MANILA — The descendants of Saturnina and Maria, sisters of the country’s national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, on Monday joined the national and local government officials in commemorating the 123rd anniversary of Rizal’s martyrdom.
Jeremiah Villaroman, who is related to Rizal’s eldest sister Saturnina, said it is laudable that the Filipino people still remember what Rizal did during his time.
“It is very good that we keep this tradition of celebrating his death anniversary because as we know that he is our national hero and he was part of the revolution that transcended even now,” he said in a media interview after the commemoration activities at the Rizal Park in Manila.
“Until now even the youth it is important that we still remember what he has done and all the lessons that his given everyone and today is just a reminder,” Villaroman added.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” Domagoso led the commemoration of Rizal’s martyrdom at the Rizal monument in Manila.
Villaroman said President Rodrigo Duterte informed their family that the Chief Executive will be celebrating the annual event in Davao City.
“Actually, he reached out to the family to celebrate the Rizal Day in Davao and I think we have one representative in Davao ready for that. Yeah, the palace has reached out to the family. It would be nice at least Mayor Isko is here. That’s his first Rizal Day as mayor of Manila,” Villaroman said.
Villaroman called on the Filipino youth to continue to learn all the lessons and values that Jose Rizal inculcated to the minds of the Filipinos.
“Kung hindi ka lilingon sa ‘yung pinanggalingan, ‘Di ka makakarating sa paroroonan. ‘Yan yung mga salita na nagstick until now as an adult,” he said, quoting Rizal’s famous line: “Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinangalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan. (He who does not know how to look back at where he came from will never get to his destination).”
Another relative of Saturnina, Bambi Reyes Virata, expressed gratitude to the people for their continuous respect to the country’s national hero.
“Salamat at talagang ginagalang natin si Jose Rizal. Malaki ang sakiripisyo ng kanyang pamilya noong siya ay nabubuhay at nung sya ay namatay (I’m so thankful that we still respect Jose Rizal. His families did a lot of sacrifices when he was still alive and when he was executed),” she added.
Also present during the event was former Tourism Secretary Gemma Cruz Araneta, who is a descendant of Maria Rizal.
Meanwhile, Elihu Ybanez, supreme commander of Knights of Rizal, urged the public, particularly the young people, to follow Jose Rizal’s teachings.
“Our appeal to the youth is to practice Jose Rizal’s teachings,” he said at the group’s celebration of Jose Rizal’s 123rd death anniversary.
This year’s commemoration centers on the theme. “Jose Rizal: Huwaran ng Pilipino sa Ikadalawampu’t Isang Siglo” (Jose Rizal: Paragon of the Filipinos in the 21st Century). Ferdinand Patinio / PNA – northboundasia.com