09/04/2012: Remarks of Ambassador Jose Cuisia in commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan
In one of the darkest moments of our nation’s history seventy years ago on April 9, 1942, 60,000 Filipino and 15,000 American soldiers under the USAFFE surrendered to the Japanese Imperial Army. They were the remnants of the several hundred thousands of defenders against Japanese aggression.
After three months of bloody and relentless fighting in the Bataan Peninsula, the combined Filipino and U.S. forces were out of food, out of ammunition, suffering from diseases, and had no hope of being reinforced or relieved. The Japanese Air Force controlled the air and the Japanese Navy controlled the seas.
To continue fighting would be futile and would lead to a one-sided carnage. To prevent the inevitable massive loss of lives, the USAFFE leaders surrendered. Little did they know that they would be consigning themselves to a cruel and brutal captor. As fate would have it, they had to succumb to or endure the infamous Bataan Death March and the years in concentration camps.
Today we commemorate the Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor) – not to remember defeat, but to celebrate and perpetuate the valor of the defenders and their strong resolve to keep on fighting for their country and people despite the overwhelming adversity.
Today, we also honor the sacrifices of the Filipino Veterans of World War II so that people, not only in the Philippines but in many other countries, may gain their sovereignty and live with dignity. We recognize their contribution to cementing the bonds of kinship between the Philippines and the United States. Through their heroism, they manifested to the Americans the Filipino people’s unwavering commitment to defending the ideals of freedom and democracy, at whatever price.
As Filipinos, we are fortunate to inherit a land that is free. We should value this freedom and pledge our commitment everyday that the sacrifices our forefathers made will always be remembered and honored.
Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!
JOSE L. CUISIA, JR.
09 April 2012, Washington, DC