The country is observing Philippine Veterans’ Week on April 5-11, 2014, simultaneous with the 72nd “Araw ng Kagitingan” (Day of Valor).
With the theme “Balik-tanaw sa Sakripisyo ng Beterano, Gabay sa Landas ng Pagbabago,” the commemoration aims to present our country’s veterans as among our national treasures, and to revive the “culture of heroism” by looking at our veterans’ valor and selfless sacrifices to oppose foreign colonizers in the country.
Pre-commemoration of Philippine Veterans’ Week kicked off yesterday (March 24) with a showing of “Death March”—a critically-acclaimed film directed by Adolfo Alix, Jr.-- which showcases poignant moments during the World War 2 Bataan Death March where some 70,000 prisoners of war were forced to march by Japanese guards 65 miles from Bataan to Capas, Tarlac.
The film, which was shown at the AFP Theater, tackled war veterans’ personal experiences of the war, through their individual vantage point—with others experiencing hallucination, reverie, illnesses, great discomfort, atrocity, and death in the hands of Japanese forces. In the end, the movie carries with it themes of valor, courage, and hope amidst hardships brought by war, and the fall of Filipino soldiers in Bataan.
Director Alix said that the film is a “recreation of the early 1900s, where the death march experience could be treated as either a nightmare or liberation.”
War veteran Dr. Edmundo Nolasco, a survivor of the death march, gave his own accounts, through a poem, of the grueling march.
Through verse, he said that while the war veterans had been mocked by the Japanese soldiers, they (veterans) remained strong and intent in their dream of Philippine liberation.
He also said that it has always been the goal of the veterans to establish a society that is God-fearing, humane, and just (“Maka-Diyos, makatao, at makatarungan”), and it is through their firm resolve to achieve this that the country was able to set free from the shackles of Japanese regime.
Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, AFP Public Affairs Office Chief, urged the public to “remember the veterans who were living regular lives, but sacrificed their lives in defense of the country.”
Zagala said that through the featured film, “Death March”, the younger generations are reminded of those who have valiantly fought in Bataan, and that our veterans, with their discipline and patriotism, should be emulated by the youth of the present times.
He also added that the film “should inspire the youth to understand the importance of remembering the past so as not to commit the same mistakes in the future.”
The Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), headed by Lt. General Ernesto Carolina, has lined up a series of activities in observance of Philippine Veterans’ Week.
Activities vary from photo exhibits, golf tournament, fun run, medical and surgical mission, and the “Sunrise, Wreath-laying, and Sunset” ceremonies to be held on April 5-11, all in memoriam of all our Filipino Veterans—the living and those who have laid to rest already.