Cory, a National Hero? Maybe Not.

What makes a hero? What about a national hero? The death of former president Corazon Aquino gave rise to a lot of things, the most interesting of which was a call for her declaration as national hero. Most, if not all, would agree to this. Except me.

A hero is distinguished by exceptional courage, nobility and strength. It would have undoubtedly taken Corazon Aquino a lot of courage to accept the people’s wish for her bid for presidency in the 1986 snap presidential elections, despite the fact that she never meant to get into politics. As a matter of fact, she did not have any political experience. She described herself as a “plain housewife” who would rather take care of her family instead of lead a country against a fearsome dictator.

However, her good character and strong faith in God inspired Filipinos. They thought that perhaps she could continue the legacy of Ninoy Aquino and serve the country as a good leader. Her term was marked with coup d’etats and natural calamities. Nevertheless, she tried her best to run the country.

Through the success of the peaceful People Power Revolution, Corazon Aquino was able to bring back democracy in the Philippines. She tried to be everything that Marcos was not and supported press freedom. She was not a perfect leader, but she was not hungry for power – she relinquished her position after six years in accordance to the Constitution. Yes, she was admirable, and in taking presidency she had placed the interest of the country before her own. However, I cannot consider her as a national hero because first and foremost, she was a reluctant leader.

A person’s achievements are not enough to make him or her a hero. These are important, of course, but what’s more important is the person’s initiative. Courage entails action. While fear is that which holds us back, courage is that which propels us. It is a conscious step forward, not a push from behind. Everyone is afraid of uncertainty but only a few dare to move despite it. And while it is hard to fight for one’s beliefs, it is even harder to fight for one’s country. This is why even though everyone has the potential to become a hero, not everyone is a hero.When Gabriela Silang continued her husband’s revolt, she did not ask first for the signature of a million Filipinos. Even though the Spaniards were far more powerful than her, she had the courage to stand her ground and assume leadership.

One might argue that in the end, Cory accepted the offer for presidency. She risked her own life as well as her family’s when she could have refused it instead. But the thing is, she accepted it. She did not grab it or seize it, even when there were a lot of individuals who were willing to help her overcome her limitations. She refused at first, and when the people kept on persuading her, she acquiesced. If a woman saves a drowning child not because she wanted to, but because the people around her kept telling her to do so, would you think of her as a hero?