feature

The Live Or Die (LOD) Unit of the Mindanao Guerrillas

April 8, 2021

In time for the celebration of Araw ng Kagitingan, I would like to honor a group of patriots whose small but dangerous organization was credited to have contributed materially to the eventual defeat of  the enemy during World War II. The herioc story of these young men and women must be told. "That the organization was so effective in causing damage to the enemy is evidenced by the fact that, about 20 percent of the total membership were executed by the Japanese, " Col. Wendell Fertig,  Commanding Officer, 10th Military District, United States Forces in the Philippines ( USFIP ). Col. Fertig was not talking about the 36,000 strong guerrilla combatants in Mindanao under his command but rather to a  small propaganda, intelligence and sabotage unit with a recognized strength of 74 members in Manila under his command.  Members of this group regularly took clandestine trips to Mindanao to the headquarters of the 10th Military District highly valuable intelligence materials like information on the location of American POW concentration camps, strength of Japanese garrisons, number of planes in Japanese airfields, troops movement as well as movements of Japanese ships, gun placement and the like. On their return trip to Manila, contraband cargoes of their two-masted inter-island bancas included demolition materials like hand grenades, blasting caps, plastic and incendiary time bombs, radio transmitters for distribution to select guerrilla groups in Luzon, medicines, money and propaganda materials like chocolates candy and cigarettes with I Shall Return markings, and magazines such as Readers Digest, Life, Victory, Look and Library. Aside from propaganda and information gathering, their operation also includes sabotage, liquidation of spies and collaborators. At one time an order was received to eliminate Japanese puppet Pres. Laurel, Gen. Francisco and General Kuruda of the Japanese Imperial Army. Due to the high risks inherent in the type of operations undertaken by the unit, 19 of their 93 members were executed by the Japanese. Several others were captured and tortured but miraculously released including 5 young women. Only 3 out 9 original members of the core group survived.  LOD Founders pay the price Among those executed by the Japanese was the founding leader Capt. Jose O. Flores, who was only 25 years old at the time of his execution. His 21 year old brother and two cousins were also executed. Fortunately, his two other brothers who were also members of his organization survived the war. Capt. Jose O. Flores, a 24 year old former officer of the Philippine Scouts from the municipality of Oroquieta, Misamis Occidental, was the organizer of Live or Die, popularly known in the underground movement as LOD. Their group specialized in information gathering, propaganda, sabotage and assassination.  "The members have unanimously approved of calling the organization LOD because it was something suicidal, something so sensitive that a destructive explosion was fearlessly being hinted anytime. In a more simple way, it was literally "Live or Die," reads the Report on LOD History submitted to Fertig by Capt.Julian L. Alvarez . Capt. Flores was a Bataan Death March survivor. When he was released from Capas concentration camp he wasted no time in organizing a Sabotage and Espionage underground group. On Dec 1, 1942, inspired by the promise of Gen MacArthur to return and provoked by the cruelty of the Japanese regime, Capt. Flores started organizing the Live or Die ( LOD ) while still recuperating from an illness he got in concentration camp. The core group was composed of close friends and relatives of Capt. Jose Flores . He was the Commanding Officer and also the head of Intelligence Detachment. His brother, 1st Lt Teodorico was the executive officer. The Sabotage Detachment was commanded by his cousin, Capt. Pedro Enerio with 1Lt Antonio Rivera as executive officer. Capt. Maximo Blas, a reserve officer before the war whose wife was a town mate of Capt. Flores, was the Commanding Officer of Propaganda Detachment. The EO was 1Lt Pulturico Tabanao. All these leaders were later executed by the Japanese. In Sept. 10, 1943, 1Lts Ricardo and Guillermo Flores, brothers of Capt. Flores were released from Capas concentration camp. 1Lt Ricardo Flores took over command of Intelligence Detachment from his older brother Jose. 2lt Guillermo Flores  and their cousin 2lt. Roberto Velasquez who were assigned to the Courier Detachment. All were similarly executed  by the Japanese. The LOD was composed of  unsurrendered soldiers who escaped from Bataan and those who were released from Japanese concentration camp at Capas, Tarlac. There were also women recruits, young but brave ànd courageous. The work of LOD Sabotage Detachment delivered the most devastating blows on the enemy in the history of the guerrilla.  The targeted facilities for demolitions were oil, ammunition dump and other military facilities.  For a starter, the tunnel in San Juan, Manila, that was used as an ammunition dump was completely destroyed  but the ammunition failed to detonate. Not long after,  their success rate was increasing from 75 to 100% in terms of damage to the enemy installations and war logistical resources, such as  the oil depot at the Manila Port Area that burned and took the whole day and night to put out with 75% of the facility destroyed. They also sabotaged a Japanese oil tanker whose blast so damaged a nearby destroyer that both sank as a result. The sabotage unit's  biggest sabotage  was the complete destruction of the former  Navy Yard in Cavite which so alarmed Caviteños who thought they were being bombed by the liberating US forces. It was considered by the U.S. and the Guerrilla Forces as the biggest Sabotage in Guerrilla History.  Their intelligence reports were accurate, reliable and of great value and were forward to Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Australia by Col. Fertig. Through their Propaganda Detachment, they were successful in countering Japanese propaganda. Leaflets containing messages from President Manuel L. Quezon were also distributed along with the aforementioned "I Shall Return" marked collaterals and American magazines and other reading materials. Col. Bernard Anderson, CO of Anderson Guerrilla in Northern Luzon who often coordinated with LOD had nothing high praises to this group of young men and women.  "It was my opinion that the LOD unit  that operated in Luzon  was a unit of 15 to 20 very high caliber individuals." Col Anderson testified in an signed affidavit issued after the war.    To be continued. Source: World War 2 Declassified Documents, National Archives and Records Administration ( NARA )

