First Hand Account – Home Front on Luzon

Fellow blogger at https://subliblog.wordpress.com/ and author of “BAHALA NA (Come What May)”, Rosalinda R. Morgan, remembers a story her father told her about discovering the Americans had returned to Luzon.  The pictures here have been taken from her Photo Gallery, available on her blog.  Please be sure to visit her.

Mr. & Mrs. Mateo Rosales on their 50th Wedding Anniversary.

My father told me this story of what happened in his town when the American soldiers came back to rescue the Philippines.

One night, they heard a loud explosion. It was dark around where my parents were camping in their makeshift village. There were nipa huts scattered under dense mango trees and roofs were covered with leaves. One by one, men came out and looked where the noise was coming from. It was a moonless night. It was total darkness except for the lights coming from the explosion.

Somebody called out. “The Americans are coming! The Americans are coming!” When the people heard that, they all came out of hiding. There was a promontory in the area where they could watch the flashing light. They climbed the little hill and looked out toward the horizon. The area was wide open field and there were no trees blocking the view. One could see all the way to Taal Lake.

They could see where the flashing lights were coming from. It looked like they were coming from Lemery. From where my parents stood, they could hear the artillery shells going back and forth. The shootings got louder and louder. Trees and debris were flying high up where the artillery landed. The Americans were not shooting far enough. It could be that they did not know where the Japanese were or the range of the artillery fire was not long enough. The shooting went on all night.

In the morning, they found out the shots from the previous night landed in the cemetery nearby where empty shells were everywhere. It was still quite a distance where the Japanese were occupying Mt. Makulot in Cuenca on the far side of Taal Lake.

Lake Taal across from Tagaytay, in the distance is Mt. Makulot.

In no time, the Americans set up a camp with several tents in Taal at the Plaza across the big cathedral. Then, the U.S. soldiers started marching inland toward the Japanese camp. When they reached Alitagtag, some people saw soldiers marching up the road. At first, they were scared thinking they were Japanese, then they realized they were white-skinned and tall. Instantly, they knew it had to be the Americans. Then they got excited. Someone ran to the field where everyone was hiding and informed them. People started coming out running to the street, waving their arms and cheering them on. The American did not expect the kind of reception they were getting and it became very unsettling. The cheering went on for several minutes. Some civilians were asking for food, others just waved and said “Hi Joe.” They were deliriously happy to see the Americans. They asked if MacArthur was coming. The GIs said yes. That news were received with loud cheer.

The soldiers told them to evacuate to the Elementary School and the nearby church. Some evacuees settled in the elementary school. My parents decided to stay overnight at the church. There were several evacuees in the church. The little group, huddled together, sat in the pews all night, some praying, some just sitting quietly until their eyes got tired and they dozed off to sleep.

Later in the night, the shooting started again. This time, the Japanese shells started coming in their direction. The Japanese started shooting at the school. Artillery fire was coming from Mt. Makulot. All night long, the shooting never abated. All the evacuees at the school were moved to the church and the rectory in the cover of darkness. It was a long night for the evacuees.

By daybreak, the shooting stopped. The evacuees were told to move again. This time they were told to move to Taal. My parents together with my two unmarried uncles joined the throng evacuating to Taal. My uncles brought sacks of rice, kamote and some clothing. My father had me on his shoulder as he trod along with my mother.

Within an hour, there were thousands of people evacuating. Men, young and old with their wives and children joined in. Everybody looked scared but nobody protested. They were just following what the American soldiers told them.

The evacuation ran smoothly with the American soldiers flanking the evacuees and leading the way. However, the throng was getting bigger as they reached several villages. More people joined the evacuation as it progressed its way through towns. Some people stopped along the way trying to rest their feet. My parents kept their pace slowly, rested for a few minutes every now and then. They were totally exhausted when they reached Taal. It took them all day to get there.

The jungle at Alitagtag. This picture is the cover for “BAHALA NA”

At Taal, the evacuees were taken in by the residents of Taal. In the morning, they went to the U.S. Camp to get breakfast. For a week, my parents stayed in Taal with the rest of the evacuees. While the evacuees were being housed and fed in Taal, the American soldiers continued their march to Alitagag and then the shooting continued at night until the American troops reached Cuenca.

