From bolo to bola: Why is Kobe Bryant a hero and what does it say about us?

(Part 1 of 2)

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In the 1970s, when a revolutionary fervor swept across the country in the midst of Marcos’ martial rule, activists looked to Andres Bonifacio, a worker from Tondo, as their hero.

The bolo-wielding Bonifacio, or at least as he was portrayed in paintings and murals, was the “revolutionary” alternative to the slick-looking Jose Rizal who activists saw as an American-ordained national hero meant to thwart “real structural change.”

Bonifacio Monument. | Photo from "BonifacioMonumentjf9889 04" by Ramon FVelasquez, Wikimedia Commons is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
Bonifacio Monument. | Photo from “BonifacioMonumentjf9889 04” by Ramon FVelasquez, Wikimedia Commons is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Rizal was chosen, activists contended, because he was just a writer, a man of words, not of action.

And a lady’s man.

Unlike Bonifacio whose heroic actions ended with his death in the hands of his own countrymen.

Decades after, the debate rages over what is more powerful, the bolo or the pluma?

Decades, hence, however, the bola seems to have won over the bolo.

In the hands of athletes.

Heroes, in most literature, are archetypes of superhuman strength, feats, self-sacrifice and goodness.

Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers shooting against Marcin Gortat of the Washington Wizards. | Photo from "Kobe Bryant vs Marcin Gortat" by Keith Allison, Wikimedia Commons is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers shooting against Marcin Gortat of the Washington Wizards. | Photo from “Kobe Bryant vs Marcin Gortat” by Keith Allison, Wikimedia Commons is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The dictionary definition of a hero refers to someone as “a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability,” as Merriam Webster puts it.

From Thor who wielded a hammer to Captain Barbell who carried a, well, a barbell, to Darna who swallowed, not snorted, bato, heroes possess qualities ordinary mortals like us do not have.

And there’s Volta, too, who might really be the hero we need in Bacolod amid numerous brownouts courtesy of CENECO.

Kobe was one of the many archetypes of hero-athletes of professional basketball who dribbled his way to wealth, fame, and the inevitable controversies.

Why are athletes considered heroes?

Andrew Muschel, in an article on Psych Central, wrote “several studies confirm that treating athletes as heroes begins at a young age, peaks in adolescence, and fades in adulthood. When asked to choose one famous person they look up to, 13-28 percent (in different studies) of children ranging in age from 6-14 chose athletes.”

Tomorrow: Bryant and Bandura

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