(by Salvador P. Lopez; read over “The Voice of Freedom”,
from Corregidor, on April 9, 1942)
Bataanhas fallen. The Philippine-American troops on this war-ravaged and blood-stained peninsula have laid down their arms. With heads bloody but unbowed, they have yielded to the superior force and numbers of the enemy. The world will long remember the epic struggle that the Filipino and American soldiers put up in the jungle fastnesses and along the rugged coasts ofBataan. They have stood up uncomplaining under the constant and grueling fire of the enemy for more than three months. Besieged on land, and blockaded by the sea, cut-off from all sources of help in thePhilippinesandAmerica, these intrepid fighters have done all that human endurance should bear.
For what sustains them through the months of incessant battle was a force more than physical. It was the force of an unconquerable faith—something in the heart and soul that physical adversity and hardship could not destroy. It was the thought of native land and all that it holds most dear, the thought of freedom and dignity and pride in those most priceless of all our human prerogatives. Our men fought a brave and bitterly contested struggle. All the world will testify to the almost superhuman endurance with which they stood up until the last, in the face of overwhelming odds. The decision had to come. Men fighting under the banner of an unshakable faith are made of something more than flesh, but they are not impervious to steel. The flesh must yield at last, endurance melts away, and the end of the battle must come.
Bataan has fallen! But the spirit that made it stand—a beacon to all the liberty-loving people of the world—cannot fall! All of us know the story of Easter Sunday. It was the triumph of light over darkness, life over death. It was the vindication of a seemingly unreasonable faith. It was the glorious resurrection of a leader, only three days before defeated and executed like a common felon. Today, on the commemoration of that Resurrection, we can humbly and without presumption declare our faith and hope in our own resurrection, our own inevitable victory. We, too, were betrayed Judases. We were taken in the night by the force of arms, and though we had done wrong to no man, our people were bound and delivered into the hands of our enemies. We have been with mock symbols of sovereignty, denied by weaklings, lashed with repeated oppression, tortured and starved. We have been given gall to drink, and we have shed our blood. To those who look upon us from afar it must seem the Filipino people have descended into hell, into the valley of death. But we know that the patient and watching men who said their simple prayers in the hills ofBataan, have not lost faith, and we know that the hushed congregations in the churches throughout the land, drew from the gospel as Mass renewed hope in their resurrection. To all of them we give today the message of the angel of Easter morning: “Be not afraid, for He is risen.”
We, too, shall rise. After we have paid the full price of our redemption, we shall return to show the scars of sacrifices that all may touch and believe. When the trumpets sound the hour we shall roll aside the stone before the tomb and the tyrant guards shall scatter in confusion. No wall of stone shall then be strong enough to contain us, no human force shall suffice to hold us in subjection, we shall rise in the name of freedom and the East shall be alight with the glory of our liberation. Until then, people of the Philippines, Be not afraid.
Quezon, Manuel III, ed. 20 Speeches That Moved A Nation. Mandaluyong City: Anvil Publishing, Inc, 2002.
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