“It is for this reason why some historians call our culture of remembering our defeats a ‘damaged culture’ when we commemorate defeats instead of victories”
June 14 came and went, that date 77 years ago when 1395 brave and courageous members of the 121st Infantry of the USAFIP-NL (United States Army Forces in the Philippines-Northern Luzon) died in battling the retreating troops of the Japanese Imperial forces under General Tomoyuki Yamashita at Bessang Pass in the upland town of Cervantes in Ilocos Sur.
It was a signal victory as recorded in the annals of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
I was told that a motley group of surviving members were present to commemorate the event at Cervantes, Ilocos Sur, where former President Fidel V. Ramos had a shrine built.
It is really sad to remember the Battle of Bessang Pass which was truly a signal victory of the guerilla movement, composed mostly of Filipinos.
History tells us that the victory of Bessang Pass led to the capture of Yamashita, known as the Tiger of Malaya, who retreated to the jungles of nearby Kalinga and Apayao, leading to his surrender on September 2, 1945.
Yamashita was soon executed by hanging at Los Banos, Laguna on Feb. 23, 1946 for crimes against humanity in the rape of Manila when the Americans recaptured Manila from the Japanese occupying forces.
After the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan surrendered on September 2, 1945. On board the USS Missouri. That’s history.
But, going back to the victory of the Filipino guerilla movement in Northern Luzon, what was truly sad is that when the country commemorates the Araw of Kagitingan (Day of Valor ), not a mention of the signal victory of the Battle of Bessang Pass – or Gubat ti Paso Bessang in Ilocano – is mentioned. Only the defeats like the Battle of Bataan and Battle of Corregidor are cited.
The Battle of Bessange Pass was fought from January 9, 1945 to June 15, 1945 in that area which served as a gateway to the Cordillera mountains and the Baguio, the country’s summer capital.
It was part of the triangular defense of Yamashita in the north: the Balete Pass, Villaverde Trail and Bessang Pass, guarding the Ifugao-Benguet-Nieva Vizcaya borders.
Its fall at the hands of the USAFIP-NL on June 14, 1945 paved the way for the entrapment of Yamashita’s forces in the Cordillera until the general’s surrender in September 1945.
It is for this reason why some historians call our culture of remembering our defeats a “damaged culture.” when we commemorate defeats instead of victories.
I remember the date June 14, 1945 because it was there where my eldest brother, Desiderio “Desi” P. Jurado, the late Court of Appeals justice, fought for his country, and was awarded a silver medal for bravery and courage beyond the call of duty.
It’s truly ironic that when Araw ng Kagitingan is commemorated every year on April 9, there is no mention of the signal victory at the Battle of Bessang Pass.
That silver medal of my late brother Desi holds a special niche in my family’s memory because our entire family had to go through the rigors of a family having a member of the guerilla movement.
It was my late brother who led the assault at Bessang Pass that led to the capture and surrender of Yamashita and his Japanese Imperial Forces.
I have written my opposition to the plans of Press Secretary Trixie Cruz Angeles, the chief of the PCOO or Presidential Communications OPerations Office, to accredit bloggers and vloggers, who are “glorified chismosos” on social media because I believe her move is the supreme insult against journalists like me, being in the profession for more than 70 years now.
Clearly, Ms. Angeles is ignorant of what we, journalists, stand for and live for: the truth, objectivity, fairness and justice, contrary to what bloggers and vloggers like her stand for.
The Press Secretary’s plan to accredit bloggers and vloggers to cover Malacanang and activities of the incoming President simply reveals her ignorance of what media is all about.
To a journalist, to be accredited to be among the members of the Malacanang Press Corps, which is the No. 1 beat among all the beats a newsman is assigned to by a newspaper or radio and television network after a journalist has earned his spurs, should not be taken lightly.
What Ms. Angeles is doing is a supreme insult to true-blooded journalists like me. I urge organizations of true-blooded journalists to protest what the Press Secretary-designate is doing since only the President can issue policy matters like accreditation to the Malacanang Press Corps.
The Rotary Club of Manila, the most prestigious and the oldest Rotary Club in Asia honored me yesterday with a “Life Achievement Award” at the Conrad Hotel.
My eternal thanks to the RCM president Felix “Chito” Francisco Zaldarriaga and Amado Valdez, chairman of the RCM awards committee and to all the officers and directors of RCM and to ex-officio Jesus M. Pineda, my student in High School at the Ateneo de Manila in Loyola Heights.
I like best what RCM said of me as a journalist: “The corridors of power were his hunting ground, his presence a sword of Democles to those with ill intentions. This opportunity allowed him to accumulate wisdom from those who thought along parallel lines with him and even those with the opposites. He mixed all these in one brew and imparted them to his students and younger journalists – the totality of his experiences his GIFT to them. His lifetime is his LEGACY to the world.”
I’ve covered Presidents of the Republic since Elpidio Quirino and I must say that the challenges that President-elect Bongbong Marcos finds confronting him have never been as great as the challenges he is being confronted with now.
Come as they did with the COVID-19 pandemic still with us, the problems of high prices escalating and affecting every household as one of the domino effects of gasoline and oil prices worldwide, partly as a result of the Russia-Ukraine War, are something to be concerned about.
For one thing, the question is, how long will the problem of high prices last? Now comes the big question. How will BBM resolve this problem affecting every household ?
Another big problem high on the priority list of BBM are jobs.
With almost four million adult Filipinos out of jobs, can Marcos provide all of them the necessary jobs they need? Santa Banana, can Bongbong Marcos, in his first 100 days provide the solution?
Then, there is the upcoming problem of food security, when the government should be jump starting economic recovery.
As I said, in my more than 70 years as a journalist, I have never seen an incoming President like BBM being confronted with all these problems. This is where he needs unity and assistance from all sectors, since, like it or not, we either sink or swim with Bongbong, being our President for the next six years.
It will do well for President-elect Bongbong to tell all his nominees and designees to stop making pronouncements about things affecting their position.
For one thing, they are just nominees and awaiting confirmation by the Commission on Appointments. It is the job of the incoming President to make policy statements, not theirs.
Once they are confirmed, then the president can tell them what to say or not to say.
If they are advisers, they should just advise, not make policy pronouncements.