Dumaguete City fetes WWII liberators on 77th freedom anniversary

General

The city government here and an organization linked with the Silliman University have paid tribute to the courageous men who liberated this capital city more than seven decades ago against enemy forces during World War II.

Sidney Lee, a senior member of REDSHIELD and in charge of the group’s History and Events, told the Philippine News Agency on Wednesday that they relaunched the South Liberation Marker on Tuesday as the city celebrated its 77th anniversary of freedom from Japanese occupation.

“The newly reconstructed South Liberation Marker honoring then Major Galicano L. Sibala and his men for their bravery against enemy forces during World War II and eventually liberating Dumaguete City on April 26, 1945, was unveiled today by his family and fellow REDSHIELDERS,” he said.

Lee said the original marker was damaged during the recent road widening in the area but was restored and finished just in time to commemorate the historic event 77 years ago.

REDSHIELD is an exclusive organization of current former Reserved Officers Training Course (ROTC) officers, he noted.

Sibala was a business administration graduate of Silliman University in 1941 and was an advanced cadet officer of the ROTC program.

He, like many other young Filipino men his age, was mobilized during World War II to defend the country.

He accepted his assignment without question and headed the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) in Negros Oriental. He successfully launched several offensives against the enemies, hindering their total occupation of the province, Lee said.

Sibala, at 27 years old, led the first allied team to enter the city, liberating it together with the forces from the South and the North.

After their meet-up at Quezon Park in this capital, they flushed out the Japanese forces and chased them to nearby Valencia town, where a fierce gun battle occurred. A Philippine-American-Japanese shrine was erected at the site.

Sibala was born January 3, 1919 and was 83 years old when he perished in a fire accident in his home in Tanjay on Oct. 14, 2002.

In 1940, members of REDSHIELD formed the exclusive officers’ group of Silliman’s ROTC Unit and since then have been holding the REDSHIELD Day every October 14 to celebrate Sibala’s life of courage and integrity, Lee said.

Meanwhile, the city government also held a wreath-laying ceremony and tribute to the World War II heroes and Filipino veterans, their descendants, military personnel, students, and local and religious leaders at the Quezon Park on the same day.

Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo and former Judge Crescencio C. Tan, Jr., himself a veteran, laid the wreaths before another liberation marker at the park with volleys of fire in the background.

The liberation marker at the M. L. Quezon Park reads: “On this day 26th of April 1845, Dumaguete was liberated by a composite force of Filipino guerillas (75th and 77th Infantry Regiment) and units of the 164th Regiment, American Division, 8th Army, United States of America”, a media release from city hall said.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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