O, Binibining Bayani | Part One

Apart from the “special” bunch of kids who wondered “bakit laging naka-upo si Apolinario Mabini?” the general consensus is that we, the typical Filipino population, have at least some knowledge of who our Filipino heroes are. However, if I asked right now “who is Teresa Magbanua, Marcela Marcelo, and Agueda Esteban?” I’d probably get several “uhm’s” and a few permissions to Google it. Don’t blame yourself though, I also didn’t know who they were before. Why? Let’s take a look at the history of history.

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Rizal Portrait, Wikimedia Commons

As of today, nearly all of us know reformist writer Jose Rizal as the national hero of the Philippines. However, what not a lot of us know is that currently, the Philippines doesn’t have an official national hero. This is in spite of the initiatives carried out as far back as 1995 when the National Heroes Committee recommended nine historically significant persons for the title. This included Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo, Apolinario Mabini, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Muhammad Dipatuan Kudarat, Juan Luna, Melchora Aquino, and Gabriela Silang. On one hand, it’s great that these people are recognized by the general population as prime examples of courage and nationalism. On the other, however, we can note the fact that the only two women on the list, Melchora Aquino and Gabriela Silang, are probably also the only two women we can recall from colonial Philippine history. We can cite a lot of reasons, with fingers immediately pointing to our basic education curriculum. However, can we really put all of the blame on the DepEd? Not exactly.

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Artist depiction, bibliodyssey.blogspot.com

Women’s rights movements have dated since the 1840‘s. It has had immense success especially in the areas of suffrage and labor. However, we must also acknowledge the overarching stigma in our society affecting females – degradation. We associated women with inferiority, ironically, because of the roles we gave them in the first place. Women during the colonial period were limited to being homemakers; and although we have given them right to be educated, we educated them as housewives. This cycle continued until it was inculcated. Many have accepted this limited role, simply because it had become the way of life. It is because of this association that we tended to overlook the roles women played in the revolution; “those are men’s jobs” we would assume. With the misplaced roles we have assigned them, even today’s educational curriculum fails to adequately represent just how big a role women played in the fight for our freedom. Not only did they keep supply lines and medical support running, some have even taken on a front line roles in combat. Yet, it simply is more convenient to remember them on the sidelines with their cooking and sewing. What a shame.

Like I said, not all the blame falls on our educational system, yet I also believe that it’s time to stop clinging to a mistake, even if it took us decades to make. We need to further recognize women in our historical records and our curriculum. All of which would trickle down for the better; for if we knew the reality of the potential women had historically, we will be able to progress well into a future of equity.

Who should we include? Come back next week for part two.


Sources:

National Commission for Culture and the Arts

Filipiknow

Aldrinlimequila (Photos)

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The Pathetic Case of Apathy

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Society has had its share of issues since time immemorial. The forties has seen the world nearly tear itself apart amidst a second war. The sixties through eighties have seen everything from the civil rights movement to near nuclear annihilation. The new millennium, on the other hand has been bombarded, both figuratively and literally with the war on terror, the subprime mortgage crisis, and more. All of these issues take on different forms, whether geopolitical, economic, environmental, or anything else. Despite this, it is possible to root out a cause – apathy, the single biggest problem of our generation.

Apathy, simply put, is the lack of empathy for one another. It can be summarized by the line “why should I care?” At this point, I would assume that you may argue, “if people are apathetic, then how come more and more people are vocal on social media, especially regarding politics?” In this case, empathy was used selfishly. Empathy, in this case, is often only used on the side which we would support. Divisions stem from this selfish empathy due to a lack of which for the other side. Furthermore, we tend to seclude ourselves from others’ opinions hence, leading to even more division.

The same issue abounds when it comes to social justice. The ideology that a man has the right to rape a woman because of how she dresses is still trumpeted even within families. This victim blaming further deepens their wounds; have they not suffered enough? Misogyny stems from this apathy for the rights of the female gender.

Another issue on which apathy is rampant is on climate change. The world has seen sweeping environmental deregulation; all in the push to squeeze out every ounce of profit available from mother earth. Where is the empathy here? Only the accountants of the oil and mining companies know.

Knowing the root of our problems, how are we to address it? Unfortunately, apathy is much harder to solve than we may think. Whether we like it or not, certain aspects of apathy are part of human nature. Prioritizing our own needs has been a foundation for our survival as a species. Furthermore, apathy is also deeply rooted within culture. Eastern culture, once renowned for their community-centric practices, have now fallen victim to the influence of apathy. Hope is not completely lost, however. Every single change adds up and I believe that a simple change of perspective for one, can be an impetus to change seven billion lives. Voicing out through social media is good; however, taking action in the real world is exponentially better. How pathetic of a species are we, if we care not for our community.