By: Tara Yap
THEIR numbers may be dwindling, but six surviving veterans of World War II still saw the day that their heroic sacrifices were honored.
The Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) recognized the contributions of veterans Eladio Macasar Peñaranda, Cornelio Lustre Areño, Fernando Alintitud Alecto, Ramon Atintar Oro, Loreto Laru-an Lazo, and Ambrosio Alfeche Ambut during the 72nd anniversary of the Liberation of Panay, Guimaras and Romblon Islands in Iloilo City on March 18, 2017.
PVAO Administrator Ernesto Carolina said the veterans, who are 90-years-old and above, were awarded for their “gallantry” that can “serve as an inspiration to the Filipino youth.”
The veterans received their awards from Major General Jon Aying of Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID), Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Sr., Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, and Carolina during the March 18 rites in Iloilo City.
While having a hard time hearing, 99-year-old Lazo said he never wants another war. The wheelchair-bound veteran recalled the harrowing experiences that even water supply can be a matter of life and death.
On the other hand, 94-year-old Peñaranda gave a snappy salute to Aying and other officers.
Claro Daulo Sr., president of the 6th Military District World War II Veterans Association Inc., said proper benefits must be given as the numbers of surviving veterans are dwindling.
PVAO said the role of women in the victory of both Filipino and American forces against the Japanese must also be remembered and honored.
Carolina said women did not only deliver food supply to battle fields and cared for the wounded, but also joined in covert operations by gathering intelligence.
Another sidelight of the Liberation of Panay commemoration and the 13th Iloilo Veterans Memorial Day was the March 17 inauguration of the newly-renovated Philippine Veterans Bank (PVB) along the corner of Delgado/Valeria Streets.
PVB Vice President Mike Villa-Real said one of bank’s features is a WW II History Wall which immortalizes the Panay soldiers victory against the Japanese.