President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Monday called on Filipinos to continue fighting for what the country’s national heroes fought for by upholding what is right in defending victims of violence and oppression.
The President made the call as he led a wreath-laying ceremony during commemoration of National Heroes’ Day at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City (Metro Manila).
”Without doubt: Whenever violence or oppression takes place, there is a perpetrator and there is the victim, and if you are not the abuser, and you are not being abused, then we must ask: What did you do? It is in these moments that heroes are needed. It is in these moments that the courage of the heroic few becomes clear, rising above all,” he said in his speech.
Quoting what his father, former senator Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino Jr., had said, “We should not depend on one man. We should depend on all of us,” President Aquino said “every Filipino can be a hero if we will continue to fight [for]our desired destination.”
”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 [for]a better and brighter future for our beloved Philippines,” he added.
The President said the sacrifices of the national heroes would have no meaning “if we failed to live out the very principles and ideals fought for by the individuals we honor through such structures.”
”On this day, we pay tribute to the sacrifices offered by Philippine 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,” he added.
”This must be why the word ‘bayan’ or ‘nation’ forms part of our term for ‘hero’ or ‘bayani.’ 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,” Aquino said.
“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,” he added.
The President then expressed gratitude to Filipinos who faced peril to fight for what is right and just, whether 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 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.
During the event, President Aquino received the first copy of a book entitled “Ang Mamatay ng Dahil sa ‘Yo (To Die for You)” from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).
”This books honors our martyrs and the many Filipino heroes who went against the dictatorship during martial law from the years of 1972 to 1986. They are among those we thank and recognize today,” the President said.
He noted that from the 1896 Revolution to the country’s liberty from Spain in 1898, to the independence that the nation gained from the United States in 1946, to the EDSA People Power Revolution in 1986, and even to the solidarity that the nation displayed in 2010, “so many Filipinos have proven that we can bring about meaningful change.“
”We can uplift and spur our country to greater progress. The only thing that is needed [is that]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 said.
The President was joined by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, NHCP Chairman Maria Serena Diokno and Taguig City Mayor Maria Laarni Cayetano during the commemoration rites for the country’s national heroes.