Most of the younger generation of Kagay-anons pass through Tiano Brothers street which runs parallel to the main artery of Apolinar Velez street without any idea whom it was named after.
However, thanks to the dedication of some residents who are working hard to revive and restore the city’s history during the Second World War and a growing number of online posts dedicated to local heroes, many have become aware of the stories of the three brothers who fought Imperial Japan and the two others who tended to the sick and wounded in one of the guerrilla hospitals in Misamis Oriental.
Still, to this date, very few of the current generation are aware the story of fifteen members of the Moreno clan of Balingasag, Misamis Oriental, who fought together under one guerrilla unit based in this town.
Unlike the five Sullivan brothers who were all killed in action during the sinking of the light cruiser USS Juneau on 14 November 1942, all survived the war and went on to establish their own families and had children who are now prominent figures in their own right.
Most prominent among the fifteen were four male offspring of the seven sons and three daughters of Jose Gonzales Moreno and Josefina Almendrala who served with the 110th Infantry Regiment, 110th Division (Guerrilla) of the 10th Military District, United States Forces in the Philippines (USFIP) during World War II, along with a son-in-law married to the eldest of their three daughters.
The third son Rodolfo joined the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) and fought in Bataan, captured by the Japanese and survived the death march after which he was held captive and tortured in Capas, Tarlac. He later managed to escape and found his way back to Balingasag where he joined his siblings Redentor, Emeterio Sr. and Manuel in the guerrillas. Their brother in law Papias Tiro, who married their eldest sister Humildad, also fought in the same unit. The three other brothers were Metelo, Taurino and Jose, Jr., and the two younger sisters Purisima and Nieves.
Jose Gonzales Moreno was a farmer-landowner and raised the brood at the Moreno-Almendrala Ancestral House in Balingasag Poblacion where all of their children were born. Built before the Second World War, the house still stands and has now passed through five generations.
The Almendralas and Morenos inter-marriage strengthened the union between the two families that bequeathed Misamis Oriental and Cagayan de Oro with a legacy of prominent physicians, religious leaders and public servants, among them Dr. Ignacio B. Moreno, a former member of the Misamis Oriental Provincial Board; Dr. Ramon F. Moreno; Fr. Antonio F. Moreno, S.J.; Deacon Manuel A. Moreno; Former Misamis Oriental Governor and currently Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar S. Moreno and the former Mayor of Balingasag Marietta R. Abogado, daughter of former municipal mayor Porferio Roa.
“Papa told me during the war, the whole family evacuated to (Barangay) Camuayan, then went back to the ancestral house afterwards,” recalls Elvira Moreno-Magsalay, daughter of Jose’s eldest son Redentor, and now based in Seattle, USA. “Lolo (Jose) was a landowner/farmer while Lola (Josefina) had always been a housewife.”
Dr. Redentor Ed. A. Moreno, Sr.
The eldest son, 1st Lt. Redentor Ed. A. Moreno Sr., DC, served as the Regimental Dental Surgeon of the Medical Co. of the 110th Infantry Regiment, 110th Division (Guerrilla) based in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental.
Although the family has no records of his wartime records with the guerrillas, one can infer his leadership from how he assumed the paternal duties as patriarch of the clan as the eldest of the Moreno siblings when their father passed on, and his brand of public service as a public servant after the war.
As a father and family man, he was a strict disciplinarian, inheriting the values of his father Jose G. Moreno, Jr. Being the eldest of a patriarchal family with strong Catholic faith and qualities from both parents, he inculcated in his children the value of prayers, trust in God, and education.
“He was the recognized head of the family when our father died,” his son Sonny said. “All the brothers and sisters, even their spouses and children, looked up to “Ede”, or “Iyo Ede” as their adviser, mediator, problem solver, and confidant when internal family conflicts or problems arose. He is the source of the Moreno unity now still being practiced after 3-4 generations. Strong family ties were always emphasized, that the family is still close even today after the succeeding generations.”
As a public health dentist who served the entire province, he was so punctual he often arrived ahead of the regional health units staff when he came calling!
