MANILA – Malacañang on Friday enjoined all Filipinos to emulate the country’s national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, and become “agents of genuine transformation” to make the Philippines a “better” nation.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the call as the entire country commemorates the 159th birth anniversary of Rizal.

“The Palace joins the entire Filipino nation in celebrating Jose Rizal’s 159th birth anniversary,” Roque said in a press statement. “We ask our people, the youth in particular, whom our beloved hero referred to as the ‘hope for our future,’ to take inspiration from his life and emulate his principles to be agents of genuine transformation for a better Philippines.”

Rizal was born in Calamba, Laguna on June 19, 1861.

Rizal remains a nationalist icon in the Philippines for helping the country make a move to achieve independence from Spanish colonizers.

His influential works, including his novels “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo,” sparked the Filipino revolution against the Spaniards.

Rizal’s advocacy for reforms in the Philippines during Spain’s colonial rule led to his early death. He was convicted of sedition and executed in Bagumbayan, now called Luneta, in Manila on Dec. 30, 1896.

Roque said Rizal’s life is a testament of “how a single person’s deep love for his country could spark the re-awakening of our forefathers’ desire for freedom and change.”

“This occasion reminds us of Dr. Rizal’s young life, dedicated to service, which rings a bell in these challenging times,” he said.

Roque was elated that there are now modern-day heroes who are helping the country that is currently struggling due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

He was referring to the front-liners who have made the ultimate sacrifice to stop the further spread of Covid-19 in the country.

“We are proud to see today modern-day heroes — our courageous front-liners — who rise up to the challenge and serve as beacons of hope to a people weary and fearful of the present global health scare,” Roque said. (ia/PNA)

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