Roa: Wanted: A memorial for heroes not just for victims-A A +A
Monday, September 17, 2012
CAGAYAN de Oro must put up a memorial for our World War II heroes to keep the remembrance of that historic war alive.
A memorial of this kind creates what is known as public memory as it stirs up a strong sense of pride about our patriotic past and love for our country.
National Artist F. Sionil Jose wrote that "It is memory that makes a nation, bonding people together, because history also means tradition, the accretion of our past, its travails and heroism and all the minutiae that a people can be proud of, which sustains them in times of crisis."
We must never forget what happened to us during World War II. It was the bleakest and bloodiest period in our nation's history. Many of our youth were maimed, lost and killed in that war. However, this was also the time when thousands upon thousands of Filipinos everywhere became our heroes and heroines as they answered the call to serve and even sacrifice their lives for our country's sake. This war united us, Filipinos -- Christians, Muslims and Lumads -- as we fought one common enemy.
On this month of September, 1944, American planes started their bombing operations in Cagayan for several days. They bombed the Ateneo de Cagayan campus, the Bishop's house, St. Agustine Cathedral -- these were the headquarters of the Japanese High Command and the brutal Kempetai and Police Unit.
The Japanese High Command was directly responsible for the conduct of frontline operations, deployment and movement of troops. A few months later, on January 7, 1945, after an hourly barrage of artillery fire, the local guerilla group led by Capt. Fidencio Laplap crossed Cagayan River, entered the poblacion of Cagayan and liberated it from the Japanese.
Capt. Laplap and his men won the Battle of Cagayan without any help from outside forces. They stayed in town and secured it until May 10, 1945 when the Regimental Combat Unit of the US 40th Division under the command of Gen. Richardson landed unopposed on the beaches of Agusan and Bugo. This is just a part of the Kagay-anon story of World War II.
Aside from Fr. Edward Haggerty's book, the Guerilla Padre, that is based on his wartime experiences as the chaplain and active member of the guerilla group in Cagayan and other places in Mindanao, someone has yet to come up with a book about World War II in Cagayan de Oro. I hope that this will be as extensive as that of Filomeno M. Bautista's magnum opus, the Bautista Manuscript on the Philippine Revolution in Misamis Province in 1900-1901. Most of the data from this book became the basis of the Philippine-American War Memorial that is located in Plaza de los Heroes in Pueblo de Oro. It is the only one of its kind in Mindanao. We need to immortalize in stone our World War II heroes like Capt. Laplap and the Tiano Brothers so that this generation and the future ones will never forget what they have done for us. We still have our veterans in our midst but they are very old and most of them are dying. We have to get their stories recorded before they are gone.
However, I am wondering if I am just one of the very few who see the need to set up this war memorial. For out there in Gaston Park, another kind of memorial is taking shape -- it will contain the names of the flood victims who perished when Typhoon Sendong struck our city last December 17, 2011.
A second identical memorial will be inaugurated at the Golden Haven Memorial Park in Bulua soon. Personally, I feel that one memorial of this kind is enough because the best thing that is being done to the flood victims and their kin right now are the over 4,000 new houses and lots that they got from the city government through Mayor Vicente Y. Emano, who tirelessly worked in tandem with non-government organizations and foundations here and abroad.
So how about building a fitting and prominent memorial for our Kagay-anon heroes of World War II?
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 17, 2012.