Australian defense attache "returns" to Leyte
By Neil D. Lopido
Palo, Leyte (20 October) -- "I have complied with your Governor's direction that once you see Leyte, you shall return," thus said Col. Chris Burns, Defense Attaché of the Embassy of Australia during the commemoration of the 62nd Leyte Gulf Landings Anniversary today held at the MacArthur National Park, Candahug, Palo, Leyte.
During the 60th anniversary of the Leyte Gulf Landings in 2004, Burns was extremely honored of being invited and was strucked with the warm and genuine hospitality of the people of Leyte.
The same resilience and community spirit from the people of Leyte was experienced by the Australian Defense Attaché when he returned in February this year as part of his undertaking when the disastrous landslide hit the province of Southern Leyte.
No wonder these Filipino values especially the hospitality of the people of Leyte encouraged Burns to attend this year's Leyte Landings Anniversary with him saying that "there was no question of me not attending". He likewise insisted that his family should also attend so that he could share his life's experiences in his return to Leyte to represent the government and the people of Australia in offering respect and acknowledge the courage and sacrifice to those who fought so bravely during the Leyte Gulf Landings in 1944.
Speaking before the participants, Burns said that "your attendance here today is a testament to the respect to your veterans and your love of the liberation and your forefathers who fought 62 years ago."
"Let us never forget the tremendous acts of individual and collective heroism and sacrifice committed by the allied forces and brave Filipino people before and during the Leyte Gulf Landings and the subsequent campaigns to liberate the Philippines," Burns further said.
Burns also emphasized that the ceremony today is an opportunity to reaffirm the common values and deep friendship that the Australian share with the people of the Philippines and the allied countries who fought aside during World War II.
In behalf of the Australian Government and the people of Australia, Burns also acknowledged the service of Mr. Thomas, a hero veteran who was here in 1962 and has returned almost every year to celebrate and who provided also for 50 years, philantophic service, to the Philippines in the form of medical and legal assistance.
Lastly, the representative of the Australian government together with his family expressed thanks to the national, regional and local governments and the organizers for such a fine display of respect to our nation's heroes and for those who fought to liberate the Philippines.
The ceremony was headed by the province of Leyte thru Gov. Jericho "Icot" Petilla. Present also during the event were DILG Undersecretary Esteban Conejos, Jr. as guest of honor, Congw. Remedios "Matin" Petilla of the 1st District of Leyte, Vice Gov. Mimietta Bagulaya of the Province of Leyte, Mayor Teodoro Sevilla of the Municipality of Palo, Minister-Councilor Nick Oosterveen of the Embassy of Canada, His Excellency Ryuichiro Yamazaki, Ambassador of Japan, Group Captain Mary Ilizabeth Cox, Defense Attaché of the Embassy of New Zealand, Capt. Mike Brooks, Naval Attaché of the Embassy of the United States, Col. Joel Joseph Cabides and (Ret) Col. Dionesio Torrevillas of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines and Sons and Daughters Association, Inc. (PIA-8) [top]