The Philippines is a nation of heroes. Our history is filled with men and women standing for justice and freedom. To this day, the heroic blood continues to flow in the veins of our modern-day heroes who have helped their communities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Realizing that there are many modern-day heroes worthy of recognition, Mekeni Food Corporation started the Tunay na Bayani Awards at the start of 2021. The award was inspired by Mekeni’s Bayani line, as well as the grit, talent, and skills of Pinoy micropreneurs.
From providing free supplies to people to helping their families get through the tough times, here are stories of heroism that made 2021 a year of heroes with the Tunay na Bayani Awards.
A Tunay na Bayani to the homeless, underprivileged
Marko Bustarde thought that apart from being a professional hairstylist, he has no other purpose or calling. But as soon as he started giving out free haircuts on what he calls his “Mission Day,” Marko realized that he can share kindness and love especially to those who need it most.
“Na-realize ko na kaya kong magbigay ng hope at love through haircut,” Marko said. “Gusto ko lang din ipakita na kung may mga negative man na nangyayari, maaari pa rin tayong makapag-inspire ng mga tao at makapagbigay ng pag-asa sa kanila.”
Aside from Marko, another Tunay na Bayani in their community is Chel Calaquian. A full-time banker, Chel goes around communities every weekend to share free food to those she meets in the streets.
“It is not how much you give but how much love you put in giving. A simple act of kindness means a lot to people. It does not have to be big, expensive, or extravagant. As long as you put your heart in it and tama yung intention mo, this will go a long way,” Chel shared.
A Tunay na Bayani to the younger generation
Meanwhile, Erl Mahinay Jr.’s story of heroism transcends even the highest mountains. Erl has seen how difficult life is in far-flung areas in his province as he has been a volunteer teacher even before finishing his education degree. So when he had the chance to help the kids in the mountains, he grabbed this opportunity and that fueled his passion to help more of them.
Apart from teaching the children, Erl also started giving out essentials to them. “Binibigyan ko sila ng mga hygiene kits, school supplies, at nagpapa-feeding ako dahil iyon ang mga kailangan nila doon,” he noted.
A Tunay na Bayani to their families
Heroes sometimes do not need to go out. Most of the time, they are at home and taking care of their families.
For Joshua Carte, making the greatest sacrifice for his family was his way to show his love for them. Taking care of his sick parents was the least he could do to repay them for all their sacrifices. Even at a young age, he was able to do so much for his family.
“Hindi ko rin po alam kung paano ko siya nagagawa. Siguro po ‘yung oras ko binibigay ko sa mga importanteng bagay. Sinisiguro ko po muna na ok si Papa at naibigay po yung mga pangangailangan niya bago ako pumasok sa trabaho,” Joshua narrated.
The Tunay na Bayani awardees are living proof that small acts of compassion and kindness can go a long way. Even if they have their own needs to fulfill, they will still choose to prioritize others.
“Every day, there is a reason for us to celebrate and honor ordinary people doing great things for their communities. Their dedication and passion for uplifting the lives of people around them are really astounding and downright inspiring. Tunay na Bayani Awards would not exist without these selfless people doing amazing things for their neighbors. So, to all the heroes everywhere, thank you for the work you do! This coming year, may you continue to multiply and motivate others to do good,” Mekeni President Pruds Garcia said.
As Filipinos continue to keep the bayanihan spirit alive in their communities, Mekeni will remain committed to honoring these unsung heroes who have been catalysts for change. To know more about the Tunay na Bayani Awards and the awardees, check out Mekeni’s official Facebook page.