TO our students in history—major or non-majors, thank your history teacher who made you familiar with “I shall return”—this promise fulfilled of General Douglas McArthur when he waded ashore to the island of Leyte on October 20, 1944.History textbooks simply give us this date. But there was more of what General McArthur said that day. A few hours after his troops landed, he made a radio broadcast declaring: “This is the voice of freedom, General Douglas MacArthur speaking. People of the Philippines, I have returned! By the grace of Almighty God, our forces stand again on Philippine soil—soil consecrated in the blood of our two peoples.”(Read award-winning journalist David H. Lippman’s <https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/497161>
This is only half the story. Likely, only the Cagayanons—we people from Region X, particularly Cagayan de Oro City and Manolo Fortich in Bukidnon—are privy to the general and his family’s sojourn at the Macabalan Wharf in Cagayan de Oro City on the early morning of March 13, 1942, “where American and Filipino soldiers were waiting for them.” They were riding the Patrol Torpedo (PT) 41 boat with submarines from Corregidor Island. Amid threat of Japanese detection, he proceeded to Camp Phillips, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon and stayed at the Del Monte Clubhouse for several days. From the Diclum Airfield, a B17 Flying Fortress flew MacArthur, his family and his staff to Australia on March 17, 1942 where he would direct the Allied forces in their campaign against the Japanese. <lealaddle.blogspot.com v/2012/06/cdo-macarthur-memorial-marker.html>
But why Australia? “Though Washington was following a strategy of Europe first, they needed a base for the strategic defensive and eventual counter-offensive in the Pacific.” Australia was that base. Read David H. Lippman <https://www.smashwords.com/books/view 497161>.
MacArthur swaps his little train for a luxurious private car provided by Australia’s commissioner of railways. The press is there to greet him, seeking a statement. MacArthur scrawls on the back of an envelope, “The President of the United States ordered me to break through the Japanese lines…for the purpose, as I understand it, of organizing the American offensive against Japan, a primary object of which is the relief of the Philippines. I came through and I shall return.” Two years and seven months later, he made good his word. He landed in Leyte. Thus, the Macabalan landing was a prelude to his successful though risky reach to Australia where he made his famous declaration, “Upon orders of the President of the United States, I came through the Japanese blockade, and I shall return.” http://www.bestspotsph.com/2011/09/general-douglas-macarthur-marker.html
It is this event that has occupied time and thought of the regional Kagayan Times editor and of other dailies and member of the CDO Historical Commission, Michael Rene Banos, along with other civic-minded professionals to put together a series of events to mark “The 75th Diamond Jubilee of Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s Breakout from Corregidor to Australia via Cagayan de Misamis&Dicklum, Tangkulan, Bukidnon.” A joint project of the Cagayan de Oro Historical and Cultural Commission, Cagayan de Oro City Tourism Council and the Manolo Fortich Municipal Tourism Office, the venue of the celebration is Cagayan de Oro City and the Municipality of Manolo Fortich where the Del Monte Clubhouse is located.
For us academics and students, this commemoration of General MacArthur’s landing at CdO provides us a solid grasp of a period in Philippine wartime history. To Cagayanons, “Breakout! I Shall Return,” is right in our backyard. The commemoration is set from March 13 to 17. Movies, symposia, photo exhibits, a play, a parade, interaction with the WWII guerillas, veterans and historians, liturgical celebration—all efficiently sequenced.
“Unsurrendered” and “Valor” will show at Centrio Cinema every 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. from March 14 to March 17; also featuring the presence of several guerrillas and veterans of WWII to give their own recollections. On the same dates, historical commission stakeholders will be around to interact with viewers of the MacArthur Photo Exhibit at the third-floor foyer of the Centrio Mall. Symposia are to be mountedat the Centrio Activity Center on the following dates: March 14 at 10 a.m. –“Guerrilla Daughter” by Virginia Hansen Holmes; March 15 at 10.30 a.m. – lectures on “Wendell Fertig and his Guerrilla Forces in the Philippines” by Virginia Hansen Holmes; and on March 15, 2 p.m. – “Finding Our Heroes” by Marie Vallejo of the Philippine Veterans Office. The same symposium topic by Ms Vallejo will be held on March 16 at Liceo de Cagayan de Oro University Library Viewing Room, 2nd floor housing the Mindanao Guerillas photo and book exhibit until March 17.
On the final two days, March 16 and 17, free screening and possible free eyeglasses as maybe warranted, of veterans and school-age children with eye defects at JR Borja General Hospital, Carmen, CdO, courtesy of EyeSight 20/20 EyeCare Optometric Mission. On March 17, at 4:00p.m. a Thanksgiving Mass at the St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral to be co-celebrated with Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, S.J., followed by an LGU-sponsored thanksgiving commemorative dinner at the VIP Hotel. WWII guerillas and veterans will receive recognition.
Meanwhile, the now famous General Douglas McArthur marker at Macabalan, silently awaits another 75 years celebrating a promise fulfilled by Norfolk’s favorite son. A toast to the Norfolk sister city team and all who lent time and talent for this festive commemoration.
The author, one of the country’s most accomplished institutional management experts, held top academic positions at Xavier University (the Ateneo de Cagayan) before heading chartered institutions. She attended topmost universities in the Philippines, Germany, Great Britain and Japan. An internationalization consultant on call, she is journal copy editor of, and Graduate Studies professorial lecturer at, the Liceo de Cagayan University. Awards include a Lifetime Professional Achievement from the Commission on Higher Education and recently, the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Verdienstorden der Bundesrepublik Deutschland).