bantayog.foundation

bantayog.foundation

“Isulong Ang Katotohanan, Katarungan, Kapayaan at Kalayaan”

Speech delivered by Atty. Jose Manuel Diokno, Dean, College of Law, De La Salle University, at the 2010 Annual Celebration Honoring Martyrs and Heroes, Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation, as Guest Speaker.

Atty. Jose Manuel Diokno

Senator Salonga, the moving force and Chair Emeritus of Bantayog ng mga bayani; Bantayog Chair Mr. Alfonso Yuhengco; the officers and trustees of the Bantayog Board; your Excellencies, members of the diplomatic Corps; the families of Roy Acebedo, David Bueno, William Chua, Jesus Fernandez, Art Galace, Eduardo Lanzona, Salvador Leano, Vicente Mirabueno, Alfredo Mendoza, Armando Mendoza, Modesto Sison, Teresito Sison and Rolan Ybanez; Mrs. Pearl Doromal and the family of the late Quintin Doromal, who touched so many lioves, distinguished guests; friends.

“Buhay inialay sa sambayanan, bunga kalayaan.”

These words are inscribed on the epitaph of Modesto Sison, one of the Filipinos we honour today; but they ring true for every hero whose name appears on the Wall of Remembrance; for every man, woman and child who gave their lives for truth’ justice, peace and freedom; and for all Filipinos who have devoted their energies to shaping a nation for our children.

Roy Acebedo, David Bueno, William Chua, Jesus Fernandez, Art Galace, Eduardo Lanzona, Salvador Leano, Vicente Mirabueno, Alfredo Mendoza, Armando Mendoza, Modesto Sison, Teresito Sison and Rolan Ybanez were ordinary people who could have chosen to live ordinary lives: Instead they chose to live lives of meaning, by dedicating themselves to something larger than their own mortal existence – the causes of truth, justice, peace and freedom.

To borrow the words of Vaclav Havel, the 13 men we honour today were men who, like the heroes who came before them, “lived within the truth.” Living in the truth is “directly doing in your immediate surroundings what you think needs doing, saying what you think is true and needs saying, [and] acting the way you think people should act.”[1] Those who live in truth transform not only themselves but those around them. Like beacons of light in a time of darkness, they shine with intrinsic worth. In the words of Emilio Jacinto:

“Ang kamahalan ng tao’y wala sa pagkahari, wala sa tangos ng ilong at puti ng mukha, wala sa pagka-paring kahalili ng Diyos, wala sa mataas na kalagayan sa balat ng lupa; wagas at tunay na mahal ang tao, kahit laking-gubat at walang nababatid kundi ang sariling wika, yaong may magandang asal, mayisang pangungusap, may dangal at puri; yaong di napaaapi’t di nakikiapi; yaong marunong magdamdam at marunong lumingap sa baying tinubuan.”

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“When these ideas firmly take root and the golden rays of Freedom shine forth on the subjugated Isles, and spread their glorious light among all our countrymen in unending happiness, then each life sacrificed and all manner of hardship and suffering shall have been more than worth it.”[2]

The birth anniversary of Gat Andres Bonifacio is a good day to examine our collective existence as a nation, to ask where we are going, and what we can do to make our country a better place. For Bonifacio was, in many ways, the quintessential Filipino: a man of the people, by the people, and from the people, whose abiding belief in independence forged these disparate islands into a nation. A man who took to heart what Mabini expressed so beautifully, that as Filipinos our fundamental duty is to “[l]ook upon you countryman as more than a neighbor. See in him the friend, the brother or at least the companion to whom you are bound by one single fate, by the same joys and sorrows, and by equal aspirations and interests.”[3]

Roy Acebedo, David Bueno, William Chua, Jesus Fernandez, Art Galace, Eduardo Lanzona, Salvador Leano, Vicente Mirabueno, Alfredo Mendoza, Armando Mendoza, Modesto Sison, Teresito Sison and Rolan Ybanez defended the rights of others as they did their own. They lived “lives of truth.” They have shown us the way: it is up to us to carry the torch and keep the fire going.

“Buhay inialay sa sambayanan, bunga kalayaan.”

As we inscribe their names on the Wall of Remembrance, we would do well to recall the words of Ka Pepe Diokno, who said: “… The people [who have]… given so much of [their] blood and [their lives] … for freedom, cannot be denied forever.”[4]

Thank you and good day.


[1] Jonathan Schell, The Unconquerable World.

[2] Emilio Jacinto, “Ang Mga Aral ng Katipunan,” in Jose P. Santos, Buhay at mga Sinulat ni Emilio Jacinto, n.p.: 1935, pp. 61-63.

[3] La Revolucion Filipina, I, p. 107

[4] Jose W. Diokno, “U.S. Policy and Presence in East Asia: An Insider’s View,” in A NATION FOR OUR CHILDREN (1987), p. 200.