MANILA (AFP) - Philippine President Benigno Aquino unveiled Sunday a 22-foot (6.9 metre) statue of the countrys most celebrated national hero Jose Rizal to mark the 150th anniversary of his birth. The statue is the tallest of Rizal in the Philippines, where he is hailed as a freedom fighting patriot who battled for reforms during the Spanish colonial period and also as a scholar of great repute. Aquino paid tribute to Rizal for sacrificing his life to free his country from three centuries of colonial rule, and urged all Filipinos to follow his example in their daily lives by observing the rule of law. Not everyone is lucky enough to be called to give their lives for the country, he said. But for the majority, heroism can be measured in our daily choicesin following the law, in respecting our fellowmen and in standing by our principles. Born to an influential family in the suburban Calamba township south of Manila in 1861, the well-educated Rizal was a polyglot who could speak over 20 languages and who used his novels and writings to criticise abuses by the Spanish rulers. A well-travelled medical doctor, Rizal also founded a civic group called La Liga Filipina to push for peaceful reforms, inspiring what would however later become an armed rebellion against Spain. He was executed in 1896, and his death helped galvanise opposition against the colonial rulers. Two years later, Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States after losing their war. The statue unveiled Sunday at Rizals suburban Calamba home town towers over other Rizal monuments including those in Madrid, Fujian in China and the German town of Wilhelmsfeld.