NUEVA ECIJA REMEMBERS "UNANG SIGAW'
San Isidro, Nueva Ecija, Sept. 3, 1998 - Today's Unang Sigaw ng Nueva Ecija is special to San Isidro residents as they played host to the top officials of the nation while observing the historic event's anniversary.
In the past, floral offerings and masses served as highlights of the day. As host this year to national and local officials and guests, San Isidro's mood was festive as it got an unusually big share of the spotlight. With President Joseph "Erap" Ejercito Estrada as guest of honor, the town celebrated all day long.
At the poblacion, people lined up the streets.
One of them, 63-year-old Numeriano Diego was a barangay councilman for several terms. He has since passed on his role to an older son.
As he patiently awaited the arrival of President Estrada and party, he recalled the celebrations of years past, "Maraming tao ang gustong sumali sa selebrasyon taon-taon, hindi lang nagkakaroon ng pagkakataon ang iba."
He lamented that venues for the commemorative rites were too small to accommodate the crowds but he vowed to take part in same rites year after year.
The youth, however, came in full force to the Maximo Lorenzo Memorial Gymnasium where a big crowd gathered to hear President Estrada speak.
"Nandidito po kami para sumayaw" said Kristina Paderanga, a Grade 6 pupil of the San Isidro Central Elementary School.
Seemingly unmindful of the heat and long hours of waiting, Kristina and her classmates are too young to have any memory of their ancestors' heroism a century ago.
Heroism meant "maging mabuting anak at mag-aaral" according to Ryan Enoza, Grade 6 pupil aspiring for top honors.
Such wisdom from the young heartens 65-year-old Melquiades Peralta, a World War II veteran from Cabiao town.
"Nagagalak ako sa kabayanihang ipinakita ng aking mga kababayan noong panahon ng himagsikan," he said as he emphasized the leadership of his townmate Gen. Mariano Llanera of the contingent of revolutionaries which entered San Isidro town disguised as local "musikos" and led the Unang Sigaw ng Nueva Ecija.
Peralta, however, stressed the need to re-educate the youth on the traditional values and virtues learned from heroes and get them away from the grip of society's present ills.
Retired educator Josefina Manuel of the Nueva Ecija University of Science and Technology is hopeful that President Estrada's administration would be able to effect the much-needed social change in the country.
Manuel said that the present generation shares the same need for social change which propelled her fellow Novo Ecijanos to rise up in arms against the Spaniards more than a hundred years ago. Even as retirees like herself vow to continue playing a role in the nation's social and economic upliftment.
She added that the annual commemoration of the Unang Sigaw ng Nueva Ecija serves as an inspiration for them to work hand-in-hand with the national leadership in the attainment of peace and progress.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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