By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

HONORING RIZAL. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. leads the wreath-laying at the Rizal National Monument in observance of the 127th anniversary of the martyrdom of Dr. Jose P. Rizal on Saturday (Dec. 30, 2023). Marcos urged Filipinos to emulate Rizal’s genuine love for the Philippines by having a deep and personal sense of ownership of their motherland and their future. (PNA photo by Joan Bondoc)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Saturday urged Filipinos to emulate Dr. Jose Rizal’s “genuine love” for the Philippines by having a “deep and personal” sense of ownership of their motherland and future.

“On the 127th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Dr. Jose Rizal, I thus enjoin all of you to keep emulating the timeless values we can learn from his life and works,” Marcos said in his message for this year’s commemoration of Rizal Day.

“I also call on everyone to let the genuine love for the country that he lived out, and later died for, propel us to have a deep and personal sense of ownership for our land and our future.”

More than a century after Rizal’s demise and heroism, his influence continues to be felt in a world that is “still afflicted by greed, oppression, and injustice in various forms,” he said.

The President called on everyone to strive to “walk with the same purpose, passion, and nationalism” to overcome all the challenges and achieve a brighter tomorrow.

“With our meaningful commemoration, may the ideals and spirit of Dr. Jose Rizal live on as we fully realize the Philippines that he and his contemporaries fought hard for,” he said.

Marcos emphasized that Rizal’s martyrdom consolidated the Philippine independence movement, which gave rise to the birth of the nation.

He added that while Rizal’s sacrifice was the ultimate expression of his patriotism, the national hero’s work started even before that fateful day on the field of Bagumbayan.

“It began in his youth and childhood, when he embraced the wisdom of his family, teachers, and peers then, later on, embarked on a lifelong pursuit of excellence for a greater goal,” he said.

Marcos led the ceremony for the 127th anniversary of Rizal’s martyrdom at the Rizal Park in the City of Manila on Saturday morning.

He was accompanied by his wife, First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos, and their children, Ilocos Norte 1st District Rep. Ferdinand Alexander, William Vincent, and Joseph Simon.

Marcos offered a wreath at the Rizal National Monument after the simultaneous flag-raising ceremony across various historical sites nationwide.

This year’s theme for the commemorative rites is “Rizal: Pundasyon ng Kahapon, Isinasabuhay Ngayon.”

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), in collaboration with various government agencies, organized several activities in honor of Rizal.

Rizal was executed at 7 a.m. on Dec. 30, 1896 by a firing squad at Bagumbayan (now Rizal Park) on orders of the Spanish colonial government for the crime of rebellion after the Philippine Revolution broke out, mainly inspired by his writings.

On Dec. 20, 1898, then-president Emilio Aguinaldo issued a decree declaring Dec. 30 as a day of national mourning for Rizal and other patriots who died during the Spanish rule.

The Philippine Commission in 1902 enacted a law declaring Dec. 30 as Rizal Day, making it an official holiday. (PNA)