He rose from the ranks to became senior dentist (the equivalent of regional dental officer today) but decided to retire in 1979 when the boat they were riding on an inspection tour in Camiguin capsized and they were in the water for 2-3 hours under the scorching heat of the sun before they were rescued.
His health was affected and in 1980 he and his wife decided to migrate to the USA. He died on May 14, 1988 and was buried in California. Until his death, he was still active in the activities of the US Veterans in California.
“He was a very diligent and patient dentist that his patients came from as far as Medina to Villanueva. He was always busy that our meals were always disrupted because he would treat patients first, especially those from far towns, before he would eat or rest,” Sonny recalls. “This kind of public service we inherited from our father, so his sons decided to stay and serve the country the best way we can.”
All his children chose the medical profession: Elvira (Bebing) and Asuncion (Joy) are nurses now living in the USA, while Redentor Jr. (Tony) and Ignacio (Sonny), are both medical doctors and practicing in the Philippines.
Redentor Jr. served as the municipal health officer of Talisayan, and was a volunteer with the United Nations Volunteer Program) in Samoa ng Zambia.
Sonny took his residency in anesthesiology at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (then known as the Northern Mindanao Regional Training Hospital) in 1984-87. After his residency he entered public service and was elected as a member of the Misamis Oriental provincial board (1st District) in 1992-1995. He joined the Provincial Health Office in 1997 and became the Provincial Health Officer in 2004, retiring in 2013.
During his tenure, Misamis Oriental under then Gov. Oscar S. Moreno rehabilitated its seven provincial district hospitals and constructed the OWWA-MisOr Philippines Hospital in Alubijid, a pilot partnership between OWWA and MisOr LGU.
As a result, the Misamis Oriental Provincial Government was awarded its first Galing Pook Award in recognition of its outstanding health services program Strategic Innovations for Government Hospitals and Sonny was recognized by JCI Philippines Senate as one of the Ten Outstanding Filipino Physicians of 2012 for his work as Misamis Oriental’s Provincial Health Officer.
Dr. Emeterio A. Moreno, Sr.
The second oldest brother, 2nd Lt. Emeterio A. Moreno Sr., also served in the same unit as S-1 and HQ Company Commanding Officer, coincidentally under the leadership of 1st Lt. Othelo Emano, 1st Battalion Commanding Officer. 1st Lt. Emano was the uncle of the late Cagayan de Oro Mayor and Misamis Oriental Governor Vicente Y. Emano, and grand uncle of current Misamis Oriental Governor Yevgeny Vincente “Bambi” Emano.
This is recorded in the Roster of Troops, Combat Co., HQ Bn 110th Inf of Balingasag, Misamis Oriental dated midnight 30 Aug 1945 and signed by Abundo Bibiano, 2nd Lt, Inf (USFIP) with Declassified Authority NND 883078.
2nd Lt. Moreno Sr. is the father of former Misamis Oriental 1st District Congressman and Misamis Oriental Governor Oscar S. Moreno, who is currently serving his third and last term as the Mayor of Cagayan de Oro City. The elder Moreno later became a physician and served in the town’s barangays.
The younger Moreno has recorded significant achievements in his various positions as a public servant.
Besides serving as Congressman for the 1st District of Misamis Oriental, Oscar Moreno also served with distinction as provincial governor of Misamis Oriental, twice winning the Galing Pook Award for the province for strategic innovations in its hospital system, and for integrating the former rebel stronghold of Sitio Lantad into the mainstream of society, the DILG Gawad Pamana ng Lahi and the Seal of Good Housekeeping for good governance.
During his incumbency as Cagayan de Oro’s chief executive, the city consistently ranked among the top 10 highly urbanized cities in regional competitiveness since the inception of the rankings, ranking 7th in the latest 2020 edition.
Another son, Dr. Reynaldo S. Moreno M.D., served as a General and Pediatric Surgeon at the Maria Reyna -Xavier University Hospital, but passed on three years ago.
Rodolfo A. Moreno
The third oldest sibling 3rd Lt. Rodolfo A. Moreno, probably had the most colorful wartime career among the four sons of Jose Moreno who joined the guerrillas.
