Today is a holiday to commemorate Araw ng Kagitingan, usually celebrated on the 9th day of April. While we may just spend it to extend our Holy Week vacation by a day, it would be right to remember the bravery and the sacrifices of Filipino and American soldiers who fought in the war, specifically in the Battle of Bataan. It is an important part of our country’s struggle for freedom and independence.
But more than honoring the war veterans, today is a good day to think about how our countrymen fought for independence throughout history, and what we are doing now to preserve their legacy and ensure that the blessings we now enjoy as a nation are being treasured and protected. Do our actions contribute toward the growth of this nation or are we disrespecting the memory and legacy of our heroes?
What is obvious from our nation’s history and the story of our people is that patriotism, courage, and sacrifices are part of winning. We can’t have one without the other. If we do not learn how to sacrifice, to show courage in the face of difficulty, and to truly love our nation and our fellowmen, we may not achieve that which we dream of.
It’s fine that we start by educating ourselves and our youth about our history and heritage, but it must not stop there. May this occasion remind us that we need to make a commitment to promote peace, freedom, and justice and that we have to do our best to become agents of positive change so we can look toward to a brighter future for our children. This may seem like a vague or even empty statement, but we can take it as an invitation to meditate on what this really means to us.
Many of us have been hearing stories from our grandparents about how they—or our relatives—fought in the war. Some of us may be tired of hearing the same narrative over and over. At least on this occasion, may we find the time to sit down with them and really listen, ask questions, and offer our gratitude for their stories, their sacrifices, and the lives that were offered in the name of freedom. If we have friends or family who are related to war veterans, it would be the perfect time to show a gesture of gratitude.
Finally, allow the children to hear their stories. We can even use social media to share information and personal experiences. We can also learn important historical details from oral narratives—on top of going to a museum or reading a textbook—precisely because it’s firsthand information with some level of emotional and personal investment.