Speech for the Comrades
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My dear comrades,
Being with you this morning is one of the greatest thrills of my life, and being able to address you in a gathering like this is indeed a very rare opportunity and a great pleasure. It thrills me because I am a part of you and we have undergone the same experiences and I feel what you feel. It is a pleasure because we are now gathered together in much better conditions than we were during those hard times. We can now work out our problems without the Kempetai looking over our shoulders, because we live in a democracy with free speech.
This occasion would not be appropriately celebrated without recalling what our sacrifices have been in the past, in the same way that it would fail to be fruitful unless we plan for the future. The heroism which all of you have displayed amidst the enemy’s torture and sadist thirst deserves and merits special admiration, for they are deeds which cannot be forgotten. Through your strong love of the country, fellow citizens, and the cause of humanity, you freely and courageously set aside selfish considerations and accepted the challenge of the times.
The war has just been added, and the blessings of freedom and peace once more reign with us. But we must face the fact that peace must be built not only on power but on good will and good deeds. While it does not pay very much to be sentimental, in our case, it pays many dividends to confirm that we have done for the motherland with our efforts and sincere desire for her salvation. I only need to say that your determination to fight the enemy during those dark days when it seemed impossible for men without courage to do so is enough to give you all the medals that any government could give to its loyal soldiers. You fought hard, and many of those under you died so that the cause might live, and for that alone, every man, woman, and child you defended should be grateful to all of you. I can see in your faces the marks of that courage, the imprint of those unsufferable hardships, and as I speak to you now, I recall the heroic efforts you have exerted for the good and welfare of our beloved country. You abandoned your homes, your beloved ones, friends and relatives and went to the mountains and the battlefields during those critical days so that the spirit of freedom might live. Life was nothing to you back then, as it was to many of those who died, because all you wanted to do was serve and be loyal to the country of your birth.You did not hesitate, nor did you have any doubt as to the final outcome. Your spirit of confidence and loyalty to the cause were unsurpassed. You had only one thought, and it was one of complete victory and triumph, the triumph of justice and righteousness. You have survived the crisis, and you are once again free men, no longer bound by fear, intimidation, and want.
For the future of our children, this is no time for sentimentalism. The steps taken by those among you to consolidate all the veteran’s associations of the Philippines are very plausible, and it is my ardent hope and prayer that as we did unite in the past, so should we group together now to work for our common welfare and the good of all. We should not give way to petty jealousies, but, on the contrary, we should unite at all times to meet whatever contingencies might come in our path. The successful organization of the Confederation of Philippine Veterans, which includes all veterans of the last war to protect and look after the interests of all the veterans of the Philippines, is precisely the right step that you have taken, and I congratulate the person or persons who have initiated this plan. At the same time, I warn them to stay true to the idea and spirit that led to the creation of this unified body and to avoid all personal motives and lies so that the goals of this group can be met.
The living Filipino veterans of the last war form a great part of our civilian population at present, and they could, one way or the other, influence the policy of the government or many vital issues of the day. For the preservation of peace and order, we still need men and women of the same courage and fibers that you displayed during those hectic days; we still need people of good-will who can rise above selfish interests and work for the common good; we still need many willing hands to help our people maintain their dignity and security. I believe we have these kinds of men in you who have displayed valor and patriotism in the fields of battle and resistance. If we have, therefore, to be true to the ideals for which we have fought and for which many of our comrades have died, then we and all of you should not pause for even a moment in our efforts to contribute what we can, all that we can, to the peace and rehabilitation of our country. We can't just rest on what we've done in the past. Now that we have freedom, we have to work hard to keep it, and the only way to do that is to give our best time and effort to keeping peace and order in our country and speeding up its full recovery. We have many difficult tasks ahead of us, and much is to be expected from you in this direction. We are a part of the great machinery to do this job for the government alone, and we cannot achieve these goals without our sincere support and cooperation. "Your influence over your followers is certainly very tremendous, and I hope that you will exert every ounce of your energy to help the government with this tremendous job of peace and order and to rehabilitate our country."
The government, for its part, has done and continues to do everything possible to assist you with your personal problems. Laws have been passed to help and rehabilitate every veteran in this country, and we are still looking forward to other measures to ameliorate your conditions. In other words, the government hasn't forgotten about you or the work you've done for our people or the cause for which many of our friends have suffered and died.
As I conclude this brief speech, I envision many good things coming out of this confederation for the benefit of veterans, and with your strong organization, I see many great things that you can do not only for yourselves as members of this consideration but also for all of our people. Godspeed and good luck to you all, dear comrades.
I thank you.
Speech delivered by Secretary Ruperto K. Kangleon before the Leyte Chapter of the Philippine Region during a Provincial Convention on August 1st, 1947.