On December 8, 1941, a few hours after Imperial Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, the Japanese regime bombed strategic locations in the Philippines including Davao.
The Japanese committed many atrocities against the Filipino people. Everything was taken away from them- their lands, their loved ones, and their freedom. They were driven away from their homes by fear and chaos and were forced to abandon the life they have built to live comfortably.
However, instead of cowering in the face of these circumstances, it ignited the spirit of patriotism and thirst for freedom of the Dabaonons. The guerilla soldiers launched attacks to reclaim the towns that were occupied by the Japanese garrisons and controlled the unoccupied territories .
The guerilla movement in the then Davao Province was so effective that in 1944 they were able to establish the civil government of the Free Davao with Pantaleon A. Pelayo as the governor. A year later, in January 2, 1945, its seat of government was established at Magugpo, Tagum. This aided in the construction of a landing field for the United States Army’s C-47 cargo plane in Magdum, Tagum called “Farm 7,” which hastened the delivery of arms and food to the guerilla fighters.
In May 3 to 10, 1945, the Filipino guerillas under the 107th Division of the United States Force in the Philippines (USFIP) fought a ferocious but victorious battle against the advancing Japanese soldiers at Ising River in Carmen. Even with inadequate ammunition and food supply, the weary guerrilla fighters stood their ground and defeated the enemy.
The victory of the Dabaonon warriors in the renowned "Battle of Ising" went down the history as monumental in the liberation of Mindanao during World War II. It is a decisive battle that was not given due account in history books unlike the battles in Luzon, where the Filipinos were defeated. It is unfortunate that though it was one of the most successful guerilla movement during the Japanese occupation, little is written about the exploits of our brave guerilla soldiers.
To honor the gallantry of the Dabaonon fighters, the Provincial Government of Davao del Norte built a 30-feet high monument on the same spot where bloodiest battle took place, which was just a few meters away from the Japanese garrison.
Through a P23-million grant from the Tourism Infrastructure Economic Zone Authority (TIEZA), the shrine is being developed into a Heritage Park, complete with the Peace Shrine, amphitheatre, tunnel and chapels for visitors to enjoy.
This important stage in the history of the Province of Davao del Norte was included in the DavNor Singkwenta Historical Exhibit at the DavNor Pavilion as a highlight of the Kadagayaan Festival 2017 that marks the 50th Araw ng Davao del Norte celebrations.