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18-day drive to see Leyte landing rites
Source: Manila Bulletin
Author: Romana Lopez Del Castillo Noche
Date: 0000-10-18
(The historic Leyte Landing, which marked MacArthurs

return to the Philippines, took place on Oct. 20, 1944.

This article is about the commemoration of the events

50th anniversary in 1994. The author submitted this

piece as her contribution in commemorating the 55th

anniversary of the Leyte Landing on Oct. 20. The author

is a retired assistant commissioner, Legal Affairs Branch

of the Napolcom.  Ed.)

It was on October 12, 1994 when I, accompanied by

another widow, Susie Galang, and my driver, Leo

Mallare, drove all the way to Tacloban, Leyte

through ferry boats onwards to Cebu via an Aboitiz

ship and back to Manila via a William Lines

Mabuhay I (before its merger with WG&A). It was an

odyssey of 18 days.

I had to be in Leyte to celebrate the Philippine liberation

from the Japanese occupation.

To boost my morale, I always prefer to have Our Lord and

La Virgen de la Paz y buen Viaje on my side. After all,

this is not a European land tour where one can depend

on the Auto Anonymous, an auto association that

services cars whenever one gets a stalled vehicle.

We targeted Lucena City and reached it by 3 p.m. We

stayed with my former classmate in UST College of Law,

Atty. Alfredo Raya, and his wife Adelaida, a doctor of


We made it to Allied Bank, Naga City before it closed

and met Alice Poloyapoy, who was surprised to see the

mother of her former area supervisor, my eldest son


At 9 a.m. the following morning, in spite of the invitation

of another UST Law classmate, Atty. Lorenzo Rosales,

Sr., and his wife to stay for lunch, we proceeded to

Legaspi City after praying to Our Lady of Peqafrancia.

We reached the Napolcom Regional Office by 3 p.m. My

former officers, Atty. Mariano Ruiz, Atty. Rodolfo

Albaytan and Atty. Salvador Salopaso, were pleased to

see me.

On October 16, we were again on the road. We took the

ferry boat at Matnog, Bulan, Sorsogon. The coast guard

accommodated us and our Ford Laser squeezed itself in,

between buses and trucks.

The privately-owned ferry service Pingag was well

organized, first come, first serve. Our Laser was number

10. At 11 a.m., the numbered vehicles were asked to

arrange themselves to take off as soon as the ferryboat

unloads the vehicles. It was 2 p.m. and no ferryboat was

in sight which means that the coast guard in Cebu

refused to let the ferryboat leave. The engineer-in-charge

could not assure me that the ferryboat would be released

the following day, so I opted then to return to Ormoc

City, an hours ride, and booked with Aboitiz Shipping


Although we can reach Tacloban before nightfall, I

decided to stay overnight at Catbalogan City. By 9 a.m.

the following morning and after our usual sightseeing, we

arrived fresh and eager for photograph taking at the San

Juanico Bridge, the longest in Asia, crossing the narrow,

treacherous, scenic San Juanico Strait, with its islets,

swift currents and whirlpools.

We arrived in Tacloban City where we didnt have a hard

time locating Napolcom Regional Office.

I need not elaborate on the re-enactment festivities

except to state that Gen. Douglas MacArthurs look-alike

did not trip during the first re-enactment which started

promptly at 9:45 a.m. before Pres. Fidel Ramos arrived. I

managed to sit under the canopy where the American

survivors were.

I had a clear, unobstructed view of the first re-enactment

on October 20. The rehearsal was done the day before.

Afterwards, together with the American survivors, Susie,

my driver and I returned to our table at the plush

restaurant at MacArthur Park Hotel.

Oh! But the fireworks was well worth waiting for. It started

at 7 p.m. Not since I was a young girl when every Dec.

31 my father would bring us in our car to the Luneta to

witness magnificent fireworks.

I remember at exactly midnight the ships foghorns

blared and their lights blazed. And the fireworks

displayed the faces of presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt

and Manuel L. Quezon and the flags of America and the

Philippines side by side. Not even the fireworks at

Disneyland California could compare with them. But the

fireworks at Palo, Leyte with a ship in all its shining

splendor was the last and the longest fireworks

contribution of America to the Philippines for having

helped dismantle the Japanese army.

There were many activities but the one I liked best was

the Turogpo at Carigara Leyte. There were several sets of

carabaos with their horns locking and horses with their

legs and feet trampling each other. The trainors of the

carabao/horse who wins get a prize. The locals told me

that this festivity is done every Easter Sunday.

One of the most beautiful islands in the Philippines is

Biliran province. It is rural and quite untouched by

civilization. In spite of its unfinished roads (maybe now it

is already paved and cemented) it is a tourist destination.

There are a few inns, tricycles and a car for hire, discos,

bars for karaoke singing. The beaches are presentable.

At the Agta Beach Resort, I met a group of Australian

survivors of the Leyte landing. But it was in the fishing

and prawn farm of Luz Casas and her husband Fortun,

that I had a most enjoyable day. Its been years since

Ive been on a fish pond.

Ah! The joys of traveling. Its not only a break from the

monotony of city living, its the tranquillity of rural areas,

the chance to chat with country folks.

[ San Juanico Bridge Wiki | Agta Beach Resort Wiki ]


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