Ask any Lagunense if he knows a particular hero or prominent historical figure who came from the province, and most probably he’ll respond with just one name: Dr. Jose Rizal.
While it is true that Rizal did play a very major role in the Filipinos’ struggle for independence from colonization, some historians have lamented the fact that his fame had led to other prominent Lagunense heroes being “overshadowed.”
Last February 23, the provincial government of Laguna and the local government of Los Baños commemorated a “forgotten” chapter of our province’s history: the 78th anniversary of the liberation of the Los Baños Internment Camp, where many Filipinos and Americans were held captive by the Japanese occupation forces during World War II.
Among the Lagunenses who played a decisive role in that battle is San Pedro City’s very own Abelardo "Captain Remo" Remoquillo, a member of the Hunters ROTC guerrillas who led the daring raid to liberate the camp.
And yet very few San Pedronians even knew about “Captain Remo’s” brave acts, despite the fact that his statue is displayed along with Jose Rizal’s at San Pedro’s downtown area. (The fact that Remoquillo’s statue had been relegated in a corner of the stage at the San Pedro City Plaza may have something to do with that – an apt metaphor of how many San Pedronians have apparently bypassed his heroism.)
Today, as historians and academics alike lament the prevalence not only of “fake news” but also of “historical distortionism,” it’s becoming clear that local government units here in Laguna should be at the forefront of introducing local heroes to their citizens, especially the youth.
Let’s face it: one thing our youth needs now in order for them to carry the torch and become the positive change we all need are people who could serve as inspiration for them.
In short, our youth needs heroes.
And through reviving our rich historical heritage, such as what the city government of Biñan has strived to achieve in past months – and that should also include the “re-introduction” of local heroes – we can inspire our youth to become heroes in their own right and be the catalyst for genuine change in our province.