My Autobiography: The Fall of Bataan and Corrigidor, 1942 by Cito Jalbuena May 2010
Christmas time, 1941.
For the first time in my life, Christmas seemed to have gone by without being noticed or celebrated in a special way, as in the past years. We children did not get any gifts. Relatives, we relied on in past Christmases for gifts, have gone to other evacuation places. Even going to church to attend mass was a hazy memory to me.
Our armed forces (Filipino and American) were in mortal combat with the superior Japanese forces. Food became very scarce and military logistics were beginning to disappear. The resistance of our armed forces delayed the timetable of the Japanese, under General Homma, to invade Australia.
The fall of Bataan in April 1942 was followed by the fall of Corrigidor in May. Through radio, we learned of these disasters and we felt sadness and despair. Our old folks called us in a prayer and the most affected family was that of the family of Tio Ekoy and Tia Mayang because they have three boys in the Philippine Army.
Jose (Peping) who was a chemical engineer, was in Manila at that time, was assigned in an artillery unit and saw action in Bataan, participated in the Death March and survived. He was nursed into good health by his fiancé, Fely, and later married her. Esteban was assigned in an army unit in Iloilo toward the approach of the Japanese invasion of our city in May 1942 and was taken prisoner of war by the Japanese. Eduardo, who was a trainee at the outbreak of the war, was also assigned in Iloilo. He became a signal and intelligence officer. Later on in the 1960s, he became the chief of police of our city. He is among my best friends and told me about his adventures in the guerilla warfare.
There were many heroes during the war but a quiet lady by the name of Tia Mayang (Maria Mueda Tajanlangit, who was the mother of the three young men I narrated above, is the most admirable of them all. Imagine having three sons in the war front! She relied on prayers. She always could be seen praying her rosary all day/night long and crying.
The Japanese invasion of our city in May 1942 had become a very personal concern for my mother as well as me and my siblings because my father was caught by the Japanese invasion in our hometown of Jaro while staying in the home of my grandmother, Agatona Arguelles Jalandoni. Coincidentally, our cousin, Carlos (Charlie) Jalandoni, was also with my father in the same home.
A Japanese officer went up to them and greeted them politely. Both my father and cousin surrendered their firearms. Meanwhile, they heard the engine of the Packard limousine of my grandmother being revved up by a Japanese soldier. Then they saw the big car driven out of the garage. Since the Japanese driver did not know how to drive well, he caused a lot of cracking noise when he shifted gears!
Why my father was caught by the Japanese invasion in our hometown was another story. At the outbreak of the war, the USAFFE (United States Armed Forces in the Far East) commandeered our power plant located in the town of Santa Barbara about 12 kilometers north of my hometown.
My father was requested by the military authority to continue managing it while the US Army was using it. My father's dilemma was how to go home to barrio Aguiawan in Miagao, 40 kilometers away, without a motor vehicle. So he decided to go straight to the point. He requested our cook, Felicidad, to prepare some food among which was "suman or malagkit" or sweetened sticky rice cooked in coconut milk and a provision of water. He took the highway instead of taking to the mountains.
Luckily, he walked all the way for 40 kilometers without being molested by anybody, including the Japanese who merely waved to him from their vehicle. He reached the town of Miagao after an overnight hike. He went to the home of our hosts in the town of Miagao and requested Vic, the youngest son of Tio Ekoy and Tia Mayang, to hitch a horse for him.
All went well until he reached barrio Aguiawan and their I saw my father cry for the first time. After many stories and crying my mother was indeed very happy to see her husband alive and well. Not so well, really, because my father's feet were full of blisters. After several days of tender loving care by my mother, he was well on his feet again.