By Tito Mike
Cagayan de Misamis was liberated by Filipino Guerrillas on May 12, 1945 after a four-day operation with the help of close air support from the Americans.
The units involved in the so-called general offensive were the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 110th Infantry Regiment which secured the Bugo-Tagoloan area of Misamis Oriental’s eastern coastline, while the 109th Infantry Regiment’s 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions secured the western coastline and did the actual liberation of West Cagayan and its Poblacion, with another three battalions from the 111th Regiment, 109th Division covering the right flank, and the 120th regiment, 108th Division based in Iligan, supporting the left flank with 300 enlisted men.
The 110th Division mission was to secure the eastern coast of Cagayan, specifically the Bugo-Tagoloan area to protect the right flank of the US 108th Regimental Combat Team (RCT) of the 40th Division charged with capturing the northern terminus of the key Sayre Highway.
Col. Wendell W. Fertig, commanding officer of the 10th Military District, was authorized by Maj. Gen. Franklin C. Sibert, commanding officer of the X Corps, to eliminate the Japanese forces at the Bugo-Tagoloan area. Fertig ordered the 1st Battalion (Bn), 110th Infantry Regiment under Maj. Rosauro P. Dongallo, Sr. to undertake the mission.
From 27 April 1945 till the eve of the Macajalar Bay landing on 09 May 1945, guerrillas fought a see-saw battle with Japanese garrison troops in Tagoloan and Bugo, with air support from American B-24 Liberators and B-25 Mitchell bombers.
Guerrillas of the ‘Eastern Front’
The 110th Infantry Regiment was actively involved in two key operations against Japanese garrison troops in 1945.
On 22 April 1945, it destroyed the Japanese barge staging area at Talisayan, Misamis Oriental and ejected the garrison troops permanently with the assistance of the US Navy Task Group 70.4. This Talisayan operation is historically significant because it was the first amphibious guerrilla offensive against the Japanese- the first of several successful operations in conjunction with Task Group. 70.4.
From 27 April to 09 May 1945, the 110th Infantry Regiment was the primary offensive unit in the Tagoloan-Bugo operations which cleared Japanese garrison troops from the Eastern side of Cagayan and protected the right flank of the US Army’s 108th Regimental Combat Team (RCT), of the 41st “Sunrise” Division which landed at Tin-ao, Agusan, Cagayan on 10 May 1945, ultimately leading to the capture of the Sayre Highway in Bukidnon, and leading to the Liberation of Cagayan on 12 May 1945 by Filipino Guerrillas.
Captain Ramon M. Onahon (photo from Onahon Family Collection)
Maj. Rosauro P. Dongallo Sr. was the commanding officer of the 110th Infantry Regiment, 110th Division. The regiment’s officers included 1st Lt Othelo Emano -1st battalion commander; 1Lt Emeterio Moreno – S1 & Hq Co; 1Lt Pablo Borja– S4; 1Lt Crispin Joaquin, S2 & S3;1Lt Gerardo Sabal Medical Co; 2Lt company commanders were Vicente Genzola, Co. A ; Romulo Kionisala, Co. B ; , Co. C ; Francisco Abbarientos, Co. D ; & S1; Abundio Dimaano, Combat Co.
2nd Battalion was commanded by 1Lt. Antonio Mortis. The company commanders were 1Lt Quintin Bardilas, 1Lt Agapito Nadel, 1Lt Bartolome Pajamapan, 1Lt Monico Clemena. 2nd Lts were Aladino Blando; Marcos Cacho; Eleuterio Collado; Teodoro Iballe; Vicente Lucas; Agripino Nanundo, Alejandrino Prado; Emilio Valde; and Leonardo Tiro.
Following are brief sketches of some officers and men of this unit who actively participated in the Bugo-Tagoloan operations.
Major Rosauro P. Dongallo, Sr.
Major Rosauro P. Dongallo, Sr. entered military service when he was drafted at the age of 20 and sent for training to Camp Dau in Mabalacat, Pampanga where he was commissioned as Third Lieutenant of the Philippine Army in 1940 and was called up for active duty the following year.
