TODAY is National Heroes’ Day. What is strange about this holiday, so important that the country gives up a full day of working, that workers paid daily suffer, is the law that ordered it. Commonwealth Act 3827 of Oct. 28, 1931 did not specify who were the heroes the day was celebrating. The Act consisted of only three sentences:
“Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in legislature assembled and by the authority of the same:
“Section I: The last Sunday of August of every year is hereby declared as an official holiday to be known as the National Heroes Day.
“Section II: This Act shall take effect upon its approval.”
Succeeding laws merely reaffirmed its date of celebration. However, we owe our being able to sleep late today to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, an economist by training and very practical-minded, who moved it to the first Monday of August, so we’ll have a long weekend, which she thought would be a boost to local tourism.
However, this day doesn’t honor anybody, as we have no law declaring who are our national heroes.
We have simply assumed that Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo and six others are our national heroes. President Ramos organized in 1995 the Philippine National Heroes Committee that officially recommended those who were to be officially recognized as national heroes, other than the first three mentioned above. These were Apolinario Mabini, Marcelo H. del Pilar. Muhammad Dipatuan Kudarat, Juan Luna, Melchora Aquino and Gabriela Silang.
However, no law has been passed to implement the committee’s findings.
We are a republic of laws, no matter how many books and historians claim that Rizal and company are heroes, these are not worth the retail price of those books.
There is no law declaring Rizal et al. as heroes. The laws instituting holidays celebrating Rizal (December 30, his execution) and Bonifacio (November 30, his birth) do not declare them as heroes. The one for Rizal for instance was originally in mourning for his execution.
Is it a big deal that we don’t even have an official list of our heroes, but we celebrate a National Heroes’ Day? Certainly.
It reflects our very weak sense of nationalism. The concept of heroes is an essential part of the concept of a nation. Why would somebody devote his life, and even sacrifice it, for a ghostly “nation,” an entity most of whose members he has never really met, which the renowned historian Benedict Anderson called an “imagined community.” In Rizal and Bonifacio’s case — as well as those for the leaders of the revolution — there wasn’t even an “imagined community” but a community that was in the process of being imagined.
Still, we believe in this imagined community as a nation which is in this era of humanity the most important organization we will ever be part of. But how can our people identify with this association if there are no heroes emblematic of the nation?
Yet it has been 27 years, and 10 Congresses since that committee of historians Ramos organized submitted their report recommending the declaration of nine people as our national heroes. Yet Congress instead has chosen to spend their time passing such vastly trivial laws as the naming of streets and converting municipalities into cities.
Why did Ramos balk at declaring our national heroes, whose list was painstakingly and rigorously arrived at by a committee of distinguished historians.
One explanation is that the Yellow forces — even Corazon Aquino himself — demanded that the roster of heroes include Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. Ramos, the practical man and still dependent on Cory for his political strength, abandoned the project, with succeeding presidents following his successful tack.
The Yellows actually had tried to revive that project during President Noynoy Aquino’s regime, as columnist Randy David inadvertently in effect reminded me in his column on Sunday.
Obviously trying to say that Ninoy Aquino should be declared a hero, David wrote; “It is remarkable that in a 2011 Social Weather Stations opinion poll on the personalities that Filipinos regard as genuine Filipino heroes, Ninoy ranked No. 3 — after Rizal and Bonifacio. (Thanks to Mahar Mangahas for bringing this out in his column the other day.) Together with Cory Aquino at No. 4, Apolinario Mabini at No. 5 and Emilio Aguinaldo at No. 6 — these names were the only ones that received double-digit percentage mentions.”
What David didn’t report is that the Aquinos — through Noynoy — were back in total power by July 2010 and had been undertaking two years before the poll a huge propaganda project to revive the Ninoy-Cory myth. This was undertaken as they saw such myth was the only factor to propel the unqualified, lackluster Noynoy’s bid for the presidency in 2010. As I have pointed out in several columns, the Yellow-leaning SWS has demonstrated in several instances sophisticated techniques through their questionnaires and poll timing to produce results that are what the financiers surveys want for their propaganda aims.
There was one problem with that poll though, so that the Yellows couldn’t go to town with it. Reflecting their intellectual dishonesty, David and Mangahas did not mention at all an amazing finding of the poll: Ferdinand Marcos was ranked seventh as a national hero, beating Ramon Magsaysay, Lapulapu, Marcelo del Pilar and 13 others who would be candidates as Philippine heroes.
The US and the oligarch-controlled media for 25 years had mounted a well-funded, intense campaign to vilify Marcos as one of the world’s worst dictators — yet a poll shows him as regarded by Filipinos as a hero, one of the top eight national heroes. I’ll bet a 25-year-old Macallan that if a similar poll were held today, Ninoy and Cory would disappear from that list, with Marcos Sr. moving up to the top five.
That we don’t have official heroes has made us a pathetic country, and we have even debased its meaning to a ridiculous one and to a more dangerous level of propaganda. It is hypocritical or patronizing to call our overseas workers the new heroes, “bagong bayani.” It is not true that OFWs have chosen to work abroad because they can’t find work here or have chosen to serve the country by working in foreign lands so they can send dollars to her so it can beef up its international reserves.
They’ve chosen to work abroad because the pay is much better overseas, of course, since those countries have a higher level of development. How can they be heroes? Half or even more of my middle-class classmates at Ateneo have chosen to work abroad — and live there as citizens.
The more dangerous consequence of our failure to declare our real heroes is that the Left in conspiracy with the Yellows have defined as heroes those who fought, or even remotely were against martial law.
And these forces have been undertaking a well-funded and intense project to do so. Take it from me as I was part of that project. The Bantayog ng mga Bayani has been run by the Left, funded since Cory’s time by the Lopezes.
Out of its 400 “heroes,” two-thirds were communist cadres or New People’s Army (NPA) commanders killed in their “armed struggle” to topple government. Several NPA commanders and Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) commanders in the Bantayog roster were even involved in the CPP’s bloody campaign to purge imagined government spies among their ranks, resulting in about 3,000 of their comrades, tortured and executed, many once idealist students.
A third are those involved in the Yellows’ campaign to topple the Marcos regime. Even one of the most powerful oligarchs in the country, who flourished during martial law, is among Bantayog’s history apparently as he was a secret financier of the Yellows.
It has been really one of the most successful, diabolical projects of the Communist Party and especially of its master propagandist Jose Ma. Sison. Everyone among their ranks were heroes. And then they turn around to have the Aquino government declare them as martyrs, given compensation of at least a million pesos.
The Red and Yellow propaganda has been so powerful that we have even forgotten the over 20,000 soldiers and policemen — a thousand from the Philippine Military Academy, our best and brightest — the real heroes defending the Republic killed by insurgents.
President Bongbong Marcos could be the only president who will ever be bold enough to declare our real national heroes. That act would strengthen our people’s sense of nationalism and endear him to Filipinos who really care about the future of the country.
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