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FOR years, 77-year-old Ed Montalvan has been knocking on the doors of senior military officials for recognition of his father, the late Major Jose Manuel Corrales Montalvan, a local war hero.
Montalvan, a journalist and former president of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club, wants Camp Evangelista or any military installation named in honor of his father Gold.
“For 17 years this has been my dream and I’ve been pursuing it, talking to every Army general I’ve met,” Montalvan said.
Ed’s father, Jose Manuel, served as the commander of Camp Bulua, which was then known as Camp Evangelista from which it got its name.
The elder Montalvan, born on March 17, 1903, is a native of Cagayan de Oro, then the capital city of Misamis Second District province.
After his childhood in Cagayan de Oro, Montalvan studied at the Philippine Dental College in Manila and graduated with honors with the degree of Doctor in Dental Surgery.
Later, Montalvan pursued a military career and joined the US Army Reserve and was commissioned as a first lieutenant. He later joined the newly formed Philippine Army and became a First Lieutenant again.
“My father succumbed to the trap of a full-time military career. He joined the newly formed Philippine Army,” said son Ed.
Ed said his father was assigned to Camp Evangelista and later became its camp commander on January 1, 1940, until World War II broke out in the Philippines.
The elder Montalvan was arrested and imprisoned on the campus of Xavier University, which was turned into a prison camp by the Japanese.
According to an account given by Lt. Col. Arthur Eamiguel, commander of the 4th Infantry Division Installation Management Battalion, the elder Montalvan escaped from the prison camp and joined the guerrillas under US Army Colonel Wendel Fertig.
Eamiguel said for his services during the war, Montalvan was awarded the Philippine Defense Medal, American Defense Medal, Asiatic-Paciic Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Philippine Republic Unit Citation Badge, and US Distinguished Unit Badge.
Ed said his father died on September 11, 1978, forgotten by the new generation of military officers and residents.
“I pleaded with every general about my father’s case but all I got were empty promises,” said Ed.
Ed said until he met and talked with Major General Jose Maria Cuerpo, commander of the Army 4th Infantry Division, at a hotel in downtown Cagayan de Oro.
He said Cuerpo agreed to rename the new Division Multi-Purpose Building at Camp Evangelista as Montalvan Hall in honor of his father, the first commander of Camp Evangelista.
“Within less than 30 minutes of conversation, Cuerpo agreed to my request. In 30 minutes everything I’ve worked for over the years was given to the good general,” said Ed.
On June 19, Cuerpo and a small family of Montalvans unveiled the marker that changed the building’s name to Montalvan Hall.
“He was a hero and a veteran who served in the USAFFE in Mindanao against the Japanese Imperial Army in World War II,” read the marker placed at the building’s entrance.
Ed said he held back his emotions when he saw Army soldiers also pull back the curtain to reveal a wooden frame “Montalvan Hall” placed on the building’s entrance door.
“I have goosebumps. I did everything for my dad and now dreams have come true,” he said.
Cuerpo said that he was aware of Ed’s condition while he was serving as assistant to Lt. General Cardozo Luna, former commander of the Army Joint Task Force Mindanao in 2005.
“I see Ed’s crusade for his father as worth it. Renaming the building for his father honors a hero of the Second World War and above all as the first camp commander who started everything at Camp Evangelista,” said Cuerpo.
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