Hero or bayani?

IS Dr. Jose Rizal a hero, bayani or both?

Initially I thought the question to be dumb because I grew up believing that the word hero is just an English translation of the Filipino word bayani only to discover recently that I am wrong after hearing Drs. Zeus Salazar and Milagros Guerrero
lecture about it.

An article written by Ed Aurelio Reyes differentiating the meaning of the two words also caught my attention for it deepened my under-standing of these noble words.

According to them the word hero is not exactly the same as our very own word bayani. The dictionary defines hero as “1 a: a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability. b: an illustrious warrior. c: a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities. d: one that shows great courage. 2 a: the principal male character in a literary or dramatic work. b: the central figure in an event, period or movement. 3: submarine. 4: an object of extreme admiration and devotion: IDOL.

While the 1989 edition of the Diksyunaryo ng Wikang Pilipino of the Linangan ng mga Wika sa Pilipinas (formerly known as Surian ng wikang Pambansa), according to Reyes, defines bayani as: 1. ba.ya.ni png. (pangngalan) Taong matapos mamatay ay ipinagbubunyi ng bayan dahil sa kanyang hindi pangkaraniwang paglilingkod sa bayan o sangkatauhan; taong may di pangkaraniwang tapang at tigas ng loob sa harap ng panganib o kaya ay katatagan ng kalooban sa paghihirap at pasakit. 2. ba.ya.ni pd. (pandiwa) Nauukol sa paggawang hindi binabayaran ang gumagawa. sk (singkahulugan): pakisuyo, tulong, bataris, suyuan.

Reyes explained that “after taking note of pa-rallels in descriptions such as bravery and toughness, we realize the glaring disparity in situating the phenomenon: the English, or Western, “hero” is my-thological or legendary, and often “of divine descent” in the mold of the Greek and Roman gods; the Tagalogs’ “bayani” is situated in his or her (the word “bayani” is not gender-specific) relation to the community, and the verb sense, in fact, stresses community spirit — working for free the way we have always known the “bayanihan” spirit to be.

It seems that a hero is a western idea while bayani is Asian in general and Filipino in particular.

A hero works alone while a bayani works with the people for free, a hero usually has mythological characteristics while a bayani, al-though strong and resilient, is just an ordinary folk.

Based on what we learned the question that begs an answer is: Is Rizal a hero or bayani?

* * *

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