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Instilling patriotism through memorials

12:03 AM August 30, 2016

ON OCT. 20, 1944, Gen. Douglas MacArthur and President Sergio Osmeña landed on Red Beach, Palo, Leyte. The landing site has since been turned into a commemorative park officially called until lately the MacArthur Landing Memorial Park.

With that name we are teaching our children “wrong history” that the educated from anywhere can question, which could be cause for a good measure of embarrassment.

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The Leyte Sangguniang Panlalawigan, led by Vice Gov. Carlo P. Loreto, was right in approving, last June 28, Resolution No. 2016-276, changing the name of the park to MacArthur-Osmeña Landing Memorial National Park, a fair response to the letters this senior citizen (81 years old) sent to the provincial government of Leyte.

The other out-of-the-box proposal I made was to put up a memorial also on Red Beach, bearing the names of soldiers from Eastern Visayas who fought in Bataan (some relatives of mine died in the Death March), as well as the names of genuine guerrillas who operated in Leyte and Samar, whose oft-forgotten commander in chief was then President Sergio Osmeña. The same with the heroes of Balangiga—these should be etched on the Balangiga Encounter Memorial Park in Eastern Samar. Like no other, their names inspire overwhelming, deep and absolute patriotism.

Absent the names on the memorial, our children might get the impression that their ancestors just bowed in fear to colonizers and occupying forces—and, in World War II, only waited for MacArthur to save them, a hallmark of colonial mentality. That, too, would be teaching our children “wrong history.”

And yet, just next to the MacArthur-Osmeña Landing Memorial Park is another memorial with the names of Australian heroes of the Leyte landing. There’s even the Araw Memorial Park nearby, which was built by South Korea, reportedly, in memory of the Filipino soldiers who fought in the Korean War and of South Korea’s post-“Yolanda” response. (A South Korea Military Joint Support Group was sent to Yolanda-devastated areas in Leyte to help in clearing operations, provide medical services, complement feeding programs and repair public infrastructure, including schools and government facilities.)

Relatives of Eastern Visayas heroes would only be too willing to donate for the construction of a memorial for them on Red Beach.

However, the urgent concern is that thousands of Yolanda survivors still need help—they need jobs or decent incomes to provide for a decent life for their families. Tourism is one area that always opens so many job opportunities. And Red Beach is a top tourist attraction. Hence, the earlier suggestions from this ordinary Taclobanon.

—SEVILLANO T. BALDESCO JR., V&G Subd., Tacloban City

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TAGS: Douglas MacArthur, letter, Letter to the Editor, Leyte, memorial, opinion, Patriotism, Sergio Osmeña
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