Lozada. Mendoza. Ong. Rabusa.
These are ordinary men and women whose names and faces have heavily featured Philippines news at one point in time or so in the recent years before the attention of both the media and the public promptly moved on to the ‘next big thing’.
They are only five of a small group of people stood before towering Goliaths armed equipped with political broadswords and armor as thick as money bundles. Like the David of old with his slingshot and pebbles, they only had the truth and the conviction that the Filipinos deserve more than being fed with lies, half-truths and cover-ups.
Dramatics and biblical allusions aside, these people whom I have just mentioned are whistleblowers. All of them have, in some degree or manner, exposed the corruption and illegalities that has long been festering in the different agencies of our government in the hopes of putting to stop to them. And it is with them– whistleblowers in general, not just these four specifically – that I associate with the concept of heroism.
I consider them as heroes simply because I am in awe of the magnitude of their sacrifice in their pursuit to the truth to light. They have given up their sense of security, their livelihoods and essentially any semblance of a normal life just so that they could, with their evidence and testimony, attempt to safeguard the Filipino people from the abuse and injustice of those who are supposed to be guarding the interests of the masses in the first place. Who will guard the guards indeed?
Yes, I know that some of these whistleblowers have gone underground or into hiding. Though flight from danger is hardly a becoming trait for a hero in an archetypal sense, I personally do not equate bravery and heroism to fearlessness. We are human beings and being afraid of those that might and would hurt us given the opportunity to do so is only natural and nothing to be ashamed about. Instead, I value their ability to overcome their fear – and they have done so undoubtedly when they refused to sit back and allow wrongs being committed, when they stood unwavering as they were grilled by the Senate or received death threats.
What these heroes have done for us and for our country cannot just be narrowed down to 140 characters and #hashtags. They did not just go home at the end of the day, satisfied and self-congratulatory at having invested a few hours on calling for change and whatnot. No. Their entire lives have been and will always be affected by their decision to stand up and do what is right instead of what is convenient.
I guess that’s why I find it so tragic that even with the sacrifice and efforts of these people that many of the issues that they have been embroiled in still have not yet been resolved.
– M.T.A.V. Fernandez