Friday, May 20, 2005
SOME 7,000 islands make up The Philippines. Shipbuilding, fishing, inter-island trade and other sea-based industries dominate our country’s economy. For centuries, the sea has been the lifeblood of The Philippine people. The Filipino people are a maritime people.
Born and reared in or near the sea, our people have always been expert sailors, navigators, shipbuilders, and sea travelers. Until 1571, Filipino-made ships plied our country’s coasts and carried on maritime trade besides serving as vanguards of our people’s defense against foreign invaders. The Philippine Navy (PN) traces its roots to these early mariners. Its commanders carried lofty titles, such as "Kapitan-Laut" which means Commander-in-Chief of the Naval Forces, "Raja-Laut" which means chief of foreign and domestic trade, and "Nakoda" which means "Captain of the Fleet." We had huge warships. Foreign rulers brought about the decline of this seafaring tradition. The 1896 Philippine revolution, however, revitalized it. Using captured merchant ships, our sailors played a vital part in our struggle for freedom, ferrying men and materials from Manila to various parts of the country. World War II brought out the best qualities in our naval personnel. Fighting all odds, our small force of patrol boats made the Philippine Sea inhospitable to the enemy. The Philippine Navy is an active component of our government’s program today. Through the AFP Modernization Program, the PN’s capabilities have been enhanced to strengthen its role as a vanguard for national security, protector of the country’s territorial integrity, and preserver of our maritime resources. From being an instrument of The Philippine people’s quest for liberty it has become vehicle of our quest for progress. Today the Philippine Navy celebrates its 107th Anniversary with the theme "Hukbong Dagat ng Pilipinas Kaakibat Tungo sa Pagsulong ng Mapayapa, Maunlad, at Matatag na Republika." We congratulate the Philippine Navy headed by its Flag Officer in Command, Vice Admiral Ernesto H. de Leon, its Officers, men and women and other personnel on the occasion of its 107th Anniversary.