‘Don’t fence me in’


    OH, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above.”

    But Rizal’s homeland was still under oppressive Japanese Occupation, thus, when the rom-com “Hollywood Canteen” and its hit song “Don’t Fence Me In” were released on 15 December 1944 in the US, the freedom-loving Filipinos could chime: “Let me ride through the wide country that I love, Don’t fence me in.”

    More of those Nipponese fences were dismantled in a major Allied operation. “On 02 December 1944, the Western Visayan Task Force, escorted by warships of the Seventh Fleet, sailed from the Dulag area of Leyte and set a course for Mindoro via Surigao Strait.”
    “So unexpected was an American assault on Mindoro prior to a main invasion of Luzon that even when the Task Force was sighted in the Mindanao Sea on 13 December, the Japanese estimated its destination as Negros or Panay. During the 14th, enemy patrol planes searched the beach waters of these two islands, fully expecting to find American landing operations already under way. Even when the convoy had progressed beyond the western Visayas, there were still some elements in the Japanese High Command, especially in the naval and air forces, who held that a landing directly on Luzon was in the offing. Only when the American convoy was finally anchored off San Jose did the Japanese discover that Mindoro was the ultimate objective of the amphibious assault forces.”

    “On 15 December, after sailing past Negros and Panay with further interference from the enemy limited to weak raiding missions, the assault ships of the Western Visayan Task Force drew close to the beaches of southwest Mindoro. Following a short naval bombardment, troops of the 19th RCT and the 503rd Parachute Regiment went ashore without opposition and pushed rapidly inland. The landing phase of the invasion was accomplished without the loss of a single Allied soldier, although several suicide planes managed to penetrate the transports’ air cover, sinking two LST’s and damaging a destroyer. In order that the convoy be exposed to enemy air attack for as short a time as possible, some 1200 combat troops of the 77th Division had accompanied the assault forces, to be utilized at the beachhead for the sole purpose of unloading the necessary equipment. The innovation, improvised to overcome the shortage of service troops, was highly successful and all materiel was transferred to the beaches before nightfall. Their work completed, the 77th Division troops were then returned to Leyte with the emptied ships. By noon of the invasion day, the town of San Jose had been occupied and work was begun on its airstrips.”

    The original United Nations, spearheaded by the Allies, were rolling back the fascist forces everywhere: Battles of Knin (victory for the Yugoslav Partisans), Metz (Lieutenant General George Patton and the U.S. Third Army over General Otto von Knobelsdorff and German Army-men in France), Kesternich (Major General Edwin P. Parker Jr. over Generalleutnant Eugen König in Germany) and Mindoro (Philippines). Even as the U.S. Seventh Army re-captured Riedseltz, Salmbach and Lauterbourg from the Nazis in France on 15 December 1944, the U.S. Sixth Army on the same day helped liberate a principal Asia-Pacific island, Mindoro, “as an air and troop staging base for invasions of the central and southern Philippine Islands.” [John F. Shortal. ROBERT L. EICHELBERGER: THE EVOLUTION OF A COMBAT COMMANDER. A Dissertation Submitted to the Temple University Graduate Board, May 1985].

    Before the landings of the American assets, remnants of the Philippine Constabulary garrisons, along with civilian volunteers, had been resisting the unwelcome Oriental Hitlerites. “It appears that at the outbreak of war on December 8, 1941, Ramon Ruffy was the Provincial Commander, Prudente M. Francisco, a junior officer, and Andres Fortus, a corporal, all of the Philippine Constabulary garrison stationed in Mindoro. When, on February 27, 1942, the Japanese forces landed in Mindoro, Major Ruffy retreated to the mountains instead of surrendering to the enemy, disbanded his company, and organized and led a guerilla outfit known as Bolo Combat Team or Bolo Area. Lieutenant Francisco, Corporal Fortus and Jose L. Garcia, the last then a civilian, joined Major Ruffy’s organization towards the latter part of 1942, while Dominador Adeva and Victoriano Dinglasan, then likewise civilians, became its members some time in 1943.”

    “Even before General MacArthur’s recognition of the 6th Military District Colonel Peralta had extended its sphere of operation to comprise Mindoro and Marinduque, and had, on January 2, 1943, named Major Ruffy as Acting Commander for those two provinces and Commanding Officer of the 3rd Batallion, 66th Infantry 61st Division, Philippine Corps.” [G.R. No. L-533. August 20, 1946]

    Captain Esteban P. Beloncio led a band of 250 civilians (150 assorted firearms) in the Lake Naujan area, while Romerius (San Jose’s ex-police chief) had a group lodged in the area of the Tamaraw Junction. In the Philippine Resistance Campaign, the Mindoro guerrillas harbored two Southwest Pacific Area intelligence missions: effecting a unified Ruffy-Beloncio structure and setting up coast-watchers along the southern towns of Sablayan and San Jose.

    The Filipino partisans were no slouches, thus, in the Philippine Liberation Campaign, Mindoro was the first Luzon island retaken by Allied operations for its value as an air base. Other matters of interest:

    StarCraft II was one of the e-sports included in this year’s Philippine hosting of the Southeast Asian Games. The story: “Relative newcomers to the Koprulu sector, the terrans are the descendants of a disastrous colonization expedition launched from Earth centuries ago. With neither the advanced technology of the protoss nor the natural prowess of the zerg, terran military forces rely on a varied mix of resilient, versatile units to outwit their foes.” The game: “With three races, four modes, and infinite ways to play, StarCraft II is the ultimate real-time strategy experience. Do you have what it takes to become the galaxy’s greatest commander?” [https://starcraft2.com/en-us/game] The relevance: “Most StarCraft 2 AI systems have some type of combat model to determine whether or not it is reasonable to engage an opposing force. Our models can assist in this decision-making process by providing an estimated probability of a successful engagement, and also an average outcome of units.” [Ian Helmke, Daniel Kreymer, and Karl Wiegand, “Approximation Models of Combat in StarCraft 2,” December 3, 2012] The application: “The StarCraft 2 course was like one of the Wright brothers’ first attempts at powered human flight. It had its design flaws and its achievements were rather limited. However, this innovative educational approach shows much promise. Now it is up to future researchers and educators to continue to build upon this research foundation and to help DGBL become more effective and widely accepted and implemented.” [Nathaniel D. Poling. Collaboration, Teamwork, And Team Cohesion In A Starcraft 2 Digital Game-Based Course. A Dissertation Presented To The Graduate School Of The University Of Florida. University Of Florida, 2013]