The Secretary of National Defense, Hon. Delfin N. Lorenzana led the inauguration and blessing of the Renovated Veterans Center building on 13 April 2022 in Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
The inauguration rites commenced with the ceremonial ribbon cutting and unveiling of the marker led by Sec. Lorenzana, together with DND Undersecretary for Civil, Veterans and Reserve Affairs USec. Reynaldo B. Mapagu, Executive Vice President of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines (VFP) MGen Romeo Alamillo, Commander of the AFP General Headquarters (GHQ) and Headquarters Service Command (HSC) BGen Ferdinand S. Razalan, and Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) Administrator USec. Ernesto G. Carolina. The blessing of the newly renovated building was officiated by the Acting Chief Chaplain of the AFP Chaplain Services, Col. Carlito T. Buslon.
In his speech, Guest of Honor and Speaker Sec. Lorenzana recounted the arduous but gratifying journey of rehabilitating the Veterans Center. He also urged all the veterans organizations who will be occupying the newly renovated edifice to take good care of the center and ensure its proper maintenance. As such, he also enjoined the officers of the various veterans organizations present in the event to properly utilize and manage all the available resources to support long-term assistance that will benefit the Filipino veterans.
The construction of the Veterans Center was initiated in 1975 to provide a dignified, pleasant, and conducive place where veterans can gather together and relive their experiences during the war. Selected veterans organizations may also be allocated office spaces in the building.
For this very purpose, the Department of National Defense (DND) Comptroller, the late BGen. Raymundo Teruel, and the then Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (CSAFP), Gen. Romeo Espino, collaborated to raise funds, both of whom were World War II veterans. The construction was undertaken by then AFP Chief Engineer BGen. Francisco Dumpit AFP (Ret). The construction of the Veterans Center was completed in 1977.
However, the building deteriorated to a deplorable state, with poor facilities and lack of amenities, due to years of mismanagement. PVAO took notice of this and in coordination with the then Commanding General of the GHQ & HSC, BGen. Glorioso Miranda, PVAO and GHQ & HSC took control of the building in 2015.
Actual construction started in August 2020 led by the 51st Engineer Brigade (EBde) then under the leadership of BGen Lyndon Sollesta. The project was completed in March 2022 under the leaderships of BGen. JT Bajet of 51st EBde and Col. Ramon Gurat of the 564th Engineer Construction Battalion (ECB).
The scope of the project includes the rehabilitation of the electrical system, construction and refurbishment of office rooms for veterans organizations, renovation of the social hall, extension of the canteen/pantry, replacement of roofing system and ceiling, and enhancement of building interior and exterior finishing, to name a few.
Future plans for the center include the establishment of the WWII Memorial Digital Collection Portal, indoor museum and library, development of the surrounding areas to feature historical relics and markers, and the digitization of the Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor (DBC) heritage collections.
The inauguration ceremony was also attended by representatives from the Confederation of Filipino Veterans, USAFIP – NL. Inc., Philippine Veterans Legion, Cavaliers Association of Veterans Inc., PEFTOK Veterans Association, Inc., Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, Inc., HUNTERS ROTC Guerilla Association, Inc., AFP Retired Veterans Association, Inc., Philippine Association of War Widows Parents and Orphans, Inc., Association of Soldier Widows Parents & Orphans Inc. (ASWPO), and Association of Vietnam Veterans of the Philippines.