Bessang Pass National Shrine
The Bessang Pass Natural Monument/Landmark in Cervantes, Ilocos Sur served as the backdoor to General Yamashita's last ditch defense during the last stage of World War II. It was established, managed and developed by the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB), a Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which also proclaimed it as a Protected Area. On the other hand, it was considered as a national monument under the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992.
Declared as a National Monument, the Bessang Pass National Shrine is located in the mountainous area of Barangay Malaya, Cervantes, Ilocos Sur with a total land area of 1,121 hectares. In Philippine history, it was the place where the last battle between the Filipino Guerrillas and the Japanese Imperial Army was held during the World War II.
The gun battle was then called as "Battle of Bessang Pass," in which the Filipino soldiers defeated the Japanese troop led by Gen. Tumoyuki Yamashita. More or less 3,400 men, who fought fiercely for freedom and peace during the historic "Battle of Bessang Pass" that ended on 14 June 1945, were killed and wounded in the place.
Bessang Pass is a strategic gap, 5,250 feet above sea level traversed by Highway 4, west of Cervantes, which served as the backdoor to General Yamashita's last ditch defense during the last stage of World War II. The place can be hiked from Sagada, which will entail 2 to 3 days of hike.
HB 4968 and SB 1073
The Congress played an important role in securing the protection, preservation of the beauty and historical importance of Bessang Pass.
It was on 27 November 2008 that House Bill (HB) No. 4968, authored by House Deputy Speaker Eric D. Singson, was already passed and approved after its final reading in a regular session at the Lower House and was immediately elevated to Senate for further discussion and approval. It was a bill seeking for the declaration of the historic Bessang Pass as national heritage and protected place.
On the other hand, on 4 July 2007, Senator Pia S. Cayetano has re-filed 16 bills declaring different landscapes, watersheds and marine sanctuaries across the archipelago as protected areas. Included in the re-filed bills were Senate Bill (SB) No. 1073 which was titled AN ACT ESTABLISHING THE BESSANG PASS NATURAL MONUMENT/LANDMARK IN THE MUNICIPALITY OF CERVANTES, ILOCOS SUR AS A PROTECTED AREA AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES. On 5 September 2007, the bill was read in the First Reading, in which the bill are read for transmittal to the corresponding committee, and it was thus referred to the Committee(s) on Environment and Natural Resources and Finance.
On 08 October 2008,the bill was returned and a committee report was jointly submitted by the Committee(s) on Environment and Natural Resources and Finance, recommending that it be substituted by SB No. 2671. The said bill was then consolidated and substituted by SB 2671 which was titled AN ACT ESTABLISHING THE BESSANG PASS NATURAL MONUMENT/LANDMARK IN THE MUNICIPALITY OF CERVANTES, ILOCOS SUR AS A PROTECTED AREA AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES in the Committee Report last 9 October 2008.
- PAWB List of Protected Areas
- Legislative History of Senate Bill No. 1073
- Rules of the Senate (accessed on 08 May 2009)
- "Besang Pass National Shrine"geocities, 2004.(accessed on August 17,2007)
- Lazaro, Freddie G. "Congress approves bill declaring Bessang Pass as memorial shrine and national protected area " (accessed on 08 May 2009)
- "Pia's first bills: 16 measures to protect biodiversity 'hotspots'".Senate of the Philippines 14th Congress, 5 July 2007. (accessed on 08 May 2009)
- The Official Website of the Province of Ilocos Sur
- Parks, Reserves, and Other Protected Areas in the Philippines
- Philippine Historical Sites, Churches and Religious Sites in Region 1