Monday, September 20, 2010

I *heart* the heroism in the Philippines

Everybody needs a hero. A hero drives us to achieve our full potentials. He empowers us to achieve our goals and sets the example for us in committing our lives in the service of our fellowmen.

For a long time, the Philippines have cradled some of these greatest heroes that inspired millions of Filipinos in every generation and revolutionized the course of Philippine history.

Dr. Jose P. Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines, advocated for reforms in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial era by pointing out problems in the Spanish colonial society through his nationalistic writings, which inspired and encouraged Filipinos to stand up against colonial abuses, to better themselves, and to assert their equality. His famous and widely read novels, Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) and El Filibusterismo (The Subversive), awakened a nation from a long, deep slumber and highlighted the need for significant reforms and an end to Spanish abuses. The Spanish authorities banned his novels, branding them as subversive because it was critical of the frailocracy and the colonial administration. Rizal’s 1896 military trial and execution made him a martyr of the Philippine Revolution and became the catalyst that fanned the flames of the Philippine Revolution and the country's eventual independence from Spain.

Women also played a vital part in the Filipino struggle for freedom. They performed many roles as spies, carriers of messages, keepers of vital documents of the Katipunan, etc. Conventional female activities such as sewing and cooking were utilized outside the homes to serve the needs of Filipino troops.

Hilaria del Rosario–Aguinaldo, Emilio Aguinaldo's first wife, is one of the unsung heroines of the Philippine Revolution worth emulating. Mrs. Aguinaldo complemented Emilio's military campaigns by caring for wounded soldiers and their families. She established the Hijas de la Revolución (Daughters of the Revolution) in 1899, that later became Asociación de la Cruz Roja (Red Cross Association). The said association was considered a precursor of the present Philippine National Red Cross, had thirteen chapters spread out from Ilocos Norte to Batangas that raised funds for medicine and other supplies. It became another venue for women participation in the Revolution.

EDSA People’s Power Revolution of 1986 which marked the pages of world history sprung from the death of another hero by the name of Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino Jr. His assassination on August 21, 1983 became a key factor that led to the eventual ouster of the 20-year Marcos dictatorship and to the election of his widow, Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino, to the highest position in the land as the first Philippine Lady President.

Mr. Peñaflorida, and his voluntary group Dynamic Teen Company ( topped the CNN Heroes poll list that recognizes the efforts and sacrifices of some of the world’s greatest unsung heroes. He won for pioneering a volunteer group which makes education accessible to poor students through improvished pushcart classroom. Over 1,500 street children have benefited from the efforts of Peñaflorida and the 10,000 plus members who volunteered in his Dynamic Teen Company since 1997. The unconventional method used by Peñaflorida and his volunteers of fostering education and rehabilitation through push-cart classrooms on the streets, cemeteries, and city dump sites has given hope to street children and youth gang members that for years have been neglected the Philippine government.
He showed us and the whole world, that even an ordinary person like him can do such an extraordinary thing. That we can be heroes in our little ways no matter how young or old, or whatever gender, social status, or religious affiliation we may have.

Truly, heroism can be found in everyday people like ourselves. We can always show our love and loyalty to our country and fellowmen by doing deeds that are honest, pure and good.

Heroism need not be grand. True heroism connotes the urge to serve others, at whatever cost. The little things that we do for the benefit of others count and was proven by our modern-day hero, Efren Peñaflorida.


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