Make a stand
AS A MATTER OF FACT - Sara Soliven De Guzman (The Philippine Star) - July 22, 2019 - 12:00am

The country seems anxious on what the President will say in his 4th State of the Nation Address today. As formal as this event should be, in his previous SONAs, the President brings out the best and the worst in many of us. He is a character we truly love to hate.

In his first three years as President, he radically acted on key issues and concerns many of our former presidents avoided to tackle or confront. His aggressiveness has gained him the most critics ever as he has gone beyond the norms of public service and governance for that matter.

Many people who were avid fans in the beginning have turned sour. They patiently accepted his idiosyncrasies, eccentricities and even oddities. But as the years went by they seem to be farfetched and almost unacceptable. Today, his court jesters who try to always cover up for his misintentions are often ridiculed.

The most painful issue Filipinos had during his 2nd SONA was on the so-called “extra-judicial” killings under his term of office. Today, a more pressing matter is the President’s stand on Philippine sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea.

The question of the President’s sincere intent to protect our country just like all our great heroes have done by shedding their blood and giving their life to gain freedom, unsettles the Filipino spirit. I remember the story told about Gregorio Del Pilar as he stood with his valiant soldiers on the steep and solitary mountain pass of Tirad, determined to repel the invaders, or fight and die like men. Their brave stand against overwhelming odds was compared to great intense battles of history. He had yearned for death when he saw that all was lost for the Republic. He had asked his soldiers: “Brothers, which do you prefer, to die fighting or to flee from cowards?”

History reminds us of those darkest hours. Battle after battle had been lost, though valiantly fought. Luna, our ablest general was dead. Our armies were disorganized and dispersed. The president of the Republic was retreating to the mountains, with only a few faithful followers about him. Del Pilar could not bear to see the misfortune of his country. He was one of those men of iron who could not yield to the foe. Like Bonifacio, like Luna, he could accept no compromise.

I shall not discuss the general wisdom or such stern, unbending attitude of Del Pilar. But I must say that men like these are worthy of our admiration. The country may always rely on them in moments of need, in times of great emergencies, for they would fight to the death with pure devotion and true heroism. From morning till noon he repelled charge after charge. He tenaciously held on with his handful of men through the heat of agony of battle, till he himself fell dead among his slain soldiers. And well chosen and most fitting was the place where he offered the sacrifice of his life. It was on the mountain summit, overlooking the plains and the shores of his country, a massive and tremendous altar, built as it were for Titans, caressed by the rolling clouds of morning, lighted by the stars of dusk. It was a glorious death.

Unlike the pseudo leaders of today, Del Pilar sacrificed his young life, his love, his future, entirely and absolutely, without reservations, for his beloved country. If our leaders today are too old and weary or tainted with too much avarice, deceit and pride, we should turn to the youth of our land, may they be like Del Pilar willing to consecrate their lives to the cause of the country; and like him be ready to sacrifice at the altar of freedom their youth with all its joys and rosy promises, when the exigencies of the hour so demand. May they ever look up to the shining example of patriotism and unselfishness set up by the martyr of Tirad Pass.

We need more men today who are willing to fight and die for the country and not just give it away to a seemingly stronger force. The force doesn’t lie on arms, it lies on the hearts and minds of the Filipinos who is faithful to our motherland with burning love for country.

When we are down and troubled like these present days bring us, let us turn to our forefathers who fought for our country. Let us remember their struggle and fight to protect our land and our people. Let us be inspired of the unstinted patriotism, of life given away unselfishly and fully for the love of the native land.

The recent survey tells us that matters concerning salary, price hikes, employment and maritime disputes with China are the top issues Filipinos want to hear from the President in his 4th SONA. When we ponder upon the issue of Philippine sovereignty, let us continue to live and work for freedom for these are the days of peace. And yet, we cannot but think that if some day destiny should decree that war again sweep our country and foreign armies ravage our beautiful land, should we again be force by a stronger foe? We should be ready with supreme valor and sacrifice to lay down our lives for the sake of freedom, for the love of home and country.

Today, as we listen to the President give an overview of the administration’s achievements, and present his legislative agenda for the next 12 months, let us pray that he be guided in his thoughts, words and deeds. Whatever destiny awaits us we must be able to sound the alarm against the dangers that besiege us – from north to south and east to west, across the green valleys and blue seas. Remember a country is made up of its people and not only by a government. We can either agree or disagree but in the end whatever actions we take must help this nation become a better one.

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