“This is the most difficult event of the year,” shared Senior Tourism Officer Rafael Saygo at the opening of the program for the 121st anniversary of the martyrdom of Dr. Jose P. Rizal, and Vice-Mayor Raul R. Sabangan immediately understood.
In his message, Sabangan said he personally knew the sacrifice one had to make on this cold day when it would feel much better to catch some extra sleep, given his multiple late-night speaking engagements coupled with frantic preparations for the coming New Year.
Yet they all showed up – and notably on time and in Filipiniana attire too, with the good example of the ever-punctual local chief executive, Mayor Cezar T. Quiambao, together with the PNP led by Col. Roland Sacyat, DepEd officials and students, and other municipal officials including Councilors Benjamin de Vera and Amory Junio and former Councilor Levin N. Uy, the different department heads, OSCA members, and the Punong Barangays – all because they believe in keeping the traditional honoring rites (floral wreath offering, volley fire, etc.) in memory of Rizal’s heroism.
“Why honor Rizal? Who is he anyway in our lives?” were the questions that rang in both the Vice-Mayor’s and Mayor’s messages.
“Maybe, the right question to ask, considering everything, is ‘Why not?’” said Mayor Quiambao in his own address in Filipino. No other Filipino has accomplished what he had accomplished in so short a life punctuated by unquestionable patriotism, vigorous intellect, world-class artistry, and sense of rectitude, so his life is a life worth studying with intent and emulating in many ways, he added.
As for emulating Rizal as a notoriously acerbic social critic, Quiambao made a distinction between (a) expressing one’s right to free expression, including criticism of government affairs and public issues and (b) abuse of freedom of expression through slander, with clearly malicious motives or intent.
In closing, he said: “I would like to take this opportunity to remind everybody that we are in a state of war. Tapos na po ang rebolusyon laban sa mga Kastila, but we have an ongoing War Against Poverty.” He then expressed hope that, in honor of the patriotic ideals espoused by Rizal, all Bayambangueños would throw their support to this one big fight declared by his administration.