How to defend democracy? Filipinos urged to learn from heroes

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Filipinos must continue the fight for democracy and uphold the values of our heroes, public officials said on Monday, August 27, as the country celebrated National Heroes Day.

Vice President Leni Robredo said our heroes had made sacrifices for Philippine independence. These, she said, should serve as an inspiration to Filipinos to continue to fight for the country.

“Ang mga aral na ating mapupulot sa kanilang mga buhay ay nananatiling mahalaga, lalo na sa mga panahong hinahamon ang ating demokrasya. Ang ating mga bayani ay huwaran para sa ating mga mamamayan na tumugon sa tawag na ipagtanggol ang bayan at ang mga paniniwalang pinahahalagahan natin bilang sambayanan,” Robredo said.

(The lessons we learn from their lives remain relevent, especially at a time when our democracy is being challenged. Our heroes are examples for our fellowmen to heed calls to defend the nation and its values.)

Robredo also paid tribute to modern-day heroes, including overseas Filipino workers, soldiers, teachers, and other public servants.

“Mga bayani man ng nakaraan, o mga bagong bayaning patuloy na nagsisilbi sa bayan, nawa ay maging inspirasyon sila sa ating lahat sa gitna ng mga pagsubok na ating kinakaharap. Ang kanilang halimbawa ay pagpapaalala na tayo mismo ang susi sa pagbabagong ating hinahangad,” Robredo said.

(May past and present heroes serve as an inspiration to all of us amid the struggles we are facing. Their examples are reminders that we are the key to the change we are longing for.)

President Rodrigo Duterte, in his message, also honored the unnamed heroes, who strive daily for the sake of their loved ones and their country.

Lawmakers called on the public and government leaders to emulate the ideals of our heroes, with members of the opposition calling on Filipinos to defend democracy under President Duterte.

 

Senator Loren Legarda:

“As we celebrate National Heroes’ Day, let us emulate their ideals and strive to be heroes in our own right. We need not die to be a hero, we only need to be responsible citizens and be the best that we can be…. Let us make this commemoration more meaningful by showing how our national and everyday heroes have inspired us to be good and responsible Filipinos.”

 

Senator Aquilino Pimentel III:

"We commemorate National Heroes Day recognizing the sacrifices of Rizal, Bonifacio and all those long gone who gave us the freedoms and liberties we enjoy today. Equally important is the need to celebrate heroism in its smaller everyday forms... We should honor heroism every day because the Filipino performs heroic feats, big and small, every day."

 

Senator Richard Gordon:

"Today, we honor the Filipinos who have fought for and contributed to the country’s freedom and independence. We give tribute, not only to the prominent figures in our history, but also to the unknown Filipinos, past and present, who have given much to the cause of freedom, justice, and Philippine independence and nationhood.

We can all follow the examples of the heroes in our history and fight the threats that are taking our country in their grip today. They may not be as tangible as the colonial invaders that threatened our independence, but nevertheless, they are as invasive and real."

 

Senator Leila de Lima

"Ngayon nga po, hinahamon ang bawat Pilipinong manindigan laban sa mga baluktot na polisiya ng isang mapaniil na pamahalaan. Sa mga pangakong hindi lang bigong tuparin, kundi pinalulubha pa ang kalagayan ng ating bayan...

Kaya naman kaakibat ng ating paggunita sa Araw ng mga Bayani, nawa’y pag-alabin po natin ang diwa ng ating bayanihan at pagmamahal sa bayan. Araw-araw nating isabuhay at bigyang halaga ang natatanging ambag ng mga naunang Pilipino, at ituloy ang kanilang mga ipinaglaban sa ngalan ng katarungan, katotohanan, at pangingibabaw ng batas. Kumilos tayo’t magkaisa hindi lamang para sa kapakanan at kinabukasan ng ating pamilya, kundi maging ng ating kapwa at buong bansa."

(Now, every Filipino is urged to stand against the crooked policies of an abusive government. For the broken promises and the worsening condition of our country...

