Yesterday, November 30, was Bonifacio day – a day set aside each year to honor a person recognized as a national hero. Andres Bonifacio, called the Father of the Katipunan, is a name synonymous with the proverbial “matapang na tao” – the Brave Man. We guess the label came from that image of him passed on from generation to generation of Filipinos: That of a bolo-wielding warrior who feared none – not even a colonizing force which had superior arms and superior military know-how.
Perhaps, the label came from our image of him leading a ragtag band of fighting men tearing up their residence certificates and then letting out that classic battle-cry of “Sugod, mga kapatid” (Charge, brethren). Bonifacio was the direct contrast of a Dr. Jose Rizal. He received no formal education. He was not “into the manor born” as the expression goes. Dr. Rizal was the rational intellectual. Bonifacio was the emotional field commander. Like other revolutionary leaders in the mold of Antonio Luna, we saw him as the personification of “Puso.”
Bonifacio bucked the odds and led a revolution on the basis of “heart.” He was the original “Puso.”
Too much “puso,” some historians might say. There are those who felt he would not have died they thought was a useless, premature death in the hand of political rivals had he used more “utak” than “puso.”
Historians who hold this view may have a point.
Today, however, we will pay tribute to the Supremo of the Katipunan by honoring the power of the Filipino “Puso.”
Our view is that the Bonifacio kind of Filipino “puso” does not equate to over-emotionality.
The Bonifacio “puso” is one that works with the “utak.” The “utak” helps the Filipino size up the challenge that is in front of him. He weighs risk against opportunity, danger and sacrifice versus the possible reward.
There are times when the risk outweighs the opportunity. There are times when the magnitude of the danger and of the sacrifice required of the Filipino far outweigh the promise of reward.
This is when the “puso” comes in. This is when the Filipino summons that strength from within – the strength which has greater power than the odds, than the size of the enemy, than the risks and the disadvantages that a situation presents.
So, today, we honor the many Filipinos whose quality of their “puso” would make Andres Bonifacio proud.
In particular, we honor the following.
First, the Filipino athletes competing in the 2019 SEA Games, who, despite the alleged lack of support and logistics and the bickering among their countrymen will give their all to win medals for the nation they represent.
Second, the Filipino teachers who, despite the bashing they receive – online and offline – will continue to faithfully perform their duty and mission of raising the next generation of leaders.
Third, the Filipino disaster and relief workers who risk life and limb to mitigate the damage to human lives and property which come about during the many calamities which visit our land every year.
Fourth, the Filipino soldier who performs the unfortunate task of having to fight against his fellow Filipino in an unwinnable, decades-old anti-insurgency campaign.
Fifth, the Filipino single parent who, despite the stigma which such a status carries, will continue to single-handedly attempt to provide his or her children a bright future – with his or her head held up high and his or her dignity intact.
We also pay tribute to the Filipino breadwinner – the moms and dads who wake up every morning to face the many adversities of every working day just to make sure there is food in the family’s dinner table.
They are all fueled by the power of the Filipino “puso” – that fierce, unyielding determination to face the odds, no matter what.
Our view is that the Filipino “puso” is more than just a burst of emotion. That “puso” is a decision – a decision to overlook the odds and to keep one’s eyes and focus on the things that truly matter to the Filipino: Be it a dream, a need of the family, or the timeless tenets of freedom and human dignity.
That must have been the kind of “puso” we inherited from original “matapang na tao” – the Supremo Andres Bonifacio.
We believe we shall see that “puso” in full display during the SEA Games.
We wish all the sons and daughters of Andres Bonifacio who are taking part in the Games all the best.
We are proud of you.
And so is the hero whose “puso” has inspired generations of Filipinos.
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