It’s the National Day of Valor. I’m writing this from the media platform I’m standing on while listening to the oratorical winning piece of Eunice Lorraine Nolasco. The high school student’s stirring speech spoken in Filipino, in her bold voice, hits me right away. 

On this day, 76 years ago, 66,000 Filipino soldiers and 10,000 American troops in Bataan were forced to make a gruelling 66-mile march from Mariveles to Camp O’Donnell in Tarlac.

“Blood-stained, the soldiers moved,” Lorraine emphasized, as she went on to highlight the predicaments of the soldiers during the death march. Indeed it’s worth revering how amidst adversities, they managed to carry on.

These days, younger Filipino millennials enjoy independence (as they should) and all the perks of democratic values that come with it. But it seems the younger population is so absorbed in the idea of the Philippines being free.

It makes me wonder if this state has robbed us, in any way, a good amount of depth on how we view things or life in general.

Some questions I can’t shake: If we pay attention to how we complain and what things we complain about, have we really grown superficial? Have we lost sight of the lessons of the past?

Struggles, ours and theirs

Eighty-nine-year-old Lola Maria has been living since the wartime.

Aged thirteen back then, the threat was not only the lack of human basic needs such as food, water, clothing, and shelter, it’s also getting killed or abused physically/sexually.

Today, privileged thirteen-year-olds struggle to “mine diamonds” or build a virtual kingdom in mobile applications. Other youngsters sweat to put their brow makeup on fleek. I complain about and lose my patience to slow wireless connectivity.

In war-torn countries like Syria, civilians that include children and infants are bombed perpetually. They lament on lost homes and loved ones.  They agonize on their own lost body parts.

With the foreign military threat and nuclear terrors here and there, I’m not sure if we are on the brink of another world war.

What is certain, as Dr. Rene Escalante mentioned in his speech is “something is wrong with the present world order and it is important to consider how to be a peacemaker in this contemporary time.”

Being a peacemaker 

It pays to remember the tragic events of the past. To hear stories of grief — accounts of those who’ve lived through — we don’t only pay tribute to the lives given but we promote and preserve ideals of patriotic deeds. By doing this, we promote sacrifice and nationalism. And this ultimately leads to peace.

In the words of Mr. Michael Klecheski’s, “remembering this day is beyond recognition and admiration… it is also a time to recommit to the highest human qualities.”

“There are no greater treasures than the highest human qualities such as compassion, courage and hope. Not even a tragic accident or disaster can destroy such treasures of the heart.” – Daisaku Ikeda

Parting Words

I am very thankful I was able to attend the 76th Araw Ng Kagitingan commemoration in Mt. Samat, Pilar, Bataan. This day combined with the others spent on heritage tours with fellow bloggers in different historical sites in Bataan have made listening to the message of each speaker on the stage more meaningful and compelling. May we come to a resolve to promote the highest human qualities: compassion, courage, hope, honesty, integrity, self-control – to practice these values not only to/ for/ with fellow human beings, but also the environment, animals, and our inner selves. It is not very easy to do, but at least we can strive to do it. If so, we make every single minute of our life worth living and all the lives sacrificed for ours worth it.

Article originally posted in 2018

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