Fr Rene Tacastacas SJ
VP for Higher Education
Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan
Message on Kalayaan 2018 
University Gymnasium
11 June 2018

Today we are celebrating a great national event, the 120th anniversary of our independence. We celebrate the birthing of a nation bound by common history, culture, and human dignity. We celebrate Independence Day as our people’s experience of freedom to exercise their God-given free will to determine their destiny as a nation.   

Today we are remembering the many Filipinos who fought to make this nation to become a truly Filipino nation and governed by Filipinos. Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo, Mabini, Luna, Tandang Sora, Melchora Aquino, and many others sacrificed their lives in order to win the freedom for our people. They may have various misunderstandings among themselves, yet the whole gamut and direction of their energies pointed to the singularity of purpose of uniting a multiplicity of peoples into just ONE sovereign Philippines. 

Today we are rejoicing and joyously reveling the bravery and heroism of the countless people who brought us our freedom. We do not only remember them, we also want to actively immortalize their memories replete with selfless sacrifices so our country could become one and united with full dignity as a nation. An event like what we have now — this is our sincere gratitude and utter respect for their patriotism so that generations of today and tomorrow may continually realize the significance of their martyrdom since 120 years ago. We simply cannot afford to erase from our collective consciousness the struggles they expended so we could live freely.

We celebrate independence. We remember our heroes. We rejoice at the bravery of our heroes. While we feel gifted of our freedom and independence, there is always that responsibility to continue building this nation forward. 

Senior High School Students — remain steadfast in your studies. Do not settle for mediocrity, but rather aim always to what is better, the Magis! Extend yourselves to levels you haven’t reached yet. Make new things. Make new friends. Make new discoveries. Make holy desires. Go for more. Keep on trying despite failures and disappointments.  Never give up. In short, create that value and longing for heroism, for more, for Magis within yourselves. Instill that character of courage and braveness to steer even in uncharted waters of your lives. Be always guided by dreams with a price you are most willing to pay for.

In the end, your responsibility, our responsibility is to create a mark in the world. However small it may be, create that personal mark in whatever tasks assigned to you or positions you assume. And the world will find ways to celebrate your peculiar greatness, remember you as a person, and rejoice in your successes! In more ways than one, your mark is your contribution towards nation-building.

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!∎

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