Peace to tap Liguasan, other Mindanao potentials—exec

Peace, or a steady climate of political stability, will help unlock the hidden assets of Mindanao, long touted to be the Philippines’ “Land of Promise.”

And among these assets is Liguasan Marsh, one of the more biodiverse wetlands in Southeast Asia, according to a statement by Naguib Sinarimbo, spokesperson for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Barmm).

Sinarimbo, speaking at a recent video recording on Facebook, said peace would usher in economic opportunities for Muslim Mindanao such as investments in energy and maritime development.

Minister Naguib Sinarimbo of the Interior and Local Government – Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (File photo courtesy of BPI-BARMM)

He mentioned Liguasan Marsh as an example, which has long been a subject of keen interest by diverse parties due to the sheer breadth of its potential.

Straddling the provinces of Cotabato, Maguindanao, and Sultan Kudarat, the sprawling marshland is home to dozens of species of birds, fish, and reptiles. It covers some 2,200 square kilometers, 300 of which are believed to hold natural gas deposits.

Oil exploration activities are in their initial stages in Liguasan Marsh, according to Sinarimbo, who concurrently serves as Minister of the Barmm’s Department of the Interior and Local Government.

Liguasan Marsh (DZRH Nationawide) via RH19 Jun Dimacutac

He also mentioned the Sulu Sea and the Moro Gulf, which are said to be “resource-rich” by independent estimates in terms of maritime, mineral, and energy assets. He said that such areas “can become beneficial to the region… but what we need is a stable peace and security so that we can exploit all of these potentials.”

The Barmm “sits strategically in the South China Sea and the Pacific through which a substantial volume of cargo passes through,” he said. He said that such cargoes may originate from Australia, heading for China, or that these may be made in China and are being shipped all the way to Europe.

Sibutu Strait

With the right public policies and adequate infrastructure support, Sinarimba said the volume of these goods passing through the Sibutu Strait off Tawi-Tawi should increase.

The Sibutu Strait has been internationally recognized as a Philippine maritime passageway principally for civilian use. In 2019, the Army’s then Western Mindanao Commander and now Joint Chiefs chairman Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana was quoted to have said that Sibutu Strait, which lies between the Sulu Archipelago and Indonesia’s Borneo, was host to some $51 billion worth of sea cargo every year.

Such an important sea lane “can be exploited through the development of a logistics hub not just for this region but for the country. So this offers a lot of potential,” Sinarimbo said.

In 2018, President Duterte signed the Bangsamoro Organic Law into effect.

The landmark development had flung open the gates of institution-building, yet the period of transition from war to peace has been found to be inadequate.

Says a source close to the writer who requested to remain anonymous, “building the capability to effectively govern takes time. It is a tight balancing act given the challenges of pursuing equitable development in the region.”

Calls to extend the transition timetable from 2022 to 2025 have emanated from the Congress to the academe, from the Catholic Church to grassroots communities, from Muslim residents joining peace caravans to netizens endorsing the cause. Over a million signatures in support of the call have so far been gathered online.

The Mindanao Death March

During World War II, there were two (2) death marches in the Philippines that were presented at the Tokyo War Crimes Trials as evidence of the inhuman treatment of prisoners of war (POWs).

These were the “Bataan Death March” and the “Iligan Death March”, also referred to as the “Mindanao Death March” or the “Dansalan Death March” in some accounts.

While the commemoration of the Bataan Death March is commemorated annually with the Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor) national highway every April 9th, very few people know about the Iligan Death March.

On the 4th of July 1942, surrendered Filipino and American soldiers in Mindanao were made to march on a rocky dirt road and under the blazing tropical sun, from Camp Keithley in Dansalan to Iligan in Lanao – a distance of about thirty-six (36) kilometer (25 miles) prior to their transfer with the rest of the Mindanao POWs to Camp Casisang, Malaybalay, Bukidnon.

