How do we define a hero? Is he the type of person who upholds the moral standards, protects the weak and innocent, and kicks the living daylights out of the bad guys in society?

In a country obsessed with heroes and "bidas" of local action movies, we never ceased to ran out of people to idolize and emulate. From the late King of Philippine action films Fernando Poe Jr. to the ever-popular "Pambansang Kamao" Manny Pacquiao, we all keep our hopes on a hero that will save our day and make our lives a little bit easier. Unfortunately, we are the same people who elects self-proclaimed "people's heroes" as "public servants." No wonder, our country remains in deep mess with this self-perpetuating culture of corruption, injustice, and mediocrity. Good thing there are movies and telenovelas where we can replay the "bida-contrabida" roles over and over again.

What's with this unhealthy obsession for this ultimate hero?

Simple, we all want to be successful, rich, and famous without too much effort? The shortcut is becoming an "artista" because we sure can, right? If not, go for the tried and tested profession of becoming the ultimate savior of the poor as a career politician. "Gusto kong tumulong sa ating kababayan...," as any would be public servant would answer if asked about his/her entry into politics. I have to admit that I used to watch action stars kick ass and I would like to that on my childhood bullies as well. Drunk men would argue about which action star has the most bad-ass move: FPJ's patented pompyang dual handwork or Lito Lapid's ultimate flying gun-slinging pistol fire.

Martial artists like Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan may have captured the imagination of action flicks aficionado, our local talents have learned to improvise. In fact, Lapid's alter-ego Julio Valiente has even turned up the notch of his badassery to a whole new level. F*ck Chuck Norris, that Valiente sh*t is the bomb!

The action heroes are the ones who save the day because popular staple is quite older than the blockbuster flicks like Iron Man, Batman, and the Avengers. In fact, FPJ have been trading punches even before I was born. I may not be the rabid and die-hard as any one can be, I still appreciate some of the slick moves he make from reruns and occassional Youtube search that I make.

Let's face it, most Filipinos rever him as a mythical figure. More than just the guy who portray this Robin Hood character, he is more than just a divine savior because he is the hero who provides salvation to helpless individuals or community in the brink of despair and total ruin. Maybe John Lennon would agree, FPJ may be a cool Jesus Christ analog - a hero who gets beaten up early only to whoop the bad guys' asses in the end.

What is wrong with this hero worship thing?

Perhaps this popular belief that action stars would save the day is not so good after all. Actors are not necessarily the same person we saw them on television and movies. Many of them screw up if you ask Raymart or Claudine. We can't distinguish reality and fantasy that is why we keep on electing corrupt politicians and naive wannabe public servants with the acting pedigree that we all used to. We value more on the popularity of the person rather than on their actual accomplishments that is why actors, celebrities, and popular figures are always shoo-ins for any public office positions.

This collective consciousness is engrained into our psyche that we tend to believe that there is someone who can clean the mess left behind by countless generations of crooked and corrupt governance. We have to think that the only change that we want to have comes from within. We all need to change!

Filipinos tend to play the "damsel in distress" role quite a lot so this resurrection of the savior personal is popular in our societal setting. This fatalistic attitude only strengthens our acceptance of being powerless and helpless in times of great challenges and adversities. Maybe it's God's will our own collective stupidity and ignorance. A hero happens when someone makes a selfless and extraordinary action for the benefit of the common good, we don't need to wait for someone to take up that mantle. We have to do it.

The sad thing is that most Filipinos just wait and pray for a hero to come instead of gaining control of their destiny. If the hero come, it’s okay because everyone’s going to heaven (especially the poor) because according to the local priest, the poorer you are on Earth, the bigger your castle is in heaven.

The modern incarnation of a messiah (not referring to Jesus) is the action star because:
1) He never dies.
2) He never runs out of bullets.
3) He can kill an entire army all by himself.
4) He always saves the day.
5) He only gets hit on the shoulder.

So you see, it's better to have a hero than a black cat with nine lives!

If you can't be the action hero you always wanted to be, you can always become the blundering sidekick. Although, it is always reinforced in popular media that they don't need sidekicks. But Batman has Robin, the Lone Ranger has Tonto, and the Green Hornet has Kato. In fact, FPJ has a long list of popular partners all throughout his movie career.

Bear in mind, most people can't distinguish fact from fiction but it may be true if you really want to believe:
1. Contrabidas can be despicable but they get all the flak and verbal abuse in real life. In fact, the mere sight of Paquito Diaz or Max Alvarado in local movies back in the old days would result in possible gun discharge from angry viewers who want to prevent them from killing their hero.
2. People tend to accept their hero hooking up with his leading lady in real life but tend to react on extramarital affairs and salacious gossips.
3. Last but not the least, many action stars are voted into important political positions.

Parting Shots

We can always question the way reality is blurred when the action star persona and popularity plays a greater role than the true political agenda of any would-be politician. The truth is, one person cannot save us from everything we are afraid of. An entire population who votes a popular personality, who happens to be as clueless and dumbfounded as most of the voters, would eventually sink the country faster than the Titanic.

The longer this Superman complex remains in our hearts, we will continue to wait for this messiah. We will continue to wait and expect to be saved instead of working to save ourselves.