By Azer Parrocha
MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Sunday enjoined Filipinos to join hands in creating a more “humane, fair and progressive” society.
In his message on the commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor), Marcos reminded Filipinos to reflect on the sacrifices made by war heroes to protect and restore Philippines’ freedom.
“As we recollect the sacrifices of our forebears who fought long and hard to defend our nation’s freedom, let us also bear in mind that our actions today determine the future of our country, including the succeeding generations,” he said.
“Together, let us strive towards developing a more humane, fair and progressive society that allows our citizenry to relish their liberty and achieve their individual and collective aspirations,” he added.
Marcos called on Filipinos to “re-examine” the values and honor of our forebears by “speaking up against discrimination, extending help to those in need, and working towards a better future,” adding that the legacy of our heroes and heroines came at a great and hefty cost.
He likewise urged the public to learn to make “wise and sound decisions” so that we may address our country’s pressing problems with compassion and concern for others.
Marcos said the Philippines has faced numerous challenges that tested faith yet showed the world the “indomitable spirit” of every Filipino — from the battles fought in the trenches of World War II to the struggles against insurgent forces.
He, however, said the country emerged as a nation that “stands tall and proud,” guided by the principles of “justice, truth, and democracy.”
“We have staunchly proven time and again that we are never the same after each adversity for we always rise to meet every challenge head-on with grit, grace and determination,” he added.
Day of Valor celebrated every April 9, marks the annual commemoration of the Fall of Bataan on April 9, 1942, and the bravery shown by the Filipino and American soldiers against invading Japanese forces during World War II.
The date also commemorates the Bataan Death March, where exhausted Filipino and American prisoners of war (POW) were forced by their Japanese captors to walk some 112 kilometers from Mariveles, Bataan to Capas, Tarlac under the scorching sun with no food and water for days.
This year, Marcos declared April 10 as a non-working holiday in observance of Araw ng Kagitingan.
Incidentally, the country is also observing Philippine Veterans Week (PVW) which falls from April 5 to 12 this year.
The PVW’s theme for this year is “Kagitingan ng mga Beterano, Pundasyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino.”
Meanwhile, the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) on Sunday urged all Filipinos to observe “Araw ng Kagitingan” with a “grateful heart and a pressing yearning to honor our forefathers for all that they have sacrificed for us.”
“Though Bataan fell on April 9, our veterans persisted, and for 93 days of unending barrage, they displayed an unconquerable spirit. That their bodies were tired and bloody, they fought the invading enemies with their heads unbowed,” PVAO administrator Undersecretary Reynaldo Mapagu said in a statement.
As the nation commemorates this fateful day, he urged all Filipinos to continue to carry the legacy of “our forefathers and continue the courage they have upheld in their fight for freedom and liberty.”
In a separate statement, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Amenah Pangandaman enjoined Filipinos to continue to recognize and salute the heroic defenders of the country.
“Today and always, we owe them our profound gratitude and highest respect,” she said.
She also enjoined Filipinos to remember that the first Day of Valor was a day when Filipinos stood ground and fought until the end.
“May we continue to honor the story of heroism and extreme sacrifice laid down 81 years ago by forging unity and solidarity with one another toward nation-building,” she said.
House Speaker Martin Romualdez said Araw ng Kagitingan is a reminder that Filipinos will always fight on, move forward and prevail with unity.
“Today, as we commemorate Araw ng Kagitingan nationwide, we honor and recognize the gallantry of our fallen heroes, who willingly laid down their lives so that we can enjoy the blessings of freedom today,” he said.
“As we look back into the dark day that we call the “Fall of Bataan,” we must never forget the sacrifices of Filipino resistance fighters who stood up against the might of foreign invaders in World War II, which gave the rest of our nation the inspiration and strength to fight on,” he added.
Romualdez said the country’s bout with the Covid-19 pandemic is proof of the Filipinos’ fortitude.
“We suffered, we fought and we prevailed,” he said. “We will always prevail as long as we are united, and as long as we continue to draw our strength from the virtues of our heroes,” he said.
“This day is a testament to Filipino courage and bravery, a fighting spirit that comes to the fore as we face adversity after adversity. This day reminds us of a priceless legacy: that the same courage and bravery our heroes displayed in the crucible of war–in the Fall of Bataan– run in our blood, through our veins.” he added.
Department of Budget and Management Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, meanwhile, enjoined Filipinos to continue to recognize and salute the heroic defenders of the country.
“Today and always, we owe them our profound gratitude and highest respect,” she said in a statement. “May we continue to honor the story of heroism and extreme sacrifice laid down 81 years ago by forging unity and solidarity with one another toward nation-building.” (with reports from Priam F. Nepomuceno/Zaldy De Layola/PNA)