It was October 20, 1944.
Apparently, with the area still under fire, an American General finds himself walking towards Leytean shores because his request for a landing craft have been denied.
That’s exactly what stands in Red Beach, Palo, Leyte at present; the MacArthur Leyte Landing Memorial National Park or simply MacArthur Park. It was built on 1977 under the Marcos administration and was originally called Imelda Park after the former First Lady, Imelda Romualdez-Marcos.
In the middle of the park stands MacArthur’s Landing by National Artist Anastacio Caedo, a sculpture reenacting how General MacArthur and six other figures had waded the waters to get to Filipino land.
This event, which was also known as A-Day, preluded the largest naval battle in the Second World War and started the campaign to set the Philippines free from Japanese clutches. All this happened after one man kept his word.
General Douglas MacArthur had a rather…colorful reputation. It was said he was ambitious and egoistical; that he had been only intent on liberating the Philippines because he had been planning to run for the presidency in the USA . It was also speculated that the iconic picture that inspired the park’s centerpiece (which had been taken by MacArthur’s personal photographer) was rehearsed. And yet, he was also known as a man who treated Filipino and even Japanese soldiers as equals. He had refused to leave the Philippines in 1941, only doing so when President Roosevelt all but begged him in 1942. When he had finally returned and finished what had been assigned to him, he had pressed on until the Philippines was completely Japan-free in 1945. Also, when he had been awarded the Medal of Honor, he knew it wasn’t for any brave act he had committed but rather an acknowledgement for the army he had lead in the Philippines. He furthermore recognized the true recipient of the award was them and not himself. For these things, we honor him…and even consider him an honorary Leyteno even if he never knew it.
Was he a true hero? Or was he just a glorified figurehead? Did he even know what he was doing?
Okay, fine. I’m sure he knew what he was doing.
Thing is, whoever he really was and whether the whole thing had been staged or not, it cannot be denied that he, along with the other six larger-than-life bronze statues that stands in this park, have been a symbol of hope not only for us Leytenos but for the whole nation as well.