The Fall of Bataan is considered as one of the darkest chapters in our nation’s history. Around 76,000 Filipino and American soldiers were captured by Japanese forces and became prisoners of war. Many of them would perish during the Bataan Death March.

Now commemorated as the Day of Valor or Araw ng Kagitingan, this occasion reminds us of the brave souls who made the ultimate sacrifice so that one day, Filipinos will be free from the bondage of foreign invaders.

Though coming from different sides of the globe, these valiant American and Filipino troops who fought side by side like blood brothers, were bound by their common desire to fight for freedom, regardless of the toll it would take upon them.

History, they say, is the greatest teacher, because it opens a window to the past from which we can get a glimpse of how our forefathers built our great country from the ashes of war. By doing so, we can obtain invaluable lessons that we can apply in the present.

It is this knowledge that is guiding the leaders of our nation as we face both internal and external threats. We now understand that valor, by its very definition, is not enough to ensure sovereignty, peace and security in our beloved homeland.

Valor must go hand in hand by an earnest desire to reduce, mitigate or if possible, prevent situations of conflict. This is at the heart of all our agency’s conflict-sensitive and peace promoting approaches. In everything that we do, we must do no harm.

As we celebrate the Day of Valor, let us pay tribute to the great men and women throughout our history who gave up their lives for their countrymen. They are the reason why the Philippines remains to be one of the strongest democratic nations in the world.

Let us also show our gratitude to our peacebuilders, peace workers and peace makers who work in the frontlines to promote the culture of peace, mutual understanding and solidarity among our people. They are also heroes in the truest sense.

Let us remember that valor is not only measured by one’s willingness to go into battle regardless of the strength of his or her adversary. True valor is the ability to look at other ways to manage and resolve conflict so that genuine peace can take root and flourish.

A Happy Day of Valor to all!

Maraming salamat at mabuhay po tayong lahat!