Mga Bayani sa Tabi-tabi

Ngayon ang huling araw ng Buwan ng Wika kaya hayaan nyong muling sa Filipino ko isulat ang blog post kong ito. Medyo matagal ko ring inisip kung paano ko isusulat ang blog post na ito. Hindi naman sa wala akong sagot sa tanong na “Sino ang mga bagong bayani?”, pero marami kasing puwedeng isagot na mahirap mamili ng isa lamang na pagtutuunan ko ng pansin. Magpopokus ba ko sa isang kwento ng kabayanihan? O magbibigay na lang ako ng isang overview kung ano ang bayani para sa akin. Syempre, gustuhin ko mang sabihin at pagtuunan ng pansin lahat ng ating mga bayani, hindi ko rin ito magagawa. Masyado silang marami. Marami kasi ang pumapasok sa criteria ng bayani para sa akin.

Ang  mga bayani para sa’kin ngayon ay hindi lamang mga katulad ni Bonifacio or ni Rizal na kailangang mamatay para sa bayan nila para maituring na bayani. Hindi rin sila mga katulad ni Penaflorida na kailangan pang bigyan ng titulo bagong tuluyang makilala bilang isang bayani. Ang bayani para sa akin ay isang taong mas pinipiling isipin muna ang kapakanan ng ibang tao kaysa sa kapakanan nila. Sa Ingles, ito ay tinatawag ng selflessness. Kung ganito ito iisipin, napakarami nga naman talagang taong papasok sa titulo na “bayani”. Pero siguro iniisip nyo, hindi naman puwedeng lahat ng taong selfless ay mga bayani. Maaaring ganoon nga iyon, pero hayaan nyo na magbigay ako ng ilang mga halimbawa upang mapakita ang puntong sinasabi ko.

Kahit kailan ba ay napansin nyo ang mga basurerong dumadaan sa tapat ng bahay nyo upang kolektahin ang inyong mga basura? Kahit kailan ba ay naisip nyo na ang mga mamamayang ito ay mga bayani? Baka hindi? May mga ilan kasing hindi ganoon kagandang komento minsan tungkol sa mga basurero na personal ko na ring narinig mula sa ibang mga tao. Sinasabi ng iba na ang babaho nila. Sinasabi nila na ang pagiging basurero ay isang hindi kanais nais na trabaho. Hindi mo nga naman sila masisisi. Pero hindi nyo ba naisip na baka isang malaking sakripisyo ang ginagawa ng mga basurero para sa atin at para sa kanilang pamilya? Isipin nyo. Sino ba naman talaga ang magnanais maging basurero? Pero pinagtatiyagaan ng mga basurero ito upang makapaguwi ng pera sa kanilang mga pamilya upang pangtustos sa marami nilang pangangailangan. Sa pananaw na ito bayani ang mga basurerong ito sa kanilang mga pamilya. Sa kabilang banda, bayani rin sila para sa atin. Pinagtatiyagaan nila ang baho ng basura, ang init ng araw, at iba pa. Ito ay isang malaking panganib sa kanilang kalusugan, pero kung hindi nila ito gagawin edi marumi na ang paligid na ating ginagalawan. Kahit na sabihin mong mabaho nga ang kanilang trabaho, isa itong klase ng baho nagdudulot ng kalinisan ng ating kapaligiran na nakasisigurado ng mabutong kalusugan.

Isa lang ang basurero sa mga masasabi kong bayani. Nandiyan din ang bumbero na nagbubuwis ng kanilang buhay para lang maligtas ang ating mga kababayan na nasusunugan. Kahit na inaaway sila minsan dahil mabagal daw silang rumisponde, o kung anu-ano pa, ginagawa pa rin nila ang kanilang mga trabaho. Mas naiisip nilang iligtas ang ibang tao kahit na ang buhay na rin nila ang nakataya. Nandiyan ang mga janitor na nakikita nating naglilinis sa iba’t-ibang lugar. Nakaiiwas din tayo sa maraming sakit dahil sa kanila. Nandiyan din ang iyong mga guro na kahit na mahirap ay mas iniisip na kailangan ka niyang turuan upang mabigyan ka ng magandang kinabukasan. Nandiyan din syempre ang iyong mga magulang na handang gawin ang lahat para lamang sa’yo.

