‘Purple Heart Medal’ is not for me to keep



IN my gallivanting to pick up old things that avid collectors call antiques, I chanced upon two collectibles that deserve a Due Diligencer piece. One is a Purple Heart Medal, which had already lost the ribbon that should have been tied to it. The other was a package of World War II mementoes dating back to 1943. They reminded me of my late father who used to tell us, his children, the story about the difficulties that his family had to endure during the war.

Let me begin telling my story about the “Purple Heart Medal” with the first three letters capitalized to emphasize its importance to the heirs of its owner. How it ended up among my collections is another story but which, at the moment, should not be told to protect those responsible for “losing” it in the first place.

In my eagerness to research on the medal’s awardee, I called up an acquaintance, formerly with GMA Network but who now works at the Social Security System because she and the medal’s owner have the same family name.

Did Iris know Primo B. Abar-quez Jr., the name written on the medal? Since she may be too young to know the man, she passed on my inquiry to her father. I waited for her answer. Negative.

Failed inquiry
When I found the medal sometime last year, I had then been “googling” the name “Primo B. Abarquez Jr., hoping to solve the puzzle. Failing to find any lead about his remaining relatives, I finally gave up but only temporarily. I decided it was time to stop writing about the “Purple Heart Medal.”

If Primo B. Abarquez Jr. was reported by the US Armed Forces as “missing in action,” sometime during WWII, I am therefore reporting here, too, that his relatives remain missing.

Instead of pursuing my failed endeavor to find anything at all that would lead my research to his remaining relatives, I am deviating from my regular coverage of stocks listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange.

Will the readers of The Manila Times help me trace the family of “Primo B. Abarquez Jr.,” who is among the “823 US Army personnel with the last name beginning with A?” The website described those in the list as “Service Personnel Not Recovered following WWII.” In other words, Abarquez was among those reported “missing in action” since Feb. 9, 1944, or 73 years ago next month.

Not mine to keep
The “Purple Heart Medal” in my possession belongs to the living relatives of Primo B. Abarquez Jr. They deserve it for safekeeping among his family treasures. The only problem is I do not know if anyone among them would be interested in a memento of war that might only remind them of the atrocities inflicted on them by the invaders.

While I personally treasure the Abarquez medal, it is unfortunate that our past and present national leaders have forgotten certain dates in history. Why would Manila celebrate the Japanese invasion of the city that took place on Jan. 2, 1942? Why remind the city folks of their war sufferings?

Perhaps, what should have mattered more to government officials was the “baptism of fire” of Gregorio del Pilar at the Battle of Kakarong de Sili in the remote municipality of Pandi in Bulacan. Unluckily for the town’s folks, again, our national leaders were probably too busy to honor the Bulacan hero, who was said to have successfully repulsed the Spanish soldiers pursuing Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo on his way home to Cavite.

Why celebrate Jan. 1, 1897 to honor Del Pilar, along with his fellow soldiers? On the 120th year of his “baptism of fire,” they would have been remembered for their bravery. No one among our public servants did. Shouldn’t we be grateful too for their unrecognized role in the declaration of Philippine independence on June 12, 1898? Just asking. “The WWII mementoes” in next Due Diligencer.



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