y husband and I were watching news on TV when Joy- joy, my 8 yrs. old grandniece came in, I thought she  would soon be bored with the news and leave, but I was wrong; she seems to be mesmerized by the military parade and the hearse full of white flowers.

“Lola, why is he a hero? What did he do for our country, Lola?

I looked at her and said, “Let’s finish the news first, ah?”

Ok Lola”. I thought she would now stand and walked out but I was wrong, 

Our teacher said Rizal is our hero because he fought for our independence from the Spaniards and then our school guidance counselor said the fathers and mothers of our classmates who went abroad to work are heroes too because they bring in dollars to our country, and these dollars goes to building schools for us and bridges and roads for the farmers, and now the TV man said …………. .”

Hush child, I can’t hear what the announcer is saying.”

“Ooops ,soooorry,” She said this with wide eyes and with the palm of her hands on her mouth. I didn’t say anything.

Minutes of silence past and I could see her staring at the TV and watched the hearse and the military parade go by. “The flowers, Lola, they’re beautiful ha, they must be expensive,” she just couldn’t help interjecting.  I did not answer. My silence must have reminded her to stay silent too because she did not talk anymore after that.    

And so I have several minutes more of silence,minutes to get ready with my answer. To tell you the truth, I really don’t know why Angelo Reyes is called a hero. He didn’t die in a battlefield; he didn’t die for a cause; he didn’t even die battling the strange disease of our land. So why is he a hero then?

I do not want to lie, so I thought of telling her the simplest true answer that I thought of; that Angelo Reyes was a soldier and was our country’s former AFP chief of staff. I hope she won’t ask if all AFP chief of staffs are heroes, or much much worse, she might asked, “Papa is a soldier Lola, is he a hero then? If he dies, will it be like that too?” Now, how can I tell her where the line is if I myself can’t see the line anymore?

Luckily for me, a call from her mother prompted her to stand up and say bye bye.

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