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Heroes de Bataan: Death March Survivors fight again in Mindanao

April 7, 2021

Photos of Camp Casisang in Malaybalay,Bukidnon by {Pvt. Robert B. Heer, 30th Bomb. Sqdn, 19th Bomb. Gp. (H) when he was a POW.   United States Army Forces Far East (USAFFE) soldiers from Northern Mindanao who fought in Bataan and survived the Death March  managed to find their way back to Cagayan de Misamis and joined the guerrillas to continue the fight against the Imperial Japanese Army garrison troops. We feature some of their stories to commemorate our Araw ng Kagitingan and celebrate the memory of their valor and sacrifice for their beloved Philippines so that we may have the freedom we enjoy today.   The Tiano Brothers Perhaps the most remarkable Kagay-anon patriots were the Tiano siblings, for whom the Tiano Brothers street in Cagayan de Oro is named after. No less than six of the siblings, five males and one female, were involved in the war versus the Japanese occupiers in World War II. The eldest Ronaldo, was a 1st Lt. with the 7th School Squadron of the nascent Philippine Army Air Force (PAAC) Class 41-B, based at Maniquis Airfield in Cabanatuan under Lt. Benito Ebuen. They were equipped with the Stearman 76D-1 and 3 other aircraft. They also had an instructional airframe of an obsolete Martin B-10 Bomber (not in flying condition) also in Maniquis Air Field. He survived the Bataan Death March, but was released by the Japanese from the POW Camp in Capas, Tarlac and instructed to report to the Japanese headquarters in Cagayan. He came home wearing his full PAAC uniform. Instead, he joined the 120th Infantry Regiment under Maj. Angeles Limena as one of his staff. After the war he joined the newly organized Philippine Air Force (PAF) but left after 18 months to join Philippine Airlines (PAL). He died in a plane crash on Jan. 24, 1950. The second eldest sibling Nestor  was killed in action at the young age of 24 while repelling a Japanese attack at Aglaloma Point, Bataan on Jan. 23, 1942. Apollo became a 2nd Lt. and platoon leader of “C” Company, 1st Battalion, 120th Regiment, 108th Division based in Initao, Misamis Oriental. He died fighting with the 19th Battalion Combat Team (BCT) of the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK) defending Hill 191 (also called Arsenal Hill) and Hill Eerie, comprising Combat Outpost No. 8  at the Chorwon-Siboni corridor in the west central sector of  Korea on June 20,1952 while repelling a superior force of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army. The Philippine Navy’s BRP Apollo Tiano (now decommissioned) was named in his honor. Uriel became a sergeant of “A” Company, 1st Battalion, 120th Regiment, 108th Division based at Pangayawan, Alubijid, Misamis Oriental, and ended the war in the Signal Corps. The youngest brother Jaime was a private first class at only 15 years of age, and served as a medical aide of the 120th Regimental Hospital together with his sister 1st Lt. Fe B. Tiano (RN), who was the unit’s sole regimental nurse at the regimental hospital at Talacogon, Lugait, Misamis Oriental. As Cpl. Jesus B. Ilogon relates in his unpublished manuscript, Memoirs of a Guerrilla: The Barefoot Army, “Lt. Fe Tiano and PFC Jaime Tiano were engrossed in their hospital work, tending to the sick of the regimental hospital. They were so busy that they forgot to apply for their vacation, and when they did, it would be disapproved.” “This is the story of the Tianos-brave and courageous, their battles are now part of history. While they went to war, their parents Emilia Bacarrisas and Leocadio Tiano and two sisters Ruth and Emily were left in Lapad (Alubijid, now part of Laguindingan), to stoke the home fires burning,” Ilogon noted.    The Fighting Moreno Brothers Very few of the current generation are aware fifteen members of the Moreno clan of Balingasag, Misamis Oriental, fought together under one guerrilla unit based in this town. All survived the war and went on to establish their own families and had children who are now prominent figures in their own right. Most prominent among the fifteen were four male offspring of the seven sons and three daughters of Jose Gonzales Moreno and Josefina Almendrala who served with the 110th Infantry Regiment, 110th Division (Guerrilla) of the 10th Military District, United States Forces in the Philippines (USFIP) during World War II, along with a son-in-law married to the eldest of their three daughters. The third son Rodolfo joined the USAFFE and fought in Bataan, captured by the Japanese and survived the death march after which he was held captive and tortured in Capas, Tarlac. He was later released after taking an oath of allegiance to Imperial Japan and found his way back to  Balingasag where he joined his siblings Redentor, Emeterio Sr. and Manuel in the guerrillas. (see related story on page 4) Their brother in law Papias Tiro, who married their eldest sister Humildad, also fought in the same guerrilla unit. The three other brothers were Metelo, Taurino and Jose, Jr., and the two younger sisters Purisima and Nieves.   Rodolfo A. Moreno The third oldest sibling 3rd Lt. Rodolfo A. Moreno, probably had the most colorful wartime career among the four sons of Jose Moreno 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 USAFFE under Gen. Douglas MacArthur. “He was a cadet officer of Ateneo de Cagayan when  he was enlisted,” said his son, Fr. Antonio F. Moreno, S.J.  “It led him to the fall of Bataan and then to Capas, Tarlac.  He hardly spoke about his ordeal and torture in Capas.  My grandparents were told he had died.  They had a requiem Mass for him owing to an account of his friend.  My father was so furious, but happy to be reunited with his siblings and parents.” Notes on the Philippine Army of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) Digitized Collection) show that before the war Rodolfo served as a clerk at the General Headquarters.  On January 1, 1941, in the opening salvo of the war, he was inducted under the Provisional Battalion, 31st Infantry, Philippine Army as Platoon Sergeant. The 31st Inf., PA under Brigadier General Clifford Bluemel was tasked with protecting the coast of Zambales but was pulled out to Bataan on 7 January 1942 to form the protective line along with the Abucay-Morong position under the I Philippine Corps defending the left flank of the USAFFE forces in Bataan and its coastal areas facing the sea.  