Born on 05 June 1920 in Balingasag, Rodolfo was a college student and cadet officer at the Ateneo de Cagayan when World War II broke out and enlisted in the Philippine Army and subsequently absorbed into the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) under Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
“He was a cadet officer of Ateneo de Cagayan when he was enlisted,” said his son, Fr. Antonio F. Moreno, S.J. “It led him to the fall of Bataan and then to Capas, Tarlac. He hardly spoke about his ordeal and torture in Capas. My grandparents were told he had died. They had a requiem Mass for him owing to an account of his friend. My father was so furious, but happy to be reunited with his siblings and parents.”
Notes on the Philippine Army of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) Digitized Collection) show that before the war Rodolfo served as a clerk at the General Headquarters.
On January 1, 1941, in the opening salvo of the war, he was inducted under the Provisional Battalion, 31st Infantry, Philippine Army as Platoon Sergeant. The 31st Inf., PA under Brigadier General Clifford Bluemel was tasked with protecting the coast of Zambales but was pulled out to Bataan on 7 January 1942 to form the protective line along with the Abucay-Morong position under the I Philippine Corps defending the left flank of the USAFFE forces in Bataan and its coastal areas facing the sea.
The 31st Infantry led a counterattack on January 20 to relieve the 51st Infantry, Philippine Army of the II Philippine Corps protecting the right flank of the Bagac-Pilar line. During the lull, he was transferred to the 3rd Battalion of the unit, composed of the I, K, L, and M companies. After the Fall of Bataan, Moreno became a prisoner-of-war and was released before Christmas of 1942.
After surviving the Bataan Death March, and incarceration at Capas, Rodolfo was released after taking an oath of allegiance to Imperial Japan and managed to slip back to Mindanao where he joined the guerrillas, serving with the Headquarters of the 110th Regiment.
“My father hardly spoke about himself during the war. He joined the guerilla movement after he was released from Capas,” Antonio added.
After the war, Rodolfo married Perla Abrogar and graduated with a Commerce degree from Ateneo de Cagayan in 1946, and started working at Philippine Packing Corporation (Del Monte). Two children, Nestor Edgardo (1947) and Virginia (1948) were born before Perla passed on in 1952.
He married Emilia Flores in 1954, with whom he had three children: Ramon (1957), Jesus Benigno (1959) and Antonio (1961).
Before his passing on 28 January 1978, Rodolfo was active in the Cursillo Movement during the 1970s.
“Refined. Reserved. Resolute. Reformed,” is how Antonio describes his father who would have turned 100 this year. “ Not a saint, but he tried to be good to others. Forever grateful in our hearts. On your birth centenary, pray for us and for the healing of our world.”
The youngest of five Rodolfo’s children, his son Antonio has risen to prominence in the Society of Jesus.
After his ordination in 1993, he served as Dean of Arts and Sciences, and later Vice President for Social Development of Xavier University (Ateneo de Cagayan), and later as President of Ateneo de Zamboanga University.
In 2013 he became Father Provincial of the Philippine Jesuit Province, and was appointed President of the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific by Jesuit Fr. General Arturo Sosa on 2017, concurrently serving as Major Superior of the Arrupe International Residence.
Another prominent son of Rodolfo, Dr. Ramon F. Moreno, FPCP, is currently serving as the Chief of the Medical Professional Staff of the Clinical Department of the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC).
Manuel A. Moreno
Corporal Manuel A. Moreno was the youngest of the four Moreno brothers who served with the guerrillas. He served with the Headquarters and Headquarters Service Co., of the 110th Division.
Born December 24, 1921, he enlisted as a Corporal with ASN136109, at age 20 and was commissioned as Regimental Supply Officer under Lt. Alfredo M. Hojas.
“The memories of war were vividly remembered by my Father,” said Cecile Moreno-Kionisala, the 8th of his 12 children.
“He told me that he was sickly but not completely invalid during his war service because all of his older brothers who were commissioned officers, extended him special assistance, and attended to his sickness.”
