AS the Philippines continues to honor the men and women who offered their lives for the country, President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Monday urged Filipinos to come together and be part of moving the country forward.
In his speech to commemorate the National Heroes’ Day, the President reminded Filipinos that unity is vital in surviving the toughest of situations.
“Whenever there is wrongdoing and injustice in society—if you simply choose to stand on the sidelines and watch, if you choose to follow the dictates of the status quo, or simply complain without putting forward a solution to the problem, is it not true that you have only added to the problem, and thus prolonged the suffering of your fellowmen?” Aquino said.
“On the other hand, if even one person takes a stand and faces them, in order to say, ‘What you are doing is wrong. I will not allow you to take advantage of the Filipino people,’ then I am certain that the vicious cycle of abuse and impunity, and lack of justice, will be ended,” he added.
Citing the statement of his father, the late senator Benigno Aquino Jr., the President said, “We should not depend on one man. We should depend on all of us.”
Aquino reiterated that Filipinos could bring “meaningful change” by working together as one nation.
“Each one of us possesses the ability to go beyond ourselves for our countrymen and our flag. Whether we are ordinary citizens, or those in the highest echelons of power, each one has the responsibility and the ability to take part in working for the improvement of wider society—from the simple act of following our rules and laws; to reaching out and helping our fellowmen, especially those most in need; to the readiness to fight for what is right and what is just, whatever the time or situation,” he said.
“We can uplift and spur our country to greater progress. The only thing that is needed: that we link arms, act, and work together as one nation; in that way, the heavy burdens we carry as a country need not be carried by a few shoulders alone. Instead, each one will bring a lighter load, and in so doing, we will avoid passing the problems of the present to succeeding generations,” Aquino added.
He said that it is through ceremonies such as this that Filipinos can give recognition to the sacrifices made by the country’s heroes.
“As we honor them, so too are we called to do our part and to continue the battle they began—whether in a small, or a big way—for the betterment of our nation,” Aquino said.
The President then expressed gratitude to Filipinos who faced peril to fight for what is right and just, whether or not a memorial stands in their honor.
“With heads held high, we recognize the contributions of each hero, who laid and strengthened the foundations of the peace and progress we enjoy,” Aquino said.
“In the name of each Filipino hero: together, as one nation, let us join hands. I have every confidence that, now that we have begun something so extraordinary, we will continue to journey to our desired destination; the Filipino people will indeed realize our collective aspirations of a better and brighter future for our beloved Philippines,” he added.
Aquino remembered that when his mother, former president Corazon Aquino, passed away, some people who represented everything she had fought for, suggested erecting a monument in her honor.
“Their suggestion brought to mind a saying from when I was much younger: ‘A little rock, a little cement, then you have a monument’,” he said.
“Indeed, it is easy to build a monument; but it will have no meaning, it will stand for nothing if we failed to live out the very principles and ideals fought for by the individuals we honor through such structures,” Aquino added.