February 29, 2024

The annual Christmas tour offering of Kapangan, Benguet will feature Camp Utopia, which was the refuge of Igorot guerillas and American soldiers during World War II.

Mayor Manny Fermin said the event is set for two days and one night where activities will center at Camp Utopia at Liteng, Sagubo. 

The historical site was the camp of the legendary 66th Infantry division of the United States Armed Forces in the Philippines-North Luzon composed of United States and Philippine Army soldiers, reservists, and civilian volunteers during the Japanese occupation.

Fermin said the site was also the origin of the grand march, the municipality’s official community dance.

He said when the soldiers and guerillas heard of the surrender of Imperial Japanese Army Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, they burst into dancing with the community, with the American soldiers leading the dance, which eventually became a staple dance among the i-Kapangans until now. 

He said the site has a cave where the guerillas and American soldiers hid, which is now part of the agro-forest site of the municipality.

“The trees will be preserved, and it is a good historical place for the young generation so they would know our history,” Fermin said. 

This year’s Christmas ed Kapangan will limit the number of tourists. The focus will be on the employees of the municipality, to create a sense of appreciation and knowledge about the history and beauty of their place. This in turn, he said, would help them promote Kapangan to others.  

Camp Utopia boasts of trails, camp sites surrounded by mountains, and a view of waterfalls, which then powered a micro hydroelectric power used by the guerillas during WW II while encamped at the place.

Fermin also announced the town will have its Christmas lighting and establishment of a Christmas village night market on Dec. 15.

He said the night market will be opened for the residents and guests to enjoy. The tents, showcasing food and non-food items, will be set up at the provincial road until Jan. 15.  Several events such as Christmas jingle, dancing, and singing competitions are also lined up  to showcase the talents of the youth. – Ofelia C. Empian