Sunday, September 2, 2007

47. CAMP DAU

WELCOME, SOLDIER. The Golden Gate of Camp Dau, at barangay Dau. Mabalacat, flanked by two upright shells of bombs, leading to the military barracks. Circa 1ate 1938-1940.

There was a time in the 1970s when barangay Dau was even more recognizable than its mother town, eclipsing Mabalacat with its nationally famous PX business. Who would think that this town’s biggest and most populous barangay was once just a forest thicket where hardwood Dau trees (Dracontomelon Dao) grew in profusion and provided the barrio’s landmark?

Since its foundation in 1843 (Teodoro Lising is listed as its fundador), Dau’s strategic location has always been well noted by our colonizers. When Fort Stotsenburg was laid out by the Americans in 1902, a Dau access was added to the fort. Meanwhile, the Manila-Dagupan Railroad provided a rail extension from Dau into Stotsenburg, used primarily as a military railroad. A Post Exchange was also located in Dau, presaging the rise of the barangay as the country’s future PX capital.

In 1936, the same year that Dau was proclaimed a barrio of Mabalacat, then Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon issued a decree establishing Camp DAU as the 1st training cadre in Dau Checkpoint at Stotsenburg. The camp offered basic infantry and vocational training for five and a half months to young 20 year old Filipino males who were required to register every April starting 1936, for military service. Based on stories of retired superiors, DAU was an acronym for Division Artillery Unit, since it was the first training unit of the Philippine Army. It has been suggested that the Dau got its name from this unit, but this cannot be possible as the town name was already in existence on maps much earlier than 1936.

The camp played a significant part in the new army’s development as the better-educated trainees were sent to study artillery fundamentals under the expert guidance of the 24th Field Artillery officers. In 1938, Camp DAU was expanded to include the officers’ quarters . The camp was renamed “Camp Del Pilar” by the Philippine Army, after revolutionary hero Gen. Gregorio del Pilar.

In January 1937, training began with the arrival of 1,500 new conscripts who were put under the command of Philippine Scout and Army Officer, Gen. Fidel Segundo, a 1917 graduate of the U.S. West Point. Two decades earlier, Segundo had been the first Filipino officer assigned to Stotsenburg’s Scout artillery regiment. He had also been one of 6 elite officers picked for the pioneer school for aerial observers led by the 3rd Aero Squadron in 1920.

With the development of the Philippine Army Air Corps in full swing, the facilities of Stotsenburg took on a more prominent role. In 2000, the local government of Mabalacat proposed to develop a tourist spot inside the old site of Camp Dau at the Clark Air Base Command (CABCOM) area. A mini-park was planned as well as the restoration of a symbolic marker with the approval of the Military Shrine Commission, to honor the patriotism of thousands of young Filipino trainees who heeded the call of duty at a most auspicious time in our history.
(10 May 2003)

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