The 75th Leyte Gulf Landings commemoration highlighted the gallantry of World War II heroes that led to the liberation of the Philippines from the three-year Japanese occupation.
In a low-key celebration at MacArthur Landing Memorial Park in this town, officials honored the bravery of Filipino guerrilla fighters and Allied Forces.
US Embassy Chargé D’ Affaires John Law called for reflection and gratitude for the 15,000 soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
“Those who fought paid the dreadful price for us to regain freedom and restore peace. It’s the debt that we can only pay by remembering as we do today,” Law said.
Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Stephen James Robinson thanked the Philippines for acknowledging Australia’s role in the Liberation of Leyte with the participation of 4,000 Australian soldiers.
“Your commitment and valor serve as a timeless example to us all. The battle reminds us to be ready to work whenever and wherever duty calls,” Robinson said.
Yasushi Yamamoto, Chargé D’ Affaires of Japan Embassy in the Philippines, condoled with family members whose forefathers perished during the war.
“Since the war ended, Japan has consistently valued peace. My country has been dedicated to promoting peace and prosperity in Asia. Japan is determined to continue to make greater contributions to that end,” Yamamoto said.
Since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed the post, there are already seven summit meetings held between Philippine and Japan. The past four years are considered as the “golden age of strategic partnership”, according to the Japanese official.
National Security Adviser Hormogenes Esperon described the commemoration as truly sentimental as the country remembers the landing of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, commencing the Battle of Leyte, defeating the Japanese Imperial Army.
“Let us take this occasion to be grateful for the gallantry of troops. May their sacrifices inspire us to be decisive in confronting the challenges that we may face,” Esperon said.
Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla urged Leyteños to always remember the stories of Leyte Gulf Landings as part of their duty to keep alive the valor of World War II heroes.
“Our veterans both the departed and the living deserve to be recognized for their heroism in times of war so that we may all live,” Petilla said.
Some of the 105 surviving veterans and sons and daughters of guerrilla fighters attended the event.
It was on Oct. 20, 1944 when Gen. Douglas MacArthur, together with President Sergio Osmeña and Gen. Carlos P. Romulo, again set foot on Philippine soil, their first after they left Corregidor in 1942.
Their arrival started a battle that spanned 100,000 square miles of sea; and was fought for three days, from Oct. 23 to 25, 1944, during the invasion of Leyte by the Allied forces.
The battle signaled the fulfillment of Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s famous words, “I shall return,” after going to Australia to muster support from the Allied forces in the quest to liberate the Philippines from Japanese occupation. (PNA)