By Mike Baños

Veterans kin crowd-fund PT-41 scale model for MacArthur Memorial

Filipino guerrillas who liberated Cagayan de Oro from the Japanese Imperial Army were honored in a simple ceremony held on its 77th Anniversary at the Activity Center of Ayala Centrio Mall on May 12, 2020.

In memory of the valor and sacrifice of our guerrillas and soldiers, a 1/24 scale model of PT-41, the PT Boat which brought MacArthur and his family from Corregidor to Cagayan was crowd-funded by a group of private citizens and institutions led by the Philippine Veterans Bank and the heirs and families of the following patriots:

Col. Leonardo V. Hernando O-2462 (Ret.);
Col. Fidencio M. Laplap  O-37530 (Ret.);
Lt. Col. Angeles L. Limena O-2141 (Ret.);
Commander Albert Parker Ross  2015690 (Ret) USN;
Major Blas Chaves Velez O-37540 (Ret);
Maj. Rosauro P. Dongallo, Sr., O-37833 (Inact);
Capt. Andres D. Bacal O-37523 (Inact);
Capt. Ramon R. Buhay ASN Unk (Inact);
Capt. Luciano S. Firmacion ASN Unk (Inact);
1st Lt. Jose D. Docdocil O-37829 (Inact);
2nd Lt. Baltazar A. Cabrera O-33265 (Inact);
2nd Lt. Rodolfo A. Moreno O-37659 (Inact);
Master Sgt. Mauricio E. Malabed 0-738461 (Inact);
Cpl. Jesus B. Ilogon 0-33105 (Inact);
Cpl. Jose G. Gorra 0-136215 (Inact); and
Pvt. Emiliano A. Macanas 0-179700 (Inact)

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artwork by Philip Molina Garcia

The PT-41 scale model will serve as a memento of the two significant historical events, General Douglas MacArthur’s breakout from Corregidor and the liberation of Cagayan de Oro. It was dedicated and presented to the public as the highlight of the 77th Anniversary of the Liberation of Cagayan on May 12, 1945, which also marked the first ever public commemoration of this milestone in history.

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The scale model of the PT-41 boat built by noted Miniature and Scale Model Builder Desi Reyes will be installed at the MacArthur Memorial at Barangay Macabalan at a later date as soon as the Deed of Donation is drawn up by the City Legal Office to formally accept the scale model.

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“Cagayan de Misamis (Cagayan de Oro’s former name) was liberated from the Japanese by all Filipino guerrillas with some help from the American Air Force and US Navy after a four-day battle from May 9-12,” said Jose C. Paler, regional president of the Philippine Veterans Federation Region 10 in his message for the occasion.

“It was not General MacArthur’s main mission to liberate Cagayan de Oro but rather to recapture the important Del Monte Airfield at Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon,” he added.

“We always want to honor the World War II veterans, many of whom have passed on, they were ordinary people, just like you and me, except that when the time came that they had to answer the call of the country, they did so and they’ve shone the brightest. Their testimonies, their lives shown before us provided examples to many of us today, especially us – the descendants,” said Miguel Angelo C. Villa-Real, First Vice President for Marketing and Communications Division of the Philippine Veterans Bank, also the National Executive Vice President of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines-Sons & Daughters Association Inc.(VFP-SDAI).

He added that the stories of war veterans must be passed on to the next generation as these are stories worth telling.

Cagayan de Oro Liberation Day

In his message, Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Representative Rufus Rodriguez informed the audience that he has filed House Bill 8677 (An Act Declaring May 12 of every year as a special non-working public holiday in Cagayan de Oro City to be known as Cagayan de Oro Liberation Day) last February 11, 2021.

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“Today, we dedicate and unveil the PT-41 is what General Douglas MacArthur rode from Corregidor to Cagayan de Oro, Del Monte and Australia. The other part of our celebration today is the celebration of the 77th anniversary of the liberation of Cagayan de Oro from the Japanese that is May 12, exactly today,” Rodriguez, who is also a Deputy House Speaker, said.

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According to his book, “Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental Politics and History” (A Compilation of Sources), American forces landed in Tin-ao, Agusan, in May 10, 1945, which started the liberation of Cagayan de Oro.

Crowd-funders

The organizers acknowledged with grateful thanks and appreciation the financial assistance of the following persons and entities who assisted in the successful conclusion of this joint 80th & 77th anniversary project: The Philippine Veterans Bank through First Vice President Miguel Angelo C. Villa-Real; Congressman Rufus B. Rodriguez, 2nd Congressional District of Cagayan de Oro City; Engineer Elpidio M. Paras, UC-1 Corporation; Philippines World War II Memorial Foundation through Vice President for Research and Education Desiree Ann Cua Benipayo; and former Norfolk Sister City Association- Cagayan de Oro Committee Chair Chief Hospital Corpsman Harry Acuña, US Navy (Ret), with Senior Chief Machinist Mate Angelo Acuña, Jr., US  Navy (Ret), and Mr. Angelo Acuña, Sr.

And not the least, the heirs and relatives of the veterans honored with this 80th anniversary memento who helped crowd-fund the completion of the scale model and its accessories: Mrs. Alice Limena Lacson and Family, Dolly and Raul Ilogon and Family, Leonardo  Jr., Eduardo and Adrian Fidel Hernando and Family;  Fr Antonio Moreno, SJ; Dr Ramon Moreno and Family; Gerlou and Rosie Docdocil and Family; Joy & Gil Blas Velez & Family; Lito, Olet & Bobby Cabrera and Family; Brig. Gen. Johnny Macanas & Family; Annie Gorra Rago and Family; William, Faye Bacal & Family; Rosauro Dongallo, Jr. & Family; Penny Dharamdas, Debra Fortich, Rowena Laplap & Family, Dorothy Jean Buhay Pabayo & family, and Franciso B. Sarraga & Family.

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This project was initiated and sustained by the  Volunteer Project Committee with  Engr. Elpidio M. Paras, Congressman Rufus  B. Rodriguez,  Mr. Miguel Angelo C. Villareal, Miniature and Scale model builder Desi R. Reyes, Photographer and Modeler Albert Labrador, Mr. Albert Parker Ross II (who provided the drawings and advised Mr. Reyes during the entirety of the PT-41 build); Artist Nicolas Aca, Jr., Graphic Artist and Designer Christopher Gomez, Donna C. Ocampo and Asst. Prof. Philip Molina Garcia of the University of Utah Asia Campus, Inchon, South Korea, without whom this project would not have been made possible.

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