GOVERNMENT officials of Leyte province on Tuesday, June 12, honored the Filipino forefathers whose bravery and sacrifices led to the country’s liberation from Spain 120 years ago.

"On Independence Day, we look back to those who sacrificed their lives so that Filipinos today can live in freedom. As always, it serves as an opportunity to re-commit ourselves to the common task of nation-building, a responsibility that we all share, both individually and collectively,” said Leyte First District Representative Yedda Romualdez.

“In our efforts to build our nation to the desired progress, we must be able to ask the right questions, such as: why is our world, our society, our community, or our country, where it is today? And of course, the inevitable response must follow: What can I do, what must I do, what must we do to make a positive difference? This time of year is usually one in which we, Filipinos, put our patriotism on display,” she added.

The lady solon said this freedom “will be less than authentic if we are not willing to make the contribution that only we can make to nation-building."

“We might celebrate this day of liberty differently, but we are equal in the pride we feel,” said Tacloban City Mayor Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez in a prepared speech read by executive assistant Pinky Brosas during a commemorative program at the city’s Rizal Plaza.

In Ormoc City, Mayor Richard and Representative Lucy Torres-Gomez attended the annual rites despite the jetlag, having just arrived from a 10-day vacation.

“We are celebrating the 120th Independence Day. We have to cherish this, we have to remember this, and have to celebrate this,” said Mayor Gomez.

In his speech, the mayor said that this year’s Independence Day celebration is more meaningful after Ormoc was declared the first “drug-cleared” city in the Eastern Visayas region, and the “safest city in the country for 2017 and the first quarter of 2018.”

June 12 is also “a big, red-letter day” in Ormoc City as it is traditionally the “opening salvo” of the city’s festivities in honor of its patron saints Saint Peter and Saint Paul.

Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla, for his part, urged his constituents to “remember those who sacrificed themselves for the independence of everyone.”

He acknowledged the current threats to the country’s independence.

“We still have threats to our independence. In the West Philippine Sea, (as well as) threats from poverty, malnutrition, illegal drugs, and criminality. One hundred twenty years ago, we declared independence but until now we are still fighting (for) it, preserving it,” he told the provincial government officials and employees in his speech.

He said the road is long for the struggle to achieve freedom from poverty and other social ills.

“It will not happen overnight,” he said.

Philip Jude Acidre, first nominee of party-list group Tingog Sinirangan, said the preservation of the country’s independence does not only depend on government leaders.

“This is a duty cast not only of our leaders, although their example is of primary importance, but a duty laid on each and every Filipino. Our nation’s freedom can only be truly meaningful when we have achieved for our people a quality of life that befits their dignity, and when every option and opportunity for a better future is well within their reach," he said. (SunStar Philippines)