“Our World War II veterans should be afforded more appreciation and more material benefits for the sacrifices they have done and for their unparalleled acts of valour which resulted in the freedom and liberty we are enjoying today.”
Thus stressed former Baguio Representative Bernardo Vergarato a group of Baguio residents in a caucus over the weekend, in anticipation of the 71st anniversary of the liberation of Baguio or Veterans Day, which is celebrated on April 27 every year.
As in the past, the 71st anniversary of the Liberation of Baguio commemorative program will be held at the city’s Philippine Veterans Memorial Park along Harrison Road this year.
“The historic episode is once again a distinct opportunity and privilege to honor and appreciate the patriotism and heroism of the allied Filipino and American soldiers who fought side by side to liberate our country from the deadly and monstrous tentacles of the Japanese Imperial Forces in 1945,” Vergara said.
“And as history shows, thousands of our country’s comrades-in-arms made the extreme sacrifice and offered much more to free our country from foreign invasion. The fruits of their unparalleled acts of valour is the freedom and liberty we are enjoying today. We the elders who witnessed and lived those trying years are deeply grateful,” he continued.
“Our youth of today must be taught to appreciate the past. And there are reasons enough for all of us, the young and the old from our city’s residents, to gather together at the memorial park to commemorate with hope and prayers our city’s Liberation Day anniversary. Whatever we say or do isinsufficient to pay the cost, nor express gratitude for your acts and deeds of sacrificing your lives for liberty and democracy to reign in our country, ”Vergara added.
In gratitude and to show appreciation to the remaining war veterans, he said that those still in Baguio should be afforded better and free hospital care, additional benefits, and other amenities, among others.
Vergara recalled that World War II 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 Sept. 3, 1945 also in Camp John Hay.
He also recalled that in 1945, there were 3,347 servicemen and women in Baguio and Benguet who without qualms willingly offered their lives for the liberation of ourcountry.
Although there were no fierce fights in Baguio and La Trindad, the actual war battles were fought along Naguilian andKennonRoads, Tuba Trail, Sablan, and at Acop’s place, Tublay; all in Benguet. Battles were also fought in Asingan, Pangasinan by the veterans.
There were only five significant places in the liberation trail where nationwide commemorative programs were separately observed. Celebrated were the US Forces landing in Palo, Leyte with Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Philippine President Sergio Osmeña at the helm; the Liberation of Manila; the US Forces landing in Lingayen, Pangasinan; the Liberation of the City of Baguio; and the surrender of the Japanese Imperial Forces led by. Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita in Ifugao.
The celebration in Baguio was due to Ordinance 33, series of 1990, which declared April 27 of every year as Liberation Day and in Baguio, as Veterans Day.