View Full Version : Cradle of Noble Heroes: The Philippine Army's Role in World War II

Ligaya Diwata
11-16-2009, 04:32 AM
Took the title from the English lyrics of the Philippine National Anthem (source (http://www.philippines-archipelago.com/symbols/anthem.html)).

I hope no one minds my saying this, but honestly I am shocked and appalled that we don't yet have a section here devoted to Filipino veterans and their heroism during WWII.

Worse yet, not a lot of Allied WWII veterans both online and offline seem to acknowledge their presence at all. And, of course, there's that long-overdue stimulus finally being given right when there are less than 20,000 Filipino veterans on both sides of the Pacific who are actually alive. I am particularly angry at this because while this gives provisions - meager provisions, considering what my forebears did! - to the surviving veterans, the stimulus doesn't provide for the widows, who continue to bear the injustice wrought upon them after the Rescission Act of 1946 was passed by the US Congress, when in fact many able-bodied Filipinos were asked, even forced, to join in the war effort by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1941 at a time when the Philippines was under the US Commonwealth. Please don't be mistaken; I'm not ungrateful or rabidly anti-American. It's just that if you take a good, critical look at it, the US government could still do much better because this is a classic case of "too little, too late."

I know there are parties out there who may want to share their stories and photos. There are so few actual veterans left (for starters, my grandfathers - who were both directly involved in WWII - died very early in my life, and were unable to share what really happened to them), and I would like Filipinos all over the world to know our story. So please, by all means, share your memories here.

Rising Sun*
11-16-2009, 05:15 AM
While the Filipinos fought well and bravely up to the surrender to Japan in 1942, the greatest Filipino contribution to the defeat of Japan was the sustained and very dangerous work of Filipino guerrillas under Japanese occupation.

MacArthur paid tribute to them, albeit in a typically MacArthurian egotistical way, after returning to the Philippines.

General MacArthur's Tribute to the Philippine Guerrillas

The enormous volume of valuable military information sent by the various guerrilla units in the Philippines to General Headquarters constituted a contribution fully as important as their direct combat participation. The extent and degree of intelligence coverage are evident in the complex radio communication system developed under the noses of the Japanese during the days of their occupation. The entire archipelago from north to south and from east to west was literally dotted with guerrilla transmitting and receiving stations. (Plate No. 93)

Perhaps the best recapitulation of the rise of the guerrilla movement in the Philippines and its gradually growing part in the liberation of the Filipino people from the domination of the Japanese was given by General MacArthur shortly after his memorable return to Leyte when he said:

As our forces of liberation roll forward the splendid aid we are receiving from guerrilla units throughout the immediate objective area and adjacent islands causes me at this time to pay public tribute to those great patriots both Filipino and American who had led and supported the resistance movement in the Philippines since the dark days of 1942. These inadequately armed patriots have fought the enemy for more than two years. Most are Filipinos but among these are a number of Americans who never surrendered, who escaped from prison camps, or who were sent in to carry out specific missions.

Following the disaster which, in the face of overwhelming superior enemy power, overtook our gallant forces, a deep and impenetrable silence engulfed the Philippines. Through that silence no news concerning the fate of the Filipino people reached the outside world until broken by a weak signal from a radio set on the Island of Panay which was picked up, in the late fall of that same fateful year, by listening posts of the War Department and flashed to my Headquarters. That signal, weak and short as it was, lifted the curtain of silence and uncertainty and disclosed the start of a human drama with few parallels in military history.

In it I recognized the spontaneous movement of the Filipino people to resist the shackles with which the enemy sought to bind them both physically and spiritually. I saw a people in one of the most tragic hours of human history, bereft of all reason for hope and without material support, endeavoring, despite the stern realities confronting them, to hold aloft the flaming torch of liberty. I gave this movement all spiritual and material support that my limited resources would permit.

Through the understanding assistance of our Navy I was able to send in by submarine, in driblets at first, arms, ammunition and medical supplies. News of the first such shipment spread rapidly throughout the Philippines to electrify the people into full returning consciousness that Americans had neither abandoned them nor forgotten them.

