By Apolinario Villalobos
Fortitude as a virtue is about endurance, courage, flexibility, strength, perseverance, and determination which are necessary ingredients of success. But, a necessary enhancement is patience.
This virtue usually manifests among self-made achievers. We read stories about people who succeed despite being orphans , impoverished as growing children, or even without having earned a college or university degree. We also read stories about people who keep on working and eventually, still succeed despite advancing age which should have made them retire. The latest Filipino who manifested this virtue is Rose Fontanes or Osang, an overseas Filipino worker who tried her luck in Israel as a caregiver, but captured the heart of both the natives of that country and fellow migrant workers when she won the first “X Factor Israel”. With just her untrained natural singing voice and style, she determinedly pursued her dream of becoming a recognized singer, despite ridicules because of her short physique, looks and age.
Billionaires who have firmly established their icons in the field of communications technology, after persisting while enduring years of rejection are still humbly clad in simple denims and faded t-shirts, perhaps to show the world that a signature attire is not synonymous to success. The latest Filipino Cardinal, Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, O.M.I. of Cotabato City diocese in southern Mindanao, is said to have persevered in selling the Mindanao Cross, a popular provincial daily, as a student, to show that poverty should never hinder the path of one who has success in his mind as goal in life.
The Leyteῆos, Samareῆos, and the Ilonggos who were displaced by the typhoon Yolanda, though momentarily got affected by the sudden blow, immediately stood up to show their resilience. The catastrophic misfortune, though shocking, did not faze them. On TV, some of them are shown still smiling while building makeshift “homes” out of lumber and plastic sheets salvaged from heaps by the roadsides. Children with pieces of biscuit in their hand, obviously from relief bags, smile at cameras while shouting “thank you”. Families eating boiled sweet potatoes and bananas smilingly offer some to relief volunteers from other countries. Except for the blame that few of the affected hurled at the slow-footed government officials, nothing else, much less grumbling, is heard. They are one in saying that life must go on.
A retired airline executive whose love for dancing persistently went on making television viewers happy by patiently reporting for tapings despite his airline sales obligation that required him to fly to Bangkok, Thailand at least twice a week, way back in the 70’s. The lean Archie Lacson of the Penthouse 7 fame, known for his seemingly gliding tango and cha-cha struts, fortified his endurance with unselfish desire to make others happy as they see him do his signature flounces. He maintained this attitude even beyond his retirement from Philippine Airlines as Vice-President for Philippines and Guam (marketing and sales region), by gladly dispensing his responsibilities as a currently elected Village (Barangay) Council member (kagawad) of Barangay Ayala-Alabang. Feeling that he could still do more, he is also at the helm of the prestigious Alabang Country Club, as president, where local golf champions hone their skill . He epitomizes the enduring patience of a person who looks at age as just a number. He could have just retired for good, but defied nature with his strong resolve to go on with his active life, further showing that fulfillment is not spelled by monetary gain but by unselfish service as well.
Along this line, the likes of Manny Pacquiao and Bata Reyes who put the Philippines on the international map of sports should not be forgotten, as well as, Nora Aunor, Regine Velasquez, and Charisse Pempengco for music, to name a few – they who patiently refined their respective craft to achieve unquestionable recognition.
Ferdinand Marcos, who earned the ire of the Filipinos for transforming his ways into that of a dictator should somehow , be given credit for earning a high esteem for the Filipinos during his time. With nationalistic fervor, he told the world through his eloquent speeches that the Filipinos are a people who deserve respect, having earned their long-coveted freedom by dints of bravery and self-reliance. He was considered as a strong leader among those of the rest of Southeast Asian countries. Although his long administration was never without a taint of corruption, he was still able to elevate the culture of the Filipinos by erecting landmarks such as the Cultural Center Complex, wellness facilities such as the Philippine Heart Center, Kidney Institute, and Lung Center. Add to these the honest-to-goodness sturdy highway complexes and bridges, far from the sub-standard quality of similar facilities purportedly built for commission by congressmen and senators today, and which crumble with the passing of just a couple of rainy season.