Feature: By Imelda Castro-Rivero, PIA 1 Ilocos Sur
VIGAN CITY – The only battle where Filipino soldiers won over foreign invaders in the Philippines is the Battle of Bessang Pass. This battle which took place on June 1945 ended the Japanese hold on the country after three years.
Today, celebrations show how fighters in Ilocos fought for the country’s freedom that led to the surrender of General Tomoyuki Yamashita, the Japanese Army Officer who defended the last stronghold of his army in Cervantes town.
During the 2015 celebration of Bessang Pass Day, Lt. Gen. Ernesto G. Carolina, AFP (ret), Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) administrator, said this victory is only known by a few with only three books written about it. Two of these books available to readers at the Gregoria M. Rivera Memorial Library in this city are the “Victory at Bessang Pass” by Ben Call and “Victory in Northern Luzon” by Cesar P. Pobre.
Also in 2015, some World War II veterans from La Union, Pangasinan, and Ilocos Sur climbed up Cervantes town to join fellow veterans in the annual celebration of the Battle of Bessang Pass in barangay Malaya where the monument of the battle is enshrined.
In 2016, a sculpture of the triumph of Filipinos over the Japanese army in this part of the country was built at the Bessang Pass Natural Monument. The area was fenced and improved, signifying how valuable the place is to the history of the country and to the lives of Filipinos.
This year, the Battle of Bessang Pass, the fallen and surviving World War II veterans will once more be honored by local government officials and national government employees led by the PVAO at the Bessang Pass Natural Monument with a set of activities.
Mario Subagan, president of the Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) in Ilocos Sur, said that Filipinos must value this battle and that if the Battle of Bataan is celebrated by the whole nation on May 9 each year, it must also do the same and give more focus on the Battle of Bessang Pass.
Bessang Pass is the last stronghold of the Japanese Imperial Army in the country.#