PALO, Leyte: The historic 76th Leyte Gulf Landing was commemorated on Tuesday in simple rites held at the MacArthur Memorial Shrine in Barangay Baras here as mass gatherings are disallowed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Leyte Gov. Leopoldo Dominico Petilla and Palo, Leyte Mayor Frances Ann Petilla led provincial and local officials in the rites without the presence of foreign dignitaries, World War 2 veterans or the public.
The commemorative program started with the raising of the flags of the Philippines, Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America and a 21-gun salute.
Governor Petilla cited the heroism and gallantry of World War 2 heroes, who fought to liberate the country.
In her virtual message, Mayor Petilla said, “Our heroes and veterans have served our country with the highest form of service I can imagine. We continue to owe them our thanks, our gratitude and our respect. We owe it to them to pass on their history and patriotism to the future generations. We need to continue and to strengthen the foundation they have laid for us: a nation that is free, resilient and united.”
In previous years, the Leyte Gulf Landing was celebrated in festive commemorative rites with a civic-military parade at the MacArthur Shrine and in Tacloban City and with the holding of a barrio fiesta (village feast) on October 19 in the evening to welcome foreign dignitaries and honor the World War 2 veterans.
Elvira Biscario, secretary of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines-Sons and Daughters Association, said only two veterans were present during the commemorative program because of the pandemic.
On Oct. 20, 1944, US Gen. Douglas MacArthur, together with President Sergio Osmeña and Gen. Carlos P. Romulo, again set foot on Red Beach in Palo.
The landing of MacArthur signaled the fulfillment of his promise of “I shall return” after leaving for Australia to muster support from Allied forces in their bid to liberate the Philippines from Japanese occupation.
NESTOR L. ABREMATEA