Today is the 70th anniversary of the fulfillment of General Douglas MacArthur’s pledge of “I shall return” after being forced out of the Philippines by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. On October 20, 1944, MacArthur, together with Philippine Commonwealth President Sergio Osmeña, landed at Palo, Leyte on a site designated by the Americans as “Red Beach”. This historic moment marked the beginning of the liberation of the Philippines from the Japanese.
To commemorate the event, the Leyte Landing Memorial was erected sometime in the early 90s at the very spot where MacArthur and his party waded to the shore. Also known as the MacArthur Landing Memorial, the monument consists of 7 larger-than-life bronze statues of MacArthur and Osmeña as well as that of General Carlos P. Romulo, General Richard Sutherland, Admiral Thomas Kincaid, and 2 other staff people. The statues stand on a large man-made pool to depict how MacArthur and the other men waded onto the shore. I haven’t confirmed but I think the memorial was patterned after this iconic photograph of the event. The statues were designed by National Artist Leandro Locsin.
The memorial is actually the centerpiece of a large 4.5–hectare park called MacArthur Park which was established in 1973. 50 meters north of the memorial stands a bronze sculpture called the Eternal Flame of Peace while another artwork, the Rock Garden of Peace, was constructed around the Flame in 1994 to celebrate the 50th anniversary. And on this year’s 70th anniversary, a monument commemorating the 92 Australians who died helping with the liberation of the Philippines was unveiled near the MacArthur memorial.
Trivia: Last year’s Typhoon Yolanda damaged the memorial by toppling over the statue of General Romulo. The MMDA helped with repairing the monument.