When we mention the word hero, the following individuals immediately come to mind: Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo, Marcelo del Pilar, Juan Luna and many others who made the ultimate sacrifice for our beloved country.

Over the years, we have paid tribute to these remarkable people who spent most of their lives fighting for our country’s sovereignty, and through their heroic efforts, freed our nation from the shackles of foreign colonizers though some of them no longer saw this come to pass.

The lessons our national heroes have left behind have been enshrined not only in our history books and monuments, but more importantly, in our hearts and minds. They have served as a source of strength and inspiration especially when our country is facing difficult times.

A new breed of heroes, however, emerged when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out last year. They are the men and women who have risked life and limb every day to serve and protect our countrymen from the deadly virus.

These are the doctors, nurses, soldiers, police officers, local government and barangay workers, riders, fast food service crew, and many other private sector and civil servants, who despite threats to their health and safety, bravely carry out their duties.

We also have our peace advocates and peacebuilders who, amidst the threats of the health crisis, continue to push forward the comprehensive Philippine peace process by promoting solidarity, mutual understanding and reconciliation among Filipinos.

These outstanding individuals are heroes in the truest sense because of the selflessness, commitment and determination they have shown in the face of the challenges brought about by the pandemic.

As we celebrate National Heroes Day, let us honor these courageous, dedicated and hardworking men and women who are at the forefront of our nation’s fight against the deadly virus, and are helping to build a culture of peace throughout the country.

Let us remember that all of us can be heroes. We can do this by doing our share to protect ourselves, our loved and everyone around us against the disease, while advocating peace in our communities.

Happy National Heroes Day to all! Mabuhay po tayong lahat!