Since then, as resources increased, I was enabled, after formalizing the guerrilla forces by their recognition and incorporation as units of our Army, to send vitally needed supplies in ever increasing quantities through Philippine coastal contacts by four submarines finally committed exclusively to that purpose.

I would that at this time I might name the gallant heroes of this epic in Philippine-American history, but considerations of security for the individuals, their families and the cause require that I limit myself to a generalization of their work and a statement of their brilliant achievements.

Of the latter I need but point out that for the purposes of this campaign we are materially aided by strong, battle tested forces in nearly every Philippine community, alerted to strike violent blows against the enemy's rear as our lines of battle move forward and that now are providing countless large areas adjacent to military objectives into which our airmen may drop


with assurance of immediate rescue and protection. We are aided by the militant loyalty of a whole people-a people who have rallied as one behind the standards

of those stalwart patriots who, reduced to wretched material conditions yet sustained by an unconquerable spirit, have formed an invincible center to a resolute over-all resistance.

We are aided by the fact that for many months our plans of campaign have benefited from the hazardous labor of a vast network of agents numbering into the hundreds of thousands providing precise, accurate and detailed information on major enemy moves and installations throughout the Philippine Archipelago. We are aided by the fact that through a vast network of radio positions extending into every center of enemy activity and concentration throughout the islands, I have been kept in immediate and constant communication with such widespread sources of information. We are aided by the fact that on every major island of the Philippines there are one or more completely equipped and staffed weather observatories which flash to my Headquarters full weather data morning, afternoon and night of every day and which in turn provides the basis for reliable weather forecasts to facilitate and secure the implementation of our operational plans. Widely disseminated to our forces throughout the Pacific and in China the information from this weather system has materially aided our military operations over a large section of the world's surface.

We are aided by an air warning system affording visual observation of the air over nearly every square foot of Philippine soil established for the purpose of flashing immediate warning of enemy aircraft movement through that same vast network of radio communications. We are aided by provision of all inland waterways and coastal areas of complete observation over enemy naval movement to give immediate target information to our submarines on patrol in or near Philippine waters. This information has contributed to the sinking of enemy shipping of enormous tonnage, and through such same facilities was flashed the warning to our naval forces of the enemy naval concentration off the western Philippines during the Marianas operation.

Finally we are aided by the dose interior vigilance that has secured for our military use countless enemy documents of great value, among which were the secret defensive plans and instructions of the Commander-in-Chief of the combined Japanese areas and complete information on the strength and dispositions of enemy fleet and naval air units. That same Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Japanese Fleets was a prisoner of one of our guerrilla units prior to his death from injuries sustained in an air crash.

All of these vital aids to our military operations, and there are many more still unmentioned, are responsive to the indomitable courage of the military and civil leaders whom I shall in future name and their loyal followers both Filipino and American; to gallant Filipinos, residents of the United States, who have volunteered to infiltrate into the islands in succor of their countrymen and Americans who have infiltrated with them; and finally to the militant loyalty and unconquerable spirit of the masses of the Filipino people.

As Commander-in-Chief of the forces of liberation I publicly acknowledge and pay tribute to the great spiritual power that has made possible these notable and glorious achievements-achievements which find few counterparts in military history. Those great patriots, Filipino and American, both living and dead, upon whose valiant shoulders has rested the leadership and responsibility for the indomitable movement in the past critical period, shall, when their identities can be known, find a lasting place on the scroll of heroes of both nations-heroes who have selflessly and defiantly subordinated all to the cause of human liberty. Their names and their deeds shall ever be enshrined in the hearts of our two peoples in whose darkest hours they have waged relentless war against the forces of evil that sought, through ruthless brutality, the enslavement of the Filipino people.

To those great patriots to whom I now pay public tribute I say stand to your battle stations and relax not your vigilance until our forces shall have swept forward to relieve you. http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/macarthur%20reports/macarthur%20v1/ch10.htm

Ligaya Diwata
02-04-2010, 02:26 AM
Hi all, I am delurking because I've found this exceptional website:
Defenders of Corregidor and Bataan (http://defendersofbataanandcorregidor.org).

