By ROY C. MABASA
Capas, Tarlac — In a solemn ceremony held at the historic Capas National Shrine, the heroism of 14 Czechoslovak nationals who fought alongside their Filipino and American counterparts during World War II was recognized and celebrated. Maroš Martin Guoth, Economic and Trade Counsellor of the Embassy of the Czech Republic, led the unveiling of the new Czech marker last August 25, here.
Originally, the shrine commemorated only seven Czechoslovak nationals, but this updated marker now bears the names of all 14 brave individuals, namely: Jan Bžoch, Pavel Fuchs, Leo Hermann, Jaroslav Hrdina, Fred Lenk, Hans Lenk, Josef Vařák, Antonín Volný, Karel Aster, Karel Dančák, Bedřich “Fred“ Herman, Otto Hirsch, Arnošt “Ernest“ Morávek, and Norbert Schmelkes.
Guests at the event included Department of National Defense (DND) Assistant Secretary Antonio Bautista, National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) Commissioner Lino Dizon, Tarlac Governor Susan Yap, Capas Mayor Roseller Rodriguez, and Col. Agerico Amagna from the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO).
Representatives from the diplomatic community and members of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines also attended the unveiling ceremony.
Guoth, in his opening remarks, expressed his gratitude to former Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Jana Šedivá, whose unwavering dedication brought about the installation of the new granite marker. Guoth acknowledged that Ambassador Šedivá had rallied support from government authorities, historians, and other stakeholders to make this important commemoration possible.
Governor Yap spoke of the province’s privilege in hosting the Czech marker and expressed the hope that it would serve as a lasting reminder of the shared history between the Czech Republic and the Philippines.
Col. Amagna provided a brief history lesson on the 14 Czechoslovak heroes who dedicated their lives to the cause of freedom in the Philippines.
In his closing message, DND Assistant Secretary Bautista emphasized the shared values of liberty and freedom between the Czech Republic and the Philippines while honoring the Czech defenders of Bataan. He also expressed optimism for more meaningful engagements between the two nations, particularly in the area of defense industry and logistics.
This unveiling ceremony marks a significant moment in history as it pays tribute to the often-overlooked Czech heroes who stood side by side with Filipino and American forces during World War II. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Embassy of the Czech Republic and the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, their sacrifices will now be remembered and celebrated by future generations.
The unveiling of the Czech marker serves as a poignant prelude to a momentous occasion, as the Czech Republic and the Philippines are set to commemorate 50 years of official diplomatic ties in October—an event that underscores the enduring friendship between the two nations.