Sila at marami pang iba ay mga bayani. Lahat ay maaaring maging bayani, basta’t, uulitin ko, mas iisipin lamang nila ang kapakanan ng iba kaysa sa sarili nila. Maaaring siya ay isang tindera ng donut na nakikita mo sa kanto, maaaring siya ay security guard na binabantayan ang mga customer ng isang kainan, o maaaring siya ay isang karpintero na nag-aayos na bahay mo. Sila ang mga bayani sa tabi-tabi. Sila ang mga taong hindi mo mapapansin. Sila ang mga taong hindi mo masyadong iniisip. Maging ganito man, maaaring mga bayani sila para sa ibang tao.

Uulitin kong muli. Lahat ay maaaring maging isang bayani. Basta’t nandiyan lamang ang kagustuhan niyang makatulong sa iba at nandiyan ang puso niya na iniisip muna ang iba bago ang sarili niya, siya ay isang bayani. 🙂

 

-Samantha Cinco

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On Heroes and Their Deeds: Conjecture Wrought from Pacing Back and Forth with Gnawed Down Fingernails

Throughout the days of humanity, the comings and goings from epoch to epoch, heroes abound and embellish the chronicles of writing as well as memory.  In literature, we have heroic archetypes in the persons of Odysseus and Hercules for their feats of wit and physical prowess in the face of gods, monsters, and great peril in general.  History (in this case Philippine History) distinguishes many heroes such as Dr Jose Rizal— the intellectual that fought with pen and paper— and Andres Bonifacio— the Father of a Revolution.  For the Natural Sciences, we have pioneering individuals such as Marie Curie and her inquiries in radioactivity as well as Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon.  Even socio-economic context has its share of heroes like Efren Peñaflorida for his pushcart classroom and the general body of Filipino Overseas Workers (OWF’s) — well, you’ll find a lot to read about that justify the quality of heroism in the OFW.  Heck, Manny Pacquiao is a hero to a number, perhaps even a large number, of Filipinos (no negative connotation in this statement, mind you).  The point is, as in the first sentence of this paragraph, that there are quite a number of heroes, not just a few, but a lot, really.

But then isn’t it logical to ask: “What makes a hero a hero?”

In fact, that question has been the topic of discussion of the many fields of knowledge— the formal and the informal; in the social sciences or in the humanities; within the confines of the academic arena or outside: in the conversations of everyday folk.  And rightly so, you’ll get as many answers, answers that might not even be consistent with one another.  So while I do not intend for this composition as a loaded assertion, as in to posit and debate that an answer be the answer to the question above, allow me to present my own version of what a hero is in this day and age— a version that may, in a large part, stem from personal experience as well as, of course, sentiment.  From there, I shall extend the case to people of such description.

Right off the bat, especially from the examples given in the introductory statements, can we conclude that being a hero and great deeds are one and the same, that all heroes are recognized as such due to their great deeds?  The problem there is the vagueness of the term “great”, on what makes a deed warrant the attribute “great”.  However, putting the issue of semantics in the concept of greatness at the periphery, I’d like to think that these so-called “great” deeds are but necessary— not sufficient— for being a hero; that is, great deeds follow from being a hero, and not the other way around.  Despite being ruled out of this definition of what hero is, great deeds perhaps offer the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

Intuition may be enough to rightly say that when a great deed is done, the doer, more often than not, takes a risk; the doer sticks his/her neck out and becomes vulnerable.  Vulnerable to what?  Well, vulnerable to a lot of things, things like failure, harsh judgement, pain, disadvantageous positions, all sorts of nasty and undesirable ends.  Yet in the face of these adverse possibilities, the doer— the hero-in-the-making— proceeds with the act of greatness anyway, treading the darkness of uncertainty, the terra incognita, and back— perhaps not necessarily unscathed, but as a better individual in general.

