MANILA -- As the Philippines marks the 121st anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal's martyrdom, President Rodrigo Duterte  has asked the public to reflect on the values the national hero had instilled into his fellow countrymen and beloved land.

“May we take this occasion as an opportunity to recognize Dr. Rizal’s ultimate sacrifice for the country," he said in his message to commemorate Rizal Day on Saturday.

The chief executive noted that more than a century ago, Rizal inspired a movement that gave rise to the Filipino national identity.

“During the dark chapter in our nation’s history, his writings served as the light that guided our forebears in the fight for genuine equality and independence," he said.

Rizal, a man of many professions, an author, a physician, and a teacher among others, was shot in Bagumbayan, now known as Rizal Park, on Dec. 30, 1896 after publishing his novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, which tackled the cruelty and injustices committed by Spanish colonizers against Filipinos.

"As an author and as a scholar, he denounced the corruption, greed, and other social ills that up to this day continue to plague our society," the President said.

"Even in death, he imparted upon us his aspirations for a nation that is free from the scourge of injustice, tyranny, and suffering,” he added.

With this, he appealed to Filipinos to reflect on Rizal's patriotism as the nation "strives to continue his work of building a more united, peaceful and prosperous Philippines”. (PNA)