Issue of November 4, 2018

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War veterans receive U.S. Congress medal
by Harley F. Palangchao

WAR HEROES -- World War II veteran Cato D. Pulac of La Trinidad, Benguet, who turned 100 years old this year, is one of the 28 war heroes conferred the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal through U.S. Ambassador Sung Y. Kim in a historic awarding rite at the Philippine Military Academy on weekend. -- Contributed photo

Igorot centenarian Cato Dampas Pulac of La Trinidad, Benguet led 20 Cordillerans, who were among the 28 war veterans conferred the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal for bravery and heroism during an awards rite at Fort del Pilar, home of the Philippine Military Academy, on weekend.

U.S. Ambassador Sung Y. Kim led the awarding that was attended by surviving World War II heroes, including posthumous awardees represented by their families.

The 28 war heroes, who served under the 66th Infantry Brigade of the U.S. Armed Forces in the Philippines (USAFIP)-Northern Luzon and U.S. Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE), helped in liberating key areas in Northern Luzon, including Baguio City, by fighting side-by-side with the Americans against the Japanese Imperial Army.

Aside from Pulac, who was then a corporal, the other awardees from Benguet are Cpl. Rizalino Alingbas, 95, of La Trinidad; Private Camilo Atas, 94, of Buguias; Private First Class Mateo Bakian, 92, of Atok; Private First Class Tuacan Barian, 97, of Kapangan; Private Alberto Bugtong, 93 and Private Camilo Bugtong, 93, both of Itogon; Private Pio Doro, 92, of Kapangan; 2nd Lieutenant Wilfredo Estandian, 96, of La Trinidad; Private Magno Lamsis, 94, of La Trinidad; Sergeant Jose Tiangao, 93, of Itogon; and Private Garcia Wakit, 92, of Sablan.

The war heroes from Baguio City are Sergeant Angelo Andrada, 92; Private First Class Timoteo Boado, 90; Private First Class Graciano Clavano Jr., 89; and Private First Class Orlando Pimentel, 94.

The posthumous award was given and received by the family of 1Lt. Francisco Paraan, former mayor of Baguio and former chief of police of the city.

Also posthumously awarded were General Vicente Lim; Lt/Col. Pastor Martelino, and 3Lt. Jose San Juan.

Former chief of Baguio police, Federico Mandapat Sr., was earlier given the same medal during awards rites in California, U.S.A. on Oct. 13.

The other awardees from nearby regions and provinces are Private Cosme Baltazar, 94, of Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya; Private Pedro Hipol, 91, of Bauang, La Union; Private Vicente Madarang, 92, of Rosario, La Union; Private Ernesto Luis, 91; Private Enrique Sobrepena Jr. of Carmona, Cavite; Major Jaime Tabernero, 97, of Rosario La Union; Corporal Jose Tadifa, 97, of San Fernando City, La Union; and Private Salvador Yapyapan, 93, of Balaoan, La Union.

Each of the awardees was given a bronze replica of a U.S. Congressional Gold Medal.

The Congressional Gold Medal covered by Public Act 114-265 Congressional Gold Medal entitled “Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2016,” which was signed into law by former U.S. President Barack Obama, is merely a recognition and does not have an accompanying benefit, such as health care or a visa or an educational grant.

In his speech during awarding rites, Kim said: “The Congressional Gold Medal is given to the Filipino war veterans in recognition of their dedicated service and selfless sacrifice during the war.”

He added: “This declaration is awarded to an individual or unit who performed outstanding deed or act of service to the security, prosperity, and national interest of the United States.”

HONORED -- The family of the late war veteran hero Francisco “Ping” Paraan represented by his son, Dr. Ronaldo Paraan, received the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal from U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim when the former mayor and chief of police of Baguio was honored along with 27 other World War II veterans in fitting rites at the Philippine Military Academy. -- Contributed photo

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