Gen. Douglas MacArthur Week – History Relived as CDO-Manolo Fortich mark 75th Diamond Jubilee of MacArthur’s Breakout
After 75 years, Gen. Douglas MacArthur kept his promise to return in the first ever reenactment of a World War II historical event staged by the Cagayan de Oro City Historical and Cultural Commission.
Directed by Hobart Savior, Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan Director for Culture & the Arts, the reenactment used local talents to relive MacArthur’s arrival at Macabalan Pier on Friday, 13 March 1942 at 7AM.
The event incorporated a touch of local history as Sct. Clark Dexter Prudente of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines Cagayan de Oro Council Baden-Powell Troop played the role of his great grand uncle Abelardo Neri Queppet, who as a young boy scout witnessed MacArthur’s arrival by PT Boat at the Macabalan Pier.
And while the team could not procure a World War II vintage PT Boat, it managed to get the next best thing: BRP Rafael Pargas (PG379) the ninth ship of the Jose Andrada class coastal patrol boats of the Philippine Navy that’s the closest vessel in tonnage, armament, dimensions and personnel complement to a PT-Boat we have, courtesy of the Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao under the able leadership of Capt. Ramil Roberto B. Enriquez, PN (GSC).
In fact, except for the 25mm Bushmaster chain gun in the fore deck and the four torpedoes of the WWII-era PT Boats, the two boats are practically identical though a battle ready PT Boat has a flank speed of 40 knots to the Andrada’s 30.
Fortunately too for the reenactment team, we had Engr. Elpie Paras on our arsenal, who not only fixed the leaks in the cap of the Marker, repaired the brass star and repainted the PT boat model within, but also provided us with a Plymouth Staff Car and a WWII era DUKW for our reenactment and convoy.
Not the least, we had the honor guard of the Philippine Coast Guard Northern Mindanao District under the able leadership of Capt. Leovigildo G. Panopio, who not only manned the flag detail for the raising of the PH and US flags, but also acted the part of the 16-man ground echelon of the 30th Bombardment Group based in Del Monte which was sent to fetch MacArthur and his party at the Macabalan pier and convoy them to Del Monte in Tankulan, present day Manolo Fortich.
With the convoy under way, their part in the convoy was taken over by two squads of the Philippine Army 4th Infantry Diamond Division’s RRT Student Batch 01-2017 of the Division Reenlistment Office, who came riding in their WWII vintage M35 2½-ton better known hereabouts as the 6×6, graciously lent to us for the event by Maj. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, Jr., commander of the 4th ID.
Leading the way were motorcycle cops of the Regional Highway Patrol Unit (RHPU) bolstered by units of the Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB) of the Philippine National Police Regional Office-10 under the able command of PRO-10 Regional Director P/Chief Supt. Agripino G. Javier.
Five WWII vintage Willys MB jeeps earlier committed to the convoy from Manolo Fortich and Talakag, Bukidnon, failed to make it in time due to persistent mechanical trouble.
Nevertheless, the school children and their teachers from 30 public grade schools and high schools numbering approximately 6,000 enthusiastically greeted the convoy with PH and US flags as it retraced the route taken by MacArthur’s convoy to Del Monte 75 years ago, raining confetti as we passed through the five pedestrian overpasses along the way complete with drum and lyre bands.
We thank Dr. Elena M. Borcillo and Dr. Janry Colonia of DepEd Cagayan de Oro City Division for mustering their students and teachers for the Diamond Jubilee convoy with high hopes it rekindles the patriotism and sense of history among them which have been not been evident lately.
The convoy first stopped at the MacArthur Landmark in Bgy. Dicklum, Manolo Fortich, which marks the Del Monte Airfield No. 1 where the General, his family and staff took off for Australia on two B-17Es on March 17, 1942.
Manolo Fortich, which coincidentally is also celebrating its Centennial as a Municipality, rolled out the red carpet for the visitors with a brief program at the Landmark, followed by another convoy led by reenactors to the Manolo Fortich gymnasium where a program honored the five living veterans of WWII in the municipality.
Dignitaries from the General Douglas MacArthur Foundation, Norfolk Sister Cities Association, Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, Veterans Federation of the Philippines, Philippine Veterans Bank, Spyron AV Manila and the Cagayan de Oro Historical and Cultural Commission were later treated to a sumptuous lunch by Del Monte Pacific Ltd. at the historic Del Monte Lodge, where MacArthur, his family and general staff stayed from March 13-17, 1942 while waiting for their ride to Australia to arrive.
For the finale before the ride home, the visitors dropped by the Mangima Heroes Shrine at the Mangima Canyon Springs and Country Park, where 24 guerrillas under the able leadership of Capt. Ramon M. Onahon ambushed nine trucks of Japanese soldiers on August 5, 1942, killing 90.
Brig. Gen. Restituto Aguilar, Division Chief of the Veterans Memorial and Historical Division of the PVAO, lauded the organizers for the event, but reminded them these have to be held every year to help keep the memories of the Filipino patriots alive in the hearts of all Filipinos, lest these fall into oblivion as time goes by.
The reenactment cast of the arrival of Gen. Douglas MacArthur at Macabalan Pier, Cagayan, Misamis on March 13, 1942 included the following: Jose Larrabaster (as Brig. Gen. William F. Sharp), Gerald Blakemore (Sgt. Hunter), Kin Escrin (Col. William Morse); Lt. Stalin Aldaya (Lt. John D. Bulkeley); Mike Baños (Gen. Douglas MacArthur); Goldemeir Cinco-Malna (Mrs. Jean MacArthur); Dylan De Vera (Arthur MacArthur IV); Glory Mae Mañus (Ah Cheu); James Dunsmore (Brig. Gen. Richard K. Sutherland); John Wiebe (Lt. Col. Sidney Huff); Kerry Kvanli (Maj. Charles Morehouse, M.D.); Ron Steven Pacatang (Capt. Harold G. Ray); Clark Dexter Prudente (Sct. Abelardo Neri Queppet); PT Boat Crew (BRP Rafael Pargas, CG-379, PN); Honor Guard (Phil.Coast Guard Northern Mindanao District); Convoy Escort (4th Infantry Division, Phil. Army & RHPU & RPSB, PNP PRO-10)
The reenactment crew included the following: Hobart Savior (Director); Owen Jaen (Asst. Director); Sherwin Estavilla (Executive Producer); Jose Rex Soriano (Warbdobe Consultant); Gil Macaibay III (Mrs. MacArthur’s & Ah Cheu’s wardrobe); Carl Carson (Lights & Sound); Ma. Cecilia C. Rivera (Narrator); Joy Kvanli (Make-Up); Sarah Prudente (Production Assistant); Genevieve Q. Ramonal (Production Assistant).Ushers (Baden-Powell Troop, BSP CDO Council) (RMB)