A NATION owes its freedom to its heroes. That’s why I agree that June 12 is Independence Day because that’s when we proclaimed the independence we gained with the blood of patriots. Unfortunately, these nameless heroes of the revolution have been next to completely forgotten, their legacy of selfless sacrifice mocked by the sneering greed of today’s elected officials.
Recently, a friend who suffered a lot from the savagery of the Martial Law regime let me in on City Hall’s plan to name after Magellan the park it plans to build beside the Senior Citizen’s Park. He suggested to name it Heroes Park instead to honor all unsung heroes: one, of the revolution against Spain; two, of the war against the Japanese; three, of the struggle against Martial Law; and four (my addition), of the ongoing struggle to bring about, freedom, justice and peace in our land.
He jolted me into agreement and advocacy. The following are my reasons.
First, while Magellan is no hero to us yet he has enough places named after him thanks to our colonial mentality of idolizing those who “came to Christianize us.” Truth be told, however, Magellan discovered us by accident in a voyage whose official mission was to search for territories to conquer for the king of Spain who happened to be a Catholic. His proper place in our history, therefore, is that of invader and violator of our rights. We owe him nothing. Instead he owes us our cruel past.
Second and more important, my friend is right in that we have many unsung heroes in the many struggles for freedom this nation has had to undergo. Yet we have not erected any monuments for them. We have forgotten them and their sacrifice.
Instead, we have preferred: to remember only the more prominent leaders, especially the ilustrados, of the Philippine revolution; to rehabilitate politically the traitors in the war against the Japanese; to bring back unpunished into positions of power the heirs and friends of the dictator; and to tolerate the dumb and tasteless privilege speeches of elected officials who make a mockery of our rights to good government.
Prominent heroes whom we honor regularly with ritual remembrances could not have achieved victory over tyranny if not for the extreme sacrifice of nameless many who fought with them. Hence, if we have a tomb for the Unknown Soldier how about a park for unknown but genuine citizen-heroes that we so easily forget?
People need to be continuously reminded that they owe the freedom they enjoy today to these anonymous heroes. A Heroes Park will also remind Filipinos of the continuing challenge to carry on with the struggle to be truly free in a country whose peopleare taken for dumb by even dumber elected officials.