There is a "word" in the Australian language, which is very close to the meaning of the Filipino term--bayanihan.
The term bayanihan (pronounced as buy-uh-nee-han), a core essense of Filipino culture, is a custom derived from a Filipino word 'bayan', which translates to nation, town, or community. Bayanihan may mean being part of a bayan, which refers to the spirit of communal unity, work and cooperation to achieve a certain goal.
Now it has been etched in the annals of Philippine history that in the time of the Second World War, Australians gallantly fought and died in the country from the time the United States' surrendered during the fall of Bataan in 1942, until the Philippines' final liberation in 1945.
As a lasting tribute to Australia's contribution to the war efforts, a memorial has been dedicated at Palo, Leyte, which honors the 92 Australians who gave their lives during the Philippines Liberation in WWII. The monument stands close to the site where General Douglas MacArthur first stepped ashore after leading the advance from Australia.
Aside from this, the Royal Australian Naval forces also played an important role in what is known as the world's big-gun naval battles at Leyte Gulf, at the Surigao Strait, and in the Battle of Lingayen Gulf, in addition to the foreign Navy's role in providing crucial support to nine amphibious landings during the campaigns that helped assure victory for the Allied Forces.
Side by side, Australian and Filipino soldiers died in battle to achieve a common goal and this was highlighted by Australian Ambassador Steven J. Robinson during the opening of the "Mateship and Bayanihan: The Story of Philippines-Australia Defense Ties" exhibition at the QCX Museum at the Quezon Memorial Circle.
"Seventy-five years ago today, the first of the Australian Naval forces taking part in what was called 'Operation King 2', crossed the Philippine waters, heading to the Leyte Gulf, and to the Suriago Strait. In the battles that followed, over 4,000 Australian servicemen were among the Allied Forces who played a small but significant part in the Allied victory in and across the Pacific," Robinson began his story.
"The great battle in the Pacific taught us what holds true 'til today, but the success of coalitions and alliances rests heavily on the spirit of cooperation and common values," he added.
Australia's contribution and sacrices throughout the war has been put on display in the exhibition where materials were sourced from the Australian War Memorial, National Archives of Australia, the Australian Defence Force imagery, Malacanan Presidential Museum and Library, Armed Forces of the Philippines Museum, and and the University of Santo Tomas archives. The Mateship and Bayanihan exhibition is open to the public until October 30. The QCX Museum is open Monday to Friday from 9:00am to 4:00pm. Entrance is free.
"In a few days, on the 23rd of October," Robinson continued, "we will mark the second anniversary of the Battle of Marawi. This recent threat shows once again that the spirit of cooperation between our two countries, which was forged in World War II, is still present today. These times are at the heart of the very close relationship Australia shares with the Republic of the Philippines. As I understand it, the Filipino ideal of 'bayanihan' conveys the spirit of communal unity, work and cooperation to achieve a goal. Bayanihan is keen to the Australian concept of 'mateship' which includes notions of friendship, solidarity, and pulling together."
"These values have really shaped who we are, and what we stand for. And they've been tested through the most gruelling periods of our history. So this exhibition is about what binds us together--Mateship and Bayanihan today. That spirit binds at the heart of the relationship between Australia Defence Force and the Armed Forces of the Philippines," he said.
Moving further with his story, there was a sense of honor and distinction exhibited by the Ambassador in the manner he related how proud he is of the life-saving work the Australian and Filipino forces extended in all their peacebuilding and humanitarian efforts in the region.
"Australia has been there with our Filipino friends, shoulder to shoulder, deep in the heap of battle, supporting other countries in the region to keep peace and rebuilding after natural disasters. For example, back in 1999 to 2000, the AFP deployed three contingents, the Philippine Humanitarian Support Mission to East Timor, in support of the international forces in East Timor, and the Australian-led Multinational Peacekeeping Task Force, and the United Nations. That group restored peace and security and facilitated humanitarian assistance in the territory."
Through the years, the cooperation between Australia and the Philippines has become an effective means to strengthen, share and accelerate development within the two countries and across the region by creating, adapting, transferring, and sharing knowledge and experiences to achieve a common goal - while also making the most of existing resources and capacities.
"When Typhoon Yolanda made landfall in November of 2013, it decimated properties and the livelihoods of many Filipinos. I am very proud to say that Australia was quick to respond with emergency assistance, including medical and logistics support and defense personnel on the ground to help our friends rebuild. Over 500 soldiers, men and women, like their forefathers, answered the call to work alongside their Filipino friends in Tacloban City and other parts of the country," Robinson said.
"In May 2017, when the Maute group terrorized Marawi City in the Southern Mindanao, the ADF formed Operation Augury-Philippines in partnership with the AFP. The ADF deployed P-3 Orion aircraft for intelligence surveillance reconnaissance in support of the AFP groundforces and operations in Marawi. Some two years after the Marawi seige, the ADF still works with the AFP on urban operations and counter terrorism-focused military training. This helps [us] deal with common threats that we face today and enhances the sheer understanding of terrorist threats in our region," he said.
The distinctive fraternal ties that link Australia and the Philippines shared by Ambassador Robinson made the event doubly special. The two countries draw their strength from their roots of kinship, history, common affiliation, joint destiny, and shared interests.
"Because Australia knows we are stronger when we work with trusted friends and while the nature of the challenges we face in the years to come will always continue to change, the necessity of cooperating closely in our response never will change. Looking ahead, I am confident that Australia's relationship with the Philippines will remain grounded in the values embodied by mateship and bayanihan--friendship, solidarity, and cooperation," Robinson concluded his story. (PIA NCR)