What does it mean to be a hero?
No, I’m not going to give you the oft-used, childish and idealistic answers of “yung nag-alay ng buhay niya sa bayan“. Yes, it is a possible answer, but it is hardly realized.
I’d rather give you one concrete, modern-day example before I go into all the socio-civic stuff.
I was just called a “hero” by a newly-found friend the other day because he said I made him happy. (although maybe not in the way he expected or wanted) He told me that I “saved” him from the throes and bouts of depression and thoughts of running away from their house..etc. It was if I picked him up from his lowest of lows by extending him some concern and by showing him some attention which served as a distraction and a way out for all of his negativity.
Well, being called a hero is one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.
But is making someone happy, saving that person from depression and extending concern already an act of heroism?
Modesty aside, I guess it is, on the personal scale and if heroism is to be some subjective/relative virtue.
In today’s day and age where you’re supposed to grow up right away and mind your own business and not give a sh*t or the light of day to most other people and live life in the fast lane, granting someone your quality time and sole attention is already an act of heroism, especially if that person is at his or her low point or in a state of vulnerability, like nurses not leaving their sick patients’ bedsides. (Okay, so that was a little biased. Deal with it. Hihi.)
Of course, heroism, especially on the grander, national scale, entails a greater responsibility and sacrifice; purity of intentions and consistency of deeds. Which makes a lot of personalities which we enshrine in our pantheon of heroes unworthy and a bunch of unsung heroes want of due recognition.
For me, to paraphrase the words of one of my wiser professors, it’s those who choose to stay and serve the country who are the real modern-day heroes, despite feelings of hopelessness when we’re compared to the progress of other countries. I’d give them recognition and respect over those who choose to follow their (dare I say, “self-serving”?) dreams of going to those damn greener pastures.
Being a Filipino and being talented and putting the Philippines on the map isn’t enough to be called a hero. *ahem ahem Pacquiao, Pempengco, Jessica Sanchez…etc.* Taking pride in them is moot if we use these personalities to assert our superiority over other races and nations, and not just our identity as a people as it should be.
But being a good Filipino, being honest and selfless, offering your talents and strengths for the country and putting the Philippines in the history books instead is hero-status-worthy.
Para may pabaon lang na “food for thought”, this relevant article is worth reading (not that much of a fan in all of the site’s posts though):