Sunday, March 19, 2017

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The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Balantang Memorial Cemetery National Shrine in Barangay Quintin Salas, Jaro, Iloilo City is a monument dedicated to Ilonggo World War II soldiers and guerillas who have died without their remains being identified. IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN

ILOILO City – The historic liberation of Panay from invading Japanese troops during World War II is not lost on today’s generation of Ilonggos – at least not on the young people this paper interviewed.

Yesterday was the 72nd anniversary of the Liberation of Panay. On March 18, 1945 Panay guerilla forces launched the final assault on the Japanese armed forces. It capped the liberation campaign begun three years earlier by the local guerillas.

For 21-year-old Helen Greece Subosa of Santa Barbara, Iloilo, the sacrifices of Ilonggo war veterans must be retold over and over again.

A young employee, Subosa observed that some young people appeared clueless why it was a holiday yesterday.

“I think it’s time they are reminded what the celebration was all about,” said Subosa.

In 1989 then President Corazon Aquino issued Proclamation No. 430, “An Act Declaring March 18 of every year as Victory Day in the Islands of Panay and Romblon including the cities of Iloilo and Roxas.”

She cited the Free Panay Guerilla Forces, 6th Military District, composed of the officers and men of the 61st Division Philippine Army. They preferred continuing the fight than surrendering after the fall of Bataan.

Together with other units of the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) and civilian volunteers from all walks of life such as lawyers, doctors, engineers, nurses, teachers, fishermen, farmers and students, “Panay guerrillas harassed, sabotaged and decimated the Japanese Imperial Armed Forces in the islands of Panay and Romblon throughout World War II in the name of country, freedom and democracy,” part of the Proclamation read.

College student Jonny Flores said Ilonggo war veterans should be hailed for their courage during the war.

A resident of Igbaras, Iloilo, Flores stressed the importance of remembering this part of Ilonggo history.

“Ang past ta dapat mabal-an ta. Kun wala na ang past ta, wala kita kabalo kun diin kita subong,” he said.

The Liberation of Panay was “part na ya sang life ta,” Flores added, and the young generation should take inspiration from the bravery and sacrifices of the war veterans.

The historic Liberation of Panay was remembered yesterday at the Balantang Memorial Cemetery National Shrine in Barangay Quintin Salas, Jaro district – the final resting place of Ilonggo war veterans.

The youth of today are so full of themselves they have forgotten their rich history, lamented Flores.

That day when the Panay guerillas launched the final assault coincided with the landing of the American liberation forces at the Tigbauan, Iloilo beach as prearranged between Col. Macario Peralta Jr., founder and overall commander of the Free Panay Guerilla Forces, and Lt. General Robert L. Eichelberger, commanding general of the 8th United States Army.

The 24-year-old Ruben of Oton, Iloilo said the Liberation of Panay must be marked each year to honor “real Ilonggo heroes.”


“My history subjects in elementary and high school and even college taught me how brave Filipinos were during World War II,” he said./PN


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