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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, January 15, 2019
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‘Discover Hinoba-an’ launched
BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN

 

Hinoba-an town in southern Negros Occidental is beyond a tourist destination, it also served as a gateway to the liberation of the Philippines from the Japanese Imperial Forces during World War 2.

The municipal government led by Mayor Ernesto Estrao yesterday launched “Discover Hinobaan”, and marked the 76th anniversary of the landing of World War 2 hero, Capt. Jesus Villamor, the first Filipino fighter pilot, at Obong Point in Brgy. Bacuyangan, Hinoba-an.

Negrense historian Modesto Saonoy, a member of the National Historical Commission who spoke at the activity, stressed the significance of the historic landing of Villamor and five other Filipinos trained in Australia, known as the “Planet Party”, on Jan. 14, 1943. Their arriving in Hinoba-an played a vital role in the return of General Douglas MacArthur to the Philippines, more than a year later, he said.

The Obong Point, where the submarine USS Gudgeon of Villamor and his companions docked, is now a famous tourist destination in Hinoba-an.

Sao-noy said town residents should be proud that Hinoba-an has been placed in the history map of World War II, as it served as a “door to the liberation of the Philippines” from the Japanese forces, more than 70 years ago.

MacArthur returned to the Philippines in Oct. 20, 1944

The landing of Villamor and his party in Hinobaan played a vital role in the war againstthe Japanese.

The group of Villamor was responsible for setting up spy networks and the unification of guerilla units in Negros and neighboring areas, that directly supplied information on the activities of Japanese Imperial Forces in the Philippines, to the Southwest Pacific Area headquarters of Gen. MacArthur in Brisbane, Australia.

One of the members of the Planet Party, Patricio Jorge, is now 103 years old and residing in Hinobaan, a member of his family said.

“Discover Hinoba-an” calls for local and domestic tourists, not just to visit the town, but to come and understand its culture, best practices and unique destinations, the mayor said.

Hinoba-an is beyond sun and beach, the mayor said, stressing that it has more to offer, including giant ferns, waterfalls, bat colonies, caves whose entrances look like sculptured fish, dive spots, and a historically rich people and culture.

“We are unique, and tourism-wise, we are indeed a tourist destination, not just for visiting and swimming, but worth discovering,” he added.

Estrao, assisted by Vice Mayor Jefre Encoy and members of the Hinoba-an Sangguniang Bayan, yesterday conferred posthumous awards to town residents, who played a vital in keeping the Villamor party members alive.

For MacArthur, the Planet Party was the first step in fulfilling his promised return to the Philippines. Based in Negros, the network of intelligence operatives that Villamor established would provide SWPA with accurate and current information on the enemy.

Hinoba-an served as the conduit for vitally needed weapons and supplies delivered by U. S. submarines, which evacuated American personnel on the return trip.

To the people of Negros, Villamor became a symbol of freedom. "My presence has a psychological impact on the people," Villamor wrote in his autobiography.*

 

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