FIFTY seven years ago, on April 6, 1961, a law was signed - Republic Act 3022, also known as the Bataan Day. This was in honor and commemoration of the approximately 80,000 Filipino and American soldiers who fought Japanese Imperial troops who surrendered and endured the 140-kilometer “Death March” from their base in Bagac, Bataan, to Capas, Tarlac. Years after several law amendments and presidential proclamations, we now know it as “Araw ng Kagitingan,” or the “Day of Bravery.”
Every year, we observe this holiday not only to remember the courage our Filipino heroes have to endure during World War II, it is also to acknowledge the bravery of every Filipino people who stood up to every challenges in every timeline of our history, who showed patriotism, as the country was subjected to various perils.
Even at times that we have become independent as a nation, and our former colonizers have become diplomatic allies, it is not uncommon that our country is always bombarded with threats and chaos within, sadly, some were due to the sinister machinations of our very own fellow Filipinos.
It may be courage, to have a political will and set the course of our country to have a genuine an independent foreign policy. But it is also courage, to face a giant like China and the United States to tell them to respect our sovereign nation including our territories.
It may be courage, to face the organized crime rings and its behemoth crime lords with an iron fist. But it is also courage, to stand beside those who were victimized by these crimes, and stand for the survival of their lives. It is also courage, to condemn and put those involved accountable, even if it is your friend, a “kumpare,” or a family member… But this have yet to be seen to our leaders of this land.
It may be bravery, to fight for the people and be with the majority of the people to believe for change; but it is also bravery, to be with the marginalized people, despite the lack of support and the ignorance of the many towards their plight.
It may be bravery, to fight terrorism, and to liberate the country from extremism; it is also bravery, to stand with what you believe even if the State will brand you as a terrorist. Just like the challenges Myles Albasin is enduring now, along with other political prisoners, who were identified as progressives and labeled as communist terrorists.
It is courage, especially by the overwhelming masses in the country and in the overseas Filipino workers communities, to vote a president that can trigger controversies; but it is also bravery to have an unpopular opinion towards this current administration, albeit the possibility of being subjected to mob lynching especially from the overwhelming supporters.
But for all it’s worth, courage or bravery on small things could ripple a strong phenomenon of change, a change where rights are upheld and lives being valued. Things we need to endure, the same how our Filipino countrymen endured in the Death March. (firstname.lastname@example.org)