[English translation of the speech in Tagalog of His Excellency, Jose P. Laurel, President of the Republic of the Philippines, delivered at the Luneta, on the occasion of the celebration of Rizal Day, December 30, 1943.]

MY COUNTRYMEN AND BRETHREN:

Forty-seven years ago today, here on this same spot, died the greatest and most patriotic son of the Filipino nation, Dr. Jose Rizal. Perhaps the same cold winds that then caressed and gently blew upon the face of Rizal are the same cold winds that gently blow upon our faces. Perhaps the sun that gave warmth to Rizal that December morning is the same sun that now shines above us. And perhaps the waters that then gently embraced the shores of Manila Bay are the same waters that now ripple in the sun. And so after forty-seven years, we, are gathered here to honor and remember the beautiful life-story and patriotism of Jose Rizal. We are gathered here after forty-seven years, not to honor the glorious death of Rizal, but to remember his life and the great lessons which he has bequeathed to the Filipino people, and to put to heart the great service he has rendered to the Philippines.

Rizal loved the Filipino nation more than his life. Rizal loved the independence of the Philippines more than his own independence. And he loved and dreamed of that independence, not in the midst of happiness or tranquillity and prosperity of the nation but in the midst of hardships and sacrifices—in the midst of tribulations in Spain, in Germany, in Italy and other countries of Europe. He loved that independence in the midst of hardships in Hongkong, in Singapore, in Japan, and in Dapitan, and he loved that independence in the prison cell in Fort Santiago and his dream has become the heritage of the Filipinos, indelibly impressed in their heart and soul. He dreamed of that independence in the midst of hardships—not prosperity—in the hope that his countrymen might, like him, love that freedom, not in the midst of happiness and prosperity, but in the midst of vicissitudes and hardships. He knew then that he could not give every Filipino a bed of cotton or silk; he knew then that in his dreams, he would not be able to give j every Filipino gold to wear after his death. He knew then that that independence would not mean that every Filipino would live in palatial mansions. He knew then that the Filipinos—and many of them— would continue to live in hardships, but he dreamed and sacrificed and died in the hope that in the midst , of hunger, in the midst of trials, and in the hour of our death, we would achieve independence and make that independence real and lasting, and defend it with our lives if need be. That is the reason, my country. men, why we are gathered here this morning: to pay homage to our greatest hero. His death brought about the downfall of an empire. His death on the altar of freedom was the dream and hope and warm beating of his heart shared by such other heroes as Gregorio H. del Pilar, Malvar, Mabini, and others.

Because of the lessons he inspired in the heart and soul of his people, because of his greatness, the Spanish Empire crumbled, and we achieved our cherished independence. Later, however, our country came under the sovereignty of another power, who respected Rizal but not his dream because, to its way of thinking the independence of a country is not to be dreamed of or achieved by asking, but to be given by the sovereign power if and when it pleased. But that dream of Rizal was realized when another power came and gave us the freedom which we were not able to obtain by asking. Now that we have our own flag and the independence dreamed of by Rizal, it behooves us to make that independence real because that is the fruit of the greatness and patriotism of Rizal. That is why dear Hero, we who now solemnly stand before our great Flag, we whom you so fervently loved when you were in Europe and in other countries, we who inherited your great object lessons, we ask you, we implore you to shower upon us your great lessons that we may be united; that in your hardships in other countries, in your sacrifices expressed through your writings in other countries during your exile, even as you fought to free the Philippines from foreign yoke; shower upon us—in the heart and soul of every living Filipino—your blessings. And from the high Heavens where you are now, we beseech you to pray for us Filipinos so that through your lessons, we may draw inspiration from your hardships and sacrifices. We pray you not to abandon us in this our hour of need so that we can, in the midst of hardships, in the midst of hunger, save the poor and the needy. Pray for us to God to whom you are so near, to give us courage in heart and spirit so that our Government may be directed according to His wishes, so that it may render service to the Filipino people, and so that your dream of independence may forever be cherished by us because during your lifetime the independence of your country is the same independence for which we have thirsted for many years. I thank you.

Source: Office of the Solicitor General Library