Some people find it weird that I have an unexplained fascination for wars, battles and weaponry. Maybe because I grew up in a Military/Educator Family. My grandfather (Mother side), Antonio Lumogdang Sr. P2Lt (Ret), was a Philippine Army veteran who fought during the Vietnam and Korean War. My Uncle Antonio Jr. is a Philippine Military Colonel (Ret.). An Uncle (Father Side) in Mindanao is a Philippine Military General. My Husband’s great grandfather Macario Almeda was a known 1896 Revolutionary Hero of Pateros, his grandfather Ernesto Rodriguez Almeda Sr. was a fighter under the 65th Infantry division under the American Military who also had the chance to go to Corregidor during World War 2, while his great grandmother Marcela Cangco Villegas (Half Brother of Pedro Luna) and grandmother Remedios Abrecea were fondly taken cared of and protected by a Japanese High Ranking General because the young child Remedios who was then 7 years old at that time looked exactly like the Japanese General’s Daughter in Japan. I vowed that I will see the world’s military heritage and historical places as long as I am alive so I started with Corregidor.
Corregidor Island is an island located at the entrance of Manila Bay in southwestern part of Luzon Island in the Philippines. Due to this location, Corregidor has historically been fortified with coastal artillery to defend the entrance of Manila Bay and Manila from attacks by enemy warships. Located 48 kilometres (30 mi) inland, Manila has been the largest city and the most important seaport in the Philippines for centuries, from the colonial rule of Spain, Japan and the United States, to the establishment of the Philippines in 1946.
Corregidor (Fort Mills) is the largest of the islands that formed the harbor defenses of Manila Bay, together with El Fraile Island (Fort Drum), Caballo Island (Fort Hughes) and Carabao Island (Fort Frank), which were all fortified during the American colonial period. The island was also the site of a small military airfield, as part of the defense.
During World War II, Corregidor played an important role during the invasion and liberation of the Philippines from Japanese forces. The island was heavily bombarded during the latter part of the war, and the ruins serve as a military memorial to American, Filipino and Japanese soldiers who served or lost their lives on the battlefield. Corregidor is one of the important historic and tourist sites in the country. (Wikipedia)
A chance finally presented itself when my Russian friend, Alexis visited my country on February 2. It’s a one day opportunity (since he can only stay 1 day with us and move to visit his other friends located in the southern area of Luzon Island) for us to visit one of the important landmarks in World War 2 history. Alex and I embarked on a full day excursion in Corregidor. We boarded a Sun Cruise ship for an all expense paid trip to the island with tour guide and buffet meal. We left the house at 6 AM and arrived at the Sun Cruise port within 30 minutes. The ferry left Manila Bay port at 7 AM and by 8:30 AM we arrived on the island. It was a sunny day and the sea was also calm. The area beyond Manila Bay (where the sea water was dark and murky) changed as we traversed towards Bataan into a cerulean sea of tranquility and flying fishes.
I was talking with my husband after my trip from Corregidor. He narrated to me his family’s revolutionary past and his point of view about war. This is what he said that I found interesting because it coincided with some of the information I gathered while I was touring Corregidor and when I listen to Tatay Erning’s war stories when he was still alive. (My husband’s words in Italics).
“When my grandfather Ernesto, grandmother Remedios and great grandmother Marcela were still alive, they told me stories about the World War 2. They told me that before the Japanese forces bombed Clark Air Base, there were radio news broadcasts urging filipinos to put out all their lights every evening. Whenever night time came, the Japanese forces would drop bombs all over and around Manila. They also told me that main bridge between Pateros and Comembo, Makati was destroyed.”
During our tour of Bataan, the tour guide told us about the Battle of Corregidor where the Japanese attacked and bombed not just Corregidor but also Manila 5 months after their attack on Pearl Harbor. The damages were huge and fear is instilled in everyone’s heart because of how the Japanese Military forces occupied the country at that time. The devastation I saw as an observer is nothing compared to those who lived in those era.
The Japanese forces took over the Philippines region by region. My grandfather Ernesto Almeda who was so young then decided to join the 65th Infantry Division under the American Military. They were also fighting the Hukbalahap which was considered a rebel group by the Americans during that time. He was motivated to fight the invaders because of my great grandfather Macario Almeda (One of the Heroes of Pateros) who was executed because his quest to fight the Spaniards and help free Filipinos in Pateros during the 1896 Revolution.”
