Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Legazpi commemorates on Jan. 23 valiant defense vs American invasion in 1900
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 20 (PNA) -- Mayor Noel Rosal has invited tourists, local officials and the Legazpeños from all walks of life to join the city government in the commemoration on Friday of the Battle of Legazpi.

The event will feature an early morning parade around the downtown area, ending at the foot of the huge pylon standing at the middle of the intersection between Quezon Avenue and Rizal Street, at the heart of the city’s commercial district.

In his letter to all barangay, city, provincial and locally-based national officials, Rosal said the city government will commemorate the 115th Anniversary of the Battle of Legazpi on Jan. 23.

“This historic event is an important chapter of our history as we honor our gallant heroes who fought the occupying American forces.

Their bravery and tenacity still rings to our generation,” Rosal said in the letter.

The city is the capital and the business center of Albay and of the southeastern section provinces of Bicol extending to its neighboring Sorsogon and the islands of Catanduanes and Masbate.

Built on mangrove swamps, which once bordered its magnificent deep water port, the city, then a sleepy fishing settlement originally called Sawangan that occupied what is now the Legazpi Port District, was also made the center of the “Partido de Ibalon”, the single political unit which is composed of Albay, Sorsogon, Catanduanes and Camarines Sur when the Spaniards arrived in 1567 to set out their Christian mission.

The settlement survived the raids by Dutch and Muslim pirates before the arrival of the Spaniards and became scene of a horrifying sight of a much-bloody battle during the Filipino-American war.

The over-40-meter high pylon stands as a monument built almost 30 years ago and considered as one of the country’s historical sites acclaimed by the National Historical Commission in 2001 to commemorate the gallant resistance offered by around 800 farmers and fishermen led by Commander Antonio Reyes against the well-armed American invaders.

These farmers and fishermen-turned soldiers defended the Legazpi coast along with 200 other defensive forces which forcefully stopped the bombing made by the American soldiers of the defensive trench-- the former San Rafael Bridge where the pylon now stands.

These defenders courageously fought manually and all of them heroically died in that conflict from the hands of the American soldiers. The Battle of Legazpi pylon is one of the monuments that continue to give the locals a sense of pride – and the whole Filipino nation to cherish and remember.

“In view of this, may we respectfully invite you to attend the said event and to join the short parade at 7:30 a.m., January 23, 2015 from the Ibalong Monument in Barangay Lapu-Lapu to the Battle of Legazpi Monument,” Rosal said in the letter.

He also requested participants to bring simple flower arrangements for the floral offering.

In an interview Tuesday, Rosal told the Philippine News Agency that the commemorative event will also be a thanksgiving for all the gains of the city in its pursuit of economic prosperity, urban development and disaster resilience.

The city is endowed with a beautiful skyline with the waters of the Albay Gulf on one side and the majestic Mayon Volcano, a near-perfect symmetrical conical volcano, towering over the buildings creating a majestic scene on the other side. Historically, the city was named Legazpi, to perpetuate the memory of the Adelantado, Don Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, the Spanish conquistador in the Philippines in 1565 as part of the agreement made between the original inhabitants of the place and the Spaniards during the former’s quest for autonomy.

It took them 21 years, in which they sought the help and support of the Spaniards, then living in the town, and as a sign of gratitude, the people readily accepted the name, which was also then proposed by the Spaniards upon fulfillment of their efforts.

The city was recognized last year as one of the three most livable cities of the country, named national champion in the Galing Pook Awards and Gawad Kalasag and a proud recipient of the most coveted Silver Governance Trailblazer award for excellence in local governance.

Now nicknamed the “City of Fun and Adventure”, Legazpi is also considered as among the most visited tourist destinations in the Philippines not only for being home to Mt. Mayon but also because it is already a world-class city catering to the influx of investments and massive urban development that continuously attract travelers.

And since tourism growth enlivens trade and commerce, the local business climate has also been made pleasant as investment opportunities have been going broader and more fortified.

“Tourism is indeed taking a crucial role in the city in its pursuit for inclusive and horizontal growth that will benefit not only big investors such as hotel operators but also the people in the countryside, where most of its tourist destinations are located, by providing more opportunities for employment and business ventures,” Rosal said. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/EDS