This year earmarks probably the biggest number of pseudo-heroes and heroines our country has ever had.
Every month, it never ceases to amaze me at how proud we are of people who put up a fight, stumble, try to stand up and be content to merely survive. Or at how we welcome home with royal carpets and fancy praises, Pinoys who make it to finals, or even semifinals, but deliberately forgetting that there was a gold that eluded them somehow.
It never ceases to amaze me at how we reward mediocrity so much.
Who can forget the Hero we call Angelo dela Cruz, whose only claim to fame was to plead for his life before a camera? (I believe he now has a house and lot as well as scholarships for his children.) Or Manny pacquiao who started out strong in the fight of his life, but lost steam towards the end?
We watched our athletes slug it out in the Olympics and cheer them on even as they return limping back to our land. We supported Jasmine trias with our texts and votes even though we knew she was no LaToya, Fantasia or even william hung (and when she returned here, look at all the money shes raking in.)
At the end of the day we tell ourselves that they could have made it. That it was merely luck that caused them to fall-- a blistered foot off a cheap sock, a broken shin from a wayward kick, or even a gust of wind that caused the arrow to miss. It is always Malas.
Or dinaya. There are always the biased sons-of-bitches-of-judges who gave a six instead of a 7, or racist americans voting for their own kind. Yes, we are always the victims, arent we?
And of course, they are OUR heroes.
But who are we kidding? There is no misfortune in these contests, only stumbling blocks. And our heroes used them as excuses not to strive further. In contrast, the real winners having trained too long and too hard for the prize, have honed their talents to perfection and refused to allow these molehills to stop their drive for the prize.
Our heroes fall because they have feet of clay, and yet, are seen as gods only because we allow them to be immortalized as gods. Ironic isn't it? The new media of immortality is no longer monuments or history books. Its is TV, cinema, DVDs and the billboards of EDSA. It is here that we, whether we like it or not, shape who our heroes are.
And it gets worse.
We have telenovelas based on the "success stories" of nubile young girls who bared it all and became famous. We encourage crassness in our films, call it art and give the best acting awards to those that show the most flesh in the most alluring way. We sell inane records, such as Ocho Ocho and Ispageti, like hotcakes because we encourage half-baked ideas. Worst of all, we tolerate idiotic noontimes shows as potential fieldtrip venues for our public school students.
These will be the basis of heroes of the next generation.
But for now, our normal folks strive to be the flawed heroes of today. For now, we call our OFWs heroes because of the money they bring in, forgetting that parentless, directionless and probably spoiled children are the price they paid for their income. For now, we glorify the nurses, the truck drivers, the pinoys who merely survive in foreign lands, ignoring the fact that they slowly become less and less pinoy, and encourage everyone else to assume pinoys are always second class citizens. Unfortunately, our everyday heroes just dont dream big enough.
The sad truth is, that when we dont have the right heroes, we will never have the right dreams. Without the right dreams, we will never challenge the mountains blocking our way, but bellyache instead at the molehills that trip us.
Without the right heroes to free us, we will forever be chained in mediocrity.
Is it hopeless then? Is this downward spiralling of our basis for heroism truly the trend?
I think not. I hope not.
Ironically, with every misfortune that befalls me, I am reminded that there are still true heroes out there. Heroes probably making nothing but ripples to the media, but heroes nonetheless.
There are the good-hearted pinoys who go out of their way who help kickstart my car's dead battery or offer me a ride when I lose my way. Kind strangers who picked up my lost phones and returned it to me without asking for anything in return. An honest waitress who stumbled upon an errant wallet and refused the reward I left in her hands.
There are but the everyday heroes who show us that honest good folk still roam our lands. Pinoys who will pull us up when we fall and encourage us on the choices we must make. We have heroes amongst us who stand up when we need them to.
We are never short of the common tao with the makings of a hero. But why can't they dream as heroes dream?
Then again, there are the heroes that are larger than life. Then again, there are Filipinos that make us proud to be Filipino just because we need to be proud of being Filipino. Then again, there are the Filipinos who stand up just because we need to have someone to look up to. Then again, there are the Filipinos who ensure that we shall never lack of heroes.
They are out there. But the media shoves them away from the spotlight.
Were there billboards of teenage sensation Patricia Evangelista along EDSA? Have there been stories and films based on the award winning "Blonde and Blue Eyes" speech she delivered before an amazed international audience? Where, oh where, is the proof which shows that she made a difference?
Who knows what has now happened to the only Filipina who had a planet named after her? Does anyone know what Dra. Josette Biyo, the Internationally acclaimed educator extraordinaire of Philippine Science Iloilo, namesake of the minor Planet Biyo and humble public servant, is doing right now? Has anyone even voluteered to play her role in a weekly telenovela? Is there even a picture of the said planet being circulated?
Does anyone in Quiapo, probably the masa's biggest source of culture, even pirate the award winning film, "Rizal"? Are there peddlers who sell legacies of Lino Brocka, our most celebrated director? Who has been mass-producing the DVDs of WengWeng, the James Bond of pinoy past?
We never made movies about the rise and fall of the great Marcos Dynasty. We never made quality productions of Corregidor and Bataan in the Silver Screen. We never did learn much from the heroes of history because we never immortalized them enough.
What then should we do to find pride in our heritage? Rizal waited a hundred years to have his legacy of a movie. Are we to force the heroes of our past and present to waste away in historical limbo as well?
We need our media to focus on more of our real heroes. We need to encourage the Pinoy Greats of our age to raise the bar and try once more to prove our lineage right. We need to point the spotlight once again, from the false heroes of today to the ones truly deserving of the limelight so everyone can see what a true-blooded Pinoy can really do.
We can make our true heroes, true heroes. By simply remembering them as true heroes.