Cory and Ninoy may be personal heroes to some Yellows, but certainly not National Heroes

Tuesday September 04, 2018 ()

Early this year, some of the devoted "yellows" and their gullible followers have ardently discussed again reviving the plan to turn the late Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino and his wife President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino as national heroes or saints, or both, while, at the same time, busy demonizing President Duterte and his federalism proposal.

Part of the propaganda build-up was the documentary, entitled (Agosto Beinte-uno—Ang Pagpatay kay Ninoy Aquino) at the airport tarmac on August 21, 1983, replayed by ABS-CBN to draw public sympathy again to the victim whose murder remained strangely unsolved until today despite Mrs. Aquino, the widow, and her son, Benigno Aquino III, having occupied the presidency for 12 years and six months, with vast powers and resources at their disposal, but failed miserably to identify and prosecute the real mastermind in the killing.

Ninoy and Cory Aquino
(Ninoy and Cory Aquino)

As in the past, in reaction to the persistent move to make Ninoy and Cory heroes or saints, noted historians Salvador Escalante and J. Augustus Y. De La Paz, of the Truth and Justice Foundation, asked:

"How low can morals and standards get? How cheap can sainthood and hero status become? Legitimate saints and heroes would be scandalized!"

In their efforts to educate our readers, Escalante and De La Paz explained in their own words the analysis of this interesting topic in Chapter 16 of Cecilio Arillo's latest 448-page book, The Marcos Legacy, published by Amazon and locally available at Solidaridad and Popular Bookstores.

There are those who contend that these two are heroes and saints already, at least in the press; therefore, their enthronement is but a formality. The research study of Escalante and De La Paz provided the contrarian view:

"They are neither heroes nor saints. They may not be martyrs even. For them to be declared as national heroes, saints or martyrs, is less a matter of one generation's public opinion, than of measuring up to pedantic standards."

"To pass scrutiny, they must pass the test of time; they must not only possess the virtues and other qualifications required; and they must also have none of the disqualifications."

Let us see.

Heroes for whom?

The Aquinophile Asuncion David Maramba, for one, included in the 1993 book Six Modern Filipino Heroes, without defining a hero or heroine or laying down criteria as to who is and who is not. Said Maramba:

"People will know a hero when they see one. On that assumption, nay certainty, Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. ... (is a hero)."

In another book in 1984, Ninoy Aquino: The Man, The Legend, Maramba hoped and begged:

"In an age that is quite free with its superlatives, it can perhaps be said that here is a man and here is an event deserving the tribute and attention they are receiving.

"Ninoy's martyrdom may well be one of the most significant events of the last quarter of this century for the Filipino people… His eminence now seems secure and history will most probably confirm him as one of the great heroes of this generation. Even the most skeptical and the most stoical must grant him this accolade. In the most honest recesses of his heart, he knows it is true… (T)he inevitable apotheosis is now taking place ..."

Is Ninoy a hero? For many, the question may almost be impertinent or even close to blasphemy. For the wary and the skeptical, the question may be valid.

Gerald W. Johnson, author of American Heroes and Hero-Worship, published by Harper and Brothers on June 1, 1943 (first edition) and then carried by Amazon in its best sellers rank, agrees with Maramba partway: Heroes are created by popular demand, sometimes out of the scantiest materials, or none at all.

The conferment of hero status, then, is arbitrary on the level of the people. But who is to say that the Filipino people have installed Ninoy and Cory as heroes? They may be heroes to several thousands, but not to the majority of the people. They can be private or personal heroes, but certainly not national heroes.

Contrary to Maramba's assumption, there are certain qualities that a person has to possess to be admired and honored as a hero. "Other-wise," said Escalante and de La Paz, "movie stars, basketball players, ramp models and other celebrities, being admired, would automatically be heroes. In a pre-martial law dictionary, a hero is defined as one who is distinguished for valor, fortitude and bold enterprise. A post-President Aquino dictionary describes a hero as being admired for nobility, courage or outstanding achievement."

Neither definition stipulates the purpose or cause of valor, fortitude, bold enterprise, nobility, courage or outstanding achievement and are deficient in that sense. A pirate can be ruthlessly brave and bold, but he is not a hero except within his band. Neither definition says that the exercise of the virtues and qualities enumerated has to be sustained or consistent throughout a person's life.

Apparently, a single act, no matter how uncharacteristic of the person, may make him a hero; a popular anecdote in this regard is that of a man who was honored as a hero after someone asked for a volunteer to save a drowning person—it turned out that the "hero" did not volunteer to jump overboard at all, but was pushed into the role.

Heroism can indeed be accidental or providential; a hero by accident, as National Artist Nick Joaquin puts it, may be regarded as a martyr. Heroism may or may not extend to patriotism, the way it was defined by Adlai Stevenson:

"Not a frenzied outburst of emotion but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime."

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