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Deputy Consul General Ascalon (2nd from right) is joined by Mr. Aquilino Delen (3rd from left), a Filipino WW II veteran, Ms. Cecilia Gaerlan (2nd from left) and Mr. Edgar de Leon (right) in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the World War II memorabilia exhibit.

The Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco launched a commemorative exhibit of World War II memorabilia with a short flag-raising ceremony this Monday, 7 April, in preparation for this week’s commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor). Araw ng Kagitingan, which is a Philippine national holiday, is celebrated on an annual basis in recognition of the heroic last stand of Filipino and American soldiers on the island of Corregidor, during World War II.

Acting Head of Post, Deputy Consul General Jaime Ascalon, thanked the assembled audience, which included World War II veterans, for joining the commemorative program. “We deeply appreciate the sacrifice made by these heroic gentlemen in defense of our country,” he said, referring to the veterans in the audience. “They have truly set the bar for defining what it means to love one’s country, and fight for freedom.”

The short program also included remarks from Ms. Cecilia Gaerlan, a novelist and playwright whose project, The Bataan Legacy Project, seeks to draw awareness of the events surrounding the fall of Bataan, and the key role played by Filipino World War II soldiers in holding the line of defense against the assault of the imperial Japanese army.

“Many people remember only that Bataan fell, but do not know that if our soldiers had not held it as long as they had, the Japanese army would have penetrated the region even further, and we would be facing a completely different global political landscape today,” Ms. Gaerlan informed the audience. “It is important for our community to be aware of the true story of Bataan and Corregidor, and give due recognition to our veterans for the role they played during World War II.”


Left photo: World War II memorabilia on display at the Philippine Consulate General’s lobby; Right photo: guests, as well as the transacting public, view the exhibit.

Mr. Edgar de Leon, whose personal collection of World War II memorabilia was on display at the commemorative exhibit, added his own recollections of World War II as told to him by his father, then introduced Mr. Chuck Kohler, a Pearl Harbor veteran who had been bequeathed a poem about the war from a Filipino World War II veteran.

“We fought together,” Mr. Kohler told the Filipino veterans. “I hope you will consider me a brother.”

Following the program, Deputy Consul General Ascalon invited the veterans, together with special guests Attorney Lou Tancinco, supervising attorney for the Fil-Am Veterans Legal Clinic, and Ms. Luisa Antonio and Ms. Esther Macaraig of the Veterans Equity Center, to join him in launching the World War II exhibit. Guests were then invited to the Philippine Center’s Social Hall for a light breakfast and get-together.

In partnership with Ms. Cecilia Gaerlan, the Consulate will also be holding a commemorative event on Memorial Day, May 26, from 2pm to 4pm at the Philippine Center. Announcements will be posted on the Consulate’s website and Facebook page once details of the event have been confirmed.


SF PCG personnel with Mr. David (2nd from left), a survivor of the Bataan Death March, and Filipino WW II veterans.

Upcoming: the Consulate will be posting a video clip of the commemorative event, as well as clips of interviews with Ms. Gaerlan, Mr. de Leon, and Filipino World War II veterans, on its website and Facebook page, to lead up to the actual commemoration of Bataan Day on Wednesday, April 9.

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