By this time, the evacuees at Taal were moved again. People began to scatter around several nearby villages. One of my mother’s aunts and her family were among the evacuees in Taal. Mom’s aunt wanted my parents to join them and hide near the sugar cane fields which were not far from Taal. My father wanted to return to Alitagtag so my mother asked her aunt to join them instead. The aunt said they were tired of walking and believed they would be safe in the sugar cane fields.

My parents returned to their hiding place in Alitagtag. They thought staying at their own property was the best option for them. The American soldiers were now past Alitagtag and on their way to Manila to join MacArthur’s force trying to enter Manila. Later on, my father heard there was heavy fighting as the American soldiers crossed Cuenca where the Japanese were at Mt. Makulot.

In a few days, the Japanese burned the sugar cane field where my mother’s aunt’s family and other evacuees went into hiding. They were all killed and my parents were very lucky to make their own choice and saving their lives.

Click on images to enlarge. 

Also – Remember to stop in, see the other photos and say Hi…

Rosalinda R. Morgan

“BAHALA NA (Come What May)

 

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Military Humor –

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Joe Appleby – El Paso, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, TSgt., B-24 gunner/radio, 8th Air Force

Erven Boettner – Roca, NE; US Army, WWII, Col. (Ret.)

John Donahue – Shrewsbury, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 5th Air Force

Jean Doyle – Tyngsboro, MA; US Army Air Corps WAC, WWII, 1st Lt.

Raynald Goulet – Portland, ME; USMC, WWII, pilot

Anna Mae Hays – Buffalo, NY; US Army WAC nurse, CBI / Korea & Vietnam, 1st female general (Ret.)

James Janes – Louisville, KY; US Army, WWII, medic

Paul Moll III – St Louis, MO; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Arthur Schoenfield – Manawatu, NZ; RNZ Army # 4434429, WWII, Sgt.

Howard Wolfgram – Waukesha, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on January 11, 2018, in First-hand Accounts, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 123 Comments.

    • I think, once a person goes through something like that, it’s rather difficult to forget. Thank you for reading it. Rosalinda has a sequel to this story on her site.

      Like

  1. I am sorry Rosalinda lost part of her family as well as the other evacuees in the sugarcane fields. Her parents made a wise, and lucky choice to stay on their own property. These firsthand accounts say much more than the history books about the extent of the suffering people on all sides went through.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. America had always stood out even with the Allied forces. Nice! 😎

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I really enjoyed this. First-hand accounting is so underrated anymore.Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A truly moving story. Of course, so many of those you tell here are, GP. Thank you for keeping this information alive. That alone is a valuable service to the nation. We tend to have a terribly short memory.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much for that, Anna. I’m afraid it isn’t simply our short memories, I have heard our school systems are barely teaching any of this history today. Our future generations will have no idea who sacrificed for their freedoms.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What a story! Thank you for posting this, GP.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for sharing Rosalinda’s story gp, a non military but personal civilian account of those moments in time, unbelievable the suffering these people underwent all in the pursuit of security and their lives.
    Well done sharing mate.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. First-hand accounts are so important. It’s one reason I’m happy to see genealogical work becoming more widespread. People who begin by looking for dates and names often begin finding the stories, and recording them. Even when the stories are painful, they’re important — not just for us, but for future generations, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Quite the story, G. What a frightening situation to be in. The family was lucky indeed that they had opted out of the sugar cane field. –Curt

    Liked by 2 people

  9. A riveting read. It is difficult to figure what the Japanese saw themselves gaining by burning civilians out of fields of sugar cane. Horrifying.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Since I do not have the Japanese records for that incident, it might have been that the enemy thought the American soldiers were with them. It wasn’t clear if they intentionally killed the civilians. It is an exciting story, isn’t it? I was honored that Rosalinda entrusted it to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. When it comes to war there are so many accounts like this. So many innocent victims and life or death sometimes depending on snap decisions. Fortunately, Rosalinda’s parents made the better decision to return to Alitagtag. One never knows.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. So many innocent victims of war.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I was educated about what it was like being caught between two Army’s and the horrors of war.I also Googled some of the words and locations in the story.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Reblogged this on Give Me Liberty and commented:
    Please take time to read this story

