DAGUPAN CITY — A history wall that now adorns the newly renovated Philippine Veterans Bank (PVB) on Burgos Street in Dagupan City may have finally solved the puzzle on where General Douglas MacArthur first landed when the Allied Forces began their liberation of Luzon on Jan. 9, 1945.
In a press conference before the renovated PVB Branch was inaugurated on Jan. 8, Miguel Angelo C. Villa-Real, vice president and head of PVB’s Corporate and Consumer Relations Division, said three or four panels in that history wall were photos that depicted Pangasinan and Dagupan during World War II.
Two or three panels gave a national picture of the war but three or four others were devoted to Pangasinan and Dagupan where the landing took place.
One photo showed Mac Arthur with his top staff officers wading in the water of what probably was the Dawel River while on their way to downtown Dagupan with towering coconut trees behind them.
Records obtained by PVB from the Mac Arthur Memorial in his birthplace of Norfolk, Virginia, said Villa-Real, validated claims by local historians that Mac Arthur disembarked from his flagship “Boise” along with the troops that landed at Blue Beach in Dagupan.
The landing began at dawn of Jan. 9, 1945 and it was only at 2:00 p.m. that day when the beach was firmly in allied hands that he decided to set foot on land. But he had to go back to his ship later that day as the bridge across Pantal River was cut.
The following day (Jan. 10), he (Mac Arthur) did it again and that time, he was able to cross the Pantal River and go around the area, except in San Fabian where there had been heavy fighting.
“He did the same thing on January 11 and 12 and on January 13, he established his headquarters at the West Central Elementary School,” said Villa-Real, quoting data they obtained from the Mac Arthur Memorial in Norfolk, Virginia.
“He (Mac Arthur) had a photo where his back was toward the shore. The shore was seen as different from what the Lingayen shore looked like during that time which was a little bare. But in the Bonuan shore, the trees were thick,” Villa-Real said
From photos obtained from Mac Arthur Memorial in Virginia, it looked like it was in Bonuan Blue beach where Mac Arthur really first landed,” he said.
Meanwhile, the History Wall at PVB Dagupan branch includes seven panels and a display screen that showcases World War II history of Dagupan and Pangasinan through vignettes and images.
The other side of the wall are water color paintings done by James Turnball who was present during the Lingayen Gulf Landings.
Turnball, said Villa-Realk, documented the landings by painting what he saw, including the landmark church and the San Fabian.
Villa-Real said this is a lasting tribute of PVB to World War II veterans and their courageous deeds and valor aside from serving as a reminder to the generations of today of the sacrifices made by them for the sake of freedom.
Interestingly, one panel was devoted exclusively to the local guerrillas that comprised what was known as the Pangasinan Military Area who provided the much-needed intelligence to the liberation forces as they were coming to shore.
The history wall is a feature in all branches of PVB numbering 60 all over the country explained Villa-Real. But but the PVB branch in Dagupan is an exception because Pangasinan and Dagupan had numerous photographs taken in that episode of the war.
Villa-Real described the Lingayen Landings, comprising of 200,000 men, was the biggest amphibious lands by troops in all of Asia.
The landing area ranged from San Fabian to Lingayen.
Meanwhile, PVB president and chief operations officer Nonilo Cruz led the ribbon-cutting ceremony officially launching the renovated PVB branch with its new look,
He was joined by first vice president Evener Monzones, PVB Branch Banking Group officer-in-charge with Mayor Belen Fernandez as special guest. PNA / northboundasia.com