In the News
President Benigno S. Aquino III has approved the funding for the payment of the remaining Total Administrative Disability (TAD) pension arrearages to World War II veterans.
The good news was relayed by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr. in a memorandum to Secretary Florencio B. Abad of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) dated 08 April 2013, a day before the 71st Commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan in Mt. Samat, Pilar, Bataan during which the President made the announcement to the veterans.
This development came after Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin of the Department of National Defense wrote to President Aquino on 04 April 2013 recommending the payment of the remaining arrearages in TAD pension to WWII veterans in the amount of P3.1 billion.
Undersecretary Ernesto G. Carolina, Administrator of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) said that since the enactment of Republic Act No. 7696 authorizing the grant of TAD pension in 1994 until 2009, the TAD obligation to living WWII veterans has accumulated to a large amount of P7.8 B.
Government started paying monthly TAD pension in Fiscal Year 2010 to WWII veterans who are 80 years old and above. Subsequently, partial payment of TAD arrears for the years 2003 - 2009 was made in the total amount of P4.7B. Hence, the remaining balance has been reduced to P3.1B, representing unpaid pension obligations from 1994-2002.
Cognizant of the sizeable amount involved in the payment of these unpaid obligations, Sec. Gazmin proposed to the President the rationalization of payment of the remaining TAD arrearages by giving priority to living WWII veterans.
With regard to the memorandum, Secretary Abad has been directed to identify and facilitate the release of necessary funds, subject to some conditions. Among these conditions are the determination that revenue collections exceeded the original revenue targets submitted by the President to Congress; the submission of the verified lists of pensioners, the issuance of the guidelines on the disbursement of the funds by DBM and PVAO; compliance to pertinent provisions of the GAA for FY 2013, and other budgetary and auditing rules and regulations.
PVAO has already submitted the verified list of living World War II veterans to the DBM.
World War II veterans thanked President Aquino for his genuine concern and support to the advancement of their welfare, recalling that the payment of their monthly TAD began during his term as President in 2010. They expressed optimism that the budget will be released by the DBM within the year to enable them to enjoy their long awaited benefit.
President Benigno S. Aquino III led the 71st commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan last April 9, 2013 at the Dambana ng Kagitingan, Mt. Samat, Pilar, Bataan - the centerpiece event of the Philippine Veterans Week.
This year's theme was "Ang Beterano: Sigla at Inspirasyon ng Kabataan Tungo sa Tuwid na Daan," underscored the significant role of our veterans, who, despite having greatly contributed to the attainment of the nation's freedom, peace and democracy, continued to serve as inspiration and worthy exemplars of patriotism and source of national pride to our citizens, especially the youth, which were essential in treading the Tuwid na Daan towards genuine social transformation and national development.
Guided by Executive Order No. 23, Series of 1987 and Proclamation No. 466, series of 1989, the observance of the Philippine Veterans Week and commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan aim to promote, preserve, and memorialize the principles, ideals, and deeds of our war veterans as a means to enhance patriotism and love for the country.
The Steering Committee on National Observances and its Inter-Agency Technical Working Committee, thus, lined up a series of youth-oriented events before and during the weeklong observance which included the following:
Adm. Carolina enjoined the various sectors of the society to participate in the said activities to show appreciation to our veterans' sacrifices for our country's freedom and democracy, that the present generation is enjoying.
"The agency has a mission to make our people draw inspiration from the heroic deeds and patriotism of our defenders and, consequently, mobilize them for the essential task of preparing our future defenders," PVAO Administrator Lt. Gen. Ernesto Carolina, AFP (Ret.) stressed.
A Sunset Ceremony formally closed the 2013 Observance of the Philippine Veterans Week last Thursday, April 11, 2013, 5:00 P.M. at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City.
This activity formally concluded the week-long commemoration of the historical events, with this year's theme "Ang Beterano: Sigla at Inspirasyon ng Kabataan Tungo sa Tuwid na Daan".
Veterans, widows, children and great grandchildren of veterans - both the alive and the fallen, gathered before the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier like one big family, sharing their personal reflections on how their lives were touched by a shared experience of being a war veteran or having a veteran in the family.
Undersecretary Eduardo G. Batac, for Civil, Veterans and Reserve Affairs Department of National Defense was the Guest of Honor and Speaker during the program, while Lt.Gen. Edilberto P. Adan AFP (Ret), Executive Director of the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement, addressed the audience in his welcome remarks.
