The municipality of Loon commemorated on Wednesday, September 27, 2017, the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Moalong, simultaneous with the observance of the 17th Annual Municipal Day of Prayer for World Peace.
Also observed during the occasion was World Tourism Day, with its theme “Sustainable Tourism, a Tool for Development” 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 L. Relampagos and Vice Mayor Lloyd Peter M. Lopez, MD 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.
Mer Ebojo represented Bohol Gov. Edgar M. Chatto, who was not able to come due to unavoidable circumstances. Others in attendance were guests Ethel Angelie C. Relampagos and Joan D. Phillips of the Bohol Bloggers Collective; DepEd Loon North and Loon South District elementary and high school principals, school heads and teachers; principals, instructors and students of the nine junior and senior high schools of Loon, and the barangay officials and residents of Canhangdon Occidental, and Basac.
The event was commemorated in the spacious and scenic Loon Peace Park, the original site (a high cliff that overlooks the Moalong Bridge) whereon the Boholano guerillas positioned themselves to ambush the Japanese soldiers on their way to the northern towns of Bohol purportedly to burn the towns of Calape, Tubigon and Clarin.
Rev. Fr. Ruel P. Pangan of the San Lorenzo de Manila Parish in Catagbacan presided over the late afternoon holy mass with concelebrants Rev. Fr. Dennis P. Leornas of the Holy Cross Parish, Rev. Fr. Richard Calapan of the Auxilium Christianorum Parish and Rev. Fr. Virgilio Salas of the Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje Parish.
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 stressed the significance of the event being the diamond anniversary of that unforgettable and momentous day in Bohol’s history.
On the same vein, Mer Ebojo, the governor’s representative, also delivered his inspiring message that dwelt on the essence that the war for freedom in the past continues in the present time, referring to the government’s war against illegal drugs.
Loon Campus Personality 2016, Miss Teen ICM July and Finalist, Miss Teen ICM 2017, Lunica Mae R. Logronio of Sacred Heart Academy, delivered the opening prayer of the commemorative rites.
Likewise, Loon Campus Personality 2017, Ma. Melanie C. Pascual of UB-Loon Institute, read excerpts from the book “Boholano Guerrillas in Action” by the late Judge Pio B. Ferandos, WW II veteran and former Loon mayor, detailing the events of that historic date.
The Loon South Central Elementary School Flute and Ukulele Ensemble, grand champion in the recent Sub-Congressional Meet held in Tubigon West Central Elementary School, provided a musical number. The Loon Youth Sector, Bol-anong Kabilin Atong Gibahandi (BOKAG), also presented a dance number on Kalinaw ug Kahiusahan: Usa ka Balak Pasundayag.
A floral offering and a parade of placards declaring shoutouts for peace were also conducted on the monument site, adding color and majestic splendor to the event.
Bohol’s war annals chronicle that fateful, rain-swept, gloomy day of September 27, 1942 in Sitio Moalong, 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. Graciano Espinueva, then Lt. Vicente K. Nunag, Jr., Lt. Brigido Serrano, Lt. Woodrow Sales and Sgt. Sotero Arbilon 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. Espinueva, 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 Ferandos book.
The commemoration was capped by the lighting of the Lantern of Peace and passing on the light to the assembled throng while singing “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”
Loon tourism officer Reigh P. Monreal, who conceptualized the commemorative rites in 2001, served as master of ceremonies. (Adam L. Saligumba)