Philippine Veterans Affairs Office Administrator, Undersecretary Reynaldo B. Mapagu, joined the province of Pangasinan in the commemoration of the 78th Anniversary of the Lingayen Gulf Landings and the 16th Pangasinan Veterans Day on 09 January 2023, at the Veterans Memorial Park, Lingayen Pangasinan.

Guest of Honor and Speaker, Pangasinan Governor, Hon. Ramon V. Guico III, led the Wreath Laying Ceremony together with Pangasinan Vice Governor Mark Ronald Lambino, Lingayen Mayor Leopoldo Bataoil, Lingayen Vice Mayor Mac Dexter Malicdem, Philippine Veterans Bank (PVB) President Mr. Renato A. Claravall, and the PVAO Administrator.

Vice Gov. Mark Lambino, in his welcome remarks, expressed his gratitude to the veterans and honored their sacrifices for the nation. “We give tribute to our dear veterans who are with us today, and also those who have fallen, who have illuminated and shed some light in the world, as they have served, protected and sacrificed their lives for the freedom of the country,” he said.

PVB President, Mr. Renato A. Claravall also expressed his sincerest gratitude to all those who have served during the war. “We, at the Philippine Veterans, are not only proud but it is our mission to help continue the story of our heroes, the veterans. This is why the bank was created and why we are here to serve the veterans,” he said, sharing the “reason for being” of PVB.

Meanwhile, PVAO Administrator USec. Reynaldo B. Mapagu encouraged everyone to exemplify the bravery of the veterans and reflect in their own ways the heroism and valor our veterans displayed during the war. “It is my hope that we exemplify their heroic deeds in our daily lives. May we also rise up for our countrymen and the good of our nation in our simple ways, through our own little efforts,” he said.

USec. Mapagu also announced the completion of the newly built Veterans Ward in the Region 1 Medical Center, located in Dagupan City, Pangasinan which will soon be operational once the procurement of its equipage finish. “All veterans as well as their dependents can avail the services of the hospital, free of charge,” USec. Mapagu happily shared.

USec. Mapagu, together with Gov. Guico, and Vice Gov. Lambino, led the conferment of the Philippine Liberation Medal and the World War II Victory Medal to seven (7) living World War II Veteran awardees, to wit: PFC. Ricardo C. Manzano (97 years old); Pvt. Pedro T. Hiteroza (98 y/o); PFC Marcelo M. Tapiador (98 y/o); Cpl. Victorina Garcia Urmaza (99 y/o); PFC Hospicio N. Mallari (101 y/o); Cpl. Adriano S. Salomon (102 y/o); PFC Valentin Mamanta Untalan (106 y/o). One (1) posthumous awardee, Pvt. Juan De Guzman Cristobal, was also honored with the awards during the commemoration. In recognition of their service to the country, the local government of Pangasinan also bestowed the awardees with cash assistance amounting to Php 10,000.

Gov. Guico, in his message, highlighted the importance of forging a strong partnership among the local and national government agencies to institutionalize cultural and historical mapping. “Many of our veterans have already passed on, but it is time also that the history and cultural events should be passed on to the next generation,” he said.

“It is fitting for us to immortalize and enshrine these people, kailangan hindi nating makalimutan ang ginawang kabayanihan ng ating mga kababayan,” he added.

Following the commemoration, a Ribbon Cutting ceremony for the photo exhibit, “War of our Fathers: A Brotherhood of Heroes”, was held at the Pangasinan Training and Development Center 1.

The exhibit, spearheaded by the Philippine Veterans Bank, together with the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office and the Provincial Government of Pangasinan, aims to feature a glimpse of the Second World War and the country’s Liberation Campaign. The exhibit is open to the public and shall run from January 9 to January 15, 2023. Additionally, a Medical Mission for the veterans and their dependents was also conducted after the event.