By Mike Baños
Riding four wooden Patrol Torpedo (PT Boats), the General successfully landed early morning on Friday, 13 March 1942 at Macabalan Pier, Cagayan and proceeded to the Del Monte airfield in Tankulan (present day Manolo Fortich), Bukidnon where he, his family and general staff took off for Australia aboard two rickety B-17 bombers on March 17, 1942.
At a train stop at the small town of Terowie, Australia he uttered his promise, “I Shall Return” which became the most famous quote to come out of World War II. The General later fulfilled his vow and became known as the “Liberator of the Philippines”.
During the 75th Diamond Jubilee last year of this little known vignette of the War in the Pacific, the Cagayan de Oro City Historical and Cultural Commission led a week-long celebration of events which included a reenactment of the General’s arrival at Macabalan and convoy to Tankulan, wreath laying at the MacArthur Marker in Del Monte (site of the airfield where the B-17s which carried him to Australia took off), Mangima Heroes’ Shrine and the Japanese General Yoshitoi’s grave stone marker, awarding of medals to surviving WWII veterans, and lunch at historic Del Monte Lodge where MacArthur stayed during his layover.Among the week’s highlights was the free public screening of the World War II Documentary “Unsurrendered 2: The Hunters ROTC Guerrillas” a documentary which tells the story of the forgotten Filipino Guerrillas that fought against the Japanese during WWII and “VALOR: The Story of Col. Emmanuel Ocampo”. Written by Kagay-anon Bani Logroño, the films were screened for free at all Centrio Cinemas from March 14-17 for high school students and armed forces veterans courtesy of Centrio Ayala Mall Cinemas, Philippine Veterans Bank, Seda Centrio and the Veterans Federation of the Philippines-Cagayan de Oro Chapter.\
Also featured were a series of lectures held at the Centrio Mall Activity Center and Liceo de Cagayan University Library by Virginia Hansen Holmes, who lectured on her personal experience in Mindanao during WWII where her father and brothers fought against the Japanese occupiers as guerrillas, as retold in her memoirs, and Marie Vallejo, also the daughter of a Filipino guerrilla who discussed how veterans and their families could avail of benefits under US laws.
Not the least, the 75th Jubilee as also highlighted by two exhibits of World War II relics and memorabilia related to MacArthur.
The one in Centrio Mall featured photos of MacArthur’s time at Bukidnon from the MacArthur Museum at Norfolk, Virginia; relics and vintage weapons from the US Army courtesy of the Phil. Army’s 4th Infantry Diamond Division and a collection of Japanese swords (katanas) and a cannon from a Betty Bomber courtesy of local private collectors.
On the other hand, the one in LdCU Library featured books and pictures, courtesy of Virginia Hansen Holmes, Marie Vallejo and Elpidio Paras, and medals of WWII heroes including local hero Fidencio Laplap whose Silver Star was lent for the exhibit by his family.
Besides the film screening, lectures and exhibits, the 75th Jubilee was also marked by the visit of a delegation from Cagayan de Oro’s sister city of Norfolk, Virginia, where the remains of Gen. MacArthur and his wife Jean, are found at the MacArthur Museum.
The group was led by Dr. Juan Montero II, the main mover of the Cagayan de Oro-Norfolk Sisterhood, and Jennifer Priest, executive director of the Norfolk Sister City Association.
The 75th Jubilee of MacArthur’s Breakout was a joint project of the Cagayan de Oro Historical & Cultural Commission, Cagayan de Oro City Tourism Council and Manolo Fortich Municipal Tourism Office, in coordination with the General Douglas MacArthur Foundation (Norfolk, Virginia); Norfolk Sister City Association (NSCA, Norfolk, Virginia); Cagayan de Oro City Tourism Council and Tourism & Cultural Affairs Office, Cagayan de Oro City Council Tourism Committee, Manolo Fortich Municipal Board Tourism Committee; Department of Education Region 10 (DepEd-10), Commission on Higher Education Region 10 (CHEd-10) & VFP-Northern Mindanao Chapter.
The organizers would also like to take this occasion to thank the following persons and organizations who contributed to the success of the 75th Jubilee last year: City Disaster Risk Reduction & Management Office (CDRRMO), Philippine Veterans Bank; 4th Infantry Diamond Division, Philippine Army; Boy Scouts of the Philippines-Cagayan de Oro & Misamis Oriental; Del Monte; Roads and Traffic Administration; Philippine Coast Guard; Philippine Navy: US Embassy (JUSMAG); Parasat HD; Philippine Ports Authority; Former Mayor Constantino Jaraula; Engr. Elpidio Paras; ABS-CBN Cagayan de Oro; Mesa Filipino Moderne; TGI Friday’s; Thai Me Up Centrio; Liceo de Cagayan University; Mr. Nicolas Aca, Mr. Raul Ilogon; Mr. JC Salon; Bani and Mai Logroño; Seda Centrio; Mr. Albert Labrador; Ms. Gean Cesar; Ms. Donna Ocampo; and the many others for making the jubilee a memorable experience.
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