Baguio celebrates war vets Wednesday

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Friday, April 4, 2014

A WELL-WRITTEN but today little-known broadcast piece that announced the surrender of Filipino and American forces in Bataan on April 9, 1942 will be heard again when the city joins the nation in commemoration rites on the 72nd anniversary of the Fall on Wednesday.

The piece, oratorical in rhythm and tone, was written by then Lt. Salvador P. Lopez. It was read by Lt. Norman Reyes on the evening broadcast of “Voice of Freedom” radio inside the Malinta Tunnel in Corregidor a few hours after the Filipino and American defenders surrendered in Bataan on April 9, 1942.

“Good evening everyone everywhere,” the broadcast began. “This is the Voice of Freedom broadcasting from somewhere in the Philippines.”


That broadcast will be re-lived by a speech chorus of students of the Baguio City National High School who will join surviving war veterans and city officials on the 72nd anniversary of the fall at the Veterans Park along Harrison Road here.

The program, chaired by city councilor Peter Fianza, was designed to allow the youth to join the community in paying tribute to the veterans who fought for the liberation of the country and their city from the occupying Japanese forces.

“We owe it to the younger generation to open the opportunity for them to pay their respects to those who fought for the freedom that we all enjoy today,” Fianza said.

In the process, added BCNHS principal, Dr. Elma Dona-al, our students will whet their appetites for local and national history and appreciate the significance of the Veterans Park established in 1991.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan and Rep. Nicasio Aliping Jr. will lead residents in paying tribute to the veterans represented by surviving members of the 66th Infantry who fought for the liberation of Baguio, and of the United States Armed Forces in the Philippines-Northrn Luzon.

Aside from reviving the radio announcement, the April 9 program will also recall the heroism of members of the 66th Infantry and Igorot soldiers in the defense of Bataan, as noted in an article in the Feb. 23, 1942 issue of The New York Times.

“Hampered by the dense undergrowth and lost in the confusing maze of bamboo thickets, vines and creepers, the tankers would have been impotent had it not been for the aid of the Igorot troops of 2d Battalion, 11th Infantry. Hoisted to the top of the tanks where they were exposed to the fire of the enemy, these courageous tribesmen from north Luzon chopped away the entangling foliage with their bolos and served as eyes for the American tankers. From their position atop the tanks, they fired at the enemy, with pistols while guiding the drivers with sticks.”

Among the heroes in Bataan who also escaped from the Death March and later fought in the liberation of Baguio was Sgt. Florencio Esteban, who also served as historian of the 66th Infantry.

In one of his writings, Esteban recalled how he and fellow guerrilla Daniel Akie survived by fishing during the Bataan campaign:
“In my case with comrade (Daniel) Akia, we started to fish at night. Our catch was good for a week. At one point, some monkeys came to play on the trees covering our headquarters. Comrade Akia said: ‘Let us wait until those monkeys are a little far from our headquarters and then…..shoot some of them for food.”

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on April 05, 2014.

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