BONIFACIO DAY. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. leads the commemoration of the 159th birth anniversary of hero Andres Bonifacio at the Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan City on Wednesday (Nov. 30, 2022). In a speech, Marcos said emulating the revolutionary hero's character would enable all Filipinos to enjoy a "brighter" future. (PNA photo by Rolando Mailo)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Wednesday urged Filipinos to honor Andres Bonifacio's heroism by becoming the "best version" of themselves and imbibing the values of selflessness and patriotism for the country's development.

In a speech delivered during the commemoration of Bonifacio's 159th birth anniversary in Caloocan City, Marcos said emulating the revolutionary hero's character would enable all Filipinos to enjoy a "brighter" future.

"Ang kaniyang (Bonifacio) pangalan ay mananatiling naka-ukit sa ating kasaysayan kailanman, hindi lamang dahil sa kaniyang pamumuno sa rebolusyon kundi sa kaniyang ‘di matatawarang tapang at pagmamahal sa bayan (His name will forever be etched in history, not only because he led the revolution but also because of his bravery and patriotism)," he said.

"Kaya naman sikapin natin na maging pinakamahusay na uri ng ating mga sarili, na maging Pilipino na ang katapatan at pagmamahal sa bayan ay kaparis ng ating mga bayani tulad ni Gat Andres (So, let us do our best to become the best version of ourselves, to be a Filipino whose loyalty and love of country would equal those of our national heroes, like Andres Bonifacio)."

Acknowledging Bonifacio's contributions and sacrifices for the benefit of the Filipino people and the nation, the President hailed the fallen hero's gallantry to stand against foreign oppressors and fight for the Philippines' freedom.

He said Filipinos must work together for a common goal, which is to aspire for a "peaceful, free, and abundant" nation.

'Dutiful and law-abiding' citizens

Marcos said Filipinos should be "dutiful and law-abiding" citizens for them to have a "brighter and freer" future.

"I call on my fellow Filipinos to honor Bonifacio's life of extraordinary selflessness by becoming dutiful and law-abiding citizens who will contribute towards a brighter and freer future for all Filipinos," he said in his message for Bonifacio's 159th birth anniversary.

While Filipinos are currently enjoying their liberty, they must stay vigilant in protecting the country from "social ills and other elements that threaten our liberties," Marcos said.

"Today, we cherish the freedoms we hold with even greater fervor as we commemorate the birth anniversary of Gat Andres Bonifacio. His spirit lives on in the stories we tell and use to build on his legacy, breathing new life into his words with our sense of duty and patriotism."

He noted that it is through the “bold ideas of the Father of the Philippine Revolution that our heroic ancestors were able to muster the will and the courage to fight their oppressors, thereby paving the way to our motherland's eventual emancipation."

Marcos expressed confidence that with the help of "modern-day heroes", such as doctors, nurses, state forces, and overseas Filipino workers, the country would continue to thrive.

"Habang patuloy tayong nakikibaka sa mga hamon ng modernong panahon, nawa’y maging halimbawa si Bonifacio at ang ating mga bayani, noon at ngayon, upang mag-tagumpay tayo sa ating mga hangarin (While we continue to face challenges in modern times, may Bonifacio and our past and present heroes inspire us to achieve our goals)," he said.

In celebration of the 159th birth anniversary of Bonifacio, Marcos led the flag-raising and wreath-laying rites at the Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan City.

This is the first time Marcos attended the commemorative rites as the country's chief executive.

Let Bonifacio's patriotism be an inspiration: Duterte

Vice President Sara Duterte joined the nation in commemorating Bonifacio’s courage and heroism.

In a message released on Wednesday, Duterte said Bonifacio’s extraordinary love for the country should be an inspiration and continue to unite all Filipinos as the nation face and overcome difficulties toward the realization of the aspiration for a better life for all.

“May the fire he (Bonifacio) started in the name of freedom rekindle a deep sense of patriotism among us as we usher in a future strongly forged by our unyielding solidarity and our own acts of selflessness, courage, and bravery for our country and our fellow Filipinos,” she said.

DND: Emulate Bonifacio's courage

The Department of National Defense (DND) also joined the nation in commemorating the birth of Bonifacio, also known as the country's "Great Plebeian".

In his message, DND officer in charge Undersecretary Jose Faustino Jr. urged all Filipinos to emulate the example of the hero in meeting the challenges of this generation with bravery and excellence.

"We may no longer be a country that grapples with the struggles we endured during the time of our great heroes, but our time presents new challenges that necessitate the same fervor, integrity, and excellence to defend and protect our nation's peace and stability," he said.

Faustino also called on all Filipinos to continue working for the betterment of the nation.

"Mahalin natin ang ating bayan, gaya ng pagmamahal na isinabuhay ni Gat Andres Bonifacio (Let us love our country like the love shown and demonstrated by Gat Andres Bonifacio)," he said.

The DND chief also honored Bonifacio's grit and dedication to the cause of the country's liberation.

"For him, the height of honor and happiness of a person is to make the ultimate sacrifice for the good and salvation of one's country. More than a century since his death, the daring feats and unmatched patriotism of the Father of Katipunan continue to reverberate in our collective psyche," Faustino said.

He added that Bonifacio's works and his legacy of igniting the Philippine revolution gave succeeding generations of Filipinos the inspiration and ardor to fight for "a nation that is free from the shackles of ages past."

Philippine Army (PA) commander Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. also joined Filipinos in commemorating the 159th birth anniversary of Bonifacio.

The ceremony was led by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) on which simultaneous flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremonies were held across the country.

Marcos presided over the ceremony along with Faustino and Armed Forces of the Philippines chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro.

Meanwhile, PA vice commander Maj. Gen. Adonis R. Bajao represented Brawner in the wreath-laying ceremony at the Andres Bonifacio Monument at the Philippine Army Headquarters in Fort Bonifacio.

Mary Rose N. Distrito, a descendant of Gat Andres Bonifacio, graced the Fort Bonifacio wreath-laying ceremony.

In a statement, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman also joined the entire nation in commemorating Bonifacio’s birth anniversary, saying the occasion is a “timely reminder” of the revolutionary leader’s efforts to liberate the country “from the shackles of poverty and oppression.”

Inspired by Bonifacio, the current administration is committed to improving the Filipinos’ lives, Pangandaman said.

“As the Great Plebeian’s battle against societal ills remains as challenges up to this day, the Philippine government likewise remains steadfast in uplifting the lives of every Filipino,” she said.

“For its part, the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) strictly adheres to the Marcos Jr. administration’s eight-point socioeconomic agenda, wherein programs dedicated to food security, improved transportation, affordable and clean energy, health care, social services, education, bureaucratic efficiency, and sound fiscal management are given priorities so no Filipino will be left behind.”

This year's celebration carries the theme, "Bonifacio 2022: Kabayanihan at Pagtindig sa Makabagong Panahon".

Bonifacio, dubbed the “Father of the Philippine Revolution”, was born in Tondo, Manila on Nov. 30, 1863.

Unlike other national heroes, Bonifacio is remembered on his birthday rather than the date of his death as he was killed by his fellow Filipinos and not by Spanish colonizers.

Bonifacio was one of the founders of the “Kataas-taasang, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan” or “Katipunan”, a secret revolutionary movement that fought for the Philippines’ independence from Spain.

He became “Supremo” (Supreme leader) of the Katipunan in 1895 but was forcefully replaced by Emilio Aguinaldo in 1897.

He was executed by his fellow Katipuneros on May 10, 1897, after Aguinaldo accused him of treason. (With reports from Marita Moaje/PNA)