CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- The City Government of San Fernando held commemorative rites Tuesday, May 2, in honor of the late Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos who was martyred during the Japanese occupation forces some 75 years ago.
The commemoration featured wreath-laying rites led by Mayor Edwin Santiago, Masons and members of the Abad-Santos Family before the Kapampangan hero’s monument at the Heroes Park here.
Santiago said that the heroism of Abad Santos still sends a resounding message to this day. He added that such love for country should be kept alive among the youth as well as among government leaders and those in the civil service.
“What we need now is the bravery and determination manifested by Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos,” he said.
Santiago added that the commemoration seeks to remind the public of the martyrdom of the late World War II hero who is a native of San Fernando.
“There is no one braver than a person who offered his life to save our country. People like Jose Abad Santos who fought for the freedom we enjoy today deserve to be recognized,” Santiago furthered.
Jose Abad Santos was born on February 19, 1886 to Vicente Abad Santos and Toribia Basco. He served as the fifth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines and was executed on May 7, 1942 for refusing to swear allegiance to the Japanese Government.
For her part, Nieves Abad Santos Benipayo, niece of Abad Santos, expressed her gratitude to the local government for annually giving tribute to her uncle.
“It is both an honor and pride to be one of his descendants. May his remarkable contributions challenge us to become heroes of today in our own ways,” Nieves added.
The city has been active in honoring the memory of heroes and promoting their heroic virtues. Local heroes have found places of honor at Heroes Park.
Congress, by virtue of Republic Act 7552, enacted May 7 as a regular holiday in Pampanga to pay tribute and honor Abad Santos.
According to the City Tourism Office, Abad Santos played a vital role during the period of World War II: "Si Jose Abad Santos ay isang Filipino martyr noong ikalawang digmaang pandaigdig. Siya ang Chief Justice noong Commonwealth period. Siya ang naging caretaker ng Philippine Government noon, since umalis na sa Pilipinas sina Quezon at ilang Cabinet members."
The City Tourism Office also added that after the Japanese forces caught Abad Santos, they brought him to Lanao del Sur and killed him since he pledged his allegiance to the Americans instead of the Japanese government.
Before he was executed, he told his son, "Do not cry, Pepito. Show to these people that you are brave. It is an honor to die for one's country. Not everybody has that chance."
Published in the SunStar Pampanga newspaper on May 03, 2017.
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