A Nation of Heroes
Ano? Buhay pa pala si Sir Hillary. Ang akala ko noon mga patay na national heroes lang ang pwedeng i-picture sa pera. Sa atin kasi ganoon di ba? Rizal, Mabini, Ninoy. Sa US ganon din. Washington, Franklin, etc. It is very uncommon for a living person, especially someone not connected in government, to be immortalized in a country’s currency.
Six years ako sa previous job ko. During the time I was there marami-rami rin sa mga office mates ko ang naparanglan, nabigyan ng certificates of appreciation. “For working over and beyond the call of duty.” Kung baga, hero sila dahil sila yung mga naghirap, nag-overtime, pumasok maski holiday para lang matapos ang project on time and on budget. Nung una inggit ako sa kanila. Kasi yung iba mas junior pa sa akin, may award na. Ako sa anim na taon, minsan lang nakatanggap, hindi pa individual award, kung hindi, team award pa.
Pero in-analize ko kung bakit hindi ako nabibigyan ng individual recognition. Hindi naman sa nagyayabang pero masipag at magaling naman akong computer consultant. Then I came to realize that it was because I was in a team that was functioning very well. The team was fortunate to have had competent project managers who were very good in planning and project management so much so that it wasn’t necessary for anyone to be “heroic”. Hindi namin kinailangan mag-overtime kasi tama ang planning at scheduling ng mga tasks. Yung ibang group, may pagka bara-bara ang planning, palpak ang management at allocation ng resources. If their projects became a success later it was only because of the exceptional performance of individuals “beyond the call of duty”. So I concluded, kung maganda ang planning at palakad, there is a lesser need for heroes.
Which brings me back to Sir Edmund. Bakit nga ba siya nasa pera ng NZ? Not that he doesn’t deserve to. For me, it’s just unusual dahil buhay pa siya. The only explanation I could come up with is that maybe because NZ has very few national heroes. Kaya kahit buhay pa ginagawa ng bayani para lang madagdagan ang mga role-models ng bansa. Paano kasi ang history ng NZ hindi kasing makasaysayan tulad ng sa atin. Wala namang colonial power na sumakop dito e. Maayos din ang palakad ng gobyerno at maganda ang ekonomiya, hence, there is no need for anyone to be heroic.
Contrast this with our beloved country, where almost any act that requires a fair bit of sacrifice becomes a heroic act. If you’re an OFW, you’re a hero because you're sacrificing life with your loved ones. If you are professional, say a scientist working in the Philippines instead of overseas where the monetary rewards are greater, you’re also a hero. If you’re a social worker working in the slums of Manila, you’re definitely a hero. Natatandaan ko nung nagtrabaho ako sa Bureau of Immigration sa Intramuros, sa interview ko tinanong ako ng Commisioner, “handa ka bang maging bayani?” What? I’m just applying for a 9-5 job, magiging hero na ako? The fact is, every Filipino who’s working a decent, honest living is a hero. We’re a Nation of Heroes.
BUT we shouldn’t need heroes, if ONLY things in our country are moving smoothly. Hirap na hirap na ang kalooban ko para sa ating mga kababayan. At the same time, inis na inis na sa mga nagpapalakad ng ating pamahalaan. Kailan kaya aasenso ang bayan natin at gumanda-ganda naman ang buhay ng ating mga mamamayan? I dream of that day. Because when that time comes, hindi na natin kailangan magpakabayani pa; we need not become a nation of heroes anymore. Instead, to be successful, to be an achiever is enough. We can simply be a Nation of Achievers.