Do our heroes have clay feet?

AS A MATTER OF FACT - Sara Soliven De Guzman (The Philippine Star) - August 31, 2020 - 12:00am

Today is National Heroes’ Day. When we commemorate this day, we look back at history and as we do this exercise every year our reflections and understanding of our story deepens. I guess it also comes with age. So please indulge me in my thoughts about our heroes of the past and of the present.

Anybody, rich or poor, literate or illiterate, man or woman, young or old can be a hero. There are many types of heroes. Our parents and grandparents can be heroes to us. Our Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) are heroes. Today, our modern-day heroes are the medical frontliners. There are heroes in our lives who have made a personal impact on us. There are also leaders in society who have become heroes for something they have done for a bigger group, a community, a region, the country and even extended to becoming known internationally.

Our country’s history has acknowledged men and women who fought for our country’s freedom like Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio. In 1995, before the centennial celebration of our independence from Spain, a committee listed other heroes: Emilio Aguinaldo, Apolinario Mabini, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Sultan Dipatuan Kudarat, Juan Luna, Melchora Aquino and Gabriela Silang. Of course, there are many who have become heroes in the field of science, medicine, journalism, etc. Our soldiers who have selflessly fought in battle for our country are worthy of their medals and recognitions.

We (non-scholars) have always believed and accepted the list of heroes told to us by our teachers, by national committees, by writers of history books and even without reading and investigating the stories behind the truth, we blindly accept. The recently produced movies, like HeneralLuna, Goyo, and Quezon’s Game, have opened our minds to the many questions about our heroes. The different idiosyncrasies exposed by our heroes have shown us that nothing has changed. Our leaders from generation to generation have somehow inherited the traits of the past.After all, history does repeat itself.

Our history should teach us the lessons of the past. How our leaders negotiated or collaborated with the enemy just to achieve power. How our people betrayed us by coddling to the enemy instead of protecting one’s own land. The story of the past continues to haunt us and even during this Covid-19 pandemic, our supposed leaders in government continue to mislead, mistreat, miseducate, and misguide us.

In the recent corruption cases of PhilHealth, for instance, who is the villain, who is the victim, who is the hero? Why is the public affected? Why shouldn’t we be? Our hard-earned money was stolen from us. Why were they allowed to handle our money that way? And why are they all pointing fingers at one another, creating their own moves and tactics.  Such is a case of a hero with clay feet.

In the Book of Daniel, the prophet interpreted the dream of the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar:

Your Majesty looked, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay...This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king.

Your Majesty, you are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory...Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. After you, another kingdom will arise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay (Daniel 2:31-43).

Reading this excerpt will remind you of our heroes in the past and our present leaders. Are all of them real heroes who our children should emulate? Or are they heroes with clay feet? A poem written by John Sensele, furthermore, presents the heroes and leaders we have in our country:

Feet of clay, fragile feet of clay make you human;

You refuse the scurrilous status of an ignoble idol;

It lives in the mind of an ardent admirer;

The sycophant believes you deserve a prominent pedestal

Built in hideous Hades, in Dante’s Inferno

Where the inquisition drives you suicidal.

Feet of clay fare better than

Mock modesty, pious poppycock;

The prude dishes out draconian drivel to whip

Servile souls, downtrodden drivers whose rise they block

To glorify their egregious egos, to win gangrene gains;

They flog feet of clay. From his brave back they peel off frayed frock.

Snow white saints, self-appointed spokesmen exist only

In the futile fantasies of dodgy dreamers;

Vicious vampires believe faults, follies and foibles make him less human

As long as he doesn’t side with subterranean screamers

But, feet of clay wouldn’t claim he’d never faltered

Although, so doing, entails foregoing light from streamers.

Listen to our public servants. Listen to their words, their allegations, their bickering, and innuendos against each other. Let us not be fooled by them. Let us be wiser. They are playing a game, a dangerous game called “corruption”. Do not believe or be cajoled by any of them.

In times like this when hope seems to fade, when leaders have stopped inspiring us to move on, it is once again very timely to recall Mabini’s True Decalogue (1898): Thou shalt love thy country after God and thy honor and more than thyself; for she is the only Paradise which God has given thee in life, the patrimony of thy race, the only inheritance of thy ancestors, and the only hope of the posterity; because of her, thou hast life, love and happiness, honor and God... Thou shalt strive for the happiness of thy country before thy own, making her the kingdom of reason, of justice, and of labor; For if she be happy, thou together with thy family, shalt likewise be happy.

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with