Mexico is a country full of so many great Eagle Warriors, brave explorers, and intrepid athletes that face any and all odds in order to leave a trace of golden glory behind them that it’s hard to keep track. But among them, and among us all, the one who stands out the most, the one who has never been ousted in celebrity and worthiness, is the one and only, the sparkly-silver masked paragon of justice, defender of the weak (which for him means all of us) and protector of the good: El Santo.
He is known around the world as the greatest of the greatest when it comes to lucha libre, the magnificent Mexican adaptation of Greco-Roman fighting, with more spectacle and, usually, less blood. El Santo made the fabulous leap from the third rope to the big screen and became a movie sensation. He starred in 54 films, in which he faced all sorts of nefarious monsters and seductive villains, aided at times by other legends of the ring. For over twenty years, he delighted audiences with his B-movie adventures and thrilling acrobatics.
Through his campy spectacles, he gave us lessons in gallantry, charm, courage, and strength through the darkest of times. He is a symbol of a world gone by that lives on in the hearts of those who were there to witness his legend and learn from the lessons he so graciously taught through blood and fire.
From El Santo, we learned everything that is worth knowing, that we can be anything and everything we set our hearts on. As he demonstrated, you can be a scientist, a researcher, an Interpol secret agent, a fighter, and a lady magnet, all at the same time, without skipping a beat. And so many other things that still echo in our minds and make us want to be better every single day.
Don’t be fooled by appearances
Sometimes, what looks like a harmless, friendly, and attractive princess from an unknown country is actually a karate expert who can and will kick your ass, whereas that young girl who seemed to be only the daughter of a businessman is actually the princess of a country you didn’t know existed! The point is always look beyond appearances unless you want your butt kicked karate-style, as it happened to our brave hero and his brave companions, Blue Demon and Mil Máscaras, in Misterio en las Bermudas.
Real beauty lies within
Speaking of appearances, El Santo never let what’s outside matter more than what is inside. That’s why, even when he was in the shower, he wore his mask: because his essence was never determined by what he looked like, but by what he chose to be. Perhaps this lesson was learned when he faced the daughter of Doctor Frankenstein (in Santo contra la hija de Frankenstein from 1971), who wanted to use his blood as the source for eternal youth, since the serum she has created was too painful. Another important lesson we must learn from this forever-young woman is that we should never be lazy. If she’d never wanted to exchange the irksome serum for Santo’s blood, she would still be around and looking good.
Honor is unbreakable, but there are worthier causes
If there’s one thing everyone knows about Santo is that his honor was his most precious virtue; not even in the face of great peril or certain doom would he sacrifice it. It is, in the end, what makes him the greatest hero that ever lived. And yet, during his team-up with Mantequilla Nápoles to face La Llorona’s revenge (Santo y Mantequilla Nápoles en la Venganza de la Llorona, filmed in 1975, Santo teamed up with Cuban-born boxing legend, Mantequilla Nápoles), he had to forego his honor and desecrate a tomb where a hundred thousand doubloons of Spanish gold lay hidden, not for treasure (that was not within Santo’s line of conduct), but because the money would go to aid helpless children. Sometimes, the greatest battle we must fight is against our own conscience.
Evil always shows its face
Sometimes we like to be hopeful and we cling to the blind desire that when someone screams words of hatred and division, he is only trying to get votes and he will probably not get them because, who in their right mind would vote for him? But then it happens, and all the hate he’d spat out turns into actions that leave us dumbfounded. So, we must keep our eyes open and believe that, when a man is called Licán, he is almost certainly the secret king of the flesh-eating lycanthropes (watch the silver-masked hero face off werewolves in Santo vs las lobas, which came out in 1972).
Friendship is the most important thing
Santo’s glorious camaraderie with Blue Demon is known throughout the universe. Their perfectly-oiled evil-fighting machine of a friendship taught us to never, ever, under any circumstance betray our friends. Unless they betray us first; then, it’s time to punch them as hard as we can until they return to their senses and become our friends again. Just like Santo VS Blue Demon in Atlantis. Santo contra Blue Demon en la Altántida from 1969. This was the second team up of the legendary luchadores. The first was when Santo guest-starred in Blue Demon’s film Blue Demon contra el poder satánico in 1964.
Deep down, we’re all the same
While we allow the slightest differences to divide us, Santo, in his battle against the killers from other worlds (which he did in Santo contra los asesinos de otros mundos from 1971), showed us that even though we might look different, in the end we are all exactly the same. Some of us are more bent on exterminating the entire human race than others, but, in the end, in this and all other worlds, we are all (almost) exactly the same at our core.
Say only what’s necessary
Otherwise, those closest to us will be concerned, very concerned. In their battle against the monsters, Blue Demon expresses his anxiety to his best pal, our valiant hero, Santo, after the latter utters a sentence with more than ten words because, as he knows, whenever Santo breaks this limit, it means that he is worried (from the messy Santo y Blue Demon contra los monstruos from 1969, their second team-up and in the same year!). That is how we must be: succinct, brief, and to the point. If you need to use more than ten words to speak, you’re either failing at communication or facing so much danger you cannot bear it, and, for your own good, it better be the latter.
Never be overconfident, always have a backup plan
Remember when Santo faced the karate masters in Santo en la furia de los karatecas a.k.a Puño Mortal? (Santo en la furia de los karatecas and Puño Mortal or Puño de la Muerte were two separate feature films from 1982 that were mostly shown together as a single saga; they were the last movies filmed by El Santo). Silly question, of course, you remember. On this episode of our hero’s chronicle, the miscreants, keepers of the “star of great power”, were skilled telepaths. And still, even though they could communicate with each other at any time, they chose to use tribal drums to announce Santo’s approach. One can never be too ready.
We’re stronger together
Nazis were a common enemy of El Santo’s (as they are of us all), and he faced them off not once, but twice (in Anónimo Mortal from 1972 and Misión Suicida from 1971). Through these fights, what we learned is that in the end, if we are not united, we will fail. This is what happened to the Nazis, who inevitably ended up fighting each other, causing their own destruction.
The smallest things can be the most essential
There are few worse things than having Moctezuma’s treasure stolen, again! But it happened and who but El Santo could have been able to bring it back? Together with a gorgeous Interpol agent, he managed to get it back (in El Tesoro de Moctezuma from 1969). But it wasn’t just his skills and gallantry that sealed the deal, El Santo had a tiny uranium-powered camera and a bomb necklace, neither of which presented hazards to the bearer because nothing is dangerous to El Santo. With those two small yet effective gadgets, our paladin saved the day and won our hearts one more magnificent time. Never underestimate something for its size!
Ah, the glory. El Santo must always remain in our hearts, and this is of utmost importance because his disappearance is one of the signs of the Apocalypse, as shown in Misterio en las Bermudas. So, do the world a favor and keep this legend alive, following his teachings and living every day as a warrior like him.