Gen. Douglas MacArthur Week – BSP grants posthumous award to Sct. Abelardo Neri Queppet
The Boy Scout who saw General Douglas MacArthur at the Macabalan Pier on that Friday morning of March 13, 1942 is now officially a hero.
The Boys Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) Cagayan de Oro Council gave a posthumous award to Scout Abelardo Neri Queppet during the 75th Diamond Jubilee Commemorative Program for Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s Breakout from Corregidor to Australia held Friday, March 17, 2017 at the Casa Real, VIP Hotel.
BSP Cagayan de Oro Council Chair Atty. Roy Hilario P. Raagas said the council granted the late Scout Queppet a posthumous award for his valiant deeds as a Boy Scout in enforcing the blackout and directing traffic under dangerous circumstances in Plaza Divisoria in 1942.
Part of the citation for the Posthumous Award reads:
“Who, as a young Boy Scout helped direct the traffic at Divisoria and at dusk rode his bicycle through the main street of Cagayan all the way to the port area and blew his whistle to warn the residents that it was time to shut their lights off in order to keep the town in total darkness to avoid detection by the Japanese warplanes, a volunteer work he did beyond the call of duty as young member of the BSP during war time; and as a young boy scout in his scout uniform, he had the singular privilege of meeting the distinguished world military hero, Gen. Douglas MacArthur upon his arrival at the Macabalan Wharf on March 13, 1942 for his breakout from Corregidor to Australia via Cagayan de Oro and Bukidnon, a milestone event in world history as it enabled the US and its allies to regroup in Australia and mount a counter offensive that eventually resulted in the Liberation of the Philippines and the defeat of Imperial Japan.”
BSP Cagayan de Oro Council Scout Executive Rudy Guligado also presented the family of Genevieve Josefa Queppet-Ramonal, his only child, with a BSP Centennial Medallion and Neckerchief. The citation reads further:
“In recognition of his selflessness who, as a young member of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, after dutifully doing his tasks at home, served well his community in the greatest ideals of the world scouting movement during the extraordinary times of war that his country was in.”
As recounted by Ann Gorra in her anthology “City of Gold: People Who Made Their Home and History in Cagayan de Oro”, Abelardo Neri Queppet was one of the scouts of Baden-Powell Troop (named after the founder of the Scouting movement Lord Baden-Powell) in charge of enforcing the mandatory blackout.
His father encouraged him to join the Boy Scouts and he was a member of Troop 1 at the City Central School. There were at least 20 scouts in the troop among them Jaime Tiano, Victor Roa, Terencio Gadrinab, Hugo Balase, Antonio Zacharies, Vic Itchon, Jose Apolinario and Cristobal Nagac.
These were dark days in Philippine history when the country was tottering on the brink of defeat with US and Filipino forces boxed in Bataan and Corregidor by the all-conquering Japanese Imperial Army. So it was strictly lights out after 5PM for everyone lest they be subjected to Japanese attack.
“As soon as dusk gave way to night, I rode my bike (bought from a Japanese Bazaar) and rode around Del Mar, Mindanao and to the pier, blowing my whistle to warn residents that it was time to shut their lights off.”
Loloy was assigned to do the task by his Scout Master Epifanio Balase since he was a native-born Kagay-anon and knew his way around.
Even if he was just 14 years old at the time, Loloy went about his routine like a professional: waking up at 6AM, clean the house, eat breakfast, and report to HQ in his Boy Scout Uniform: shorts, knee socks, red and blue neckerchief, brown shirt and Boy Scout cap.
Another of Loloy’s responsibilities was to direct traffic at Plaza Divisoria to expedite the passage of US military convoys to avoid strafing by Japanese planes.
His friend, one Sergeant Hunter, charged with the security of Macabalan port in those days, often kidded him about making sure he stops the tartanillas since they had no brakes.
On the evening of Thursday, March 12, 1942, Sgt. Hunter asked Loloy to be at the parola (lighthouse) in Macabalan at 7PM. Upon his arrival, Sgt. Hunter told him they were expecting General Douglas MacArthur to arrive between midnight and dawn.
Sure enough, at 7AM of Friday, March 13, 1942, MacArthur and his party disembarked from two PT Boats at Macabalan Pier and rode a convoy of military vehicles to the Del Monte airfield in nearby Tankulan, Bukidnon.
But not before the General noticed the Boy Scout and his bike (who saluted him with the three fingered Boy Scout salute), standing by the gangplank where they were disembarking (now the site of the flagpole for the Cagayan de Oro Port Management Office of the Philippine Ports Authority).
Asked what the Boy Scout was doing there, one of the soldiers replied he was a community volunteer.
“Send him home,” MacArthur said. “The war is inevitable.” (Gorra, 2010)
On Monday, March 13, 2017, the City of Cagayan de Oro through the City Historical and Cultural Commission (Hiscom) launched the 75th Diamond Jubilee of General MacArthur’s Breakout from Corregidor to Australia, via Cagayan, Misamis and Dicklum, Tankulan (Manolo Fortich).
Among the salient moments of the week-long celebration from March 13-17, 2017, was the reenactment of MacArthur’s arrival at Macabalan.
Among the cast of reenactors, (and unknown to world history save for the local yarn as told by Loloy to Ms. Gorra), was Boy Scout Abelardo “Loloy” Neri Queppet, who was played by his 9-year old grand nephew Clark Dexter M. Prudente of the Baden-Powell Troop of Xavier University High School, the same troop of by his late grand uncle when he met MacArthur.
Scout Loloy Queppet passed on in September 2008. But his date with one of the titans of the 20th Century will now forever stay entwined with the saga of General Douglas MacArthur, “The Liberator of the Philippines.”
“It is my honor to be your daughter, Dad. Dili naman ka ma brand na kapayason siguro karon. Basin ako na ang kapayason karon – because I am proud (always been proud) that you are my Dad,” said his daughter Genevieve.
“Now, where do we give this award to, in recognition of all the Boy Scouts in the Philippines, who, served this City with bravery and honor. And to all the Kagay-anons who fought alongside the Americans to topple the Japanese Regime. This piece of History should not be contained in your house, this should be made known that Cagayan de Oro is not only rich in history but is true to its heart to be called “The City Of Golden Friendship”.
Genevieve thanked author Annie Gorra who wrote about her father in “The City of Gold”.
“To the hardworking men and women of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, help me look for a venue to showcase the bravery of every boy scout near and far and to all the Kagay-anons who are either living here by Jus Sanguini, Diaspora and Jus Soli (quoting Nixon A. Baban who happens to also be the past Chairman of the BSP).
Interested readers can still purchase copies of Ann Gorra’s “City of Gold: People Who Made Their Home and History in Cagayan de Oro” from Amazon.com through the ff. link: https://www.amazon.com/City-Go