Valerie Orcena

December 14, 2005

English 165

Liza Erpelo

Essay #4




Experiencing World War II



     In life, people have experienced things that have an affect on the decisions that they make.  By the way a person acts or talks can tell you about what kind of person you are.  People learn through the experiences that we have encountered.  Everything that we have learned is from the past and we wouldn’t be who we are today.  Through the research and analysis, I created a “mini-ethnography” of Araceli Obana Orcena, who is my grandmother during the time of World War II.  Araceli is from the province of Lucban, Quezon.  During the time of the war, Araceli and her family thought that it was safe for them to fleed to the deepest highest mountain during this difficult time.

     The interview that I had with my grandmother, Araceli, I told her about everything that I knew about World War II was from all in history books at school.  I understood the whole concept about when and where it happened and who was involved the war, but never had anything about the involvement of the Filipinos.  The history books would usually have information about the Americans and the Japanese soldiers, but hardly the Filipinos.  According to The Philippines: A Unique Nation by Sonia M. Zaide states, “The Philippines joined the war on December 8, 1941, immediately after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, because of the Filipino’s love of freedom and loyalty to America.”  This shows how much the Filipinos wanted to get involved with the war and should be recognized.  It also proves that Filipinos during the war have the right to be ranked among the free nations.  Most History books leave out the experiences that the Filipinos had to face during this hard time.  From this interview that I had with my grandmother, there were many things that I have learned and didn’t know about her that she explained to me by her remembrance of the war.  This is an experience that I enjoyed listening to about the history of World War II by someone that I dearly love and is very close to me.  Today my grandmother has experienced wonderful things in life that has made her into someone who is dedicated to her family, strong and an independent woman during the time of the war.       

     As a young child, it is very difficult to go to the mountains and live there while the war was going on.  My grandmother Araceli was only nine years old when World War II was going on.  Araceli and her family fled to the mountains because they were scared.  In the mountains, Araceli describes that it was very dark because there was no light, hardly any food to eat, and no water. The water had to be fetched somewhere far in the mountain and had to boil it before they were able to drink it.  Araceli and her family survived by eating porridge, casaba, vegetables, and coconuts because the Japanese people were taking their food.  Araceli and her family survived living in the mountains by bamboo sticks and leaves.  According to an interview with Peregrina Vedad, conducted by Daniel Sumbang, Peregrina who is Daniel’s grandmother also fled to the mountains of her town Leyte, a province in the Visayan Islands.  Peregrina was eleven years old when the war struck.  Even though both women lived in different provinces in the Philippines, they both fled to a place where they felt they could be safe.  Both women were at a very young age at the time and both fled with their families to the mountains.  Peregrina wasn’t fully aware of the war breaking out because her parents kept it from her.  Her parents told Peregrina and her sister that they were going on a vacation that would affect their lives for more than two years.  Peregrina and her family lived a healthy life in the mountains for three years.  Today, this experience of World War II has affected the life of my grandmother Araceli, but is now living a wonderful healthy life.

     The people in the Philippines were very scared of the Japanese soldiers because of the way they were treating the Filipinos.  During the time of the war, Araceli’s father was taken by the Japanese soldiers and brought him to the Garrison, which is a place where they keep the prisoners located outside of town in Lucena.  Since Araceli was the eldest child, she had to bring her father food everyday.  She brought food to him, and was rejected one day thinking that her father died.  The Japanese soldiers were so mean to Araceli.  There was a letter for Araceli’s mother under the food that was rejected, saying to call her father’s manager at the Maralco office in Lucena.  With just one phone call, Araceli’s father was released because the manager was friends with the Empyreal Japanese Army.  These Filipinos at the time had a great fear towards the Japanese soldiers.  According to The American Nation by James West Davidson and John E. Batchelor states, “General Douglas MacArthur led the defense of the Philippines.  American and Filipino troops fought bravely against enormous odds of the Japanese.  In the end, MacArthur was forced to withdraw.”  Filipinos thought that the Japanese soldiers were horrible and had so much hate towards them. 

     In this case, Araceli was very aware about what was going on at her age.  Araceli was told by her mother that everything would be just fine.  According to Daniel’s interview with his grandmother Peregrina, her parents made the choice not to tell her because they said that everything would be okay.  According to another interview conducted by Nathaniel Ramos, interviewed his grandmother Pat Naguita, who was only eight years old at the time of World War II.  She also wasn’t really aware about what was going on.  Pat was told by her parents also that everything would be fine, and saw that many Filipinos were scared.  I found out there was a connection with all three interviews with our grandmothers because the Japanese soldiers frightened them.  The parents wanted to keep them out of trouble and not have them worry about what was going on.  However, today, my grandmother does not see Japanese people differently because people have moved on from people’s mistakes from the past.  In fact, I can say that I have nothing against Japanese people today because time has changed and you cannot blame people for something that has happened in the passed.  Many people can forget about what has happened in the past because it was all a mistake.  I am sure that many Filipinos today have changed the way they look at Japanese people because of World War II.

     Being a dedicated person is very important because it shows how much you really care about other people.  Araceli was very dedicated to her family.  Since she was the eldest child, she was responsible for bringing food to her father when he was taken by the Japanese soldiers.  She also took care of her younger siblings because they were so young and didn’t really know what was going on at the time of the war.  Araceli knows how to face her problems and doesn’t try to run away from it because it would only make it worse.  She wanted to help get her father out, so she did what she could do.  In the mountains, she wanted to make sure that her other siblings were okay because they were so young.  There was also a connection with Peregrina because during the time when her family fled to the mountains, she was still living her life like how she would normally do.  Peregrina played with her sister and helped out her parents.  This shows how much our grandmothers wanted to help out with the family during this rough time and it shows how much dedication that they have for their families.

     In conclusion, through the research that I have done, I found that the experiences you go through will always have an affect on your life.  My grandmother has learned how to live a healthy wonderful life even though she experienced rough times with the Japanese, but learned how to forgive them.  I have learned that from all three interviews that they have many things in common.  You can learn many things from our grandmothers’ interviews because of the knowledge and wisdom that they have to offer during that time.  Experiencing new things will help your knowledge grow and grow as a person. 






Batchelor, John “Allied Drive to Victory.” The American

Nation. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Prentice

Hall,Inc. 1990, 1989, 1986.

Orcena, Valerie. Interview with Araceli Orcena. November


Ramos, Nathaniel. Interview with Pat Naguita. October 2005.

Sumbang, Daniel. Interview with Peregrina Benusa Vedad.

     October 2005.

Zaide, Sonia “The Philippines and World War II.” The

     Philippines: A Unique Nation. Quezon City. All-

     Nations Publishing Co., Inc. 1999.