Heroism is selflessness. How do we, then, rid of ourselves?

On the 26th of August 2013, Filipinos remembered the fallen heroes of Philippine Revolution during the Spanish rule. Flowers were laid in monuments of the great Philippine heroes—those who used swords, guns, and pens to fight our way to freedom and independence.  Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Gabriela Silang, Sultan Dipatuan Kudarat were remembered. It is August 26; it is National Heroes Day.

However, somewhere in Central Mindanao, in a humble city called Tacurong, tributes were also given to the faceless heroes of our nation—doctors who serve in far-flung barrios, teachers, farmers, social workers, overseas Filipino workers, civil servants, public servants.

“The battle for freedom and independence against foreign oppressors have long been over. But we have still so much to fight for,” said Lt. Col. Joel Mamon, the guest speaker during the City Government of Tacurong’s Heroes Day celebration. With these battles he meant Filipinos’ fight against hunger and poverty, against graft and corruption, against lack of integrity in the service. With this, Lt. Col. Mamon could not help but mention the Million March happening in Quirino Grand Stand, Manila and in other provinces in the country on that very same day.

The Million March allowed people from different sectors to express, to meet and understand each other’s woes, to unite, to have a voice. The pork barrel system is only one side of the multi-faceted dimension of money and greed that exists not only in the government, but in other segments of society.

In this age, rising up takes more than courage. Conviction makes heroes rise. And when heroes rise, hope dawns. Hope makes all the difference in a seemingly confusing status quo. In this age, we do not need to shed blood to stand by our own convictions. Farmers plant rice and toil under the sun to provide for their families, and to provide for the country. Teachers, with their meager resources, make learning fun for pupils and students. People fearlessly and peacefully march to magnify the voices of the oppressed.

Indeed, battles do not end. The Filipino race continues to fight the good fight. Farmers, teachers, doctors, nurses, soldiers, civilians—the heroes of this age may or may not be acknowledged by history, but I believe they will continue to move, even invisibly for social good.

Every day, we give up a part of ourselves for service. Giving up a part of us, requires full conviction, requires our whole being to yield to our duty—to others and to God. And as we yield, we take our steps towards selflessness. Heroes are dignified because of honesty, compassion, and conviction.

It is National Heroes Day—a day for great and faceless heroes of the past and even of the present.

Jezereel Louise C. Billano