The program also included a recognition ceremony for distinguished war veterans, namely: Bgen Francisco R Adriano AFP (Ret), Bgen Victorino T Azada AFP (Ret), Col Rafael R Estrada PA (Ret), SSG Isidoro A Panlasigui, Jr. PA (Ret), and Lt Guillermo D Parayno, Sr. PN (Ret).
Immediate relatives of these veterans, namely, former Commissioner Guillermo L. Parayno Jr., Susan P. Abaya, Gloria T. Bautista, Atty. Vanessa Raissa M. Villafuerte, Jon A. Santos and a student, gave impressions about or tribute to the awardees.
The Sunset Ceremony concluded with a pledge of patriotism as well as lighting of candles by the nation's youth as the sun receded in the horizon - setting the mood for a dramatic and solemn ceremony of remembering the veterans' heroism and validating their heroism by affirming the people's commitment to contribute to nation building and preserve the freedom, peace and democracy they had fought and died for.
As part of the observance of the 2013 Philippine Veterans Week, a "Tribute to all Filipino Heroes" was held to honor all Filipino heroes, patriots and defenders who fought and died for country's freedom and liberty - from the time of Lapu-lapu to the Revolutionary and World War II eras up to the present that included the veterans of anti-dissident campaigns.
The memorial happened last April 7, 2013 at 9 A.M. at the Filipino Heroes Memorial in Corregidor Island, Cavite, with the Hon. Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr., Secretary of the Department of Tourism and a son of a World War II veteran, as guest of honor and speaker.
The Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, and Sun Cruises provided their respective vessels to ferry the veterans and other guests from Manila to Corregidor Island.
The program proper featured the "Tolling of Bell" by a veteran, with a youth representative reciting a pledge extolling those who sacrificed their lives for their love for the Philippines, and vowing to keep the flame of patriotism ever burning in the hearts of Filipinos of all generations.
After the program, the guests were given a tour around the historic place, including the light and sound show at the Malinta Tunnel after the program.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) held a Review in Honor of the Veterans at the Hunters ROTC Guerrilla Field Headquarters, Philippine Army Grandstand in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City last Friday, April 5, 2013, the start of the observance of Philippine Veterans Week.
LtGen. Emmanuel T. Bautista, AFP Chief of Staff, the military host, led the Review as the AFP's way of paying tribute to their forebears - the Filipino war veterans and of bringing to fore the Filipino's peculiar brand of heroism and love for country.
The review is a time-honored annual tradition of the AFP whereby men and women in the uniformed service show their respect to Veterans for their unparalleled sacrifices, numerous accomplishments and the distinct values which shaped the Armed Forces into what it has now become - a more capable, more professional and more reliable Armed Forces of the people.
A battalion-sized contingent from the AFP performed the review wherein veterans are paraded and accorded honors at par with high-ranking military officers and other visiting dignitaries who are entitled to such honor. The program included a ceremonial Inspection of Troops and concluded with a Pass-In-Review where the veterans-leaders stood in front of the stage to recognize the parading troops.
Former Defense Secretary Renato S. De Villa, Chairman of the Filipino War Veterans (FILVETS) Foundation Inc., was the Special Inspirational Guest in the review. He was introduced by Asec. Earl Saavedra of the National Youth Commission.
Selected veterans were also awarded with plaques and medals in recognition of their wartime services and honorable performance of duties during World War II. The living awardees were MGen Fortunato U Abat AFP (Ret), Col Vicente F Alhambra PC (Ret), Cpl Primitivo A Cuenca PA (Ret), Pvt Tiburcio S Dela Cruz PA (Ret), Capt Jaime L Guerrero PA (Ret), Capt Alejandro P Hontiveros, Sr. PA (Ret), Col Manuel V Panlilio PA (Ret), and BGen Domingo R Tucay, Sr. AFP(Ret).
The posthumous awardees that were represented by their families included Bgen Gonzalo L Batac AFP (Ret), Ssg Jose S De Leon PA, LtCol Gustavo C Ingles PA, and Gen Guillermo P Nakar, Sr. AFP (Ret), Maj Benedicto G Pinga, Sr. PA (Ret).
Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin led war veterans, veterans support institutions, veterans servicing institutions, and youth representatives in the Wreath-Laying Ceremony at the onset of the 2013 Observance of the Philippine Veterans Week last April 5, 2013 at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, Taguig City.
The event was a day of remembrance, an occasion for Filipinos to honor the memory of all veterans who laid down their lives in the defense of their motherland just so the present generation may live in freedom, peace and democracy which are foundations for the nation's progress.
