By Argyll Geducos
President Duterte urged Filipinos to embody solidarity and become everyday heroes ready to extend help to those neglected by society.
In his message prepared for the National Heroes’ Day, Duterte called on Filipinos to honor those who sacrificed their lives for the country’s freedom and democratic ideals.
“Their collective sacrifice has made it possible for us to enjoy the blessings of liberty and to continue strengthening this great nation that they have left behind,” he said.
“We recognize their heroism not only by erecting statues in their honor but by uplifting the welfare of the poor and marginalized for it is through our small deeds that their spirit of valor can live on,” he added.
The President then urged Filipinos to be the hero to those who are in need.
“Let us make our forebears proud of our triumphs as a people by being everyday heroes who will reach out to those who are in need, especially to the ones who have been neglected by society,” Duterte said.
“I truly believe that every Filipino is a hero who can build on our vibrant legacy of fortitude and resilience,” he added.
“As we face the future together, I encourage everyone to embody solidarity and sustain our momentum toward positive change not only for ourselves but for the succeeding generations as well,” he continued.
President Duterte was not able to attend the National Heroes’ Day celebration in Taguig because he was not feeling well, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go said. He was represented by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano during the event.
In an interview, Go said that Duterte was indisposed, and needed to rest. He, however, assured that there was nothing to worry about.
“Nothing to worry. He’s okay. Walang dapat ikabahala (There’s nothing to be worried about). He’s indisposed for today, for this morning,” he said.
Last year, President Duterte urged Filipinos to emulate in their daily lives the bravery and selflessness of the country’s heroes, especially when the country’s unity is constantly being tested.
In his message for the occasion last year, the President honored the patriotism and bravery of those who have fought for the country’s freedom.
He also recognized the ordinary Filipinos who strive for their families and their communities.
National Heroes’ Day is a holiday celebrated as early as 1931 which honors and remembers all Philippine national heroes.
The holiday, since first observed, was commemorated every last Sunday of August until former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued in 2007 Republic Act 9492 which mandated that if a regular or nationwide special holiday falls on a Sunday, it shall be observed the next day.
Not a single hero can save us
For her part, Vice President Leni Robredo said the country’s celebration of the National Heroes’ Day is a reminder that Filipinos can also become heroes in their own way to others.
Robredo, who is the leader of the opposition, told Filipinos that country’s freedom and progress don’t only lie in the hands of one hero or leader, but it relies to the heroism of everyone.
“May this day serve as a reminder that not a single hero can save us from our present situation. The solution to all our problems is not in the hands of just one person, and no single leader can gives us a better future,” she said in Filipino.
“The Filipino is a hero to their fellow Filipinos. You’re a hero to others and you have the capability to change your country and fellow citizens,” she added.
Detained Senator Leila de Lima urged the nation not to forget the heroes who made a mark in the country’s history, by standing up to serve as the voice for those who were oppressed and seeking for justice and freedom.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian paid tribute to the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who help strengthen the country’s economy and the teachers who help in forming the lives of the Filipino children to become future heroes.
“Today, we honor and pay tribute to the men and women whose courageous deeds made it possible for our country to attain its freedom – those whose names have been forever etched in history books, as well as to the nameless heroes throughout our history who helped build our nation into what it is today,” Gatchalian said in a statement.
READ MORE: Senators pay tribute to known, unsung heroes
Sen. Grace Poe paid tribute to “everyday heroes” who work and make sacrifices not only for their families but also for the country.
“There are our OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) who endure separation from their loved ones to give their families comfortable lives,” Poe said in a statement.
“There are the workers, entrepreneurs and employers who go through the daily grind to make the economy move forward,” she added.
“There are the volunteers and social workers who come to the aid of the often forgotten sectors of our society,” she also noted.
READ MORE: Poe hails heroes of our daily lives
Senator Pia Cayetano, likewise, called on the nation to honor “the great men and women who fought for our nation’s freedom by nurturing future heroes among the ranks of our youth.”
“Today, we remember the bravery and sacrifices made by our heroes, including prominent figures who led the struggle for independence, and those who remain unnamed and undocumented in history books,” Cayetano said.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) encouraged the public on Monday to continue remembering and preserving the legacy of all Filipino heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the country’s freedom and independence.
“While we honor the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country’s freedom and independence, we are also reminded that the challenge continues and that we each must do our share to protect and defend our way of life,” said General Benjamin Madrigal Jr., AFP Chief-of-Staff.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana urged the youth to heed the call of serving the country by participating in the Reserved Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program, which he believes would “instill and nurture the love of country” in their hearts and minds. (With reports from Hannah Torregoza, Vanne Terrazola, and Martin Sadongdong)