The City Government of Batac and the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) commemorated the 156th Birth Anniversary of General Artemio “Vibora” Ricarte on a rainy Thursday morning on 20 October 2022. The event was marked with a solemn wreath laying ceremony at the Ricarte National Shrine and a grand opening parade participated by city government employees, students, teachers and other sectors.
The wreath laying ceremony was led by Guest of Honor and Speaker, Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc, Batac City Mayor Albert Chua, Batac City Vice Mayor Windell Chua and PVAO Deputy Administrator, ASec. Restituto Aguilar. The kin of General Ricarte was also present during the event.
Despite the continuous rainfall, Vice Mayor Chua warmly welcomed the guests during his speech. He also highlighted the impact of General Artemio Ricarte to Ilokanos making him worthy to be remembered and celebrated. “Today, we pay homage to the greatness of a man who lingers in the hearts and minds of our people and whose dedication shall forever be etched in our hearts,” he said.
General Artemio Ricarte is a respected Ilokano hero of Batac City and Ilocos Norte. He was also known as “Vibora” or “the Viper” by his fellow Katipuneros. He was a Revolutionary War General who fought both the Spanish and Americal Colonizers and was known for his strong defiance to the occupation of the United States of America. In several occasions, he refused to take the oath of allegiance to the foreign invaders, leading to his imprisonment and exile to Hongkong and Japan.
In his inspirational message, ASec. Aguilar also recounted the heroic deeds of General Ricarte during the Revolutionary War and his determination to rekindle the flame of revolt of fellow Filipinos when the majority found it difficult to resist the Americans.
“Despite the tragedies and suffering that had befallen him throughout his service to the country, we want to remember the General as a genuine revolutionary hero who dedicated his life to pursue the freedom and independence of the Philippines,” ASec. Aguilar said.
Likewise, Mayor Albert Chua expressed his high regard to General Ricarte as a great pride of Batac City. He also encouraged his fellow Batakenyos to emulate the values of General Ricarte in serving the country. “Let us take this opportunity as Ilokanos to strengthen our heroic heritage and uphold our great Ilokano spirit. As public servants, may this celebration be a renewal of our commitment to dedicate our lives to our fellowmen,” he added.
Meanwhile, Ilocos Norte Governor Manotoc mentioned how the gathering is more than just a ceremonial event but also a deep learning experience for him as he personnally met the descendants of General Ricarte and some of the living Ilokano World War II Heroes also present in the event.
“This is a reminder that we are part of something greater. Let us make sure that in their honor and in gratitude to them, we continue to try to do the right thing and continue to try to help others. We may not have the opportunity to fight in the war but we do have the opportunity to be everyday heroes,” Governor Manotoc said.
Mrs. Dory Dominguez, the great great grandaughter of General Ricarte, together with other family members also attended the event. Now residing in Cebu City, the family flew back to Batac City to return and bury half of General Ricarte’s ashes in Batac City, his birthplace and childhood home town. PVAO also turned over several personal belongings of the General for the family to keep.
During the event, PVAO also held an awarding ceremony for the thirteen (13) World War II Veterans from the Ilocos Region to confer the Philippine Liberation Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and Plaque of Recognition in grateful recognition of their invaluable services during World War II. The oldest living veteran to be awarded was Master Sergeant Eugenio S. Pedro who is already 102 years old. He served as a rifleman for the 2nd Battalion of the United States Army Forces in the Philippines – Northern Luzon (USAFIP-NL).
Other members of the USAFIP-NL awarded on the same day were; Private Alipio S. Edrozo (94 years old), Private Esteban Andres (94 y/o), Private Alfredo Domingo (97 y/o), Private Elpidio Dela Cruz (97 y/o), Private Florencio Padaong (98 y/o), Private Basilio Orque (98 y/o), Private Asuncion Raval (98 y/o). Several members of the Women’s Auxiliary Service Unit of the USAFIP-NL were also recognized including; Private Imelda Malapit (91 y/o), Second Lieutenant Melchora Salvador (91 y/o), Corporal Rosita Torralba (94 y/o) and Private Pacita Agbayani (96 y/o). PVAO also conferred the awards to one posthumous awardee, Staff Sergeant Pompeyo Villon.