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    Zablan Airfield (Camp Murphy Airfield, Manila East Airfield) NCR Philippines
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PAAC 1935

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U.S. Army August 15, 1941

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Tony Feredo 2000

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Justin Taylan 2009

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Tony Feredo 2009
Location
121° 4' 0" E / 14° 35' 0" N  Zablan Airfield was located to the east of Highway 54 (EDSA) and Cubao in Quezon Cityto the north of Manila. Also known as Camp Murphy Airfield or Manila East Airfield. One mile to the east was Zablan Auxiliary Airfield.

Construction
Built prewar by the U.S. Army at Camp Murphy with a pair of intersecting sod runways adjacent to the parade ground at Camp Murphy. This was the first constructed military airfield manned by the Philippine Constabulary Air Corps (PCAC). Intended primarily for pilot training, the PCAC later became the Philippine Army Air Corps (PAAC) on December 23, 1935.

Naming Honors
Renamed Zablan Airfield in honor of Major Porfirio E. Zablan, PAAC pilot who died in a plane crash on June 17, 1935.

Prewar
On August 15, 1941 at a ceremony at Zablan Field, the Philippine Army Air Corps (PAAC) was inducted into the U.S. Army and incorporated into the Far East Air Force (FEAF). The ceremony inside the hanger was attended by General Douglas MacArthur, Lt. Col. Richard K. Sutherland, Col. Harold H. George, Lt. Col. William F. Marquat and Major LeGrande A. Diller with Boeing P-26s parked outside. At the time the PAAC consisted of 141 pilots, 17 ground officers, 1,200 enlisted men plus 64 aircraft under Commanding Officer (C.O.) Major Basilio Fernando.

The first class of six PAAC students: Alandy, Villamor, Reyes, Zosa, Cruz, Wuirante and Padilla had no uniforms other than overalls and none were accommodated at Zablan, and had to be shuttled to the field using the only four wheel drive vehicle. While serving on the staff of U.S. Army General MacArthur, his subordinate, Major Dwight Eisenhower learned to fly with the PAAC at Zablan Airfield.

Philippine Army Corps Units based at Zablan
6th Pursuit Squadron (P-26) 1941

Japanese Usage
During early January 1942 occupied by the Japanese when they entered Manila. The Japanese expanded Zablan Airfield with two intersecting runways further to the southeast in an inverted L shape. One runway was east to west while the other was north to south. Used by the Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) fighter aircraft.

Japanese units based at Murphy
29th Sentai (Ki-44, Ki-84) also Zablan Auxiliary Airfield

Postwar
After the war, it was renamed Camp Emilio Aguinaldo (first president of the Philippines). Since Highway 54 (old name of EDSA) split the Camp Murphy, the other half located on the eastern side of Highway 54 was later named Camp Crame (after Brig Gen Rafael Crame, the first Filipino PC chief), where the Philippine Constabulary was headquartered. Now its the HQ of the Philippine National Police.

Today
Disused as an airfield since the war, it is now known as "Camp Aguinaldo". Today, it is the national headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), located close to the national headquarters of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The former Japanese runways forms the roads of White Plains Avenue and a portion of Katipunan Avenue, just in front of White Plains subdivisions. If you happen to pass by Santolan Avenue, the two concrete water towers fronting the entrance are original since the 1930s.

Tony Feredo adds:
"I have a photo of Zablan taken from the air which shows the entire compound and reservoir plus a sketch of the Japanese enhanced runways. The hangar is now a basketball court but it was said that it was moved from its original location. I hope its still there up to now."

Armed Forces of the Philippines Museum (AFP Museum)
Located at General Arturo Enrile Building behind parade ground

References
Thanks to Tony Feredo for additional information
Wings Over The Philippines, page 37
Pacific War Airfields Project - Zablan (Camp Murphy, Manila East)

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Last Updated
April 30, 2021

 

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121° 4' E
14° 35' N

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