First Philippine Republic should be a nationwide non-working holiday–Malolos mayor

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CITY OF MALOLOS–Mayor Christian Natividad continue to express dismay and frustration the 125th anniversary celebration of the January 23, 1899 First Philippine Republic is only a Bulacan-declared non-working holiday but which should be a nationwide non-working holiday for all the Filipino people to stop for a day what they are doing and remember the most historic and glorious moment in our country’s freedom and independence.

Natividad in a media interview on Thursday expressed elation that it was President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. who led the celebration this year of the First Philippine Republic held on Tuesday at Barasoain church, where it unfolds 125 years ago together with Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and other high ranking officials of the country.

But the mayor said his happiness was painted with gloom, frustration and dismay because only a few people remembered and celebrated the First Philippine Republic Day and still, the rest of the Filipino people continue not to recognize its significant contribution to the freedom and independence we enjoy today as a nation.

According to Natividad, he is concerned that the celebration and commemoration of the First Philippine Republic will just stop in the level of the top leaders of the country and will not cascade to all the Filipinos.

“It is both with happiness yet sadness, dismay, discontentment and dissatisfaction,” the mayor said.

He again amplify his sentiments that while the country annually observes the Chinese New Year (during the third-fourth week of January or until first weeks of February), as a non-working holiday, the First Philippine Republic held on January 23, 1899 which was the actual day the country stood as a free nation, because it already has its own constitution, its own laws of the land, had not been taught to all the Filipinos and had not been celebrated as a nationwide non-working holiday,” the mayor said.

“The First Philippine Republic Day is the most important day for every Filipino because we were called the Filipino nation.  This is the most historic and the  mother of all days. This is the pinnacle of all the sacrifices of our heroes, Marcelo del Pilar, the Ladia revolt, Lapu-lapu, Gregorio del Pilar, our national hero Dr. Jose Rizal, even Gen. Isidorro Torres. I will repeat myself every now and then even a thousand times, my call for this very heroic day in all the lives of the Filipino people. We should give due recognition to the value, pride and dignity given to each and everyone of us by the First Philippine Republic. Let us pause for a day, let us stop doing whatever we are doing because we remember the day we became known to the world as a free and democratic nation, with our executive, legislative and  the laws of the land, we are a genuine nation. This is our birthday being a Filipino. For more than 300 years, we were just called the Filipino race, but because of the Philippine Republic, we are called the citizens of the Republic of the Philippines. We have our own identity and we have a government,’ the mayor added.

“Masyadong mahalaga ang pagpalit ng calendaryo ng mga Intsitk, wala tayong against them, sa China na sila mag-holiday. Pero sige nga nga, ok na. Pero ipatas man lang natin, huwag na lang angatan. Kelan pa natin masasabi na mahal natin ang pagka-Pilipino natin kung hindi mabibigyan ng importansiya ang araw na tayo ay talagang isinilang bilang isang malayang bansa. Tayong mga Pilipino ay mahigit 300 taong inapi, ginahasa ang ating yaman at ng mapatunayan na nating kaya na nating ipagmalaki ang ating bansa dahil kaya na nating tumindig sa sarili nating paa bilang isang malayang bansa, tayong mga Pilipino ay hindi natin ito kinikilala at hindi natin ito pinapahalagahan. Kailan ito kikilalanin ng bawat isang Pilipino, “ (The change of calendar of the Chinese are given much importance. They should celebrate in CHina. But then, let us agree to that. But at least, the celebration of the First Philippine Republic on January 23 be similarly observed as a non-working holiday. When can we say that we love our nation, our being Filipinos if we could not give due importance to this day, the day we was born as a free nation. We Filipinos were suppressed, oppressed and our natural wealth were abused for more than 300 years, and on the day we have proven that we are already a free nation, we cannot remember, give due honor and celebrate it. When would each of the Filipino people will recognize and remember it), the mayor lamented.

Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo led delegates from all over the country in the ratification inside the Barasoain Church on January 23, 1899 of the Malolos Constitution that they first crafted on September 15, 1898 during the Malolos Congress also held inside the Barasoain Church.

The independence of the country following the June 12, 1898 declaration of Philippine Independence was deemed incomplete until the country’s constitution was crafted and ratified through the First Philippine Republic on January 23, 1899 at the historic Barasoain church.

Natividad said the Republic Act (RA) No. 11014,an Act declaring January 23 of every year a special working holiday in the entire country to commemorate the declaration of the First Philippine Republic approved into law in 2018 and filed by former Bulacan First District Jonathan Sy-Alvarado is not enough. He said, the First Philippine Republic Day should be a non-working holiday.

Despite the existing RA No. 11014, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), other concerned government national and even local agencies had not created noise or any programs to celebrate and let the public remember the First Philippine Republic Day.  

Celebration at Barasoain church

The President led this year’s 125h commemoration and celebration of the Republic Day through a flag raising and wreath laying ceremony held in front of the monument of Aguinaldo at the grounds of the Barasoain church.

