De Venecia seeking restoration of MacArthur’s first command post in Dagupan

DAGUPAN CITY — Fourth District Rep. Christopher de Venecia is seeking the segregation and preservation of the historic Home Economics building of the West Central Elementary School (WCES) here that once served as the first command post of General Douglas MacArthur when he began the Liberation of Luzon in 1945.

The move is in support of the effort of the Dagupan City government to make the site a top tourist destination in Dagupan and Pangasinan and in line with the celebration of Dagupan’s platinum year as city on June 20 this year.

Dagupan became a city on June 20, 1947 through an act of Congress authored by the late Speaker Eugenio Perez Sr., one of the foremost sons of Pangasinan.

De Venecia told newsmen he is scheduled to meet and discuss this project with Education Secretary Leonor Briones in Manila. If not segregated from the school, he said tourists visiting the site may disrupt the attention of pupils at WESC.

Knowing that Dagupan is a child-friendly city, it would not be good if children would be mixing with tourists visiting the MacArthur historical site, De Venecia said.

“We are going for the zoning of the area because it is not right to mix tourists with the pupils as their safety and security and the mantra of Dagupan as a child-friendly city might be compromised,” he added.

The H.E. building still contain the bed and utensils used by MacArthur in his short stint in Dagupan. All these were preserved.

The WESC’s Home Economics building served as the living quarters of MacArthur shortly after landing in the beaches of Dagupan along with his troops preparatory to liberating the whole of Luzon from the Japanese forces.

The congressman is also pushing for the restoration of the MacArthur Park in Bonuan, which is the only place in Luzon where the monument of General Douglas MacArthur stands.

The park as well as MacArthur’s monument are now both in decrepit condition and need some uplifting befitting the general’s role in liberating the Philippines from four years of Japanese occupation.

But seen as a draw back to this project is the fact that the MacArthur Park sits on a private land owned by the family of the late Major Moises Maramba, one of the veterans and heroes of World War II.

“In fact, we are now laying the groundwork administratively for these project sites while waiting for the big ticket projects to come to Dagupan,” he said.

The big ticket projects include a board walk at Tondaligan Blue Beach and a Promenade along the Pantal River where the people can walk and watch the sunset late in the afternoon.

“I am happy working with Mayor Belen (Fernandez) and am supportive of her plan to make Dagupan the haven of tourists in the fourth district if not in the whole of Pangainan,” De Venecia said.

The congressman is also eyeing to help develop Mangaldan into an arts and wellness destination, San Fabian as an agro-tourism site, San Jacinto as site for adventure trail and also for agriculture and make additional initiative to boost Manaoag as religious center of Pangasinan and the entire Philippines.

The congressman said he wants to build a museum in Manaoag where the Lady of Manaoag will be showcased with the help the private sector. LVM/