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Mount Maculot in world war history? Never in my wildest dream. We used to climb this top back in the 90s. (Level 1. For starters. Heavenly peak. Heavenly view.) I realize only now, nowhere in the Philippines is free of ‘engagement’ at that time. They ought to set up a marker on Maculot. Ms. Morgan’s site is a great find. Motivates me to interview my veteran uncle — a Death March escapee.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Terrific!! I love to hear someone’s curiosity is sparked or as in your case, get a story. I seem to recall you telling me he was an escapee, I’d love to hear his story – if he gives it to you. Or please send a link if you make a post for it (and you should!!).

      Like

      • Good day sir! I came back to this thread to inform you our veteran uncle passed away last week. Just when I was starting this idea of taking his account of their battles. Anyway, may I humbly request for you to feature him here in Pacific Paratrooper? If its ok I would like to know your email address so I can send you a few details and a photo perhaps. Thank you in advance!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Did you ever hear the story that Yamashita buried his treasure in Mt. Makulot? I have my doubt on that. There is a cave in Alitagtag which some townfolks said lead to a tunnel built by the Japanese in Mt. Makulot. I never saw it because I’ve never been in the jungle. My brother took my husband to the Philippines once and they went near the entrance of the cave but they did not go in.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Sad post today but fascinating. Nice job, GP

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Reading all the comments here brought tears in m eyes. I got too emotional. I felt so close to my parents and my countrymen who endured a lot during the war. There were so much pain and suffering over there. The war destroyed our beautiful country which was the “Pearl of the Orient” before the war. Thank you all for commenting and visiting my site. To GP, thanks for sharing my parents’ story. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was my honor to post this story. I thank you for entrusting it to me.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Dear SCLMRose,
        I am a Japanese,I’m in a different position from you.But,
        I respect Your parents’ life.
        In that era, it was necessary for “the choice, decision to live”.
        And Now, in this era too, “decision” is necessary.
        In Japan, President Duttel came to Japan.
        He met the Emperor and He was welcomed in Japan.:D
        The Philippines has also a long history.
        Please, take pride in your country, A wonderful country, the Philippines! 😀

        Liked by 2 people

        • Dear Nasuko,
          Different times, different decisions. I hope we learn from the war.
          I visited Japan in 1966. I was there for two weeks. You have a beautiful country too and I enjoyed my trip in spite of the circumstance I was in. It was not a vacation. I was stranded but that’s another story. My best friend during my early years in New York was Japanese. Her name is Chyoko and she married an American. People thought we were sisters.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Dear SCLMRose,Great Thanks!!
            The war will be coming up again, we ordinary ppl need to “choice” ,not to be utilized by politicians.
            I do not deny your experience, but your opinion is not all. There are also many ppl in Philippines who have opposite opinion from you,I think.
            Now, Philippines and Japan are friendly nation .:D
            I hope you enjoy a wonderful blog life!:D
            Sincerely.

            P.S,Dr.GP Cox,
            Great Thanks for your lent me here space on your blog 😀

            Liked by 1 person

      • With all the comments here, Do you think I should finish the story of their escape? Their attempt to escape to Mindoro and the fire. I cut the story short because I felt it was too long. It’s all in the book but I can condense it. Let me know what you think?

        Liked by 1 person

  17. I echo John Knifton’s comments

    Liked by 1 person

  18. What a wonderful account from the people whose land the Japanese had usurped. And how sad that so many people died so close to being free again.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Her firsthand experience certainly described the terrors of the war, but also showed the real appreciation for American troops being there by the citizens of that country.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, a wonderful combination, don’t you think. I have asked many a reader to contribute stories they know of, Rosalinda was one of the few who gave a full length story. I couldn’t wait for the proper time to insert it!!

