Nathaniel Ramos

English 165

Ms. Erpelo

Essay #4




The Tale Never Told



            Have you ever questioned history and what the contents of it really are?  Did you ever speak to someone who absolutely boggled your mind when they told you stories opposite of what you actually believed?  These are some of the emotions that I went through when I had interviewed my grandmother.  Pat Naguita had many encounters with the United States and Japanese soldiers.  While she was growing up, she was basically involved in the Second World War.  She witnessed many of the horrific events that occurred in the Philippines during a time of uncertainty.  My grandmother was taught by the Japanese for a couple of years during the time of occupation.  It surprised me when she said this because when I think of the Japanese in the Philippines, I remember events like the Bataan Death March and the cruelties that go along with it.  Instead, she informed me that the captains (who were also teachers), we’re very educated, so they were not very cruel to the children. She also explained that the soldiers that were atrocious were the uneducated of the bunch, which is why they acted so inhumane.  Though the Japanese were horrible in some parts of the Philippines, other Japanese actually tried to educate and build a foundation for the youth.

            The Philippines never really had a problem with the Japanese until they began to invade the shores because of the many American strongholds that lay in the Philippines.  For over forty years, the United States had been able to use the Philippines to get to any country that they wanted for trade or whatever they wanted and the Japanese were not willing the United States to invade their territory.  As World War II began, the Japanese force, along with the other two parts of the Axis- Germany and Italy, was growing increasingly powerful taking over cities such as China and other big cities in Europe and Asia. The Filipino soldiers that were awaiting battle never were trained to battle the Japanese soldiers that had a mindset to kill any man who stood in front of them and when the first Japanese boat landed on the shores with about 50,000 crazy soldiers, the Philippines only had about “100,000 green Filipino soldiers” to stand up against the Japanese.  But they were no match.  The veteran Japanese soldiers, who had already been attacking other countries in Asia, basically ran over these 100,000 civilians that stood in their way.  They quickly acquired the capital city of Manila and the troops were forced to retreat to Bataan.  The next two events that would take place are events that historians and history books tend to leave out in many stories when describing World War II in the Philippines.  The first story that tends to be left out is the evacuation of General MacAuthor from the Philippines and the surrender of Bataan and Corregidor.  This was actually the first surrender by an American troop, led by an American officer, (that is probably why it’s not mentioned ever in history books). After the surrender, came the most notorious event to occur in the Philippines since the trench warfare shooting of the Philippine-American War, and that was the Bataan Death March which claimed the lives of tens of thousands of soldiers.  These P.O.W’s were put through the most horrible 65 mile walk in history.  They were beaten, shot, fed unfit food, given unhealthy water, and treated like animals.  Being under the Philippines tropical sun did not help either.  After the Japanese presumably caught all the soldiers, the remaining U.S. and Filipino soldiers had to form a guerrilla army that involved the use of guerilla warfare.  They would attack at night so they would not be noticed by anyone.  According to my grandmother, the people that wanted to be apart of the guerilla movement did not have to officially register but just take part in some of the activities they were doing.  My Great-grandfather was one of those apart of the cause.  He did not want to be apart of the initial fighting if he did not have to, so he mainly got food for the soldiers.  This wasn’t so bad because his regular profession was being a butcher. Now that the military was involved in this situation, my grandmother would experience things that we would never have even thought about.

            Life in the Philippines is like no other, especially at a time when danger is ready to happen at any second.  Growing up in San Carlos City, in the Pangasinan province, it was very calm. My grandmother was raised with five brothers and one sister. My grandmother talked about how she would play games with her brothers and sister after school till it got dark and how they would run, jump, sing, and enjoy being kids until the sunset.  But then as soon as dark began to show, her mother would call her from out the window, “come on in now kids or else Uncle Sam is going to get you.”  So upon hearing this all seven of the kids would race home run upstairs and peek out the window to see who that Uncle Sam was.  My grandmother at that point in time did not understand why her mother would say this and why it would install fear as to run home.    When we think of the name Uncle Sam in America, we do not associate him with a sort of villain.  We picture him as the father of this country.  He is the one to call out to the troops asking people to join the U.S military, screaming “I want you”.  I believe that she had told me that there was a secret organization of United States and Filipino troops that would only come out at night so they would not be seen.  This is one of the reasons that my great-grandmother would call them in.  Not to literally scare the children but to leave the guerrilla troops un-noticed by the children because the children might report to the captain that they had seen soldiers when they were playing.

