CALAMBA, Laguna, Philippines – President Benigno C. Aquino III talks of the the present relevance of Philippines's national hero and cited mundane ways to emulate Rizal's heroism.
President Aquino led the rites and ceremonies to commemorate the 150th birthday of Dr. Jose Rizal right here in the hero's hometown yesterday.
While exulting Rizal's supreme sacrifice that paved the way for the freedom the country enjoys today, the president does not wish any more hero's death for any Filipino fighting for reform.
“We are working very hard so that no other Filipino will have to offer his or her life for the welfare of future generations,” he said.
The flavor of his Daang Matuwid (Straight path) campaign theme reverberated in the president's keynote speech.
“Even with the crossroads that he faced, Rizal never strayed from the right path,” Aquino said, while praising Rizal for choosing to do the right thing instead of looking the other way.
He said Rizal could have used his wealth and education to become rich and marry any girl he fancied, but he chose to correct the injustices done to the motherland.
The President said the dilemmas that Rizal faced during his time were not much different from those that Filipinos face today.
“Filipinos today mull if they should choose to use the overpass or just jaywalk, to pay the correct taxes or not, or other similar things,” Aquino said.
He said Filipinos should follow Rizal’s lead in ways they can easily do.
“For most people, heroism is measured by how we face our everyday struggles,” the President said, citing as examples following the law, respecting other people’s rights, being truthful to one’s job and standing by one’s principles.
The president said he gets up every morning with this thought as he runs the country.
Before delivering his speech, the president led the flag-raising ceremonies at the Rizal ancestral home compound here to formally kick-off the celebrations, then led a wreath-laying ceremony at the foot of a bronze sculpture of Rizal as a boy.
Rizal was also honored with a 21-gun salute by members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG).
The President was presented with five commemorative tokens for the sesquicentennial of Jose Rizal - a certificate of restoration of the Noli Me Tangere by German Ambassador to the Philippines Christian Ludwig Weber Lorssch; the e-Rizal tablet from Gov. Ejercito; a “Rizal at 150” commemorative medal from Central Bank governor Amado Tetangco, Jr.; a “Rizal at 150” commemorative stamp from Post Master General Antonio de Guzman; and a book on the “Lineage, Life and Labors of Jose Rizal” by Tulay Foundation chairman Manuel Chua.
The event culminated in the unveiling of the tallest statue of Rizal led by the president joined by Calamba City Mayor Joaquin Chipeco, National Historical Commission of the Philippines chair Maria Serena Diokno, Laguna Governor Emilio Ramon Ejercito, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Oban Jr. and local officials.
The 22-foot bronze Jose Rizal monument, designed and created by renowned sculptor Jonas Roces of Marikina, now standson a 6.7-hectare property in front of the Calamba City Hall complex. It is acknowledged to be the tallest statue of Rizal in the world.
Two days earlier, an 18-foot statue of Jose Rizal was also unveiled in Bayombong, Nueva Viscaya.
Monuments in honor of Jose Rizal exists in other parts of the world, like Madrid, Spain, Wilhelmsfeld, Germany, Jinjiang, Fujian, China, Chicago, Cherry Hill Township, New Jersey, San Diego, Seattle in U.S.A., Mexico City, Mexico, Lima, Peru, and Litomerice, Czech Republic, and Toronto, Ontario in Canada
Members of militant groups also made their presence felt in the event.
While President Aquino was delivering his speech, a commotion broke out prompting the Presidential Security Group (PSG) to arrest eight people, including five students from the University of the Philippines-Los Baños.
Arrested were Jeofrey Barreto, 33 and Rodel Badayor, 41, both members of Anakpawis group; and bystander John Louie Matira, 25.
The five students who were arrested were Catherine Gigante, 21; Michael Jason Mozo, 18; Bhen Aguilar, 21; Ynik Ante, 19; and Ruffa Solano, 19.
The students were turned over to the Calamba City police under Police Superintendent Joel Permito who said charges for alarm and scandal would be filed against the suspects.
Mozo, however, said they only wanted to bring their grievances to the President, particularly the sorry state of education in the country today.(from philstar.com)