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Friday, December 28, 2007


Spider-man… Too few characters out there flying around like that, saving old girls like me. And Lord knows, kids like Henry need a hero — courageous, self-sacrificing people, setting examples for all of us.

Everybody loves a hero: people line up for them, cheer them, scream their names. And years later, they’ll tell how they stood in the rain for hours just to get a glimpse of the one who taught them to hold on a second longer…

I believe there’s a hero in all of us that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble, and finally allows us to die with pride – even though sometimes we have to be steady and give up the things we want the most. Even our dreams…

- “Mary Parker,” Spiderman 2

Mary Parker’s hero is a romanticized and sanitized character, fit for a world where fresh kisses turn beasts into princes or grant life to the inanimate and where conditions are changed according to the wishes of the heart.

Spiderman is an idol creatively projected onto white screens, stamped on comic books, or brushed on painters’ canvasses. He embodies our manias and phobias, wishes and triumphs – much like Frodo Baggins and Harry Potter do. And, like any other form of diversion, fictive works based on these characters often lift us to the other-worldly where we are relieved from the hurly-burly of day-to-day realities – at least for a time.

And when we get back to the real world, we are either refreshed for our tasks or tasked all the more for being refreshed.


Mary Parker noted well though that we are all in search of a hero. Too often, it doesn’t matter whether that hero is for real or simply cosmeticized. What matters most is the inspiration that our hero or our pantheon of heroes provides us.

On a practical note, however, maybe it does matter whether those personalities and ideals we put on pedestals are valuable or worthless, genuine or fake, built naturally or blown out of proportion.

…whether Philippine History teachers extol the greatness of Magellan and damn the treachery of Lapu-lapu.

…whether christening our children with foreign-sounding names is a mark of erudition and using indigenous names is a sign of ignorance.

…whether the farmer’s callous soles evidence a lack of ambition and the accountant’s immaculate hands prove the blessings of a fulfilled vision.

…whether contractors of waiting sheds spell out the initials of an incumbent or leave out the initials of the carpenters who worked on the structure with their rulers and hammers.

…whether inaugurators emboss only the names of politicians on plaques placed at the prominent areas of a building and neglect to honor the names of laborers who actually put up the edifice.

…whether bombers of public utility installations are guardians of socialism and the security guards of these installations are guardians of fascism.

…whether salvaging activists is an act of justice and exposing the machinations of cheats is an act of treason.

…whether those who burn effigies and litter the streets with pamphlets show a desire for clean governance and those who wield the broomsticks are only desirous of cleaning the streets.

…whether exposing the failings of the present administration is a matter of integrity and exposing the failings of the past administration is a matter of dishonesty.

…whether questioning established religious practices is heresy and promoting sectarianism is orthodoxy.

So when you look for a real hero, forget a camera-loving, velcro-clad, and web-shooting demi-god. For he might just be that fellow who breathes in the stench of a patched-up hovel and sleeps with a flour sack around his body and cobwebs over his head.


“Today, we need new heroes who can help us solve our pressing problem. We cannot rely on Rizal alone. We must discard the belief that we are incapable of producing the heroes of our epoch, that heroes are exceptional beings, accidents of history who stand above the masses and apart from them. The true hero is one with the masses; he does not exist above them. In fact, a whole people can be heroes given the proper motivation and articulation of their dreams.”

Renato Constantino, in “Veneration Without Understanding” (par. 53)

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