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WHY ARE HEROES RARE?

 

Brief response of Bishop Socrates B Villegas on the occasion of the Ninoy Aquino Awards for Nationalism held at the De La Salle University, Taft Avenue Manila on August 21, 2009.

 

On behalf of Chief Justice Reynato Puno, Mayor Fred Lim and Mr. John Gokongwei, I thank you for bestowing this award on us your unworthy countrymen. I would not be surprised if some of you, looking at us four, would shake your heads and say: ìThe Philippines must be in deep, deep trouble. Look at their awardees for nationalism. Their standards must have gone very low. Can they not have better awardees than these four?î

 

This award is indeed not a declaration that we are more nationalistic than the rest of you. This award is a signal that the nation lacks nationalists. We lack heroes. We lack role models for the youth. On the other hand, there is an oversupply of celebrities. Our national preoccupation seems to be not the stories of heroes but the sensational and controversial trivialities of attention hungry personalities.

 

Why are heroes rare? Heroes are rare because the pied piper of mediocrity and minimalism is very alluring. It is hard to be a hero because it is more enriching and rewarding to give in to the temptation to safeguard family interests over the common good. Heroes are rare because our culture of corruption mocks those who sacrifice and calls honorable the grafters and bandits in the bureaucracy. Heroes are rare because we perennially wait for great dramatic heroic moments but ignore the day to day little acts of heroism that cross our paths. Heroes are rare because heroism starts from the heart and soul and many of us sadly live only for the body and for more money.

 

As I thank the Federation of Catholic Schools Alumni Associations, let me also challenge you to transform your member alumni associations to become cradles and seedbeds of more heroes. For the country to be a true nation of heroes, the family, the school and the church must work together in the formation and education of our children and youth. Heroism is born at home. Heroism is nurtured in school. Heroism cannot grow unless there is fear of the Lord.

 

There is a hero in you. Let the hero in you shine forth. If you cannot find heroes, be the hero yourself and then you will find more heroes among us!

 

I cannot bring these remarks to a close without mentioning that one great Filipina whom Ninoy loved as his one and only wife. She saw the greatness of her husband and was challenged by his example. At the end of her life, she even became greater than the model she tried to follow. Ninoy, daig ka ni Tita Cory! The heroism and courage of President Cory, far surpassing the example of her husband, is the best tribute that Senator Ninoy ever received. Be the Ninoy the country needs! Be the Cory the Philippines needs! Let us bring out the hero within us.

 

I beg your permission to share with you a few lines in honor of our newest national hero Tita Cory:

 

Sumasampalataya akong walang hindi makakaya

Kapag tayo ay nanalangin at sa Diyos ay umasa,

Suliranin ng sarili, ng bayan man o pamilya

Nalampasan ni Tita Coryng halimbawa ng balana.

 

Ngayong kayo po ay wala na dito sa aming piling

Sumusumpa kaming bayan nati’y mamahalin

Itutuloy namin ang salita ninyo’t hamon sa amin

Magmamahalan kami at laging mananalangin!

 

Paalam po Tita Cory, yakapin nawa kayo ng Diyos

Yakapin din sana kayo ni Mariang Ina ni Jesus

Yakapin din sana kayo ni Ninoy na inyong mahal

Pahinga at kapayapaa’y sumainyo nawa kailanman.

 

Salamat po.

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The Roman Catholic
Diocese of Balanga
(Bataan, Philippines)