8 Signs We Take Our Heroes For Granted

By Tim Henares

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Our national heroes literally laid their lives down for us so that we could call ourselves a free nation today. We honor one of the greatest among them, Andres Bonifacio, this November 30.

Despite that, why does it seem like we don’t really appreciate our heroes as much as we ought to? Here are a few hints when it comes to that.

8. We discard our homages to them willy-nilly.

Just a week ago, the DPWH tore down a centennial monument to Bonifacio in Makati, making for a photo that would have been hilarious if it didn’t look so sad:

Ba-ba-ba-ba-yani, nakatali sa kanto…

This is one of our greatest heroes, and we’ve just turned him into a punchline.


7. We still use colonial reasoning to argue about them.

Why was Jose Rizal the national hero of choice and not Andres Bonifacio? Could it be because the former was a pacifist, whereas the latter was a revolutionary, and the Americans at the time wanted us to think pacifism was a far greater thing to aspire to than revolution? How about the barong, our national garb that ensured anyone wearing it would reveal whether or not they were armed? All these things were a product of a colonial context, yet far later, we still subscribe to these ideas – the very ideas our heroes fought trying to oppose.


6. We almost never elevate them to pop culture status.

With very few exceptions like “Heneral Luna,” we as a nation tend to not give much of a stage for our national heroes to become icons of pop culture. Compare this to Japan, who have at least two different versions of their heroes in Samurai Warriors and Sengoku Basara, or Hamilton in the case of the Americans.

It seems that we rarely find anything in our rich history to be excited about. A crying shame.


5. We don’t really think too highly of them.

“Si Rizal? Chickboy lang yan. Pabling. Si Bonifacio? Mangmang.”

Never mind that Andres Bonifacio was self-educated, or that Jose Rizal wrote two key novels that sparked a revolution. It’s just our limited knowledge about them that matters.

And yes, whether we want to admit it or not, Ninoy Aquino was one of those heroes, too. Heroes aren’t perfect, far from it. That doesn’t make what they did any less admirable, though. If anything, it makes it more admirable, because they acted in spite of their character flaws, not because their inherent perfection made it natural for them to do so.

4. We think their values no longer coincide with ours.

Freedom? Liberty? The right to self-determination? Just because their goals seemed quaint to us does not mean that we were so different from them.


3. We forget that they’re human, too.

We think that they’re heroes, and we can’t be like them. Yet we can be. Not everyone has to die for this country. How many of us have so much as considered living for this country instead?


2. We only appreciate them for the days off work they give us.

Hooray! Bonifacio Day? No work, no classes! What has this guy done for us? Give us holidays! How many of us even know that Andres Bonifacio was a theater actor, and preferred to use the revolver over the bolo as his weapon of choice? Nah, who cares? Holidays!


1. We willingly throw away our freedoms at the first hint of inconvenience.

With great freedom comes great responsibility, to paraphrase a famous comic book saying. Yet it seems that we would rather be “disciplined” by subjecting ourselves to authoritarianism than to accept the responsibility that comes with the freedom our heroes have died to ensure for us. Way to show appreciation!


How will you commemorate this day? Tell us below!

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