My dad told me stories about his experience during the war. He was in his 4th year of college at the University of the Philippines when the war broke out. Because he was an ROTC cadet, he was drafted by the US military under Mac Arthur’s command.

He told me that many of the Japanese foot soldiers were conscripts from Korea who were as ruthless and barbaric as the Mongol hordes of Genghis Khan. It’s in their genes to kill people. Japanese officers were the educated ones and they were more humane. Japan planted undercover agents way before the war began. These sari-sari store owners put on their uniforms when the war broke out and became officers with intimate knowledge of the territory they covered. I have an aunt in Iloilo who married one of these Japanese way before the war broke out and their children still carry their father’s surname. I believe that their dad was killed by the guerrillas. If Japan won the war, these officers would have been leaders of the Philippine civilian government.

My father was a 1st Lieutenant of the USAFFE who defended Corregidor but escaped before “the rock” fell to Japanese hands. He then sailed to Negros by boat with some of his buddies and organized a guerrilla unit in Mt. Kanlaon. — Rollin Tusalem

My dad told me that he was about to enter Intramuros to go to his barbershop when he bumped into someone fleeing the city. This guy told him not to go into the Walled City because the Japanese soldiers were killing everyone inside.

“The Japanese were killing babies by throwing them in the air and catching them with bayonets.”

Later on, he found the ruins of our barbershop and all his 7 barbers were killed. My 2 uncles who were Catholic priests were beheaded. At another episode, we lived in Sta. Ana, Manila and the Japanese were killing babies, by throwing them in the air and catching them with bayonets. I was supposed to be one of those babies except a Japanese officer intervened and spared me. This officer who was an undercover Japanese spy before the war, used to own a corner sari- sari store near our house and somehow he recognized my mother and asked the soldiers not to harm me. We had very little food to eat and my dad was trying to catch a mudfish from a canal near our house during an ongoing warplane dogfight between the Japanese & US fighter planes when a bomb was dropped. He was almost killed by a shrapnel.

Those were the days. I had a cousin who fought in Bataan and was part of the Death March to Capas. He was dying of malaria. My dad went to Capas to get him & nursed him back to health. My father was the guarantor for his release. My father was responsible to surrender my cousin If the Japanese wanted him back. When the Japanese realized they were losing the war, they started killing all US Scouts from Capas who lived in our area in Sta. Ana. They killed many of our neighbors. My cousin knew he would be killed, so he escaped. Luckily my dad was not home at that time. Plus the American soldiers were already in Mandaluyong & Punta and were crossing the bridge to enter Sta. Ana. The Japanese retreated from Sta. Ana to Paco, where they killed hundreds of civilians — men, women & children, old and young. My parents said Paco was littered with dead bodies of Filipino civilians. They could not understand how a people (the Japanese) could be so cruel. As if they did not have mothers, fathers and children. — Lito Demonteverde

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