Every year, on National Heroes Day, we remember the lives of our ancestors who helped define our sense of community and redefined how our society works through collective action. We remember their courage in fighting for freedom, and their principled stand against the oppression and marginalization of our people.

Heroes are defined by their response to the challenges they face, and their heroism is a direct response to the call of the times. The distance from what is to what should be was so often bridged by the sacrifices they made. From revolutionaries who took up arms against the colonizers as they fought against foreign invasion, to the youth who choose to go beyond the confines of the classroom to fight for what is right and just, to our own Bangsamoro mujahideen who tirelessly asserted our peoples’ right  to self-determination, our histories are rich with narratives of heroism by our own families and friends. 

In the same way they heard and responded to the call of their times, it is now our turn to respond to the call of the present. We continue to face systemic and structural violence and oppression, and the inequalities rooted on these issues have only been magnified by the global pandemic. As we honor the efforts of our frontline and healthcare workers, we must also exert our own efforts to match their dedication to collective healing in ways that go beyond public health. Gender and justice gaps continue to widen the disparities among us, and poverty continues to divide communities. 

As we commemorate National Heroes Day, we must continue the work that our forebears started and ensure the protection of our rights and freedoms throughout this pandemic. Our choices will define the future that awaits us, and may we always choose to speak and act in ways that honor our heroes and uplift our communities towards better days.