Pre-War Camp Keithley at Dansalan (now Marawi), Lanao

Transport trucks, although available, were denied the POWs. Without food and water, one by one the soldiers fell down due to exhaustion. Those who fell were shot in the forehead to prevent them from joining the guerrillas in the event they recover. But the story did not end there.

The Tokyo War Trials

On January 19, 1946, the victorious Allied powers—France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America— established the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE) in Tokyo, Japan.

The IMTFE had the jurisdiction to try individuals for Crimes Against Peace, War Crimes, and Crimes Against Humanity that were committed during the World War II. The subsequent trials held were collectively known as the Tokyo War Crimes Trials.

The defendants at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East Ichigaya Court: Accused Japanese war criminals in the prisoners’ box. Front row of defendants from left to right: General Kenji Doihara; Field Marshal Shunroku Hata; Koki Hirota, former prime minister of Japan; General Jiro Minami; General Hideki Tojo, former prime minister of Japan; Takasumi Oka; General Yoshijiro Umezu; General Sadao Araki; General Akira Muto; Naoki Hoshino; Okinori Kaga; Marquis Koichi Kido. Back row: Colonel Kingiro Hashimoto; General Kuniaki Koiso; Admiral Osami Nagano; General Hiroshi Oshima; General Iwane Matsui; Shumei Okawa; Baron Kiichiro Hiranuma; Shigenori Togo; Yosuke Matsuoka; Mamoru Shigemitsu; General Kenryo Sato; Admiral Shigetaro Shim, May-June 1946, www.tante2.com(tokyosaiban-tenno)

The Tokyo War Crimes Trials were held between May 1946 to November 1948. The Philippine Prosecution Team presented and proved before the IMTFE at least sixteen (16) incidents of indignities, torture and barbarities committed against the Filipino and Foreign Prisoners of Wars (POWs) and civilians.

Each of these incidents is a bundle of gruesome stories and tales of human suffering. The Bataan Death March, notorious as it was, overshadowed all the other incidents in history books.

In fact, of the 16 incidents, only the Bataan Death March appeared in history textbooks. All the others remained unknown. Because the evidence against the accused were overwhelmingly strong, the Iligan Death March, along with others, were only summarily presented and proven during Tokyo War Crimes Trials.

Guests of the Emperor

The Japanese landed in the Southern part of Mindanao, in Parang, Maguindanao. From there, they began advancing northwards to the Province of Lanao. The Philippine Troops of the 81st Division including Moros of the famed Bolo Battalion under Brigadier General Guy O. Fort planned to defend Ganassi, Bacolod Grande on the southern end of Lake Lanao and stop the advancing Japanese troops.

Brig Guy O. Fort, Commanding General,81st Division (Philippines)
www.oocities.org/comralcaraz/dec1941 (photo enhanced by Philip Garcia)

Gen. Fort planned for guerrilla warfare. However, on May 6, 1942, Lt. Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright IV, the Allied commander in the Philippines, surrendered the Filipino and American Forces on Bataan and Corregidor. Gen. Homma threatened to kill the American surrenderers from Bataan and Corregidor unless all American and Filipino forces surrendered.

Subsequently, on May 10, 1942, Gen. Wainwright ordered Maj. Gen. William F. Sharp to surrender all his US and Filipino troops in Mindanao. He complied. At Bubong, Lanao del Sur, a large number of Filipino troops escaped to the hills. The Americans were ordered not to desert or face court martial.

While Gen. Sharp officially surrendered the Mindanao-Visayan Force on May 10th, 1942, the final surrender of units in Lanao under Bri­gadier Gen. Guy C. Fort did not take place until May 28th, 1942.

On May 26, 1942, soldiers walked 6 miles from Bubong to Dansalan, where they surrendered their arms. The Japanese Commanding Officer declared them to be “guests of the emperor” and not “prisoners of war.” There were 46 Americans and some 300 Filipinos under General Fort who surrendered.