The 31st Infantry led a counterattack on January 20 to relieve the 51st Infantry, Philippine Army of the II Philippine Corps protecting the right flank of the Bagac-Pilar line. During the lull, Vet. Moreno was transferred to the 3rd Battalion of the unit, composed of the I, K, L, and M companies. After the Fall of Bataan, Moreno became a prisoner-of-war and was released before Christmas of 1942.  After surviving the Bataan Death March, and incarceration at Capas, Rodolfo was released after taking an oath of allegiance to Imperial Japan and managed to slip back to Mindanao where he joined the guerrillas, serving with the Headquarters of the 110th Regiment. Before his passing on 28 January  1978, Rodolfo was active in the Cursillo Movement during the 1970s. “Refined. Reserved. Resolute. Reformed,” is how Antonio describes his father who would have turned 101 this year. “ Not a saint, but he tried to be good to others. Forever grateful in our hearts. On your birth centenary, pray for us and for the healing of our world.”   Angeles L. Limena While our third patriot did not fight in Bataan and did not suffer the Death March, he and his men were similarly force marched from his command at Cagayan to Camp Casisang, in Malaybalay Bukidnon, previously a training ground for the Philippine Constabulary, where American and Filipino prisoners-of-war (POWs) were incarcerated.   Soldier-Priest Angeles Labrador Limena was born October 2, 1899 in Sorsogon, Sorsogon. He was christened Angeles by his parents Angeles since his  birth date fell on the Feast of the Catholic festival of the Guardian Angels. He went to study in Sorsogon to be a priest, but before he was ordained he left to join the armed forces in Manila where he was accepted into the Philippine Constabulary. Limena was assigned to the School for Reserve Commission in Camp Keithley, Lanao (now the Philippine Army Officer Candidate School at Camp O’Donnel, Capas, Tarlac) where the American camp commander noticed his all around abilities and sent him for formal military training to the Philippine Constabulary Academy at Camp Henry T. Allen, which eventually became the Philippine Military Academy in 1936. However, before he was assigned to Baguio, Limena met and married Mary Figuro Kelley while he was at Camp Keithley. Mary was the daughter of Marion Lee Kelley from Grand Rapids, Michigan, a US Army veteran who fought in Cuba during Spanish-American War, and came to the Philippines to help educate the Filipinos. When World War II broke out, Limena was assigned as the Provincial Commander of  Camp 1Lt Vicente Garcia Alagar, Cagayan de Misamis, Misamis Oriental. Major General William F. Sharp, commander of the USAFFE Mindanao Force, on orders of Major General Jonathan M. Wainwright from Corregidor, ordered all American and Filipino soldiers under his command to surrender to the Japanese on May 9, 1942. Limena surrendered Camp Alagar to the Kawamura Detachment on May 10, 1942, and he and all his men were forced to walk from Cagayan to Camp Casisang, in Malaybalay Bukidnon, previously a training ground for the Philippine Constabulary.   Another Death March? Although Google maps says it usually takes a one hour and 54 minute ride to negotiate its 93 kilometers, the old Sayre Highway which the marchers took was a much longer route, and definitely as long as, if not more brutal than the Bataan Death March. It has an all uphill stretch at Carmen Hill in Upper Puerto and a particularly difficult stretch through the Mangima Canyon where it dips down gorges and up cliffs as deep and high as 420 meters. Older folks from Malayabalay used to say it took them around 5-6 hours to travel to Cagayan by motor vehicle over the old route. “I became a Prisoner of War of the Japanese Imperial Army on May 10, 1942 on the island of Mindanao in the Philippine Archipelago. On that date all U.S. armed forces were ordered by our commanders to lay down their weapons and to surrender to the Japanese,” reads the personal account of Pvt. First Class Robert W. Phillips, an Aircraft and Engine Mechanic, Second Class, crew chief and flight engineer with the 28th Bombardment Squadron stationed at Del Monte Airfield. “Immediately after our surrender we were ordered to make our way to the Philippine Army cantonment called Camp Casisang, near Malaybalay, Bukidnon Province. I walked most of that distance before catching a ride in one of our trucks whose destination was the same as mine.” However, even before the Japanese evacuated all POWs from it on August and October 1942, Limena managed to escape, walking towards Misamis Oriental, avoiding Japanese soldiers, crossing rivers, forests and mountains. He reached Alubijid where he meet few of his trusted soldiers guarding his family.   Guerrillas Organized On September 22, 1942, Limena organized the Western Misamis Oriental Sector Guerrilla at Manticao, Misamis Oriental, around the core group of Ramon Legazpi, Sr. The covered the province from Lugait, Misamis Oriental to Ugyaban river, Cagayan. Unsurrendered soldiers from the USAFFE, Philippine Constabulary, Philippine Army and Philippine Scouts comprised the fighting core while fishermen, farmers, students from surrounding barrios also volunteered to serve as civilian volunteers. Among the ranking officers who reported to Major Limena upon the creation of his guerrilla were Major Juan Taduran, Capt. Laureto Talaroc, Capt. Carlos Subang, Capt. Porferio Pakingan, Capt. Ricardo Abellanosa, Capt. Magno, Capt. Vicente Austria, and Capt. Antonio Ognir. Major Juan Taduran, a Bicolano, inducted the new officers-Lt. Ramon Legaspi Sr., Lt. Salvador Legaspi, Lt. Paterno Padua, Lt. Elson Lagrosas, Lt. Paterno Lagrosas, Lt. Elegio Pacana, Lt. Jose Carlos, Lt. Alfonso Dadole, Lt. Ben Johnson Ratunil, Lt. Gang Wilkomm, Lt. George Wilkomm, Lt. Jose Gabe, Lt. Eutiquio Madriaga, Lt. Amado Ravidas, Lt. Monico Chaves, Lt. Herculano Babatido, Lt. Edipalo Lagrosas, Lt. Jesus Juario, Lt. Romeo Villaraza, and Lt. Elpedio Lagrosas. On November 28, 1942, Limena was designated Regimental Commander of the 109th Infantry Regiment. 109th Division by Col. Wendell W. Fertig. His assigned officers and their designated area of responsibility included Lt. (later Maj.) Fidencio Laplap’s 1st Battalion, covered Lumbia District to el Salvador, Cagayan; Capt. Carlos Subang’s 2nd Battalion, covered Alubijid to Initao, Misamis Oriental; and Capt. Vicente Austria’s 3rd Battalion, covered Naawan, Initao to Lugait, Misamis Oriental.  Perhaps it was only fitting that Limena returned to his Creator on April 9, 1976, appropriately enough the 34th Anniversary of the  Araw ng Kagitingan.     The zigzag road portion of the Sayre Highway in Mangima Canyon, Tankulan, dips and rises in gorges and cliffs as high as 420 meters. (NARA)

