Sunday, March 13, 2022, is the 80th Anniversary of General Douglas MacArthur’s arrival in Macabalan Pier following his successful breakout from Corregidor.
US President Franklin D. Roosevelt earlier ordered MacArthur to escape to Australia when the fall of the Philippines became imminent. Instead of taking the usual route by submarine, MacArthur instead chose the PT Boats of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 3 to bring his family and staff from Corregidor to Cagayan de Misamis.
Skippered by Lt. John D. Bulkeley, the four PT boats safely transported MacArthur’s Party from March 11 to 13, 1942 to the Macabalan Pier in Cagayan, from whence they were whisked to Del Monte in Bukidnon, eventually escaping to Australia on March 17, 1942.
The MacArthur Memorial Marker at Barangay Macabalan, Cagayan de Oro City is dedicated to the memory of this successful breakout. The construction of the Marker was led by the Rotary Club of Cagayan de Oro through the initiative of former Mayor Tinnex Jaraula, a former club president and Past District Governor of Rotary International District 3870.
Besides the Macabalan Marker, another MacArthur Memorial Marker has been set up in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon where General MacArthur and party took off for Australia on March 17, 1942 on the last leg of their successful breakout from Corregidor aboard two B-17E Bombers. This project was an initiative of the Rotary Club of Northern Bukidnon and the Local Government of Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.
In March 13-17, 2017 the City of Cagayan de Oro and Municipality of Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon jointly celebrated the 75th Anniversary of General Douglas MacArthur’s Breakout from Corregidor with a week-long festival including a reenactment of his arrival at Macabalan Port and convoy to Del Monte, exhibits, lectures, an optical mission, among others.
The 75th Anniversary of the Breakout was commemorated by the Cagayan de Oro Historical and Cultural Commission, with visitors from the MacArthur Memorial Foundation, Norfolk Sister City Association, American Guerrillas of Mindanao, the US Embassy in Manila, Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, Veterans Federation of the Philippines, and the Philippine Veterans Bank.
The week-long festival kicked off with a re-enactment of General MacArthur’s arrival at Macabalan Port at 7AM, approximately the same time as it happened on March 13, 1942. It was immediately followed by a reenactment of the convoy which MacArthur’s Party took to Del Monte in Tankulan, Bukidnon, now Manolo Fortich.
The two reenactments were a joint undertaking of the City Government of Cagayan de Oro, Municipal Government of Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon; Philippine Ports Authority Misamis Oriental-Cagayan de Oro Port Management Office, Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army and the Department of Education.
An exhibit featuring relics from World War II was held at the Centrio Mall in coordination with Ayala Malls, the 4th Infantry Division Philippine Army, Mr. Jose Vicente Cabrera, and the Cagayan de Oro Historical and Cultural Commission. Another exhibit focusing on the guerrillas was also held at the Liceo de Cagayan University Library.
Other events for the week-long festival included free movie screenings courtesy of SpyRon AV Films, Ayala Centrio Cinemas and the Philippine Veterans Bank, in coordination with the Department of Education, the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office and the Veterans Federation of the Philippines.
Symposiums on how life was during wartime in Mindanao and the Guerrillas of Mindanao were rendered by the late Virginia Hansen Holmes, president of the American Guerrillas of Mindanao, and an eyewitness of World War II in Mindanao, and Finding our Heroes by Ms. Marie Vallejo.
The commemoration of the 80th Anniversary of the Breakout may be a bit constrained by the latest surge of the coronavirus pandemic, but this has not stopped some private citizens from making a token gesture to acknowledge its importance in our local and world histories.
