EDITORIAL | Who is your hero?

The Philippines is a nation that vastly values its heroes.

It declares special non-working holidays for them, ensures their names are written in history and children’s books, slaps their faces on currency, and even erects monuments in their honor.

On the surface, it seems there is nothing wrong with this idea of valorizing regular people, perhaps to serve as inspiration for others to combat adversity, as such heroes supposedly did.

However, what elevates many of these regular people into “heroism” is not as objective as many are led to believe.

What makes a person a hero is not defined by a set of impartial, mathematically-measurable displays of feats of courage, ingenuity, or strength.

Rather, the criteria are informed by the social climate, propelled by political goals, and knowingly affected by the people who have considerable clout to say that one person is a hero, and another is not.

Said criteria may even be influenced by the person who orchestrates his/her own life towards eventual “heroism” through strategic propaganda and meticulous planning to be in the right place at the right time (with well-oiled media machinery, of course, to spread the word).

This reality which many fail to see—or for some, refuse to acknowledge—is dangerous because it exposes that heroism is a construct susceptible to corruption and greed.

Further, it also willfully lifts up certain people to what is short of a level of worship previously reserved for gods, at the expense of others who may arguably be fitter to be admired.

What is unfortunate is that the latter are often those at the margins of society—people who do not have the resources, power, and influence to catapult themselves to hero status, even if they are more deserving of the honor.

Sure, heroism will always be, by nature, a social construct. But it doesn’t mean it is correct and acceptable for society to continue perpetrating irresponsible forms of deceit.

What if instead of obsessing over heroism and having our faces printed on money, we focus instead on our personal contributions to society.

After all, a good deed is a good deed whether or not it makes it to the front page, earns a medal, or is deemed fit to be honored with a multimillion-peso museum.

By extension, a hero is a hero whether or not the rest of the world knows.

Who is your hero?