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The Mindanao Death March

April 5, 2021

During World War II, there were two (2) death marches in the Philippines that were presented at the Tokyo War Crimes Trials as evidence of the inhuman treatment of prisoners of war (POWs). These were the “Bataan Death March” and the “Iligan Death March”, also referred to as the “Mindanao Death March” or the “Dansalan Death March” in some accounts. While the commemoration of the Bataan Death March is commemorated annually with the Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor) national highway every April 9th, very few people know about the Iligan Death March. On the 4th of July 1942, surrendered Filipino and American soldiers in Mindanao were made to march on a rocky dirt road and under the blazing tropical sun, from Camp Keithley in Dansalan to Iligan in Lanao – a distance of about thirty-six (36) kilometer (25 miles) prior to their transfer with the rest of the Mindanao POWs to Camp Casisang, Malaybalay, Bukidnon. Transport trucks, although available, were denied the POWs. Without food and water, one by one the soldiers fell down due to exhaustion. Those who fell were shot in the forehead to prevent them from joining the guerrillas in the event they recover. But the story did not end there. The Tokyo War Trials On January 19, 1946, the victorious Allied powers—France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America— established the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE) in Tokyo, Japan. The IMTFE had the jurisdiction to try individuals for Crimes Against Peace, War Crimes, and Crimes Against Humanity that were committed during the World War II. The subsequent trials held were collectively known as the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. The Tokyo War Crimes Trials were held between May 1946 to November 1948. The Philippine Prosecution Team presented and proved before the IMTFE at least sixteen (16) incidents of indignities, torture and barbarities committed against the Filipino and Foreign Prisoners of Wars (POWs) and civilians. Each of these incidents is a bundle of gruesome stories and tales of human suffering. The Bataan Death March, notorious as it was, overshadowed all the other incidents in history books. In fact, of the 16 incidents, only the Bataan Death March appeared in history textbooks. All the others remained unknown. Because the evidence against the accused were overwhelmingly strong, the Iligan Death March, along with others, were only summarily presented and proven during Tokyo War Crimes Trials. Guests of the Emperor The Japanese landed in the Southern part of Mindanao, in Parang, Maguindanao. From there, they began advancing northwards to the Province of Lanao. The Philippine Troops and Moros formed the Bolo Battalion under 81st Division commander Brigadier General Guy O. Fort. The plan was to defend Ganassi, Bacolod Grande on the southern end of Lake Lanao and stop the advancing Japanese troops. Gen. Fort planned for guerrilla warfare. However, on May 6, 1942, Lt. Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright IV, the Allied commander in the Philippines, surrendered the Filipino and American Forces on Bataan and Corregidor. Gen. Homma threatened to kill the American surrenderers from Bataan and Corregidor unless all American and Filipino forces surrendered. Subsequently, on May 10, 1942, Gen. Wainwright ordered Maj. Gen. William F. Sharp to surrender all his US and Filipino troops in Mindanao. He complied. At Bubong, Lanao del Sur, a large number of Filipino troops escaped to the hills. The Americans were ordered not to desert or face court martial. On May 26, 1942, soldiers walked 6 miles from Bubong to Dansalan, where they surrendered their arms. The Japanese Commanding Officer declared them to be “guests of the emperor” and not “prisoners of war.” There were 46 Americans and some 300 Filipinos under General Fort who surrendered. While awaiting instructions from Lt. Masaharu Homma, the POWs were billeted in an abandoned building once used as a mint for producing provincial money. Soon, the Japanese soldiers guarding the POWs were replaced with extremely young men who slapped them if they failed to count in Japanese. Beginning in June 10, 1942, the young Japanese guards invaded the POW sleeping quarters. During these nightly invasions, the Japanese looted the POWs of their belongings, beat and abused them physically. These incidents resulted in hushed talks about escaping. To avert possible escape, the Japanese guards adapted the Honor System, that is, for every soldier who escaped, their officers would be executed. On July 1, 1942, Cpl. William Knortz, Pvt. Robert Ball, Seamen Jas S. Smith and William Johnson escaped. Under the Honor System, Col. Robert Hale Vesey, Captain A.H. Price and Sgt. John L. Chandler paid the price. When asked about the whereabouts of the abovementioned officers, the Japanese interpreter only remarked: “They died like soldiers.” The Japanese were very angry with the escape. As punishment, all POWs were required to walk instead of riding to Iligan. The Iligan Death March At 8:00 A.M., July 4, 1942, the POWs lined up for the march at Dansalan (now Marawi), Lanao. The Americans were arranged four abreast and strung together in columns by a gauge wire through their belts. The Filipino POWs, though unwired, were to walk barefooted. As it was the fourth of July, the march was mockingly dubbed the “Independence Day March.” A truckload of Japanese soldiers with a mounted machine gun followed the prisoners, ready to shoot anybody who tried to escape. As the day progressed, the midday tropical sun became unbearable. Without food and water, one by one the soldiers fell down due to exhaustion. Those who fell were