While awaiting instructions from Lt. Masaharu Homma, the POWs were billeted in an abandoned building once used as a mint for producing provincial money. Soon, the Japanese soldiers guarding the POWs were replaced with extremely young men who slapped them if they failed to count in Japanese.

Beginning in June 10, 1942, the young Japanese guards invaded the POW sleeping quarters. During these nightly invasions, the Japanese looted the POWs of their belongings, beat and abused them physically. These incidents resulted in hushed talks about escaping. To avert possible escape, the Japanese guards adapted the Honor System, that is, for every soldier who escaped, their officers would be executed.

Lt. William A. Knortz and three others escaped from Dansalan.

On July 1, 1942, Lt. William Knortz, Pvt. Robert Ball, Seamen Jas S. Smith and William Johnson escaped. Under the Honor System, Col. Robert Hale Vesey, Captain A.H. Price and Sgt. John L. Chandler paid the price. When asked about the whereabouts of the abovementioned officers, the Japanese interpreter only remarked: “They died like soldiers.”

The Japanese were very angry with the escape. As punishment, all POWs were required to walk instead of riding to Iligan.

The Iligan Death March

At 8:00 A.M., July 4, 1942, the POWs lined up for the march at Dansalan (now Marawi), Lanao. The Americans were arranged four abreast and strung together in columns by a gauge wire through their belts. The Filipino POWs, though unwired, were to walk barefooted.

As it was the fourth of July, the march was mockingly dubbed the “Independence Day March.” A truckload of Japanese soldiers with a mounted machine gun followed the prisoners, ready to shoot anybody who tried to escape.

As the day progressed, the midday tropical sun became unbearable. Without food and water, one by one the soldiers fell down due to exhaustion. Those who fell were left behind after they were first shot at the forehead to prevent them from joining the guerrillas in case they recover.

Japanese soldier beat up Filipino POWs trying to quench their thirst in a nearby stream during the Bataan Death March.
This scene was often repeated during the Mindanao Death March.

Among the more prominent deaths recorded during the march were those of Mr. Childress ( or in other documents – Kildritch) was an American civilian who owned a coconut plantation in Mindanao, shot by a Japanese guard for failing to keep up with the other marchers; Major Jay J. Navin, Commanding Officer, 84th Regiment, who had received severe injuries and was una­ble to continue, was shot at Momungan, and was later buried by Filipino civilians; and Lt. Robert Pratt, Finance Officer, 81st Division, who died of exhaustion in Iligan after the march;

The Filipino soldiers, being resilient people, started the march at a lively pace. They weren’t tied together. But unlike their American counterparts who wore military shoes, they walked barefooted. A few hours into the walk, the hot rocky dirt road started to burn their feet, which was so unbearable that some of them started crawling. One was left behind. The Japanese guard, tired of prodding him to walk, bayoneted him to death.

One Filipino POW from Dansalan was forced to walk on crutches with a broken leg. He was later rescued by the MacMichael family and nursed back to health. Filipinos who attempted to give the prisoners fruit or food were slapped or kicked and their food thrown away.

As the march continued, the Japanese killed four more Filipinos, including a Medical Officer with a Red Cross band on his arm. By the end of the day, Fullerton, Jr. estimated some ten or twelve Filipino soldiers were killed by bayoneting or shooting.

At St. Michael’s Academy, Iligan

By mid-afternoon, when the throng was about 3 kilometers from Iligan, the gauge tie was removed. They arrived in Iligan at around 7:00 P.M. in the evening. All were tired, thirsty, hungry and were at the point of complete exhaustion.


The St. Michael’s Academy  building where the Mindanao Death Marchers were kept overnight on July 4, 1942 is most probably the one to the left. Taken when the school was still called St. Michael’s School, the Anglicized version of the original name Escuela de San Miguel when it was established in 1915 from the former catechetical center in 1914 (administered by the last Spanish Jesuit in Iligan) and was taken over by the first American Jesuits in 1915.
(photo courtesy of Prof. Ricardo Jorge S. Caluen from his magazine “Vignettes of Iligan History”)

The POWs, both Filipinos and Americans, were housed in a rickety two-story school building of St. Michael’s Academy, located across the St. Michael’s Church in Iligan. The Filipino POWs occupied the first floor while the Americans were locked at the second floor.