Miming, as he was known to his siblings and relatives, attributed his hypertension and peptic ulcer to the time when he narrowly cheated death after witnessing his companion bayoneted to death when they were ambushed by retreating Japanese soldiers. On July 16, 1945, he was discharged as a Corporal at Alae, Tankulan (now Manolo Fortich) Bukidnon. He became a member of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines, Region 10 under the leadership of Retired Col. Romulo N. Kionisala.
After the war, Manuel married Violeta Casiño, a Tagoloanon, on April 27, 1946, a marriage blessed with 12 children (7 girls and 4 boys).
He had a colorful career, serving as municipal councilor of Balingasag in 1951-1955 after serving as a classroom teacher in Lagonglong. He finished his studies interrupted by the war at the Ateneo de Cagayan, graduating with a BSBA degree in 1967 after which he worked as a personnel officer with an oil company at Tablon, Cagayan de Oro City.
After serving as Mission Movement Leader of Sta. Rita Parish in Balingasag, he was ordained as a permanent deacon by Bishop Patrick Cronin in 1971and served in this capacity at the Lourdes Parish Church in Binuangan, later being appointed Parish Administrator there by Cronin. He became one of the only four permanent deacons in the Philippines. He also served as a Board Member of the Mindanao-Sulu Pastoral Conference (MSPC) and worked as Archdiocesan Lay Coordinator in 1971-1973.
“Manuel used to serve 2 or 3 Chapels in some Barrios of the town on Sundays to transmit the Homily of the priest and distribute Holy Communion to the faithful in time of the Katilingbanon Pag-ampo (in lieu of Eucharistic Celebration),” Cecile recalls. “He sometimes hiked 6 to 8 kilometers to the barrios to conduct Christian community seminars.”
A priest can celebrate the Mass and all Sacraments except the Holy Order, while a deacon cannot perform any of the sacraments, but they can preside over services that do not involve the celebration of the Mass. Priests are assistants to the bishop and the Pope, while deacons are servants of the church and the bishops. The Philippine bishops have stopped the ordination of permanent deacons and have not re-instituted the permanent diaconate to date, despite it being actively promoted in other Catholic countries.
After graduating from the South East Asia Rural Social Leadership Institute (SEARSOLIN) with a scholarship he secured with the help of Bishop Cronin while working at the Archdiocesan Social Action Office, Manuel worked as Sangguniang Bayan Recorder, Municipal Secretary to the Mayor and designated Balingasag Municipal Security Officer.
In 1982 the Municipal CSU (Civil Security Unit) of Balingasag was awarded the Model Municipal CSU Award for 1982 at GSD, CISA mainly due to Manuel’s model Municipal Defense and Contingency Plan which won him a commendation.
The plan enabled the municipality to monitor through the Regional Station of NISA (National Intelligence Security Agency) several anti-government groups and their activities aimed at disrupting the local government of Balingasag.
After suffering from two strokes in 1985 and 1990, Manuel died at the age of 70 on June 9, 1992 at Northern Mindanao Regional Hospital, now known as Northern Mindanao Medical Center.
Papias A. Tiro
Besides the four Moreno brothers, a brother-in-law 1st Lt. Papias Tiro also served in the same unit as regimental finance officer under Major Rosauro P. Dongallo (who would later become governor of Misamis Oriental). Tiro married the eldest of Jose Moreno’s three daughters, Humildad.
A biography of Papias “Paping” Almonia Tiro written by his great granddaughter Thea Uyguangco, reveals he was born and raised in Medina, Misamis Oriental. Born on January 29, 1920, to Maximina Aguilar Almonia and Pedro Rocha Tiro, and he was one of ten children (Leonardo, Adoracion, Meynardo, Julito, Marianita, Cesar, Jane, and Rogelio). Being the eldest, he instilled in himself the values of responsibility, honor, and discipline and continued to be a loving older brother to his siblings despite having a family of his own.
He finished his primary education at the Medina Elementary School and secondary education at Medina National High School. He graduated with a degree in accountancy at the University of the East, became a Certified Public Accountant and moved back to Mindanao.
