Plaza Cuartel in Palawan – Philippines
Plaza Cuartel is located in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. It is located along Taft street, in Barangay Liwanag, just across the Immaculate Conception Church, the city’s main cathedral. It is now a part of the town plaza complex in front of the cathedral. You will see a gate and the tourist police are also posting on that area for assistance. Moreover, the place looks like your ordinary park with concrete pavements, towering trees and benches. It is also near the wharf of Puerto Princesa so one can get a good view of Puerto Bay. As you enter the gate, you will see the garrison and tunnels that are witness to WW II history.
Today’s Leisure Park
This is a good spot to take a rest and just enjoy the beauty of nature by looking out to the clear blue sea of Palawan. Aside from getting close to nature, the Plaza Cuartel has a story of darkness to tell because of the events that happened here near the end of World War II.
Bronze Marker Plaza Cuartel Entrance Gates
The plaza has a bronze marker that contains the name of eleven prisoners of war (POW) who managed to survive the horrible massacre that happened in this place. The bronze marker is placed above the area where main underground bunkers existed. These bunkers became the cage for the unfortunate prisoners.
The words engraved on the bronze marker are:
“Sa pook na ito na dating tanggulang militar noong Ikalawang Digmaang Pandaigdig naganap ang pagsunog ng mga sundalong hapon sa humigit kumulang 150 Amerikanong bihag ng digma noong 14 Disyembre 1944. Ilang nakaligtas ay lumangoy sa dagat patungong Iwahig. Ang mga labi ng nasawi ay dinala at inilibing sa St. Louis County sa isang panlahatang libingan sa Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, Missouri, United States, 1952.”
The English translation of these words is:
“In this place which was a military fort of World War II, the burning of more or less 150 American POW was done by Japanese soldiers on December 14, 1944. Some managed to survive by swimming their way out from the sea to Iwahig. The remains of those who died were brought and buried in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, Missouri, United States, 1952.”
Palawan WWII Memorial
Roster of the known Palawan Massacre victims compiled from Lorna Murray and Abie Abraham’s list
James RoeUS ArmyHenry Aroujo
William T. Brown
George Manzi Richard McAnany
Kenneth O. Smith
This tragic event happened when the World War II was about to end. The Plaza Cuartel was first a military garrison of Spaniards, then of the Americans and overtaken by the by Japanese during WW II. When the Japanese soldiers realized that they were losing the war, put all its prisoners in the dungeon, poured out drums of petroleum over them and lit them up alive. Luckily 11 out of 143 was able to escape by swimming across Puerto Bay to IWAHIG which is currently popular as a prisoner colony tourist destination. The eleven survivors who escaped narrated the story we know today.
The Survivors Memorial
The 11 survivors:
After the world war, the Americans took control of the place once again until it was passed on to the Constabulary. Later on, it was given to the National Police. In 1997, it was renovated and became a leisure park.