Major Rosauro P. Dongallo Sr., 81st FA, 81st-Division, USAFFE (tribute artwork by Philip M. Garcia)
When World War II broke out, he was first assigned to Camp Carmen in Bohol; thence to Majuyod, Negros Oriental; and eventually to Bugo, Misamis Oriental in 1942.
Between 2 and 3 January 1942, the 61st and 81st Field Artillery Regiments were relocated by ship to Cagayan from Panay and Negros, respectively, as part of a large scale relocation of troops from the Visayas to Mindanao in order to strengthen the defenses of the latter.
The 61st and 81st Field Artillery were organized and equipped as infantry, due to the lack of artillery. As a lieutenant, Dongallo was a platoon commander in the 81st Field Artillery, and had a reputation for being fearless, calculating and cool.
When he later joined the guerrillas following the USAFFE surrender to the Japanese, the 110th Regiment based in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental was most active under the commend of Maj. Dongallo. He is remembered for retrieving some P143,000 in emergency notes from the Provincial Building during the guerrilla siege of Butuan by the 110th and 113th Regiments on March 3-10, 1943, under constant Japanese enfilading fire from a distance of some 20 meters.
His regiment also figured in the advance of the Americans on Malaybalay in May 1945, and subsequent mopping up operations of the enemy in that sector. It also contributed to the collection and processing of intelligence information for the Tenth Military District.
After World War II ended, Dongallo retired active military duty and served served as vice governor of Misamis Oriental in 1972, and became acting governor when then Governor Concordio Diel was appointed as Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government in 1974. On March 30, 1976, Dongallo was sworn into office as the twentieth Governor of Misamis Oriental by President Ferdinand E. Marcos at Malacañang.
As a public official, Dongallo belonged to the “old school” of public service, denying himself the benefits and trappings that came with his office. Some of the old people still remember him as the governor who took the motorela to office. In 1976, he was recognized as the “Most Outstanding Governor of the Philippines.”
Rodolfo A. Moreno
3rd Lt. Rodolfo A. Moreno was third oldest sibling of the four sons of Jose Moreno of Balingasag, Misamis Oriental, who joined the guerrillas.
Born on 05 June 1920 in Balingasag, Rodolfo was a college student and cadet officer at the Ateneo de Cagayan when World War II broke out and enlisted in the Philippine Army and subsequently absorbed into the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) under Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
2nd Lt Rodolfo Moreno
Before the war he served as a Finance Services Clerk at the General Headquarters in Manila and was inducted under the Provisional Battalion, 31st Infantry, Philippine Army as Platoon Sergeant when World War II broke out.
Moreno fought with the 31st Infantry, Philippine Army under Brigadier General Clifford Bluemel defending the Abucay-Morong position under the I Philippine Corps and later transferred to 3rd Battalion of the unit. After the Fall of Bataan, he survived the Bataan Death March despite being stricken with malaria, and incarceration as a prisoner-of-war at the concentration camp in Capas, Tarlac.
After taking an oath of allegiance to Imperial Japan, Rodolfo was released just before Christmas Day on December 23, 1942 and slipped back to Mindanao where he was joyfully received by his family who believed he perished in Bataan. He spent the next ten months recuperating from his illness and incarceration with his family at their hometown in Balingasag before he signed up with the guerrillas in October 1944.
From 09 Oct 1944 to 9 January 1945, Rodolfo was assigned as Platoon Commander of the Headquarters Platoon, 110th Infantry Regiment, before he was transferred to D Company of the same unit on 10 January 1945 where he served as Platoon Commander of the 2nd Platoon from 10 January to 28 May 1945. On 1 May 1945 he was commissioned as a 3rd Lieutenant.
During this time, he and his unit participated two of the most successful guerrilla operations against the Japanese garrison troops in Misamis Oriental: The Tagoloan-Bugo Clearing Operation 27 April to 09 May 1945, and the Guerrilla Raid on Talisayan, Misamis Oriental on 22 May 1945.
