Bite Size Heroism

Bite Size Heroism
Extract from a speech to the Lopez Group of Companies
15 November 2007

Let me share with you the story of one of our country’s great heroes – Gregorio del Pilar. He is known in Philippine history as the boy general, the youngest general of Emilio Aguinaldo, who became the first president of the Philippine Republic in 1899. Del Pilar was only 22 years old when he died at the hands of American soldiers in the Battle of Tirad Pass.

What amazes me about his story is that when he went to that battle, with 60 Filipino soldiers, only a few of whom had rifles and bullets, against the more than 300 American soldiers who were fully armed with cannons, rifles and pistols, Del Pilar already knew that he would die on that battlefield.

Still, he accepted his assignment to engage the pursuing American soldiers in battle, so that President Aguinaldo and the rest of the Filipino soldiers could retreat and escape. For me, that is heroism most pure. That is heroism at its best.

Why do I share his story with you? Because what is being asked of us Filipinos today is not to die for our country like Del Pilar. What is being asked of our people today is so much less than that. Today, our country asks only a little from each one of us. We are only being asked to give a little of ourselves, a little more from our pockets, a little more of our talent, a little more of our time. What is being asked of us today is to become good Filipinos, to become good citizens through small acts everyday.

Good citizenship is performing small acts of heroism for our country. I firmly believe that this is the kind of heroism our country needs today. If our people learn to do this, we could become the greatest generation of Filipinos in our history. We could bring out the best in ourselves as a people. We could bring out the very best in our nation. We could turn around the situation in our country. We could usher in a new country, a new Philippines for ourselves and our children.

This is bite-size heroism. This is heroism that every Filipino can chew and swallow. This is heroism in small packages. This is heroism that each one of us can handle, heroism that every person in our country, Filipino or foreigner, can do or perform to help our Philippines. This is the kind of heroism our country needs today.

We need to bring this practice of heroism to the level of the Filipino families. Only by doing so could it become part of our culture as a people. And if you do this, you will not only help in making this country great and beautiful, you will also help make our world a better one for all of us. I firmly believe that we, as a people, have within us the power to change our nation. I firmly believe that the real solution to our country’s problems is within us.