BY RADO GATCHALIAN, Knight of Rizal
Recollecting our memories of childhood education: we remember the names of our Filipino heroes who lived and died for the greater glory of our country. Lapu-Lapu, Gabriela Silang, Melchora Aquino aka Tandang Sora, Apolinario Mabini, Gregorio del Pilar, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Andres Bonifacio, and Jose Rizal are some of the names we remember.
Perhaps our new generations have forgotten the relevance of our historic heroes. There was an incidence when some of our young fellows wondered why Apolinario Mabini in one movie was sitting in every scene. I thought this was a joke. I could not blame them but I feel sad, very unfortunate, for the future of our country. If our youth of today does not have a remembrance of our Past how can they live fully in the Future. The only way to see a bright Future is to learn and value our Roots.
PHOTO : Botong Francisco’s Manila City Hall Mural. Goggle photo.
This is a challenge for all of us especially our elders, writers, and educators to make sure that our younger generations are consciously aware and knowledgeable of our Filipino heroes.
As we become aware of their legacy – subconsciously in our minds, either we “become like them” or we “see them in other people.” In this complex psychological phenomenon: as we absorb the value and importance of our heroes – we become hero ourselves. We emulate them. We aspire to live heroically. We love our Motherland. We love our fellow Filipinos. We are proud for who we are. We excel in what we do.
“The usual hero adventure begins with someone from whom something has been taken, or who feels there is something lacking in the normal experience available or permitted to the members of society. The person then takes off on a series of adventures beyond the ordinary, either to recover what has been lost or to discover some life-giving elixir. It’s usually a cycle, a coming and a returning.”
― Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces
Then, we become a hero worthy and valuable, first and foremost, to our family, then, to our friends, and to the Filipino People. To become a hero, one does not need to “die” for our country. The modern concept of heroism is beyond death but within life. To live a life that is worth remembering is the ultimate measure of who we are as a hero.
As we do this – we all become a hero. A Filipino hero with a thousand faces.
Let us extract some of our heroes and let us see if “we are like them.” This is a cycle, and a common journey, for all of us as we embark in the challenge of Times in every period of History. This social DNA brings forth a Hope that there will always be a Hero among us. As we examine the lives of our heroes, we become so inspired that we “relive” their memories through our idealism and behavior.
TEODORA ALONSO REALONDA
The mother of Dr. Jose Protacio Rizal. Without this woman we would never have a Jose Rizal who wrote Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. The influence of Teodora Alonso to her son could never be underestimated. At a very young age, Rizal learned from his teacher – his own mother – the value of education and dignity as a human being.
Like Teodora Alonso, many of the Filipino parents would want their children to finish education. Rooted in our values is the importance of higher education to attain a good and successful life. As parents, Filipinos will do everything just for their children to have a better future. This is heroic.
The seventh President of the Philippines, born in Iba, Zambales on August 31, 1907. An automobile mechanic by profession. He was sworn into office wearing “barong tagalog”, a first by a Philippine president. During his term, he opened the Malacañang to the People. He was well loved by the Filipino people earning him a title “Champion of the Masses.” A very simple and humble president. Most importantly, a leader who did not corrupt. When he died due to a plane crash, the Filipino People has lost a Great Man.
Today, many of us have dreamed that we will have another Ramon Magsaysay. We have always dreamed that one day a Filipino leader will come in our midst – as our only Hope for a corrupt-free country. But like Ramon Magsaysay – we should all live and lead without self-interest. Let us stop dreaming waiting for another Magsaysay. We can be like him. If only we dedicate our lives for the betterment of our fellow Filipinos, to work with all honesty and integrity, and to become leaders whose only aim is to serve the People – then, Ramon Magsaysay is fully alive in all of us. And yes, this is heroic.
There are some questionable facts about Lapu-Lapu if he personally killed Magellan. But the thing that is without a doubt was that he did not bow down to invaders. He fought for his land and dignity.
Like him: as Filipinos, we should never bow down to the powers and dictates of foreign countries invading our land. I know we do not have military powers over China – we can be diplomatic, and pragmatic, but not to the extent that we give up everything and bow down to them because of fear. Of course, we do not need to physically fight and die so that we can maintain the sovereignty of our land – but like Lapu-Lapu we should aspire to “fight for a cause” because we know that our dignity as a country matters most. If we lose this sense of national pride – we are no different to lower animals who do not know the difference between right and wrong. To love our country with all our soul is perhaps the best prayer we can offer. This is heroic.
Known as “The Sublime Paralytic” and “Brains of the Revolution.”
Despite of his physical limitations, he has proven that mind is powerful than matter. He was a solid proof that human frailties were not hindrance to live a meaningful life. As Filipinos – despite of our weaknesses and suffering: we strive to face the storm with resilience and bravery. When we migrate and work in other countries – symbolically, we emulate Mabini. Despite our brown skin and our origin: we take all the hardships in life as a challenge to live with a better future, not just for ourselves, but for our family. This is heroic.
Known as “The Mother of Revolution.” She took care of Katipuneros, risking her life as she provided them with food and nursed the wounded.
Tandang Sora was an elder and ordinary woman. But her status in life reminds us that everyone can be a hero. Our age and economic status in life shall never be an excuse not to help our fellow Filipinos. Tandang Sora – as she nursed the wounded – gives us a perfect picture of our nurses and doctors who are on the frontline during this pandemic. They are our heroes too. As they take care of the people – they have given their lives for others. This is very heroic!
These are just few heroes we must remember. Among all our heroes, JOSE RIZAL and ANDRES BONIFACIO are well publicized. This is the reason why I did not include them on the extract above. For many years: we have all become “like Rizal and Bonifacio.” And I hope – we will remain as such. To offer our lives for our country – by becoming productive members of society, wherever we are – is Rizal in itself: a call for Reformation. To fight for Justice and Freedom – despite of our status in life, wherever we – is Bonifacio in itself: a call for Revolution. Metaphysically, it is a reformation and revolution within! This is heroic.
As we examine the lives of our heroes – we come to realise that our own life is the blueprint for this heroic journey. It is a choice we have to make. It is a personal challenge we need to accept.
Every Filipino becomes a Hero. OR a Villain. But the question is: What kind of Face we want to give to our country? Is it a face of a Hero or a face of a Traitor? As we choose which Face to embrace – ultimately, it becomes the Face of our Poor Country. May we choose wisely.