Today, we are celebrating our 125th Anniversary of Independence, as we honor the valiant men and women who paved our nation’s path towards sovereignty.

What made these individuals remarkable was their strength of will which enabled them to stand up against powerful foreign adversaries; their unequivocal love for our nation; and most of all their willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice for their fellow Filipinos.

Today, as our country faces pressing social, economic, diplomatic, peace and security concerns, let us remember the lessons left behind by our champions of independence and apply them as we address the challenges of nation-building.

All across the globe, it is disheartening to witness nations and governments that are trying to subvert the independence of other democratic, peace-loving countries, and even their own citizens. The Philippines was in this situation before.

We, Filipinos, know how it is to be at the mercy of sword-wielding invaders whose only desire is to impose their will on the colony and rob people of their dignity. There is no doubt that we will fight with every ounce of our courage and strength to preserve our freedom.

Independence, however, does not only mean being free from the bondage of colonizers; it means being free from the shackles of violence, fear, mistrust and prejudice that has held our country back from achieving sustainable development and long-lasting peace.

We believe that the true measure of a nation’s independence is having the ability to fully harness its God-given resources, and create an environment wherein all its citizens can enjoy the dividends of peace and development without foreign intervention.

To our fellow Filipinos who are in the frontlines and risk their lives everyday to protect our nation’s sovereignty, thank you for your selflessness, dedication and commitment. You are heroes of democracy in the truest sense.

A Happy National Independence Day to all! ###