75th anniversary of end of WWII commemorated in empty park
 in Baguio City

World War II in the Philippines started and ended in Baguio City.

After bombing Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, Japanese planes bombed Camp John Hay on December 8, 1941, to start the staging of the war in the Philippines. More than two weeks later, Camp John Hay would indeed fall to the Japanese and it was used to house mostly American internees.

On April 26, 1945, Baguio would return to the American fold. And on September 3, 1945, General Tomoyuki Yamashita surrendered to General Jonathan Wainwright at the Ambassador’s Residence in Camp John Hay and signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender.

It would have been the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in the Philippines.

Several activities have been planned by the Veteran’s Bank of the Philippines, the US Embassy, and the Philippine government for this historical anniversary. But the world had other plans and COVID-19 silently halted all gatherings.

Employees of the Department of Tourism and the Baguio government offered floral wreaths to the WWII heroes at the Veteran’s Park along Harrison Road. There were no personalities around and no one loitered on the park.

Last year, 15 war veterans were awarded medals, four of them posthumously. One of them, Cato Dampas Pulac of La Trinidad who was 101 years old at the time, even attended the ceremony at the park.

This year, 17 surviving WWII veterans from Baguio City were honored. They included Angelo Viloria Andrada, Epifanio Besuayan, Timoteo Boado, Filomeno Caburao, Francisco Bogalon Castillo, Romeo Marcelino de Guzman, Gregorio de la Paz Lopez, Ernesto Luis, Dominador Madarang, Carlito Millado, Diego Opena, William Pasiwen, Eduardo Peralta and Orlando Pimentel. The lady veteran awardees are Sixta Favila, Florence Marasigan, and Cecilia Torres.

In a recorded message, US Ambassador Sung Kim said that the sacrifices of these men and women made everything possible.

“Today would not be possible without your incredible acts of bravery and courage,” he said.

Kim said that the end of WWII in Baguio marked the focus of the affected countries from conflict to recovery.

“The signing of the Instrument also marked an opportunity to begin a post-war era where we would rebuild and reunite.  This opportunity, coupled with the indomitable spirit of Americans, Filipinos, and others around the globe enabled an unprecedented era of development and collaboration,” he said.

“In the global battle against COVID-19, our long-standing partnership is enabling the strong US-Philippines cooperation on display today.  Together, we are tackling the public health, economic, and education challenges created by the virus,” he added.

City officials said that they will visit all the awardees in their houses and present them their medals. – Rappler.com