Somebody told me

By Raul B. Ilogon
July 25, 2020


Patag: Is it term for a Plain or an Acronym for Philippine Auxiliary Tactical Air Group? That is the question this article hope to settle.


Perhaps many are not aware of the persistent marathon  debate, going 9 years, in Facebook over the definition of Patag.


As we know, Patag is the name of a particular barangay in Cagayan de Oro where Camp Edilberto Evangilista is located - the headquarters of 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.


What was known as name for a plain by generations of Kagay-anons is now being challenged by majority of respondents in Facebook page survey of Kagay-an Kaniadto. Contrary to its geographical meaning, Patag is an acronym, they insist.


A week ago I posted an online survey in Kagayan Kaniadto, asking  members what they believed to be the origin of the name Patag.The survey was one way of knowing the pulse of the respondents. The results will tell us either the new normal has taken the lead or the old norms has held firm.


I am presenting my research on the history of Patag because I believe every citizen must be knowledgeable of history, especially of their own place. Ignorance of history is like a house built with a weak foundation. It will crumble even at the slightest tremor.


On the other hand, knowledge of history would make one stand firm like a formidable castle built with a strong foundation. It may shake but not crumble even if bombarded with overwhelming popular opinion.


Kagayan Kaniadto is a closed-membership Facebook page with over 25,000 members exclusive to Kagay-anons.


The FB page was started in February 2011 by Nixon Baban. True to its name, posting must be all about old Cagayan only. Political, religious and commercial post is disapproved outright. Some members posted photos dating back to the time of Cagayan de Misamis. The trending posts were mostly Cagayan de Oro contemporary history with members exchanging lively comments and memories reminiscing a not so distant past.


The survey results show the  overwhelming majority of respondents believed Patag stands for Philippine Auxiliary Tactical Air Group. Out 190 respondents only 35 said plain. 155 for the acronym or 82% - a landslide for the Acronym proponents.


But the Patag issue, unlike election, can not be decided merely in favor of the majority. Unfortunately, the survey shows the overwhelming majority were misled from the truth. To prove my point, I will present evidence found in old photos and other primary sources. In other words, history is key.

Let us take for example the case of USAFFE. It was an acronym of U.S. forces in the Philippines during world war two. Many, including myself, thought the acronym stand for United States Armed Forces in the Far East. We were wrong.


Photo A shows the correct meaning was United States "Army" ( not Armed ) Forces in the Far East. Without the photo, I could still be misleading people reading my WW2 posting.


The following old photos show unrefutable proof why the place was indeed Patag the plain.


Photo B dated May 2, 1935, an aerial survey of a proposed Landing Field in Patag. From above, you will understand why the place was called Patag the plain. The topography was a flat terrain. Also visible were evidence of our agricultural past, the vast rice fields and coconut plantations of Kauswagan and Carmen, now bustling urban areas. This is the earliest photo of the soon to be the only Airfield built by the Americans in Cagayan during the Commonwealth period.


Photo C. A year after, September 18, 1936, airfield development started to show with two huge building structures, no visible signs of an airstrip yet.


Finally on January 9, 1939, Photo D, shows a functional  airfield with additional buildings that look like a barracks and possibly two civilian residences at the highway junction. A large circle in the middle of the field marked the airstrip. The photo was captioned Landing Field, Cagayan, Mindanao.


Photo E, taken October 11, 1944, with Cagayan Airfield and Town Heading was a reconnaissance aerial photo. It shows two landing strips and town landmarks list. Few days after the photo was taken, several military targets were bombed by U.S. forces in preparation of MacArthur return in Leyte on October 20, 1944.


Here is an excerpt the book of Fr. Haggerty, The Guerrilla Padre about the American bombing of Cagayan, as follows:


" The big convento was smouldering, and the cathedral was a pyre of flames from explosion after explosion from its sacristy rocking the city. The Japs had stored their ammunition in the cathedral,  the convento and bishops house. "


Comments for his beloved Ateneo de Cagayan where he was a rector:


" They dived from all directions, and as the thick smoke rolled up they flash in and out of it - one of the most beautiful sights, it seemed, I have ever seen. A little to the right, I knew,  was the college, and the big gymnasium that the students themselves had helped to build. It was our pride; the only one outside Manila. From that direction the smoke was the thickest,  and I felt not even a pang of regret - it was the Japanese stronghold. "


Photo F was a Japanese map of all airfields during the occupation. The Japanese built an airfield at Lumbia. Cagayan now had two airfields. The Japanese called it Cagayan South and the Cagayan Airfield of the Americans was called Cagayan West by the Japanese.


The Airfield details and other military info were shown in guerrilla hand-drawn wartime maps and declassified documents.


A portion of the airfield was donated by Don Apolinar Velez, probably in 1928 when he was the Mayor of Cagayan, Misamis. He was a Fil-Am war hero, a patriot and philanthropist. As a fitting tribute, our City's main thoroughfare was named after him. Being a man with a military background, he knew the importance of military installation to the security of the town.


In passing, I would like to mention that during the American period, Cagayan de Misamis ceased to exist . The Americans dropped the " de ". Our town was simply called Cagayan, Misamis. Kagay-an to the Cebuanos in the Visayas. Cagayan, Misamis Oriental, when Misamis was divided into two provinces. Eventually, Cagayan de Oro when it became a chartered city on June 15, 1950.


(To be continued)




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