Off to Camp Casisang, Malaybalay, Bukidnon

The POWs stayed in Iligan for two (2) days before they were ferried away to Cagayan de Misamis. The Japanese, every now and then, confiscated the POWs’ money, valuables, gold rings, wristwatches, etc. on the pretext that the POWs had to purchase their own food or transportation. Afraid of another dreaded march, the POWs gave whatever they had of value to the Japanese.

American prisoners of war in Camp Casisang, Malaybalay, Bukidnon celebrate the Fourth of July, 1942 at risk of discovery and death at the hands of their captors, unaware that their fellow soldiers from the 81st Division were struggling through the Mindanao Death March from Dansalan to Iligan. (photo courtesy of the MacArthur Memorial, Norfolk, Va.)

On July 6, 1942, the POWs boarded a canon boat and sailed a hundred miles east along the shore of Mindanao to Cagayan de Misamis, the capital town in Northern Mindanao. From there, trucks took them to Camp Casisang, Malaybalay, Bukidnon where they joined other POWs from Mindanao.

Conclusion

The story of the Mindanao Death March, through all these years, has remained relatively unknown. This speck of Philippine History was neither available nor accessible to the Filipino reading public until online primary sources became available. Triangulating and verifying these online primary sources with other available printed and non-print sources made possible the admissibility of these sources as historical records to be used as evidence for the writing of this historic fact – the Mindanao Death March.

As shown, it was a tragic story of how the American and Filipino POWs experienced undue brutalities and indignities during the WWII in Mindanao. They surrendered and thus, under the existing laws of war, they expected civil treatment from the Japanese victors. It is now time to rewrite the Philippine History textbooks and create more space for the participation of Mindanao in WWII.

Aftermath

On the Fourth of July, 1942, Lt. Col. Wendell W. Fertig sat on a high hill near Dansalan looking down on the National Road. Below him the Japanese paraded a long line of ragtag and malaria ridden POWs, in hopes of impressing the citizens of Mindanao.

Col. Wendell Fertig became the highest ranked guerrilla leader of Mindanao’s 10th Military District, United States Forces in the Philippines. (photo courtesy of the MacArthur Memorial, Nofolk, Va.)

At the head of the column they placed Brigadier General Guy Fort in an open truck. The POWs shambled forward tied together foot and hand with telephone wire. Whenever they lagged, Japanese guards beat them or jabbed them with bayonets fixed on their long rifles.

When they fell they were stabbed. Watching from above, Fertig decided he would never surrender. He would fight. (from They Fought Alone, by John Keats, pp 82-83)

By late 1944, Fertig commanded the 10th Military District of the US Forces in the Philippines (USFIP) a guerrilla force estimated at 36,000—the equivalent of an Army Corps —with 16,500 of them armed. Fertig also created and helped administer the civilian government of Mindanao while at the same time conducting the guerrilla war against the Japanese.

The USFIP killed at least 7,000 Japanese soldiers and, while a constant drain on Japanese resources, they also prevented the Japanese from fully utilizing Mindanao’s resources in support of its war efforts. At one time, the Japanese committed approximately 60,000 troops in an attempt to crush guerrilla resistance on Mindanao, troops that were desperately needed elsewhere.

Throughout the entire Philippines, the guerrillas managed to tie down a Japanese army of 288,000 troops, of which approximately 43,000–60,000 were on Mindanao, depending on the time period. (From PBS. 2009. MacArthur: The Guerrilla War. Retrieved March 30, 2021; and  Schmidt, Larry. (1982). American Involvement in the Filipino Resistance on Mindanao During the Japanese Occupation, 1942–1945

-30-

While the Bataan Death March is a widely known indignity to WWII POWs, there seemed to be only scanty accounts of the Iligan Death March. It is fortunate that at least four (4) of the American POWs who participated in the said death march eventually survived the gruesome war and narrated their ordeals before they died.

