PhP197: June Veloso and the need for a hero

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Israel Salanga is social media savvy.

The youngest councilor of Bacolod City, “Ising,” as he is called, has grown a host of followers on Facebook, which could have been one of the factors that made him win during his run last elections.

Yesterday, Ising reposted the “gratitude post” of Nanette Grace Ines, mother to Niana, her one-year-old daughter who had to be rushed to the hospital Wednesday night.

The Grab driver, June Claridad Veloso, she says in her post, “drove very fast” to bring her child to the emergency room.

Then he refused to be paid the fare: P197, almost a fourth of the “boundary” or rent for the car he drives.

Use it to pay your hospital bill,” she recalls him saying.

Netizens swarmed Facebook posts about June, many called him a “hero.”

Ising is no stranger to news, having cut his teeth in radio as a volunteer reporter.

After all, he is the son of esteemed broadcaster Fred Salanga who has mentored many radio personalities.

Why did Veloso’s act catch his attention?

“For the past few weeks, the headlines of newspapers and articles revolving the social media are either shootings, killings and other crimes that only bring negative vibes to the people of the city,” he tells DNX.

Aside from being “newsworthy,” what June did “makes me proud as a Bacolodnon, knowing that there are still (those) who are willing to help other people without asking (for) anything in return. I hope that this will serve as a model to other Bacolodnons and other people will emulate the actions of Mr. Veloso,” Ising adds.

SUPERHUMAN

Over the past few years, onscreen heroes have become cinema top grossers.

Movies like The Avengers and the stand-alone hero movies Marvel Comics has spun out of them made the cash registers of the studio ring loud.

And louder each year.

There, too, are the DC versions.

Iron Man, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, Batman, and yes, Volta, Captain Barbell (even alias Robin Hood and Victor Magtanggol) and Gagamboy have become real-life heroes for youngsters.

But why?

The Encyclopedia Britannica traces the roots of the word “hero” to the 14th century Old French “heroe” or a “man of superhuman strength or physical courage.”

It adds that the French word, in turn, was derived from the Latin “heros… from Greek hērōs (plural hērōes) “demi-god,” a variant singular of which was hērōe. This is of uncertain origin; perhaps originally “defender, protector” and from PIE root *ser- “to protect… “

Etymology aside, however, people need heroes on a psychological level.

As Psychology Today explains, they are needed “because heroes save or improve lives and because heroes are inspiring.”

And this, it adds, go beyond the psychological level but also leads to practical results such as “Heroes elevate us emotionally; they heal our psychological ills; they build connections between people; they encourage us to transform ourselves for the better; and they call us to become heroes and help others,” the article says.

June Veloso used to be a worker for a telegraph company before he became a driver.

He had been doing it for just more than a year. He may not know anything about the etymology or the psychology behind “hero.”

“It is the normal thing to do for the Scriptures say we must help each other,” he says while driving me to the office.

At the public plaza here, debates between religious zealots have been going on since 1945.

A lot of propositions have been heatedly discussed, among them the question of who is the true God and if one should eat dinuguan or not, all anchored on the first Commandment “to love thy God above anything else.”

To June Veloso, however, he tries to live the second one: love thy neighbor every time he hits the road.

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