Gen. McArthur’s historic landing at Palo, Leyte on Oct. 20, 1944.

MANILA – All is set for the grand celebration of the 75th anniversary of the historic Leyte Landing on Sunday by Gen. Douglas McArthur that liberated the Philippines from Japanese occupation in World War II.

Lt. Gen. Ernesto G. Carolina (AFP, Ret.), administrator of the Philippine Veterans Office (PVAO), will represent the Department of National Defense (DND) at the Leyte Landing ceremony at Palo Beach where Gen. McArthur and top US and Filipino military officials, including Brig. Gen. Carlos P. Romulo landed 75 years ago.

Historian Xiao Chua said the Leyte Landing was preceded by the greatest naval battle in history at Leyte Gulf that involved 211 American warships, including 16 aircraft carriers, and 12 battleships.

In addition, American and allied forces had 1,300 warplanes and over 300,000 troops.

In contrast, the once formidable Japanese navy had only 68 warships and 300 aircraft.

Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita was the commander of the Japanese Imperial Army in the Philippines during the final battle of the Pacific War.

When World War 2 broke out in the Philippines on Dec. 8, 1941, the Japanese crushed the American and Filipino forces in Bataan and Corregidor and occupied the Philippines for over three years.

The invasion of Leyte began at dawn of Oct. 17, 1944, when US troops sneaked into the island that caught the Japanese forces by surprise.

The Japanese thought that McArthur would land in Mindanao but the brilliant American general diverted his plan and chose Leyte where American forces would land because Mindanao was heavily fortified by the Japanese.

The successful landing by US and allied forces at Red Beach in Palo, Leyte fulfilled McArthur’s promise of “I shall return” to liberate the Philippines from the clutches of the Japanese invaders. (PNA)