August is National Heroes Month, a time to commemorate Filipino heroes who have fought valiantly for the freedom of our country. For this reason, 21 employee birthday celebrators of GNPower Mariveles Energy Center Ltd. Co (GMEC) and GNPower Dinginin Ltd. Co. (GNPD) paid tribute to World War II veterans and our modern-day heroes as part of the company’s Project Saysay for the month of August.

GMEC’s Project Saysay started with a historical tour at the Mt. Samat National Shrine, or what locals call “Dambana ng Kagitingan”, on August 24. Bataan province, particularly the sites of Mt. Samat and Corregidor Island, served as the last bastion of the allied forces of the Philippines and America in World War II. The soldiers fought bravely yet suffered immensely in a tragic event called the Bataan Death March. 

GMEC Plant Manager Joart Boado and GMEC Materials Handling Advisor Paul Neill led the company’s 13-man delegation during the tour. A tour guide narrated the story of what transpired during those times, telling detailed accounts of the Battle of Bataan, the Last Stand in Layac, the Fall of Corregidor, and the Death March. Most of the participants had only heard those comprehensive stories for the first time, bringing goosebumps to everyone. 

The tour concluded with a museum visit located in the basement of the shrine. There lay old weaponry, uniforms, helmets, and other military relics used by both the Allied and Japanese forces. A lot of old photographs exhibiting the struggle of the soldiers also hung across the walls. 

After the tour, the GMEC team visited the houses of six World War II veterans now residing in Samal and Orani. Some of these male and female veterans, whose ages ranged from 98 to 102 years old, were there during the Fall of Corregidor and the Death March. Talking to them overwhelmed the employee celebrators as they gave first-hand accounts of the war.

The war veterans received tokens of appreciation (pins of valor) as well as five-kilo packs of rice, groceries, and gift certificates worth 1,500 pesos to purchase their much-needed maintenance medicines and other health products.

In the afternoon, the employees visited Sitio Pulo, Barangay Kabalutan in Orani to honor the rescue team led by Barangay Captain Jose Sally Raymundo as modern-day heroes. Amidst torrential rains and huge currents, Raymundo and his team saved two boys from almost drowning. Using GMEC’s donated boat, they managed to rescue the boys in Bulacan after they were washed away from Orani. 

In addition to the pins, rice packs, and groceries, Sitio Pulo’s rescue team each received a raincoat set and heavy-duty tactical flashlights. 

“This is quite an experience and a very unique birthday celebration,” Boado said. “To learn something about history is very important. Nakita natin ang bravery ng mga naunang Pilipino, and we’re hoping na manatili pa rin yung ganoong pagmamahal sa bayan sa mga kabataan ngayon.”

“This will leave a mark on my life. I made it a point to participate this time because we don’t know next year kung nandiyan pa yung mga beterano. It’s an opportunity for me to meet these great people who sacrificed their lives and their families to serve the country. That’s why I’m very thankful for this project,” he added.

Meanwhile, eight GNPD August celebrators visited the Mariveles Mental Wellness and General Hospital to appreciate its 600 employees as modern-day heroes on August 25. Doctors, nurses, and staff of MMWGH each received tokens of appreciation, which included pastries and a personal letter from the GNPD employees.

GNPD also turned over medical equipment and other items to MMWGH as support to the hospital’s unwavering commitment to serving its patients. 

“We would like to thank the birthday celebrators of GNPD for choosing us as beneficiaries of their August Project Saysay,” said MMWGH Administrative Officer Laarni Maglaqui. “We also would like to thank them for considering us as their modern-day heroes. We appreciate it very much and happy, happy birthday to all of you.

Project Saysay is one of GMEC & GNPD’s advocacies with the mission to “Plant A Love” among the community through outreach programs led by employee volunteers. This program encourages monthly birthday celebrators in the company to choose a community or group they wish to share their special day with. Moreover, it aims to be the avenue for collective action of employee volunteers and be a beacon of hope for their chosen beneficiaries.