“Luckily for my grandfather Ernesto, he wasn’t caught during the Japanese invasion of Bataan. Those who were caught were included in the Death March. My grandmother Remedios and Great grandmother Marcela with their sisters hid under the bunker in the house. Some stories say that the Japanese are heartless. Like everyone in the world, there are good and bad sides of the coin. My great grandma Marcela told us that when the 7 year old Remedios Abrecea (who looked exactly like that Official’s daughter) was seen by a very high ranking Japanese Military officer stationed in Manila, they were given the utmost care and protection by that general. They were so kind towards them, gave Remedios sweet treats and would always drop by their house in the evenings, leaving their samurai swords at the front of my great grandmother’s house for their soldiers to see (to protect them). Unfortunately, the ones who were abusive were the foot soldiers. Most of the foot soldiers that served the Japanese Imperial Army were Koreans, Korean soldiers under the Japanese military regime were very abusive. This is another story no one told in text book history. Only few people knew about it. Most of the Japanese high ranking officers do not agree with the inhumane treatment of the imperial soldiers to the Filipinos because they believe in the Bushido code. (The unwritten Samurai code of conduct, known as Bushido, held that the true warrior must hold that loyalty, courage, veracity, compassion, and honor as important, above all else. An appreciation and respect of life was also imperative, as it added balance to the warrior character of the Samurai)
“The half-brother of Marcela, great grandfather Pedro Luna,was severely beaten by foot soldiers, he was bed ridden to the point that to help with his treatment, Marcela had to sell her carabaos. Unfortunately, Pedro Luna died few weeks later. The soldiers carrying bayonets will also stab you if you don’t bow to them when they pass by. (Remember the stories where the soldiers will bayonet children if they see them roaming around. If they saw a beautiful woman, they will also capture and rape her repeatedly)
One time my great grandmother Marcela was slapped by a Japanese imperial soldier and the Japanese General saw it. The High ranking officials called on the soldier and severely punished him.
The Death March truth will never be told by most historians but according to my grandfather who was stationed in Corregidor during that time said that some Japanese Officials and soldiers helped some Filipino and American soldiers to escape.”
“They are still human but in times of war there are no winners, only casualties. General Yamashita was executed because he did not follow the Imperial Order which was not to do cruel things to the people of the Philippines during their invasion.“
American Soldiers were also unfair to the Filipino soldiers according to my grandfather Ernesto because the Americans equipped them with old grenades, rifles and weapons. When they sleep at night, the American Soldiers were inside the barracks, encircled by Filipino soldiers who acted as the shield.”
This was also mentioned by the tour guide. The Inner part of Corregidor was where the American soldiers were stationed while the Filipino soldiers stand guard, rain or shine, day or night, outside and along the banks of the island with their old, commissioned rusty weapons so that they will be the shield in case there are sudden attacks.
“In my opinion, there are many untold stories in my opinion during time of war. Some truths are tied by government orders, and with what they believe on each sides between the Japanese Empire and the American government, on what they are fighting for. It’s sad that the Filipinos are obliterated by these two nations.”
For me, I believe that Alliances change with the wind but we can never escape the fact that death is constant. All wars are needed to gain the justified peace that we need. If not for the wars, we will never encounter peace. We are all in a stand still, in a truce, but our leaders are the ones, not just us civilians to have full knowledge of the true effects of wars in every nation. How wars affect mankind, the world and most especially our souls.
I still lacked some details and this experience triggered a desire for me to explore not just Philippine History, World War 1 and 2, World Military History but also remind myself how little I know about the world. This will be the stepping stone to quench my thirst for documenting the untold stories from war through our grandparents and others.
The pictures above are some of the collections that we have of the past. The moment I gingerly held the artifacts brought tears to my eyes and shiver down my spine. I am honored and humbled to be able to touch pieces from history and war. Priceless things that belong to the people who lived during the dark era of World War II in the Philippines.
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Multi-conscious, Sensual, Intuitive and a follower of Goddess Inanna
A woman who values life in a higher divine level than the materialistic level of life.
Loves volunteer works for Non-Government organizations that supports life, animals, nature and spiritual growth.
Currently in a quest to achieving Multi-Dimentional Consciousness.