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War Veteran Reveals Secrets of Longevity
« on: May 02, 2012, 04:53:28 PM »
By Ben Cal

BACOOR, Cavite, May 2 (PNA Features) -– At 95, retired Army Col. Vicente F. Alhambra, a veteran of three wars -– World War II, Korean War and the Hukbalahap anti-insurgency campaign has revealed his secret to longevity and how he survived against all odds, including the infamous “Bataan Death March” unscathed with God on his side.

“Remain active but most of all be prayerful,” Alhambra told this writer in an exclusive interview at his posh residential compound in Barangay Niñog II here on Tuesday four days before the 67th anniversary of the Fall of Corregidor on May 6.

Corregidor is the rocky island fortress off Cavite where the last of the American and Filipino soldiers stood their ground under heavy bombardment by Japanese aircraft and artillery for 27 days after Bataan surrendered on April 9, 1942.

It was the big guns at Corregidor Island that delayed the Japanese timetable of capturing Bataan in a blitzkrieg-like offensive that enabled then President Manuel L. Quezon and Gen. Douglas MacArthur, overall commander of Allied Forces in the Pacific, to escape to Australia en route to the United States in 1942.

Present during the interview was retired Lt. Gen. Ernesto G. Carolina, administrator of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), who came to visit Alhambra and to see for himself the robust health of the former guerrilla fighter.

Alhambra walks without a cane and talks without stammering. His eyes are still clear, using only the reading glasses sparingly. Most of all, his memory can still recall what happened during the Second World War, including the identification of photos he has kept in his albums about the war and other activities while still in the active military service.

To prove his sharpness, he related in detail his war exploits during World War II, Korean War and Huk campaign in the mid ‘50s.

Alhambra’s appetite for hard work in military precision is still intact even in the twilight of his years.

To manifest his stamina, Alhambra made a guided tour for Carolina and other visitors to see the fruit trees he planted over the years such as mango, calamansi, sampaloc, santol and other ornaments around his compound.

“I water them everyday,” he said, smiling.

In fact, Alhambra was proud to point out a mango tree planted by his parents 100 years ago.

“It is still bearing fruits,” Alhambra said.

He snoozes at 9pm after praying and is up at 5a.m. and after his morning prayer of thanksgiving to start the new day and take a hearty breakfast to keep him fit and healthy.

Alhambra, who in his heydays as a young man can qualify as an actor, looks 20 years younger than his present age.

“My simple formula to long life is to be always active day in and day out tending my garden, my poultry and doing other chores in the house to keep me busy. I also read my mails and the newspapers to keep me abreast of the news,” Alhambra.

“But, most of all, I always pray to God for protection,” Alhambra said, which he said is his secret weapon, especially during World War II as a soldier and guerrilla fighter, the Korean War in 1950-53 and the fight against the Huks.”

A graduate of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) class of 1942, Alhambra and all his classmates were automatically drafted into the military service three months before graduation when World War II broke out following the bombing of the Philippines by Japanese planes on Dec. 8, 1941.

He said the entire PMA class of 1942 that included Jose Crisol who became defense undersecretary in post war years reported to Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Mariano Castaneda for immediate deployment to fight the invading Japanese forces.

“We were the first PMA class called to active duty,” Alhambra who looks in perfect health said with pride in his eyes.

He recalled that Japanese warplanes bombed Baguio and Cavite where US naval forces were stationed at Sangley Point.

Alhambra said he was enlisted into the 2nd Regular Division of the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) assigned in Mariveles, Bataan.

It was in Bataan that the bulk of Filipino and American forces stood their ground to defend the Philippines until they were forced to surrender on April 9, 1942 due to shortage of ammunition, food and medicines to sustain the Japanese onslaught.

Alhambra vividly described the fall of Bataan as a sad day as he and his comrades-in-arms became prisoners of war (POWs) of the Japanese forces.

He said he was lucky that he did not get sick during the Death March from Mariveles, Bataan to San Fernando, Pampanga and during his incarceration in Capas, Tarlac that lasted for several months before he and other POWs were freed.

Alhambra said “as many as 500 POWs died a day due to malaria in the concentration camp. It was horrible!”

“While I was held a prisoner of war, a woman friend of mine gave me a mosquito net. The mosquito net was handed to a friend who, in turn, gave it to me inside my cell.” Alhambra said.

Alhambra also recalled the lack of food inside the concentration camp.

“We survived eating ‘tinapa’ if at all it was available,” Alhambra said, adding “we were lucky to eat once a day and that would suffice for our breakfast, lunch and dinner rolled into one.”

When liberation came, Alhambra found himself locked in battle this time against the Huks insurgents in Central Luzon.

Again he survived but at the height of the insurgency campaign, Alhambra volunteered as a member of the 10th Battalion Combat Team (BCT) of the Philippine Expedition Force to Korea (PEFTOK), together with then 2nd Lt. Fidel V. Ramos who later became the 12th President of the Republic of the Philippines in 1992-98, and then First Sergeant Maximo P. Young, a be-medaled Filipino soldier during the Korean War.

“The Korean War was brutal,” Alhambra said.

“But it was during the Korean War that proved again the bravery of the Filipino soldiers, who refused to back down against the wave by wave attacks by the enemy,” Alhambra proudly pointed out during the interview.

The PEFTOK forces were highly trained in combat that of the 7,425 Filipino soldiers who fought in the Korean War, PEFTOK lost only 1,170 men.

Alhambra retired in 1967 as a colonel in the Philippine Constabulary.

As a war veteran pensioner, Alhambra goes to the PVAO office in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City to get his monthly pension.

Still very sharp and witty at 95 years old, Alhambra said he will continue his daily routine of watering the trees he planted and doing other household chores and continue his prayers until the Lord calls him to His eternal Kingdom. (PNA Features)

Romans 10:9-10
"If you declare with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved."

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Re: War Veteran Reveals Secrets of Longevity
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2012, 01:37:11 AM »
He got it right...stay active, live a healthy lifestyle ug ang Ginoo maoy  sundon sa kanunay.
Every Christian has GPS -God-Provided Salvation!
It may not guide you to everywhere you want to go in this world, but it will ensure  that you arrive safely in heaven.

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