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06/07/2013: Daughter of Filipino WWII Hero Felt Father’s Presence during Visit to BRP Ramon Alcaraz

6 July 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The daughter of Commodore Ramon Alcaraz said she felt her late father’s presence the day she and her mother went on board the BRP Ramon Alcaraz—the latest addition to the Philippine Fleet that was named in honor of the Filipino World War II naval hero.

“When I came on board the Alcaraz, I felt so proud and honestly, speechless.  I wish I had the words to express the torrent of emotions I experienced,” said Ramona Alcaraz Marshall. “I was extremely close to my father and I so wished he was there; yet I did feel his presence that day.”

Ramona had the chance to board the Alcaraz on Tuesday, a few days after the vessel arrived in San Diego, its last port call in the United States mainland before it resumes its voyage to the Philippines.

Ramona was with her mother, Concepcion, her father’s sister Efigenia Alcaraz-Johnson, her daughter Hailey Marshall and family friend Santas Tamayo during the visit.

They were received by the officers and crew of the Alcaraz led by Capt. Ernesto Baldovino the day after the visit of Consul General Hellen Barber Dela Vega and members of the Filipino-American Community.

“The presence of Commodore Alcaraz’s family gave the ship's namesake a human dimension that touched the crew,” Captain Baldovino said. “We became more aware of the life of Commodore Alcaraz, his heroism, trials and sacrifices during his entire life.”

“The men and women of the Alcaraz are now more inspired to do the same sacrifices for the country,” Captain Baldovino said as he recalled how the late navy officer was credited for shooting down three enemy aircraft while serving as commander of a coastal patrol boat at the start of the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in 1941.

It was for that feat that the Philippine Navy decided to honor Commodore Alcaraz by rechristening the former USCGS Dallas, a Hamilton Class, all-weather, high endurance cutter, as the BRP Ramon Alcaraz immediately after it was turned over by the United States to the Philippines last year.

“When we found out the Coast Guard cutter was to be named after my father, we were overjoyed and overwhelmed by the honor.  My family thought this was such a fitting tribute for my father's accomplishments in his many years of service in the Navy,” said Ramona.

“Unfortunately, my father didn't share details of his exploits.  When he spoke of any event, he would just tell me it happened, but gave no details of what he had experienced.  In that way, I think he felt that what he did in the name of country and democracy was simply just his duty to perform, no more, no less,” she said.

Commodore Alcaraz and the members of his crew were captured by the Japanese and incarcerated in Bulacan until they were released upon the liberation of the Philippines. He went on to serve in what would become the Philippine Navy upon the independence of the Philippines. He retired in 1966 and passed away in 2009.

“I was born after my father had already retired from the service. I knew my father as a successful real estate entrepreneur, loving husband and father.  He was tough in his upbringing of me, but was also very tender and giving,” recalled Ramona.

“My father instilled in me a strong work ethic and nothing in this world will be given you.  You have to earn it and in order to be proud of any of your accomplishments you must conduct yourself honestly and with integrity.” ###

06 July 2013

Capt. Ernesto Baldovino, commanding officer of the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, with Mrs. Concepcion Alcaraz, widow of the World War II naval hero after whom the Philippine Navy's latest warship was named. (Philippine Navy Photo)