Feature: PGMA visit to Leyte landing anniversary inspires war veterans
by Flor Jackson
Naval, Biliran (21 October) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's visit in Leyte to grace the commemoration of the 65th Leyte Gulf Landings Anniversary today, inspired the World War II veterans in region 8 who, inspite of their being old, managed to be present during the occasion.
This was the comment of Francisco Villanueva, an 88 year-old World War II veteran who is a native of Bais City in Negros Oriental but chose to live in Tacloban City because he got married to Simplicia Villanueva, a Taclobanon.
Villanueva related that every year, when Leyte marks the Leyte Gulf Landings Anniversary he never fails to attend the occasion together with other veterans from region 8 as he said, this is the only time that he will be able to meet his colleagues to reminisce how they suffered during the war and their joys when the Philippine Independence was regained after the war.
"I am extremely happy today with the presence of our President, Madame Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as we celebrate the occasion. This is the first time I saw the President in person", he said.
"As I attend the Leyte Gulf Landings Anniversary celebration, I feel the happiness within me because the Leyte˝os celebrate and honor the hardships we encountered during the war", he added.
Villanueva revealed that he is happy and contented with the monthly pension he received from the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) aside from the pension he received from the government of the United States of America.
He further revealed that as a veteran, he enjoys life even though he is now in the twilight years of life.
When asked about his secret to long life, Villanueva, who is blessed with two children simply said "Just be happy and never get angry, for me to be able to live longer and feeling young always".
He thanked President Arroyo for her deep concern to the needs of the veterans especially in facilitating the early release of their monthly pension, where according to him, part of the amount is used to buy medicines and nutritious foods for their body's nourishment to helps prolong their lives.
"I am looking forward to more celebrations of the Leyte Gulf Landings Anniversary in the years ahead. For as long as I am still alive I will always be present during the commemorative program here in MacArthur Park, Palo, Leyte", he said. (PIA-Biliran) [top]