The False Idea of Heroism By Us Filipinos

By: Louie Baharom
October 13, 2018

Heroes, in the eyes of us Filipinos, are like higher beings whom we think deserve to be put on a pedestal. Some worship them, some adore them, some merely revere their acts and deeds, whatever they may be. Despite the flaws they commit, some would say it would be unruly to call them such names as it would make your being as a Filipino questionable.

“Heroes”, according to us Filipinos, are people who emblazon our hearts with passion and pride, making us feel proud of being a Filipino — a member of a nation entrusted by our heritage to bring glory to our race throughout the ages. However, us Filipinos also tend to romanticize the idea of being a hero. To us, being a “hero” is nearly equivalent to being a celebrity.

Being a "hero" means doing good deeds despite having a side that is worthy of a more critical inspection.

Take Jose Rizal for an example. All of us look up to him for the brave heroism he has shown to our people, but if there’s anything that the history books has told us, it’s that, aside from his heroic deeds, there is more to his personality than just that. Despite that, us Filipinos tend to set aside his flaws no matter how serious they are. We all know that Rizal is a hero, but we also know that he is a womanizer.

But of course, since he is a “hero” in our eyes, we try to disregard that flaw. We only see the good in him, and that’s where it could be said that something is wrong with us doing just that. Looking at heroism should also involve the person behind the action, and that’s something that is rarely done by us. We call those who died for our nation “heroes” because the history books tells us to, and automatically, we see them as “gods” and “celebrities” for the fame that they have earned.

That’s where false idolatry comes in. We Filipinos love idolizing such figures even when really, the amount of respect we should give them should be equal to that of a regular person. Why? Because we are all human, after all. Even if the men we call “heroes” are gods in our own eyes, they are nothing more but mortals capable of doing both good and bad. Sure, they could be deemed worthy of praise for their upstanding actions, but we still need to think twice whether they are worthy of being called “heroes.”

A film recently released, ‘Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral’ seeks to change our perception on those we call heroes, and it’s high time that we scrutinize them before venerating their bodies as if they were saints. In the film, the historical figure Gregorio del Pilar, as the general that he is, is deconstructed and placed under a critical microscope. When a film does something that we are quite unafraid to do, you know there’s something wrong.

If we’re so unafraid to question the heroes that history has told us to respect, then what would happen? Well, we’d get more heroes that might be undeserving of the title we bless them with. We’d get flawed men, men lacking total integrity because we’ve made a mistake venerating them when really, there are others more worthy of that title. But does the entitlement of being a “hero” matter? No. It’s simply an idea, one that could be subjective. It’s nothing more but a mere title that could be rendered meaningless by our false ideas of it. If there’s anything we could do, it’s to look closer at them, flaws and all.