Posts Tagged ‘World War II’

A Warrior for Peace

A short documentary chronicling Carlos P. Romulo’s career as a public servant, including seventeen years as Secretary of Foreign Affairs and
ten years as the Philippines’ ambassador to the United States. In World War II Romulo was aide-de-camp to General Douglas MacArthur. He
became a brigadier general in the United States Army in 1944, receiving the Purple Heart and the Silver Star for his service during the War, and later a major general in the Philippine Army.

As a journalist he wrote a series of articles about Japanese imperialism, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize. He also authored twenty-two books, three plays, and several poems. The Philippine government named him a National Artist for Literature in 1982, and gave him the rank of Raja of the Order of Sikatuna, an honor usually reserved for heads of state.

He signed the charter forming the United Nations in 1945, was elected president of the UN General Assembly in 1949, and served as head of
the UN Security Council a total of four times.

By the time he died in 1985 “the General” had received well over a hundred awards and decorations as well as more than sixty honorary
degrees from universities all over the world. Extolled by Asiaweek as “A Man of His Century,” he was the most admired Filipino in
international diplomacy of the 20th century.

Written and produced by Liana Romulo, in 1998, on the occasion of her grandfather’s 100th birthday, on behalf of the Carlos P. Romulo Foundation for Peace and Development. Narrated by Bong Lapira. Directed by Dik Trofeo.


Virginia Llamas

They married on July 1, 1924, in Pagsanjan. He was twenty-six, and she was nineteen.

I never really knew my grandmother Virginia Serapia Vidal Llamas from Pagsanjan; she died before my first birthday. I’m told, however, that she was the quintessential lady—informed, impeccably dressed, and quietly dignified—who in her own words chose to “glow faintly in her husband’s shadow.” Perfectly at ease in Western dress, she preferred to wear the traditional terno, complete with pañuelo. Well-versed in English and Spanish, she preferred to speak Tagalog.

As the story goes, Lolo fell in love with her when he was assigned to be her escort at the Manila Carnival, an annual pre-Easter Mardis Gras with a series of nine balls presided over by the carnival queen. (Lola Virginia, at age sixteen, was voted that year’s queen.) But Lolo already had another love interest, and was caught in a dilemma. How could he act as her prince consort, and, to make matters  even more unbearable, wear a silly costume?

The news reached her that he was reluctant to be her escort (indeed, at first he downright refused to do it), and she let it be known that she was not  pleased. “I was staring at her,” he wrote in his autobiography. “She was so angry and so much prettier than her pictures that I, usually glib of speech, found myself tongue-tied.”1

From I Walked with Heroes: “‘You , an editor!’” my mother said. ‘You, a university graduate, who has been to the United States! Acting as prince consort to a Miss Philippines!’ Then, suddenly suspicious, she demanded, ‘Did she ask for you?’”2 (On the far left is Eugenio Lopez, Sr. Can you identify the others in this photo?)

After two and a half years of courtship, they married on July 1, 1924, in Pagsanjan, and honeymooned in Baguio. They had four sons: Carlos, Jr., (“Mike”) in 1925; Gregorio Vicente (“Greg”) in 1927; Ricardo Jose (“Dick”) in 1933; and Roberto Rey (“Bobby”) in 1938.

Circumstances of war forced them apart seventeen years later, and they had no contact for more than three years. A stoic woman, she never complained and never showed distress—not under the intense conditions of war; not even during her final days in January 1968 while hospitalized for leukemia.

Virginia Llamas, in 1946 or 1947, with her youngest son, Bobby, in front of St. Matthew’s Cathedral, Washington, DC.

“Mommy never complained,” said one of her sons to The Daily Mirror. “When she realized the end was near, she looked hard at each of us, one by one, until her eyes rested on Daddy’s face. There was no fear of dying in that look she gave Daddy. Somehow we felt that she was instead trying to convey to him the message that he must be brave . . . that she knew he would suffer losing her but that he must be strong and bear it.”

She died at the age of 62.

1 I Walked with Heroes, (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1961), p. 167
2 I Walked with Heroes, (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1961), p. 166