by Oliver Carlos
One staple question I ask my Philippine History students is, “Name a Filipino hero or President who is not on a Philippine coin or paper bill, but deserves to be there?” In the past so many years that I have asked this question, the top 2 answers I got were Antonio Luna and Ramon Magsaysay.
I wonder why these 2 aren’t on any Philippine currency yet. Luna is well known for his great and unmatched patriotism during the Fil-Am War, while Magsaysay had big and lasting accomplishments during his administration. It was him who signed into law the Rizal Bill (RA 1425), and he also commissioned the translation of the national anthem into the current Filipino version we are singing today. Magsaysay also focused the government’s efforts on rural development, and opened Malacañang Palace to the public. He’s well-loved by the masses because he’s a legit poor man turned into President.
Sometimes it takes deep and deliberate studies for us to discover the great men of the past. Some heroes are underrated, and sadly they are also underappreciated. Good thing Jarrold Tarog made a movie about Luna in 2015, and it really boosted the awareness of the young generation on the flamboyant general. But as for Magsaysay, he deserves more than just a few passing minutes in history class discussions. That’s why when I saw a rare statue of him, I took time to alight from my car and snap a handful of photos of it. I don’t remember any statue of Magsaysay elsewhere aside from the one inside the UPLB campus. Maybe in his home province of Zambales, there are a few, but I’m not so sure about that.
The Bible is also full of heroes. Everybody knows the stories of David who killed Goliath, Moses who split the Red Sea, Noah and his ark, Joseph who interpreted dreams, and Daniel who survived the lion’s den. There are many other men and women who did great things for God, however they are unheralded. One can read their stories in an equally unheralded book of the Bible, the Book of Judges. It’s the 7th book of the Old Testament.
The term “judge” in the Book of Judges doesn’t necessarily mean what you’re thinking of. No, they’re not the fellows dressed in black and hearing cases in the courtroom. In the Bible, a “judge” is a great military leader called by God to save Israel from some oppressor nation. The most famous ones are Samson and Gideon. But have you heard about Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah, Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon?
If you haven’t heard about these Bible heroes and their exploits, might as well start reading the Book of Judges. You will find their stories very interesting and uplifting. God used their stories for his glory. Their testimonies show that God hears the cries of his people and answers them with power and might. The Book of Judges teaches us that God is a God of compassion.
“Then the Lord raised up judges to rescue the Israelites from their attackers. Whenever the Lord raised up a judge over Israel, he was with that judge and rescued the people from their enemies throughout the judge’s lifetime. For the Lord took pity on his people, who were burdened by oppression and suffering.” (Judges 2:16,18, NLT)
What woe do you have right now that needs God’s deliverance?