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February 2, 2013

The Road To Bessang Pass

Our road trip to Cervantes, Ilocos Sur a few days ago was highlighted by a side trip to the historical place of Bessang Pass. We were in Cervantes, Ilocos Sur to conduct a Bridging Leadership retreat to the Department Heads of the municipality as requested by the Mayor himself. Mayor Maggay is one of the many mayors under our Leadership Development Program at the Zuellig Family Foundation. He was so impressed by what he experienced during their own leadership retreat with us at Tagaytay a few months ago that he decided that his own fellow government employees should undergo them as well.

For those who may have already forgotten, Bessang Pass was the last stronghold of the Japanese in the Philippines during World War II. It was here that General Tomoyuki Yamashita surrendered to the U.S. and Philippine forces. As cited by Wikipedia, "The initial fighting started in February 1945 around the town of Cervantes. At the same time, the 121st Infantry was driving out the Japanese in Tagudin, Ilocos Sur on the western lowlands of the Pass, the other guerilla forces were clearing Ilocos Norte, the rest of Ilocos and Abra around the Tangadan area. By March, the harder part of the battle commenced."








Around 90,000 Filipino troops stormed the heavily guarded ridge. On the Japanese side there were 8,700 of them. Around, 2,500 Japanese were killed. Only 400 of the Filipino troops were killed. 












When we passed by the Bessang Pass, the road was covered with thick fog. We even could not see the valley below due to the low clouds and fog. 














Bessang Pass is very historical for the people of Ilocos. Rumor has it that it is where General Yamashita may have left his "treasures" since it was his last hideout before he was captured by the Filipino troops.






In Cervantes, the municipality was able to renovate its existing Bessang Pass Memorial Hospital. The current Municipal Health Officer was able to give us a tour inside the newly constructed building which was still in need of equipments and a chief of hospital who would diligently run and manage the health facility.
















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