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[B-SIDE Podcast] We can be heroes

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The story of the bayani — the local term for “hero” — is the story of the Filipino people.

In this B-Side episode, historian and author John Ray B. Ramos tells BusinessWorld reporter Tobias Jared Tomas about the lesser-known side of celebrated heroes and heroes who may have been forgotten: “Our history is not a history of defeat, it is not a history of being weak, but rather it is a history of struggle. Our heroes died and fought for the values and ideals we uphold today.”

A hero is different from a bayani. 

Mythic heroes are celebrated for their personalities and their individual journeys. Bayanis, on the other hand, are tied to their background. 

“You cannot separate Jose Rizal from Philippine society, or Andres Bonifacio from the Katipuneros. … You cannot remove them from their context,” said John Ray B. Ramos, a historian and the author of Bayani Biographies: Jose Rizal and the coauthor of Bayani Biographies: Andres Bonifacio, published by Kahel Press. “They are not much different from us. That’s what makes the stories of our bayanis inspiring.” 

Stories matter. 

Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio and Apolinario Mabini were “superfans” of Florante at Laura by Francisco Balagtas, an epic poem that was an allegory of Spain’s colonization of the Philippines.

“It contains themes of society being unequal, unfair, and full of injustices. It left a mark on our bayanis, which, perhaps, contributed to their ‘wokeness,’” said Mr. Ramos.

History should be taught because heroes die when they are forgotten.  

“The story of our heroes will die if we do not continue telling them,” said Mr. Ramos.  

“Keep telling our story of being Filipinos — our struggle for freedom, democracy, and equality is a very interesting and inspiring story to tell over and over, and to pass on to the next generations.” 

Recorded remotely on April 27, 2022. Produced by Earl R. Lagundino and Sam L. Marcelo.

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