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Vigan execs, kith, kin fete Quirino on 125th birthday

/ 01:43 AM November 17, 2015
REMEMBERING QUIRINO Two granddaughters of Elpidio Quirino—Cory Quirino (left) and Maria Victoria Gonzalez (right)—present to Ilocos Sur Gov. Ryan Singson a commemorative stamp and coins marking the 125th birth anniversary of the late President. LEONCIO BALBIN JR./INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

REMEMBERING QUIRINO Two granddaughters of Elpidio Quirino—Cory Quirino (left) and Maria Victoria Gonzalez (right)—present to Ilocos Sur Gov. Ryan Singson a commemorative stamp and coins marking the 125th birth anniversary of the late President. LEONCIO BALBIN JR./INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

VIGAN CITY—Some of them came from as far as Spain but the distance—and the passing of the decades—failed to dim their memory of Elpidio Quirino.

The late Philippine President’s descendants on Monday joined local officials and Vigan City residents to celebrate the 125th birth anniversary of the city’s most illustrious son.

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They gathered in front of the provincial capitol where a life-size statue stands in honor of the postwar Republic’s second President.

The celebration focused on the legacy of Quirino as the man who led the reconstruction of postwar Philippines after the devastation of World War II.

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All of them remembered Quirino’s sacrifices and his compassion.

‘Supreme decision’

Even a Japanese delegation came to honor Quirino. It included Kayoko, daughter of Japanese painter Tatsuo Kano, her husband Jiro, and an interpreter.

The painter had sent Quirino 43 letters seeking presidential pardon for Japanese prisoners of war (POWs) who were then jailed in Muntinlupa City.

“Quirino made the supreme decision to pardon the imprisoned Japanese. I respect him so much,” Kayoko, 70, said through an interpreter.

Quirino lost his wife Alicia and three of his five daughters during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. But he freed the POWs.

No reason to hate

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Accounts of Quirino’s decision quoted his reason for liberating the prisoners.

“I should be the last one to pardon them as the Japanese killed my wife and three children, and five other members of my family,” Quirino had said. “I am doing this because I do not want my children and my people to inherit from me the hate for people who might yet be our friends for the permanent interest of our country.”

Former Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson said he witnessed four years ago a ceremony in Yokohama, Japan, where Quirino was also honored by the Japanese.

The ceremony included a portion where they sang, “Night Goes on in Muntinlupa,” which was composed by two Japanese prisoners on death row.

Granddaughter’s memory

Singson said Quirino also granted amnesty to members of Hukbalahap (Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon), a guerrilla organization during World War II, on June 21, 1948.

The most notable family guest to join Monday’s affair was Quirino’s Spain-based granddaughter Maria Victoria Gonzalez, who arrived with her husband, children and grandchildren.

She is the daughter of Victoria Quirino Gonzalez, who served as first lady when Quirino, a widower, occupied Malacañang.

As a child, Maria Victoria said, she would cuddle up to her grandfather because she loved the fragrance of his favorite cologne.

‘Keep the candles burning’

Another granddaughter, Inquirer columnist Cory Quirino, joined Ilocos Sur officials, such as Gov. Ryan Singson and Vigan City Mayor Eva Marie Medina, in the celebration.

The celebration was capped with the launch of a junior high school book, “The Forgotten Trail of Greatness” about “Apo Pidiong,” the launch of the President Elpidio Quirino Research Center, the President Elpidio Quirino Children’s Park at Caoayan town and a musical performance on the life of Quirino at the Vigan Convention Center.

“Let us keep the candles of Apo Pidiong burning as we journey toward better times,” Medina said.

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