"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tribute to WW II hero Wenceslao Vinzons

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today called on the nation to pay due respect and honor to a great Filipino World War II hero, Wenceslao Vinzon, whose 98th birth anniversary silently passed without the public glare, but whose acts of heroism are more than enough to warrant national adulations.

Gordon made the exhortation during the 98th birth anniversary celebration of Vinzon whom he said could have been "one of the country's greatest, if not the greatest leaders" because of his sacrifices in fighting against the Japanese imperial army.

"Lest we all forget as a nation and as a people - yesterday, we paid tribute to a great man - Wenceslao Vinzon. We honor his 98th birth anniversary without the public glare," he said as he took the plenary floor during yesterday afternoon's opening of the Senate session.

Vinzon, who led an armed resistance against the Japanese in Camarines Norte as soon as they landed in December 1941, was captured and killed after refusing to submit to swear allegiance to the invading force. His entire family was also later executed.

Gordon is set to file a Senate resolution extending full support to efforts in preparation for the nationwide activities and programs for the centennial celebration Vinzon's natal anniversay.

The senator stressed the need to retrieve from the past a sense of our greatness as a people, saying that a people without pride in their past will have no hope for the future.

"If we want to move our country in the right direction, we have to look back at our rich history as a nation and as a people, for then and only then can we ably declare that we have conquered our future, he said.

He exhorted the youth to rise to the challenges set by our heroes.

"How many of our youth today will rush to fight against a foreign invader, without regard for their own lives? How many will forsake their life in defiance of the enemy over a life of safety and servitude as a Japanese collaborator? How many will forsake the lure of personal comfort and prestige to serve their people?" asked Gordon.

Vinzon was among the first Filipinos to organize the guerrilla resistance after the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in 1941. After having killed more than 3,000 of their troops, Vinzons was betrayed by a guerilla turned informant and was seized by the Japanese military together with his father on July 8, 1942.

He refused to pledge allegiance to his captors, and was brought to a garrison in Daet. It was there, on July 15, 1942, that Vinzons was bayoneted to death at the age of 31 after refusing to cooperate with the Japanese forces. Shortly thereafter, his father, wife, sister and two of his children were also executed by the Japanese.

Vinzons was UP student council president and Philippine Collegian editor-in-chief. He finished law in the UP College of Law and placed third in the bar examinations. He was elected youngest delegate to the 1935 Constitutional Convention.


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