Nelson Mandela from South Africa spoke against apartheid and was imprisoned for 27 years; Mahatma Ghandi from India, a young and successful lawyer, became disillusioned with society and developed non-violent civil disobedience, fought for non-violence,civil rights, and freedom across the world and got assassinated; Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, and countless other Filipino Revolutionaries fought for Philippine Independence but was either betrayed, shot, hung, or murdered.
Ninoy Aquino fought against a dictator, got exiled then upon his return, got murdered just as he was about to alight from his plane;whistleblower Jun Lozada spoke against and revealed anomalies in the Philippine government, lost his job, received death threats, and was imprisoned. These are but a number of countless people and the ironies of their ill-fated destinies.
What do these individuals have in common? Some have died,yes, but some are still living the twilight of their lives. It’s glaring and clear that all of these individuals are heroes, wanted to be heroes, or are considered heroes.
But what is the boon and bane of being a hero? Is suffering part and parcel of being a hero? Even death? Does a person need to sacrifice himself for the greater good? Does a person need to die for people to continue living in freedom and independence? Is death and distress what awaits men and women who want to alleviate the wretched condition of his fellowman?
All of these questions are hanging in the air, nobody notices them, because nobody wants to. Nobody wants to be a hero. But being a hero doesn’t mean to be a revolutionary, to force out a dictator, to change the world. Being a hero can be as simple as standing straight with the right hand on the left side of your chest during the National Anthem; being a hero can also be throwing your thrash properly; being a hero can be also as simple as following traffic rules.
This August 21 we celebrate Ninoy Aquino Day, the day that woke the Filipinos and pushed them to their feet to hold the People’s Power and inspired the world. Let us share Ninoy’s life, his sacrifice, and be proud.
Let us all share our heroes’ lives, and even other countries’ heroes; for their lives are what shaped our present. Mandela,Ghandi, Rizal, Bonifacio, even Lozada’s lessons and experiences are their legacies.
Heroes are a rare breed, anyone can try to be one. But without selflessness, passion, empathy, and confidence, not everyone can actually be one.
For our future, our nation’s future, let us all strive to be heroes; let us serve as patriots to our country, good examples to our children,role models to our students, an ideal to our subordinates, or good friend to our peers.
We can be heroes, without dying, of course.
Aaron J.P. Almadro is Editor in Chief of Eastern Visayas’ First Travel and Lifestyle Magazine, “8 Magazine” and “Eastern Visayas Tribune”, a regional weekly newspaper based in Tacloban city.