GMA:  EMULATE  RIZAL'S  GOOD  DEEDS  FOR  PEACE,  PROGRESS  IN  RP

SAN FERNANDO CITY, LA UNION
, DECEMBER 31, 2007 (STAR) By Jun Elias — A rather silent President Arroyo showed up to lead the commemoration of Dr. Jose Rizal’s 111th martyrdom anniversary here yesterday.

The President did not give any statement or speech for the occasion as she led a flag-raising ceremony before local officials including Gov. Manuel Ortega and city Mayor Pablo Ortega.

Mrs. Arroyo, clad in an aquamarine pant suit, was welcomed by a company of Philippine Military Academy cadets and was escorted by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon and PMA superintendent Maj. Gen. Leopoldo Maligalig.

The province’s top officials and government regional directors with some 500 city employees also showed up for the flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremonies at the city’s plaza here.

The President did not deliver any speech and just kept on waving to the crowd and greeting back “Happy New Year” to those who greeted her.

Asked of the President’s message for the occasion, Governor Ortega said Mrs. Arroyo wanted Filipinos to emulate Rizal’s good deeds “so that our nation will move forward towards peace and progress.”

On the other hand, Mayor Ortega said the event was very historic for La Union and this city because it was the first time that a Chief Executive led the Rizal Day celebration here, as it is usually held at Rizal Park in Manila or in Baguio City.

Simultaneous Rizal Day commemorative ceremonies were held yesterday at the Luneta and at the Rizal Shrine in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte; the Rizal Shrine in Calamba, Laguna; Davao City and Cebu City as the main venues.

Mayor Alfredo Lim led officials in celebrating Rizal Day at the Luneta Park in Manila yesterday.

“Today, we pay tribute to our national hero who sacrificed his life for our country’s freedom. I hope his story and legacy is still alive among us, especially our youth,” Lim said.

Before the formal ceremonies, the Knights of Rizal (KOR) led by former senator Joey Lina, retraced the final march of the national hero from his detention cell at Fort Santiago to the then Bagumbayan where he was executed by firing squad.

KOR members and officers started preparing for their march before dawn.

Lina was designated to play the role of Rizal in the reenactment. Rizal was executed by firing squad at the age of 35. – With Edu Punay


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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