I grew up watching the great names of Filipino action cinema. Fernando Poe Jr., Joseph Estrada, Lito Lapid, Jun Aristorenas, Ramon Revilla and others. I've watched them beat up countless bad guys with flying fists, sticks, kicks, knives, guns and anything they could get their hands on. Who can forget Panday and his magic sword, Leon Guerrero and his flying itak, Mr. Agimat in all his incarnations and incantations. Sadly, there are no longer movies like these any more. Doesn't it make you wonder?
Did we run out of heroes?
We may have lost interest but Hollywood is paying attention. American action heroes are sporting new moves in cinema. Filipino Martial Arts is the new "Kung Fu". Action stars like Tom Cruise, Denzel Washington, Wesley Snipes, Lucy Liu, Matt Damon, Milla Jovovich and many other international movie stars are now "Filipinizing" their action. They are the new heroes of Filipino action, now that's a strange development isn't it. It's the age of the Matrix, X-Men, Avatar, Ben 10, even a cute little super dog… but where did our heroes go?
Heroes are the manifestation of the hope of the nation. They are the embodiment of an ideal. They are the salvation of a society's soul, a balm for its psyche. Difficult times bring about the birth of heroes. World War II brought about Captain America and the Avengers, Superman was the ideal Boy scout and Batman was the Dark Knight vigilante crime fighter. Each hero, a humanized expression of the fight against some form of corruption or villainy.
What do they mean to us anyway? Are they someone who fly untethered, unhindered , free? Is he someone strong , powerful, unstoppable? Is she smart, intelligent, strong willed? Are they keepers of cosmic secrets? The ability to summon phenomenal forces? Do they have secret-identities? Do they have secret-lives? Are they" Super" Heroes because they have costumes? or is it because of their powers? is it because they accomplish tasks beyond the capabilities of regular people? Or is it because they give more or do more than is asked of them?
OFW's have long been considered heroes by our country, people and government. They have the power to endure hardship. loneliness, separation from their families. They have the power to uplift the status of their lives and their families lives to a better standard. They have the power to revive our country's economy. These heroes will forever butt heads against the difficulties of living far away from their roots. The challenge of living among different people, in a different culture with different traditions, language and manners.
Manny Pacquiao is nothing short of a hero. He's even a crime fighter considering how low the crime rates in the country go whenever he has a World championship fight televised nationwide. He's fought all sorts of combatants from Thai's to Americans, to Mexicans to Brits. It's gonna be interesting seeing how his powers fare in the p[political arena.
Heroes stand for what is right, good and true. I guess that's the bottom line. They are symbols. Symbols of truth, strength, honesty, courage and integrity. There are no compromises. Heroes aren't allowed to give up, heroes aren't allowed to give in. Heroes aren't allowed to fail. Heroes don't make excuses either. Having phenomenal powers doesn't mean freedom from responsibility. If anything, if taken seriously, may actually be one of the tightest bonds or burdens there are.
It's a tough business being heroic. Heroes need a break too. Superman has his fortress, Batman has his Batcave, the X-Men have their mansion. They need a place to take off their tights and hang their capes. It's only in the movies that they don't need the toilet .
For all of their strengths, heroes have their weaknesses, the proverbial kink in the armor, because they are not indestructible. And that greatest weakness is the loss of hope. Because they are our only hope when all hope is lost. Without that hope, it's "The End", "roll credits" for all of us. When no one hopes, dreams or cares anymore for a brighter future, there will be no more heroes.
Fortunately there seems to be a resurgence and revival of heroes . Especially now when our country is undergoing difficult times economically, socially and politically. Especially now when we have been thrust again into the international spotlight by the failed hostage rescue attempt of the Chinese tourists, and that little incident on Miss Universe. And I think it's only natural to think about them now, and maybe start bringing them back. Darna has returned along with Captain Barbell, Panday and others, Filipino heroes are back again and I think it's a good sign. It's a good sign because people are starting to dream again. People are starting to dream of the ideal. People are starting to shape their ideals. People are starting to hope.
Maybe it will serve as an inspiration to a new generation. And maybe be a reminder to the old of what is good and true. Maybe they won't have super powers. They probably won't have a Batmobile or a Batcave. They probably won't even be wearing tights, or a cape or a mask. I guess it doesn't really matter because it's all really just stuff on the outside. It's like Mentos, the hero is on the inside.
So, what kind of hero are you?