2017—there’s no denying that this has been a year full of hazards and chaos. However, behind every moment of tragedy and turmoil are the stories of courage and humanity that most of us don’t often get to see.
For saving lives in the face of peril, for spreading hope however meager, for opposing bloodshed despite solitude, for becoming a voice for the silenced, here are the Filipinos whose acts of goodwill and bravery made a larger-than-life impact—becoming heroes in their own right.
It was an ordinary day for 27-year-old Charleanne Jandic who was about to leave Ayala MRT station when a freak accident near the train severed a woman’s arm. As a medical intern at Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center, Jandic knew how to handle the emergency as she hastily crafted a makeshift tourniquet out of a cardigan and a belt to reduce the woman’s bleeding. Because of her immediate response, the potential damage to the arm was minimized and the arm was fortunately reattached. Now hailed as a hero, a law aiming to improve the country’s emergency response might potentially be named after Jandic.
Shibby de Guzman
She’s young and small but she has proved that you don’t have to be an adult to create an impact. Often criticized—and praised—for opposing the current administration’s verdicts on extrajudicial killings and Ferdinand Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, Shibby de Guzman stuck to her beliefs and continued to stand as a bearer of hope among the youth. Fearless in the face of injustice, de Guzman earned her a spot in Time Magazine’s 30 Most Influential Teens of 2017. She urges louder—and rightly so: do not underestimate the youth.
Social media is surely an effective platform for expression—and it’s something Adrienne Onday doesn’t take for granted. Via Twitter, the University of the Philippines – Diliman sociology student started exposing the sexual misconduct of Jensen Gomez, vocalist of Jensen and the Flips. Aiming to raise awareness of the unacceptable behavior toward women in the local independent music scene, Onday tweets ripped open the underbelly of entertainment. This act of courage brought forward more testimonies from other sexually harassed victims—exposing other indie musicians from Ang Bandang Shirley, Miles Experience, and Sud. Doubtlessly, Onday’s act was a fearless step encouraging women to voice out against sexual harassment, breaking the silence on sexual misconduct in the country.
She was once known as the Darna—but Nanette Medved-Po proved that you don’t need a mystic stone to be a hero. Just recently, she was named by Forbes Magazine as a Hero of Philanthropy for her efforts as founder, chairman, and president of Generation Hope, Inc. and Friends of Hope, Inc., a social enterprise that sells bottled water to build public school classrooms around the country. The Generation Hope Inc. has built 37 classrooms so far and is to complete construction of 20 more. They devote “100 percent” of the money they make to building school classrooms—giving hope to Filipino children from all corners.
Fructuosa Alma Olivo
A woman with undimmed passion in public service, Fructuosa Alma Olivo has utilized her gifts for the past three decades by becoming a social worker despite insufficient resources, providing education to the Badjao community in remote communities in Mindanao. Called “Ate Neneng” by the Badjaos she is serving, Olivo has built learning centers in their community by raising funds from donors who believe in her advocacy. Her perseverance has paid off as the center has produced both elementary and high school graduates through the years.
No ranger under his supervision shall die in the Marawi battlefield—that was Captain Rommel Sandoval’s promise—even at the cost of his own life. On the 111th day of the battle on September 10, Sandoval and his company, the 11th Scout Ranger Company, undertook a mission to reclaim a building that was a crucial post in pushing back the rebels. When the enemy spotted the men and opened fire, Sandoval used his own body to shield one of his fallen men against a hail of bullets. He kept his promise until his last breath—his commanding company was the only company that had not lost a soldier in the Marawi siege save for Sandoval himself.
While bombs and bullets ravaged Marawi, PO1 Lumna Lidasan and four fellow policemen found themselves in the war zone seeking escape. But rather than escaping for themselves, Lidasan and his fellow policemen chose to stay behind with five Christian civilians who were also trapped behind enemy lines. As Muslims fluent in the local Maranao dialect, the policemen had the opportunity to disguise themselves and escape. However, as the Christians couldn’t speak the local language, the policemen knew that they would be killed if they were left behind. So instead, the five policemen led by Lidasan stayed and hid in the city ruins for three weeks until they were given a break to run under a rain of Maute-fired bullets to reach a neighboring village where they were rescued. In the face of peril, the civilians were saved by the policemen who valued their lives just as much as their own.
Ian Muñoz Mate
No one thought that a passerby could become an instant hero—but Ian Muñoz Mate proved just that. Mate was simply passing by a vacant lot in Brgy. Pandayan in Bulacan when he suddenly heard a young girl calling for help. When he ran towards the cry, he found a 12-year-old rape victim fighting off her abuser. After being found out, the suspect ran away but was eventually cornered by other bystanders in the area and turned over to responding policemen. Disproving the bystander effect, Mate became a hero in Bulacan because of his bravery rooted in civilian concern.
Norodin Alonto Lucman
“I was very determined that nothing happens to them,” said Norodin Alonto Lucman, after being hailed as a Filipino hero for sheltering and protecting 71 people, including 64 Christians, in his home in the midst of the Marawi siege. After receiving a text message warning citizens trapped in the city to evacuate due to an imminent military assault, Lucman led his people on an exodus through the ruins and dead bodies in the city. Marching with the Christian civilians, they were stopped by extremists searching for Christians. The group responded by shouting “Allahu Akbar,” prompting the enemy to let them go and eventually reach safety. Saving the lives of many, Lucman proved that religion is no barrier when it comes to heroism.
These individuals prove that heroism requires an incredible combination of boldness and kindness—however grand or simple our actions are.
Their deeds remind us that we can create an endless ripple of compassion and courage that reaches one Filipino after another, a wave of goodwill that the country needs. Their stories prove that all of us can be a hero—something the nation never has enough of.