During the Second World War, Paping joined the guerrillas and served as regimental finance officer of the 110th Infantry Regiment, 110th Division, USFIP, under Maj. Rosauro P. Dongallo. During his posting at the regimental headquarters in Balingasag, he wooed, and later wed Humildad “Diding” Moreno, the eldest of the three Moreno daughters.
After the war, the couple built a life in Cagayan de Oro and raised their ten children (Erlinda, Asther, Papias Jr., Roberto, Veronica, Maria Dulce, Rita, Pedro, Ana Marie, and Jose Ramon) on the foundations of trust, humility, faith, and love of the Catholic faith. He also served as a lay minister and treasurer, and leader (with Diding) of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro City.
His children recount how Paping ran his household with a firm hand and instilled in them the value of discipline, ensuring children had a consistent routine and a set of rules to follow. In his later years, he continued to work hard and was active in his religious duties, becoming an advocate and pillar of Cursillos in Christianity for various chapters in Northern Mindanao, until he suffered a fatal cardiac arrest on March 29, 2000 at the age of 80.
The children passed on the lessons learned from their parents to 44 grandchildren and 54 great grandchildren. Fondly known to the second and third generations as Lolo Ping, he is remembered as the bespectacled white-haired man, with large ears who carried his grandchildren and great grandchildren on his shoulders.
The Spouses Tiro were instrumental in the formation of various chapters of Cursillos in Christianity in Northern Mindanao. They also served as leaders in the family Life Apostolate in the Archdiocese while Paping served as a lay minister of St. Augustine Cathedral until his mid 70s.
His children Erlinda, Papias Jr., Veronica and Ana Marie are all active members and leaders of the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP), while Rita is an active member of Couples for Christ (Tampa, Florida), and Maria Dulce is a member of the Bukas Loob sa Diyos Covenant Community.
For his role in rejuvenating the moribund Cagayan de Oro-Misamis Oriental Chapter of the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA), Paping became known as the Godfather of the local PICPA chapter and its senior adviser, and was conferred the PICPA Honorary Life Membership Award during the 1992 PICPA National Convention.
His granddaughter Ana Mae Lugod Barrera, the eldest granddaughter of the clan, and daughter of his eldest daughter Erlinda, followed in his footsteps as a certified Public Accountant.
His legacy in the accountancy profession lives on with the elevation of the local chapter to the PICPA Hall of Fame for winning the Outstanding Chapter award for ten (10) times, the first conferred in 1981 when Paping was the Chapter Adviser. It has also hosted PICPA’s National Convention for the third time in November 2020.
Besides the four siblings, three more Morenos also served in the same unit: 2nd Lt. Nilo V. Moreno (I Co CO, 110th Regiment), 1st Sgt. Canilo A. Moreno (Hq & Hq Service Co, 110th Regiment), and Sgt. Diomedes A. Moreno (Hq & Hq Service Co, 110th Regiment).
Nine more similarly surnamed also served with the guerrilla, among them 3rd Lt. Lamberto M. Moreno (K Co, 120th Regiment), Pvt. Angel P. Moreno (Engr Co, 113th Regiment), Pvt. First Class Ciriaco G. Moreno (D Co, 113th Regiment), Pvt. Anastacio B. Moreno (Hq 10th Military District), Pvt. Esmeraldo N. Moreno (B Co, 112th Prov Battalion), Sgt. Eugenio M. Moreno (D Co.,112th Prov Battalion), Pvt. Gregorio S. Moreno (C Co, 114th Regiment), Pvt. Juan M. Moreno (F Co, 115th Regiment), and not the least, Pvt. Restituto N. Moreno (L Co, 115th Regiment).
The 110th Infantry Regiment
The 110th Infantry Regiment under which all the Moreno siblings, and most of their cousins and in-laws served during the Second World War was charged with the area from the Tagoloan River, Misamis Oriental to the Eastern border of the province.
