Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Is the Filipino Still Worth Dying For?

No. What good is a dead Filipino to the Philippines today?

Heroism as it is understood in nationalist movements has to do with bravery in the face of one’s mortality. In the battle for independence against the Spaniards, Japanese and Americans, we needed heroes who would risk their lives to for the nationalist cause. There were enemies from other lands that needed to be fought in battles. Guns and mortar, jungle bolos, tanks, ships, bombs. When a military battles is fought, people do die. Thus, they are heroic in that they fight anyway, for the country’s independence, knowing that the likelihood of getting killed is high.

When Ninoy Aquino flew home from the United States, he probably knew he would be assassinated by the Marcos regime. That was why he wore a bullet-proof vest. His decision to come home, knowing he might die, was heroic. But he did it anyway, to fight for the national cause, to fight against the martial law regime that had failed to deliver.

Today we have no external enemies, and we are (still) a democratic country. We no longer need heroes to fight wars of independence, to fight an oppressive regime. Because our enemy is within. Our enemy is our system. Our enemy is ourselves. We don’t need heroes today. We don’t need people dying needlessly, as the journalists have, as the activists have, as our soldiers in Mindanao have, as overseas workers have. This romanticism of heroes isn’t helping the Filipino. Nobody should have to die for me. In our country today, we need Filipinos living for the Filipino.

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