      Like

  20. Een jeel mooi burgerverhaal en wat een ontvangst kregen de Amerikanen

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Embarrassed to admit total ignorance about The Phillipines, both then and now, though they are just a good hop, skip and a jump from Australia. Great story of survival and resilience. We mustn’t forget.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. What a story. I can’t imagine what it would be like being caught between the two armies.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Oh, what a sad story!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. That is heart-warming. Our GIs had to evacuate civilians while fighting a war–not something I’ve thought much about. I think the current Philippines leader should read this account.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Happy to continue my farewell salutes. I feel important in remembering our men and women who gave so gallantly. Thank you for sharing…

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I really enjoy reading the firsthand accounts, even though some of them are sad. I can’t imagine having to evacuate so many times and I can understand the different decisions people made. I’m glad this woman’s father made the right choice.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. What a fascinating account…and brings the sheer unpredictability of war home to you..not just the troops, who have – sometimes – some idea of what they are doing but also the civilians who have little or no access to what is planned…

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Your inclusion of Rosalinda Morgan’s account of the return of the Americans to the Philippines is excellent, GP. You are doing such a fine job of weaving these different threads into the tapestry of the war in the Pacific. This thread reminds us that the war was an assault on the people of the towns and villages – it wasn’t just about the clash of opposing forces. Everyday people and families were caught in the middle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly, very well said. We know basically what the troops were doing, but hearing from the civilian side puts a whole new light on it. I wish I could find one from a makapili (Filipino who aided the Japanese), so we could have a well-rounded look.

      Like

  29. How excellent her blog:D
    And wonderful wedding pic:D

    At the time, the Philippines where were American colony had sides that became the United States and China guerilla and Japanese side.
    There are Both point of view : D

    https://nasudanasuko.wordpress.com/2017/08/14/shinpu-hero-in-philippines%e3%80%80%e3%81%93%e3%81%93%e3%81%ab%e3%82%82%e6%ad%b4%e5%8f%b2%e3%81%ae%e7%9c%9f%e5%ae%9f/

    Liked by 1 person

  30. This is an amazing account of a family’s effort to stay alive during such a horrific time in our history.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Thanks for posting this article. Dad did not talk about this event till his last trip here before he died. He kept on pausing while telling the story. It must be too hard on him to recollect those memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Civilians caught up in a battle – must be quite disorienting and terrifying.

    Singapore under Japanese occupation and the allies were conducting bombing runs. My mother went down to a bomb shelter which was already packed with people – including a few Japanese soldiers. A bomb came down very close and part of the shelter collapsed – killing a few civilians.

    That was her closest experience of bombing.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Personal accounts like this add a new dimension to important historical events. This was an especially poignant story.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. everyone has a different story and they are all equally amazing—as so many different lives were touched—our neighbors in Atlanta when I was growing up has actually met while they were each stationed at Pearl Harbor–she a nurse, he a Navy man—-they survived the attack and their having been there was always something us kids knew, but no one ever really talked about it…..You’ll enjoy my story today, despite it being on the other front.

    Liked by 3 people

  35. A terrifying story, GP Cox. You did well to save this one for the history books, thank you for sharing Rosalinda’s story.
    I was born after the war, but the generation before me went through hard times in Norway and on a recent visit to my hometown I attended a meeting in the local library listening to the living memories. It made a deep impact on me.
    I’ll pop over to Rosalinda and say hello. 🙂
    Greetings from the four us in Norfolk! x

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dina,
      Thank you for reading this. I think a personal outlook on an event adds to the individual perspective and understanding of what happened.
      I appreciate you visiting her site. Both from opposite sides of the world, but much in common.
      GP Cox

      Liked by 2 people

  36. Can only agree with what Pete says here, really interesting to see it from a child’s point of view.

    Liked by 2 people

  37. Always interesting to read accounts of the effect that war had on civilians trapped between the fighting. It must have indeed been terrifying, and the Japanese decision to burn the fields where they were hiding is another indication of their callousness.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

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