ON THE 75th year of commemorating General Douglas MacArthur’s historic arrival in Cagayan de Oro City en route to Australia at the height of the Second World War, the city has declared March 13 to 17 as the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Week, Monday, March 13.
The event kicked off with the reenactment of MacArthur’s coming to the city via the Macabalaban wharf in Macabalan village on Monday morning.
The reenactment depicted local actors acting as MacArthur’s military contingent and his family as he disembarked at the Macabalan port before proceeding to Dicklum, in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, to board a plane that took him to Australia.
A shrine was also built in Macabalan standing beside the seaport some years back.
The shrine has a gazebo serving as a foundation of the replica of the gigantic MacArthur’s “scrambled egg cap,” known as such because of its crumpled look, which is also the structure’s roof.
The American Embassy in Manila has recognized the importance of the MacArthur shrine and the commemoration of his arrival in the city on his way to Dicklum in Manolo Fortich where he and his family boarded a plane to escape the Japanese Imperial Forces.
“It’s always good to see parts of the Philippines [working] to preserve the Filipino-American history. It’s very significant,” said Lieutenant Commander Patrick Panjeti, of the United States Navy and officer of the Joint United States Military Assistance Group Philippines (JusmagPhil), who represented American Ambassador Sung Kim.
For the city’s former mayor and congressman Constantino Jaraula, his interest in MacArthur goes back during Second World War when he went to check out a Japanese warplane that crashed in Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental, his hometown, at the height of the Imperial Forces’ bombing sorties in Visayas and Mindanao in 1944.
Jaraula was seven years old when the country became one of the battle grounds between the American and the Japanese in the Pacific.
His fascination with MacArthur began when as a new lawyer in 1961, he caught a glimpse of the man who was invited as guest of honor at the University of the Philippines where he was bestowed with the degree honoris causa for his contributions in the reconstruction of post-war Japan.
During Jaraula’s term as Lions Club president in 1970, he caused the construction of a MacArthur marker cum view deck along the Macabalan pier but was demolished when the port was expanded.
When Jaraula became a Rotary Club president in 1994, a MacArthur marker was built outside the Philippine Ports Authority office in Macabalan near the original marker site.
In 2008, the present MacArthur shrine was built, which was recognized as a historical site by the National Historical Commission and by the American government when then Ambassador to the Philippine Kristie Kenney visited the marker.
What makes the MacArthur shrine in Cagayan de Oro unique from other sites such as the ones in Norfolk, Virginia, USA, where he and his wife were buried, and in Inchon, South Korea, was that instead of erecting a statue or a bust in his honor, his trademark Philippine Army Field Marshal’s cap was built.
Jaraula said that since the city cannot top the other MacArthur sites in other countries, might as well make a unique marker that will distinguish it from other shrines.
Dr. Juan Montero, a member of the General Douglas MacArthur Foundation, said they will enter the Cagayan de Oro shrine to the Guinness World of Book Records for its uniqueness.