They were: Victor L. Mapes, Herbert L. Zincke, Richard P. Beck and Frederick M. Fullerton, Jr. These narratives, however, can only be found online. After validating these sources, it is now possible to retell the story of the Mindanao Death March for present and future generations. (with additional research by Mike Baños)

Additional info from the 108th Division Unit History, Chapter 1- The Surrender of the Mindanao-Visayas Force (1944), page 43-44, 108th Division, Philippine Archives Collection, Philippine Veterans Affairs Office; MacArthur: The Guerrilla War. (PBS, 2009). Retrieved March 30, 2021; and  Schmidt, Larry. (1982); and American Involvement in the Filipino Resistance on Mindanao During the Japanese Occupation, 1942–1945

Read the full text of Mr. Donesa’s paper as published by the International Journal of Innovation, Creativity and Change. www.ijicc.net Volume 11, Issue 7, 2020 at this URL: https://www.ijicc.net/images/vol11iss7/11738_Donesa_2020_E_R.pdf

Heroes de Bataan: Death March Survivors fight again in Mindanao

United States Army Forces Far East (USAFFE) soldiers from Northern Mindanao who fought in Bataan and survived the Death March  managed to find their way back to Cagayan de Misamis and joined the guerrillas to continue the fight against the Imperial Japanese Army garrison troops.

We feature some of their stories to commemorate our Araw ng Kagitingan and celebrate the memory of their valor and sacrifice for their beloved Philippines so that we may have the freedom we enjoy today.

The Tiano Brothers

Perhaps the most remarkable Kagay-anon patriots were the Tiano siblings, for whom the Tiano Brothers street in Cagayan de Oro is named after. No less than six of the siblings, five males and one female, were involved in the war versus the Japanese occupiers in World War II.

The Tiano Brothers (L-R) Sgt Nestor Tiano, 1Lt Ronaldo Tiano & 2Lt Apollo Tiano. (MOGCHS 1980)

The eldest Ronaldo, was a 1st Lt. with the 7th School Squadron of the nascent Philippine Army Air Force (PAAC) Class 41-B, based at Maniquis Airfield in Cabanatuan under Lt. Benito Ebuen. They were equipped with the Stearman 76D-1 and 3 other aircraft. They also had an instructional airframe of an obsolete Martin B-10 Bomber (not in flying condition) also in Maniquis Air Field.

He survived the Bataan Death March, but was released by the Japanese from the POW Camp in Capas, Tarlac and instructed to report to the Japanese headquarters in Cagayan. He came home wearing his full PAAC uniform. Instead, he joined the 120th Infantry Regiment under Maj. Angeles Limena as one of his staff. After the war he joined the newly organized Philippine Air Force (PAF) but left after 18 months to join Philippine Airlines (PAL). He died in a plane crash on Jan. 24, 1950.

The second eldest sibling Nestor  was killed in action at the young age of 24 while repelling a Japanese attack at Aglaloma Point, Bataan on Jan. 23, 1942.

Apollo became a 2nd Lt. and platoon leader of “C” Company, 1st Battalion, 120th Regiment, 108th Division based in Initao, Misamis Oriental. He died fighting with the 19th Battalion Combat Team (BCT) of the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK) defending Hill 191 (also called Arsenal Hill) and Hill Eerie, comprising Combat Outpost No. 8  at the Chorwon-Siboni corridor in the west central sector of  Korea on June 20,1952 while repelling a superior force of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army. The Philippine Navy’s BRP Apollo Tiano (now decommissioned) was named in his honor.

