IN honor of their extraordinary courage and dedication when they fought for liberty in the Philippines during World War 2, names of the 14 Czechoslovak heroes are now inscribed on the Czech marker at the Capas National Shrine in Tarlac.
The Czech Republic Embassy’s economic and trade counselor Maroš Martin Guoth, who represented Chargé d’affaires a.i. Mr. Dalibor Mička, led the unveiling of the granite marker on August 25, 2023. Originally erected for only seven Czechoslovak nationals, the new Czech marker now honors the heroism of all 14 who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with their Filipino and American counterparts in the fight for freedom in the Philippines: 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.
Assistant Secretary Antonio Bautista of the Department of National Defense, Commissioner Lino Dizon of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, Governor Susan Yap of Tarlac, Mayor Roseller Rodriguez of the Municipality of Capas, and Col. Agerico Amagna from the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) graced the event. Partners from the diplomatic community and Veterans Federation of the Philippines members also attended the unveiling ceremony.
Guoth expressed his gratitude to former Czech envoy Jana Šedivá, who was the driving force behind the installation of the new marker. Driven by a deep sense of historical preservation, the envoy brought the project to fruition as “she rallied for support from government authorities, historians and other stakeholders.”
For her part, Yap said that the province of Tarlac is “honored and privileged to serve as [the Czech marker’s] home,” as she hoped that it may “serve as a lasting reminder of our shared history.”
Meanwhile, Col. Amagna shared a brief history of how the 14 Czechoslovak heroes dedicated their lives for freedom in the Philippines.
In his closing, Bautista honored Bataans’ Czech defenders, as he stressed the fundamental values of liberty and freedom shared between the Czech Republic and the Philippines. He expressed his optimism for more meaningful engagements between the two countries, especially in the areas of defense industry and logistics.
The ceremony was made possible through the Czech Embassy and PVAO’s joint efforts. According to the embassy, the marker stands as a testament to the common history and unwavering solidarity between both nations.
For the embassy, the unveiling was a fitting prelude to celebrate 50 years of official ties between as the Czech Republic and the Philippines in October—a significant milestone in the diplomatic relations between the two nations.
Image credits: Philippine Veterans Affairs Office/Czech Republic Embassy