In its commitment to promoting Cordillera’s historical tourism, the Department of Tourism -CAR, piloted an exploratory project to validate a potential World War II Historical Journey package that will showcase Cordillera’s part in this dark history.
The caravan covering Baguio- Benguet, Mt. Province, and Ifugao rolled out on December 18-21 with twenty-three participants composed of tour operators under PHILTOA (Philippine Tour Operators Association) led by its President, Ms. Fe Abling Yu; tourism and history faculty members and students of UP, UB, UC, SLU and BSU; DOT-accredited travel agency Esgala Travel and Tours; and, tour guides.
Participants of the three-day historical caravan got the opportunity to get to know why World War II is one of the most interesting periods in Cordilleran history.
On day 1, the caravan visited the historic spots around Baguio City, where the war started in the Philippines when the Japanese bombed Camp John Hay on Dec 8, 1941. The historic tour also included the Baguio Museum, Mirador Heritage and Eco-Spirituality Park, Teacher’s Camp, The Mansion, and the Bell House in Camp John Hay.
On the second day, the participants went to Camp Bado Dangwa, which was named after the owner of the first bus lines in the Philippines and turned war hero. His fleet of buses was used to bring suppliers to American troops in Bataan during the last defense by Filipino and American troops to resist the Japanese invasion. Many of his drivers and crews were also part of the death march.
After Camp Dangwa, the group went to Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corp and Bessang Pass in Cervantes, Ilocos Sur where a wreath-laying was done to memorialize and pay tribute to the joint Filipino and American forces for their heroic action and sacrifices to retake Bessang Pass and Lepanto. More than 3,000 Filipinos died in the 5-month siege to destroy the last line of defense of the Japanese Imperial Army led by Yamashita.
The tour then proceeded to Camp Lt Geronimo Montes in Bontoc, Mountain Province (MP). This former military and Constabulary barracks was named after a World War 2 military officer of the Philippine Scouts who died in a battle with Japanese forces in June 1945. The delegation together with MP provincial administrator and former Bontoc Mayor Franklin Odsey and MP PNP Deputy Director for Administration P/Lt Col Crisante Sadino took part in the wreath-laying ritual and witnessed a seven-gun salute by the PNP to honor and memorialize the fallen heroes of World War 2.
The final leg of the tour is in Ifugao where Yamashita’s troops were cornered in Mt. Napulawan in Hungduan by Company A of the 11th Infantry attached to 121 and were eventually captured. The tour ended in Kiangan Shrine, the site where Yamashita declared his informal unconditional surrender on September 2 of 1945. After his capture, Yamashita was airlifted to Baguio where he formally signed his surrender in Camp John Hay. The war in the Philippines started and ended in Camp John Hay in Baguio. – CCT