MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday called on his fellow Filipinos to live with “courage, hope, and optimism” even as the country continues its battle against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Duterte made the call in a taped video message played during the 122nd Independence Day rites at the Rizal Park in Manila.

“Let us now move forward with courage, hope, and optimism as we overcome this pandemic,” Duterte said.

Duterte recognized that while the noble heroes of the past faced the might of colonial powers, the country is still confronted with problems brought about by the Covid-19 crisis.

He was optimistic that the country would once again rise to the challenge.

“As we wage united battle against Covid-19, we now have the opportunity to demonstrate that we possess the same gallantry of spirit and the ability of character as the heroes of our past,” Duterte said.

Duterte skipped the ceremonies for the commemoration of the 122nd anniversary of the declaration of the Philippine Independence held at the Rizal Park in Manila because the number of attendees was limited to 10 people only.

He was instead represented by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea who led the wreath-laying and flag-raising rites during the Independence Day celebration.

Duterte, nevertheless, honored the country’s forefathers who “proudly proclaimed the birth of the Filipino nation” 122 years ago.

“I join all Filipinos in celebrating the 122nd anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine Independence,” he said. “Today, we honor them (the country’s forefathers) for their bravery, heroism, and sacrifice, as well as we thank them for the gifts of democracy and freedom.”

On June 12, 1898, the Philippines’ independence from Spain was declared at the ancestral house of the first Philippine president, Emilio Aguinaldo, in Kawit, Cavite.

June 12 is a regular holiday in the country to allow Filipinos to celebrate the Philippine Independence. (PNA)