National Heroes Day Speech of President Aquino, August 29, 2010 (English translation)

SPEECH
of
His Excellency BENIGNO S. AQUINO III
President of the Philippines
In celebration of National Heroes Day

[August 29, 2010, Libingan ng mga Bayani]

[English Translation]

Good morning.

Allow me to lead, along with my family, our celebration of the National Heroes Day. Each year, we remember the greatness of all Filipinos who offered their sweat, blood and life to attain the freedom we are all enjoying now.

There is no greater testament of courage than sacrificing your life for our country. Rizal, Bonifacio and Gomburza demonstrated relentless bravery when they opposed the Spaniards. When our ancestors resisted Japanese oppression, their strength of will was incomparable. Despite threats to his life, my father Ninoy fearlessly came home to demonstrate his opposition to dictatorship.

But today is not just for those who had to give up their lives for democracy. We also commemorate those who faithfully served our flag, whether recognized or not by history, and continued living with dignity and patriotism for the sake of our country.

They realized that the country could be in a better shape, so they gave up all their comforts and quiet lives, participated in armed movements, and submitted to danger, to fight for the rights of Filipinos. They are the epitome of patriotism, and in our solemn remembrance of their sacrifice, may we also practice the ideals they fought for.

It is only fitting that we offer prayers and flowers, and remember all their efforts. This is a proof that we accept the challenge of carrying on what our forefathers have started and bequeathed us.  I believe that the blood flowing in every Filipino is that of a patriot: we are a nation of heroes.

There are numerous ways of being a hero today, and we can become one without wielding a gun or a spear. Blood need not be spilled. We are no longer colonized by Spain or Japan, and Martial Law is over. Our current time calls for our cooperation and selfless service to our fellowmen without expecting anything in return. In fact, becoming a good and responsible citizen is heroic enough.

It is sad, however, that many of our countrymen seem to disregard the greatness of our past. I believe that their worst enemy is no other than themselves. They prefer to be consumed by selfishness and egotism. They remain shackled to a culture of indifference and finger-pointing. This is the very root of corruption and theft, for it puts their personal interests ahead of the well-being of the majority. Surely this is the biggest obstacle in our path towards change.

Remaining silent does nothing to change things, it makes progress impossible and condemns our people to even greater poverty.

We revere our heroes because they are the exemplars of love and devotion to our homeland. Let their nobility to end suffering in our country.

May we learn from them on how to overcome the obstacles to a better future. Let us never hesitate to stand up and overcome ingrained practices that inhibit progress. Let us all aspire to a prosperous life, and never stop until we achieve it.

For the sake of our posterity, I encourage you to spread the true meaning of heroism: to find the strength to remain vigilant, to serve as watchdogs of our government, to allot time to helping the poor, and to strengthen our collective sense of the richness of our unique Filipino culture. This is heroism through bayanihan.

Let us emulate the courage of our heroes. There is no greater commemoration of their lives than for us to commit to caring for, and treasuring, the liberty they fought for. As we pay tribute to them, let their story guide our hearts and minds towards constantly protecting and preserving our freedom. Let us ensure that the democracy they have watered with their blood will forever bloom, so we can bequeath a bountiful future to coming generations.

Let us all help each other: the strength of one, becomes the strength of everyone. Now that democracy is our birthright, may we further deepen the spirit of patriotism in each of us.

Thank you very much.

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