Between Citizenship and Heroism

"Our country is in a constant state and process of redefining heroism and in enumerating qualities of how heroes should be."

Different heroes have emerged from different generations of Filipinos. Many of them were successful at various points of our history in restoring our country's freedom and independence. 

Today, we have ascribed the title of modern day heroes to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). Driven by love for family, OFWs endure physical, mental, and emotional stress in order to provide ably for their families. This love for family has rubbed off on our country's economy, as money transfers from Filipinos working around the world account for at least 10% of the country's GDP. OFW remittances have also created a positive impact on the country's foreign exchange earnings.

Filipinos have also looked up to sports icons as heroes. The rags-to-riches careers of the likes of Manny Pacquiao and Efren "Bata" Reyes have inspired many poor Filipinos to dream big, hoping that the fruits of their training and physical toil would be handsomely rewarded.

To this day and age, our nation is still in a constant pursuit of hero figures. In fact, various local entities have also launched their own searches for stories of heroism such as the Bayaning Pilipino Awards, among others. 

Our country is in a constant state and process of redefining heroism and in enumerating qualities of how heroes should be. And this reveals a more biting reality. While it is never wrong to search for heroes as a source of inspiration, it becomes a problem if we depend heavily on hero figures to solve our self-inflected miseries such as poverty and crimes. Hence, our search for hero figures is a result of our failure to look within ourselves for solutions, of our remaining passivity in solving the ills of society; in other words, the lack of active citizenship.

It may take a hero to help free a country from extraordinary circumstances such as foreign invasion or occupation. However, it takes an active citizenry to take a country from being free to being progressive.

As citizens, we are expected to follow laws and policies to maintain order in society. Instead of following them, they are being violated either for personal gain, convenience, or to impose one’s power and privilege over others. This is detrimental to our country’s progress.

Additionally, we are not only vested with rights, but are also charged with privileges and responsibilities. However, most are more consumed with rights and privileges while neglecting or becoming averse to responsibilities. For instance, some netizens are consumed with their right to freely express themselves and take advantage of the privilege to do so through various social media platforms. Unfortunately, others fail to recognize that there are responsibilities that go along with the right and privilege of self-expression. Some social media users often fail to understand that it is irresponsible to spread fake news when it could deprive other people of the truth. Other netizens resort to personal attacks to meet an argument, and in effect damaging and harming another person's reputation. These social media behaviors fail to elevate the level of social and political awareness of our people, which is essential in achieving holistic development.

If our country were to take a huge leap from being free to being fully developed, we have to stop depending on hero figures to do the job for us. There is no greater villain in our quest for progress than ourselves.

Just as comic heroes fight villains, the way to active citizenship entails a battle within ourselves. Are we ready to fight our own villains?

About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
Other Articles