The Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) and the Local Government of Baguio City celebrated the 77th Anniversary of Victory Day in Baguio on 03 September 2022 at the Baguio Convention Center. PVAO Administrator Undersecretary Reynaldo B. Mapagu served as the Guest of Honor and Speaker during the event.
To give recognition to the gallantry and bravery of Filipino soldiers who paved the way for this historical triumph to take place, fifteen (15) World War II Veterans were posthumously awarded with the Philippine Liberation Medal and the World War II Victory Medal. USec. Mapagu was joined by Congressman Marquez O. Go, Councilor Vladimir D. Cayabas, Councilor Benny O. Bomogao, Councilor Elmer O. Datuin, and Councilor Leandro B. Yangot, Jr. during the awarding.
The posthumous awardees were: 1LT Federico M. Mandapat, 2LT Gualterio P. Adalim, SSGT Dominador N. Halog, SSGT Pablo Laayon, SSGT Leon G. Aquino, SGT Cirilo N. Valmonte, PFC Domingo E. Basallo, PFC Emeterio Y. Maranan, PFC Prudencio Lumbag, PVT Emilio M. Antolin, VET Pedro R. Arellano, PVT Confesor E. Carpiso, PVT Pio F. Claver, PVT Dionisio L. Madayag, and PVT Alfredo B. Paderon.
Alongside the commemoration of Victory Day in Baguio, a World War II Mural titled, “A Tribute to Filipino Freedom Fighters: Out of the Darkness, Prisms of Light”, was also unveiled to the public. The mural features a collage of photographs taken in Baguio City during World War II.
According to the First Vice President of the Philippine Veterans Bank (PVB), Mr. Miguel Angelo Villareal, who also graced the event, the mural was first unveiled in December 2011 at the former branch of the Philippine Veterans Bank in the city. The World War II mural has now found its new home at the Baguio Convention Center.
In his Keynote Speech, USec. Mapagu remembered the millions of Filipino civilians, as well as foreign nationals who suffered and died during the Second World War. Likewise, he gave reverence to our freedom fighters for their selfless service for the country.
“Kaya naman sa aming mga minamahal na beterano, lubos po kaming nagpapasalamat sa inyong hindi matatawarang malasakit at pagmamahal para sa ating bayan. Hindi man matutumbasan ng mga medalyang ito ang inyong sakripisyo, taos puso pa rin po naming iginagawad ang mga ito bilang pagkilala sa inyong ipinamalas na tapang at kabayanihan,” he said.
He also urged the LGU of Baguio to work with PVAO to promote and utilize the unveiled World War II Mural for its intended purpose, which is to propagate our forefathers’ story of sacrifice, courage, and valor.
Unknown to many, the World War II in the Philippines started and ended in Baguio City. It commenced with the first Japanese overt aerial raid over Camp John Hay hours after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on 08 December 1941. On December 27 of the same year, the Japanese occupied Baguio City and used Camp John Hay as a military base.
Almost four years later, the Japanese Forces led by General Tomoyuki Yamashita was soon captured in Kiangan, Ifugao by Filipino guerrillas on 02 September 1945. The Japanese General, known as the Tiger of Malaya, was then transferred to Baguio City where he signed the Instrument of Surrender on 03 September 1945 at Camp John Hay. In attendance to receive the surrender were U.S. Lieutenant General Jonathan Wainwright, who commanded and subsequently surrendered the Allied Forces in Corregidor, and other prisoners of war.