Leyte Landing Memorial

  Who could ever forget the famous statement -- 'I shall return'?

During the height of the Japanese attack in the Philippines, Gen. MacArthur had to leave the country. Gen. MacArthur vowed, upon reaching Australia, “I shall return“. Contrary to some misconceptions, these famous lines were uttered not when Gen. MacArthur left the Philippines, from his headquarters in

The Leyte Landing Memorial is a memorial to the landing of General Douglas MacArthur and his men at Red Beach. It is located in Candahug, a barangay of the municipality of Palo in the province of Leyte, part of the Visayas. Also known as the MacArthur Landing Memorial Park, the memorial consists of larger-than-life bronze statues of the general with other men, including then Philippine president Sergio Osmeña, Jr., standing in a manmade pool. The memorial was erected in tribute to MacArthur’s fulfillment of his promise to return to the Philippines after it was occupied by the Japanese during World War II in the Philippines. The Japanese Occupation of the Philippines ended soon after MacArthur landed at Red Beach on October 20, 1944 with 225,000 troops and 600 ships. The anniversary of this event is commemorated annually at the park with a reenactment of the famous landing, attended by local and foreign dignitaries.

Found at Red Beach in Barangay Candahug, Palo, Leyte, 5 kilometers away from the provincial capital of Tacloban City, the memorial marks the exact spot where MacArthur and other important personages waded ashore in the knee-high waters. Red Beach, so named due to the U.S. military’s color-coding scheme, was also the site where the 6th Army of the United States stormed ashore shortly before MacArthur’s return. A museum nearby displays historic photographs, a copy of MacArthur’s speech, and bronze casts of his footprints. Close by is the 50th Leyte Landing Anniversary Commemorative Rock Garden of Peace. Other nearby attractions include the historic Hills 120 and 522, which also figured in World War II, and the first-class MacArthur Beach Resort.

The park is 4 ½ hectares in land area. Along with MacArthur, President Sergio Osmeña, General Carlos P. Romulo, General Sutherland and other men are depicted here in the act of wading onshore. About 10 feet tall and cast in bronze, the statues of the important personages stand in a manmade pond. Plaques with the General’s significant words can be seen in front of the statues. On the left-hand plaque is written MacArthur’s promise, entitled “Proclamation,” while on the right-hand plaque is “A Memorial for a Fulfilled Promise.”

Apart from being a historic site, Red Beach is known for its natural beauty. An excellent view of Leyte Gulf, San Pedro Bay, and Samar Island is visible from the site of the park.

One would notice that the beach brown to black — not red. The “red” in Red Beach doesn’t refer to the natural color of the sand, but its color after being drenched in blood.

The Leyte Landing Memorial commemorates the historic return of the flamboyant general, together with hundreds of thousands of men and hundreds of ships, on October 20, 1944. It was the start of the end of Japanese occupation in the Philippines. October 20 is celebrated every year, as the anniversary of the Leyte Landing.

How to get there..

  The town of Palo is adjacent to, and the Memorial is a few minutes from, Tacloban City, the capital of the province of Leyte.

There are no taxis in Tacloban City, so you could hire a tricycle, a ubiquitous mode of Philippine public transportation that resembles the famous German sidecar, in going to the park (yes, the Germans were also part of the Axis powers during World War II, but they were confronting the Allied powers in Europe, not here in the Pacific).

Commuting to MacArthur Shrine takes just two rides from Tacloban airport. First, ride a Tacloban bound jeep outside the Tacloban Aiport arrival area. Alight on the area known to the locals as Coca Cola (a park with a Coke factory with prominent Coke, Sprite and Royal giant cans as landmarks), cross the street then transfer to a jeepney bound for Baras (not Marasbaras) that passes by the park.

Those who took RORO buses or ferries to Tacloban can go there by taking a jeepney to Tacloban City center and transfer to Baras-bound jeeps near Tacloban Market, even Robinsons Tacloban mall.

History of Leyte Landing Memorial

 Under the lucid azure waters of the white sand beaches of Palo, on Leyte Island in the Philippines, lie the thick carcass of bombed warships that sank to the deep along with the lives of thousands of soldiers and sailors from warring nations during WWII.

MacArthur made his promise to return to the Philippines when the Japanese occupied the country in 1942. By this time, the Allies had already decided to attack Japan directly rather than battle the Japanese in the Philippines. MacArthur, however, convinced President Roosevelt and Pacific Commander Chester Nimitz to send forces to the Philippines to fight against the Japanese forces that had overtaken the country. The U.S. 6th Army stormed the beach, following which MacArthur arrived in the company of Osmena, Romulo, the U.S. Fifth Air Force, and the U.S. Seventh Fleet under Vice Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid on October 20, 1944. The U.S. Forces defeated the Japanese soon afterward in the famous Battle of Leyte Gulf.

Statues were erected at the site to commemorate the event. During the term of President Ferdinand Marcos, First Lady Imelda Marcos, who originated from the province, developed the memorial site. It was then named Imelda Park but the original name MacArthur Park was restored after the Marcoses left the country. The historic stretch of beach was turned into the MacArthur Landing Memorial Park in time for the golden jubilee of the Leyte Landing in 1994.