The Defense Chief is son of the late BGen Segundo L. Gazmin, AFP (Ret.), who served in the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) under the 2nd Battalion, 91st Division during World War II. The older Gazmin was Regimental Commander in the defense of Bataan and was a survivor of the Bataan Death March. After escaping from prison, he became a guerrilla resistance leader until the liberation. After World War II, he continued his military service with the AFP, retiring as a one-star general of Philippine Constabulary, then under the AFP.
Sec. Gazmin donned a wreath to pay homage to our country's defenders at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with Mayor Laarni L. Cayetano of Taguig City and heads of servicing institutions for veterans namely: Administrator Ernesto G. Carolina of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office; Dr. Nona F. Legaspi, Director of the Veterans Memorial Medical Center.
Servicing banks and financial institutions for veterans and their legal beneficiaries likewise offered wreaths during the event. These included the Philippine Veterans Bank, Development Bank of the Philippines, Asia United Bank, United Coconut Planters Bank, Maybank Philippines, Armed Forces and Police Savings and Loan Association, Air Materiel Wing Savings and Loan Association Inc. and Composite Wing Savings and Loan Association Inc.
Usec. Eduardo G. Batac, DND Undersecretary for Civil, Veterans and Reserve Affairs and concurrent Chairman of the inter-agency Technical Working Committee on the Observance of the 2013 Philippine Veterans Week, also joined the veterans in the event. He is a son of a World War II veteran - the late BGen Gonzalo L. Batac, AFP (Ret) of the USAFFE. "Salong" Batac as the older Batac was fondly called, served in the Second Field Artillery Regiment. After the surrender of his unit in Bataan, he was also forced to trek the Death March all the way to Camp O'Donnell in Capas, Tarlac where he became a prisoner of war. Upon release from the camp, the brave soldier joined the United States Army Forces in the Philippines - Northern Luzon as 2nd Lieutenant. He continued serving in the regular force during which he fought in the Luzon and Anti-Dissidence Campaigns.
Youth representatives from the National Youth Commission, Boy Scouts of the Philippines, Girl Scouts of the Philippines and students from various schools within the National Capital Region also participated in the ceremony.
The observance of the Philippine Veterans Week and Day of Valor (Araw ng Kagitingan) is pursuant of Proclamation No. 499 series of 1989 and Executive Order No. 23, series of 1987, respectively, during the administration of the late President Corazon C. Aquino. This year's commemorative theme is, "Ang Beterano: Sigla at Inspirasyon ng Kabataan Tungo sa Tuwid na Daan."
Lt.Gen. Noel Abrigo Coballes, AFP, the 55th Commanding General of the Philippine Army headed the Sunrise Ceremony, which formally started the 2013 Observance of the Philippine Veterans Week at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, Libingan ng mga Bayani, Taguig City at the break of dawn last April 5, 2013.
The Sunrise Ceremony was an opportunity for all Filipino veterans to honor their fallen comrades. Among the veterans who joined the ceremony were Prof. Teodorico P. Calica, National President of the Philippine Veterans Legion; Col. Francisco T. San Miguel (Ret), Executive Vice President of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines, and other leaders of World War II and Post-War veterans organizations.
Col. Eustacio S. Galindo, Philippine Army Chaplain, led the blessing rites and invocation while Bgen. Augusto L. Tolentino, AFP, Camp Commander of Fort Bonifacio, introduced LtGen. Coballes, the guest of honor.
LtGen. Coballes is a native of Tuguegarao, Cagayan. He belongs to the Philippine Military Academy - MAPITAGAN Class of 1980. Having been serving the Army for more than 33 years now, LtGen. had been designated to command various units, mostly in Mindanao. His military career first took off in 1980 as the Platoon Leader of the 26th Infantry Battalion, 4ID, PA. He joined the First Scout Ranger Regiment and commanded several Scout Ranger Companies of the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion in the provinces of Lanao, Misamis Oriental and Davao until 1984. He was later designated Commander of Task Group Panther-Alpha of the First Scout Ranger Regiment which conducted security operations in various provinces in Mindanao and became known for his fight for peace and order that was being constantly disrupted by the Abu Sayaff - one of several splinters of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) which was then operating in Basilan under Khadafy Janjalani.
Another great challenge came his way when he became the Commander of the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion deployed to Central Mindanao to carry out an All-Out Offensive against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), another splinter of the MNLF, from 1997 to 2000.
