| Tuesday, May 04, 2004
|MY FATHER...THE DEATH MARCH VETERAN
I was jut talking to my father on the fon awhile ago to greet him belated happy birthday cuz i was sick on the day of his birthday so i was not able to call on time. my father is now 82 years old, a retired army man of the phil. scout attached to the U.S. army in Bataan, the Northern Province of the Phils. in the Island of Luzon. he was part of the famous Death March and was incarcerated in Capas, Tarlac on the Northern part of the Phils.
My father has completely settled in the Phils. with my mother cuz my father had a quadruple by pass four eyars ago and my mother has double hip bone repalcements and surgery and cannot endure the long flt to America. They are now living comforatbly in the Phils. surrounded by some fo their grandchildren and great great grandchildren.
My mother will be clelbrating her 80th brithday end of the month. she is showing early signs of Alzheimers and so both of them has a round the clock care giver to look after them.
After talking to my father, for some obvious reason, I saw my dads book in my library so i started reading it and i would like to share some of the excerpts that i have copied from this book. the entry on the story about my dad is his personal memoirs that I am holding now including all his medals.
ABSTRACT FROM THE MEMOIRS OF Pfc. PRUDENCIO DELOS SANTOS Phil. Army Detachment/US Army Unit /Bataan.
it was december of 1941, i was with my friends at the cinema at Anak ng Bayan,in Manila where i always meet my friends and check out some girls that come to the EDEN Theatre. right infront of this theatre is a bakery named VIRGINIA Bakery , which was owned by a chinese. all of my friends are called the EDEN Boys. i remember some of my friends from this Eden Boys group after the war bacame movie stars. i continued on to raise a family. one of the prominent members of the my group became a prominent movie director. his name was Artemio Marquez, then there was this bully looking guy who became known in the wide screen as Bruno Punzalan and Max Alvarado. dont be deceived by their looks and appearances, they are good man and young boys at that time.
i was 18 years old that time, when the japanese did the sneak attack at Pearl Harbour. my father is a shoe maker for BESA shoe store in downtown Escolta. we have a big family, we are eight total. i had a girlfriend during those testing moments in the history of the Phils. her name is Rosario, she is called "Charing". it was love at first sight. she was buying their pan de sal at Virginia Bakery when we happen to look at each other and the rest is history. we became boyfirend and girlfriend. her parents were very strict. it was her younger sister who was our link to each other. Leonor, or Nonoy as she was known is the one giving out and handing out my love letters to Charing.
then on Monday, Dec. 8, 1941 at 5:25 a.m. the super dive bombers came in at terrific speed and before anyone could realized what was happning, bombs were dropped and heavy damage was caused. Manila army and navy bases were heavily attacked by dive bombers. terrific destruction followed.
the U.S. needed to mobilize more men to repel the attack. i was recruited at the age of 18 years and because i have to go to war, i got married to Charing in a hurry--- she was only 17 years old that time. it was a very short honeymoon. then we were sent to war. we had our training at Fort Mckinley and we became what is known as the PHILIPPINE SCOUT under the detachment of the US Army. we were sent to Bataan to guard the entrance to the Manila bay aside from the fortification of Corregidor, known as the ROCK.
we have to fight hard to repel the japanese. they had a surprise of their lives when they entered thru the Manila Bay and the long guns of Corregidor came up and started the bombardment. there were plenty of casualties from the japanese side instantly. plenty of their battleships where sunk. japanese spies in manila did not know that there were big guns and an underground tunnel in the island of corregidor.
then the surrender came. it was inevitable. Gen McArthur thru corregidor island was picked up by a submarine with his family and that of the family of Pres. Quezon to be brought to the allied command center in Australia then Pres. Quezon and his family was taken to the United States, where he died of Tuberculosis.
we have to surrender to the japanese. i will never forget the atrocities that i have witnessed and it will never be erased from my mind.............
