Koron­adal hon­ors 2 World War II heroes

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KORON­ADAL CITY -- The city gov­ern­ment gave a heroes burial to two of the area’s pioneer set­tlers who were re­garded as World War II heroes.

The re­mains of Engr. Al­bert Morrow and his aide San­ti­ago Odi were ex­humed from the Banga public ceme­tery and re-in­terned be­fore noon Mon­day at a mon­u­ment in­side the old city hall com­pound here amid a 21-gun salute.

City Mayor Peter Miguel said the heroes burial for Morrow and Odi were in recog­ni­tion of their pa­tri­otic and heroic acts at the height of the Ja­panese oc­cu­pa­tion in the area dur­ing World War II.

“This is to prop­erly rec­og­nize and honor their sac­ri­fices and self­less acts that helped save the lives of many peo­ple,” he said.

The solemn heroes burial was pre­ceded by a fu­neral mo­tor­cade from Banga town and a march along the city’s main streets, with the re­mains placed on a sil­ver car­riage.

It was fol­lowed by a mass and bless­ing of the tomb sit­u­ated at the base of a newly­built mon­u­ment.

Per­son­nel from the South Cota­bato Po­lice Pro­vin­cial Of­fice car­ried the re­mains while troops from the 27th In­fantry Batal­lion led the cus­tom­ary 21-gun salute.

Cit­ing his­tor­i­cal ac­counts, the mayor said Morrow and Odi were part of the ini­tial batch of set­tlers from Lu­zon who ar­rived in the area in 1939.

He said Morrow was then the deputy ad­min­is­tra­tor of the Na­tional Land Set­tle­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion (NLSA), which was headed by Gen. Paulino San­tos.

When World War II came, he said Ja­panese forces sta­tioned in the area staged a se­ries of atroc­i­ties, jail­ing and killing in­no­cent civil­ians.

In 1942, Miguel said the Ja­panese im­pris­oned a num­ber of civil­ians, mostly set­tlers, on sus­pi­cions that they were aid­ing lo­cal an­tiJa­panese guer­rilla units.

The head of the Ja­panese forces iden­ti­fied as Capt. Oishu re­port­edly in­vited Morrow, who was then the act­ing head of the NLSA, to join the in­ter­ro­ga­tion of the pris­on­ers, he said.

In protest, he said Morrow com­mit­ted sui­cide or “hara kiri” by shoot­ing him­self at the back of the NLSA ware­house here on Nov. 10, 1942.

Hara kiri is a form of Ja­panese rit­ual sui­cide and tra­di­tional code of be­hav­ior that val­ues honor above life.

Upon see­ing what hap­pened to Morrow, he said the lat­ter’s trusted aide, Odi, com­mit­ted the same.

Be­fore that, Miguel said Morrow wrote two let­ters, one to his wife and the other for Capt. Oishi urg­ing him to spare the lives of the jailed civil­ians.

As a re­sult of his “hon­or­able death,” Oishi re­port­edly or­dered to halt the killings as trib­ute to Morrow.

Na­tional His­tor­i­cal Com­mis­sion of the Philip­pines Di­rec­tor Lu­dovico Badoy, who graced the heroes burial, lauded the city gov­ern­ment for tak­ing the ini­tia­tive to honor the two lo­cal World War II heroes.

“We greatly ap­pre­ci­ate this ini­tia­tive of city of­fi­cials to prop­erly rec­og­nize the sac­ri­fices and sub­lime strug­gle of these heroes,” he said.

The heroes burial was among the high­lights of the city’s cel­e­bra­tion of its 78th foun­da­tion an­niver­sary on Wed­nes­day, Jan. 10. (PNA)

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