Monday, May 23

Thank You, Mr. Aquino

These photos were taken at the Day of Valor held last April 9, 2016 at Mt. Samat National Shrine, Pilar, Bataan

It was Mr. Aquino's last Araw ng Kagitingan as a president. Like a famous celebrity, people were clamoring to hold him or shake his hand.  

We thank you, Mr. President for the good you have done for the country. You are not perfect but you were successful in planting the good seeds for the next generations to nurture. 

Your father once told you, 'Son, the ball is now in your hands.'  But now, as a new leadership is dawning, many gravely realize that the ball is actually in their own hands. It was never a one man's fight and never will it be. You were voted as president to lead us and I am praying that many Filipinos realize that they also need to do their part.

Thank you once more. For all the great things you have done for the Philippines.

Mabuhay Ka!

Monday, May 16

The 74th Araw ng Kagitingin

Every year, the Philippines commemorates Araw ng Kagitingan or Day of Valor. With compliments from the Provincial Tourism Office, me and fellow travelers were able to experience the celebration of a significant national holiday in the province.  

It was my first time to attend an event like this, much to my chagrin since I have always professed a deep love for my country. So when the opportunity presented itself, I prayed and fervently hoped that I can come. And so I did. 

There were no cool winds to comfort us as the sun's rays pushed our patience to the limits. The day was hot and humid but the skies were blue - a clear sign that a good weather will last through out the day.

As my companions and I climbed up the last steps of Mt. Samat National Shrine, I can feel my heart balloon with such great pride. Our national flag was up there, waving strongly. Up high.

74 years ago, on April 9, 1942, Bataan has fallen from invading Japanese forces. More than 70,000 American and Filipino soldiers fiercely defended Bataan despite the lack of supplies and in the midst of fatal diseases like Malaria.  

I was unaware that we were actually attending the Araw ng Kagitingan celebration and that no less than the Ambassadors of Japan and USA and the Philippine President will be there.

We arrived early to ensure we can appreciate the place before the crowds arrive. Just before proceeding to the top, several buses arrived with the veterans. I stood there, like a starstruck fan and waited for them to come down. Once they alighted, I paid my respects, kissed their hands and fondly greeted them. 

photo by Mai Flores

It was surreal for me. And I felt humbled too. I even began questioning myself what have I done to make my country proud? These men and women sacrificed their lives for my life and freedom. 

After a few moments, excitement filled the air as Pres. Aquino and his entourage passed by the red carpet. He spent a few moments greeting and smiling at the nearby audience. He shook hands with many before he was warmly received by Bataan Gov. Albert Garcia and other local politicians.

Afterwards, the President gave his speech. It was simple and not overly dramatic.  It emphasized on what has been done for our war veterans and what needs to be done in order to continue the straight path and in recognition of the gallantry our forefathers have shown.  After a couple of hours, the program ended and the president had his closing remarks.

I felt a sudden surge of Filipino pride as I watched the veterans being ushered to leave the venue. I knew that at that moment, I could never be more proud of being a Filipino.  For we are decent, God-fearing, law-abiding and righteous people.  

Like I always say, Mabuhay ang Filipinas!

Monday, May 9

It is More Fun in Bataan

A distant memory of climbing Mt. Samat in high school was my only recollection of this simple province. This, and a few horrible WWII stories of my late great grandmother. 

So when an invite to explore some of its offerings was at hand, I took the opportunity without hesitation. Not only I enjoyed some of Bataan's best, but I also gained new friendships that I know would last a lifetime. 
 photo by Mimi