115th Ablan Day celebration in Ilocos Norte goes virtual

ABLAN DAY. August 9 is a special non-working day in Ilocos Norte pursuant to Republic Act 6941. This is to commemorate the birth anniversary of Roque Ablan Sr., a World War II hero and labor leader. (Contributed photo)

LAOAG CITY – The celebration of Ablan Day in Ilocos Norte is always a happy day for party-loving Ilocanos. But due to the pandemic, the 115th birth anniversary of the late Governor Roque Ablan Sr. on Monday has been conducted in a virtual commemoration. A quick visit at the Ablan Shrine in this city was also made exclusive to family members.

Pursuant to Republic Act 6941 which declared August 9 a special non-working holiday in Ilocos Norte, Governor Matthew Joseph Manotoc enjoins all Ilocanos to commemorate the memory of the late governor and labor leader.

“With the governor’s approval, only 15 attendees were allowed to gather at the Ablan Shrine on Monday morning,” said Triscia Alexandra “Trixie” Ablan, a fourth generation descendant of the late Ablan Sr.

Personnel of the Laoag City police also paid tribute to one of the province’s heroic leaders through a simple wreath-laying ceremony with 21 gun salute.

In his Facebook post, Atty. Kristian Ablan, Undersecretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), recalled they used to have grand celebrations back then. “Especially when Dad (Ablan Jr.) was still alive. There’s a guest speaker, parade, and band exhibition but not anymore because of the pandemic,” he said.

Nonetheless, the memories of the old man never waned in the hearts and minds of the people in this part of Luzon as they remember him as a heroic leader along with his fellow Ilokano guerrillas who fought the Japanese invaders during World War II.

History records show that Ablan Sr. was the only governor in Northern Luzon who did not surrender when the Japanese landed in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. He refused to extend his cooperation to the Japanese and opted to leave the provincial capitol of Laoag to avoid arrest and transferred the seat of government to a remote barrio near the boundary of Ilocos Norte and Apayao. From there, Ablan Sr. organized an armed force together with Lt. Feliciano Madamba of the Philippine Army, which became known as the “Ablan-Madamba Guerilla Group of Northern Luzon”. He died in battle at age 36.

For the Ablan family, public service has remained up to this day as the late Roque Ablan Jr. followed his dad’s footsteps as he served the Philippine Congress from 1967 to 2010.

“I continue what they started by serving the executive branch as an undersecretary, while my nephew RB serves at the Laoag City Council,” the young Ablan said.

Laoag City Councilor Roque Benjamin “RB” Ablan also noted that their family is always inspired and well-grounded for bearing the name Ablan.

Previously, the Ablan family, in cooperation with volunteers from the Philippine Red Cross, Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Ilocos Norte Chapter, Ilocos Norte Medical Society through a joint collaboration of the Provincial and City Health Offices, and the Philippine Obstetrics and Gynecological Society, conducted simultaneous bloodletting, legal clinic, medical mission and prenatal checkup, among others. (PNA

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