President Rodrigo Duterte, in a pre-recorded message, called on the Filipino people Wednesday to emulate the courage of the “great Filipino” Dr. Jose Rizal in confronting the enemies for the sake of his countrymen, and learn the example to bring change in society, as the country marked the 124th anniversary of his martyrdom.
Duterte underscored that the nobility of Rizal “enabled our forebears to rise against tyranny and build a society founded by lessons taught in history.”
In his message on Rizal Day, the President said he hoped people would continue to celebrate Rizal and the modern-day heroes, including frontliners, and “learn from their example.”
“Today, we see many ‘Rizals’ fighting for our people, this time against an unseen adversary — a pandemic. We have our brave frontliners who continue to serve the nation in their unique capacities notwithstanding the risks to life and limb. In them, we see a new expression of heroism that is truly inspiring,” he said.
“May we continue to celebrate Jose Rizal and our modern-day heroes, to learn from their example, and to express the love and respect of a grateful nation,” he added.
The President did not physically attend the Rizal Day ceremony in Luneta Wednesday and instead sent a pre-recorded message.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana represented the President and was joined by Manila Mayor Isko Moreno during the flag-raising and wreath-laying rites.
Lorenzana stressed that Rizal’s advocacies for the youth continued to live on through the country’s present-day defenders, from soldiers in the remotest areas to the daily front liners, who continue to embody Rizal’s spirit of patriotism and sense of self-sacrifice.
“Our One Defense Team remains steadfast in our commitment to protect the young generation from the forces of corruption from the communist terrorist groups who lead promising, youthful lives astray,” Lorenzana said.
The event included a wreath-laying ceremony and prayer over the monument of Rizal, who was executed on the site in 1896.
Simultaneous events were also conducted in other Rizal museums in Calamba, Laguna; Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte; and Fort Santiago, Intramuros in Manila.
Rizal Day 2020 was celebrated with the theme “Jose Rizal: Inspirasyon sa Pagbangon at Paghilom ng Bayan”.
The Department of National Defense said Rizal’s spirit was reflecting on the lives of frontliners who are considered as modern-day heroes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The National Historical Commission of the Philippines was scheduled to conduct a series of online activities in commemoration of Rizal Day.
Webinars were also conducted at 2 p.m. that included cultural tribute to Rizal. A reading of Rizal’s famous poem Mi Ultimo Adiós was held on Jose Rizal Dapitan’s Facebook page at 8 a.m.
Meanwhile, Rizal 2nd District Rep. Fidel Nograles urged the youth to continue speaking out against what they perceived to be wrongs in society. With Maricel V. Cruz
“Now, more than ever, with our future uncertain and our past way of life out of reach, we need our youth to be like Gat Jose Rizal who has made it his life’s work to expose the ills that beset society and open the Filipino’s eyes to the truth,” Nograles said.
Rizal published the essays “Filipinas Dentro de Cien Años” for La Solidaridad and his Annotations of Antonio Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas during the height of the largest nineteenth-century influenza epidemic in Europe that started in 1889 and killed about a million people worldwide.
“We can learn a lot from how Rizal did not allow the circumstances he faced to stop him from seeking and advocating truth and reform,” said Nograles.
Nograles also expressed hope that just as Rizal actively led in shaping a country that was still grappling with its identity, today’s youth would participate in molding a better nation as it recovers from the pandemic.
“As digital natives who have an intuitive grasp of how technology works, our youth are best-equipped to lead the front as we strive to create a world better than the one we are forced to leave behind.” With Maricel V. Cruz
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