So from the above, we get that a hero is someone who puts his/herself on the spot, exposing a chink in his/her armor.  While the regular implication would be bravery (indeed to do so entails a considerable amount of such), another implication is someone with a mind, with a consciousness, beyond one’s immediate self, reaching out perhaps to other people, to the future, to a cause, to a philosophy, and/or to other things of the sort.  This is someone who is made to move not by what is immediately in front of him/her so to say, but this is someone who sees a bigger picture and acts in relation to it.  Yet another point that may be derived from the above, albeit perhaps corollary to the first point, is that a hero is contextual.  This point is especially integral to the relation between heroes and great deeds in that heroes and their great deeds often come as shocks and anomalies to the prevailing status quo of a certain period in history.  Thus, a hero is also relative; a hero, i.e. the recognition of a hero, is subject to the perceptions of each individual.  After all, while Dr Jose Rizal is a hero among the Filipinos, he was a headache to the Spanish colonial government in the Philippines during the time.

Finally, let me now apply an extension in the context of what I experience and observe in the everyday and identify people that fit the picture of a hero that was formed in the above.

For the most part, I see that the world we live in is a one with many strangers.  We encounter many faces as we go about our day, yet it’s as if we’ve constructed a bubble to keep them out.  We go as far as ignoring each other, pushing each other aside as each of us do our own thing; more so, to look another in the face, even for a time shorter than a glance, even by chance given the vast sea of humanity ubiquitous all around, often spells out a pretty awkward air.  In a statement, it’s a dog-eat-dog world; it’s every man for himself.  In a word, it can be, very simply, “indifference”.

Yet, every now and then, we see a person helping out a stranger pick up a bundle of things that he/she dropped; a person who guesses that a stranger looks lost, guesses right by talking to him/her, and offers the appropriate directions if possible; a person who is, say, in the gym (or any venue where a certain activity is done) sees a stranger having trouble with his/her technique or whatnot and offers advice and/or instruction so as to improve that strangers ability to perform whatever that activity may be; or even a person so kind enough to inform a stranger that a leaf has settled in his/her hair and saves him/her the embarrassment of having something undesired beetling out of their hair without their knowledge.

In these situations, that person-in-question risks a number of things, things like the possibility of being branded a creep (or somewhere along those harsh lines), that awkwardness with having to deal with a stranger, the chance that amicability be mistaken for condescendingness and all the fuss that follows, basically all sorts of negative receptions from the stranger.  Yet the person does so, in most cases, not because of selfish, ulterior motives, but the person extends a helping hand with the honest intention to, well, help— because of a number of things, among them most often is concern for another individual in-need.  The context of heroism here is that, again let me reiterate, our world now is one with many strangers, and strangers are strangers, for we pay them no mind.  Nonetheless, here is this person minding a stranger as he/she struggles, and this person, contrary to just looking the other way, rushes to give aid.  Oh what a shock to the prevailing status quo!  More so, the heroism exhibited is relative: to bystanders, the act may just as very well be something mundane or something far from outstanding; even to the person— the doer— the act may simply be just something natural or spontaneous; yet in the eyes of the stranger on the receiving end of the act, the person who went out of his/her way for someone else’s sake was a lifesaver, a godsend, a pleasant surprise.

Yes, as you can see, I’m someone who values these random acts of kindness, for they go a long way in reminding us of the fine line between the cathartic surge of living within the fold of humanity— that cacophony of melancholy and bliss that we hum as we stride along life itself— and a cold, dehumanizing dystopia— ruthless anathema that kicks us while we’re down and salts our wounds.

Thus, if a hero is to a great deed, then, in our context, a hero can be anybody, and, the great deed is that random act of kindness.

—     Miguel Raymundo C. Gutierrez

Bayani Ngayon, Sino nga ba kayo?

Mahigit ilang araw na rin ang dumaan matapos natin ipagdiwang ang Araw ng mga Bayani. Sa loob din ng mga araw na ito ay palagi kong iniisip ang aking kailangang gawin na blog para sa araw na iyon. Ang laging tumatakbo sa aking isipan ay kung sino na nga ba ang mga bayani na itinuturing natin ngayon at kung bakit natin ito nasasabi. Matapos ang aking mahabang pagtulog ay nagkaroon ako ng kasagutan para sa aking sarili.

Isang bayani, ano nga ba ang isang bayani? Siya ba ay isang tao na dapat mamatay para sa mga ipinaglalaban nya? Dapat ba siya ay walang takot, walang pinakikinggan, walang pinababayaan at inuuna ang iba kaysa sa pansarling kapakanan? Ito ang mga bagay at ideya na itinatak sa ating mga isipan simula pa nung pagkabata sa kung sino ang mga bayani. Subalit kapag hindi ba nagawa o tinaglay ang mga katangian na ito ay hindi ka na maaaring maging bayani?

