80th Araw ng Kagitingan highlights heroism amid pandemic

PILAR, Bataan (PIA) — The commemoration of the 80th Araw ng Kagitingan highlighted the modern-day heroism displayed by the Filipino people amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the speech of President Rodrigo Duterte delivered by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, he underscored that heroism is demonstrated by the doctors, nurses, medical personnel, and professionals who willingly stepped up to the frontlines to treat those who are sick and infected with COVID-19.

“As of last year, over a hundred medical frontliners, constituting a veritable heritage of our national medical expertise, have been forever lost in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. In turn, countless lives have been saved by their selfless service and sacrifice,” he stressed.

He said it is also manifested in the contribution of the ordinary Filipino who complied with their duty of observing the minimum public health standards against the disease to mitigate the risk of further infection in the communities.

In addition, Guevarra emphasized that heroism is also depicted among overseas Filipino migrants who are committed to serve their families and their loved ones for a chance to go out of poverty and live with comfort and dignity.

“Our people’s hope to improve their loved one’s future continuously sparks in them immense courage. It is this courage, this boldness in spirit, invoked by the image of a family living a decent life that gives our [national] anthem’s last line, ‘ang mamatay nang dahil sa’yo’ [for us, thy sons to suffer and die], its most intimate meaning,” he added.

The secretary stated that the labor of these Filipinos across the seas created an improved quality of life for their families, and aided the country towards its economic recovery amid pandemic recession.

Meanwhile, Guevarra highlighted that heroism should also be summoned anew in the upcoming 2022 National and Local Elections in choosing the next leaders of the country.

“Come election day, the Filipinos will again march to the polls, unafraid and determined. They will do so in the tradition of the soldiers who, 80 years ago, marched in this province unbowed neither by the threat nor by the certainty of great, personal peril… May that day be a proof of the anthem of our race, ‘ang kislap ng watawat mo’y tagumpay na nagniningning, ang bituin at araw niya kailan pa ma’y ‘di magdidilim’ [thy banner dear to all our hearts, its sun and stars alight],” he furthered. 

He said the voters should again manifest their capacity to think beyond the self, and to vote wisely and courageously by electing a competent and forward-looking government.

Meanwhile, Japanese Ambassador Koshikawa Kazuhiko echoed President Duterte’s tribute to the selfless and dedicated frontliners with their unending commitment for the country and its citizens.

“I want to commend the remarkable achievement of the Filipino people, as the situation began to normalize since the pandemic began two years ago. The cases have dropped significantly after the Omicron surge early this year,” he said.

The ambassador stated that the bilateral relation between Japan and the Philippines have deepened in the various fields including the revitalization of the Philippine economies through infrastructure projects, facilitation of the Mindanao peace process, and modernization of the country’s coastguard maritime law enforcement capacity.

For her part, United States Chargé d’Affaires Ad Interim Heather Variava commended the Filipinos’ legacy of valor, devotion, and sacrifice which shaped the history of both the United States and the Philippines.

“This is something that was forged by history and retained significance today as we face new and critical and compelling challenges that confront both our countries, and the world. It is a testament of the power of freedom and democracy that we also face on today’s challenges alongside Japan, our trusted partner in peace,” she pressed.

She said the United States will continue to strengthen its diplomatic relationship to the Philippines as friends, partners, and allies, in the coming decades. 

The commemoration of the Day of Valor honors about 75,000 Filipino and American soldiers who were forced to take a 65-mile trek by their Japanese captors wherein thousands of them died due to extreme heat and torturous journey on what we call today as the Bataan death march.

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