Speech of His Excellency, Jose P. Laurel, President of the Republic of the Philippines, over Station PIAM, Manila, in connection with the celebration of Greater East Asia Day, December 8, 1943:

I consider it a great privilege to speak on the occasion of the second anniversary of the outbreak of the war of Greater East Asia. December 8, 1941, the day on which the Empire of Japan declared war on England and America is destined to be the most memorable day in the annals of human struggle against oppression and tyranny.

When the light of this day first burst upon our people two years ago, gleaming on silver wings that came from beyond the horizon, we were blinded. Long benighted, we did not recognize the herald of a new day in the lightning flash and the thunder crash of war. Today, standing here, our vision has cleared, and even as we gaze across Manila Bay at the outlines of Bataan and Corregidor, grim reminders of a tragic event in the history of our people, there is no bitterness, there should be no bitterness, in our hearts. By the sacrifices of our countrymen in Bataan and Corregidor, by the sacrifices of all those who died somewhere in the Philippines, the independence that we have attained, for which they fought in good and fervent faith, becomes dearer, more precious. By their sacrifices, we realize that we can do no less than be ready and willing to give everything we have and everything we can summon to make that independence live and last not only for the happiness and pride of the living but also for the glory of our illustrious dead.

Two years have passed since Japan struck the mighty blow that shattered the sanctimonious armor which cloaked the greedy imperialism of the Western powers. Only two short years, passing quickly and eventfully have transpired from December 8, 1941. But in this brief lapse of time, Japan has fully proved with the incontrovertible evidence of actual accomplishments the nobility of her purpose and the probity of her ethics. The days have formed not only a chain or brilliant victories but also a series of benevolent deeds that evoke, more than admiration, a prayer for the complete victory of her arms from all the peonies that she has liberated.

We of the Philippines have greater cause to rejoice on this day than many of our fellow-Orientals. By far we have been the most misguided and the most stubborn. Yet we have been one of the most, if not the most for of the lot. After helping us tack to Japan has led us on the road to independence, so that now we have reached the summit of our aspirations, where the air of freedom pure and the vision of the future is clear.

It is for us now to establish ourselves firmly on this exalted plane of independent nationhood. It is for us now to make our foothold secure upon this elevated peak, lest we back. slide into the depths from which we have risen or fall into the clangorous chasms yawning around us.

The obstacles that loom before us, the difficulties that challenge our genius and capacity the sufferings that bear on our fortitude and the temptations that dare flex our will, are not evils that have come with independence or with the war: they are the evils that we have nursed during our long years of dependence upon other nations and during the years of peace when we permitted an illogical and unnatural mode of life to sap our energy and weaken our mettle. The Philippines today may not be a paradise, but it certainly is not a “hell of a place to live in.” The Philippines, as a matter of fact, is one of the few green oases in a world almost converted into an immense desert of rubble and ashes by the searing flames of war. Thanks to a bountiful nature, our country has not, been bled white by western exploitation; the surface of our land has only been scratched, and a little diligent and humble toil can make it yield enormous resources for human life, growth, progress and prosperity. Relief during hard times does not lie in moaning complaints; relief lies in work, honest and conscientious.

The Government of the Republic has all the vital problems of the people at heart; we suffer with all those who suffer. But while we arc determined to ameliorate the present living conditions of our masses with every means at our disposal and to the limit of our powers, our effort would not be completely successful unless the masses themselves cooperate with us, unless all of us respect each other’s right to live decently and enjoy the just fruits of his labor, unless all of us help each other mutually, unless some of us examine their conscience clearly and stop molesting those engaged in productive enterprise, unless some of us abandon their crass materialism and stop unscrupulously making profits at the expense of their fellowmen.

These are the binding tenets that should govern our life in these days of trial when realities must be met with ideals, when to trample upon human rights in a mad scramble for monetary gains is a heinous and abominable sin that merits not only public scorn but also the severest punishment fit for traitors. Now more than ever, when the Republic needs our unity, we must be united not only in political ideals but also in ethical principles, and in the ties of fraternity which is patented by our independence.

And these in a larger scale, should also be the principles that must govern our relations our brother nations of Greater East Asia. That one nation may not exploit the other, that the prosperity of all is the prosperity of each, for the prosperity of one is not the prosperity of all, should forever guide our conduct and the conduct of all component members of the Co-Prosperity Sphere.

But above all, because the war is still raging and the victory of Japan is not yet complete and final, we must gear our efforts to the successful prosecution of that war. We are pledged to this great objective in the consciousness that the permanence of our independence, the security of our territory, all that freedom means and holds for us, depends upon the victory of Japan in the present war.

And so, as we commemorate this day of our liberation, we devoutly vow to ourselves, to our forebears and to our posterity, and swear by the sun and stars of our flag which now flies aloft in the very same air of freedom that we breathe, that we will make this day live through the years to come, so that it will always be remembered as the shining day of victory for us and all Asians.

Source: Office of the Solicitor General Library