When I was a kid, I used to distinguish our national hero Jose Rizal to another well-known Filipino hero, Andres Bonifacio, with one belief: Rizal used his "pen and writing" to fight the Spaniards while Bonifacio used his "force and might" to commence a revolution.
The comparison between these two heroes have long been a topic of debate among different institutions and scholarly researches. But, is it fair to compare them?
If Rizal and Bonifacio still live today (they'll be 152 and 150 year-old gramps literally), the first might ask the latter,
"Who are you?"
And the latter will respond,
"I'm your number one fan!".
In short, if Rizal haven't known Bonifacio in his entire existence, then it wouldn't be fair at all to compare them.
Rizal made two novelas to awaken the national consciousness and patriotism of Filipinos back then against the Spanish ruling, thus resulting to the insulted and outraged Spaniards, and then setting up a firing squad to shoot Rizal in front of his many kababayan.
Bonifacio, from the time he learned about Rizal's deportation and exile, founded the Katipunan who aimed to arm a revolt, thus starting the Philippine revolution that ended the Spanish ruling in the Philippines.
Due to false accusations of betraying the government, Bonifacio was executed by his co-Katipuneros five months after Rizal's death.
Several years after their deaths and despite all the unclear bits of Philippine history, Rizal and Bonifacio remain admired and revered for their roles on achieving the freedom we are experiencing now.
And both of them, being among the most-searched heroes in 2011 according to Google, is a proof that their legacy is passed on even after a long time since their heroism.
And whoever between Rizal and Bonifacio would you personally like to become the nation's national hero, would it change a thing in history? Would it make the Philippines prosper (more)? Heroes, after all, should not be legislated, but more of, and should be appreciated. And we will better just leave the appreciation to textbooks for our sons' and daughters' future readings.
And whoever between the two should be deserving of the title, we should always give thanks that we can go out and spend the whole day freely every June 19 and November 30 of the year - for these are the days we commemorate their birthdays, and of course, the holidays!
[This post was taken from 2011's post, "Andres Bonifacio at 148: Celebrating the Philippines' Most-Searched Hero." Photo from Manila Photos]