I believe this community is formed mostly by Filipino veterans and their descendants, but the American and American-based Filipino veterans and their descendants also seem to be in constant communication with them.

Sorry to promote another community, but I think it's really important that our side, the Filipino side, is given an adequate voice in history. From the looks of things not a lot of people are aware of our contribution to the Pacific theatre.

Rising Sun*
02-04-2010, 02:49 AM
... I think it's really important that our side, the Filipino side, is given an adequate voice in history. From the looks of things not a lot of people are aware of our contribution to the Pacific theatre.

They would be if Hollywood was controlled by Filipinos.

Ligaya Diwata
02-04-2010, 02:55 AM
They would be if Hollywood was controlled by Filipinos.

I am hoping you're not saying this to be mean. But while we don't have very many influential actors, musicians, performers, scriptwriters, directors and producers in Hollywood, it's kind of odd that the "last stand" of the USAFFE in 1941 (before Gen. MacArthur turned tail to Australia which is so far removed from the action) and the Bataan Death March happened here in my country and it is acknowledged by historians the world over, but not a lot of Hollywood productions choose to discuss it, don't you think?

By the way, thanks for that tribute by Gen. MacArthur, but as you yourself said, it was done in a "in a typically MacArthurian egotistical way," and so I (speaking only for myself) find the words somewhat bereft of depth and true compassion towards the Filipinos, never mind if he was supposedly a "lifelong friend" of Philippine Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon (I), whose adopted grandson Manolo blogs here (http://www.quezon.ph/).

Rising Sun*
02-04-2010, 04:46 AM
I am hoping you're not saying this to be mean.

No, I'm saying it to emphasise that most people who weren't involved in it and particularly people born after about 1960 get their limited knowledge of WWII from cinema, which in turn is mostly Hollywood films in the West.

Americans control Hollywood and generally make films which they think will appeal to Americans, which to their minds usually means having an American theme.

Australians have long been reduced to a mixture of amusement and annoyance by films which were about Australian themes but which had to have American actors playing lead roles to meet Hollywood's belief that the film needed this to sell in the US. So we end up with absurdities like Robert Mitchum in The Sundowners; Ernest Borgnine in Summer of the Seventeenth Doll; and Meryl Streep in Evil Angels.

Don't think the Philippines got overlooked. They were doing it to you as early as 1939 in The Real Glory http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Real_Glory

If Hollywood can't introduce an American into a lead role, preferably as the saviour of democracy or the planet or whatever, it's hard to get a film made there.

There's nothing wrong with Americans who pay for the production deciding who they'll employ as actors, but the problem is that Hollywood films dominate in the West and we end up with Hollywood's view of history, which necessarily is very pro-American and usually not much interested in anything else, whether Americans are heroes or victims.

Rising Sun*
02-04-2010, 05:05 AM
...before Gen. MacArthur turned tail to Australia which is so far removed from the action.

In fairness to MacArthur, who is not one of my favourite commanders but who on any objective analysis still deserves respect (and also contempt) for some of his personal, leadership and tactical / strategical qualities, he didn't turn tail to Australia.

He was ordered out and resisted the order.

He was ordered out to provide Australia with a commander of American and Allied forces to resist the looming Japanese invasion, which in turn was in response to Australian government requests to Roosevelt etc.

Precisely why Australia wanted a proved loser and why America thought a proved loser could do the job could fill a couple of forums for the next few years, but the fact remains that Mac left the Philippines not of his own free will and undertook a very arduous and at times very dangerous journey to reach Australia.

Rising Sun*
02-04-2010, 05:23 AM
... I (speaking only for myself) find the words somewhat bereft of depth and true compassion towards the Filipinos, never mind if he was supposedly a "lifelong friend" of Philippine Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon (I)[/URL].

$500,000 in 1942 money could probably buy a 'lifelong friendship', but you can't buy depth and true compassion .

Early in January 1942 Quezon paid $500,000 to Mac (and much smaller but still very valuable sums to Sutherland etc) out of Philippine Commonwealth funds.

And guess who was one of the very lucky ones who was evacuated with his family and others of his coterie, on a US submarine no less, when the Japanese noose was tightening around the Philippines' neck in late February 1942?