LtGen. Raul L. Del Rosario, Commander of the Central Command, Armed Forces of the Philippines, served as the guest of honor and speaker. “72 years ago, Filipinos, Australians, Americans and Japanese were warring parties. Fast forward to November 2013, these multinationals, with the inclusion of other countries, again land in Leyte but not as enemies but as friends helping the victims of the super typhoon Yolanda. Our once antagonists in the great war, this time united as friends. This ceremony gives us the opportunity to extend goodwill to once our enemies. Let us honor the peace that has reigned in these countries,” he said.
One of the highlights of the ceremony was the lighting and passing of the torch from a World War II veteran to the youth, a symbol of the succession of duty in the protection of peace and freedom. The diplomatic corps and other officials of the government also offered wreaths and twenty-one volley shots to the monument of General Douglas MacArthur. The flags of the Philippines, Australia, Japanese, and the United States were raised to signify friendship and international cooperation.
Mayor Remedios L. Petilla of the municipality of Palo welcomed the guests and gave a brief account of the tragedies that Leyte bore witness to. “We are recovering from a great calamity three years ago and we were able to recover beautifully and as fast as we could because we came come out winners in a great war that happened 72 years ago,” she said.
Representing LtGen. Ernesto G. Carolina, PVAO Administrator, MGen. Alfredo Cayton Jr., Chief of Veterans Affairs Management Division, offered solidarity to the people of Leyte, to the veterans, and to the future defenders. “We also express solidarity to the future veterans—our youth. As they take pride in the great historic past and the bravery of their forefathers, may they become the new breed of our nation’s defenders and steer this country towards peace and prosperity,” he said.
Also present in the event were Justice Manuel Pamaran of Board of Trustee of Veterans of World War II; Col. Bonifacio de Gracia of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines (VFP); Capt. Brad White of Australian Embassy; Minister Atsushi Ueno of Japan Embassy; and Col. Kevin Wolfla of US Embassy.
PVAO also participated in the regional assembly of the VFP, Region VIII, held at a separate venue in Palo, Leyte. PVAO set up help desk that provide validation services, among others./N.Labang