The Philippines, a country of 114 million people, marks today National Heroes’ Day, remembering primarily the Cry of Pugad Lawin, a revolt that kicked off in 1896 the Philippine Revolution against the Spanish Empire.
Historians say the date chosen is intended to mark that first act of insurrection against the Spanish colonizers by the Katipunan, a hitherto secret Filipino revolutionary movement led by Andres Bonifacio.
This was seen by historians and political observers as the start of the Philippine Revolution and the movement towards independence, declared on June 12, 1898 by Emilio Aguinaldo, restored on July 4, 1946 before the former date was officially declared by then President Diosdado Macapagal as the true date of Philippine Independence.
But as the country writhes from the infectious coronavirus disease, which muscled its way in last March 2020, this multi-ethnic Southeast Asian archipelago has gone beyond the frames of Jose Rizal, Bonifacio, Marcelo del Pilar, and Antonio Luna to the personal protective equipment-wearing front liners in different ICUs and medical centers across the nation.
But the question begs itself: Do we need to celebrate heroes?
Properly, many say. And while many modern heroes remain nameless and faceless, they must be raised to the pedestal of heroes after standing up to the threats and challenges of this global health emergency, with at least 3.8 million infections and 61.5 million deaths in the Philippines to date.
These frontliners – doctors, nurses, medical technologists, microbiologists, clinical laboratory scientists as well as those who clean up the garbage boxes to prevent further infections and possible deaths in hospitals – are deserving of the nation’s gratitude.
They have become role models that reinforce those values most esteemed by a country and stories about them, even when the coronavirus clout shall have been crushed.
They will continue to inspire and provide a legacy as well as a legend for the next generation to aspire to be, historians say.
Heroes, role models, and leaders have the potential to serve both enhancing and moral modeling functions, according to some historians, adding heroes may provide a protecting function beyond that of role models or leaders.
August 29, as any other day of the Gregorian calendar, is one where heroes – those names taught in the classroom and the frontliners of the 21st century — must be celebrated by the country.