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We Are Called To Bring Out The Heroism in Others

Written by President Domingo Reyes Jr. • Board by Mary Joy Cerniaz | 30 December 23

“Let the New Year—and the years to come—always bring out the silent heroism in us: to be somebody’s hero and to bring out the heroism in others.”

As we commemorate the martyrdom of our National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, allow me to share my reflections when a student once asked me about my thoughts regarding him.

In high school, I was not given the opportunity to read Rizal’s masterpiecesthe “Noli Me Tangere” and the “El Filibusterismo.” In college, I had the “Works of Rizal” as a subject and was tasked to memorize “Mi Ultimo Adios” whose first stanza I remember until today. In spite of these close chances to delve more into this hero’s life, when I was asked for my thoughts regarding him, I could not think of anything that I could say about the great man. Aside from Ambeth Ocampo’s articles in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, my knowledge and understanding of Rizal’s life and works remain much to be desired. 

One day, I chanced upon a scene in the movie “Rizal” when he was being shot at Luneta (formerly “Bagumbayan”). While it was a moving picture of his martyrdom, it was not really Rizal that caught my attention. It was the soldiers that aimed their firearms and fired at Rizal on that fateful morning of December 30, 1898 which forever sealed his fate as a hero and changed the course of Philippine History. Numerous questions filled my mindWho were they? What was going on in the minds of these soldiers when they were chosen to be part of the execution? What were they thinking when they aimed their rifles and shot Rizal? Was there remorse? Were they even aware of what was going on, its impact?questions I know I would never know the answers to. I could only speculate.

With this, I believe that heroism is a destiny that heroes were unprepared for. To some extent, it is probably unwantedbut it is never planned and never ambitioned. Rizal, like the other heroes, just allowed the circumstances to happen and unfold as they should and did what ought to have been done on those present and precise moments of their martyrdom. I also want to believe that they did what they believed was the right thing to do. It was the choices heroes made that made the difference. However, in the process, either good or bad, I want to believe that there is a need for other people, like the soldiers, for a hero to reach his or her destiny. In a manner, I think that we need others to bring about heroism in us and in others as well. 

As we are always called to heroism, we should not aim to be heroes only by mere verbal declarations. To be such would be self-serving that will defeat the very essence of heroism that is the selfless service of oneself for the greater good of others without expecting anything or any recognition in return. To be heroes is not to merely think, feel, and act courageously like heroesit is to be plainly sincere, and be so selfless to offer  oneself as sacrifice for the sake of others in the altar of righteousness. 

After contemplating the heroism exhibited by mortals, it becomes compelling to shift our focus to the ultimate exemplar: Jesus. In all His divinity, Jesus Christ is the existential hero of all time. He is the ultimate hero that descended from heaven for the redemption of the world as His life of service and suffering is the perfect template of what heroism is all about. Amidst His heart’s desire to take away the cup [of divine wrath] from Him, He set aside His divinity and allowed Himself to be sacrificed for our redemption and the salvation of the world.

We are not after the magnitude of the heroism that our heroes and that of Jesus have done for all of us. We may not be destined to be the popular heroes that we want to. Nonetheless, we are called upon to be silent heroes, or to be another person’s hero, as simple acts of kindness, charity, and service are more than enough to be considered heroic acts. Who knows, our destiny may not be to become the kind of heroes we want to be but to bring out the heroism in othersthat is heroism in itself.

Let the New Yearand the years to comealways bring out the silent heroism in us: to be somebody’s hero, and to bring out the heroism in others.

May the blessings and graces of the New Year be with us all!