalism and literature puts this on the list of books that every Filipino must read. A masterpiece. ...more
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Any of you who have an ebook version of this book?
Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
i want to read this story because I want to know more about how amazing nick joaquin`s novel ...more
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
New perspective on Philippine history.
Matthew Montagu-pollock
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Graceful, of a master.
Jan 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Informative. Intriguing. Engaging.
While reading this book I would remember the old days when I had to report in front class the life story of one Philippine hero with photo at hand. Back when no one would even dare to question the facts as written on history books. Heroes are heroes because they died for the Inang Bayan. In the idolatry we forget that heroes are humans too. Flawed, weak, and selfish. And this Nick Joaquin book gave me the balance I need to view them as humans not gods. Though I
Sep 11, 2009 rated it liked it
i just want to read this book.
Mar 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
can you help me ?? i want to have a summary of this book !! thx !! plzzz

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Nicomedes Márquez Joaquín (May 4, 1917–April 29, 2004) was a Filipino writer, historian and journalist, best known for his short stories and novels in the English language. He also wrote using the pen name Quijano de Manila. Joaquin was conferred the rank and title of National Artist of the Philippines for Literature.

After Jose Rizal and Claro M. Recto, both writers in spanish language, he is cons

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