The stories of cruelty and loss may have faded with time 81 years after the infamous Bataan Death March, but the sacrifices of our war heroes must never be forgotten.
In commemoration of the 81st Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor), the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA) and the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) have collaborated to produce a powerful tribute video to honor the bravery and heroism of Filipino war heroes.
Titled “Echoes of History”, the video showcases PVAO-verified testimonies of Death March survivors and prisoners of war, providing a glimpse into the experiences of our veterans and a poignant reminder of the brutality of war and the resilience of the human spirit.
The video features five everyday Filipinos, namely, retired Brigadier General Ramon Yogyog of the Philippine Army; Raquel Cajuguiran, chief veterans assistance officer of PVAO; Denerine Duhan, a 4th-year pharmacy student; and Joeanne Marie Jomalesa, supervising veterans assistance officer of PVAO and her daughter, Lara Beatrice Jomalesa, a part-time consultant.
The reactors were invited to read the gut-wrenching and eye-opening accounts from the Death March for the first time and asked to write their messages of appreciation and promises to the fallen heroes, symbolizing gratitude, respect, and admiration for immense sacrifice and display of valor of war veterans during a period of oppression.
“Ang nakaka-inspire sa amin na mga kasundaluhan, pinakita nila ‘yung giting at talino ng mandirigmang Pilipino na hindi siya sumusuko ng hindi lumalaban,” Yogyog said after reading one of the testimonies.
“Iyan ang aking dasal sa ating mga kababayan. Kailangan buuin pa rin natin ang pusong mandirigma ng ating sumunod sa henerasyon.”
Meanwhile, as the wife of a combatant and hailing from a military family herself, Jomalesa holds a deep admiration for the resilience displayed by our war heroes.
“I have come to realize their incredible resiliency… and that’s what truly impresses me about them,” she said. “Because of these testimonies, we were able to relive the hardships of our forefathers and our foremothers.”
To mark the 2023 Philippine Veterans Week, PVAO has lined up a series of events from April 5 to April 12, including the Ride for Valor on April 9, free LRT and MRT rides for veterans throughout the week, and a commemorative event on April 10 at Mt. Samat National Shrine.