Briones: Celebrating heroes

·2 min read

Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, was a holiday throughout the Philippines. That meant many people didn’t have to get up early in the morning to go to work. For them, it was a long weekend.

Unless, of course, they’re employed in the fast-food business; in restaurants that remain open despite the pressures brought about by the 17-month-long health crisis, which has forced many establishments to shut down for good; in pharmacies; in hospitals where staff are busily caring for patients, many of whom are positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) and are unvaccinated; in the media; and in other businesses considered “essential.”

Then it was the same old daily grind for them.

I think personnel of the Philippine National Police also had to report to duty. Obviously, criminals don’t take the day-off from their criminal activities because it’s Christmas, or All Saints’ Day, or, in Monday’s case, National Heroes’ Day. The same goes for the Bureau of Fire Protection and the Philippine military.

Where am I going with this? Some of you are probably wondering.

Well, I would just like to shed light on the holiday. That way, people who spent the day in the comforts of their own homes would know why.

So first of all, what is National Heroes’ Day?

It basically honors the bravery of the country’s heroes. You know. Those who fought and struggled so the country could throw off the yoke of tyranny of Spanish rule like Dr. Jose Rizal, who paid with his life because he advocated political reforms for the colony that included turning the Philippines into a Spanish province and giving it representation in the Cortes, among others.

Oh, wait. There must be someone else.

How about Emilio Aguinaldo? He actually wielded a gun against the Spaniards and then the Americans, although he was also criticized for his involvement in the deaths of revolutionaries Andres Bonifacio and general Antonio Luna. History tells us that he later surrendered to the Americans, lived a rather comfortable life under the occupation and, during the Japanese invasion, asked the Japanese Imperial Government to honor his pension. Hmm, not exactly the poster boy of independence, was he?

But hey, heroes are not confined to soldiers and propagandists. They also include those who risk their lives so the rest of society can lead a comfortable one like, say, essential workers, who have been out there since day one of the pandemic and continued to work during what was essentially their holiday, and politicians–yes, politicians–who have been racking their brains trying to strike a balance between public safety and economic survival.

The country must not forget them.

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