In Leyte Gulf Landings
PALO, Leyte – President Ferdinand R. Marcos led on Thursday the commemoration of the 78th Leyte Gulf Landings, calling on Filipinos to remember the courage and heroism shown by war veterans to free the country from the Japanese occupation.
Speaking during the event at the MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park here, Marcos said the veterans offered their lives to “attain peace and freedom that we now enjoy.”
“They who have fought and died in and for this land will have their names forever etched in the pages of history. We express our most profound gratitude for the sacrifices that they have made for reclaiming our freedom and for ushering in a new age of peace for our people and for the world,” Marcos said.
The President was accompanied by Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Benhur Abalos and Department of Tourism Secretary Maria Esperanza Christina Garcia-Frasco during the event that remembered the biggest naval battle in history.
“This gov’t will always continue to look after the welfare of our war veterans. For as we commemorate on this hollow ground sanctified by the blood, the life and the sacrifices of our brave veterans we cannot allow our memories to lapse, we must always remember that this was the best of Filipinos,” Marcos said.
For this year’s commemoration, there are only 30 surviving World War II veterans in the region and only two of them were present during the event in Palo town.
“We can never truly repay the price they paid for their gifts of peace and freedom but we can honor their heroism and their memory by continuing the great work that had begun. For when they arrived here, they did not only bring the resolve to pursue the war to its bitter end, but they also carried with them the hopes and dreams of an entire generation for a more peaceful and harmonious world,” Marcos added.
Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla also thanked the veterans for their love of country and freedom.
“Let us not forget what happened 78 years ago and be reminded that war is a horrible thing and it should be avoided at all cost. Our stories are already dying with the veterans. It is our job to keep the story alive. This is the story that is truly ours,” Petilla said.
Key officials from the embassies of the United States, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia also delivered their messages.
It was on Oct. 20, 1944 when Gen. Douglas MacArthur, together with President Sergio Osmeña and Gen. Carlos P. Romulo, again set foot on Philippine soil, their first after they left Corregidor in 1942.
Their arrival started a battle that spanned 100,000 square miles of sea; and was fought for three days, from Oct. 23 to 25, 1944, during the invasion of Leyte by the Allied forces.
The battle signaled the fulfillment of MacArthur’s famous words, “I shall return,” after going to Australia to muster support from the Allied forces in the quest to liberate the Philippines from Japanese occupation. Philippine News Agency