The Senate on Wednesday approved on second reading Senate Bill No. 1525 that seeks to declare January 23 of every year a special working national holiday to commemorate the inauguration of the First Philippine Republic.
Senator Joel Villanueva, author of the bill and first Bulakenyo senator for almost 20 years, said that the First Philippine Republic catapulted the Filipino nation into the world's consciousness, carving not only a place among the family of nations, but also a distinct niche as the First Republic in Asia.
"The establishment of the First Philippine Republic proved that Filipinos were capable of self-rule and deserved their longed-for-freedom after more than 300 years of bondage from Spanish rule," Villanueva said.
Villanueva underscored that it is important to commemorate January 23 of every year as the inauguration of the First Philippine Republic to remind us of the beginning of Filipino Democracy and the fight towards our freedom.
"Kaya kahit na po 119-taon na ang nakararaan mula nang ideklara ang Unang Republika sa Malolos noong 1899, ginugunita pa rin po natin ang pangyayaring ito hindi lang dahil bahagi ito ng ating kasaysayan at nakasulat ito sa mga libro kung 'di dahil naghahanap tayo ng tamang direksyon na pwedeng tahakin para makarating sa ating mga pangarap bilang mga Filipino, bilang isang bansa," Villanueva stressed.
"Maikli lang po ang Unang Republika ng Pilipinas, mula Enero 23, 1899 hanggang Marso 23, 1901, pero nag-marka po ito sa ating kasaysayan. Nag-iwan rin ito sa atin ng isang dokumento na nagsilbing pundasyon at ilaw ng ating demokrasya – ang Konstitusyon ng Malolos na nagbigay daan sa unang Republikanong Konstitusyon sa buong kontinenteng Asya," the senator added.
"We also thank Senator Chiz Escudero, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts, and Culture, for sponsoring this important measure giving due recognition to this crucial part of our history reminding us of our predecessors’ fiery desire to effectuate liberty and self-rule which eventually sparked the dawn of Philippine democracy," Villanueva concluded.