The saying that the best way to know a place is through its locals, does not hold true for Ormocanons. At least this is what surprised OpinYon 8 reporters, who asked several locals from Ormoc of possible historical sites and local delicacies to recommend prior to the commemoration of the historic Battle of Ormoc last December 20.
Just a day before the annual celebration, OpinYon 8 asked locals for places they can recommend to visit to get to know the city. Of the 14 individuals we asked in different locations, they sounded clueless and some even asked another local who was equally clueless.
One city hall employee recommended the old capitol building which currently serves as a museum.
The said building was the municipal hall in 1945-46 right after World War II. Later, in 1947, when Ormoc became a city the building served as the City Hall.
Remembering the city’s history
Welcoming employees of the museum said that the city government is doing its best to remind the people of the city’s history by conducting free public tours along with several other activities that can easily be enjoyed by the people.
“Actually, yung iba po talaga saka lang nila nalaman yung sites, na meron palang ganon noong nag conduct na kami ng mga tours,” one museum employee said.
In fact, there are at least four historical sites in the city that many do not know.
Puenta de la Reina, also known as “Bridge of the Queen” is considered as the last existing physical structure that symbolizes the Spanish colonization of the City.
It was built in the early 1800's but was completed in 1861. It was used as a docking area for sailboats, vintas of Chinese, Javans and Indonesians who frequented the island to sell their products.
The bridge is still in use and is situated fronting the twin buildings of the Executive and Legislative branches, Ormoc Plaza and the Old Ormoc City Hall at its side.
Others are the Dominador Tan Residence ``Mansion Ruins," Philippine-Japan Peace Memorial and the Veteran’s and Centennial park, all of which are reminders of the City's past and sacrifices during the second World War.
Ormoc city mayor Lucy Torres- Gomez had also recently announced-- during the 78th anniversary of the Battle of Ormoc Bay, which was one of a series of air-sea battles between the Japanese occupying forces and the United States Military as part of Allied forces' campaign-- that Ormoc Bay has been granted permission to become an official heritage site, with only a formal declaration being needed to make it official.
During the said battle, a total of 29 Japanese maritime vessels were sunk, and thousands of soldiers were lost, while only six American vessels were sunk.
Most of the sites were not far apart. It was later learned that historical records and documents are readily available at the old capitol building, upon request, for reference or study.
It is unfortunate that such rich and priceless pieces of history are gradually being lost in peoples' hearts when the government is relentless in promoting its story by providing access to information and records and to the physical sites to form part of their lives.
But maybe, the fact that it has always been there made people lose interest and fail to appreciate the priceless pieces that played a part in the freedoms they currently enjoy.