Atty. Roy Rafols (second from left), son of war veteran 1st Lt. Felix Rafols Jr., receives the posthumous recognition from Governor Victorino Dennis Socrates on April 21, 2023, at the Provincial Capitol Building. | Photo from the Palawan Provincial Information Office

The Palawan Liberation Task Force (PLTF) recognized the province’s war heroes posthumously on the 78th anniversary of the province’s hard-fought liberation from the Japanese during the turbulent days of World War II (WWII).

The families of 18 war veterans from Palawan were filled with pride as their loved ones were recognized for their unwavering courage, commitment to freedom, and valiant service in the face of unimaginable challenges during the war.

The posthumous awardees included Private First Class (PFC) Concordio Aban, Private (Pvt) Baudillo Aban Sr., 1st Lt. Felipe Batul, 1st Lt. Felix Rafols Jr., Pvt Wenceslao Dacuan, Pvt Crispino Dacuan, Sgt. Manuel Parangue, Sgt. Victoriano Tejada, Pvt Alberto Dalonos Sr., PFC Indalecio Namuco, Pvt Buenaventura Mirano Sr., PFC Buenaventura Mampay, Pvt Desiderio Medina, Pvt Nestor Gabinete Sr., Pvt Felipe Gabinete, Corporal Jacinto delos Reyes Sr., Pvt Ricardo delos Reyes, and 3Lt. Herminigildo Palayon. The awards were gratefully received by their families and relatives.

The theme “A Salute to Valor: Palawan Liberation, through the years and moving forward” highlighted the roles and sacrifices of Palaweño soldiers who showed heroism during WWII.

Governor Socrates at the Plaza Cuartel for the wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate the 78th anniversary of Philippine liberation. | Photo from the Palawan Provincial Information Office

In his speech, Governor Victorino Dennis Socrates focuses on the bravery of soldiers who served during the war.

“In the face of foreign aggression, the virtues of patriotism, courage, and valor are found in the efforts of individual citizens and their willingness to sacrifice their well-being and even their lives in defense of the nation, and today we are privileged to live in an independent Philippines,” said Governor V. Dennis M. Socrates in his message about the heroism of WWII veterans.

“I’m honored to have the opportunity to personally pay tribute to the men and women of Palawan who sacrificed for the liberation of the Philippines,” added Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) Undersecretary Reynaldo Mapagu, one of the guest speakers.

As part of the Palawan Liberation commemoration, a Civil and Military Parade was held, participated by PLTF, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection, representatives from the provincial and city government of Puerto Princesa, various government offices, civic organizations, and private organizations.

This was followed by wreath-laying ceremonies led by USec. Mapagu, Gov. Socrates, US Embassy Joint U.S Military Assistance Group Lt. Col. James Kim, officials from the City Government of Puerto Princesa, Matthew Mendoza representing the family of Palawan hero Dr. Higinio Mendoza, and officials from the Western Command, as a tribute to the heroism of American soldiers and Palawan guerrillas who gave their lives during WWII, held at Mendoza Park and Plaza Cuartel.

“It’s a great honor to represent the United States today to pay tribute to the heroes of the Philippines and American soldiers who fought and died during World War II in Palawan Island. Filipino history will not be complete without the contribution of Palawan guerrillas who liberated us from Japanese invasion during World War II,” said Kim.

Simultaneously, the first-ever historical bike tour was officially launched, where bikers visited several World War II historical places such as Plaza Cuartel, Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm (IPPF), Puerto Princesa International Airport, World War II Museum, and Mendoza Park.