Lessons from the commemoration of the 76th Araw Ng Kagitingan in Mt. Samat - The Girl with the Muji Hat


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Monday, 9 April 2018

Lessons from the commemoration of the 76th Araw Ng Kagitingan in Mt. Samat

It's the National Day of Valor. I'm writing this from the media platform 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 grueling 66-mile march from Mariveles to Camp O'Donnell. "Blood-stained, the soldiers moved," Lorraine emphasized as she highlighted the predicaments of the soldiers during the death march and how amidst adversities, they managed to endure.

These days, the younger Filipino millennials enjoy independence (as they should) and all the perks of democratic values that come with it. Much younger teenagers are so absorbed in the idea of the Philippines being free. I wonder if this state has robbed us, in any way, a good amount of depth on how we view things or life in general. 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?

Eighty-nine-year-old Lola Maria has been living since the wartime. Aged thirteen back then, the struggle was not only the lack of human basic needs such as food, water, clothing, and shelter, more so the threat of getting killed or abused physically/sexually. Today, privileged thirteen-year-old struggles to push and farm in a game called Clash of Clans. Some youngsters struggle to put their brow makeup on fleek. I struggle with wireless connectivity.

Think of Syria. Consider the civilians including children and infants who were affected by the chemical attacks. With foreign military threat and nuclear terrors, I'm not sure if we are on the brink of another world war. But this is certain, as Dr. Rene Escalante mentioned in his message, "something is wrong with the present world order, and it is important to consider how to be a peacemaker in this contemporary time."

We remember the tragic events of the past. We hear stories of grief, accounts of those who've lived through not only to pay tribute to the lives given but to preserve and promote ideals of patriotic deeds, to promote nationalism and sacrifice, to promote peace. To borrow from Mr. Michael Klecheski's speech, "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 tragic accident or disaster can destroy such treasures of the heart."
- Daisaku Ikeda 

May we come to a resolve to promote these 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.

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. It is not very easy to uphold the highest human qualities in all aspects of our lives, but at least we should 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.

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