What does it take to be a hero? Is fighting for justice not enough to demonstrate our love for country? Should there be a majority of support for a belief to be deemed the right one?
These questions hound my mind as the country commemorates the birth of one of the country’s national heroes and the father of Philippine Revolution, Andrés Bonifacio.
Militant groups arrive at the Liwasang Bonifacio for the 156th birth anniversary of Gat Andrés Bonifacio. (Photos by Daniel Asido/PUP-COC The Communicator)
Popular culture has played a big role in the way Filipinos understand the concept of heroism. Films like Heneral Luna and Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral showed to us the humanity of our national heroes, that they too are flawed and have their own struggles as well.
News media portray overseas Filipino workers as modern-day heroes for the sacrifices they endure for their families here at home, as well as their contribution to the country’s economy. But other groups say this portrayal neglects the realities our fellow Filipinos suffer abroad.
It appears Filipinos still do not have a united view of what heroism is and who should be considered a hero.
For instance, there remains to be division in public opinion over whether former President and strongman Ferdinand Marcos should have been buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. In 2016, the Supreme Court voted 9-5 to allow the late dictator’s remains to be transferred at the heroes’ cemetery. But victims of Martial law reject this, saying a man who has led thousands of his countrymen to death and torture should never be regarded as a hero.
Elitist View of Activism
Filipinos also seem to have double standards when it comes to activism.
As a graduate of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, I have seen how some employers and employees paint a negative picture of student activists, but on the other hand, support those who rally against rising consumer prices.
How does one define activism anyway? Isn’t it a movement to bring about political or social change? And if that is activism—shouldn’t we consider Bonifacio’s Katipunan as the activist group during the Spanish colonization era?
To my mind, people only like activism when it is convenient, or it suits their agenda. But when their interests are affected (i.e. traffic), they forget the noble cause of such actions.
Labor Case vs. GMA-7
I am one of more than a hundred contractual workers or talents who filed a regularization complaint against GMA Network. As segment producer of the news division’s Special Assignments Team, I was part of a group that brought several enterprise and investigative stories that not only gave the network some of its awards, but we also made a mark in nation-building by exposing corruption and bringing to light social issues that do not normally get mainstream attention.
And yet, after years of hard work as a Kapuso, I realized that no matter how much you sacrifice for your employer—it will never love you back. So even when we won the labor case at the National Labor Relations Commission, I decided to resign from the network.
Today I am working for another news media company with less resources but with a big brand and reputation on its name. I am finally a regular employee, enjoying health and other benefits mandated by law—something a bigger media company would not give to me and hundreds more.
Recently, our group—the Talents Association of GMA Network—scored another win in this already five-year-long legal battle for labor rights. The Court of Appeals junked GMA Network’s motion to reconsider the court’s decision upholding our regularization. We are awaiting GMA’s next move, because they can still bring this all the way to the Supreme Court.
So you see, I am not just a journalist. Like Bonifacio, I am also a revolutionary. And like those other PUP students, I am also an activist. Because if you are for the truth, then you should also be for justice. To me, that’s what heroism and nationalism should be all about.
[Entry 283, The SubSelfie Blog]
About the Author:
JM Nualla is the Managing Editor of SubSelfie.com. He is presently a News Producer of New Day and The Source on CNN Philippines. He also serves as an Assistant Professor in iACADEMY, teaching scripwriting, film language, new media and mentoring thesis projects. Previously, he was a Segment Producer for the GMA News Special Assignments Team and Senior Producer/Online Content Manager for Claire Delfin Media. Broadcast Communication 2009, PUP Manila. MA Journalism 2014, Ateneo de Manila.
Read more of his articles here.