He was Commander of the Philippine Battalion for Peacekeeping under the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor, Commander of the 105th Infantry Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division in Basilan, and the 1003rd Infantry Brigade of the 10th Infantry Division in Davao del Norte. He was also Regiment Commander of the First Scout Ranger Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, and Western Mindanao Command.
On October 19, 2012, he was designated as the AFP Vice Chief of Staff. Among his notable accomplishments as AFP Vice Chief of Staff was the smooth completion of procurement projects of the AFP related to material and capability development. As concurrent Commander of the AFP Disaster Response Task Force, he supervised the AFP's Disaster Response Operations during the onslaught of Typhoon Pablo in December 2012. And as Chairman of the AFP Housing Board, he was instrumental to resolving drawn-out issues concerning AFP Off-Base Housing.
These great - and mostly death-defying - challenges were squarely faced by Lt. Gen. Coballes, thus, bringing him awards and medals. Five Gold Cross Medals were given to him for gallantry in action in several encounters with the enemy, most notable of which was his stint as the Battalion Commander of the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion that assaulted rebel strongholds blockading the Cotabato-Bukidnon highway, otherwise known as the Narciso Ramos Highway.
Tarlaquenos paid tribute to veterans who were held prisoners of war (POWs) by the Japanese forces in World War II during the "Paggunita sa Capas" last 10 April 2013 (Wednesday), 8:00 AM at the Capas National Shrine, the former site of Camp O'Donnell, the final stop of the Bataan Death March where Filipino and American soldiers were incarcerated.
Camp O'Donnell also became an internment camp for Allied soldiers who ultimately succumbed to sickness, torture, deprivation and hardships of war. Around 20,000 Filipinos and 1,600 Americans were said to have died in this camp.
The event was part of the 2013 Observance of the Philippine Veterans Week with this year's theme "Ang Beterano: Sigla At Inspirasyon Ng Kabataan Tungo Sa Tuwid Na Daan."
"Paggunita sa Capas" commenced with a Wreath-Laying Ceremony that was led by Hon. Victor A. Yap, Governor of the Province of Tarlac, the Guest of Honor and Speaker in the ceremony.
He was joined by Undersecretary Ernesto G. Batac, Defense Undersecretary for Civil, Veterans and Reserve Affairs; Lt.Gen. Ernesto G. Carolina, AFP (Ret), Administartor of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO).
His Excellency, Ambassador Josef Rychtar of Czech Republic, and Capas Mayor Antonio C. Rodriguez, Jr. also offered wreaths before the "Obelisk," the towering structure of the shrine.
The other wreath offerors included descendants of World War II veterans represented by Atty. Rafael E. Evangelista, National Commander of the Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor (DBC), Inc.; veterans belonging to the DBC, Veterans Federation of the Philippines, Philippine VeteransLegion; and youth representatives from the Sangguniang Kabataan, Boy Scouts of the Philippines and Girl Scouts of the Philippines.
After the wreath-laying, the program proper was led by an invocation by Rev. Fr. Jason C Aguilar, Parish Priest of St. Joseph the Patriarch Parish Church. It was followed by the "Tolling of Bell" by a veteran from Tarlac, while a special tribute was read by Sofia Maria Estrada-Villarama, great granddaughter of Col. Rafael R. Estrada, a Death March Survivor and a prisoner-of-war who is the Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the DBC.
The highlight of the program was the recognition ceremony to veterans Belino W. Alumno (Posthumous), Esteban S. Esco, Raymundo G. Gadgad, Alberto M. Bugtong, Robert T. Bellasi and Santos T. Fianza, who travelled all the way from the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).
The six were among the soldiers of the 66th Infantry Regiment, United States Army Forces in the Philippines - Northern Luzon (USAFIP-NL) which engaged the enemy in the battles to liberate Cordillera from the influence of the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.
They also fought in the epic Battle of Bessang Pass that is historically known as the one of the fiercest battles fought during World War II. The victory at Bessang Pass after six months of relentless military operations was the decisive factor for the surrender of General Tomoyuki Yamashita, the Over-All Commander of the Imperial Japanese Army in the Pacific who was captured by the guerrillas in Kiangan, Benguet.
