FIREWORKS display, dancing fountain show, and brightly lit park greeted the public Sunday evening, October 13, as the provincial and tourism officials inaugurated and switched on the state-of-the-art lighting system of MacArthur Shrine in Palo, Leyte for this year's 75th Leyte Gulf Landings anniversary commemoration.
"We are ready... With funding from the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza) and the Department of Tourism (DOT) Yolanda Tourism Infrastructure Rehabilitation Fund, the MacArthur Park today has regained its beauty. A fitting memorial to both the bemedalled and unsung heroes of the 2nd World War," said Karen Tiopes, regional tourism director.
With the collaboration from the Office of Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla and the Municipal Government of Palo, the executive committee assured the guests and visitors of the security and "more than the usual" commemorative activities.
"Our utmost appreciation also goes to former Palo mayor Matin Petilla for her ideas and for constantly monitoring of the projects to ensure that the MacArthur Shrine and Park would look its best," added Tiopes.
During the commemorative event on October 20, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana will serve as guest speaker, representing President Rodrigo Duterte.
About 105 remaining war veterans around the region, along with their families and friends, are expected to join the ceremony.
To accompany Lorenzana during the wreath-laying ceremony will be National Historic Commission Chairman Rene Escalante, members of the Philippine Army, and other foreign dignitaries and local officials, along with Palo town Mayor Frances Ann Petilla.
Expected to grace during the commemorative event are John Law, deputy chief of mission, Embassy of the United States of America; His Excellency Steven James Robinson AO, ambassador, Embassy of Australia; Minister Yasushi Yamamoto, deputy chief of mission, Embassy of Japan; Retired Justice Manuel Pamaran, president, Veterans Federation of the Philippines; Undersecretary Ernesto Carolina, administrator, Philippine Veterans Affairs Office.
The presentation of the commemorative stamp will be done by Norman Fulgencio, chairman of the Philippine Postal Corporation.
Meanwhile, Governor Petilla said there will be no reenactment of the Leyte Gulf Landings during the event, citing unavailability of some US warships for the ceremony.
The other highlights of the commemoration include:
* October 10-24 -- Exhibit of the National Costume of Miss Universe Catriona Gray and 3rd Quincentennial Lecture Series titled "Surat: The Early Visayan Script," The Oriental Hotel, Palo.
* October 12-13 -- First Leyte Landing 4x4 off-road challenge, Boy Scout Circle
* October 13-25 -- Vintage Cars and World War II vehicles show and exhibit, Boy Scout Circle
* October 14-20 -- Liberation Day White and Red Beach Cruises, The Oriental Hotel
* October 14-30 -- Art Shall Return, an exhibit with top local artists, The Gazebo, Palo Municipal grounds
* October 15 -- 75th Leyte Landing Choral Competition, Boy Scout Circle, 7:30 p.m.; "Pagbalik" Hip-hop Competition, elimination round, Boy Scout Center, 9 p.m.
* October 15-22 -- Nemiranda Solo Exhibit, Viewdeck lobby
* October 16-22 -- Agri-aqua trade, Science and Technology Fair, Boy Scout Circle, 2 p.m.
* October 16 -- Dance Sports Competition and Speech Choir Competition, Boy Scout Circle, 7:30 p.m.
* October 17 -- Sentimental Journey, Guiuan, Eastern Samar, 8 a.m.; Miss Liberation Diamond, Boy Scout Circle, 7:30 p.m.
* October 17-19 -- National Conference on the 75th Anniversary of the Leyte Gulf Landings, Leyte Normal University, 9 p.m.
* October 18-20 -- Regional Men Invitational Volleyball Tournament, Palo Montejo Sports Complex, 8a.m.
* October 18 -- Tolosa Signal Commemorative event, Barangay Telegrafo, Tolosa, 8 a.m.; Oktuba Fest competition, Leyte Academic Center, 10 a.m.; Patis Tesoro Leyte Fashion Collections, Boy Scout Circle, 8:30 p.m.
* October 18-27 -- War of our Fathers: A tribute to Filipino freedom exhibit through the Philippines Veterans Bank, Robinsons Mall-Marasbaras, Tacloban, 4 p.m.
* October 19-20 -- 12th Governor's Cup Tennis Tournament, Tacloban City Tennis Club
* October 19 -- Badminton Cup, Smash 8 Badminton Hub, Barangay Abucay, Tacloban; Dulag Hill 120 commemorative events, Barangay San Rafael, Dulag; Live Free Festival, Leyte Academic Center gymnasium, 8 a.m.; Palo Commemorative Events Barrio Fiesta, Palo Municipal Hall, 7:30 p.m.; "Pagbalik" Hip-hop competitions, finals, Boy Scout Center, 7:30 p.m.
* October 20 -- Sunrise ceremony of the Filipino Veterans (with their sons and daughters), MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park, 5 a.m.; 75th National Commemorative Ceremonies, MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park, 8 a.m.; Subiran Regata, The Oriental Hotel, 10:30 a.m.; Reunion of the Veterans, Department of Education gymnasium, Government Center, 12 p.m.; Commemorative Luncheon, Awarding and Recognition of the 10 Oldest Living Filipino veterans in the Region, The Oriental Hotel; Commemorative Military and Civic Parade and Banda Rayhak 2019, RTR Plaza, Tacloban, 2 p.m.; Sunset Ceremony with Veterans and their sons and daughters, MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park, 5:30 p.m.; fireworks display, MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park, 5:30 p.m.; Shadow Arts Theater presentation, Boy Scout Circle, 7 p.m.; and Zarzuela, Boy Scout Center, 7:30 p.m., Boy Scout Circle
On October 20, 1944, General Douglas MacArthur, together with President Sergio Osmeña and General Carlos P. Romulo and the allied forces, came ashore in Leyte to liberate the country from the Japanese Army during the World War II, fulfilling his promise "I shall return" after leaving Corregidor in 1942. (SunStar Philippines)