LEGAZPI CITY – The highest-ranked police official in Bicol has urged the region's residents to always remember the bravery and patriotism of those who fought and defended the country from the American invasion.
Brig. Gen. Rudolph Dimas, regional director of the Police Regional Office-5 (PRO5), was the guest of honor during the commemoration of the 123rd Battle of Legazpi at the Quezon Avenue-Rizal St. Rotonda here where a monument of the historical event is located.
In his message, Dimas remembered and paid tribute to the revolutionary troops' heroism and bravery.
“Their actions are a testament not only to their patriotism, their selfless love of their country and of their people, but to the inherent character and values of the Filipinos that give credence to our identity as a nation renowned for its bravery, tenacity, and fortitude,” he said.
On behalf of Mayor Geraldine Rosal, Vice Mayor Robert Cristobal delivered a message where he asked the young generation, particularly the students, to embody the same bravery of the Filipino soldiers by fighting against corruption, illegal drugs and the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Battle of Legazpi was the fight for freedom of every Filipino from the hands of foreign invaders. Today, we are no longer at war but still, there is a lot of concerns we should focus on to better the lives of our people," Cristobal said.
War veterans, teachers and students, officers and personnel of the Philippine Army (PA), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), city government employees and Albay Chamber of Commerce and Industry members were also present in the commemoration ceremony.
Records at the Legazpi City Museum showed that on Jan. 23, 1900, the American forces consisting of three infantry companies with powerful rifles and canyons landed on a swampy area where the San Rafael Bridge is located. The swampy area was reclaimed during the early 20th century and is now the intersection of Rizal Street and Quezon Avenue.
The foreign troops came to conquer Legazpi but 800 revolutionary troops headed by Gen. Ignacio Pawa, Col. Antero Reyes, Capt. Alvaro Nepomuceno and Col. Policarpio Pergone would not easily hand them victory.
A bloody fight ensued between the American troops headed by Brig. Gen. W.A. Kobbe and the Filipino forces.
On that day, Col. Amando Arian, commander of the Sorsogon Filipino Garrison, wired Gen. Vito Belarmino, commanding general of the Filipino troops, and advised him that the American troops had already occupied Sorsogon.
Belarmino, however, was able to alert the garrison of Legazpi under the direct command of Pawa, who was chief of operations and his two assistants.
Accounts said the defense of Legazpi consisted of four main trenches facing the sea from the Yawa river to the north to Malabalo river to the south and some secondary entrenchments called trencher number 5 that closed the approaches of the San Rafael Bridge where the monument was constructed.
Historians said the “bloodiest hand-in-hand combat” between the American troops and Filipino forces took place at San Rafael Bridge and resulted in the death of 172 Filipinos, including Col. Reyes, and injuries to 12 others. Accounts said only 12 were injured on the side of the Americans.
The Filipinos used bolos during the battle, described as “brief and fierce” by historians. (PNA)