MANILA, Philippines – Teachers, soldiers, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).
This is the image painted by President Benigno Aquino III of heroes on National Heroes Day – ordinary Filipinos, he said, who serve as proof “that our nation is indeed a nation of heroes.”
On Monday, August 25, Aquino cited heroic actions of various Filipinos – like Noli Dela Cruz, who rescued 36 of his neighbors during Super Typhoon Yolanda by roping clothes together – and encouraged Filipinos to imagine what 100 million Filipinos can achieve together.
“On days like this, I cannot help but think and ask myself: What can achieved when a hundred million Filipinos work arm-in-arm towards a single goal?,” he said.
These heroes, he said, have one thing in common: “Instead of hurling criticism or spreading negativism, which some of our countrymen have grown accustomed to doing, these remarkable Filipinos chose to empower their fellowmen.”
Aquino encouraged Filipinos to be more constructive rather than negative, and reminded them that “even if our society had made progress, it is clear that our battles continue.”
“The days of colonizers, of wars, of Martial Law are long gone. Yet there are still a select and selfish few who remain determined to bring back the old and abusive political systems,” he said.
“This is the fight that confronts us today: to remain vigilant against those who seek to sow doubt and lies; to stand firm and refuse to allow ourselves to be manipulated by those who only pretend at reform; to reject the crooked, and resolve to stay on the straight path.”
Slamming detractors, he also called attention to the achievements of his administration.
“We have been treading the straight path for more than 4 years now. The seeds of change we have sown are already bearing fruit—and, seeing this, those who want to take advantage of the people are becoming desperate,” he said.
As the president delivered his speech in Taguig, militant groups gathered in Manila to protest all forms of funds allotted to lawmakers or pork barrel, and called for Aquino’s ouster. They also decried charter change and the possible lifting of term limits for presidents.
Charter change became a hot topic recently after Aquino said in an interview that he is reconsidering his views on the touchy subject.
Latest surveys show a steep decline in Aquino’s satisfaction ratings after the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional parts of the administration’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), the government's so-called economic stimulus package.
Hope in the youth
During his speech, Aquino also cited an article written by a 13-year-old student tom Bacolod, Maria Francesca Santiago, who he said at her age, “already exhibits more discernment than some who are much older than her.”
The president said Santiago noticed that “the latest trend is to hurl criticism, even at those who are doing everything in their power to uphold the interests of the people" and "in the face of the challenges our country has experienced, instead of remaining open-minded and searching for the truth, there are some who choose to spread baseless accusations."
Aquino expressed optimism and hope for the youth, based on Santiago's observations.
“If this is the caliber of thinking of the youth today, I am certain that we are indeed facing a brighter future,” he said.
He called for unity and encouraged Filipinos “not [to] waste the opportunity we have today,” and “to make certain that we will bequeath to coming generations a Philippines freer and more progressive still rests on our shoulders.”
“This is the only way for us to ensure that, when the next generations commemorate National Heroes Day, they will remember, express their gratitude for, and reflect on this chapter of our history, and they will say: This was indeed the time when all Filipinos decided, as one people, to become heroes,” he said. - Rappler.com