Guerrillas of the ‘Western Front’
The 109th Infantry Regiment’s 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions secured the western front and did the actual liberation of eastern Cagayan and its Poblacion, with another three battalions from the 111th Regiment, 109th Division covering the right flank, and the 120th regiment, 108th Division based in Iligan, supporting the left flank with 300 enlisted men.
The three battalions of the 109th Regiment, 109th Division, with headquarters in Talakag, Bukidnon, were the spearhead, led by Capt. Andres D. Bacal, 1st Battalion; Capt. Alberto Chaves, 2nd Battalion; and Capt. Marcelino Maagad, 3rd Battalion.
Three battalions from 111th Regiment, 109th Division covered the right flank. These were led by Capt. Purito Rubio, 1st Battalion; Capt. Felix Arcaña, 2nd Battalion; and Capt. Ramon M. Onahon, 3rd Battalion.
Andres D. Bacal
Andres Daba Bacal was born in Cagayan, Misamis Oriental on 17 October 1917. He was commissioned and inducted as 1st Lt. Inf., PA, ASN -37523 on 12 December 1942, and promoted to Captain, Infantry, effective 16 June 1944 by Lt. Col. Robert V. Bowler, “A” Corps commanding officer on 16 June 1944.
Captain Andres D. Bacal (Tribute artwork by Philip M. Garcia)
He served as battalion commander of the 1st Battalion, 109th Inf Rgt, 109th Division from 10 November 1942 until the liberation. He led this unit in capturing Patag Airfield on May 9, 1945 and led the advance towards the west side of Cagayan road on 11May 1945 from highway to Patag.
Bacal married Portia Abonitalla Chaves on 27 November 1943 in Tignapoloan in the midst of the Second World War, with whom he five children. He retired from active duty on 17 October 1945. He studied law at Ateneo de Cagayan but did not pass the bar exam and worked for the government afterwards in Manila until May 24, 1965 when he passed on at the relatively young age of 47.
Capt. Ramon M. Onahon
Born March 15, 1918 at Tankulan, (Manolo Fortich) Bukidnon, Onahon was a government scholar in one of the Colleges in Cebu City, when he was called up to active military service, and assigned in Malaybalay, Bukidnon on December 8, 1941 to January 15, 1942.
He distinguished himself among the Filipino soldiers who fought the Japanese invaders in Davao and Cotabato from January 16 to May 10, 1941. On June 21, 1942, Onahon slipped back to his hometown in Bag-as, Tankulan, Bukidnon where he organized The Black Widow Spiders guerrillas in August 1942, later integrated into the 3rd Battalion of the 111th Regiment, 109th Division.
On August 5, 1942, 24 Filipino and American guerillas under Capt. Onahon ambushed nine trucks manned by Japanese soldiers in Tankulan. The puny guerilla unit were situated on the plateau overlooking the Old Mangima Bridge accounted for ninety Japanese soldiers for the loss of one man. This encounter is immortalized in the Mangima Heroes Shrine in Manolo Fortich.
During the Talakag Operation the 3rd Battalion shepherded around a thousand civilian evacuees to Cagayan de Oro City via Imbatug, Baungon, Bukidnon.
From June 18 to 29 June, 1944, guerrilla units of the 109th Division engaged Japanese, Korean troops of the Imperial Japanese Army’s 41st Infantry Regiment, 30th Panther Division, the latter bolstered by Filipino Constabulary soldiers, close air and artillery support, in a running gun battle at the key Bukidnon town of Talakag. It was considered as one of the most intense battles between the guerrillas and the Imperial Japanese Army in Mindanao during World War II.
His last encounter with the enemy was between upper Managok and Cabanglasan, Malaybalay, Bukidnon on 09 June 1945 where he was ambushed and wounded. He was brought to American hospital in Valencia, Bukidnon and later airlifted to Leyte for further hospitalization.
Onahon became a Provincial Board Member of the Province of Bukidnon from 1946-1954, and passed away while serving as Municipal Mayor of Manolo Fortich on June 13, 1973.