Day of Valor: WW2 vets battling virus pandemic

The 79th anniversary of the Araw ng Kagitingan or Day of Valor is marked today at the Dambana ng Kagitingan at the Mt. Samat National Shrine overlooking the scenic Manila Bay in the town of Pilar in the Bataan Peninsula.

The theme for this year’s observance is “Kagitingan ay Gawing Gabay, Pandemya ay Mapagtatagumpayan,” with nearly 3,000 surviving veterans, many past the century mark, wiping mist in their eyes as they recall today the bloody exchange of bullets between them and Japanese troops.

Solemn ceremonial rites will be conducted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, with the national anthems of the Philippines, United States of America, and Japan to be sonorously played in honor of the heroes of World War II.

Wreath-offerors will be led by Bataan Provincial Governor Albert Garcia, 2nd District of Bataan

Representative Jose Enrique III Garcia, 1st District of Bataan Representative Geraldine Roman, and Pilar Mayor Carlos Pizarro Jr.

Of the 151,824 Filipinos who fought during World War 2, there are 2,952, who are still alive as of Thursday, 279 of whom are over the century mark, including the oldest, who is 112 years old.

The oldest veteran is Sgt. Malomalo P. Salag, who turned 112. He was born on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 1909.

This is reflected in the records of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office headed by Defense Undersecretary Ernesto Carolina based in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on the eve of the 79th anniversary of the Fall of Bataan on Friday.

Other war veterans past 100 are Sergeants Alangadi Mauna, 111; Monera Paday, 111; Macaalang Ditanto, 111; Concepcion De Guzman, 109; Rafaela Vicente, 108; Mamangco Mangara, 108; Martin Maguiwe, 107; Pedro C. Torres, 106; and Jose Quilatan, Sr. 106.

There are 269 other veterans who are over 100 to 105 years old, who are still living.

Governor Garcia is slated to deliver his welcome remarks, followed by virtual messages of Ambassador Koshikawa Kazuhiko of the Embassy of Japan and the Charge d’Affaires John Law of the Embassy of the United States of America.

A virtual message from President Rodrigo Duterte will follow, highlighting the patriotism and unrelenting commitment of Filipino doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, and other frontliners to serve the nation in its drive to combat COVID-19.

Due to the onslaught of the viral pandemic, the National Capital Region and adjacent provinces have been placed under Enhanced Community Quarantine, prompting the NHCP and Araw ng Kagitingan-TWG to conduct a virtual commemorative program in compliance to the minimal health guidelines set by the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

All are invited to visit the official NHCP website and Facebook page for details and to witness the event. For a complete list of activities, you may visit the NHCP website www.nhcp.gov.ph.

The NHCP is the national government agency mandated to promote and preserve Philippine historical heritage through research and publication, conservation, marking of historic sites and structures, and administration of national shrines and museums. With Ben Cal

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