You can call it Bayani 101, and this is my share to the celebration of National Heroes Day for this year, to finally flesh out an idea I picked up from my good Professor in Debate class that there should be a subject in Philippine education dedicated to the lives of Philippine heroes.
No, this is not a proposal to abolish the mandatory Rizal course that every college student must take, rather it is a complementary course for it and that all students must take this.
This new subject will help every Filipino become acquainted with the numerous heroes in our nation’s history. Right from Lapu-lapu to Ninoy Aquino, the subject will inform the students about their lives, their work, their struggles, their causes, their ideals, the places where they grew up and lived, the people they mingled with and many more. From this body of knowledge, young students would learn many things, chief among them, the values of nationalism, courage, creativity, virtue and many more.
It should not be just about Rizal
It is just right that the other heroes of our nation be studied more instead of just Jose Rizal for it will provide a more complete picture of our history as a nation and as a people. Thanks to this subject, our heroes will no longer be just obscure and trivial names and pictures on post cards, stamps, statues, streets and places in our country. It will give flesh and spirit to their persons and in effect, giving a more human form to the Filipino identity.
The immediate and practical benefits of this new course would mean a revival of local research and history writing as the new subject would of course require textbooks and reference materials. Perhaps this would answer historian Ambeth Ocampo’s prayer that more and more young researchers and writers would focus on our history and the names that highlight its timeline. It’s about time that we see coloring books, comic books and puzzle books about Andres Bonifacio, Macario Sakay, Diego Silang and many more, instead of just Batman, Superman, Spiderman, the Powerpuff girls, Naruto or Dora the Explorer.
Both local and national
For the subject to be truly effective. Its version for the elementary students would focus on the national heroes, like Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Melchora Aquino, Juan Luna etc. For the high school and college levels, they could then start digging into local and regional heroes and history. Like here in Silang, Cavite, we have our local heroes like Gen. Vito Belarmino, Vicente Giron, Isidro Montoya among others. Their stories alone are worth so many books, papers and even performing arts productions.
The possibilities are endless, but the fruits are exciting and worth all the trouble. Hopefully, if ever this idea does become reality (ehem, calling the attention of Congress), the future celebrations of National Heroes’s Day would be more than just a holiday spent in the malls.