press release attachment

The municipality of Cervantes, Ilocos Sur commemorated the 77th Anniversary of the Battle of Bessang Pass in a formal yet festive community gathering of locals and veterans of Ilocos Sur at the Bessang Pass Natural Monument on June 14, 2022.

The commemoration commenced with a solemn flag raising and wreath laying ceremony led by Col. Agerico G. Amagna III PAF (Ret), Head of the Veterans Memorial and Historical Division (VMHD) of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), Vet. Ruben S. Magsi. SR., President of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines (VFP) Region 1, Cervantes Mayor Pablito Benjamin Maggay II, and Ilocos Sur Sangguniang Panlalawigan Member Benjamin Maggay. The veterans of Ilocos Region and their surviving spouses and children also participated in the wreath laying ceremony to pay respect to the heroes of Bessang Pass.

After the formal ceremony, Mayor Pablito Maggay gave a brief and candid message to welcome the guests and to appreciate the efforts of the veterans during the Battle of Bessang Pass. He also recognized the challenges that our veterans needed to overcome to obtain this significant victory for our country.

Col Amagna who represented Usec. Ernesto G. Carolina, PVAO Administrator, also mentioned the relevance of the Battle of Bessang Pass as one of the central battles during the final stages of the end of the Second World War in the Philippines. “The epic battle of Bessang Pass is the reminder of the relentless and heroic efforts of our gallant Filipino and American defenders who have suffered horrendous ordeals in order to pave the way for the succeeding successful missions against the Japanese Imperial Army,” he added.

Meanwhile, Ilocos Sur Sangguniang Panlalawigan Member (SPM) Benjamin Maggay signified their efforts to bring more recognition to the Battle of Bessang Pass. He then mentioned their initiative to pass a resolution to establish this event as a national observance, reiterating its importance to the overall victory of the country during WWII.

SPM Maggay also shared the provincial government’s efforts in promoting the heroic deeds of our veterans to the youth by pushing the inclusion of the Battle of Bessang Pass to the history lessons of the basic and higher education unit in the province of Ilocos Sur, hoping that the knowledge would heighten their love for country and patriotism. “I want our children in Ilocos Sur to become [heroes] on their own, heroes in their jobs, heroes in their communities,” SPM Maggay said.

The simple commemoration activity was also filled with song offerings from the Cervantes LGU chorale group and a memorable tribal dance performance of the locals. PVAO also awarded the US Congressional Gold Medal to Vet. Mariano Tayucnuc, the lone surviving Bessang Pass fighter in Ilocos Sur, who was represented by his family.

Bessang Pass was part of the triangular defense of Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita also known as the “Tiger of Malaya”, Commander of the Japanese forces in the Philippines. After the Japanese forces occupied northern Luzon, Bessang Pass became the Japanese Army’s fortress due to its strategic location.

The epic battle at Bessang Pass in the town of Cervantes, Ilocos Sur was the longest battle of Filipino soldiers which lasted for six months. The Japanese army was eventually defeated by an all-Filipino ground force.

The battle at Bessang Pass would later on became a pivotal stage leading to the capture of the inner defense and installations of Gen. Yamashita. The event also resulted to the surrender of Gen. Yamashita and his troops to Lt. Col. Romulo A. Manriquez, the Filipino commander of the 14th Infantry Regiment, in Kiangan, Ifugao on September 2, 1945.