This morning I had a most pleasant surprise, two prominent visitors, Spanish Aviator Capt. Juan Calvo known for his solo flight from Manila to Madrid in mid-30s, and Col. Alfredo Ramorez ’14, former Comdt., UST ROTC, both with the 14th Inf. Intelligence of Col. Enriquez. They cover their travel as traders with dry goods in their truck and wanted a BC pass to facilitate getting through BC check points which I granted.
After briefing them of the condition of peace and order in Vizcaya with my good rapport with local Japanese military authorities, Col. Ramirez informed me of recent developments since our meeting at Miss Lulu Reyes place last month. He said the Japanese are clamping on guerrillas that early this month, a counter-intelligence unit under one, Gen. Baba started at Kempei-tai HQ in Manila. The Sakdalistas set up their own informant network called “Makapili” reporting directly to Baba. Raids were made often and it was reported that Col. Thorpe operating from Mt Pinatubo was captured near Ft. Stotsenburg, while Capt. Joe Barker was captured in Manila and both are now in Ft. Santiago. Col. Ramirez also reported that guerrilla leader Ralph McGuire was captured and executed. The Colonel also cautioned me to be very careful. They left later for Cagayan province whose Sr. Inspector is my classmate Leoncio Tan ’28.
BCA Academics are progressing smoothly. However, every passing day I come to know my classmates individually that today I can say I know all of them. It can be recalled this group started with that 1,400 “not sick” survivor POWs from Capas released and transferred to Camp Dau for Rejuvination Trng. last Jul 17. I knew more than half of them as my former associates and underclassmen at PMA. From this group 300 of us were sent to BCA and since our class started, I came to know those I did not know before, mostly senior PCA grads.
Among the Sr. PCA grads are Cols Lizardo ’15 Regmtl. Comdr. 41st Div, much decorated in Bataan; Col. Tomas Domaol ’17 C/S 41st Div of Gen. Lim; Cols Turingan ’17, Javalera ’17; Magsino & Diano ’19 Front Line Bn. Comdrs.; Majs Fidel Cruz ’27, Francisco Luna ’28, Leoncio Tan ’28 brilliant Div. Staff Os. Then we have Maj. Batongmalaque ’31 a Bn. Comdr. under Gen. Capinpin with his tales about his former CO, the legendary Capt. Canuto, better known as King “Canute.” Then we also have two bright combat lawyers, Lts. Amado Aleta and Francisco Bautista who earned decorations in Bataan for gallantry in action. Lt. Bautista was also the Captain Ball of the Phil. Olympic Basketball Team of 1936 that won 2nd place for our country next to the US. We also have my former PMA mentors Capts Alfredo Santos, D. Ojeda, S. Villa and E. Duque. Of course my classmates, Cabangbang, Tirona, Piccio, Escobar, Javier and Rodriguez. Then my underclassmen from ’41, ’42, & ’43.
In the battlefields, the group earned more than 300 DSC, SS, BS, Purple Hearts with many having multiple awards. This is an awesome group that fascinates me no end. I am privileged to be a member of this group, indeed.
When the 1,400 POW names were posted in the Camp O’Donnell BB last Jul. 16, it was announced that they are comparatively the healthy survivors remaining in Capas. The sick started being released last June 30. This healthy group are now about to complete Rejuvenation Training in Camp Dau. Let me talk about this group as every passing day I came to know many of them for the first time…
When we first assembled at Capas Main Gate to leave for Camp Dau last Jul. 17, everyone was on his feet marching with their bags but did not look as strong as our Malolos POW Group. As the facilities and food at Dau was better than Capas, we all improved physically. There were no deaths in Dau.
Our group represented a cross section of surviving USAFEE soldiery, all ages, cultures, military education, experiences, etc. From among senior PCA grads are Cols. Claro Lizardo ’15; Tomas Domaoal ’17; Manuel Turingan ’17; Lamberto Javalera ’18: Leoncio Tan ’28; Jesus Vargas ’29 to contemporaries like Pelagio Cruz, Done Ojeda, P. Q. Molina. Early pioneers of ROSS like Alfredo Santos, S. Villa, C. Barbero, L. Villareal; Friedlander; fellow alumni of PMA Cl ’40; 41; 42 & 43; and the unforgettable young group of Ateneo ROTC volunteers like Sgts Fred X. Burgos, Ramon Pamintuan and Bagatsing under Capt. E. G. Lara of Angono, Rizal. From Baban of the Ibaloi tribe to Sulu’s Pulong Arpa. Then we have this Maj. E. Batongmalaque ’31 whose tales of experiences in Mindanao seem endless specially about his weirdo CO, the legendary Lt. Canuto better known as King Canuto.
I was also able to have an idea of the intellectual capabilities of each group. Early PCA grads had the equivalent of high school education with knowledge of criminal procedures and law to bring cases before the court. They were basically police officers but are very proficient in verbal and written communication. Those with baccalaureate degrees like from PMA or ROSS have better intellectual capacities to analyze problem situations. It is here I understood what Gen. Vicente Lim once said, “I will only be happy when the Chief of Staff is a PMA graduate.”
Nevertheless, I am very proud to be a part of this roll of USAFFE officers’ — all tough survivors from the crucible of Bataan, Death March and POW Camp O’Donnell.
Our morale remains high and our Camaraderie is much stronger. We can only hope and pray for happy future.