102-YEAR OLD VET’S WISHES
LINGAYEN—Glicerio Valdez Sr., the oldest living World War II veteran in Pangasinan at 102 years old, still has a sharp memory and loves telling his war stories.
But at the same time, he wishes there would be “no more wars” as he recalls and shares his ordeals as a US Army Sgt. 1st Class.
In an interview at his home in Barangay San Nicolas, Alcala town last Tuesday, Lolo Ilyong, as he is fondly called, holds out his left hand to show how it was deformed after being hit with the butt of a gun by a Korean soldier during the Korean War.
His left eyelid was also hit with shrapnel during a grenade explosion.
Lolo Ilyong is also among the survivors of the tragic Bataan Death March.
“I still cry,” he said, every time he remembers the horrors of the war.
Last January 9, Valdez, on his wheelchair, took the center stage anew during the 68th Lingayen Gulf Landings and Pangasinan Veterans’ Day celebration held at the Veterans Memorial Park, Capitol Compound.
Valdez, who was first given recognition two years ago, was honored this time for his longevity and sacrifices during World War II.
Provincial officials led by Governor Amado Espino Jr., Vice Governor Jose Ferdinand Calimlim Jr., and 2nd District Rep. Leopoldo Bataoil gave Valdez a plaque of recognition “for his heroism and bravery in defending our freedom during the Second World War and for living the ideals of a true soldier which is worthy of respect and emulation”.
“We remember once again and honor the valor and sacrifices of civilian volunteers, prisoners of war and defenders of freedom and democracy,” Espino said.
Lolo Ilyong, a pensioner of the US government who enjoys a quiet and secure life in his hometown, said he is very thankful that he survived the war and that he has lived past 100 years, thanks to good care and proper nutrition.
His other wish now is to live up to 117 years old so he could surpass the age of his grandfather, Tranquilino Valdez, who died at the age of 115.
Meanwhile, former Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani, the guest of honor and speaker during the celebration, said it is always a pleasure to come back to Lingayen as she recalled her childhood memories of this capital town where she and her brother, former President Fidel Ramos, were born.
Shahani also praised Espino for restoring the Capitol complex back to its old grandeur.
“Before the landings, before the war, there was a beautiful community here in Lingayen and Pangasinan was one of the leading provinces of the Republic of the Philippines and the source of so many of our national leaders like Teofilo Sison, secretary of national defense, Daniel Maramba the first secretary of agriculture, Imay Pecson the first woman senator in the entire republic” Shahani said.
“Let us bring back that tradition, that sense of pride, that sense of honor and integrity which I think characterize so many of the distinguished citizens here,” she added.—Eva Visperas with report from Johanne R. Macob