A Tragic Ending At Baybay Town’s Holiday Theater

Tragedy During The Town Fiesta

Tuesday, December 28, 1982—At 4:00pm a terrorist grenade was thrown inside the Holiday Theater along A. Luna Street (now D. Veloso St.) killing ten (10) people and injuring another sixty (60). Most victims in the tragedy were students. Owned by the Torres Family, Holiday Theater was the town’s biggest cinema that played first-run movies that featured a premium balcony seating. 

Unfortunately, the perpetrators were not caught, and the town lived in fear for weeks, since several more threats had been made to the town officials. But precautions were under high alert particularly at the Franciscan College of the Immaculate Conception (FCIC) as the school was marked as a bombing target. The poblacion was like a “ghost town” for days as residents were afraid leaving their homes.

Classes at FCIC resumed on January 5, 1983, but attendance was poor because many students were still living in terror from the bombing of the cinema theater on December 28, 1982.

Rare photo taken during the aftermath of the bombing. Photo by Menchie Gabriel

The nuns received threats that FCIC would be bombed, but they continued teaching. Police were notified and security personnel were readily provided around the campus premises.

Rumors stated that January 13 and 14, 1983 were the target days for the FCIC bombing. Nothing happened, however, on those two days. But just before the end of the month, the sisters found a letter threatening the school on January 30, 1983 if certain conditions involved CAT (Citizens Army Training) were not met.

A tactical inspection had been scheduled for that morning, and when the day finally arrived the atmosphere was tense. Additional police security was deployed to protect the students and spectators as well to assist in the protection of the military personnel conducting the inspection. To the great relief of the FCIC sisters and the citizens of Baybay, the day has ended peacefully.

The whole town lived in fear and people stayed in their homes for weeks. Photo by Menchie Gabriel

Who Were The Perpetrators?

In an newspaper article dated January 1, 1983 by Toledo Blade, communist guerillas lobbed a grenade from the balcony into the orchestra section of the theater.

A statement from Armed Forces (AFP) Chief Gen. Fabian Ver said three suspected members of the Communist New People’s Army (NPA) were seen dashing outside the moviehouse seconds after the explosion. 

TRIVIA: The movie last shown during the incident was “Guillermo Soliman”, a drama film directed by Romy Suzara, featuring Rudy Fernandez, Paquito Diaz, Rio Locsin and George Estregan.

Actual digital version of the newspaper print from Toledo Blade

Reference: M.J. Scheetz, History of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration: Eastern Province, 1940 To 2006 pp.522-523


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