By ROSEMARIE SAN DIEGO
October 2, 2018
CHICAGO – The Filipino American Veterans of Illinois (FAVI), with its membership recently receiving the award of the US Congressional Gold Medal for their assistance during WWII that led through the horrific Bataan Death March, sponsored an Annual Tribute of Remembrance just days ahead of Philippine American History month in the US.
In collaboration with representatives from various groups of the Filipino community and from local veteran organizations, family and supporters gathered in a local restaurant, on Saturday, September 29, 2018 to once again pay tribute in a solemn ceremony to FALLEN US Army Soldiers and local Balangiganons who fought in the conflict on September 28, 1901 during the Philippine American War.
The ceremonial program included the Roll Call of the Fallen forty-eight Soldiers of Company “C” US Army 9th Infantry Regiment, a reading of names from a list personally supplied by Ms. Jean Wall, daughter of survivor Army Private Adolph Gamlin. Then the twenty-eight names of local townspeople (Balangiganons) supplied by current Mayor of Balangiga Randy Graza were sounded off. Following after each of the names were read a ringing from the striking of a bell in the distance, a total of 76 soft chimes in all could be heard.
The annual event held in Chicago since 1999 is the only program of its kind in the US which properly pays tribute to the fallen. We emphasize that this is not a celebratory event that pays honor for their acts of service that led to this encounter. We have done this in Chicago without church bells, commemorating all those that had fallen from both sides, since the conflict for the Town of Balangiga, during the Philippine-American War. While in other areas the memories of the fallen have remained idle by those who have claimed property of these church bells.
Malacañang Palace in a letter called upon the Philippine Consulate Chicago to represent the President of the Philippines. In attendance was Consul General Gina A. Jamoralin shared her remarks highlighting the brave Filipinos who gave of self for freedom, not being able to rewrite history but to learn from it, continued close alliance with the US noting the support of its people during WWII. ConGen Jamoralin also mentioned the daily contributions of Filipino Americans across the US as they begin to celebrate the upcoming month of Fil-Am history. Most importantly she wished to thank, and pass along the well wishes of President Duterte and DFA Secretary Cayetano to US-DOD Secretary James Mattis, for his recent intervention and tiresome support to secure from the US Congress, approval to repatriate the safe return of the bells from which they came, the church of San Lorenzo de Martir in Eastern Samar.
The FAVI group has been a staunch member of the Veterans Assistance Commission (VAC) of Cook County, a coalition of veteran organizations for nearly two decades and supporter of most veteran related issues. Our gratitude is owed to the Lions Club, Chicago Nightingales, Vietnamese Community of IL, the American Legion, and Chicago MARINES for their continued support in preparing this annual tribute to all who gave the ultimate sacrifice that early September morning. A special note of appreciation is extended to Malacañang Palace, the Dept of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine Consulate Chicago.