Australian Embassy
The Philippines

SP141019: Barrio Fiesta Dinner, Palo, Leyte

Speech by Ambassador Bill Tweddell
Barrio Fiesta Dinner hosted by Palo Mayor Remedios Petilla

Palo, Leyte
19 October 2014

• Honourable Remedios Petilla, Mayor of the Municipality of Palo – thank you for your warm hospitality
• Honourable Jericho Petilla, Secretary of Energy
• Honourable Leopoldo Dominico Petilla, Governor, Province of Leyte
• Honourable Carlo Loreto, Vice Governor, Province of Leyte
• Colonel Francisco San Miguel (ret), Executive Vice-President and Secretary General, Veterans Federation of the Philippines
• Fellow Excellencies of the Diplomatic Corps,
• Officers and personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines
• Members of the Royal Australian Navy
• Veterans, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen


Good Evening and thank you for the opportunity to partake in this wonderful Cultural Evening event for the Veterans of the Liberation.

Colonel Murray I came to Leyte for the first time twelve months ago and I remember how proud the Mayor, Honourable Remedios Petilla, was of her newly constructed Municipal Hall that had only just opened. We were also impressed by the Cultural Dance troupe that had performed for audiences all around the world.

That night none of us were to know that in less than three weeks the Municipal Hall would be wrecked and the lives of thousands of people destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda.

Perhaps it is only the Veterans, who witnessed first-hand the devastation preceding the Leyte Landings by the constant barrages of Naval gunfire, who could comprehend the level of destruction caused by the largest typhoon in history ever to make landfall.

Seventy years ago when General MacArthur came ashore he was accompanied by the friendly faces of Australian Defence Force personnel. Last year after Yolanda over 500 Australian Defence personnel returned once again to help their Filipino friends.

This evening, I had the privilege to honour those Australians who gave their lives in the Liberation of the Philippines. Few people today would be aware of the extent and diversity of Australia’s contribution to the campaign, from the escaped Australian prisoners who fought alongside Filipino guerrillas through to Australian warships that endured the terrifying ordeal of Japanese Kamikaze attacks.

The marker in MacArthur Park records the names of the fallen, as well as the names of those units from which more than four thousand service personnel, who participated in the Liberation, came.

I look forward to tomorrow’s 70th Anniversary, to once again honour those who gave so much to ensure a brighter future for all of us.