Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia led local officials in honoring the heroes of the Second World War on the 70th anniversary celebration of the Fall of Bataan, or Araw Ng Kagitingan, at the monument of the Unknown Soldier at the Bacolod Public Plaza yesterday
Joining the mayor at the celebration were 303rd Infantry Brigade Commander Col. Oscar Lactao, Veterans District Commander Pio Rodrigo, 3rd Post commander Ret. Col. Edwin Recabe, and Councilor Al Victor Espino, Bacolod Social Services and Development head Sally Abelarde, and some 40 members of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines-Bacolod City, Veterans District and about 50 members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Leonardia said “It is a day for giving great thanks to the war veterans who fought for our country to achieve the freedom which we now enjoy, and this is the least that we can do is to honor them.”
He said that, as a token of the city's appreciation for the soldiers who fought for their countrymen, Bacolod is the first city in the country to give the war veterans P 1,000 quarterly.
Espino said they hope to see more benefits for the veterans and their beneficiaries and recalled a historic line: "Only the dead have seen the true face of war." He also said that “We will never be grateful enough to the fallen soldiers for the blood , sweat and tears they shed to ensure their countrymen's freedom and today's way of life.”
He also recalled that in the Halls of the U.S. Congress, the war veterans' great deed was recognized, and that former U.S. President Bill Clinton cited Filipino soldier Armando Punongbayan for what he did in Bataan during the Death March, where he raised the Philippine Flag when the American Flag fell - a moral boost to the soldiers. His grandfather, he added, was a member of the USAFFE.
After his speech at the plaza, Leonardia proceeded to the 50th Sacerdotal Celebration of Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra at the San Sebastian Cathedral where hundreds of faithful attended mass celebrated by the Bishop himself.
During dinner at the Bishop's Palace, Leonardia extended his thanks to the Bishop for his great part in maintaining the prevailing industrial peace and stability in the city, and like the clergy, also said that the Bishop was indeed “a holy man, strong in character, come hell or high waters, a stabilizer in Bacolod and one who never stole the limelight despite his very proper punch lines.”*