Ang aking nakitang sagot ngayon dito ay hindi. At kung ang tanong ay “Edi sino ang pwedeng maging bayani?”. Ang sagot ko ay tayong lahat. Sa ating kasaysayan ay kahit minsan hindi tayo nagkaroon ng isang bayaning perpekto, lahat may pagkukulang at kung minsan pa nga ay may kasamang masamang kwento na hindi natin agad mapapaniwalaan.

Naniniwala ako na lahat ng tao ay maaaring maging bayani. Hindi man natin taglay ang lakas para mapasunod ang ibang tao at mapaniwala ang ibang tao sa ating mga paninidigan ay basta tama at mayroon tayong ipinaglalaban ay isa ka ng bayani. Hindi man natin handang mamatay para sa ating ipinaglalaban subalit handa dapat tayong mabuhay para patuloy na lumaban. Hindi man tayo kasing-tapang ng iba na kung saan wala tayong kinatatakutan subalit dapat tayo naman ay may tapang kapag kinakailangan at marunong pa ring matakot sa mga konsekwensya. Hindi man isang solidong pinuno na tayo lagi ang may pinakang magandang ideya subalit handa naman dapat tayong makinig sa sinasabi ng iba. Hindi man natin palagi inuuna ang kapakanan ng iba sa ating desisyon, subalit malaking porsyento pa rin ang inaalala natin sa kanila.

Kahit sino maaaring maging bayani, maging ikaw man ito o ako. Basta alam natin ang tama sa mali at ang dapat sa hindi ay kaya natin mabuhay ng maayos. Kung ang kontradiksyon sa aking sinasabi ay ang mga kurakot, magnanakaw at masasamang tao na nagpapakalat-kalat lamang, ang sagot dito ay naniniwala na silang hindi nila kayang maging bayani, ang mabuhay ng marangal at malinis. Kaya hangga’t may tao na may tiwala sa sarili nila ay babangon pa rin tayo at magtatagumpay.

“We’re all heroes if you catch us at the right moment.”

-John Bubber, Hero (1992)

We are all ordinary. We are all boring. We are all spectacular. We are all shy. We are all bold. We are all heroes. We are all helpless. It just depends on the day.”

-Brad Meltzer

-Grandiehl Shyrr G. Enriquez, 2012-29603

Ubiquitous

Typhoon Maring, coupled with Habagat 2013 (is that what we should call it now?) and the Million People March in Luneta all but overshadowed National Heroes’ Day last Monday, August 26. Or perhaps the march was in celebration and commemoration of the holiday. Regardless, I would just like to share something that I’ve always firmly believed about heroes.

It is easy to create mythical representations of our idols. Jose Rizal was the Filipino genius, gifted not only in the mind, but active as well, with the body (he was a boxer) and the heart (he had a lot of special someones). Andres Bonifacio was the champion of the masses and the spark of the revolution. Ninoy Aquino represents the contemporary figure of a bayani – selfless, courageous and patriotic up to the moment of death. We examine ourselves and find ourselves terribly lacking – what do I have compared to these giants? I can barely pass my subjects, let alone pass sweeping reforms in my country.

It is also easy to despair at our smallness, at our seeming inability to do big things and create grand movements. But it is very counterproductive to view ourselves in this matter. I have always believed that heroism is not confined to the deeds of the powerful or the famous. Heroism can be put into action in our everyday lives. Generally, I believe that heroism is any deed and every deed that has shown love or concern for someone.

Consider how the mother wakes up thirty minutes early to prepare breakfast for her kids before they go to school, or how she patiently reviews her bunso for his exam even after a tiring day at work. Think about the jeepney driver who endures the smoke and the heat of the road every single day just to provide an education for his children and food for his family. Remember the student who studies very well for a test because he knows that his education is being paid for by the Filipino people through their taxes. Such actions are not recorded in the national archives, nor are they proclaimed in the broadsheets. But they are acts of heroism nonetheless. For each of these acts is done ultimately out of love or concern for another.

