In search of his­tor­i­cal he­roes

Sun Star Bacolod - - Opinion -

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AST Au­gust 26, the Philip­pines cel­e­brated the Na­tional He­roes’ day. This was orig­i­nally cel­e­brated on the last Sunday of Au­gust, pur­suant to Re­pub­lic Act No. 3827, passed by the Philip­pine Leg­is­la­ture Oc­to­ber 28, 1931. The Act de­clared the last Sunday of Au­gust of every year as an of­fi­cial na­tional hol­i­day. This is cel­e­brated to pay tribute to all other known or un­known men and women who sac­ri­ficed their lives for Philip­pine free­dom. For­mer Pres­i­dent Glo­ria Ma­ca­pa­gal Ar­royo is­sued in 2007 Re­pub­lic Act 9492, chang­ing the cel­e­bra­tions of sig­nif­i­cant dates in the coun­try, that when a hol­i­day falls on a Wed­nes­day, it shall be trans­ferred to Mon­day of the week. And those falling af­ter Wed­nes­day shall be cel­e­brated Mon­day of the fol­low­ing week. Also, if a hol­i­day falls on a Sunday, then it shall be ob­served on the Mon­day. That was the start of the trans­fer from Sunday to Mon­day. Any­way, trans­fer­ring the dates would not change any­thing but con­fused our teach­ers of his­tory.

He­roes and saints are or­di­nary peo­ple do­ing ex­tra­or­di­nary works in or­di­nary sit­u­a­tions. Saints go a lit­tle fur­ther for they fo­cused their ex­tra­or­di­nary deeds on Di­vine in­spi­ra­tion while he­roes do it for the good of the com­mu­nity. It might be safe to say that all saints are he­roes and not all he­roes are saints.

Our coun­try, like many coun­tries in the Far East, had pro­duced a lot of he­roes com­pared to the de­vel­oped and su­per-de­vel­oped na­tions. In the Philip­pines, we have rec­og­nized he­roes not only as de­fend­ers of our coun­try but had de­clared some who col­lab­o­rated with the im­pe­ri­al­ist in­vaders. The jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for mak­ing them he­roes is that they sur­ren­dered their prin­ci­ples to pro­tect the com­mon wel­fare of the na­tion. These men and women should be given recog­ni­tion and should be in high places.

Dur­ing the Span­ish pe­riod, there are a lot of “alip­ins and timawas”, who fought bravely to pro­tect the coun­try from the for­eign colo­nial­ists. Dur­ing the 1st and the 2nd Amer­i­can in­va­sion as well as dur­ing the Ja­panese pe­riod, a lot of our fore­fa­thers fought bravely but their na­tion­al­ism, brav­ery, and pa­tri­o­tism were never recorded in his­tory. They were not rec­og­nized for they were just or­di­nary men and women and they do not be­long to the ma­har­lika, il­lustra­dos and the elite.

In the re­cent past, a few names came out and a lot of dis­crep­an­cies were de­bated. Lack of in­for­ma­tion was the source of the anom­alies. Only a few wrote a jour­nal of how their fore­bears’ brav­ery and na­tion­al­ism were shown in the past. Few his­to­ri­ans would like to look back and write some­thing about these un­sung he­roes, un­less, they come from prom­i­nent de­cent. The or­di­nary Filipino was sim­ply a soldier or a pawn used in the great bat­tles. If one gets se­ri­ous, they have more sto­ries to tell about how they shed their blood pro­tect­ing the ter­ri­tory and their lead­ers. Take the case of the Ja­panese in­va­sion, many poor peo­ple helped carry the bags and lug­gage of the rich peo­ple who fled to the moun­tains. Do we know who these peo­ple are?

Many ar­ti­cles came out re­cently that the Philip­pines has no cri­te­ria in choos­ing or mak­ing one a hero. Look­ing at the whole pic­ture, the Philip­pines cel­e­brates only the hero­isms of Boni­fa­cio and Rizal. All the rest are con­sid­ered he­roes with­out a com­mem­o­ra­tive date. Hero­ism is not dy­ing for one’s be­lief or prop­erty, hero­ism is an act that would ef­fect change to the com­mu­nity or so­ci­ety. Do we still have he­roes today?

St. Ni­cholas of To­lentino, pray for us.*

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