LIBERATORS- Still strong World War II veterans, (from left) Ugnayon Tindongan, 97; Garcia Wakit, 94; and Esteban Esco, 93 attending the 76th observance of Araw Ng Kagitingan that marks the greatness of Filipino fighters during World War 2 at the Veterans Park, Baguio City, April 9, 2018 – By JOSEPH B. MANZANO
BAGUIO CITY – A handful of World War II veterans were honored during the 73rd Liberation of Baguio Commemoration at the Veterans park along Harrison road, last Friday morning.
Flowers and wreaths were offered by city officials and sons and daughters of veterans, as a 21-gun salute and taps were rendered by the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO).
Vice-Mayor Edison Bilog in his opening message emphasized on the veterans’ being life models to the youth as to bravery and gallantry.
“Bigyang pugay at pag-alala, isapuso at isaisip po natin ang kadakilaan ng mga beterano, at nawa’y magsilbing inspirasyon at gabay ang kanilang katapangan at dedikasyon sa serbisyo. Hindi po natin sila dapat makalimutan,” the vice-mayor said.
Guest of honor and speaker BGen. Leopoldo Imbang, Jr. who was unable to attend was represented by North Luzon Command Deputy Brigade Commander Henry Doyaoen who called on the youth to accept leadership roles and take action in present-day battles. Privileges and rights should be equal to responsibilities to fellowmen and country, as the veterans lives mirrored; Doyaoen pointed out.
Our forever gratefulness for veterans’ shed blood and life sacrifices may be repaid with our own efforts to quell violence and turmoil in our country, wrought by different ideologies and movements within our own communities, Doyaoen said.
We remember the veterans’ sacrifices battles, as we live in peace-which we pass on to our children, and children’s children; he ended.
Mayor Mauricio Domogan spoke of the veterans as the symbol and foundation of sacrifices who we honor through our deeds for the betterment of fellowmen, and peace in our own city. Our freedom gives us the opportunity to wage war on the ills of society, the mayor said. We are even allowed to surpass our forebears’ victorious accomplishments, he added.
Historical details reveal that war started and ended in Baguio with the bombing of Camp John Hay on Dec. 8, 1941 and Gen. Yamashita’s signing of the deed of surrender on September 3, 1945, still here in the city.
Ordinance 33, series of 1990 declared April 27 of every year as Liberation Day and in Baguio, as Veterans Day. It can be recalled that in 1945, there were 3,347 servicemen and women in Baguio and Benguet who without qualms willingly offered their lives for the nation.
Living veterans are now in their 90s and late 80s, with at least 50 veterans in the Baguio-Benguet area; who with their departed comrades fought actual combats along Naguilian, Kennon road, Tuba Trail, Sablan, Acop’s place, Tublay, and even in Asingan, Pangasinan. There were no fierce fights in Baguio and La Trinidad, veterans earlier recalled.
Veterans present during the program at the veterans’ memorial are Camilo Atas, Tuacan Barian, Timoteo Boado, Epifanio Besuayan, Alberto Bugtong, Ernesto Luis, Juanito Ngayaan, Jose Tiangao, Garcia Wakit and Esteban Esco.
Among the surviving veterans in Benguet are Maria Ganasi Tecne, Bati Tabano, Estigoy Sison, Alfredo Siblag, Cato Pulac, Florendo Pool, Eusebio Pasadillo, Silvino Palaoag, Miguel Montes, Marciano Miles, Tope Mayomis, Ew-ew Matias, Warren Luis, Cayat Lesoc, Magno Lamsis, Luis Gambong, Wilfredo Estandian, Pio Doro, Catel Dagsa, Pilingan Biang, Danio Becasen, Mateo Bakian, Ignacio Apilas, Rizalino Alingbas, Isabelo Alberto, and Elpidio Acoba.
Veterans within Baguio City are; Cecilia Torres, Ognayon Tindungan, Patricio Rafanan, Orlando Pimentel, Eduardo Peralta, William Pasiwen, Dominador Obra,Carlito Millado, Florence Marasigan, Dominador Madarang, Gregorio Lopez, Glorifino Juan, Icasiano Indon, Sabas Hafalla, Sixta Favila, Romeo De Guzman, Cipriano Calma and Filomeno Caburao,
Traditional Benguet rites were performed for the veterans at the Veterans’ office, Camp Allen.
By: Julie G. Fianza