Memorable Magical Moments – Visitors laud General MacArthur Week Experience
Visitors from Cagayan de Oro City’s sister city of Norfolk, Virginia, as well as those coming from outside the city in the Philippines, recently hailed the 75th Diamond Jubilee Celebration of General Douglas MacArthur’s Breakout from Corregidor to Australia via Cagayan, Misamis and Dicklum, Tankulan (Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon).
Held over March 13-17, 2017 (the same dates MacArthur and his party were in Cagayan and Del Monte in 1942), the week-long festival of events included a reenactment of MacArthur’s arrival at Macabalan Pier, Cagayan and subsequent convoy to Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon; a four-day free movie festival by an acclaimed Kagay-anon director, two World War II exhibits and four symposiums on how life was during wartime and the guerrilla resistance movement in Mindanao.
Said Dr. Juan M. Montero II, MD, FACS, director of the General Douglas MacArthur Foundation and also representing MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, Virginia:
“March 13, 14,15,16,17, 2017 will be forever etched in my series of MMMs–Memorable Magic Moments. This is now becoming complimentary to Montero Medical Missions.”
“I represented the MacArthur Foundation/Memorial Museum at the 75th anniversary commemoration of the escape of General Douglas MacArthur from Corregidor via PT Boat 41 to Cagayan de Oro then airlifted to Australia at nearby Del Monte pineapple plantation in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.”
“The first day was the re-enactment of this most significant escape of WW II in the Pacific theater. It started with MacArthur’s landing at the pier where the unique scrambled egg-cap designed kiosk stands in the area designated as MacArthur Memorial Marker. There rests also the Norfolk mermaid, a gift to CdeO, its seventh sister city.”
“Along our way to the airlift site, 60 kilometers away, the MacArthur caravan was enthusiastically greeted with hollers by neatly dressed uniform hundreds of school children waving Philippines and U.S. flags with confetti, and, at some point, Japanese flags. That’s when I felt that time is truly a great healer.”
“Another touching moment that struck me was half dozen barong-clad Filipino scouts/guerillas in their late 90s, one veteran 104 yrs. old in wheelchairs being honored at the Manolo Fortich marker reception.”
Dr. Montero also remarked about the “most serendipitous happening” when he attended the presentation of 82-yr. old Ginger Hansen-Holmes from Falls Church, Virginia about her book, Guerilla Daughter. Ms. Holmes is the founder and President of the World War II American Guerillas of Mindanao (AGOM), her father Captain Charles Hansen a survivor himself.
“It so happened that the Hansen family on the last stop of their incredible trek to hide from the Japanese invaders, settled in the evacuation area where our family was nearby in the hinterlands of our little barrio of Bayabas, Tago, Surigao del Sur. This was my birthplace in 1942 and Ginger’s little brother in 1944–both of us delivered by the only well known midwife, Mana Isid. Ginger’s sister Charlotte even helped heal my guerilla Uncle Julian’s war wound in his leg by applying the family’s sulfanilamide powder.”
“Again, many thanks for pulling off a great CdeO week experience,” he added
Holly Ann Hubler, a general member of the Norfolk Sister City Association (NSCA) and a former diplomat, was equally effusive in her praise.
“Thanks so much for the outstanding time in CDO for Gen Douglas MacArthur’s week. It was so well-planned and organized, and I felt the drama as it unfolded back then. I had a wonderful and memorable stay.”
“The activities were varied, the restaurants and food top-notch, and our Filipino hosts bent over backwards for us — such kin and warm hosts. There is nothing I would change! My hat goes off to you. Vonette and John were sterling to us. I’m forever grateful.”
Joel Nathan “Bani” Logroño and his wife Mai, the film maker behind SPYRON AV Manila which produced the films “Unsurrendered 2” and “Valor: The Untold Story of Col. Emmanuel V. De Ocampo” saluted the hosts for having a “very organized event and we commend the organizers for involving the youth as much as possible in the festivities.”
The young couple have partnered with the Philippine Veterans Bank to produce 3 films so far geared towards awakening the spark of patriotism in the youth by focusing on young World War II heroes millennials could relate to.
“It was the biggest World War II history event that we’ve ever attended (in the 3+ years that we’ve been involved in the WWII community), bigger than any we’ve ever seen in Luzon.”
To further enhance the campaign to captivate the youth, Bani suggests a moderated symposium consisting of local veterans and historians, as a great way to pass down the stories in addition to the exhibits and films.
Meantime, Marie Vallejo, author of the “Battle of Ising” and chief researcher of The Philippine Archives which digitized 280,000 records of guerrillas from the US National Archives also rated the week-long festival as “Good and Full of Events.”
“Food was tasty, sponsors and participants recognized and the itinerary controlled flow of events,” she commented in an email to this writer. “All people were so friendly and hospitable, reenactment was a great idea, and obvious that CDO spent and planned.”
However, she noted some room for improvements especially in transportation arrangements, dress code protocols, missed hosted lunches and contact numbers of key persons. (The Night Stalker)