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Date Posted: Thu, Jun 26 2014
Author: Source: http://news.pia.gov.ph
Subject: Bessang Pass


Ilocanos seek declaration of "Battle of Bessang Pass" as national holiday
By: Freddie G. Lazaro
Thursday 26th of June 2014


CERVANTES, Ilocos Sur, June 26 (PIA) – Residents marked the anniversary of the Battle of Bessang Pass on June 14, a local holiday, with a call to declare the historic event a national holiday.

The event was a celebration of the bravery and strong determination of the Filipinos, particularly Ilocano bolomen who fought for the liberation of Bessang Pass, the last stronghold of the Japanese Imperial Army under General Tomoyuki Yamashita, a known “Tiger of Malaya” and conqueror of Singapore during World War II.

“If we didn’t have our brave ancestors during World War II; we will not be here today and we won’t have the Independence we are enjoying now,”

Cervantes Mayor Benjamin Maggay said Filipinos would not enjoy the freedom they have today without the heroism of their forebears.

June 14 was declared as a special non-working holiday in Cervantes town under Presidential Proclamation 777 issued by President Benigno Aquino.

“If we are celebrating the “Fall of Bataan and Death March” every April 9, it is also fitting to celebrate nationally the victory in WWII, which happened here in Bessang Pass,” Maggay said.

“The national observance of the “Victory of Bessang Pass” poses the spirit of nationalism, volunteerism, camaraderie and friendship,” he added.

Maggay was joined by retired Major General Raul Z. Caballes, the acting chief of the Veteran’s Memorial and Historical Division of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), in the wreathlaying ceremony at the shrine of the “Battle of Bessang Pass” last Saturday.

The other highlights of the local celebration include the planting of at least 1,000 pine tree seedlings around the shrine and the distribution of 300 copies of book entitled: “The Victory of the Battle of Bessang Pass” to the local academe.

Maggay said this victory on June 14, 1945 was a realization that the Japanese Imperial Army was no longer capable of fighting the war.

Meanwhile, General Caballes cited the “victory of the battle of Bessang Pass” as memorable and significant because it signals the defeat of the Japanese soldiers in the World War II.

"The liberation of "Bessang Pass" is a symbol of Philippine independence during the World War II because this is the only place, a very significant and historical place in the country where our Ilocano – Filipino soldiers earned a victory during the war," Caballes said.

Bessang Pass is located along the Highway 4 in Barangay Malaya Cervantes, Ilocos Sur, 250 kilometers north of Manila.

A monument stands on a plot traversed by Highway 4, west of Cervantes town, which served as the backdoor to General Yamashita's last ditch defense during the last stage of World War II.

It was the unit of Col. Russel Volckman, commander of the United States Armed Forces in the Philippines (USIFP-NL), mostly composed of Filipino guerrillas and a group of Americans, that bore the brunt of the battle at Bessang Pass, tagged as one of the bloodiest in the Pacific War.

About 3,400 men were killed and wounded during that series of fierce gun battles where the Filipino soldiers from 10 units with the supports of 8 American soldier's units were fought gallantly for freedom and peace.

In a local historical profile, it stated that the decisive Battle of Bessang Pass started in Barangay Bitalag, Tagudin, Ilocos Sur where a Japanese garrison was located.

(MCA/FGL, PIA – 1 Ilocos Norte)
- See more at: http://news.pia.gov.ph/index.php?article=381402949640#sthash.Ik1dAro6.dpuf

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