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Veterans Bank Victory Ride on V-Day completed despite strong rains

SOME OF THE panels for the “War of Our Fathers” exhibit chronicling the events during the nearly four years of Japanese occupation of the city at the Baguio Convention and Cultural Center. PVB photo

Despite the bad weather last Sunday due to the typhoon Hanna intensified monsoon rains, the Philippine Veterans Bank claimed a victory as 133 of the registered 166 bikers turned in including mayor Benjamin Magalong for the Victory Ride.

With the Camp John Hay segment already removed from the 45.5 kilometer route, the ride was further shortened when the Magalong led peleton decided to remove the Sablan, Benguet stop at the Veterans view deck.

“There were 133 riders who joined the ride but we had 166 registered,” PVB first president Mike Villa Real messaged this writer Monday.

The organizers of the first Victory Ride to celebrate the surrender of Japanise Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita in 1945 were expecting 150 riders.

He added: “Mayor Magalong took the initiative and said to go back already about three kilometers before the Sablan View Deck due to the fog.”

Instead, the riders pedaled their way to the Philippine Military Academy where closing rites were made including the awards of Congressional medals to veterans.

Earlier, Villa Real said that the John Hay stop was already cancelled. “Yeah, looks like everything’s set. But instead of closing at John Hay, it will end at (the Philippine Military Academy) PMA at around 8-830AM,” said the PVB first vice president, in a private message to this writer earlier.

Villa-Real said the United State Embassy did not allow them use of the diplomat’s residence within John Hay where Japanese Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita signed the formal surrender on said day in 1945 formally ending the war here.

“Yeah, the US Embassy didn’t approve to close at the Ambassador’s House. But the US Embassy might join us (during the) closing (ceremony) at PMA,” added Villa-Real in his private message.

The ride was started to commemorate the Yamashita surrender since its passage into a law declaring it a special holiday in 2021.

The 45.5 kilometer ride will take riders to historical sites during the nearly four years of Japanese occupation which ended when Yamashita was caught in Kiangan, Ifugao before he was transported here.

Villa-Real said the bikathon is a celebration of the victory that ended the war here that killed a million Filipinos.

This, he said, is the response to the Valor Run that is staged on April 9 commemorating the infamous Death March, a 110 kilometer ride from Mariveles, Bataan to the Shrine in Capas, Tarlac.

“We’ve been asked why we celebrate defeat and not victory,” said Villa-Real during a press conference at the Club House of Camp John Hay recently.

Christan David Alacar said that event is to raise awareness on the heroism of veterans in a “70 percent learn and 30 percent ‘padyak’ (ride).”

He is also hoping that it will be a bigger event next year where it may even start in Kiangan for a nearly 190 kilometer bikathon.

He added that they will look into improving the ride next year and consider the rains.

“Let’s see. There are items for improvement definitely. But the reception is great. The weather is the x-factor during early September,” Villa Real added.

Meanwhile, PVD launched the World War II Travelling Exhibit also last Sunday at the Baguio Convention and Cultural Center.

The PVB in a release said the exhibit, “War of Our Fathers”, which will run until September 12, honors the bravery of the Filipino soldiers and the resilience of the Filipino people during World War II through photographs, memorabilia and artifacts.”

The exhibit highlight includes “a detailed look at Baguio City during the 1940s Japanese occupation leading up to its liberation upon General Yamashita’s surrender on September 3, 1945.” Pigeon Lobien

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