Thursday, August 6, 2009

When Is a Hero? How Is a Saint?: An Apology for Partisan Definitions

All present social/national heroes are accidental, in the sense that all the stuff that motivated them to do their social heroics were all firstly personal. The hero is always astonished to find himself tagged as one. The villain---thinking he was the one being heroic---could be just as surprised to later find himself not the one declared the hero. And so, it's a tag. And what motivates us to tag a hero as one is from a reason equally personal before it is collective.
     Saints, like heroes, are tagged. The religio-politics- or philosophy-shaped saintliness of someone, like a Biblical theme and thesis, is definitely extrinsic to the tagged but encrusted in the composed reality of the tagger. For all declared saints are sinners, saints themselves will tell you so. They'd humbly enumerate for you their faults in life and likewise blame themselves for many ills in their circle. But the tagger, armed with his personal as well as collectivized wisdom, would bid these tagged heroes be quiet.
     What sets heroes and saints as different from you and me is this: unlike us, they believe a hero and a saint to be anyone but them. Or maybe I'm wrong. Maybe they're like us, who---in all our false modesty---believe heroes and saints can be anyone but us.
     I believe Filipino film critic Noel Vera to be perfectly right in that a-bit-controversial "Sinner or Saint" blog post of his (click here) in its stating that, like many---or all--- of us, our Cory Aquino was a sinner. She botched that chance, for instance, to plead for a write-off of Ferdinand Marcos' fraudulent loans, thanks perhaps to the internal lobby of Executive Secretary Joker Arroyo who also served as Asian Development Bank Executive Director for the Philippines while concurrently in the position of chairman of the Development Bank of the Philippines, and instead delivered that much-ballyhooed US Congress speech wherein she promised to pay all of Marcos's debts even as Poland got a complete write-off---one of the reasons why our social services are in such a pitiable state today. She stood by paramilitary groups, Catholic censorship of cinema, landlords and warlords, plutocrats, a list could be made. . . . But, anyway, maybe Corazon Aquino was a saint, too, despite the absence of a definition, with her "goodness of heart" manifest to all, even to her opponents.
     But in the end, like all text, "hero" and "saint" only fall down on the page as words. Like "love". For someone's heroism for a niche could be nothing but treason to an opposing niche, someone's saintliness to a religion an "infidelity" to another, since love for something usually presupposes hatred for its opposite or absence.
     Aquino a saint? Go ahead, there's freedom of religion. Aquino a sinner? Thanks to Aquino (and some others), there's freedom of the press. Hero? There's freedom to write our various versions of history that support, or as a consequence form, our various political agenda.

Here's where Cory Aquino would fit in perfectly: as our champion of democracy, she might allow a tag on her person as hero and saint only for a niche. And that'd be nice of her, to speak so from the beyond, where all is known that non-partisanship (or ideology-lessness) is not at all possible in our world of definitions. [END]


  1. Thanks for the link.

    It's Noel Vera, by the way. But yeah, a lot of people insert the 'de' when they say my name.

  2. Oh, yes, of course. Thank God for "Edit Post".