‘Mahiya ka naman, hija!’
I had a lump in my throat when I saw in the front page of this paper a picture of veterans saluting the flag during the 71st Araw ng Kagitingan commemoration rites on Mt. Samat in Pilar, Bataan.
The aging veterans are as old as my father if he were still alive today.
My old man fought in Bataan, survived the infamous Death March, became a prisoner of war (POW) in Capas, Tarlac, until he was released along with many other sick and dying Filipino POWs.
My father seldom talked about his life as a POW at the Capas concentration camp where his father, my grandfather Felix, died of malnutrition-related diseases.
But I once overheard him tell my mother that he and his fellow POWs would catch grasshoppers and eat them alive.
Perhaps by his silence he would not be able to relive the trauma in the hands of his Japanese captors.
He probably also didn’t want to recall the humiliation of defeat.
The Philippines is probably the only country in the world that celebrates defeat instead of victory.
I only now fully appreciate the bitter experiences my father and his fellow Bataan veterans went through after reading the book entitled “Escape from Davao” by John D. Lukacs.
The book is a tale of defeat, humiliation and suffering of American soldiers who fought in Bataan and Corregido who were transferred from one concentration camp to another: Capas, Cabanatuan and Davao, where they staged a daring escape.
No amount of rhetoric about the heroism of our World War II veterans would match the experience they went through.
The best appreciation the government can show these veterans is to give their surviving comrades more financial benefits and to never count the money.
* * *
Why does senatorial candidate Nancy Binay refuse a public debate with a rival, former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros?
The reason given by the daughter of Vice President Jojo Binay in not accepting Hontiveros’ challenge to a debate is, “Let’s win the Senate race first, then we can debate on the Senate floor.”
Nancy Binay, who ranks No. 6 in the surveys, thinks debating with Hontiveros is useless since her challenger is doing poorly in the surveys at No. 18.
Binay, whose only qualification for the Senate is easy name recall, doesn’t want to debate with Hontiveros as this would expose her incompetence in public.
All the other candidates with famous family names, who are running for the Senate for the first time, have had experience as members of the Lower House: JV Ejercito Estrada, Sonny Angara, Jack Enrile, Cynthia Villar and Risa Hontiveros.
Nancy Binay has not held any government position, not even as barangay kagawad.
Mahiya ka naman, hija! (Where’s your shame, woman!)