A 1/24 scale model of PT-41, the PT Boat which brought MacArthur and his family from Corregidor to Cagayan has been crowd-funded by a group of private citizens and institutions led by the Philippine Veterans Bank and the heirs and families of the following patriots:
|Col. Leonardo V. Hernando, 102nd Division, PA (ASN O-2463) Ret., Lt. Col. L. Limena, Philippine Army (Ret.) (ASN O-2141); Maj. Rosauro P. Dongallo, Sr., 110th Regiment, 110th Division, USFIP (Ret.) (ASN O-37833); Capt. Andres D. Bacal, 1st Battalion, 109th Infantry Regiment, 109th Division, 10th Military District’ (ASN O-37523); Capt. Luciano Firmacion, Asst. Chief of Staff (G-2), 110th Division, USFIP; 1st Lt. Jose D. Docdocil, Battery “C”, 61st Field Artillery Regiment, 102nd Division, Philippine Army (ASN O-37829), 1st Lt. Blas C. Velez, 1st Battalion, 111th Infantry Regiment, 10th Military District, USFIP (ASN O-37542); 2nd Lt. Baltazar A. Cabrera, 41st Field Artillery, 41st Division, Philippine Army (ASN O-33265); 2nd Lt. Rodolfo A. Moreno, “D” Co., 1st Battalion, 63rd Infantry, 6th Division, Philippine Army-Res (ASN O-37659); Quartermaster 1 Albert Parker Ross , PT-34, MTB Squadron 3, US Navy (USN Serial No. 504956/1102); Master Sgt. Mauricio E. Malabed, Philippine Army (ASN 0-738461); Cpl. Jose Gorra, 110th Infantry Regiment, 110th Division, 10th Military District, USFIP (ANS Unk); Cpl. Jesus B. Ilogon, “A” Co., 63rd Infantry, 6th Division, Philippine Army (ASN 0-33105); and, Pvt. Emiliano Macanas, “L” Co., 24th Infantry Regiment, USAFIP-NL.|
MacArthur’s successful Breakout to Australia enabled him to reorganize the Allied Forces in the Pacific and eventually keep his promise to the Filipinos of “I Shall Return.”
Meantime, the unsurrendered USAFFE soldiers and guerrillas kept the enemy disrupted with timely raids on their garrisons and intelligence reports to Allied submarines which supplied them with weapons and ammunition to continue the struggle for freedom and sunk enemy shipping in Philippine waters.
In memory of the valor and sacrifice of our guerrillas and soldiers this memento will be turned over to the MacArthur Memorial Marker in Macabalan during the 80th Anniversary of the Araw ng Kagitingan, on April 9, 2022.
The organizers of this initiative would like to acknowledge with grateful thanks and appreciation the financial assistance of the following who assisted in the successful conclusion of this 80th anniversary project: The Philippine Veterans Bank through First Vice President Miguel Angelo Villa-Real; Congressman Rufus B. Rodriguez, 2nd Congressional District of Cagayan de Oro City; Engineer Elpidio M. Paras, UC-1 Corporation; Philippines World War II Memorial Foundation through Vice President for Research and Education Desiree Ann Cua Benipayo; and former Norfolk Sister City Association Cagayan de Oro Committee Chair Hospital Corpsman Chief Harry Acuña, US Navy, with Machinist Mate Senior Chief Angelo Acuña, Jr., US Navy, and Mr. Angelo Acuña, Sr.
And not the least, the heirs and relatives of our veterans whom we honor with this 80th anniversary memento: Mrs. Alice Limena Lacson and Family, Dolly and Raul Ilogon and Family, Leonardo Jr., Eduardo and Adrian Fidel Hernando and Family; Fr Antonio Moreno, SJ; Dr Ramon Moreno and Family; Gerlou and Rosie Docdocil and Family; Joy & Gil Blas Velez & Family; Lito, Olet & Bobby Cabrera and Family; Brig. Gen. Johnny Macanas & Family; Annie Gorra Rago and Family; William, Faye Bacal & Family; Rodolfo Dongallo & Family; and Franciso B. Sarraga & Family.
We likewise acknowledge the support of the Volunteer Project Committee with Engr. Elpidio M. Paras, Congressman Rufus B. Rodriguez, Mr. Miguel Angelo C. Villareal, Miniature and Scale model builder Desiderio R. Reyes, Photographer and Modeler Albert Labrador, Mr. Albert Parker Ross II who provided us with the drawings and advise about PT-41; Cagayan de Oro Historical and Cultural Commission Chairman Nicolas Aca, Jr., and Artist and Designer Christopher Gomez, our heartfelt thanks and gratitude, without whom this project would not have been possible.