December 8, 2020
Contact: Jon Melegrito
By Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret)
Chairman, FilVet REP
Dec 8, 1941 was a devastating time in the Philippines. The Japanese Imperial Forces attacked Batan Island in the Philippines and were rapidly advancing to invade northern Luzon in Aparri, Cagayan, Vigan and San Fernando, and in the Visayas, and southern Mindanao.
While Pearl Harbor in Hawaii was being bombed by Japanese fighter planes around 8 am on Sunday, Dec 7, 1941, General Douglas MacArthur, Commander of the US Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) was awakened around 3:30 am on Dec 8th and informed of the attack.
All units under USAFFE were alerted, but they were ill equipped and poorly trained. With insufficient weapons, ammunitions, aircraft, and supplies, they were no match to a powerful and massive army. The civilian population was not sufficiently informed that the Japanese were landing quickly throughout the country. There were no safe havens to go to. Panic and chaos ensued everywhere.
I remember my mother, Maria, at 16 years old, telling us the Japanese had landed near her village. Her mother, father, brothers, and sisters had no where to go in Cagayan. So, they decided to separate and disperse to evade capture and being killed. She made her way to Manila to stay with an aunt. She found her Auntie Kikay. Later, she was detained by the Japanese Army and was placed in the Santo Tomas Detention Camp in Manila. She often told us of the horror and suffering she witnessed under the Japanese occupation.
Do you have stories to tell from your lolos and lolas when World War II started in the Philippines?
The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP), is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, community-based, all-volunteer national initiative whose mission is to obtain national recognition of Filipino and American WW11 soldiers across the United States and the Philippines for their wartime service to the U.S. and the Philippines from July 26, 1941 to December 31, 1946. For more information about Filipino WWII veterans and how to get involved, visit our website at www.filvetrep.org or find us on Facebook or Twitter.