This year, the commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan or Day of Valor is different for two things. Firstly, with the return of holiday economics, we have an extra day of rest (or, in the case of my colleagues at the NHCP, an extra day of busyness). Aside from spending this extra day on the beach or on places of entertainment, we can spend some time to reflect on the sacrifices of our grandparents and parents--men and women, soldier and civilian--to defend our freedoms.
We also have an abundance of documentaries which discuss the Second World War in the Philippines. Some of them are available freely online.
Just last Wednesday, I was able to attend a screening of "Unsurrendered 2: The Hunters ROTC Guerrillas" which featured interviews with the once-young ROTC cadets who started a guerrilla group that reached up to 25,000 and conducted successful raids on the most secure locations. They made contact with Allied forces led by Gen. Douglas MacArthur through a submarine off the coasts of Infanta.
It reminds me that Quezon itself also has guerrilla groups such as General Gaudencio V. Vera's Tayabas Guerrillas based in Lopez, Quezon and operating beyond. A historical marker from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines has been installed in Barrio Lalaguna.
I hope that we could work towards the further popularization of these guerrilla groups especially through documentaries and online posts. But for now, we can spend time visiting war memorials in our town plazas, read the names inscribed there--fighters and victims--and even leave a candle or some flowers. For those who are aware of their veterans' stories, the extra day is an opportune time to share them.
Secondly, it coincides with Easter Sunday--the day when Christians throughout the country celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ which signifies His victory over death and sin. This coincidence invites us to look at how the story of the passion and resurrection energized continued resistance against Japanese fascist rule in the country. Indeed, when Salvador P. Lopez wrote the radio broadcast "Bataan Has Fallen" which Norman Reyes read at the evening of the Fall of Bataan, he included these words:
"All of us know the story of Easter Sunday. It was the triumph of light over darkness, life over death. It was the vindication of a seemingly unreasonable faith. It was the glorious resurrection of a leader, only three days before defeated and executed like a common felon.
"Today, on the commemoration of that Resurrection, we can humbly and without presumption declare our faith and hope in our own resurrection, our own inevitable victory."
As we face several problems such as poverty and sickness, may the same hope inspire us. And as we move forward, may we not forget those who fell in the night--both those who willingly fought and those who were killed and hurt in the course of war.