" we were walking under the extreme heat of the sun passing all the sugar cane plantation along the road. theres lots of chances to run and dive inside the thick sugar cane filed, but we are all very weak and dehydrated. the japanese have marched us all day long without food or water. i remember passing by a barrio in bataan and somebody handed me and my friends cooked rice and chicken wrapped in banana leaves. i shared it with my american friends and we ate even the banana leaves. if we will be given time to drink, the japanese takes pleasure by seeing us drink in the same pool with the carabao wherein the carabao was there soaking with all his filth and excrement. we have to drink because we are thirsty. this is the reason all of us got dysentery, diarrhea and malaria. there were no medicine and there is no quinine for the malaria sickness. we were marched into ten then into five. the japanese does not know what to do with us. the extreme heat of the sun and the dust is unbearable. if you lag behind, there were japanese soldiers who will shoot you or either jab the bayonet behind your back. i saw this best friend of mine, Lucas, from southern part of Illinois. he became disoriented and walked towards the ditch by the sugar cane field. the japanese colonel came over and chop his head off and left him on the side as if nothing happened. we have to move along. there is nothing we could do but to move forward.
at nite, we will be kept inside the rice warehouse that was found by the japanese, this KAMALIG could only fit at least 200 people but we were more than 800 so we have to be squeezed in. if you cannot fit inside, then you have sentenced yourself to die instantly. so all of us have to fit inside--some already are on the rafters or on the beams of the KAMALIG. you have to relieve yourself standing and you have to sleep standing. one cannot even scratch the mosquitoes that hovers all over the place. by the time the light came in the morning, more than 100 of my group had died. they were left behind and the barrio people will be the ones who will have to bury them.
we are thirsty and starving. along the side of the road, approaching San Fernando, Pampanga...we saw a papaya tree with fruits on it. the japanese corporal gave us permission to get some fruits for us, but we ate all of it and the only thing standing is the trunk of the papaya tree. that is how starved we are. towards the town proper of tarlac, the people were lined up the street and the byways. if the japanese is not looking, they will just pull you out of the line and hide you inside the sugarcane field and under the ditches where the irrigation water is coming out. if you get caught, the entire barrio will be excecuted by the japanese. but i saw the love and the respect of these simple farm folks to all of us and most especially to the american soldier. i saw a boy of 10 years of age who did the V sign and the japanese soldier saw him did the V sign, he was shot on the spot and the mother who came to the rescuse was beheaded.
we finally arrived at the concentration camp in Capas, Tarlac. this is hell on earth. i was very sick with malaria and people are dying. there is no medicine. i was part of the burial detachment. and this is very awful. corpses are all bloated cuz of the heat and we cannot dig enough holes to bury them. because we are so weak, at times we were not able to fit them all in a big communal grave. if we dig deep, water comes up and then the grave yard gets flooded. so that the dead bodies will not float, we have to poke them with bamboo poles for them to sink at the bottom. sometimes after burying them, rain will come and some parts of the corpses will stik out of the grounds and the dogs will come and have a feast on the parts of the corpses.
i made a mistake in one of my details at the graveyard and my ring finger was cut by the japanese soldier with a plier. i almost died of infection but i remember when i was young when i got circumcised, we have to use the guava leaves. and so i used this in my wound and rinse the boiled water with guava leaves to make my wound dried up.one of american medic saw this and i told him that this is a medicinal herb. they started using it to cleanse the wounds and scabs. nobdy is allowed to eat the leaves of the guava tree from then on. there was this ALAGAO tree near the camp and i told the medic we could boil it and drink the water to prevent dysentery. when the japanese found out that this is what we are doing, the next morning the guave tree and the Alagao tree was ordered chopped down and burned."
TO PROTECT THE PRIVACY OF SOME OF MY DADS FRIENDS THAT HE MENTIONED IN HIS MEMOIRS, I AM ENDING IT TO THIS POINT. MY FATHER HAS AT LEAST MORE THAN 200 PAGES OF HIS MEMOIRS THAT HE WROTE AFTER THE WAR WHEN IT WAS CALLED PEACE TIME IN THE PHILS.
MY FATHER'S NAME IS NOW ETCHED AT THE WAR MEMORIAL IN TARLAC.
I HAVE FRAMED MY DADS MEDALS AND DECORATION. BOTH THE MEMOIRS AND MEDALS IS NOW IN MY POSSESSION.
|posted by infraternam meam @ 12:23 AM