"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Monday, April 20, 2009

We are a nation of heroes

The Philippines is a nation of heroes, Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today said as he urged the Filipino people to take pride and inspiration from their heroism wherever and whenever they are in the country or elsewhere around the world.

Gordon made the exhortation as he led the unveiling ceremony of Wenceslao Q. Vinzons' bust held at the Vinzons Hall of the University of the Philippines, Quezon City attended by the UP student council and administration officials.

"It is sad and unfortunate if we allow stories about the great sacrifices of our heroes to be buried into the pages of oblivion. The tapestry of our country must be painted by the brave and courageous sacrifices of our heroes and their stories must be passed on from one generation to the next," he said.

"If we want to move our country in the right direction, we have to look back at our rich history as a nation and as a people, for then and only then can we ably declare that we have conquered our future," he added.

Gordon, chairman of the Senate tourism committee, has earlier filed a resolution in the Senate calling on different government units to prepare for the nationwide centennial celebration of Vinzons' natal anniversary on Sept. 28, 2010.

Vinzons, one of the country's most notable patriots during World War II (WWII), organized an armed resistance in the Bicol region against the Japanese invasion army and led a raid against a troop of Japanese soldiers in Basud, Camarines Norte.

Later on when Vinzons' forces grew to around 2,800 strong, he led these forces to successfully liberate the provincial capital of Daet, killing around 3,000 Japanese soldiers since their first attack which made his capture one of the primary objectives of the Japanese army.

Even as a student, Vinzons already showed exemplary leadership abilities when he became president of the UP Student Council and editor-in-chief of the Philippine Collegian.

He advocated the unification of Southeast Asian nations with a common Malay origin in his oratorical address entitled "Malaysia Irredenta," which won him the Manuel L. Quezon gold medal for excellence.

After passing the bar exams in 1932, Vinzons founded the Young Philippines Party which advocated the grant of Philippine independence from American rule.

Like Gordon, Vinzon was elected as the youngest delegate to the 1935 Constitutional Convention and became instrumental in prescribing Tagalog as an official language of the Philippines .

Gordon said it was regrettable that noble people in the course of history like Vinzons, who gave up their lives so the country would be free, have yet to be declared as National Heroes.

An official communication from the National Historical Institute (NHI) shows that in 1995, nine Filipino historical figures were selected to be declared as the first cluster of Filipino National Heroes. They are Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo, and Apolinario Mabini.

The list also included Marcelo H. Del Pilar, Sultan Kudarat, Juan Luna, Melchora Aquino and Gabriela Silang. Of the nine historical figures, three of them - Rizal, Bonifacio and Sultan Kudarat - are already decreed by law as National Heroes.

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