Leyte province will mark the 76th anniversary of the historic Leyte Gulf Landing with a simple celebration on Tuesday (Oct. 20) as mass gatherings are restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Leopoldo Dominico Petilla said traditional activities at the MacArthur Landing Memorial Park in Palo town would be held with a limited audience but would be live-streamed on Facebook, in strict compliance to health protocols.
“This year’s celebration will not be as grand as it was in previous years where different socio-cultural activities are lined up days before the anniversary. But we should never forget this historic event, 76 years ago, to honor the valor of our heroes,” he said in a virtual press conference.
The traditional flag-raising ceremony, wreath-laying ceremony rites, and 21-gun salute will be followed by the presentation of commemorative video messages from the ambassadors of the United States, New Zealand, Australia, and Japan.
“No foreign or national officials will be physically present, including the World War II (WWII) veterans, who are vulnerable especially this time of the pandemic,” Petilla said.
The region has 92 living WWII veterans: 50 in Leyte, 21 in Samar, 13 in Biliran, and eight in Southern Leyte, according to the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office.
Petilla said they are also planning to lock down the memorial park during the anniversary to avoid large gatherings.
“What is important now is we honor and also pray for the heroes who fought for our freedom. Because of them, we learned how to fight and be brave, as we now face a battle against coronavirus,” he said.
Aside from the provincial government, the town of Tolosa has also prepared a simple ceremony to commemorate the Signal Day on October 18.
Mayor Maria Ofelia Alcantara said the activity will start with a thanksgiving mass, followed by a flag-raising ceremony and a short program with messages to be delivered by the relatives of Scouts Valeriano Abello, Antero Junia Sr., and Vicente Tiston.
Abello, Junia, and Tiston were the young scouts who warned the incoming Allied Forces on Oct.18, 1944, using the semaphore signal to spare the shorelines from bombing because of the thousands of residents in the area.