left behind after they were first shot at the forehead to prevent them from joining the guerrillas in case they recover. Among the more prominent deaths recorded during the march were those of Mr. Childress ( or in other documents – Kildritch) was an American civilian who owned a coconut plantation in Mindanao, shot by a Japanese guard for failing to keep up with the other marchers; Major Jay J. Navin, Commanding Officer, 84th Regiment, also shot for the same reason; Lt. Robert Pratt, Finance Officer, 81st Division, who died of exhaustion in Iligan after the march;   The Filipino soldiers, being resilient people, started the march at a lively pace. They weren’t tied together. But unlike their American counterparts who wore military shoes, they walked barefooted. A few hours into the walk, the hot rocky dirt road started to burn their feet, which was so unbearable that some of them started crawling. One was left behind. The Japanese guard, tired of prodding him to walk, bayoneted him to death. As the march continued, the Japanese killed four more Filipinos, including a Medical Officer with a Red Cross band on his arm. By the end of the day, Fullerton, Jr. estimated some ten or twelve Filipino soldiers were killed by bayoneting or shooting. At St. Michael’s Academy, Iligan By mid-afternoon, when the throng was about 3 kilometers from Iligan, the gauge tie was removed. They arrived in Iligan at around 7:00 P.M. in the evening. All were tired, thirsty, hungry and were at the point of complete exhaustion. The POWs, both Filipinos and Americans, were housed in a rickety two-story school building of St. Michael’s Academy, located across the St. Michael’s Church in Iligan. The Filipino POWs occupied the first floor while the Americans were locked at the second floor. Off to Camp Casisang, Malaybalay, Bukidnon The POWs stayed in Iligan for two (2) days before they were ferried away to Cagayan de Misamis. The Japanese, every now and then, confiscated the POWs’ money, valuables, gold rings, wristwatches, etc. on the pretext that the POWs had to purchase their own food or transportation. Afraid of another dreaded march, the POWs gave whatever they had of value to the Japanese. On July 6, 1942, the POWs boarded a canon boat and sailed a hundred miles east along the shore of Mindanao to Cagayan de Misamis, the capital town in Northern Mindanao. From there, trucks took them to Camp Casisang, Malaybalay, Bukidnon where they joined other POWs from Mindanao. Conclusion The story of the Mindanao Death March, through all these years, has remained relatively unknown. This speck of Philippine History was neither available nor accessible to the Filipino reading public until online primary sources became available. Triangulating and verifying these online primary sources with other available printed and non-print sources made possible the admissibility of these sources as historical records to be used as evidence for the writing of this historic fact - the Mindanao Death March. As shown, it was a tragic story of how the American and Filipino POWs experienced undue brutalities and indignities during the WWII in Mindanao. They surrendered and thus, under the existing laws of war, they expected civil treatment from the Japanese victors. It is now time to rewrite the Philippine History textbooks and create more space for the participation of Mindanao in WWII. Aftermath On the Fourth of July, 1942, Lt. Col. Wendell W. Fertig sat on a high hill near Dansalan looking down on the National Road. Below him the Japanese paraded a long line of ragtag and malaria ridden POWs, in hopes of impressing the citizens of Mindanao. At the head of the column they placed Brigadier General Guy Fort in an open truck. The POWs shambled forward tied together foot and hand with telephone wire. Whenever they lagged, Japanese guards beat them or jabbed them with bayonets fixed on their long rifles. When they fell they were stabbed. Watching from above, Fertig decided he would never surrender. He would fight. (from They Fought Alone, by John Keats, pp 82-83) By late 1944, Fertig commanded the 10th Military District of the US Forces in the Philippines (USFIP) a guerrilla force estimated at 36,000—the equivalent of an Army Corps—with 16,500 of them armed. Fertig also created and helped administer the civilian government of Mindanao while at the same time conducting the guerrilla war against the Japanese. The USFIP killed at least 7,000 Japanese soldiers and, while a constant drain on Japanese resources, they also prevented the Japanese from fully utilizing Mindanao's resources in support of its war efforts. At one time, the Japanese committed approximately 60,000 troops in an attempt to crush guerrilla resistance on Mindanao, troops that were desperately needed elsewhere. Throughout the entire Philippines, the guerrillas managed to tie down a Japanese army of 288,000 troops, of which approximately 43,000–60,000 were on Mindanao, depending on the time period. (From PBS. 2009. MacArthur: The Guerrilla War. Retrieved March 30, 2021; and  Schmidt, Larry. (1982). American Involvement in the Filipino Resistance on Mindanao During the Japanese Occupation, 1942–1945   -30-   While the Bataan Death March is a widely known indignity to WWII POWs, there seemed to be only scanty accounts of the Iligan Death March. It is fortunate that at least four (4) of the American POWs who participated in the said death march eventually survived the gruesome war and narrated their ordeals before they died. They were: Victor L. Mapes, Herbert L. Zincke, Richard P. Beck and Frederick M. Fullerton, Jr. These narratives, however, can only be found online. After validating these sources, it is now possible to retell the story of the Mindanao Death March for present and future generations.