As we commemorate National Heroes Day, let us ignite the spirit of cooperation and love of country. Every day we should live up to the values of the Filipinos who came before us, and continue their fight in the name of justice, truth, and rule of law. Let us unite not just for our own families' sake but for our fellowmen and our country.)

 

Senator Francis Pangilinan:

“That’s the Filipino. Hardworking. Street-smart. Undaunted. That’s the true hero.

“Those in government should follow their example. Fulfill their duties to the people. Fix public transport. Ease the people’s everyday hardship. Create secure jobs that pay sufficient wage. Give hope of a good life here and not abroad. Arrest and jail plunderers. Value people’s hard-earned taxes. Make affordable basic commodities like food, especially rice. Thriving is the country where both ruler and ruled are heroes.”

 

Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano:

"Sa panahon kung saan muli na namang nailalagay sa alanganin ang ating kasarinlan, kultura, kasaysayan, at mga prinsipyong pinanghahawakan, mahalagang ating ipagpatuloy ang labang nasimulan ng ating mga ninuno. Hindi lamang laban sa mga mapaniil na dayuhan, kundi maging sa mga taong uhaw sa kapangyarihan na humahamak sa kanyang kababayan. Ang pinakadakilang pag-alala sa ating mga bayani ay ang pagtatanggol sa kanilang ipinamana para sa atin at sa ating mga salinlahi.

Bayad ng dugo, pawis, at luha ang ating tinatamasang kasarinlan, kapayapaan, at demokrasya. Kaya naman isang malaking dagok sa alaala ng ating mga bayani kung hahayaan nating mahulog ang bansa sa maling mga kamay."

(At a time when our freedom, culture, history and principles are once again being threatened, it is important that we continue the fight that our heroes started. Not just against oppressive foreigners but against power-hungry people who trample on their countrymen. The most noble way to remember our heroes is to defend the values they have passed onto us.... The freedom, peace, and democracy we now enjoy were paid for with blood, sweat, and tears. It is a blow on the memories of our heroes if we just allow our country to fall into the wrong hands.)

 

ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro

"Today, we commemorate our heroes who fought for genuine freedom and independence by continuing the struggle for just and lasting peace and in fighting the creeping dictatorship of President Duterte. We march with the workers and echo their calls for job security and for a national minimum wage. We also join them in their demand to junk the TRAIN law which has done nothing but to hike prices of basic goods and services and make the poor suffer more with empty stomachs and empty pockets."

"We honor those who dedicated their lives for social justice and genuine change. We will continue to fight for justice for the victims of tyrants and dictators, the martyrs who devoted their lives fighting for social justice and defending those who are oppressed. We also honor the heroes of today who continue the struggle for just and lasting peace."

 

Military and police officials also called on the public to continue supporting uniformed personnel, who continue to fight for the country.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana:

"Today is Heroes Day and let us remember the deeds of our national heroes, lahat na (including everyone): from Lapu-Lapu to the present, pati itong mga current soldiers natin (including our current soldiers), they are also heroes because they are fighting for us. So let us remember them, let us pray for those who passed away, and let us support the activities of our Armed Forces kasi ito po yung hinahanap din ng ating mga kasundaluhan, ang taos pusong suporta ng sambayanan sa kanilang ginawa para sa ating bayan (because this is what our soldiers are looking for: the total support of the public for their actions for the country)."

 

Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde

"We are today the proud inheritors of the precious legacy of freedom left to us by Filipino heroes of the past. In grateful appreciation of both the nameless and prominent heroes who fought for freedom, justice and independence, we must show our commitment to defend our national sovereignty and our democratic system at all cost.

For our part in the PNP, this is an opportune time to reaffirm our professional commitment to uphold the rule law as servants and protectors of the people. This day too shall serve to acknowledge the heroism of members of the Philppine National Police, both living and dead whom we recognize as champions of justice for their exemplary service... There is always a hero amongst us and the PNP will never run out of heroes."

Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.

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