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111-yr-old Nueva Ecija war veteran endures

/ 11:18 PM May 30, 2012

BONGABON, Nueva Ecija—At 111, Alfonso Fabros of Barangay Calaanan here may be the oldest surviving World War II veteran.

Born in Balaoan, La Union, on Feb. 13, 1901, Fabros settled in Nueva Ecija after marrying a Bongabon lass.

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The Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) acknowledged Fabros’ longevity by sending him a greeting card and a letter in February.

Fabros is partly deaf and almost blind, but he showed up for the April 9 program of the 70th anniversary commemoration of the Bataan Death March in Capas, Tarlac.

He also walked for a block to reach the Capas National Shrine, with little help from relatives who went with him.

Fabros received a medal and a citation which read in part: “This plaque of recognition is awarded to Private Alfonso C. Fabros (Ret.) in grateful appreciation and recognition of his wartime service and honorable performance of his duties during World War II.”

That was the first commendation received by Fabros for his war exploits. Fabros was 41 and had lived a quiet life with his wife, Emiliana, in Canaan West in Rizal town before he joined the fight against the Japanese Imperial Army.

“I was recruited by [an officer named] Lieutenant Pelagio, then we went to Mauban, Tayabas (Quezon), and then to Bataan,” Fabros said. “I was given a rifle and ammunition to help defend Bataan,” he said.

PVAO records showed Fabros was a member of the First Division of the Philippine Army under the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (Usaffe).

He escaped before Bataan was overrun by Japanese forces. He was part of the guerrilla force for three years until the country was liberated. Fabros said his group subsisted on root crops, vegetables, edible leaves and fruits in the jungle where they hid.

Fabros remembers being “in Bagumbayan (Luneta) rejoicing with the American soldiers when the war ended.”

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Since 1972, Fabros has been living in Barangay Calaanan with his children. Emiliana died in 2000 at age 80. “He loves to walk around the house but he does not like to be assisted,” said Ella Fabros-Gandarela, 54, one of Fabros’ four surviving children.

“His blood pressure is normal, he has no ailments except for his rheumatism, and at his age, he is still strong,” Gandarela said.

Fabros walks around with strings tied to his leg which his daughter said were amulets.

“He usually sleeps at 8 in the evening, then he wakes up three hours later to drink coffee, chew his nganga and to smoke two to three sticks of cigarette. He then sleeps again, wakes up at four in the morning and drinks another cup of coffee,” Gandarela said.

“He prays daily,” Gandarela said. “He sleeps for long hours during daytime in a hammock.”

She said Fabros receives a monthly pension of P6,500  from the Philippine government and $1,158 a month from the US government.

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TAGS: Alfonso Fabros, Bongabon town, Nueva Ecija, oldest WWII veteran, World War II veteran
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