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THIS WEEK IN LOCAL HISTORY | 122nd Anniversary of Fiesta Nacional in Cagayan de Misamis

January 10, 2021

The 10th of January 2021 will be the 122nd Anniversary of the first raising of the Filipino flag at the Casa Real when the five-man Concejo Provincial of the revolutionary government assumed office.  The members of the Concejo were chosen in accordance with Aguinaldo’s decree of June 18, 1898.  On that occasion, the newly installed municipal head, Toribio Chaves y Roa recited the poem Pinahanongod, and explained the meaning and symbols of the flag.  This historic event is celebrated in a marker installed by the National Historical Institute (now the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, NHCP), in front of the Executive House (original site of the Casa Real), and mentioned in another found at the Hayes Street frontage of the Casa del Chino Ygua (acknowledged as the oldest existing residence in Cagayan de Oro) which  recounts how on January 10, 1899, patriotic Kagay-anons celebrated independence through a Fiesta Nacional as a sign of support for the Philippine revolutionary government headed by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo.  The Kagay-anons gathered in front of Ygua’s house, marched around the poblacion playing music, made speeches at the Casa Real (the governor’s residence), fired cannons and raised the Philippine Flag for only the second time in Mindanao. (Montalvan, 2002). According to heritage activist Antonio Julian Montalván II, the local townsfolk were buoyed by an edict from Aguinaldo to hold local elections in Cagayan de Misamis in December 1898 (which was not true for the rest of Mindanao). “There were 2 distinct traits of that historic event,” Montalvan said. “There was the boom of cannonades (celebrating freedom from Spanish colonialism) and there was the participation of Higaonon indigenous peoples who came down from the hills.” The float "La Libertad de Filipinas" symbolized that freedom and passed by the Casa Real from the street that was henceforth called Victoria to signify the victory of the Philippine Revolution. Later, Governor Jose Roa y Casas wrote to Aguinaldo and called the event the great "Fiesta Nacional" of Cagayan de Misamis.

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Toyota PH affirms power to lead with unveiling of New Fortuner

