Panay Liberation Day in the Philippines Date in the current year: March 18, 2024

Panay Liberation Day in the Philippines Panay Liberation Day (Araw ng Liberasyon ng Panay) is celebrated every March 18 on the Philippine islands of Panay, Guimaras and Romblon. It commemorates the liberation of Panay from the Japanese occupation during the 1945 Battle of Visayas.

Japan attacked the Commonwealth of the Philippines on December 8, 1941, nine hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor. After several major battles, the combined Filipino-American army was defeated by Japanese forces, and the Japanese Empire occupied the Philippines on May 8, 1942.

Even though American troops withdrew from the archipelago, there were multiple active and successful underground guerrilla groups throughout the Philippines. As time passed, the Filipino resistance grew stronger, and the guerrilla groups started to work with the Americans to lay the foundation for the liberation of the Philippines: General MacArthur provided them with arms, explosives, and various supplies, whereas the guerrillas gathered important intelligence information and sabotaged Japanese communication lines.

In no small part thanks to the assistance of the Filipino guerrillas, General MacArthur was able to launch the Philippines campaign in late 1944. The liberation of the Philippines started in the Visayas region with the landing of the U.S. Sixth Army on the island of Leyte on October 20, 1944. The Allied victory in the Battle of Leyte on December 26, 1944 was the first major victory in the Philippines campaign.

Another important battle of the Philippine campaign was the Battle of Visayas, the main goal of which was to capture the isolated islands of Panay, Negros, Cebu and Bohol in the Visayas region. In the beginning of March 1945, the Americans bombarded Japanese positions on the island of Panay. On March 18, the 40th Infantry Division landed several miles south of Iloilo City.

Together with a Filipino guerrilla force led by Colonel Macario Peralta Jr., the Americans took control of Panay, cornering the Japanese in Iloilo City. Iloilo fell on March 20; on the same day, the combined Filipino-American forces took control of the islands of Guimaras and Inampulagan. On March 29, American troops landed on Negros.

The capture of Panay and the landing on Negros were part of Operation VICTOR I, while the subsequent capture of Cebu, Bohol and southeastern Negros were part of Operation VICTOR II. The Japanese positions had fallen by June, although fighting with the scattered Japanese troops that had fled into the jungle continued until the capitulation of Japan on August 15, 1945.

Panay Liberation Day, also known as Panay Landing Day, was inaugurated by President Corazon Aquino, who declared March 18 a special non-working holiday on Panay, Guimaras and Romblon (although Romblon was actually liberated a week before the commencement of the Battle of Visayas). The holiday commemorates the beginning of the Battle of Visayas and honors the people who liberated the Visayas region from the Japanese.

Panay Liberation Day is marked by a remembrance ceremony held at the Balatang Memorial Cemetery National Shrine in Iloilo City, the country’s only military cemetery outside Metro Manila. It is a veterans cemetery and the burial place of Macario Peralta Jr. Various celebrations are also organized by veterans associations and other stakeholders.

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Panay Liberation Day in the Philippines, holidays in the Philippines, special non-working holidays, Battle of Visayas