Uriel became a sergeant of “A” Company, 1st Battalion, 120th Regiment, 108th Division based at Pangayawan, Alubijid, Misamis Oriental, and ended the war in the Signal Corps.

Lt.-Fe-B.-Tiano-and-her-brother-PFC-Jaime-during-the-Libertion (Ilogon-Family-Collection)

The youngest brother Jaime was a private first class at only 15 years of age, and served as a medical aide of the 120th Regimental Hospital together with his sister 1st Lt. Fe B. Tiano (RN), who was the unit’s sole regimental nurse at the regimental hospital at Talacogon, Lugait, Misamis Oriental.

As Cpl. Jesus B. Ilogon relates in his unpublished manuscript, Memoirs of a Guerrilla: The Barefoot Army, “Lt. Fe Tiano and PFC Jaime Tiano were engrossed in their hospital work, tending to the sick of the regimental hospital. They were so busy that they forgot to apply for their vacation, and when they did, it would be disapproved.”

“This is the story of the Tianos-brave and courageous, their battles are now part of history. While they went to war, their parents Emilia Bacarrisas and Leocadio Tiano and two sisters Ruth and Emily were left in Lapad (Alubijid, now part of Laguindingan), to stoke the home fires burning,” Ilogon noted. 

The Fighting Moreno Brothers

Very few of the current generation are aware fifteen members of the Moreno clan of Balingasag, Misamis Oriental, fought together under one guerrilla unit based in this town.

All survived the war and went on to establish their own families and had children who are now prominent figures in their own right.

Moreno Family Portrait take 19 May 1952 at their ancestral house in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental: Standing from left to right: Emeterio Sr.(father of Mayor Oscar S. Moreno), Redentor Sr. (father of Dr. Sonny Moreno); Metelo, Taurino, Rodolfo (father of Fr. Tony Moreno, S.J.) and Manuel (father of Cecile Kionisala). Seated left to right: Papias Tiro (husband of Humildad); Milagros (shown carrying the 1-yr old Oscar Moreno) , Leonor, Josefina, Jose, Perla, Violeta and Jose Jr. (Seated in front of Josefina and Jose from left to right: Purisima, Humildad, and Nieves). Photo courtesy of Fr. Antonio Moreno, S.J.

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 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 was later released after taking an oath of allegiance to Imperial Japan 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 guerrilla unit. The three other brothers were Metelo, Taurino and Jose, Jr., and the two younger sisters Purisima and Nieves.

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 USAFFE under Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

Rodolfo Moreno with his second wife Emilia during their wedding.
(courtesy of Fr Antonio F. Moreno, S.J.)

“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.”

His military record with the USAFFE as recorded in the Notes on the Philippine Army of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) Digitized Collection show that before the war Rodolfo served as a Finance Services Clerk at the General Headquarters in Manila from August 28 to December 31, 1941. 

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, Rodolfo was transferred to the 3rd Battalion of the unit, composed of the I, K, L, and M companies from March 6 to April 8, 1942. After the Fall of Bataan, he survived the Bataan Death March despite being stricken with malaria, and incarceration as a prisoner-of-war at the concentration camp in Capas, Tarlac.

After taking an oath of allegiance to Imperial Japan, Rodolfo was freed just before Christmas Day on December 23, 1942.  He managed to slip back to Mindanao where he was joyfully received by his family who believed he perished in Bataan.

“He told me about his death march experience and the torture in Capas, but no details were given.  He told me about getting sick and my sister confirmed that it was malaria on their way to Capas, but he managed to reach the destination,” Fr. Tony relates. “According to my cousin Elvira Moreno Magsalay, he was incarcerated kay “niwang kuno siya pag-abot sa Balingasag.”  It was our Tito Nick Jimenez who helped his release.  My father also mentioned Tito Nick who gave him medicine when he was sick in Capas.  And that was a game changer for him.”

According to Rodolfo’s military records recently retrieved by Fr. Tony from the Veterans Records and Management Division (VRMD) of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), Rodolfo spent the next ten months recuperating from his illness and incarceration with his family at their hometown in Balingasag before he signed up with the guerrillas in October 1944.

