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28/02/2015: AMBASSADOR CUISIA OPENS EXHIBIT ON 70th ANNIVERSARY OF LIBERATION OF THE PHILIPPINES

PRESS RELEASE
WDC-013-2015
23 February 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C.—It started with a promise, “I shall return.”

This promise to the Filipino people was fulfilled when General Douglas MacArthur returned to Leyte in October 1944, marking beginning of the liberation of the Philippines which is considered to be the second biggest campaign of World War II, next only to the Allied advance from Normandy to Germany.

Seven decades after the liberation of the Philippines, Filipinos and Americans gathered at the MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, Virginia to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Philippines with an exhibit entitled Keeping the Promise: the Liberation of the Philippines, 1944-1945.

The 5,000 square-foot temporary exhibit, which opened on 21 February 2015, explores the liberation of the Philippines through unique artifacts and documents from Filipino, American, and Japanese sources. Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. and Norfolk City Mayor Paul Fraim cut the ribbon to open the exhibit.

The liberation of the Philippines took place from October 1944 to August 1945 and involved 15 US divisions, organized into two field armies made up of more than half a million American troops. It is considered to be the largest single campaign in the Pacific during the Second World War

In his remarks, Ambassador Cuisia gave highlights of the liberation campaign.

“With the landings, General Douglas MacArthur fulfilled his promise to the Filipino people. And he did exactly two years and five months following the Fall of Bataan and Corregidor in 1942. Incidentally, it was 70 years ago this week that US forces began the successful campaign to retake Corregidor. The Bataan Peninsula was recaptured weeks earlier,” said Ambassador Cuisia.

The Ambassador also noted the important role of guerilla forces in the liberation.

“Guerrillas also played a crucial part in assisting the US-led liberation efforts. In fact, guerrillas had already liberated a number of places in Northwestern Luzon, the Visayas, and Northern and Eastern Mindanao prior to the arrival of US forces. In Panay island, it was the guerrillas who welcomed the Americans on the beaches when they landed,” said Ambassador Cuisia.

He added, “Two of the largest rescue missions in American military history would not have been possible without the support of Filipino guerrillas. The first was the raid on 30 January 1945 by the 6th US Rangers of the Cabanatuan prison camp in Nueva Ecija that liberated 522 prisoners of war. The second was the raid on 23 February 1945 by the 11th Airborne Division of the Los Banos camp in Laguna that freed 2,122 internees. The American forces worked hand-in-hand with guerrillas to make this happen. It was actually on this day, 70 years ago that General MacArthur issued the order for the 11thAirborne to liberate Los Banos.”

Even decades after General MacArthur fulfilled his promise, the shared Filipino-American experience during the Second World War continues to not only permeate Philippine-US bilateral relations but also to nurture the alliance.

“Just last year, we both agreed to further strengthen the alliance by signing the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). The EDCA is intended to support the development of a minimum credible defense posture for the Philippines through capability building and combined activities and high impact-high value joint exercises focusing on maritime domain awareness, maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster response,” said Ambassador Cuisia.

“For the US, the EDCA translates to an increased rotational presence in the Philippines. As such, it is an important aspect for implementing its rationalized force posture in the region and in line with its strategic rebalancing towards Asia. It was in pursuit of this policy that President Obama visited the Philippines last year to assure President Aquino of Washington’s steadfast commitment to its obligations to support the Philippines under the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1952,” the Ambassador added.

Keeping the Promise is free and will be open to the public until January 2017. ###

PHOTO RELEASE
WDC-015-2015
23 February 2015

Christopher Kolakowski, President of the MacArthur Memorial welcomes members of the Filipino-American community and the American public to the opening of "Keeping the Promise," an exhibit that explores the liberation of the Philippines through unique artifacts and documents from Filipino, American, and Japanese sources. (Embassy Photo by Majalya Fernando).

PHOTO RELEASE
WDC-016-2015
23 February 2015

Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. gives a summary of events leading up to the return of MacArthur and the liberation of the Philippines in his opening remarks for "Keeping the Promise," an exhibit that explores the liberation of the Philippines through unique artifacts and documents from Filipino, American, and Japanese sources. (Embassy Photo by Majalya Fernando).

PHOTO RELEASE
WDC-017-2015
23 February 2015

PHOTO RELEASE
WDC-018-2015
23 February 2015

Kolakowski gives Ambassador Cuisia a tour around the exhibit. (Embassy Photo by Majalya Fernando).

PHOTO RELEASE
WDC-019-2015
23 February 2015

"Keeping the Promise" has various artifacts and relics from World War II on display. One of them is this sign which was in Leyte after the return of Gen. Douglas MacArthur to the Philippines on 20 October 1944. (Embassy Photo by Majalya Fernando)

PHOTO RELEASE
WDC-020-2015
23 February 2015

Boy scouts from Norfolk, VA visit the display at the MacArthur Memorial. (Embassy Photo by Majalya Fernando).

PHOTO RELEASE
WDC-021-2015
23 February 2015

Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. meets with some Filipino World War II veterans during the opening of "Keeping the Promise"at the MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, VA. The exhibit runs through January 2017. (Embassy Photo by Majalya Fernando).