Faith is a mentor of devotion. And to choose the greater good is called heroism.
In March of this year, Proclamation No. 90 series of 2022 came out, it is a green light for a long, uninterrupted holidays for the Filipinos to have prolonged quality time with families, friends and self.
The pronouncement declared April 6 and 7 as regular holidays for the observance of the Holy Week, including April 9 as commemoration of the Araw ng Kagitingan which was moved to April 10 under the principle of holiday economics, wherein a longer weekend would help encourage domestic travel and increase tourism expenditures in the country.
Not only that, Memorandum Circular No. 16 from the Office of the President, permitted government employees to safely pack and go for an early time off on April 5, without compromise to the essential services of the government.
Retro to its core
The April long holidays were an observance of two celebrations, spotlighting two main characters behind the festivity, who manifested unquestionable heroism on its core essence, “putting others first, even at your own peril. "
A quick flashback on how Jesus Christ fought for humanity, while the Filipino veterans battled for our country, raised the bar on the perception of heroism and made them well-deserving of the honor, remembrance and to live in our memory lane.
The Holy Week reminded Christians all around the world of the life of Jesus Christ who sacrificed His life – pained, died – to save humans from the since of the world.
Most devotees follow several traditions to honor Jesus Christ's sacrifice. It has become a tradition that during these times, Filipino Catholics remember Christ's passion, suffering and death by visiting churches or simply staying at home to pray and reflect on Christ's death. Filipinos have their own ways of observing the Holy Week.
At present, however, some individuals opt and make the most of the Holy Week by spending their time to travel and visit places of attraction rather than sticking with the traditions.
After more than three years of hiatus due to the pandemic, finally real vacation was experienced, as tremendous footprints and memories of Filipinos and tourists were imprinted by visiting the existing and new travel destinations in the archipelago.
For one, General Luna town of Siargao Islands in Surigao del Norte, had almost reached its capacity to sustain ecotourism, thus local and foreign tourists were encouraged to explore and navigate the beautiful nearby towns of the island.
Indeed, a big contribution to the revival of the country’s economy and support to tourism industry.
Day of Valor
Ten hours after the surprise military strike by the imperial Japanese Navy Air Service upon the United States at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu on December 7, 1941, the Japanese occupation in the Philippines occurred until 1945.
During the Wreath-laying Ceremony of the 81st Araw ng Kagitingan on April 10, 2023 at the grounds of Butuan City Library, Louie Jay C. Losaria, head of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) Caraga, shared a brief history on how Filipinos fought for freedom and independence that have endured and appreciated to date.
The Bataan Death March on April 9, 1942, spotlighted the Filipinos, together with American prisoners of war, estimated at 60,000 to 80,0000, were forced to march through the Philippines with a route of 65 miles long and stretched from the peninsula to the railhead inland. Accordingly, almost 17,000 Filipinos were killed during and after the Bataan Death March.
A story that magnified another heroism and the birth of another set of heroes, the Filipino veterans.
The government further cemented this part and parcel of history by declaring April 5 to 11 of every year as Philippines Veterans Week, pursuant to Proclamation No. 466, series of 1989.
A gratitude to Filipino veterans
During one of the culmination activities of the Philippine Veterans Week through a Kapihan with PIA Caraga in SM City Butuan on April 11, 2023, the PVAO officer underscored the said history as the strong force behind the creation of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office.
Losaria also bared the expansion of its clientele to include during and post World War II and the surviving spouses of the fallen veterans. The PVAO has been catering programs and services such as processing of claims, educational assistance to minors until age 21, and hospitalization benefits, among others.
The PVAO Caraga will soon be boosted, thus, it has been engaging with different government agencies, other sectors and the media partners in the region to intensify its information dissemination efforts and ensures that veterans and their dependents are able to avail of the PVAO programs.
As we cruise in life, let us not settle down by simply remembering the Filipino Veterans, rather let us make them as our constant inspiration. Just like them, we can be heroes in our respective vocation and profession. (RLE/PIA-Caraga)