Activated early in November, 1942, it was composed of most of various guerrilla units which sprung up in Eastern Misamis Oriental during early September 1942: Balingasag and the surrounding towns led by Lt Pedro Collado; PFC (later 1st Lt), Clyde M. Abbot, Vicente Mercado and Sgt (later Lt.) Entique Carpio; Claveria under M/Sgt James McIntyre, U.S. Army Air Corps (USAAC); Malitbog under M/Sgt. Alfred Fernandez, USAAC; and Talisayan led by PFC Fausto Omandang.
The first commanding officer of this regiment was Capt. Pedro D. Collado who was designated on Nov. 1942, relieved by Capt. Francisco N. Luz on Feb. 1943, and succeeded by Maj. Rosauro P. Dongallo in June, 1943.
It was at the time of Dongallo when the 110th Regiment was most active. Dongallo as lieutenant, was a Battalion Commander in the 81st Field Artillery, USAFFE; fearless, calculating and cool. He is remembered for retrieving some P143,000 in emergency notes from the Provincial Building during the attack on Butuan, under constant Japanese enfilading fire from a distance of some 20 meters. His regiment figured in the advance of the Americans on Malaybalay in May 1945, and subsequent mopping up operations of the enemy in that sector.
When the 110th Infantry Regiment did become fully organized, it had to justify its existence by taking part, together with the 113th Regiment, in the attack against the Japanese at Butuan, which lasted for several days during which the Japanese had to call for reinforcements. The Filipino troops were only forced to withdraw when enemy reinforcements arrived and Japanese planes began to strafe them.
The attack failed as the Japanese were too well-entrenched and armed, but it demonstrated the mettle of the guerrilla troops and convinced the civilian populace of the guerrillas’ ability to fight and of the need to support them. The regiment under Dongallo’s leadership also contributed to the collection and processing of intelligence information for the Tenth Military District.
The 110th Infantry Regiment was actively involved in two key operations against the Japanese garrison troops in 1945.
On 22 April 1945, it destroyed the Japanese barge staging area at Talisayan, Misamis Oriental and ejected the garrison troops permanently with the assistance of the US Navy Task Group 70.4. This Talisayan operation is historically significant because it was the first amphibious guerrilla offensive against the Japanese- the first of several successful operations in conjunction with Task Group. 70.4. (click here to read Guerrilla Raid on Talisayan 22 April 1945).
From 27 April to 09 May 1945, the 110th Infantry Regiment was the main offensive unit in the Tagoloan-Bugo operations which cleared Japanese garrison troops from the Eastern side of Cagayan and protected the right flank of the US Army’s 108th Regimental Combat Team (RCT), of the 41st “Sunrise” Division which landed at Tin-ao, Agusan, Cagayan on 10 May 1945, ultimately leading to the capture of the Sayre Highway in Bukidnon which ended organized Japanese resistance on June, 1945, and leading to the Liberation of Cagayan on 12 May 1945 by Filipino Guerrillas of the 109th Infantry Division. (click here to read Prelude to Cagayan’s Liberation – The Tagoloan-Bugo Operations 27 April-09 May 1945).
- Email correspondence with Fr. Antonio F. Moreno 23 Sept 2020 -03 November 2020.
- Biography of Manuel A. Moreno written by his daughter Cecile Moreno-Kionisala, received 09 November 2020.
- Series of interviews and correspondence with Dr. Ignacio B. Moreno Sept. 23- Nov. 9, 2020.
- Correspondence with Mayor Oscar S. Moreno.
- Correspondence with Ma. Dulce Tiro-Potenciano.
- National Archives Records Administration (NARA).
- History of Mindanao Guerrillas by the American Guerrillas of Mindanao (AGOM) Unpublished Manuscript, page 44.
- Baclagon, Uldarico S. (Col.), The Philippine Resistance Movement Against Japan (10 December 1941-14 June 1945), @ Veterans Federation of the Philippines 1965, Munoz Press, Printed 1966, page 502-504.
- Balingasag: Its History and Transformation, XU Devcom Blog, retrieved 21 January 2021.
- Biography of Papias Almonia Tiro written by great granddaughter Thea Uyguangco.