January 10, 2011, Filed under Press Release

Former Governor and Agrarian Reform Minister Conrado F. Estrella, Sr. confirms that General Douglas MacArthur landed first in Lingayen on January 9, 1945.

LINGAYEN- – -“General Douglas MacArthur landed first in Lingayen on January 9, 1945.”

This was confirmed by former Pangasinan Governor and Agrarian Reform Minister Conrado F. Estrella, Sr. in his speech during the 66th Anniversary of the Lingayen Gulf  Landings and Pangasinan Veterans’ Day held at the Veterans’ Park here as he vividly recounted the story of the General MacArthur’s “sentimental visit” to Pangasinan on July 6, 1961.

Estrella, who was then the highest official of Pangasinan, had the chance to brushed elbows with Gen. MacArthur  as he escorted him thru a presidential limousine owned by President Garcia from Manila to Lingayen town.
“It was a stormy day but despite the bad weather, people went down the streets to waved at the General and as we reached Lingayen, I brought him straight to Urduja we were mobbed by the people, the biggest crowd ever gathered in my tenure,” the 93- year old former governor said.

As he narrated the story, he said that the first question he asked Gen. MacArthur that day was where he landed first. The general quickly answered with the query, “Where is the Capitol?” Upon hearing this he escorted him to the porch of the Urduja House and he pointed the direction of the Capitol. The general, he said, rushly said it was right there on the beach at the back of the Capitol where he landed first but seeing that the Japanese troops were no longer there, they went back to their boat and proceeded to Bonuan in Dagupan. From there, the general also said, according to Gov. Estrella, he rode a jeep to look for a suitable headquarters and there he saw the Home Economics building and built his headquarters there. (The HE building he was referring to is at the West Central Elementary School now located at Burgos Street formerly in Dagupan  City).

“So that ends the story,” the ex-official said as he added that he is just quoting the general’s confirmation during his brief sentimental journey in 1961. A marker was also made following the Presidential Decree issued by Pres. Garcia that time declaring Maramba Boulevard in Lingayen to Balintawak, Quezon City as General Douglas MacArthur Highway in honor of him.

There was a press conference that time and after it a short program followed at Magsaysay Stadium (said structure according to him no longer exists today as it was only constructed out of ordinary wood but strategically located at the PSU compound in Lingayen). After the program, dinner followed at the Sison Auditorium which was reconstructed in his tenure because it was badly damaged during the war as foretold by him.

All these, he revealed, were attested by all mayors of Pangasinan during that time and even mayors and governors of some neighboring provinces also. “I’m thankful to God I’m still alive to tell the story,” the former governor said.
Furthermore, he likewise said that he was also present during the unveiling of the biggest monument of the late general in Bonuan, Dagupan. “That was in January 23, 1984 and I was there to represent President Ferdinand Marcos,” he disclosed.
In between his speech, he managed to narrate the unforgettable incident where Gen. MacArthur was reunited with his former houseboy named “Macario” during his sentimental visit to Lingayen.

Having said all these, Estrella concluded that at 93 he is still blessed with clear memory to serve as a “living testimony” to Pangasinan history.

Meanwhile, Governor Amado T.Espino, Jr.’s message and testimonial, who incidentally did not able to make it for the affair because his trip back home was postponed due to bad weather condition in the United States, was read by Sangguniang Panlalawigan Member Amadeo T. Espino.

In his message, he hailed the heroism of the war veterans who risked their lives to liberate our country against the oppressors. Also, he commended the opening of exhibit that shows various images and stories of Pangasinan’s built heritage. This, he said, will establish a “more accurate account of Pangasinan history.”

Before the program proper, a thanksgiving mass was celebrated by Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas followed by the opening of exhibit dubbed, “Lingayen: Building the Legacy of the Past” which features old photographs of Pangasinan’s built heritage plus the aftermath of war as photographed by Charles Demay which were sent to the provincial government by his son, Jeffrey, who is married to a Filipina from Leyte.

During the commemoration, the provincial government presented an award to Glicerio Valdez, a retired US Army sergeant from Alcala town, the oldest living veteran at 100.

A medical mission was conducted after the program proper as part of the privileges granted by the province to the war veterans. (PIO/Ruby R. Bernardino)



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