PALO, Leyte– President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., graced the 78th Leyte Gulf Landing Celebration on Thursday (Oct.20) at the McArthur Landing National Memorial Park, this town as he gave honor and assurance to the war veterans.
The President also calls for Filipino to remember the courage and sacrifices of the war veterans to liberate the country from the hands of the Japanese Forces.
“We commemorate this event, but let us remember the courage and heroism demonstrated by our war veterans, fellow Filipinos, allied forces, and for that matter, even the Japanese forces, who offered their lives in a quest to attain peace and freedom that we now enjoy,” he said in his speech during the commemorative program.
“They who have fought and died in and for this land will have their names forever etched in the pages of history. We express our most profound gratitude for the sacrifices that they had made in reclaiming our freedom and for ushering in a new age of peace for our people and for the world,” the President added.
The President said that the war veterans can be assured that under his administration, they can be assured of protection and assistance.
“This government will always continue to look after the welfare of our war veterans. For as we commemorate on this hollow ground sanctified by the blood, the life and the sacrifices of our brave veterans we cannot allow our memories to lapse, we must always remember that this was the best of Filipinos,” he said.
Of the 30 surviving World War II veterans in Eastern Visayas, only three were able to attend the commemoration this morning.
They are Gregoria Badeo, 97 from Burauen, Leyte; Eugenia Maglinte, 94 from Macrohon, Southern Leyte; and Alfredo Matobato, 94 from Alangalang, Leyte.
Maglinte said that she was happy to attend this year’s program and see the President in the event.
She was also thankful that the provincial government of Leyte which extended them financial assistance worth P15,000.
The veterans also received a congressional gold cross medal award from the United States of America through the US Embassy as represented by Ambassador MaryKay Carlson and the Veterans Federation of the Philippines.
Meanwhile, in his message, Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla emphasized the importance to immortalize the stories of the war veterans for the future generations to know their sacrifices for the country be liberated from the foreign invaders.
“Like many stories, our stories are dying with the veterans and it is our job as local officials, national officials to keep the story alive not for ourselves but for the future generation,” he said.
Petilla suggests that the stories of Leyte Gulf Landings be part of the lesson in the curriculum of the Department of Education.
Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos, Department of Tourism Secretary Maria Esperanza Christina Garcia-Frasco, Presidential Management Staff Secretary Zenaida Angping, and US Ambassador Carlson also graced the event.
Among local officials present were Leyte Vice Gov. Leonardo Javier and his wife, Rep. Lolita Javier; Samar Gov. Sharee Ann Tan; An Waray party-list Florencio ‘Bem’ Noel; and Palo Mayor Remedios ‘Matin’ Petilla who profusely expressed her gratitude for the President attending the event.
The Leyte Gulf Landings commemoration is a celebration of the arrival of the Allied Forces in Leyte on Oct. 20, 1944 led by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, together with President Sergio Osmeña and Gen. Carlos P. Romulo, setting foot again in the Philippine soil after they left Corregidor in 1942.
Their arrival started a battle that spanned 100,000 square miles of sea and was fought for three days, from Oct. 23 to 25, 1944, during the invasion of Leyte by the Allied forces.
The battle signaled the fulfillment of MacArthur’s famous words, “I shall return.”
(ROEL T. AMAZONA/LIZBETH ANN A. ABELLA)