In the face of adversity, a Palace official on Monday urged Filipinos to embody the values that defined Jose Rizal and also be heroes in their own unique ways.
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar said Rizal's example to stand up against cruelty and oppression made him a worthy role model long after his death.
With the constant challenges that we encounter as individuals and as a nation, we encourage all Filipinos to live with bravery and persistence, and be selfless modern-day heroes as well, Andanar said in his Rizal Day message.
Andanar emphasized how Rizal dedicated his life not just to writing novels that would shape national identity but also by serving his fellowmen as a physician and philanthropist.
His principles of patriotism and service to country continue to burn within the hearts of every Filipino, Andanar said.
He also called on Filipinos to remember Rizal for being a beacon of hope, unity, and valor when injustice, discrimination, and racial persecution ruled over our land.
Let us also continue what Dr. Rizal had fought for, which is a country united under the cause of justice and freedom, and be a country that works as one for its collective progress and national dignity, Andanar said.
Let's all take this opportunity to continue to be inspired by and to embody the values that defined Dr. Jose Rizal -- his intellectual prowess, love for country, and compassion for others -- as a way to honor and uphold his legacy today and for the Philippines' future, he added.
Rizal Day was first celebrated on December 30, 1898 after General Emilio Aguinaldo issued a decree declaring December 30 as the anniversary of Jose Rizal's death.
It has been a tradition for the current president to lay a wreath in honor of the martyrdom of Jose Rizal. It has also been as per tradition, although not required, for visiting dignitaries such as foreign heads of state to pay respects to Rizal at the monument during their official visits to the Philippines.
Rizal Day is among the country's regular holidays defined under Proclamation 555.
This year's theme is Jose Rizal: Huwaran ng Pilipino sa Ikadalawampu't Isang Siglo" (Jose Rizal: Paragon of the Filipinos in the 21st Century).
Source: Philippines News Agency