WASHINGTON D.C. Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was recognized for his contributions to the decades-long efforts to win recognition for Filipino veterans of World War II at simple rites held last Nov. 30 at the Philippine Embassy here.
The defense chief, architect of the military campaign in Marawi City, was the country’s special envoy for veterans’ affairs here for over a decade, serving two presidents until he was summoned to Manila by a 3rd (Pres. Rodrigo Duterte) to take over the Defense Department.
Retired US Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, chairman of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education project (FilVetREP), led the veterans’ advocates and community leaders in thanking him.
Sec. Lorenzana played an important role in the signing of Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation (FVEC) in 2009 that provided lump-sum payments to surviving Filipino World War II veterans in the Philippines and United States, as well as the initial stages of the successful campaign to win the US Congressional Gold Medal.
As defense chief, he presided over the Philippine’s five-month campaign to nip a nascent Islamic State (ISIS) foothold in the country, breaking a bloody siege of Marawi City that’s killed nearly a thousand people – mostly members of the Maute and Abu Sayyaf terror groups – and displaced an estimated 100,000 city residents.
The campaign proved more remarkable because of the relatively small civilian fatalities even after the terrorists took hundreds of people hostage and the amount ordnance expended in the fighting.
His recent visit was believed to be his first visit back to Washington after taking over the Defense Department.
Sec. Lorenzana was later feted by a dinner and karaoke reception at an old, familiar haunt in Oxon Hill, Md. For years, “Tito Al” Alpapara has been hosting a “Wednesday Club” for friends from the Filipino-American community, visiting dignitaries and members of the Philippine Embassy.
“Tito Al” owns one of the largest and most successful food distribution companies in the region. He was a former officer of the defunct Philippine Constabulary who worked as a route salesman after immigration to the US. He later decided to start his own business, propelled by his line of “chicharon” products that’s grown considerably over the years.
The “Wednesday Club” provides a venue for Filipinos to get together and indulge in their passion for karaoke singing. Sec. Lorenzana is counted as an “alumni” of the “Wednesday Club”.