On Bonifacio Day, Aquino hails Filipino heroism

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BONIFACIO AT 150 The Philippine flag flutters in the wind at the monument of Andres Bonifacio in Caloocan City as the nation celebrates the 150th birth anniversary Friday of the Father of the Philippine Revolution. A proposal has gone up in Congress that would designate the leader of the Katipunan as national hero in place of Jose Rizal. MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

President Benigno Aquino III on Saturday hailed the modern-day heroism of Filipinos as he paid homage to Andres Bonifacio, the Father of the Philippine Revolution.

Leading the official commemoration of the 150th birth anniversary of Bonifacio in Caloocan City, Mr. Aquino likened the heroism and dedication of Filipinos who fought Spain in a revolution that began in 1896 to the “courage and nationalism” shown by Filipinos in reaching out to victims of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: “Haiyan”).

The President also renewed his call for national unity, asking Filipinos to help propel the country’s economic resurgence and continue the “fight for a meaningful future” for all.

This year’s sesquicentennial celebration had the theme, “Bonifacio: Honor and Heroism.”

At the Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan City with Mr. Aquino were Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, Police Chief Allan Purisima, Metropolitan Manila Chair Francis Tolentino, National Historical Commission of the Philippines Chair Maria Serena Diokno, Caloocan City Mayor Oscar Malapitan and Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice.

Speaking under the shadow of the Guillermo Tolentino masterpiece, the President said the monument represented the ordinary people who were ready to respond to the call of the times and daunting challenges.

He recalled that Bonifacio led ordinary Filipinos who had “responded to the call of the motherland to unite and bring meaningful change to the country.”

“Not far from this monument are those Filipinos who made a stand and offered a helping hand to their fellowmen following the recent typhoon,” Mr. Aquino said.

 

Sense of nationalism

Bonifacio’s sesquicentennial marked the “day to also recognize the heroism” of soldiers, policemen, firemen, nurses, doctors and civilian volunteers, here and abroad, “who extended a helping hand to Filipinos affected by the typhoon,” he said.

At times that the country has been facing difficult challenges, many have shown their deep sense of nationalism, he said.

“Just like Andres Bonifacio, every Flipino is given a chance to become a hero. The call of the times requires heroism in facing up to trials in which self-restraint, patience and strong will and courage [are needed],” he said.

“This is the essence of heroism: [Filipinos from all walks of life are heroes] who are united in displaying concern [for their fellowmen], [making a principled stand and [observing] nationalism,” he said.

“We have shown that [heroism] is not just a word, or a concept carved out in stone, but truly etched on [the] Filipino identity,” he said.

Mr. Aquino recalled that Bonifacio represented the bravery and determination of ordinary Filipinos as he guided his family at a young age, organized the revolutionary movement Katipunan and encouraged his people to fight colonialism.

 

Premium on preparedness

The President said he believed Filipinos could learn from Bonifacio’s example by putting premium on preparedness for any calamity, and by helping fellow Filipinos fight poverty and encourage volunteerism.

“For as long as Andres Bonifacio’s monument stands [and] while we have a flag that proudly flies in the sky … we’ll continue the fight for a meaningful future for the whole nation,” the President said.

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