Speech of His Excellency, Jose P. Laurel, President of the Republic of the Philippines, delivered over Station PIAM Manila, on February 29, 1944, addressed to the Filipino youth.

YOUTH OF MY BELOVED LAND:

In this critical period of our history, we need the heart, the soul and the vigor of the youth of our land to help us build our country on the most enduring basis of brotherhood and solidarity of all Filipinos. I am, therefore, happy to know of the integration of the Filipino youth and that the Filipino youth is now on the march. The question is: Where is it going? Is it marching with irresistible will and determination toward progress and civilization, peace and order, and the prosperity and happiness of the Fatherland? If it is, I, as the chosen head of our nation and our people, heartily welcome it and bid it Godspeed.

It is trite saying that the future belongs to youth, especially to those dynamic, aggressive and self-confident young men and women who have foresight. Thus they have the bounden duty to ensure it. So much faith the greatest Filipino patriot and hero, Rizal, had in the youth of the land that while he was still in his teens, he dedicated to it his prize winning poem entitled “To the Filipino Youth,” and he called the Filipino youth not without reason and justification “Fair hope of my Fatherland.”

Several years later, when Rizal was in Madrid, he thought again of the Filipino youth. On the occasion of the signal honor and distinction conferred upon the famous Filipino painter Juan Luna when one of his paintings was awarded the highest prize in the artistic world, Rizal offered a touching toast. He expressed the fervent hope that the worthy and commendable examples of Juan Luna, and Resurrection, another famed Filipino painter, will be imitated or emulated by the Filipino youth. In the course of a few years that youth had become to him more than the “fair hope of my fatherland”; it had become the “sacred hope of my Fatherland.”

Rizal’s fair and sacred hope is represented by the young men and women of today, by you, the Filipino youth on the march, you who will be either the leaders and masters of your country and your country’s fate tomorrow or the hewers of wood and drawers of water for other people more ambitious and far-seeing than you, men with vision, with courage, and with an indomitable will to succeed whatever be the obstacles.

Inspired by the same noble sentiment, the late Dr. Rafael Palma, builder of the University of the Philippines, dedicated to the same youth, to the same “fair and sacred hope” of the Fatherland, his last work and masterpiece, his life-size biography of Rizal. In his dedicatory remarks he gave voice to his abiding faith and confidence in the ability of the Filipino young men and women to make good.

Have they made good or are they making good? Were Rizal living today would he be proud of them? Would he say, if he could see them from beyond the tomb, that he did not die in vain, that his country’s sacred and beautiful hope has not disappointed him and those who like him had given their full measure of sacrifice for the glory of their Fatherland?

How fare the youth of the land? Are they planting the seeds that will make their country great? Do they realize the serious problems that now confront the Republic of the Philippines, which is their Republic, and are they contributing to the fullest extent to the solution of such problems? Are they putting their strong and broad shoulders on the wheel of progress and prosperity? Are they helping actively in the complete restoration of peace and order in their country and in the gigantic reconstruction work which both the people and the government must undertake? Are they doing their duty as citizens of the Republic, working for the common happiness and welfare of their respective communities?

As ye sow, so shall ye reap. Are the Filipino young men and women of today sowing the seeds of peace and prosperity so that they will reap the fruits of progress and tranquillity? Man is the archetype of society. Both society and the nation grow as the individuals grow. Unless our youth prepare for the future, there will be no future for them.

“I want to let those who deny us every feeling of patriotism,” wrote Rizal, “that we know how to die for our duty and for our convictions. What matters death if one dies for what one loves, for one’s country, and for those one adores?”

In one of his parting letters he wrote “My future, my life, my joys, all I have sacrificed for my love for her”—referring to the Philippines. “Whatever be my fate, I will die blessing her and wishing her the dawn of her redemption.” That, you will agree, is a wonderful sentiment. Does the Filipino youth of today feel and cherish it?

Isagani, one of the youthful characters that stand out in bold relief in Rizal’s Noli, once called on one of the leading lawyers in Manila for an advice. The lawyer advised Isagani to follow the line of least resistance. “Why fight, why think,” he argued, “when somebody else will do the fighting and thinking for you? Prosperity, happiness, and peace of mind,” the legal adviser pointed out, lie in the direction of the current. “Believe me,” he concluded, “you will remember me and think me right when you have gray heirs like mine.”

What was Isagani’s retort? “When I have gray hairs like yours,” he answered, “and I look back upon my past and see that I had worked only for myself, without having done what I could well have done and should have done for the country which has given me everything, then, every gray hair of mine will be for me a thorn and instead of being proud of my gray hairs, I shall be ashamed of them.”

Do the Filipino youth of today talk and feel that way? Are they fully aware of the tremendous responsibility placed upon them by Rizal when he called them “fair and sacred hope of the Fatherland?” Are they willing to die for their convictions, to fight hunger and poverty and all the other evils that hard times bring in their train so that their country, their people, their Republic, might live in peace and in abundance?

Contrasting his age and that of his son, the father of Ibarra, Rizal’s hero in the NOLI, said: “The future opens itself for you; for me it is closing. Your affections are being born; mine are dying. Fire burns in your blood; frost is congealing in mine; and yet you cry and do not know how to sacrifice the present for the future, a future which will be useful to you and your country.”

“You do not know how to sacrifice the present for a useful, fruitful future.” Surely, the youth of today cannot and will not accept that serious charge. They cannot and will not disappoint their greatest hero, martyr and model. They are ready and willing, I take it, to do their part, to work with their duly constituted leaders for the salvation of their country especially during these days of supreme ordeal when the fate of the Philippines is at stake as a result of the scarcity of food and the continued pernicious and disloyal activities of some of our citizens.

I am taking the liberty, therefore, on this occasion to invite and call upon all the youth of the land to join hands with the forces of the government to stimulate food production, to restore complete peace and order throughout the length and breadth of the Philippines, and to work actively and persistently for the welfare, progress and prosperity of the Republic. The Republic is not of this generation to keep, but it is particularly for the young generation and future generations to preserve and to enjoy.

I thank you for this opportunity of addressing the youth of the land on this memorable occasion. I shall be happy to say a few words to you later in connection with the integration movement of the Filipino youth not only in the public and private schools but of all Filipino young men and women all over the islands so that the youth of the land may be not only a strong factor in supporting this government and in making this Republic an enduring nation but also so that with the help and cooperation and loyalty of the Filipino youth, we may be in a position to transmit as a heritage to future generations a country, a people, compact and united in the bonds of a common affection.

I thank you.

Source: Office of the Solicitor General Library