Great Filipinos: Our Heroes, Our Models

compressedBy: Ambassador Grace Relucio-Princesa

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines chose the following theme for the 2014 116th Anniversary of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence: “ Pagsunod sa Yapak ng mga Dakilang Pilipino, Tungo sa Malawakan at Permanenteng Pagbabago.” In English, it reads: “ Following the Footsteps of Great Filipinos Toward Permanent and Widespread Change. “

Indeed, our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, who chose to give his life for our country leads the list of our hero and models. As a migrant student, he wrote about the social ills of our society then and incurred the ire of the powers that be that led to his early demise. The Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo must be readings for us Filipinos and our friends.

Gat Andres Bonifacio , likewise, shed his blood for the cause of our Independence from the country’s  colonizers. His wife, Gregoria de Jesus, was a strong woman, and with other women, were supporters of their husbands,  during our early years of struggle against the yoke of tyranny. His symbolic tearing of the cedula is forever remembered in his Caloocan monument, a place fondly and aptly called Monumento.

The first president of the revolutionary Philippine government, Emilio Aguinaldo, raised the Philippine flag , a labor of love by three great  Filipina women, namely, Dona Marcela Agoncillo, Lorenza  Agoncillo and Delfina Herbosa.

The paralytic, Apolinario Mabini, our first Secretary of Foreign Affairs, printed a pamphlet called, “The True  Decalogue”, a basic documentation for the programs pertinent to the then revolutionary government.

Tandang Sora is a place in Quezon City that is named after 84-year old  revolutionary  Melchora  Aquino de Ramos. She became known by her aforementioned name because of her age when the Philippine Revoution broke out in 1896.

Gomburza or Fathers Gomez, Burgos and Zamora is a sculpture that inspires in the garden of one of the churches in the University of the Philippines. They are three Filipino priests who gave their lives for the cause of independence from the colonizers.

The power couple, Diego Silang, a datu who was replaced by his Babaylan wife, Gabriela , in the struggle for freedom are , also, an inspiration.

Nearer my age in our recent history, Ninoy Aquino’s legacy and famous words, “The Filipino is worth dying for “ resonates in my heart and mind. His death gave life to our nation.

Another role model is the man who dreamed the impossible dream, Evelio Javier, of Antique.

Nowadays, I only have to see the Overseas Filipinos and their families to remember the heroism of our great ancestors/heroes and role models.

At so much cost to life and limb, they venture out to care for their loved ones’ needs and indirectly help our beloved country.

We appreciate and salute what you are doing. We pray that the Philippine leadership, will likewise, emulate the sacrifices of our great Filipinos and thus, make it easier for Filipinos to migrate out of choice, not out of necessity .

Together, in the spirit of bayanihan (collective heroism for a common cause or common causes that we identify) we can work together and become  greater.

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas. Mabuhay tayong lahat.