Monday, May 17, 2021
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Heroes without capes

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I had the privilege of listening a few days ago to a friend of mine, award-winning Mindanawon author Karlo Antonio Galay David, as he was talking about several important issues affecting the Philippines and his Mindanao.

Being an advocate for local issues, Karlo stressed the importance of analyzing and applying nuances from where one is actually situated.

As an example, he opined quite well that the naming of the international airport in Pasay ought to be left to the city government and council, likewise noting that they might very well be the right persons to do it in light of Senator Aquino’s assassination there in 1983.

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I found his viewpoints agreeable and founded upon an applicable truth, and therefore sought to apply it as to how I would continue to form my views and opinions on social, political, historical, and economic topics, and soon enough, an opportunity presented itself.

National Heroes’ Day, promulgated into law by Republic Acts No. 3827 and 9492, allows the Filipino people towards the end of every August to acknowledge the sacrifices and valor of their heroes, known and unknown, who have given their lives and services for their fellow men and women. It is also a time where families gather to rest and relax during the long weekend.

When I browse through my feeds, through news articles, and through images on the internet related to this holiday, the heroes who come up are the usual coterie of Rizal, Bonifacio, Mabini, Luna, Del Pilar, and company.

For certain, their examples are worth emulating, as they have contributed meaningfully by their work in birthing the nationhood of the Philippines onto the world stage.

Complementarily, it pays to look no further than our local contexts for heroes to emulate and honor.

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We are blessed to have these examples.

In 1898, as the nascent Negros Republic was being established, three men by their efforts played major roles in setting the new government up.

We can recall the brilliant ruses of Aniceto Lacson and Juan Araneta, how they forced the Spaniards in Bacolod to capitulate in those early days of November by using fake rifles and rolling up painted mats to pass for cannons.

These two men, along with the prominent Demetrio Larena of Dumaguete who later was instrumental in the establishment of Silliman University, took important steps in forming the Republic of Negros, headed by Lacson in the Occident and Larena in the Oriental side.

We can see the examples of Martin Delgado, Francisco Dagohoy, and Teresa Magbanua, among other great warriors, whose forces provides stiff resistance against Spain and the Empire of Japan, respectively. Delgado later proved helpful in putting up a government led by the Ilonggo revolutionaries in Panay, while brave Dagohoy in Bohol took charge of the longest-running revolt in Philippine history.

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Magbanua, the Philippine Jeanne D’Arc, undertook wily resistance against the Japanese, selling whatever she could and passing the profits to the anti-occupation forces. She is notable, too, for resisting the Spaniards and the Americans in her earlier years.

We must not forget, too, the compelling accounts of those who honorably serve on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nurses, doctors, policemen, bankers, essential goods and services providers, along with so many more, deserve our support, and for their stories to be told and preserved for posterity, too.

Their roles have proven vital in keeping our economy and state afloat. And beyond these front liners and historical figures, there is a deep repository weaved into our cultural framework that only waits to be discovered and then told.

One only needs to find them close to home, and not too far away.

David was right when he said that we need only to look closely at our local contexts, for these are enriched by the many experiences and narrative contours peculiar to any given locale and culture.

Understanding and knowing these would only serve to fully form our thoughts on the issues of heroism and how local history has served to bring us and our institutions to where we are today.

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Gabriel Christian J. Lacson
Gabriel Christian J. Lacson
“Those who look only to the past or to the present are certain to miss the future.” - John F. Kennedy

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