October 21, 2020

Continuing its streak of digital vehicle launches, leading mobility company Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) has started the last quarter of 2020 with a highly-anticipated update on one of the most popular models in its lineup – the Toyota Fortuner. The New Fortuner range is headlined by the new LTD variant in 4x4 and 4x2 which comes in an exclusive design, followed by Q and V variants in automatic transmission, and the G variant available in AT and MT.  Starting at Php 1.63M for the G MT variant, TMP assures Filipinos of great value for money with Toyota’s signature quality, durability, and reliability embedded in the DNA of the country’s best-selling and well-loved Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV). During the online launch of the New Fortuner, TMP President Atsuhiro Okamoto recalled how the Fortuner changed the local automotive landscape at a time when entry level sedans and Asian utility vehicles were the affordable crowd favorite. “The Fortuner captured the hearts of many Filipinos as proven by strong sales.  It has an SUV body perfect for the Philippines’ flood-prone streets, an array of variants including a fuel-efficient diesel engine, a macho look that satisfies desires, and most of all, an affordable price – making it an achievable dream!” said Okamoto.  “The new Fortuner is SMARTER, STRONGER and SAFER than ever!  With its refreshed line-up led by the top-of-the-line premium LTD grade, the country’s best-selling SUV just got better!” he added. Since the Fortuner’s entry in the local market in 2005, TMP has already sold over 220,000 units of this highly-recognized SUV. In 2017, the Fortuner was crowned best-selling vehicle in the country. Just this August, the model dominated the mid-sized SUV category with over 30% market share. With the 2020 update, the Fortuner gets more confident, prestigious, safe, further proving itself a formidable and reliable SUV, perfect for any city or off-road drive. Drive in style, drive to lead The New Fortuner LTD’s look is made more striking and more elegant coming in the 2-tone color black roof color lineup, a bolder and sportier front and rear bumper design, and machine-cut 18” alloy wheels. Split-type LED headlamps and LED front foglamps, sequential turn signal lamps, and the redesigned LED rear combination lamps give the LTD variant a more dynamic design while maintaining visibility on the road. The Q and V variants also get LED foglamps and redesigned LED rear combination lamps, as well as Bi-Beam LED Headlamps with LED Line Guide - Daytime Running Lights. G variants also now come with Bi-Beam LED Headlamps with LED DRL.   Confidence, ease, and control Ingress is smooth and easy with Smart Entry and Push Start System for LTD, Q, and V grades. The LTD variant features an elegant interior in leather with maroon accents, as well as galaxy black trim and interior illumination which adds to the sophisticated interior look of the vehicle. The Q variant also gets the classy black leather interior complemented by a dark wood trim. The driver gets more control over the ride with various modes: Eco and Sport for LTD and Q variants, Eco and Power for V and G variants, and easy access to switches on the steering wheel and through the Apple CarPlay/Android Auto-compatible audio system across all variants. LTD, Q, and V variants feature 8” display audio. Comfort and entertainment is guaranteed the whole journey for the driver and passengers as LTD and Q variants have 8-Way Power Adjust front seats, and Front Seat Ventilation System for the LTD variant. Never lose power with the wireless charger and rear USB chargers available on LTD, Q, and V grades, and experience premium sound quality over the LTD variants’ 9-speaker JBL sound system. Feel at ease throughout the ride with front and rear automatic control for V grades and up.   Made stronger and more efficient The New Fortuner LTD and Q variants are powered by the 1GD-FTV engine which gives 201 HP (204 Ps) max output and 500 Nm max torque, while the V and G variants have the 2GD-FTV engine which gives 147 HP (150Ps) max output and 400 Nm max torque.  The 2GD engine is improved for the New Fortuner V and G variants and enjoys 5% improvement in fuel efficiency versus the previous generation Fortuner.   Toyota Safety Sense now available in the New Fortuner With safety as Toyota’s utmost priority, the New Fortuner is the latest addition to the expanding Toyota Safety Sense (TSS)-equipped models in TMP’s official lineup. Made better and safer than ever, TSS settings previously featured in select Toyota models such as the Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Alert, and Adaptive Cruise Control are now available for the Fortuner LTD and Q. All variants come with SRS airbags (7 for the LTD variants), 3-pt. ELR seatbelts, Anti-Lock Brake System with Brake Assist and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Vehicle Stability Control with Traction Control, and Hill-Start Assist Control. The 4x4 LTD variant also has Downhill Assist Control. All variants also come with a total of 6 clearance and back sonars, in addition to the Panoramic View Monitor that comes with the LTD, Q, and V variants or reverse camera for the G variants.   Pricing The New Fortuner will be available in all of TMP’s 70 dealerships across the country by October 19, 2020. The New Fortuner is also available for safely-distanced viewing in our virtual showroom. Get the full dealership experience online and check out the product highlights, view the interior and exterior in 3D, calculate payments, and submit inquiries direct to any preferred dealer via https://toyota.com.ph/fortuner. For more information on the New Fortuner, visit TMP’s official website at www.toyota.com.ph and follow the official social media pages at ToyotaMotorPhilippines (Facebook and Instagram), @ToyotaMotorPH (Twitter), and Toyota PH (Viber and Telegram).

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75th Cagayan Liberation Anniversary Feature: Maj. Jose Manuel Corrales Montalvan, 1st Camp Commander of the ‘Kampo’

