Princesa urges Filipinos to become 'everyday heroes'

Message was part of an address meant to mark year-end festival

United in celebrations
Image Credit: Arshad Ali, Gulf News
People enjoy a day out at the Filipino community's Bayanihan festival at Zabeel park inKarama yesterday.
Gulf News

Dubai: Philippine's new Ambassador to the UAE urged the Filipino community to overcome regional and ethnic differences by consciously adopting the spirit of ‘bayanihan' in their everyday lives, on Friday.

"My dear kababayans [compatriots] we are unique. We are all important. We are all special. Let us all have a conscious effort to make ‘bayanihan' an integral part of our everyday lives.

"Together, we shall show the world that the indomitable Filipinos, through faith, patience, optimism and hardwork, can face any challenge or adversity, and boldly triumph in the end," Ambassador Grace Relucio Princesa said in a message which was delivered in yesterday's Bayanihan Festival held at Zabeel Park in Karama.

The festival, now in its second year, serves as the Filipino community's year-end activity and sees various organisations, clubs, schools and individuals participating to represent various cultures in a day-long variety show.

Princesa, a career diplomat who once served as charge d'affaires of the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi, reminded her compatriots that the term ‘bayanihan' was derived from the root word ‘bayani' which means ‘heroes', hence each and every individual should strive to become ‘bayanis' or heroes in their own right.


Quoting Efren Peñaflorida — the Filipino educator who was recently named CNN's 2009 Hero of the Year — she said: "Our planet is filled with heroes. Young and old, rich and poor. Men and women of different colours and sizes. We are one great tapestry, The hero in you is waiting to be unleashed."

Robert Ramos, chairman of the organising committee, said this year's festival is more meaningful as the activity also serves as a venue to thank and congratulate the various community groups for stepping up and carrying out a relief drive for the flood victims in the Philippines.


"We thank all Filipino expatriates... for their unprecedented support to relief operations and fund raising campaign..." he said.

"Once again we have showed how Filipinos are united in times when its most needed... "

Ramos said donations from the UAE, which included contributions from companies and non-Filipino individuals, reached Dh725,000 in cash while at least eight 40-footer containers of food, clothes and other relief items were shipped to Manila.

Decoded: The true meaning

The term Bayanihan was adopted as a term to refer to a local civil effort to resolve national or community issues.

It can be traced to a tradition in Philippine towns where members of the community volunteer to help a family move to a new place. The process involves carrying the family's belongings to the new location. The family then hosts a "fiesta" or a small party to express gratitude to the community.

Bayanihan is taken from the root word ‘bayani' meaning hero. Bayanihan thus means being a hero to one another.

Did you attend the community festival? What did you like most about it? Do you have any pictures of the event?