The tragic massacre of the American prisoners of war (POW) and the courage and sacrifices of the Palawan Special Bolo Battalion during the second world war (WW2) was commemorated Saturday at the Plaza Cuartel.
Dubbed “The 75th Anniversary of Heroism, Sacrifices, and Bravery of Plaza Cuartel American POW and Palawan Special Bolo Battalion”, the event was led by Inspire Studios in cooperation with the city and provincial governments and other stakeholders.
Plaza Cuartel near the Immaculate Conception Cathedral is an old garrison where 139 American soldiers were torched alive by their Japanese captors in December 1944. Today, it is a small restored ruin that has been turned into an outdoor park.
City vice mayor Nancy Socrates, one of the speakers during the event, said what happened to the American war prisoners at Plaza Cuartel and the bravery displayed by the bolo battalion fighters during WW2 are inspirations for the inception of “historical tourism” in Puerto Princesa.
“They sacrificed their lives para maging malaya ang Pilipinas at ang Palawan, so they are great examples for all of us. Talagang it is something that kailangan ma-promote lalo na we are pushing for historical tourism, ito ay isang simula talaga,” she said.
“Unang-una, not only the young ones, pati yong generation namin, hindi kami aware nito masyado. It is just now when I joined the city government, ngayon ko lang talaga nalaman ang historya nito. It is really something that we could be proud of, and pangalawa, of course, it will also inspire all of us especially our young people to do more for the country,” Socrates added.
The descendants of Filipino guerillas and American soldiers received recognition on behalf of their relatives who survived during the tragic massacre and played a vital role during the war.
Awards were dedicated to Gov. Higinio Mendoza Sr., Capt. Nazario Mayor, Cpl. Glenn McDole, Cpl. Rufus Smith, and Supt. Pedro Paje.
Socrates said Inspire Studios, under its chief executive officer Francis Lara Ho, is eyeing to make a movie about the massacre at Plaza Cuartel.
If it pushes through, she said it will help promote historical tourism in the area and teach the younger generation about the importance of the place.
“I think it will really a thousand percent boost this area, kung hindi ito very popular sa ating city tour, sigurado ako after the movie, marami talagang gustong pumunta dito. And it might become a tour in itself, baka one day puwede ka mag-spend dito,” she said.
Socrates said she is sure that the movie will place Plaza Cuartel in the awareness and consciousness of the world.
She added that the research that was done by the production team of Inspire Studios will greatly help the city museum that does not have it completely on record.
“Talagang napakalaking bagay kasi on our own, wala rin tayo masyadong resources to focus on this kasi marami rin kailangan din harapin ng city, marami rin problema kaya malaking pasalamat sa Inspire Studios,” she said.
Some of the mentioned artists that will play in the planned movie is Cesar Montano, who also attended the commemoration, and city councilor Matthew Mendoza who will play the role of local hero Dr. Mendoza.