By Venus May Sarmiento
LINGAYEN – The surviving Pangasinense war veterans were once again honored by the provincial government in a fitting ceremony in celebration of the 10th Veterans Day and in commemoration of the 72nd anniversary of the Lingayen Gulf Landings.
The annual celebration started with a thanksgiving mass, wreath laying ceremony and a commemorative program, honouring the sacrifices and heroism of the war veterans held at the Veterans Memorial Park at the Capitol compound.
Dr. Vivencio Villaflor, the event’s guest of honor and speaker, thanked the provincial government for institutionalizing the event and never forgetting the heroism of war veterans like his father.
Villaflor, currently the chairman of the Pangasinan Red Cross and the Dagupan Doctors Villaflor Memorial Hospital, told the more than 370 surviving war veterans and their families that he was a product of the scholarship given to war veterans. He said his eight years of education leading to his medical degree was shouldered by the government particularly the PhIlippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO).
“Because the education benefit for a war veteran can be passed on to his child or grandchildren, I only paid P5.60 to P6.60 per semester for miscellaneous fees during my eight-year medical education. This was a big help for my parents,” Villaflor said.
He said more benefits are given by PVAO through the expanded health benefits program. Veterans who need hospital and medical attention need not go to Quezon City anymore as the benefits could be availed in any government hospitals and in accredited private hospitals, he explained.
Eligible dependents can avail of hospitalization, up to 45 days of confinement with 1,500 hospital subsidy; subsidy for selected medical procedures (reimbursable), medicines , surgical procedures, implants, cataract operation, hearing aid and cardiac bypass among others.
“Our country is being harassed externally by impending signs of war. Let us pray and love to serve our community and thus promote peace,” he said.
Meanwhile, Gov. Amado Espino III rallied residents of Pangasinan to unite in upholding the sense of pride, integrity and honor handed down by the great ancestors, especially the war veterans, to the present generations.
Also present during the affair were PVAO Administrator Ernesto Carolina, Philippine Veterans Federation Association president Bonifacio De Gracia and Australian Embassy (AE) Counsellor Kerry Anderson. (PIA-Pangasinan)