The reader would probably contend that it is naïve to think of these as “acts of love” all the time. And indeed, that is true. The mother may sometimes wake up in a bad mood and shout at her child for being slow in the morning. The jeepney driver may find his job unfulfilling and may simply think of getting through the day. The student may ignore the fact that he is blessed to have an affordable education and become lazy with his schoolwork.

This is where I would like to add that heroism is any deed and every deed that is ultimately done out of love or concern for another, even if these acts may tend to become repetitive or unfulfilling in the present moment. Heroism to me is forward-looking. The act denies the present self of satisfaction (or in an economist’s terms, utility) in order to obtain some future satisfaction or utility.

It now becomes clear that heroism diminishes our self-centeredness and expresses one’s selflessness. This is consistent with the mythical actions of the giants that we idolize and adore: Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Ninoy Aquino all committed an act so selfless – they died for their countrymen in the hope that they would one day be the free and just nation they dreamt it to be.

I would argue that it is not the case that heroism cannot be done unless one is excessively wealthy, popular or educated. Heroism is ubiquitous – it is anywhere and everywhere where one would care to look.

The American cultural anthropologist and writer Margaret Mead had this to say, which I find most relevant in celebration of National Heroes’ Day:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Let’s start a revolution right now.

– Danilo Lorenzo S. Atanacio (2012-57960)

Deeds of Heroism

A hero is a breath of fresh air in a world filled with darkness and animosity. Heroes are brave enough to stand up for their moral principles and bring out the best not only in themselves but also in others. History books have portrayed their lives in a series of bloodshed wars and political instability. Pop culture, on the other hand, immortalized them and their supernatural abilities. However, in this day and age, heroes take various forms. A hero is no longer just associated with spandex costumes or weaponries. Acts of kindness and the will to make a change have earned average citizens the right to the title – “Hero.”

My Dad was, and will always be my hero. Even though he has joined our Creator February of this year, his memory lives on in the hearts and minds of my family and the people whose lives he had touched. Even in his absence, he never fails to provide me with strength and motivation. I would never get a clear explanation as to why he had to pass away, but I guess Heaven was in need of an angel. My Mom, together with my Dad has helped bring out the best in me and has made the past sixteen years of my existence extremely wonderful. My teachers, my friends, my co-lectors, commentators and choir members in Church, my schoolmates, my co-actors and co-models, people who believe in me and even those who tried to put me down have all contributed to the person I am now. I wouldn’t be who I am today without them. Positive and negative experiences strengthened my outlook in life.

When it comes down to it, you need not perform feats of stability or influence millions of people to be a hero. Each one of us is a hero in our own rights. The point being, our existence is relevant to certain people and we will be relied on and trusted at some point in our lives. Paying forward with little deeds and self-sacrifice brings out the Hero in each one of us.

– Christine Anne Barchini

A New Brand of Hero

Who are our National Heroes? A question like this would elicit typical responses such as Rizal, Bonifacio, and Del Pilar. Although, there are still arguments on who should really be given the recognition, if it’s Rizal or Bonifacio, or if Aguinaldo should really be considered as such. Despite all the debates, we can’t deny the fact that they all played an important role in the quest for our independence during the Colonial Era. Zooming out, every single one of our countrymen who died by the swords and bullets in the battlefield and paying the price of our sovereignty with their lives, deserves to be called a hero. Through time, our history has molded heroes in our society by necessity or by destiny. Some of them are already written in the books and will be remembered forever, while others are still nameless. Shifting to the contemporary context, we can find our OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) in the top spot if we talk about our “modern day heroes”. Truly, our OFWs deserve this recognition, not only for the sacrifices they do for their families, but also for their overall contribution to the health of our economy.

But these past few days, when our eyes, burning with rage are focused once again to our government particularly in the legislative and executive department because of the pork barrel scam, I came to ponder upon many things. The situation definitely calls for heroes once again, but with a different kind of mission. “Different” because our enemy has evolved through time, hiding in different names, but hasn’t stop laying waste on our nation and giving endless pain and agony to our fellowmen. The enemy has its roots deeply ingrained within our society, in our institutions, with the government as its number one ally. It has capitalized on the weakness of our system, continuously searching for loopholes in the very rules that govern us.

