Almost every government official has the same message whenever the birth or death anniversaries of the country’s heroes are marked: it is to remember what they did for the country, and to emulate their patriotism and devotion to the welfare and betterment of the nation.
On the 121st death anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal, for example, President Rodrigo Duterte told Filipinos to remember the national hero’s “ultimate sacrifice for the sake of our country,” and to “reflect on his patriotism as we strive to continue his work of building a more united, peaceful and prosperous Philippines.”
Jose Rizal had a girl in almost every port. Antonio Luna had a vile temper that cost him his life. Andres Bonifacio didn’t win any battles. And Ninoy Aquino was the quintessential trapo until the system he had served so well arrested, tried, and killed him.
Rizal’s intelligence, and quite possibly his charm, led to his, by pre-Joseph Estrada standards, phenomenal success with women — a multinational nine during his 35 years of life, according to historians. Certain worthies think a romantic, not to mention a sexual, side unworthy of heroism, and frown on this side of Rizal. But by common consent as well as US legislative fiat, Rizal’s not only a hero, but the national one as well (he was so declared during the US colonial regime).