18 March 2017, Balantang Memorial Cemetery National Shrine—Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) Administrator Ernesto G. Carolina, representing Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, together with the local government of Iloilo, memorialized and honoured the sacrifices and heroic deeds of those, who fought from the lines of Panay resistance movements. PVAO led by its Administrator Undersecretary Ernesto G. Carolina actively participated in the ceremonies held for the 72nd Liberation of Panay, Guimaras, and Romblon, with the theme, “The Ilonggo Veterans: Yesterday, Today and in the Future.”
In the speech read by PVAO Administrator Carolina, Defense Secretary Lorenzana encouraged everyone to “remember and renew the spirit of patriotism and great sacrifices that our heroes have shown during the most turbulent time in our history.” He also wished that the youth will “emulate the ideals of kagitingan that our veterans have demonstrated…”
Iloilo Provincial Governor Arthur Defensor, Sr. echoed the importance of the gathering – “it shall be celebrated forever.” Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, on the other hand, challenged the people to “renew our commitment to the [veterans’] ideals” and commit “to [a] future worthy of peace-noble sacrifice.”
Wreaths of flowers were offered by notable guests at the following: (1) Tomb of Natividad Peralta (Veterans Federation of the Philippines (VFP) Region VI President Hannibal Lipardo and Councilor Jose Efrain Treñas); (2) Tomb of General Macario Peralta (VFP Regional District official Rogelio Moran and General Peralta’s son Engelbert Peralta); (3) Wall of Memory (Gov. Defensor, Sr. and Veterans Affairs Management Division (VAMD) Chief Retired MGen. Alfredo Cayton, Jr. AFP); and (4) Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (PVAO Administrator Carolina and 3rd Infantry District Commander of the Philippine Army BGen. Jon Aying). Floral offerings were also rendered by the youths.
PVAO also recognized seven World War II veterans during the commemoration: Veteran Eladio Peñaranda, 94 years old; Veteran Cornelio Areño, 96 years old; Veteran Ambrosio Ambut, 99 years old; Veteran Loreto Lazo, 99 years; Veteran Fernando Alecto, 100 years old; and Veteran Ramoin Oro (represented), 100 years old. Likewise, PVAO set up a help desk to accommodate the queries of veteran-attendees, and awarded ambulatory devices to deserving beneficiaries.