Heroes and villains

By Alex P. Vidal

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”—Lao Tzu

THERE are only two types of leaders that will emerge after the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE) in the Philippines on Oct. 30: future heroes and villains.

Most national leaders with strong moral and spiritual values were first elected in the BSKE and became heroes, or saviors of democracy and doyens of good governance.

Because of their high-yielding foundations, proper training and education, they become epitomes of decency and good manners and right conduct (GMRC) in public service.

Many of them are still holding positions in different elective and appointive government offices today, which means not all government officials who have tasted the prestige and grandeur of power are serpents in paradise and snakes in the forest.

Some of the most despicable and reprehensible public officials today, on the other hand, also traced their origin in the BSKE. For whatever odd reason, they chose the wrong path—to be notorious plunderers and recipients of multiple charges of graft and malversation of public funds.

The future of the Philippines rests on the decision every voter will make during the BSKE polls.

Either they will vote for the future heroes or future villains.


The Theory of the Four Humors was introduced by the father of medicine, Hippocrates, thousands of years ago–before Christianity, Judaism, and Islam became dominant monotheistic religions.

The Greek doctor, best remembered for his so-called “Hippocratic Oath”, believed that the secret of health lay in the proper mixture of four body fluids, blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile.

If the wrong mixture was present, disease resulted.

That during the Middle Ages, disease was attributed to devils which were supposed to have entered the body and which could be forced to leave by spells and incantations.

Earlier, in 100 B.C., immunity from disease was already being practiced.

King Mithridates tried to protect his body against certain poisons by taking increasing doses of them over a period of time.

In China and India, children were clothed in the shirts, or slept in the bed, of smallpox sufferers.

Although dangerous, this often produced very mild attacks of the disease and prevented future occurrence of more severe cases.

In the 14th century, more than 25 million people died of bubonic plague in Europe.

In the 18th century, smallpox killed 60 million people throughout the world. Statistics reveals that even today over 100 million people a year have malaria in India and that about one million die of it annually.


Just as physical hygiene attempts to promote physical health, so does the newer science of mental hygiene attempt to promote mental health.

Here’s for those who carry the world on their shoulders; Atlas Shrugged, in the book of Ayn Rand.

Most authorities agree that among the chief causes of mental disease are worry, fear, unhappiness, and envy (Facebook and other social network users, take note).

They point out that all of us are subject to these emotions, but that some people are so sensitive to one or more of these that their entire outlook on life is thrown out of focus.

Therefore, the most effective way of preventing mental illness is to remove causes of worry and tension, to explain the effects of such emotions to people who suffer from them, and to educate people in general to accept themselves and their lives as they are.

Mental disease often shows itself as an unreasoning fear of certain situations, or an involuntary “compulsion” to perform certain acts. (Phobia, neurosis, and psychosis are some of the terms used to name these conditions, according to Alexander A. Fried of the Department of Biological Sciences, Christopher Columbus High School in New York).

These abnormal reactions may be so mild as to cause very little inconvenience to the individual or may be so violent as to make the person dangerous to himself or others and require commitment to an institution for special care.

Mysterious relationships exist between the mind and the body, according to some medical experts.

It is now known that mental illness can produce symptoms of physical disease in many organs of the body, when actually the organ affected is healthy and sound.

Headaches, upset stomachs, fever, vague pains, rashes, etc., may be signs of a known disease, or may be the effect of mental upset, doctors say.


They add that in the second case, where the symptoms are brought about by the mind, it is called a psychosomatic illness.

Many phobias and neurotic conditions have been traced to forgotten incidents in childhood, which continue to influence behavior even though the sufferer has no recollection of the event.

Methods of treatment aim at finding these causes in the patient’s “subconscious” and revealing them to him; usually the condition disappears once the patient understands its cause.

Various types of psychiatric treatment (analysis) have been proposed and used by different psychiatrists; these different methods have the same general goal of finding and removing the cause from the patient’s mind.

The following rules are useful in keeping mentally healthy, according to Fried:

  1. Get plenty of rest, relaxation, fresh air, and good food.
  2. Avoid worrying excessively. Most things that people worry about seldom happen.
  3. Face your problems squarely, realistically. Be ready to make changes and adjustments in your plans to meet new situations that arise.
  4. Use up some of your excess energy and strength in interesting hobbies, sports, and other types of recreation.
  5. Do not magnify unimportant happenings into major events. Example: The fact that your friend didn’t smile and wave at you when he passed by was probably because he didn’t see you, not because he was angry at you.
  6. Seek satisfaction from those things you do well, and from those natural advantages which you possess (we all have some). Do not yearn for things that are possible only in daydreams. Do not envy others who seem to have more than you; they are probably envying you from “their side of the fence.”
  7. Set yourself a goal–certainly! But make sure that it is a realistic one–one that is within the reach of your abilities.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)