'Balikatan' participants walking in the footsteps of heroes

With around 8,000 military personnel from the Philippines and the United States participating in "Balikatan 2013", Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Albert Del Rosario said that these soldiers are walking in the footsteps of heroes who made the supreme sacrifice during the dark days of World War II.

"In four days we will honor their heroism and sacrifice -- their willingness to lay down their lives for democracy, freedom and liberty," he added.

Del Rosario was referring to April 9 or the annual commemoration of the Fall of Bataan during World War II where 75,000 Filipino and American soldiers surrendered, but not without inflicting horrendous casualties to the Japanese invaders.

"These common and sacred values -- unchanging in victory or in defeat, immutable in the face of challenges old or new, great or small -- are what held us together then. These gave us the strength to stand together even in the face of overwhelming odds," he added.

Del Rosario also said that these same values are what make the bonds between the Filipino and American nations strong.

"These are the values that sustain our security relationship. This relationship remains robust and vigorous -- forged by our shared sacrifices in the Pacific War, by our standing boldly together in the dark days of the Cold War, and in facing today’s current and pressing challenges," the DFA chief emphasized.

Del Rosario added that a diplomat's greatest fear is that in failing to build peace, soldiers will have to be called upon to do their duty and place themselves in harm’s way.

"This fear is mitigated by the knowledge that allies stand by us. It is lessened by the knowledge, that our men and women in uniform are prepared to face the consequences when diplomacy falls short. It is allayed by the fact that our brave soldiers are willing and able to succeed where diplomacy may fail," he concluded.