A fund-raising golf tournament dubbed "FILVETS - Friends, Veterans and Retirees (FVR) Invitational Cup" jointly organized by the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) and the Filipino War Veterans Foundation (FILVETS), Incorporated will kick-off this year's observance of the Philippine Veterans Week . Golfers are invited to join the tournament on March 16, 2013 (Saturday), at the Camp Aguinaldo Golf Course, Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
Proceeds of the golf tournament will go directly to FILVETS, a non-stock, non-profit organization which conducts year-round medical outreach in far-flung areas and operates 11 Medical Outreach Clinics (MOCs) nationwide to reach out to veterans and their families who are unable to avail of medical and healthcare services from the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City.
The event also seeks to promote fellowship and renewed camaraderie among World War II and Post War veterans who are golf enthusiasts, their families, guests and friends. It also aims to promote awareness of this year's Philippine Veterans Week from April 5 - 11 and the 71st commemoration of the Araw ng Kagitingan on April 9 with the theme, "Ang Beterano Sigla at Inspirasyon ng Kabataan Tungo sa Tuwid na Daan."
Among the prominent veterans expected to join the 2013 FILVETS CUP are former President Fidel Valdez Ramos and former Defense Sec. Renato de Villa, Founding Chairman and incumbent Chairman of FILVETS, respectively; Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin; former Executive and Defense Secretary Eduardo R. Ermita; former Ambassador to China and Defense Secretary Fortunato U. Abat; former Rizal Representative Frisco F. San Juan, Sr.; and former Cabinet Secretary and GSIS Chairman Jose Magno, Jr.
The FILVETS CUP - FVR Invitational Tournament is open to both veterans and non-veterans. Three categories are open to veterans depending on the following age brackets: Category 1 for ages 70 and above; Category 2 for ages 69 to 78, or Category 3 for ages 60 to 68. Non-Veterans, meanwhile, may join Class A, B, or C. Each class will have a champion to receive a trophy and a corresponding prize, and special awardees for Lowest Net and Lowest Gross. Tee-off time will be between 6:00AM to 8:00 AM. Raffle prizes will be given out to enliven the awarding ceremony at 3PM.
Tickets are priced at Php3,000.00 inclusive of green fee, caddy fee, souvenir item, lunch, entertainment and a raffle ticket for a chance to win fabulous prizes.
Players and sponsors may contact either Ms. Liza T. Dela Cruz at (02) 912-4526 or Ms. Teresita C. Cuevas at (02) 911-4296 for reservation or additional information.
A variety show dubbed "Lolo Ko Beterano, Idol Ko" culminated the 2013 Observance of the Philippine Veterans Week today, of the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) - the only primary medical facility for veterans and their dependents located on North Avenue, Quezon City.
The variety show, in line with this year's theme "Ang Beterano: Sigla at Insipirasyon ng Kabataan Tungo sa Tuwid na Daan," was held at 1PM at the Basilio Valdes Hall of the VMMC.
It featured performances from the VMMC Medical team headed by no less than Dr. Nona Legaspi, Director of VMMC. The other performers are Dr. Grace Arellano and Prof Nonita Tabala.
The Golden Nightingale Choral Group also serenaded the veterans who watched the show, which boasted of the home-grown talents of medical practitioners from the Pathology, ENT and Rehabilitation Medicine Sections of the hospital.
Mrs. Dolores M. Geronimo, the Chairperson of the VMMC Committee on Philippine Veterans Week, together with its committee members, Martha O. Nucum, M.D., Angeli Rosette Emperado-Uy, M.D., Mrs. Remedios V. Buenafe, Mrs. Elisa O. Sua, Ms. Flordeliza M. Bautista, and Mr. Isidro N. Erispe came up with a program of activities for the weeklong commemoration of the Philippine Veterans' Week and Araw ng Kagitingan.
These included a "Tula Contest" on April 4, 2013 followed by the deployment of a Medical Quick Response and Emergency Team during the Sunrise Ceremony held at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City last April 5.
Later that day, the VMMC organized a Bingo Socials for the VMMC patients and family members at the Valdes Hall.
VMMC again deployed its Medical Team during the "Tribute to all Filipino Heroes" program held at Corregidor Island last April 7 which consisted of fifteen staff members.
A special flag raising ceremony in honor of the veterans was held on April 8 during which the Director exhorted the staff of VMMC to continue delivering quality services to veterans with utmost dedication and compassion befitting their stature as heroes. It was followed by the 602nd Medical Battalion Pass and Review at the VMMC Grounds and a Photo Exhibit at the VMMC Lobby.
