By Adam L. Saligumba
The municipality of Loon once again commemorated on Tuesday, September 27,the 74thAnniversary of the Battle of Moalong, simultaneous with the observance of the 16th Annual Municipal Day of Prayer for World Peace.
Also observed during the occasion was World Tourism Day, with its theme of “Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility,”and the culmination of the celebration of the last week and month of September as Tourism Week and Tourism Month respectively.
Loon Mayor Elvi Peter M. Lopez, MD and Vice Mayor Lloyd Peter M. Lopez led the invited guests, Sangguniang Bayan members and municipal department heads and employees in the commemorative rites which seek to recall the heroism of the Boholano soldiers and guerrillas who fought and died valiantly in World War II.
Bohol’s most active Gov. Edgar M. Chatto, as in last year’s commemoration, again made a special appearance as he took time off from his busy schedule to personally take part in the commemorative rites. Also on hand were Provincial Tourism Council chairman, Atty. Lucas M. Nunag and his brother Antequera SB KagawadLiliosoNunag, who were both sons of the hero of the Battle of Moalong, the late Col. Vicente K. Nunag, Jr.;chief of staff of the Governor’s Office Billy Tongco, and Archie Lungay, representative of Cong. Rene Lopez Relampagos.
Others in attendance were Municipal Councilors Lydia Almasa, Judie Marie Velosoand TimoteoLegitimas, DepEDLoon North and Loon South Districtelementary and high school principals, school heads and teachers, and principals, instructors and students of the eight public and private high schools of Loon, and the barangay officials and residents of Canhangdon Occidental, and Basac.
The event was commemorated for the fourthtime in the spacious Loon Peace Park, the original site (a high cliff that overlooks the Moalong Bridge) whereon the Boholano guerillas positioned themselves for ambush against the Japanese soldiers in WW II.
The said park was heavily damaged during the great Bohol earthquake that occurred on October 15, 2013. However,it has since then been partially restored to its original form. Plans are underway for its further improvement and development as a primary tourism site of the municipality of Loon.
Rev. Fr. Ruel P. Pangan of the San Lorenzo de Manila Parish in Catagbacanpresided over the late afternoon holy mass with the support of the Loon RHU 2 personnel and staff as choir.
In his message, Mayor Relampagos extended his warm welcome to the guests and the general public for their participation in the commemoration rites. He declared that the occasion is worthy of homage and remembrance as it marks an event in Bohol’s history when ordinary men and women became heroes in the fight for freedom from oppression and tyranny. The mayor also pledged that next year’s commemoration of the Battle of Moalong will be of a grander scale since it will mark its 75th year of observance.
It may be noted that Mayor Relampagos and his brother, Cong. Rene Lopez Relampagos are sons of the late former member of the United States Armed Forces, WW II veteranand former Loon mayorJuan “Aning” M. Relampagos, a contemporary of Col. Nunag and the legendary WW II hero Capt. Francisco Salazar (real name Vicente T. Cubero) leader of the guerillas in the Moalong Battle.
Meanwhile, in his speech, Gov. Chatto was effusive in his praise to Loon’s municipal leaders for giving homage to the veterans of the Second World War through the establishment of the Loon Peace Park. He expressed optimism that the peace park will serve as a beacon call for all people in the world to espouse the cause of peace for the attainment of progress and development in all aspects of society.
Vice Mayor Lopez and Atty. Nunageach delivered their inspiring messages which dealt on the further development and expansion of the Loon Peace Park as a national monument and tourism site.
Loon Campus Personality 2016, Lunica Mae R. Logronio, read in the vernacular an excerpt from the book “Bohol Guerillas in Action” by the late Judge Pio B. Ferandos, WW II veteran and former Loon mayor, detailing the events of that historic date.
Bohol’s war annals chronicle that fateful, rain-swept, gloomy day of September 27, 1942 in SitioMoalong, at the old bridge that connected the barangays of Basac and Canhangdon Occidental, as the province’s first and most successful ambush of the poorly-equipped Boholano guerillas against the superior-armed Japanese forces.
The Bohol guerillas (numbering around 80 men, many of them armed only with bolos) commanded by the legendary Capt. Francisco Salazar, with Capt. GracianoEspinueva, then Lt. Vicente K. Nunag, Jr., Lt. Brigido Serrano, Lt. Woodrow Sales and Sgt. SoteroArbilon successfully repulsed two busloads of about 70 Japanese soldiers from Tagbilaran City who were on their way to burn the towns of Calape, Tubigon and Clarin.
That 9-hour battle, which began at 7:00 in the morning and lasted at 4:00 in the afternoon left about 60 of the enemy dead and 8 wounded who escaped and straggled back to the poblacion. The Bohol force lost Capt. Espuenova, Lt. Serrano and Pvt. Antonio Iyas. Wounded were Lt. Sales and six enlisted men.
These, and many other events relating to the war in Bohol, are all contained in the book “Bohol Guerillas in Action” by the late Judge Pio B. Ferandos, WW II veteran and former Loon Mayor.
The commemoration was capped by the mass recitation of the “Pledge for Peace,” lighting of candles and floral offering at the Loon Peace Park monument.
Loon tourism officer Reigh P. Monreal and Roselyn Lee S. Fernandez served as master and lady of ceremonies respectively.