May 18, 2020

Few Kagay-anons today are aware that the first camp commander of the Philippine Army’s biggest military camp in Mindanao was a Lumad (native Kagay-anon).     Major Jose Manuel Corrales Montalvan was initially assigned as Cadre Commander of the 2nd Misamis Oriental (Machine Gun) Cadre at Camp Bulua (present day Camp Edilberto Evangelista) in Cagayan, a post he served in from January 1-Dec. 31, 1939.      When the camp was renamed Camp Evangelista, then 1st Lt. Montalvan was appointed its Camp Commander and Mobilization Center Officer on January 1, 1940, a post he served up to the outbreak of World War II.      Dr. Montalvan, who was also known as Ñor Peping, was born on March 17, 1903 in present day Cagayan de Oro (then known as Cagayan de Misamis, capital town of the Segundo Distrito de Misamis, and later as Misamis, Cagayan under the American regime) to Jose Gabriel Montalvan, a retired Spanish soldier from Belmonte, Cuenca, Spain who was assigned by the Spanish government to the Philippines and Concepcion Corrales y Roa of Cagayan de Misamis.      In 1927, he was graduated with honors (3rd highest) from the Philippine Dental College, Manila with a degree of Doctor in Dental Surgery (DDS).     Upon his return to his hometown in 1928, he practiced dentistry and became one of the first teachers of the Ateneo de Cagayan (present day Xavier University) and was its Commandant of the Corps of Cadets. Dr. Montalvan was commissioned a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve in 1928, was trained and successfully completed the U.S. Army Extension Courses. From 1933 to 1937 he was the instructor for Military Science and Tactics at the Ateneo de Cagayan. However, the lure of a full-time career in the newly formed Philippine Army proved irresistible and he resigned from the U.S. Army Reserve and was commissioned as a First Lieutenant, Infantry Reserve, of the Philippine Army on July 16, 1936. He was called to active duty training at Camp Murphy Training School for Reserve Officers (Infantry), assigned as Company Commander of the training officers company, and graduated No. 5 with a general average of 90.7% in 1938. While assigned as the first camp commander of Camp Evangelista, he graduated from the School of Military Law and Courts-Martial Procedure, Camp Keithley, Lanao in 1940. Upon his induction into the U.S. Army Forces – Far East (USAFFE) on September 6, 1941, he was appointed Division Finance Officer and Division Quartermaster of the USAFEE’s 102nd Division. Later, he was appointed Division Inspector General, 102nd Division, USAFFE, with Headquarters at Tankulan, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon then promoted to Captain, Infantry, in April, 1942. Following the surrender of the USAFFE forces in Mindanao under Gen. William Sharp to the Japanese Imperial Army on May 10, 1942, Dr. Montalvan was taken as a prisoner-of-war (POW) by the Japanese and detained at the Ateneo de Cagayan campus which had been converted into a POW Camp. “During his captivity he developed polyneuritis, which caused his leg to become shorter, as a result of the hard labor he underwent in prison when he and others would carry sacks of potatoes and coffee under the rain, soaking their only clothing in their bodies,” recalls his daughter Annabel Montalvan Corrales. “One night after such experience his whole body became numb and his leg started to give him extreme pain. The doctors at that time did not know what it was but was later diagnosed as polyneuritis.” However, he successfully escaped and joined his family in Talakag, Bukidnon. He walked for days to Talakag, away from the road, because the Japanese were looking for him. Again, the rains came and soaked his clothes. When he got to Talakag he had very high fever and the polyneuritis he contracted became worse. He then proceeded to Misamis Occidental to join the guerrillas of Col. Wendell Fertig, commander of the United States Forces in the Philippines (USFIP) in Mindanao, which was made up of escaped prisoners-of-war and Filipino and American soldiers and civilians who refused to surrender to the Japanese. Between 1942 and 1944, USFIP forces raided Japanese occupation forces in Mindanao and provided valuable intelligence to the Allied forces. For his military service before and during World War II, Dr. Montalvan received the following awards and decorations: Philippine Defense Medal; American Defense Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal; Philippine Republic Unit Citation Badge and the U.S. Distinguished Unit Badge. Following his polyneuritis, Dr. Montalvan reverted to inactive status on July 11, 1946 and was promoted to the rank of Major, Infantry Reserve in January 20, 1950.  “He suffered so much under the hands of the Japanese and often got slapped for no reason,” Ms. Montalvan said. “Many years later, that Japanese that put him under hard labor came back to Cagayan de Oro to apologize to him and to others he tortured. And my dad readily accepted his apology!” He resumed his duties as a professor of Spanish at the Ateneo in 1949 and took up law at the Cagayan Law School of the Ateneo, graduating with a degree of Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) in 1953, passed the Bar exams and was admitted to the Bar in June 1954 and established a law practice. He married the former Mercedes Acero Roa of Cagayan de Oro City and with whom he had six children: Marrieta, Daisy, Annabel, Eduardo, Consuelo and Antonio. Dr. Montalvan passed away on September 21, 1978, his patriotism and service to the country and military apparently forgotten by the new generation of Kagay-anons. To rectify this situation, Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro) and Rep. Maximo B. Rodriguez, Jr. (Abante Mindanao- Party List) filed House Bill 4735 with the 15th Congress during its first regular session seeking to rename Camp Edilberto Evangelista to “Camp Jose Montalvan in honor of a Kagay-anon and Mindanaoan war hero who fought against the Japanese to protect the freedom of the Philippines.”  Camp Edilberto Evangelista in Barangay Patag, Cagayan de Oro City, is the largest military camp in Mindanao with an area of 129 hectares. It is the home base to the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division and covers the Northern Mindanao and Caraga regions. The explanatory note to the HB 4735 reads in part: “It is readily apparent that Major Montalvan is a war hero who fought against the Japanese in order to ensure that the Philippines retain its independence. He gave up the best years of his life to fight for our country. It is therefore appropriate that he be honored by renaming Camp Evangelista into Camp Jose Montalvan, in honor of a Kagay-anon who risked his life for our country.”

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