During the Araw ng Kagitingan ceremony at the Mount Samat National Shrine in Pilar, Bataan last April 9, the VMMC held an "Open House" as a way of paying tribute to the veterans' valor and heroism. This gave the patients of the hospitals more time to spend with their visiting loved ones. Veterans' pins were also distributed by the VMMC staff to the patients to honor their sacrifices and efforts for our country.
Dr. Franklin V. Gali and his medical team were also present at "Paggunita sa Capas" program at the Capas National Shrine, in Capas, Tarlac, last April 10, while at the VMMC, the film entitled "Legacy of our Heroes" was shown as a special treat for the patients during which snacks were also served.
An open forum entitled "Magtanong sa Pamunuan" gave the patients and attendees the chance to ask about the Veterans Hospitalization Benefits later in the afternoon.
Dr. Dominador M. Chiong Jr. and his medical team also attended the Sunset Ceremony at the Libingan ng mga Bayani to render service to veterans and to witness the closing of this year celebration of the Philippine Veterans Week.
The observance of the Philippine Veterans Week and Day of Valor (Araw ng Kagitingan) is pursuant of Proclamation No. 499 series of 1989 and Executive Order No. 23, series of 1987, respectively, during the administration of the late President Corazon C. Aquino.
The Philippine Veterans Office (PVAO) is now prepping up a back-to-back film-showing and symposium dubbed "Images of Valor and Victory" on March 13, 2013, from 8 A.M. to 12 noon at the AFP Commissioned Officers Club in Camp Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
In collaboration with the Philippine Historical Association (PHA), the event is one of the pre-Philippine Veterans Week activities that will start rolling off this month to drum up the observance of the 2013 Philippine Veterans Week and the 71st Araw ng Kagitingan with the theme "Ang Beterano: Sigla at Inspirasyon ng Kabataan Tungo sa Tuwid na Daan."
Ms. Gemma Cruz - Araneta, Vice Chairperson of the Manila Historical and Heritage Commission, will be the Keynote Speaker while respected historians from the academe will give brief lectures on World War II heroes and the liberation campaign in the Visayas. These historians are Prof. Luis Camara Dery, Ph.D., PHA President; Prof. Ricardo Jose, Ph.D., Chairman of the Department of History, University of the Philippines; and Prof. Michael Charleston Chua of the De La Salle University-Manila.
Meanwhile, Prof. Evelyn Songco, Ph.D., PHA Vice President, will be the moderator of the open forum with esteemed veterans from the Visayas region as panelists. Col. Democrito Mendoza (AFP Res) of Cebu, Cpt. Alejandro P. Hontiveros, Sr. (Ret.), and veteran Claro O. Daulo of Iloilo will interact with the audience to share their experiences and exploits as known leaders and members of the 6th and 7th Military Districts - guerrilla units whose fierceness in battles led the Japanese forces to retreat deep in jungles of the Visayas islands during WWII. To join them in the panel are leaders of World War II veterans organizations, notably: Col. Paterno V. Viloria, Ph.D. of the PEFTK Veterans Association Inc., Prof. Teodoro P. Calica (Ret.) of the Philippine Veterans Legion and Cmmdr. Ricardo B. Madayag of the Magsaysay Veterans Legion.
Defense Undersecretary for Civil, Veterans and Reserve Affairs Eduardo G. Batac, son of the late Death March veteran, BGen. Gonzalo "Salong" Batac, AFP (Ret.), will also address the youth participants from various public and private schools in the National Capital Region.
The symposium is open to all high school students and history enthusiasts. Interested schools, groups and individual participants may call the Veterans Memorial and Historical Division of PVAO at telephone numbers 911-4296 and 4013101.
Retired LtGen. Ernesto G. Carolina, PVAO Administrator, said various sectors of society are enjoined in the activities to show appreciation to our forefather' sacrifices. "The present generation should not take for granted the freedom, peace and democracy they are now enjoying. They should always remember that these precious gifts were paid by our veterans with their blood and toil, with their lives and limbs," he further said.
The symposium and personal interaction with veterans will highlight the numerous victories of Filipino freedom-fighters during WWII which eventually ended the Japanese occupation in the country. Through this activity, PVAO aims to instil national pride among the youth to exhort them to contribute to nation-building. By doing so, the agency aims to also fulfil its task of preparing the nation's future veterans who would be the country's defenders and leaders.
The observance of the Philippine Veterans Week and Day of Valor (Araw ng Kagitingan) is pursuant to Proclamation No. 499 series of 1989 and Executive Order No. 23, series of 1987, respectively, during the administration of the late Pres. Corazon C. Aquino.