Last December 30, 2019, the entire Filipino nation celebrated the 123rd Death Commemoration of Dr. Jose P. Rizal. In Naga City, the Commemoration was held at the Rizal Monument at City Hall Compound. As Commander of the Knights of Rizal, this writer was among those who delivered a message, The others were Vice Mayor Cecilia Veluz de Asis, Department of Education Superintendent Dr. Mariano B. de Guzman, Mayor Nelson Legacion and Congressman Gabriel B. Bordado, Jr.
With your indulgence, let me share with you the brief message I delivered during the occasion, and I quote:
“We gather once again this morning as we always do, to commemorate the death anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal. Today marks the 123rd anniversary of his death. And I would like to begin by posing some questions for a meaningful pause and thoughtful consideration. It is noteworthy that we ask ourselves, after 123 years, what have we got to show for this timeless tradition of commemorating the death of our national hero? What have we passed on to our children and grandchildren, our students and the youth of our country, about this great man? Has this tradition shaped who we are today, or has it simply become nothing more than perfunctory and obligatory? Has it served as an avenue in uniting us together and upholding the honored values of the man whose memory we revere? Do we, in fact, recognize these values lived out and carried on in the life of our country today?
I begin with these questions, because I believe the answers to them helps us uncover the challenges we face today, one hundred and twenty three years from the time of his death. The signs of our times and the historical context of Rizal’s death and its relevance to us are deeply intertwined, and I hope our Bicolano historian Dr. Danilo Gerona agrees with me on this. We become a better nation, by asking ourselves these critical questions.
We live in competitive times. What exactly does this mean? If we base our answers on the meaning of the word itself, it means that we live in times when everyone has that strong desire to win or be best at something, be as good or even better than others. Is there anything wrong with this? If you were to ask me, there is nothing wrong with this, except that we seem to be in pursuit of it individually, and not collectively as a nation. Sadly, the nationhood that Rizal died for, remains elusive and obscure to us, as Filipinos. But be that as it may, it is a challenge that is not insurmountable. Our competitiveness should spring from a strong love for our identity as a people and as a nation, if we are to bring the spirit of Rizal into these competitive times. The recent SEA games where our country won the championship has shown us this. This is the challenge of our theme for this year’s celebration of Rizal day. It reminds me of the lyrics of a song sung by international singing icon Lea Salonga, and I quote:
‘Taglay ko ang hiwaga ng Silangan at saan mang bayan o lungsod Maging Timog, Hilaga at Kanluran ang Pilipino ay namumukod Sama-sama nating abutin Pinakamatayog na bituin at ang aking tagumpay Tagumpay ng aking lahi Tagumpay ng aking lipi ang tanging minimithi at hinahangad ko’y tagumpay nating lahat.’
May this be the spirit of every Filipino, in these competitive times.”
Just after the event at City Hall, My spouse Minda, our daughters, and grandchildren proceeded to Tugawe Cove in Caramoan, where we had our family bonding and New Year’s countdown.
Congratulations to my AdNU High School “54 batchmates Belindo Tordilla, Jose Favenir and Rufo Tuy, Jr. who are jointly celebrating their birthday anniversary this coming Friday, January 10, with a lunch fellowship at the Villa Caceres Hotel.
QUOTATION OF THE WEEK:
“A MAN KEEPS HIS INDEPENDENCE WHILE HE HOLDS TO HIS OWN WAY OF THINKING”
JOSE P. RIZAL
FOR OUR WORD OF LIFE:
“ AND ALL WILL DANCE AND SING JOYFULLY FOR YOU”