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President Aquino’s speech during the commemoration of the Fall of Corregidor, May 6, 2012

His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
During the Commemoration of the Fall of Corregidor
[Delivered in Corregidor Island, Cavite, on May 6, 2012

This is my first time in Corregidor; and I remember a story my uncle Tony told me, of how, as a young soldier he braved the shark-infested seas, and swam here from Bataan, to report on the conditions prevailing at the time. That marvelous feat, of course, is only one of many great stories that involve this island.

All of us here know that Corregidor is also popularly known as The Rock. And today, we remember its final agony. We remember the Fall of Corregidor seventy years ago.

More than the Fall, we commemorate our soldiers’ acts of bravery and their unconditional sacrifice for country. We remember their solid, principled stand for freedom; the impossible battle they faced; our soldiers fighting together as brothers in arms, many of them making the ultimate sacrifice for their countrymen. We remember our commanders: who bore the heavy burden of leading men into bloodshed, and even death, knowing that the fate of entire peoples rested in their hands.

Today, we pay tribute: not to the strength of arms, but to the strength of spirit—because battles are won not merely through bombs and bullets, but also, and probably more importantly, through the hearts of patriots burning with love for country.

Seventy years ago, shipwrecks littered the seas around this rock. Opposing soldiers were approaching from as far as the eye can see. Despite this, the Filipino soldiers stationed in Corregidor stood their ground. As I was reviewing the names of our naval heroes, looking for a proper name for our second Hamilton Class Cutter, I read of a man named Ramon Alcaraz, who was commanding one of our three motor torpedo boats, known as Q-boats. 

Q-112 Abra, manned by Alcaraz and his crew, took down three of the nine Japanese “Zero” fighters attacking his boat, before being captured. In captivity, Alcaraz became head of the Prisoner of War camp in Malolos, making sure that his fellow POWs were kept hopeful and alive.

Commodore Alcaraz was only one among many skilled men in uniform who have served our country. Many continue to follow in his footsteps; and we are determined to reward their patriotism with equal dedication. For certain, many more Commodore Alcarazes will rise from the ranks of our military. We consider it our duty to ensure that their strength of spirit will be matched by boats, by weapons, and by sufficient training. This is the truest tribute we can offer to those who have laid down their lives: a nation capable of protecting itself; a nation that can say no sacrifice will be wasted.

This Pacific War Memorial is consecrated to the memory of the Filipinos and the Americans who fought in the Second World War. It is a symbol of our gratitude, set in stone and steel. The bravery, the unity, and the sacrifice our soldiers sowed then have borne the fruit of a true democracy. Today, we are reminded that partnerships, and even brotherhoods, are formed not only in moments of triumph, but in times of adversity.

In this Pacific War Memorial, the Eternal Flame of Freedom lights the pages of history, and marks every sacrifice made in this island. May it guide us along the straight and righteous path we are now treading. May it burn bright in the hearts of every generation still to come.

God bless our heroes. Many thanks, and good day to one and all.

Gov.Ph | May 6, 2012 | Article Link


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