PGMA leads 65th commemoration of Leyte Gulf Landing
Palo, Leyte (21 October) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo led the 65th commemoration of the Leyte Gulf Landing at the MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park here.
On behalf of the grateful nation, the Chief Executive lauded the gallant Filipino soldiers who fought with the Allied Forces.
The Leyte Gulf Landing, with this year's theme "A Salute to the Valor of Our Last Living Heroes," led to the liberation of the Philippines from the Japanese Imperial Army in World War II.
The Chief Executive was assisted in the wreath-laying ceremony by United States Ambassador Kristie Kenney, Australian Defense Attache Captain Vic Jones, Canadian Counselor James Trottier, and Japanese Ambassador Makoto Katsura.
The four ambassadors offered solidarity messages as part of the commemoration of the historical event.
Jones said Australia will always honor and remember the Filipino soldiers who fought and helped drive away the occupiers.
Trottier, for his part, noted that the Gulf Leyte Landing that started the Battle of Leyte marked the turning point in the Pacific war.
"Let us not forget the sacrifices (of our soldiers) for freedom and security," Trottier added.
Kenney also honored the valor and courage of soldiers to save their respective nations and protect freedom.
She said that nations are strong when they are together, adding the Philippines and the US were together during the hardest and best moments in their shared history.
On the other hand, Katsura apologized for the damages of war brought by the invasion of the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.
"After the war, Japan was reborn as a peace-loving nation. I have been deeply moved by the sense of reconciliation and fairness of Filipino people," he said.
The Japanese envoy noted that since then, when the Philippines and Japan became friends, the Japanese government has been helping the Philippines in trade, investment, and even in promoting the peace process in Mindanao.
President Arroyo and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro awarded with a special plaque the 10 oldest living World War II veterans from Eastern Visayas whose age range from 91 to 95 years old.
The awardees were (oldest to youngest) Isabelo Figueroa, Francisco Diaz, Porferio San'o, Jesus Mahay, Felicisimo Gonzaga, Calixto Real, Pedro Echanez, Teofisto Dimafiles, Catalino Vivero, and Marcelino Negro.
Also present during the event were Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Gabby Claudio, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde, Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano, Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) Lead Convenor Secretary Domingo Panganiban, Surigao del Norte Francisco Matugas, Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla, and Palo Mayor Teodoro Sevilla. (PIA-MMIO) [top]