President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Tuesday encouraged Filipinos to be heroes in their own way as the nation marks the 119th anniversary of the martyrdom of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal.
December 30 has been declared by the government as a regular holiday throughout the country in observance of Rizal Day.
The President is expected to attend flag-raising and commemorative wreath-laying rites at the Rizal Monument at the Rizal Park (Luneta) in Manila that will be replicated in all cities and municipalities all over the country as well as all embassies abroad.
The Philippine flag will then be placed at half-staff in honor of Rizal’s heroism.
At 5 a.m. or before the flag-raising ceremony, the Order of the Knights of Rizal will reenact Rizal’s walk from Fort Santiago in Intramuros, Manila, where he was incarcerated by the Spaniards to the Rizal Monument, the approximate spot where he was made to face a firing squad.
Other activities include the conduct of lectures, poetry reading competition, light and sound presentation and guided tours, free medical and optical services, Filipino games exhibition, fireworks display and free rides in trains of Light Rail Transit 1 and LRT 2 and Metro Rail Transit 3.
A grand fireworks display will cap the commemoration at the Rizal Park at 7 p.m.
In his Rizal Day message, the President called on Filipinos to reaffirm their commitment to the righteous path agenda that he champions for the common good.
“May we all be inspired by Dr. Jose Rizal’s courage and intelligence, his sense of duty, hunger for knowledge, passion for reform and undying love of country,” he said.
“Let us all be heroes in our own way, and reaffirm our commitment to the daang matuwid [straight path]. Only by traversing this road toward fairness and progress can we translate our dreams into tangible realities for our people.”
The President reminded the people about Rizal’s hard work and his sacrifices that contributed to the building of the nation and the kind of country that it is today.
Every year, he said, the country celebrates Rizal Day to reflect on Rizal’s sacrifice to free the Philippines from the shackles of abuse and inequality during the colonial years under Spain.
Through Rizal’s writings and deeds, according to Aquino, the country’s forefathers became braver, more united citizens, “both capable and determined to win the liberties we now enjoy.”
“Dr. Jose Rizal worked hard to pursue our independence, serving as a catalyst for change, his works remain relevant to this day, a reminder of a past when freedom seemed beyond our reach,” the President said.
“Let us remember him on this occasion, along with other heroes who shared their strength and vision to make the Philippines the nation it is today.”