We have no na­tional hero. Would Lapu-lapu make it in a new list?

Sun Star Bacolod - - Opinion -

TECH­NI­CAL group of his­to­ri­ans and ex­perts, formed un­der a March 28, 1993 ex­ec­u­tive or­der of then Pres­i­dent Fidel V. Ramos, listed nine na­tional he­roes. The group then sub­mit­ted the list to a com­mit­tee of three Cab­i­net sec­re­taries that was to re­view and then sub­mit it to the Pres­i­dent.

The he­roes were never of­fi­cially pro­claimed by Ramos and the pres­i­dents who fol­lowed. To this year, Na­tional He­roes Day is cel­e­brated with no of­fi­cial na­tional hero, “a tech­ni­cal­ity” that Sen. Imee Mar­cos pointed out Mon­day (Aug. 26). Imee, for the record, was not root­ing for her dad to be in the list.

Not pro­claimed, leg­is­lated

One rea­son Ramos gave up the idea, a historian’s ac­count said, was that FVR came to re­al­ize that na­tional he­roes are “not pro­claimed or leg­is­lated.” In­quirer his­tory colum­nist Ambeth Ocampo, a mem­ber of the tech­ni­cal group, said per­sons be­come he­roes by ac­cla­ma­tion. As to how that is done

for lo­cals like Lapu-lapu, Macario Sa­cay, or Sul­tan Ku­darat, Ocampo didn’t say

The prob­lem ap­par­ently with the Pres­i­dent or Congress tag­ging the na­tional he­roes is that it may open the flood­gate to re­quests from in­ter­ested par­ties and may set off de­bates on con­tro­ver­sies that swirled around the “can­di­dates.”

For ex­am­ple, one can­di­date for na­tional hero: La­pu­lapu. He didn’t land in the tech­ni­cal group’s Na­tional He­roes Nine, who included only Jose Rizal, Emilio Aguinaldo, Apoli­nario Mabini, Marcelo del Pi­lar, Sul­tan Di­pat­uan Ku­darat, Juan Luna, Mel­chora Aquino, and Gabriela Si­lang. Would he make it in an­other list, should to­day’s lead­ers try to meet the tech­ni­cal­ity that Sen­a­tor Imee talked about?

Two points against Lapu-lapu

Very un­likely. For two rea­sons: (1) Ac­counts that his­to­ri­ans have re­lied on, those of An­to­nio Pi­gafetta and Gas­par Correo, didn’t specif­i­cally say that it was Lapu-lapu who killed Mag­el­lan. (2) Lapu-lapu was a tribal leader who wasn’t fight­ing for in­de­pen­dence, not for a na­tion, a lo­cal chief­tain who had been pay­ing trib­ute to the Span­ish king and struck out against s au­thor­ity only when Ra­jah Hum­abon was named the head of the three Mac­tan lead­ers. It was “for per­sonal pride,” not a na­tion­al­is­tic out­burst.

Hon­or­ing Lapu-lapu has been, in Ocampo’s phrase, by ac­cla­ma­tion. Lo­cal ac­cla­ma­tion, which leg­is­la­tors such as Raul del Mar and, re­cently, Paz Radaza would like to ex­pand na­tion­ally: by declar­ing a non-work­ing na­tional hol­i­day and re­nam­ing the in­ter­na­tional air­port in Lapu-lapu’s honor. The gi­ant statue of Lapu-lapu stand­ing within the Luneta—which iron­i­cally Radaza as mayor wanted up­rooted and re­lo­cated to Mac­tan—is part of the ef­fort at na­tional recog­ni­tion.

Hon­or­ing with­out fiat

Be­com­ing a na­tional hero is a tall or­der, a tough job for lob­by­ists root­ing for their hero. Ac­cla­ma­tion across the coun­try is so very hard to do; new in­for­ma­tion on the hero’s ex­ploits could help but usu­ally such dis­clo­sures also bring out dirt about him. As Manila Times colum­nist Rigoberto Tiglao wrote on Aug. 28, 2017, how do he­roes such as Ku­darat–or Lapu-lapu–ever get to be ac­claimed na­tion­ally? Ex­ec­u­tive or leg­isla­tive fiat may help, or not.

Is of­fi­cial dec­la­ra­tion of Rizal and the eight oth­ers nec­es­sary when the na­tion has been hon­or­ing them and thus “in­cul­cat­ing pa­tri­o­tism and na­tion­al­ism”—in grade­school books, stat­ues and matches—even with­out procla­ma­tion by ex­ec­u­tive or­der or statute?

Tech­ni­cal­i­ties mat­ter. Some­times though, as in pop­u­lar cul­ture that se­lects he­roes, they don’t.*

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