In my Country, Everyone's a Hero!
"Don't you ever know that you're my hero? And everything I would like to be? I can fly higher than an eagle, 'Cause you are the wind beneath my wings." - goes the chorus of Bette Midler's song.
Hero comes in many color and form. They arise in different places, situation and imagination. Hero were not born, they are made.
And in my country, The Philippines, is not an exemption, We too, have "hero." Hero from all walks of life. Hero that rises and inspires many of us.
Filipinos are known to be tough, friendly and resilient. Admire for the hospitality and friendly nature whose smiles reflects the happy and positive outlook in life. Our social attitude in life also reflects on how we are as a country.
In the midst of chaos we exhibit hopefulness for brighter tomorrow, a new beginning and beautiful life. Not even the most and seem impossible problem or the severe storm cannot put us down. We rise from where we have stumbled and face the world with our heads held high.
Despite the dangerous and worrying times where things are very uncertain and difficult we move forward to achieve greater social prominence and keep doing what we are meant to do as Filipino, as one country, one people and one nation.
With the goodness and kindness of many, there may also be few self-seeking, greedy, abusive and fraudulent people who act to satisfy their own motives and the use of powers to degrade others. This resulted to injustice and neglect to provide better opportunities to the people particularly in terms of the basic needs such as shelter, food, and employment.
In the midst of crisis, there are hero emerge in the midst of chaos and quietly strives for better life that can't be found in their own space and place of fields in the country. These are the "overseas workers."
There are many underlying reasons Filipinos work abroad. Whether it's their choice or just forced to do so, leaving the country means detachment from family members and depriving oneself of being with their children to guide and watch them grow and be contented with long distance calls and instant messages conversation as primary means of communication.
The reasons includes OFW phenomenon, economic situation , highly unemployment rate, low salary offered by local companies, contractual employment arrangement , poor benefits, discrimination in job hiring. The mismatch and preference of age and pleasing personality over skills and competitiveness. This is the sad part local job applicants have to deal with and this process leaves qualified but average applicants in the dark and decide to go.....abroad.
There are more than 5million Filipinos employed all over the world who sacrifice for their family for greener pastures. They live with hopes of giving their respective family a better life and future. Some succeed, some failed and comeback with nothing.
Many were promised good salaries and accommodation but when they arrive at their country of destination , they only receives half which means there is contract substitution. Many applied legally but some enters illegally because of some unscrupulous recruiter and fooled. Employers confiscates their documents, passport and not allowed a days off. Some were deprive of their own freedom, locked up, experience different kinds of abuse such as maltreatment, beaten, rape accused of crime and or being planted of a crime they don't do, work long hours and work with more than one family contrary to signed contract. Salaries are withhold and some not even being paid at all until they are sent home.
Back home, their dependent, were not as stable as they thought and expected them to be. Children went astray or wayward, or end up with broken family, in debt and worse, lost the dignity and self-respect.
Though now, times have changed because it is not so lonely to go abroad anymore. Ofw's are now pampered, covered by better protection and offered advantages. There are still who struggles to keep life easy and stable. They are mostly the sole bread-winner of the family and heralded as the nation's new breed of heroes. Heroes in the coffers of the country pumping in billions of remittances of dollars, but the local market is still their biggest employer.
OFW's are the "modern day heroes", who substantially help the country gain economic stability through their remittances.
Hero in sports and entertainment:
In this field, there are those who continued to give "us" pride and recognition through their intellect, talent and beauty, advocacy and skills.
The likes of Charice Pempengco, who is now internationally known for her powerful voice and Jessica Sanchez, who placed first runner up on the recently concluded, session 10 of American Idol. Arnel Pineda of the rock group, Journey and Lea Salonga from her starring role as Kim in Miss Saigon being the voice behind the Disney's animation, Mulan and the singer behind Alladin's theme song, "A whole new world," has always been a Filipinos pride. She is a Tony's awardee too.
And there's Gloria Diaz and Margarita Moran who land themselves winners in the Miss Universe in 1969 and 1973 respectively. We also have Ma. Venus Raj, known for her "major major" line and Shamcey Supsup, with her "tsunami walk", Miriam Quiambao who fell and stumble during pageant made their way to Miss Universe and Lara Quigaman to Miss International pageant. Also supermodel, Melanie Marquez and many other Filipina that takes pride for our country. And Monique Lhuillier who has made a big name in the fashion industry and landed her as "Hollywood celebrities" favorite designer.