            The Japanese captain for the troops that resided in the Philippines was also my grandmother’s school teacher for a short while.  She said that the teacher was just like every other teacher that she had growing up.  They even taught the children Nupongo, one of the Japanese languages, along with Japanese songs.  The education was a little different experience for her growing up.  As soon as she completed one grade they would immediately jump to another without a break period.  It was just a continuation of education because they were so unsure of the future.  When the captain did not educate the children, the teachers were told what to teach and what not to teach.  When the teacher would discuss World History, he, or she, was prohibited from saying anything about the United States.  The children were informed to take a slip of paper, or whatever they had, and ordered to paste that piece of paper over that page or part that discussed the United States.  If the teacher did not follow the instructions as planned they would be punished.  To actually have them edit the information that is supposed to be given is unfair to there growing minds.  Though times were not always so hard, it changed when one of the soldiers was knocked unconscious in the middle of the marketplace. 

            My grandmother had explained to me that though the Japanese in San Carlos City were relatively level-headed, the captain went berserk when one of the soldiers was hit by a guerrilla soldier and knocked out.  He ordered all the people in the area to be locked in the Town Hall until the soldier recovered.  The scary part for everyone there was that they did not know if he was going to wake up. Being stuck in a room not knowing what was about to happen can really put the mind in a bad place.  Just imagine being in a room where you are just surrounded by soldiers with guns and swords ready to eliminate you at the sound of a command.  Thankfully, the soldier recovered with just a lump on the back of his cranium. So as soon as he got on his feet, the captain allowed all the children to leave first, and then followed by the Adults, a couple of hours later.  This event was short lived compared to the horrific event that would follow.

              The war had just about ended and everyone was jubilant over the ending of the war.  Then all of a sudden you can hear the bomber jets of the United States coming at the islands.  The word that the Japanese were no longer in the Philippine vicinity did not reach the U.S.’s radio person in time for them to call off the planes.  They picked up two carts and began went to the other house in order to pick up my grandmothers cousins.  My great-grandmother took my grandmother, her sister and the two youngest boys in one of the cow-pulled carts and the cousins of my grandmother took the other one to the country where they would be relatively safe. The two eldest brothers were left to stay with my great-grandfather in cases anything was to happen.  She told them to meet them in the countryside when if they needed to because it was only a six mile walk.  When the planes started to hurry in they began to drop the bombs at the surrounding cities.  While they were dropping bombs, my great-grandmother was enthusiastic thinking that they were dropping those bombs on the Japanese.  Her smile turned into a frown when they began to see civilians running towards, and passed them, covered in blood.  After the bombings ceased by the U.S. they made there way back to town to see all the people injured from scrambling, really not knowing where to run or hide.  When they returned to the city, my grandmother found her cousins lying in the canal filled with low water hiding with the dog.  This may or may have not been a mistake by the United States but I think that a mistake like that should be out in the open and not hidden.

              As the Japanese began to attack other parts of the Philippines, many families began to retreat all over the archipelago looking for safety.  Daniel’s grandmother actually retreated into the mountains for about three years in order to escape the stronghold of Japan.  Valerie’s Grandmother also retreated during the Japanese occupation because of the frightful environment that was associated with their area.  My grandmother and her parents did not want to leave because they were not in any form of harm.  Like my grandmother said, the Japanese in there area were not as people perceived.  There are many stories of different reactions to the occupation of the Japanese and we are some of them that differ from one another.

The Japanese were very different in the way that they were described, then what I previously believed.  When you think about Japanese in the Philippines it automatically assume the worst of what they did.  The only reason that the Philippines were ever invaded by the Japanese is because of all the American strongholds that existed there.  The information in this essay that I have provided are all events that have been experienced by my grandmother while she was growing up.  I believe that my grandmother was lucky to have been given Japanese soldiers and commanders that did not look to harm them, but to live their lives like it was supposed to, only under Japanese supervision.  I still feel that the Japanese soldiers were horrific as they were stated in some of the text but this information helps strengthen my anxiety to dig deeper into the information that is given