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Filipinos urged to pay tribute to health, migrant workers on National Heroes Day

A Catholic bishop in the Philippines called on the faithful to pay tribute to medical and health professionals as the country observes National Heroes Day on Monday, August 31.

Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga said people should honor these “modern day heroes” who put their own lives at risk to save others amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“With this pandemic we have new heroes, those in the medical professions,” said the prelate.

“They are ever faithful, selfless in services and always ready to help and to heal. They even put their own safety just to serve and to save lives,” he added.

On Saturday, August 28, the Philippines’ Department of Health said the country’s death toll from Covid-19 has already reached 3,419, while total recoveries was at 135,101.

The Health department recorded 94 more fatalities from the disease.

There were already 3,637 new confirmed cases of Covid-19, bringing the country’s total confirmed cases to 213,131.

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Active cases – total cases minus deaths and recoveries – were at 74,611 as of 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Bishop Santos described health professionals as “modern day heroes whom we have to appreciate and be grateful for; whom we have to emulate and imitate.”

“They are heroes who are silent, not resorting to publicity; sincere, not corrupt,” said the bishop.

Bishop Santos also urged the faithful to remember the sacrifices of overseas Filipino migrant workers.

“Through the years we have seen the sacrifices and services of our [migrant workers] for the betterment of their families; their financial contributions maintain our fragile economy,” said Santos.

Filipino migrant workers are considered “economic heroes” because of their significant contribution toward the growth of the Philippine economy.

Remittances sent by migrant workers accounted for 11 percent of the total GDP of the country in 2018.

The Philippines is one of the top five economies in the world that benefit the most from remittances.

Filipino migrant workers who lost their jobs abroad start to arrive in Manila in May. (Photo by Basilio Sepe)

Bishop Santos said Filipino migrant workers also introduce “what is good and beneficial” in the country in their places of work.

“So, in any place of the globe our [migrant workers] bring with them our true identity, that is, honesty, hardworking and very helpful,” said the prelate, vice chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People.

He said Filipino migrant workers show what is best in the Filipino, including “our strong faith in God and resiliency.”

Bishop Arturo Bastes, retired prelate of Sorsogon, said the observance of National Heroes Day is an opportunity to teach Filipinos about the importance of the country’s history.

He said young Filipinos “should be taught the great importance of [the people power revolution] and its lessons to preserve our democracy initiated by [the country’s national heroes],”

“Not only the young but even the senior citizens should recall our history to express our gratitude to God for our heroes who sacrificed their lives so that we might live,” he said.

National Heroes’ Day, a national public holiday in the country, is observed on the last Monday of every August to mark the anniversary of the start of the Philippine uprising against in 1896.

This national holiday was originally set on the last Sunday of August in 1931, but was moved to the last Monday of August in 2007 as part of attempts to reduce work disruptions, allow for longer weekends and boost domestic leisure and tourism during the administration of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

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