“On this day, we recognize the heroes responsible for our freedom…those who died for it and those who are still here to tell us their story.”

That was how Col. Edmundo R. Pangilinan summed up the purpose of the 71st commemoration of the Araw ng Kagitingan conducted by LGU-Tacurong and Philippine Army (PA) on April 9, 2013, City Hall Grounds.
Col. Pangilinan served as the Guest Speaker of the program devoted to honoring the heroes of World War II.

The program was graced by the presence of veterans residing in the city namely Pvt. Jovencio Ledda (92 years old), Mr. Santos Laygan (97 yrs old), Pvt. Eugenio Somera (89 yrs old), and Private First Class Bernardo Francisco (91 yrs old).

Pfc. Francisco shared his memoirs as a young soldier during the War. As a 21-year old lad in the 1930s, he was one of those who were trained as Philippines’ reserve forces. He reported to the nearest camp in Panay, following the order of then Pres. Manuel Quezon after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and of the military bases in the country. They fought the Japanese forces in Panay but his team was captured. He was imprisoned and served as a laborer to Japanese soldiers. He witnessed cruelties, and even executions of Filipinos in the communities that the Japanese penetrated. After nine months, he escaped from the garrison with 2 Filipino comrades. He became a Philippine Scout in 1946 and was discharged in 1949.

LGU-Tacurong and PA value stories shared by veterans such as Pfc. Francisco as part of the rich oral history of the War.

“The freedom you fought for us shall be the freedom we shall truly defend. Where you are relieved of your duties, we shall carry on,” said Col. Pangilinan as he gave his snappy salute to the guest veterans.

The 601st Brigade, 6th Infantry Battalion, PA conducted the pass and review in honor of the guest veterans. The wreath laying ceremony was led by Mayor Lina O. Montilla and Vice Mayor Charito L. Collado.

Jezereel Louise C. Billano