by Meslle Reguyal [02/03/2016]
3 February 2016, Freedom Triangle, Manila City Hall —The Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) headed by Usec. Ernesto G. Carolina joined the people of Manila in their celebration of the liberation of their beloved city from Japanese occupation during World War II. The Battle of Manila, also known as the Liberation of Manila, was fought from 3 February to 3 March 1945 by American, Filipino and Japanese forces. The month-long battle, which brought about the near total devastation of the city of Manila, was the scene of the worst urban fighting in the Pacific theater, and ended the almost three years of Japanese military occupation in the Philippines.
The program started with the Entrance of Colors lead by the Philippine Navy and followed by the singing of the Philippine National Anthem lead by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Significant personalities from several government organizations offered wreaths: Usec. Ernesto G. Carolina, PVAO Administrator; Commander Christopher Van Avery, JUSMAG—Embassy of the United States of America; H.E. Jianhua Zhao of Embassy of the People’s Republic of China; H.E. Julio Camarena Villaseñor, Embassy of the United Mexican States; Gen. William B. Esplana, VP for Operations of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines; Mr. Go Bunyong, President of Wha Chi 48th Squadron Veterans Post; and the descendants of Chinese Filipino World War II Heroes, Inc. namely Mr. Johny Hao Ping Hong, President; Mr. Thomas Sy, Founding President; Col. Oliver T. Aragon; Mr. Jose Miguel, President of Memorare Manila 1945 Foundation, Inc.; Justice Manuel Pamaran, President of Hunters ROTC Guerilla Association; Ludovico D. Badoy, Executive Director of National Historical Commission of the Philippines; Mr. Pedro Arao, Assistant Superintendent of the Department of Education-Manila; and Mr. Ericson Alcovendaz, Manila City Administrator. The wreath-laying rite was followed by the 21-gun salute of the AFP.
Dean Ernesto Maceda Jr. of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila’s College of Law warmly welcomed all the guests. Vice Mayor Francisco M. Domagoso, finally introduced the keynote speaker, Hon. Joseph Ejercito Estrada, whose message was read by his representative, City Administrator Alcovendaz. “We honor the memory of the many innocent civilians who lost their lives, their loved ones, their homes, and livelihood. But those who survived like us never lost their spirit and their hope in rebuilding their lives. I would like to inform you that I’m one of the survivors of this battle because I was seven years old at that time. I can still remember the fighting and the sounds of bombing which I thought then was an extension of fireworks celebration of the New Year,” according to Estrada’s message.
The program ended with the singing of “Awit ng Maynila” by the Manila City Chorale./M. Reguyal