BAGUIO CITY — Igorot war heroes were honored during the commemoration of the 77th “Araw ng Kagitingan” or the Day of Valor held at the Veterans Park here on Tuesday(April 9).
The city government of Baguio spearheaded the Araw ng Kagitingnan commemoration which kicked off with the wreath laying ceremony to remember and give tribute to the war veterans who sacrificed their lives for the attainment of freedom in the country.
Mayor Mauricio Domogan said in his message that Filipinos should remember and give due respect and honor to the great soldiers who sacrificed their own lives to ensure that peace and freedom would be attained in the country.
“Today, we commemorate and give honor to our brave Igorot soldiers who sacrificed their lives to attain democracy in this country. These people are the bravest who pledged with the final lyrics of our national anthem “ang mamatay ng dahil sayo,” he said.
“Our words and gestures are not enough to express the gratitude to the war veterans who fought against the Japanese soldiers for our country to be liberated from the foreign conquerors,” he added.
He stressed that the spirit and heroism of the war heroes should be inculcated to everyone to face the challenges in the present situations.
“While we do not have any more foreign colonizers on our land, we have a lot of enemies facing us today. We should use the heroism and principles of our veterans to fight them such as the fight against illegal drugs, corruption, degradation of the environment and many more so that we continue to move one as people of our country.”
In the keynote message of Brigadier General Ronnie Evangelista, Philippine Military Academy Superintendent, he underscored the heroism that the Igorot war veterans had exhibited to liberate the country from foreign invaders 77 years ago.
“General Douglas McArthur hailed a lavish praise to the men in the Cordilleras, giving credits to the soldiers as he noted that in his lifetime as a soldier, many desperate acts of courage and heroism has fallen under his observation he was then quoted saying, ‘When you tell this story, stand in tribute to the gallant Igorots’,” Evangelista said in his message read by PMA Commandant of Cadets BGen. Bartolome Bacaro.
“At this event, no mouth can speak and no eyes can tell how grateful all people to those veterans who fought just for our country to be liberated from those foreign conquerors and to remind everyone the spirit of heroism that should be inculcated in oneself,”
Thousands of Igorot soldiers belonging to the the 66th Infantry Battalion of the United States Armed Forces in the Philippines Northern Luzon (USAFIP-NL) were part of the “Death March” in Bataan and fought side by side with the Americans against the Japanese soldiers.
“As we celebrate the victory of our 66th Infantry, to the contingent of the Filipino guerillas who fought hand in hand with the United States Army that liberated Tuba, Baguio and La Trinidad in 1945, may we stand for tribute to the heroes who bravely fought to win the war,” he stated.
Three surviving World War II veterans were present during the occasion – Epifanio Beswayan, 96 years old; Tuacan Baryan, 98, and Esteban Esco, 94./JDP/RMC- PIA CAR