The photo exhibit entitled “War of Our Fathers – A Tribute to Filipino Freedom Fighters” by the Philippine Veterans Bank (PVB) was formally opened with the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), city government of Baguio, SLU officials and World War II Veteran Alberto Bugtong at SLU’s Diego Silang lobby on Tuesday, September 3, during the celebration of the National Victory Day.
PVB Vice President Miguel Villa-real said the multi-awarded traveling exhibit will give the people of Baguio a glimpse of what World War II in the Philippines was like through its numerous photographs, artifacts, and memorabilia that pay homage to the bravery, patriotism, and determination of Filipino men and women who fought and died during the war for the country’s freedom.
Villa-real said they are bringing back to the City the photo exhibit that focuses on Baguio City and Northern Luzon stories of the second world war since photos that people see or relate to are the best ones that connect to the people. The exhibit he said is a tribute to the original stakeholders of the bank, the World War II veterans.
PVAO Historical Veteran Memorial and Historical Division chief Resituto Aguilar thanked SLU for hosting the photo exhibit. He said the exhibit is only part of the rich history of the Filipinos during WWII that needs to be re-written with the perspective of the Filipino heroes, the war veterans.
He also encouraged SLU to collaborate with the PVAO in bringing more war history to the school and to the city to be used as reference and reading materials of the students and even the teachers.
In response, SLU President Fr. Gilbert Sales thanked the PVB for bringing the exhibit to SLU and opening it on a historic day, the celebration of the 74th Victory Day or the commemoration of the surrender signing of the Instrument of Surrender by Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita at the American High Commissioners Residence in Camp John Hay in Baguio City on September 3, 1945.
Fr. Sales said that the gallery of rare and archival pieces is quite educational, with a wealth of information, which is truly rich in history. Through this exhibit, viewers mostly students not only from SLU but for all schools in Baguio City and nearby towns, will witness the Filipinos love for country, valor and sense of sacrifice exemplified during World War II.
He noted that Baguio City including SLU saw and suffered the horrors of the war and some photographs are shown in the exhibit. From the CICM archives is that iconic photograph taken of General Dwight Eisenhower with pioneer CICM missionaries Fr. Florimond Carlu and Msgr. Joseph Billet with the Saint Louis Building in ruins in the background.
“Through this array of photographs, articles and fascinating memorabilia that go back to the time of the war, we can provide an opportunity for the young generation to understand and appreciate the “War of our Fathers” exhibit. Through this pictorial history, our young people today can express thanks with a sense of sentiment to the Filipino World War II heroes for their valiant stance in defense of our country’s freedom,” Sales said.
Sales invited students to reconnect with the country’s past by remembering and honoring the sacrifices of those Filipino soldiers who fought and gave their lives during the war.
“You are now benefiting the freedom they had fought for your generation,” he said.
“To our dear students, use your freedom responsibly. It is a gift from God. Use it for God’s greater glory. So study hard and strive to become good citizens. Practice discipline in all that you do including in the use of social media. Finally, pursue peace at all cost because war is too high a price to pay. However, when you are called upon to defend your country, do not hesitate to heed the call like what our Filipino World War II heroes had done," he added.
The exhibit is open to the public particularly to students in the City and nearby towns. (JDP/ RMC- PIA CAR)
By Redjie Melvic M. Cawis