MANILA. The whitest of the white area for Filipino freedom-fighters operating belligerently in the shadow war against the fascist Japanese Occupation. The partisans (Renato Constantino, Josefa Llanes-Escoda, Crisanto Evangelista, Hunters-ROTC, Marking’s Guerrillas, etc.) had pitted their wits against the Kempeitai and its hirelings from the get-go in 1942. Their valiant efforts would reach a denouement in the first quarter of 1945.
The silent struggle broke out into the open and the beleaguered occupier went berserk.
“Feb. 7 – Diary entry: Akatsuki Force: 150 guerrillas were disposed of tonight. I personally stabbed and killed 10. Feb. 8 – Guarded over 1,164 guerrillas which were newly brought in today. Feb. 9 – Burned 1,000 guerrillas to death tonight. Feb. 10 – Guarded approximately 1,000 guerrillas. Feb. 13 – Enemy tanks are lurking in the vicinity of Banzai Bridge. Our attack preparation has been completed. I am now on guard duty at Guerrilla Internment Camp. While I was on duty, approximately 10 guerrillas tried to escape. They were stabbed to death. At 1600, all guerrillas were burned to death. [South West Pacific Area military intelligence section, General Staff Report on the Destruction of Manila and Japanese Atrocities, February 1945].
Hirohito’s hordes maltreated the residents of the Pearl of the Orient, counting women and children and non-combatants as hostile forces. From the Statement of Father Cosgrave, Superior Redemptorists Fathers, in connection with the La Salle College Massacre: “On February 12, 1945, approximately 70 people living in the southern wing of the college, including about 30 women and children, 15 brothers, 1 priest, and the adult men of four families as well as 12 servants, were attacked by one Japanese officer and 20 soldiers.
Victims were shot, attacked with sabers and bayoneted. Many who did not die during the attack later bled to death. The attackers attempted to violate young girls who were dying.
Chapel was later set afire, and only approximately 10 of the victims survived.”
Where was the puppet Mayor of Manila? His chief of police? His fire chief? Did he abandon City Hall? The people in the Philippine capital were clearly suffering. “Papa cooked some cassava and we ate it with sugar. Also a sip each of coffee. We didn’t care to eat.”
“Now there is a different kind of shell. It buries itself under the earth and the earth shakes. Maximo, the Amador’s helper, got hit by this kind of shell when he came back carrying water. He was screaming with pain and his body was full of straight black lines and he was smoking, even his hair. But there was no blood on him. But he continued cooking rice.”
“There were shells again and no more lulls. Just shells and bombs and shrapnels. We were just waiting to die, we thought it was the end of the world! People ran past our place…There was an old man with a dying baby in his arms and Nong ran out to baptize the baby.”
“Then there was a lull and we saw people walking with their hands up. They told us that the Americans were on Taft Ave. and the guerrillas told them to go there. They told us to go too because this was going to be the battleground. We watched them but couldn’t decide whether to follow or not. Then Niño our neighbor, came to tell us that Taft until Paco was liberated already. Now we really had to go…There were many guerrillas directing the people…They told us to hurry up. We recognized many of them from Irasan and also the man selling bananas in the market.” [Diary of Lydia C. Gutierrez, February 13, 1945]
The Rape of Manila would be tackled at a symposium on the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Manila organized by the Bataan Legacy Historical Society, Philippine World War II Memorial Foundation, and Memorare Manila 1945, supported by the Intramuros Administration. Among the speakers: Col. Kevin Capra, Commander of the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, First Cavalry Division. On February 3, 1945, the First Cavalry (8th Regiment), together with Filipino guerrillas, had liberated the University of Santo Tomas, the site of an internment camp for Allied civilian prisoners of war.
The partisans contested control of the capital city. For instance, Emmanuel V. De Ocampo and the Hunters-ROTC who had fought a running gun battle in Manila from February 11 to 12, 1945: “We rushed into the city through Anakbayan Street and Taft Avenue. The Japanese could no longer form coherent lines of resistance so they resorted to strong points and snipers.” [Interview with Colonel Emmanuel V. De Ocampo (ret.), March 2, 2001, 10-12 A.M., VFP Compound, Arroceros, Manila].
Another unit of freedom-fighters scored well. “One of the biggest scoops in the intelligence field for the Marking’s Guerrillas was the report of the late Col. Eadie Reyes, of the Cobra Regiment, Manila. She submitted a transcript of a secret conference between the Jap high commands in the Philippines. The transcript revealed the secret plan for the defense of the Philippines, which called for the establishment of the much vaunted ‘Shimbu Line’ of Gen. Yamashita. The transcript and the plan were transmitted to SWPA, so that when the American Liberation Forces landed on Luzon, already with the knowledge of the Shimbu scheme, they were able to systematically cut the defense to pieces.” [A Brief Historical Sketch Of The Marking’s Fil-American Troops. Written by Armando de la Rosa. Revised by Wilmore K Brown, 2nd Lt. Inf.].
More clandestine operatives. (1) Luzon Guerrilla Army Forces (LGAF) aka Lapham: “Subsequent to the landing on January 9, 1945, elements of the LGAF were attached to American units and fought in the battles for the Villa Verde and Santa Fe Trails, the liberation of the POW camp at Cabanatuan and in the liberation of Baguio and Manila.” (2) Anderson’s: “Purely intelligence organizations had been established in the Manila area as the Atlanta, Keywest, and Orlando York Sectors, York being the code name used for Manila…On January 4, 1945, the Kalayaan Command, in obedience to orders from GHQ, commenced open hostilities.” [US Army recognition program of Philippine guerillas] (3) Manila Military District (1st Lt. Patricio Gonzales, CO) of the East Central Luzon Guerrilla Area (ECLGA), aka Ramsey’s Guerrillas. [United States Army Forces, Pacific Military Intelligence Section, General Staff. The Guerilla Resistance Movement in the Philippines. Volume I, Intelligence Series. 1948] (4) “Major Valeriano, P.A., son of Colonel Valeriano, graduate of PMA, organized an intelligence cell in Manila under the auspices of ‘Free Philippines’.” [South West Pacific Area Military Intelligence Section, General Staff G-2 Information Bulletin report on the condition of the Philippine Island].
Like the Norwegian resistance (Milorg) that executed Maj. Gen. Karl Marthinson (head of Norwegian state police) on February 8, 1945, Juan Posong (stand-in for the Filipino guerrillas) gave Lt. Ichi (stand-in for Yamashita’s underlings) nightmares in Manila.