MANILA - For so many years, our definition of a hero was either that of Andres Bonifacio, who led an armed revolution against the Spaniards, or Jose Rizal, who harnessed the power of the pen to awaken Filipino nationalist spirit.
Dying for the country is indeed heroic, but is that the only measure of heroism? More people are being being hailed as heroes because of their selflessness and valuable contributions.
Here in the Philippines, government has recognized modern day heroes in the form of the Bagong Bayani Awards. The honor is bestowed on overseas Filipino workers who have done exemplary contributions in their communties.
Knowing how difficult it is to be away from their own families, some Filipinos have turned their homesickness into something worthwhile.
There are several others worth calling as heroes. In their own small ways, they have touched the lives of others. While some have died, their memory will hopefully become an inspiration.
• Muelmar Magallanes - When Typhoon Ondoy flooded vast swaths of Metro Manila in September 2009, the then 18-year-old sacrificed his life to save 30 people. This selfless act has touched the hearts of so many especially those who have witnessed how he swam through the floods to save a mother and her baby.
• Airport personnel, who found huge amounts of money and without having second thoughts, turned over to the authorities so it can be given back to their rightful owners. Considering how hard their lives are, still these people had kindness in their hearts to return what does not belong to them.
• Soldiers – Some were able to come back to their families wounded after a battle, and some were not lucky enough to make it through. These soldiers have vowed to be the protector of our country despite being just as human as everyone else.
• Teachers – We have entrusted our children to their teachers to be their second parents and to be their guide in learning. In a public school set up, not all students may have the required books and other school materials needed. Although the government has given free education, this is not enough for the students. Some teachers have sacrificed a portion of their meager salary by providing paper and pens to their students.
• Kesz Valdez – At such an early age, Kesz was able to start Caring Children Organization to help 10,000 street children. While other children his age may be just focused on online games, this young boy was thinking of how he can help unfortunate children.
• Tzarina Saniel – She strongly believes in the value of education thus she has started collecting old books and manuscripts with the aim of preserving the Filipino culture.
• Mothers – The unappreciated and most often misunderstood. They may be the least thought of to be heroes because most of us may just see them as someone who is responsible to give us education, clothes, a roof over our head and other things that we might need. But apart from all those responsibilities, a mother also has her own life which she has often taken for granted because of seriously taking her role of taking good care of the family, most especially the children.
Filipino families are closely-knit that in one household, there could be at least three generations. A grandmother, no matter how old she has gotten, still has the loving heart to take care of her children and granchildren.
These are just few of the heroes which we should get inspiration from and be thankful for. Because of them, the people of this nation has been seen as more than just the people from a third world country, but as people who shares the same values as those of others from different nations.
As for our mothers, we should always honor and shower her with our love because the love that they give to us, their children is endless -- it can never be compared to anything.
In 2011, my mother, Elvira, left my siblings and me a message that to this day I have painstakingly preserved.
"I wish to thank you for giving me the encouragement to pursue my ambition and desire to be an equal elderly being not just a parasite in this world of ours. I know that even if we don't see each other often you still take care of me. In return, I am trying hard to catch up in spite of my Alzheimer. Again thank you for loving your Mom. I love you."
Today, she is 89 years old and could hardly talk to any of us. During her younger years, she showed us the meaning and value of work. In fact, she was a public servant as a public school teacher and later served in the Central Post Office in Manila. Her hard work made her as model employee and awarded a pen with a proud inspiration.
There may be an endless list of heroes today. Bring them forward and let others know how they have contributed to your community and be rightfully given the recognition that they deserve.
For questions and more information, you may contact the Business Mentor, Armando "Butz" Bartolome by email: [email protected] or on Twitter https://twitter.com/philfranguru. His website is www.gmb.com.ph