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.