MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III urged his fellow Filipinos to remember Jose Rizal’s heroism and emulate his actions during the celebrations of the 150th birthday of the Filipino national hero in Calamba, Laguna on Sunday.
In his speech, Aquino said that Rizal was not born a “superhero,” but became a hero because of the choices he made in his life.
“Humarap sa sangandaan si Jose Rizal,” Aquino said.
He added that Rizal could have chosen to simply ignore what went on around him, use his education to get rich and find a beautiful woman to marry.
But Aquino said that Rizal chose to do differently.
“Sunud-sunod na pagharap n’ya sa mga sangandaan... hindi naligaw si Rizal mula sa tuwid na daan.”
The President said everyday Filipinos also face the crossroads that Rizal did.
“Mga simple at pangaraw-araw na desisyon. Gagamit ba ako ng overpass o mag-jaywalking na lang. Magbabayad ba ako ng tamang buwis o ilulusot ang puwedeng ilusot?”
He then said that Filipinos must follow Rizal’s example and choose to take the correct path.
“Hindi po lahat ay pinapalad na tawagin upang magbuwis ng buhay para sa bayan. Subalit para sa nakararami, nasusukat ang pagkabayani sa araw-araw nating pagharap sa mga maliliit na sangandaan.”
Aquino also said Filipinos must honor the sacrifices made by Rizal and other heroes by making correct choices.
Aquino said the country was already seeing the bukang liwayway (dawn) that Rizal spoke of in one of his masterpieces, “Noli Me Tangere.”
“Binabati na natin ang bukang liwayway ngayon na hindi nakakalimutan ang mga nalugmok sa dilim na gabi,” the President said.
He added that his administration will constantly choose to take the right road.
“Sa bawat sangandaan, tuwid na landas ang ating tatahakin,” he said.
Luckier than most
Aquino also noted that Rizal was luckier than most Filipinos at that time.
“Isinilang si Jose Protacio Rizal sa isang bahay na bato, na bibihira noong mga panahong iyon. ‘Di tulad sa marami sa rehimeng Kastila, lumaki s’yang nakakain ng masasarap na pagkain,” said Aquino.
But he added that Rizal and his family were not exempt from the hardships of the time.
Aquino noted that when Rizal was 11 years old, his mother was arrested, and soon after, their lands were taken by the Spanish friars.
“Kung sa may kayang pamilya,nagagawa ng mga nasa katungkulang ang ganitong kalupitan, paano pa akaya ang mga Pilipinong sa kubo lamang nakatira?
“Marahil, ang ganitong mga sitwasyong ng kawalang katarungan ang unang gumising sa malay at damdamin ni Jose Rizal,” he said.
Rizal commemorative items
Aquino was also presented with several items commemorating the 150th birthday of Rizal.
Aquino was given a gold-plated medallion featuring Rizal’s photo in front and his signature at the back. The medallion also featured the words “Adios patria adorada” in Rizal’s own hand.
The President was also given commemorative stamps by Postmaster General Antonio De Guzman. The stamps featured the winning designs from the contest launched by the National Historical Commission.
Tulay Foundations, Inc. also presented Aquino with a copy of “Lineage, Life and Labors of Dr. Jose Rizal, Philippine Patriot.” The book traced Rizal’s lineage all the way to their Chinese roots.
All the commemorative pieces were especially created to celebrate Rizal’s 150th birthday.