And of course, the People's Champ. Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao. He made every Filipinos proud and the Philippines renowned in the world of boxing by being the Fighter of the Decade, having won six world titles and first eight division champion. His rags to riches life and shoot to fame was admire and recognize worldwide. From his humble beginning, working hard from being a bread vendor to construction worker to being an amateur boxer to where he stand now brought inspiration to many. The world is silence when he rocks the ring.
His rise from poverty to prosperity has widely spread. His prayerfulness before and after fight and his new found faith has had a massive impact on his appeal - a true character of a Filipino. Now, a Congressman in his adopted province of Sarangani, his philantrophy continues and help his constituents generously through foundation. He remain humble in his walk to fame and faith.
The story of Pacman continues and no matter what he is still the World Champion . the hero of everyone blessed by God.
These pride of Filipinos are heroes that serve as inspiration to aspiring ones to be in their shoes one day.
Teachers and other Profesionals:
These are also heroes works faithfully, with passion and dedication to their chosen fields waiting for nothing but to help and be of service to the people and serve them with patient and compassion. The doctors, nurses, firemen, policemen and other government officials who dedicate their lives to serve people.
A teacher. It's always been said that hey are the "molders of the society." If there is no people to teach us to know what is right from what is wrong, to read and write, then we are totally dumb in the environment that surround us.
Teaching in the Philippines is very challenging specially in public schools. Teachers life is a "wheel in motion", if you do not act on it in the first stage - you cannot move into it. It is full of sacrifice, 97% will be in the profession as a teacher and only 3% to give in with the family. They are known as mentors and well-rounded professional. They are over-worked yet under-paid. Stories of teachers who sells food and other items inside and outside the school is very common to sustain and earn extra money for their family and school supplies.Most of them receives their salaries only to pay loans and personals debts. Yes, almost 70% lives on loans and borrowed money.
Although the government provide all the needs of a teacher to do its job, classroom and chairs, books and boards, but because of the lack of budget, a teacher is forced to find ways and means to support the needs of her own classroom. A teacher is always the provider of its own self-need. Despite the shortage of classrooms and teachers, education in the Philippines still one of the top priority and rate highest in Asia.
A teacher commit and dedicate her life until she retires and even after retirement with dignity and pride, with respect and high moral standard. They are our heroes from pre-school to old age and always regards as our ultimate and favorite hero.
He is Efren Penaflorida. A CNN Hero of the year in 2009. He is known as the "street educator" with his desire to provide every Filipino children good education. He and his group conceptualize the use of cart. They stock it with books and pens, chairs and tables and this gave birth to the "pushcart classroom." They replicate a school setting in unique and interesting way and go around reaching out and teaching out of school youths reading and teaching.
The team pursued their cause more passionately despite constant challenges. He got recognize and the group gets good publicity. He is one "modern day hero" who do ordinary thing in extra ordinary way.
Hero of different calamities:
The Philippines is in the middle of a typhoon belt and so it's extra ordinary vulnerable to the impact of climate change and sea-level rise. It is also frequently visited by at least 20 typhoon a year and is vulnerable to landslide and volcanic eruption, earthquakes and floods.
It is one of the world's disaster-prone country. When this events of calamities occurs, it devastates large part of the country, damaging many houses, livelihood and stocks, farmland. fisheries, sweeping out almost everything with water floods and some illegal logs scattered in the mining areas. People affected in tens of thousands, and home were destroy leaving families displaced, homeless, some dies and many in desperate need of aid.
Despite all the plague that besiege our beloved country, Filipinos never complain, they could even sing songs to amuse ourselves in the midst of chaos. They smile and joke around to ease the hardship. And when crisis like this arises, there is always a good news.People helping people. It gave way to rise of heroes among us. The unseen, unnamed, unknown hero ready to risk life to save lives. It matters not if it's a family members or neighbor or small baby or pet. The ultimate reason and purpose is to help in many aspect. We are all capable of contributing to save others.
This hero and their presence comforts us, even if we don't even know them. They inspire us by risking their own lives for a greater good.
Other heroes fight for us, our freedom and our goal. There were those for whom toughness, bravery is part of the jobs, all of us should open our minds and hearts to accommodate the needs of less fortunate and victims of such events and disaster or uneventful crisis and release the "hero" within us.
In times of upheaval, there is hero among us. And up to this day, there are still typhoon, earthquake, fire hero waiting to rescue anyone and everyone in his bravery and compassion regardless of who we are or who he is to save. He could be a father, a son, a brother. a friend or anyone out there. He is still an undying, unselfish and uncredited hero of today.
There is always a time to be hero.
Thank you, Thank you. Thank God for you, the wind beneath my wings.