In the movie The Dark Knight Rises, Commissioner Gordon said:

“There’s a point far out there, when the structures fail you. When the rules aren’t weapons anymore, they’re shackles, letting the bad guy get ahead… Maybe one day, you may face such a moment of crisis. And in that moment, I hope you have a friend like I did… To plunge their hands into the filth, so that you can keep yours clean!”

 Curiosity came into my mind. What if we had a new brand of a hero – one that doesn’t play by the rules, someone who will break the “shackles” to fight at par with our enemy? He doesn’t care if he gets his hands dirty just to send the bad guys to their misery and doom. He doesn’t believe in due process for he is impatient with it and instead, he places justice upon his hands. He is the punisher, the death bringer of the corrupt officials, and leaves their heads for the public to see. He takes away wealth from the greedy and heartless and gives it back to the poor. His deeds would spread terror among the evils in the society, until they could sleep no more. Their efforts of eliminating him would be futile, because he has no name, no one knows his face, and he lurks in the shadows. Later on, the enemy that we are struggling to fight against for decades appears to be shaken by this “hero” that comes with a totally different color: maybe black, maybe gray.

I found myself back to reality. Perhaps a little bit more of optimism will do. If we Filipinos could just awaken THE HERO WITHIN US, then we won’t need a vigilante anymore. Not this time. Not ever. Because THERE IS STILL HOPE.

-Feljune C. Pangilinan

A HERO IN DIFFERENT FORMS

 

                From the very beginning, we have been introduced to all of our country’s heroes. Rizal, Bonifacio, Mabini and other honorable names had all been pinned down in our heads as people we should look up to. But is heroism only associated with bloodshed and death? Did it really end along with the last pages of our history books? Well, I think not. The way I see it, we are still not yet finished making history as majority of our today’s heroes are still on their way to get there.

            Heroism comes in different forms and ways nowadays. It is not only limited to those who go to war or those who yearn to save the whole country from colonizers. Instead, just like any other thing, it starts small. Whenever the question “Sino ang mga bayani ngayon?” is raised to any Filipino, the immediate and usual answer would be the OFWs or the Overseas Filipino Workers. Aside from the fact that they have been unofficially tagged as our modern day heroes, the sacrifices they make and the hardwork they put into it cannot simply be questioned. Leaving their comfort zone and facing an entirely different place are the risks they are taking and that exemplifies their courage and determination, further making them a close counterpart to our stereotypical definition of a hero. With that a given, another form of heroism seen today takes place in those people who stand by their principles especially in the face of temptation. No matter what your position in this country may be, as long as you stand by what is right and put it into practice, you can also be a hero. Well, at least our President sees it as so since the names he mentioned in his latest SONA are prime examples of this form of heroism and even the people who are brave enough to join rallies just to fight for a cause. Those people proved that being a hero is to save others from imminent danger by showing them what is right while leading the way. Deviating from the norm and proving that the majority is wrong are fearless acts that require courage and strength, characteristics practiced by those belonging in this category. Moving on, heroes in our time can also be of the form of those normal employees helping us out in our day to day activities. Our parents who took care of us from the moment we were born, the street sweeper we saw on our way to school, the jeepney driver who brought us from building to building, professors who teach us everyday and even the janitor who passed by in Palma Hall can be considered as our unsung heroes. They each do their jobs in the best way they can without knowing that they actually contribute to the development of the society they belong with. This is in the way of filling in their roles in society extraordinarily well thus making each day easier to deal with for the other persons they interact with, like the students in this case. By helping others out without asking them to repay you with the same act of kindness is heroism in itself since you chose to be of service to others. There are a lot of other sides to heroism but listing them all down will definitely be a challenge because heroism can take infinitely many forms.

            As you can see, heroism can be approached in a lot of different ways and these ways are not only confined to huge acts that can make you newspaper or history book worthy. Being a hero is by being of service to others without asking anything in return. It is inspiring them to become better persons and encouraging them to find the hero in themselves. This is definitely not an easy task especially now in this materialistic world. But I would like to believe that heroism is innate in each one of us, we are just waiting for the right occasion to let it out so we can take our place in this society. So while we are still on our way, my ending task for each one of us is to might as well start to appreciate the efforts done by those already there. Who knows, that might be the only push we were waiting for to finally get involved.

 

            — Genevieve Kristine B. Mañalac