Who is a hero?
If a man would come to posses great powers of flight, strength and speed, would he be a hero? If he were to be the strongest or fastest man alive, would that turn him into a hero?
Yet as of the moment, we have not seen nor heard of any one man or woman who was able to leap from a three storey building and lived without any broken bones. We have not heard of a man or a woman who was able to run at the speed of light to stop a bullet from hitting some innocent bystander. Nor have we heard about a man or woman who was able to stop a train in favor of a person along its tracks.
I have engrossed myself with these superheroes whose lives only existed within the written and drawn pages of a comic book or paperback novel, and within the silver screens of the movies. Their lives have become a part of our existence strictly for our entertainment only. No heroics of the like of Superman, Spiderman or the Flash would be seen along any street in our country. They may have existed but not in real life. So it turns out that their powers actually had a limitation, and a very pathetic one at that.
So who is a hero?
Jose Rizal is the national hero of the Philippines. Other countries have their own national heroes but it’s better to focus on him for very obvious reasons. He was well known for the creation of Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. Both of which offers a realist perspective on the plight of the Filipinos under the Spanish rule. These two novels inspired Andres Bonifacio, another Philippine hero, to lead the revolution against the Spaniards.
The two never met personally, but they communicated via messenger.
While most Filipinos venerated both men, they had their own faults and they were real shockers for those who didn’t know them that well. Rizal was never a pro-independence. In his novel, El Filibusterismo, Simoun, the protagonist, died in the end after a failed attempt at inciting a revolt against the Spaniards thereby implying that the country is not yet ready to have the freedom that it esteemed and that any form of revolt would be premature. In fact, what Rizal was really fighting for at those times was to have the country recognized as an annex of Spain with its own representatives in the Spanish legislation. However, his desires failed, but his name was later made to be venerated by the Americans for their own purposes because of his cause: annexation, and colonization.
Apart from that, Rizal was a play boy. As he traveled around the globe, you would learn of his existence and his enjoyment with each country that he visited by the women he met there. Look it up at any biography of his and you will see for yourself how Rizal, even during his youth, became a ladies man, the sort that collects. So who would love a hero who plays around?
Then, who is a hero?
Typhoon Ketsana hit the Philippines unexpectedly last September 26-27, 2009. The onslaught of the storm made the Transformers movie a reality: Cars turned to boats, and people turned to boats… for transport.
As recently reported more than 250 men, women and children died during the storm. There were several options for dying during the ill fated day. The floods rose up to more than 6 or 7 feet. Filipinos who average at around 5+ feet in height, would definitely drown in those floods, not to mention the raging waves and strong current brought by the overflowing rivers and streets. The storm also brought down electrical wires whose live currents are instant deaths to unwary travelers. Others died in complications brought by exhaustion, fear, and many others. It was the darkest day of 2009.
While no one could ever stop a storm from happening, heroes erupted from out of the blue. Men and women shined out as the fine people of the moment. Rescuers, volunteers and kind-hearted ones rushed out during and after the storm to help out. In a week, more than several million were raised in kind and in cash to send help to those who were heavily affected by the storm. It may be too long and taxing to put in writing all those stories of men and women who were able to save other people they hardly knew.
When the storms and the floods abated, the help still continued to clean up the mess left by the storm. The mud and grime left by the flood, the lack of food and electricity that left people hungry and tired, and the loss of homes broken down by cars that turned to boats or by the strong current have been addressed by volunteers and concerned people in all ways possible. Brother aiding brother. All of them, striving hard to erase the scars caused by the typhoon even without the power of strength, speed or flight. Their only power is the compassion for others, the will to continue life as it is and the spirit of servitude to help those in need.
Now, who are the heroes?