Friday, 24 August 2012

Hometown Heroes

Local support over homegrown talent was something I didn’t understand until I watched the 2012 Olympics.
My hometown, a seaside metropolis in the southern part of the Philippines, has recently raised its local profile owing to the growing number of native talents who made it in the country’s entertainment industry. Just last year, the city heralded a woman, who on her skimpy swimming attire, declared to the world that Filipinos have little or no acceptance for any other religion. Then there was an elementary schoolmate who appeared in the country’s version of Big Brother and who managed to get himself to the finals thanks to local support. Then very recently, a celebrity wannabe became a You Tube hit over a karaoke rendition in a shopping mall (we went to the same university so that ought to have made me feel proud). Of course the city’s major boast is our boxing champion Manny Pacquiao whose sporting fame allowed him to star in films and sell music and then even won him an electoral seat to become a lawmaker (an MP equivalent in the UK).

I’m sure it gives the city a morale boost when someone who has walked on the same streets manages to seize their dreams. But it is still perplexes me that success has all-inclusively meant becoming an entertainment celebrity, where the younger generation’s inspiration are people who have found ‘overnight fame’ by uploading a video online. It makes me shudder to think that children will be looking up to anyone who, in this day and age, would happily represent women as sexual objects in the guise of a 'beauty and brains' competition. 
Watching the Olympic Dreams in BBC World has made me appreciate just what it means to become a hometown hero. There was the feature on the two-time Taek-won-do bronze medallist of Kabul, training up the hill overlooking his war-torn city, inspiring young men to take up the sport in a place where war is a normality. There was the story on the South African double amputee Oscar Pistorius who lost both his legs after childbirth but who went on to become the first man to have competed on both the Paralympics and the Olympics. Then there was a documentary on the fastest man on the planet, Usain Bolt, a double triple medallist whose daily life was dedicated to his sport.
In Sheffield, we have our own golden girl: the face of the 2012 Olympics who brought the city's gold. Few people have done it, to deliver despite the burden of high expectations and to deliver in style. When Jessica Ennis crossed the 800m line on Super Saturday, the rest of Britain shared her big sigh of relief and her hometown, gathered at the stadium where she trained, burst into cries of jubilation.

I hope that these are the sort of role models that we can give our children to look up to: men and women who have conquered themselves and their dreams through extra-ordinary focus, unyielding dedication and continuous hard work. Real people whose motivation is not the glitz and glamour of a celebrity lifestyle (and who will not be making movies or selling albums to cash in their fame) but of personal bests. Because these are the qualities that everyone need to arm themselves in order to succeed in the world of reality.  

Last Sunday, when I stood beside Jess Ennis' golden mailbox in the city centre doing Mo-bot, I felt a bit relieved that in this part of the world at least, the younger generation have real heroes to look up to. 


  1. Well said Angeli. Right now there is a man who recently past away due to an airplane crash. He is a man that the entire Philippines doesn't really know much about unless you are from Naga City and his friends. He is a simple man but with integrity, a statesman not a politician.

    May his soul rest in peace and may our generation look up to him as the true example of public service.

    1. Thank you for your comment Louis! I have read the Facebook messages about him and I hope I would be able to know more about his life and how he was able to change the lives of others. I also hope that the rest of the Filipino youth will find inspiration from him.


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