He was welcomed by Bulacan Gov. Daniel Fernando, Natividad and was also joined by Zubiri, Romualdez, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., NHCP Director Emmanuel Franco Calairo and Barasoain church Parish Priest Domingo Salonga.

The Philippine Army also fired a 21-gun salute in honor of the First Philippine Republic.

Marcos speech

Marcos then  on a red carpet made his way inside the Barasoain Church for the program and led all the other officials waiting for him inside the Barasoain church

Adorned with Philippine flags, as a sort of re-enactment of the scene in the actual Philippine Republic inauguration 125 years ago, Marcos delivers a 10-minute speech.

According to the President, because of the Malolos Congress and the Philippine Republic, a new nation was made that showed the world that the country is ruled by law.

He said that the Filipino people were fully liberated and although the world was sceptical they can stand on their own, the Philippine Republic erases that doubt.  

“We will continue today with our forefathers who were behind the Philippine Republic and this is what makes our democracy stable, our future secure and our nation strong.  That is the only way we could only honor our forefathers  who established the Philippine Republic,” the President said in his speech.

“Isinasabuhay natin taun-taon ang kadakilaan ang diwa ng Malolos Congress at ng Philippine Republic. Buhay na buhay sa ating puso ang kanilang ipinakitang kagitingan. Sa ngayon, sa kabila ng patuloy na mga pagsubok sa ating lipunan katulad ng sakit, kalamidad, makakaasa kayong lahat na kasama ninyo ang pamahalaang nasyunal laban sa iba’t ibang pang-aabuso, boses na handang magtanggol para sa lahat at higit sa lahat, may puso, para sa bawat isa. Patuloy nating pag-ibayuhin ang pag-ibig natin sa ating bayan para sa lalo pang mga pagpapala sa ating Bagong Pilipinas,” the President said.

Bulacan governor

According Fernando, the Philippine Republic brings great honor and pride to the Filipino race and its 125th milestone celebration this year relives each and every Filipino’s great pride and dignity.

“Isang malaking karangalan para sa bawat isang Pilipino na tayo ay kinilalang isang bansa dahil sa kadakilaan ng Raw na ito, ang Raw ng Unang Republika ng Pilipinas na dito sa Lalawigan ng Bulacan isinilang,” the governor added.

NHCP recognition

The First Philippine Republic, established after the adoption of the Malolos Constitution of 1899, was Asia’s First Constitutional Republic that served as an inspiration for other Asiatic republics. The Republic replaced the Revolutionary Government created by President Emilio Aguinaldo 18 and 23 June 1898 decrees after the proclamation of Philippine Independence from the Spanish Empire on 12 June 1898. It lasted from January 1899 until Aguinaldo was captured by American Forces during the Philippine-American War in Palanan, Isabela on 22 March 1901, according to the NHCP.

The milestone is part of the 125th Anniversary of Philippine Independence and Nationhood 2023-2026 which commemorates the events that led up to the Independence and the development of our nation from 1989 to 1901. President Marcos previously enjoined the nation to participate in the commemoration through Administrative Order No. 8, s. 2023 with the NHCP as the Chair of the National Steering Committee, the NHCP also said.

According to Calairo, the celebration reminds us of the freedom brought by the nationalism and the reforms led by our heroes Dr. Jose Rizal, Marcelo H. Del Pilar, Andres Bonifacio, the Katipunan and the Philippine Republic led by President Emilio Aguinaldo but which was not recognized by the Americans.

“Tagumpay na naibalik ang dangal ng mga Pilipino, hindi na tayo insurekto, tayo ay mga republikano at kinikilala ng malayang bansa sa buong mundo. Ito ang panahon upang lalong magkaisa,” he said. Calairo enjoins every Filipino to support President Marcos Bagong Pilipinas thrust.

Romualdez and Zubiri speech

Romualdez on his part said the Philippine Republic in the Barasoain Church proves that the power reigns in the people including the power to choose their leaders. “Today, we have our freedom of expression, this is good. It is a reason to celebrate. We enjoy the democracy and freedom that was brought to us by the Philippine Republic,” he said.

Zubiri who traces his ancestry, Pablo Ocampo Sr. , one of the delegates to the Malolos Congress expressed his gratitude to the Philippine Republic being the first democracy in Asia.

“Sovereignty emanates from the people. Binigyang pundasyon at hugis ng Philippine Republic ang ating kalayaan,” he said.

The senate president also hailed the delegates to the Malolos Congress who were behind the Malolos Constitution and the Philippine Republic for not using the constitution they crafted for their own personal gain.

“Hindi sinamantala ang posisyon sa Constitution para sa pansariling kapakanan. They stood as uncompromising for freedom. We should continue this. We remain free from invasion, poverty, foreign aggression. These were what our forefathers did. Ano mang pagbabago sa atin, hindi dapat ang pansariling motibo. Upang balang araw ay mahusgahan tayo na gumawa tayo ng tama,” Zubiri also said.

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