Hero Worship remains so strong in Filipino society. Likely because, as I explained before, Filipinos see heroes as what they really want to be: lords and masters over others. Some others just want validation, and instead of trying to benefit others, they try to attack others and paint them as evil, such what Jover Laurio of Pinoy Ako Blog is doing, in the hope of getting some form of praise from others (and accolades from a circle jerk don’t count). Really, those are no heroes at all.
However, how do we treat heroes at all? The popular way would be to have a ticker-tape parade, being carried about in a sedan chair, recognition by high-rollers in society, or give some rewards, like vacation trips, cash and all. Lip service after all is cheap (and what the “anti-fake newsbloggers” have gotten so far). But after that, what? Do we treat them with kid gloves every time they might make a mistake in society?
I still use the example of Stebbins, who was considered a hero of during the real-life 1993 Black Hawk Down operation in Somalia. Years later, he was convicted of raping his daughter. In the Philippines, some would say, why treat a hero like this? Shouldn’t we give him impunity for being a hero? But he became a violator afterwards, and for that, he still needs to be given the appropriate sanction.
Another would be the Vietnam War era pilot Randy “Duke” Cunningham, an F-4 Phantom pilot with many awards for his service during the war. You can consider him a war hero. Following that, he became a congressman. In 2005, he got embroiled in allegations of bribery, fraud, and tax evasion – all of which he pleaded guilty to. He resigned from congress and was jailed. How the mighty have fallen.
Yes, heroes are only human, and the above got served sanctions for their wrongs. Yet there are some people today who would say heroes should always get a free pass, even when they do wrong – and they want to be this. The supposed “disente” and their bootlickers would probably like this benefit. They would have no achievements whatsoever comparable to Cunningham or Stebbins, but would escape any punishment if they committed the same crimes. That also seems to be the attitude of “social justice warriors,” who would like to be heroes despite their actions, well, not really being heroic.
Another possibly related exploit is that Filipino cultural aspect of “utang na loob,” or debt of gratitude. While voluntary gratitude isn’t bad by itself, many Filipinos are too insistent on payback, even to the point of making the debtor do something criminal or harmful. Some even insist on others paying them back even if they aren’t owed anything at all; a fake debt. For example, “you owe me honor for campaigning against fake news.” Another is when people claim to be descendants of heroes, so they claim that they should be treated like heroes as well. “You owe my ancestor, so pay back through me!” These are mooching and extortion.
Some even claim we owe big businessmen for selling us electricity, water, real estate and other services. These was a phrase back then about the Lopez family – they own everything a person needs from birth to death. That is the same as having an empire or dominion over people in a modern way (which such businessmen actually want). But no, we don’t owe them. You provide goods and services, we pay for them. No debt of gratitude applies here.
I also agree that the soldiers who fought in Marawi are more worthy of being called Filipinos of the Year, and even real heroes for giving up their lives (especially the one pictured). They’ll even just say, we’re only doing our job. Screw the broadsheets’ bias; we can all give our own accolades in our own way.
Lip service or making them kings is not what the real heroes would want – or deserve. Dedication of our lives to what they gave their lives for – a more secure and decent society – is more appropriate. We don’t owe them servitude or flattery, we best honor them by living with responsibility and accountability. And, as I said about our sportsmen before, let us emulate those examples and be our own heroes. That is what makes their sacrifice worth it.
And if someone is trying to self-promote in a way like, “lukatmi, I’m a hero!” go ahead and reject that, it’s your human right to do so.
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