Among the records kept by PVAO was an affidavit signed by 1Lt. Benjamin Ch. Pacana, Acting Adjutant, of the 1st Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment, 110th Division, the guerrilla unit headquartered at Balingasag, and subsequently S-3, 3rd Battalion, 63rd Infantry Regiment, Philippine Army.

Pacana said he personally knew 2nd Lt Rodolfo A. Moreno, ASN 0-37659 Inf-Res, Philippine Army of Balingasag, Misamis Oriental, who reported for duty on 9 Oct 1944.

From 09 Oct 1944 to 9 January 1945, Rodolfo was assigned as Platoon Commander of the Headquarters Platoon, 110th Infantry Regiment, before he was transferred to D Company of the same unit on 10 January 1945 where he served as Platoon Commander of the 2nd Platoon from 10 January to 28 May 1945. On 1 May 1945 he was commissioned as a 3rd Lieutenant.

During this time, he and his unit participated two of the most successful guerrilla operations against the Japanese garrison troops in Misamis Oriental.

From 27 April to 09 May 1945, the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 110th Infantry Regiment fought a see-saw battle with Japanese troops in the Bugo-Tagoloan area with close air support from American fighter-bombers.

These preliminary operations were meant to clear a beachhead for the 108th Regimental Combat Team (108th RCT) of the 40th Sunshine Division which landed on Tin-ao, Barangay Agusan in 10 May 1945 and protect the unit’s right flank as it went straight up to Bukidnon to clear the Sayre Highway.

“During the landing of the American forces in Bugo, Lt. Moreno with his unit formed a part of the beachhead from Agusan to Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental,” read Pacana’s account of the action. A comprehensive account of that action can be read here.

Rodolfo’s unit was again involved in the guerrilla raid on Talisayan, Misamis Oriental on 22 May 1945 which destroyed a barge staging area of the Japanese and resulted in 145 Japanese killed and 6 captured, with 6 guerrilla casualties and none of the supporting 70.4 Task Force of the US Navy which provided close fire support.

“His unit was engaged in mopping up operation from Talisayan to as far as 50 kilometers away and inflicted a number of enemy casualties,” Pacana’s affidavit relates.

Archival film footage of the raid was featured in Peter Parson’s documentary about the intelligence missions of his father Chick in “Secret War in the Pacific”. Click here to view the footage along with voice clips from Maj. Paul H. Marshall and Filipino Guerrilla Private First-Class Alfonso Sumastre who served as a guide aboard one of the LCS gunboats.

Following this, Rodolfo was transferred to C Co, 110th Reg as Platoon Commander, 1st Platoon from 30 May to 20 Oct 45. According to Pacana’s affidavit, his unit was engaged in mopping up operations in cooperation with the US Army and was later utilized as bridge guard at Tankulan, Bukidnon.

From 21 Oct 45 to 26 April 46 he was transferred to H Co, 2nd Bn, 53rd Inf Reg, PA on 24 Oct 45 as Section Leader, Weapons Platoon giving lectures on operations in different phases of military tactics.

In his penultimate assignment, he was Transferred to 1st Bn, 63rd Inf. Reg., 6th Division PA on 7 April 1946 where he served from 27 April to 30 June 1946, before reverting to inactive status on 1 May 1946.

However, his military records filed with the Headquarters of the Cagayan de Oro-Misamis Oriental Chapter of the Reserve Officers Legion of the Philippines show that he served one final time as Assistant Supply Officer on 26 October to 15 November 1954 with the IV Ma Bn which was assigned to election duties for that year.

Angeles L. Limena

While our third patriot did not fight in Bataan and did not suffer the Death March, he and his men were similarly force marched from his command at Cagayan to Camp Casisang, in Malaybalay Bukidnon, previously a training ground for the Philippine Constabulary, where American and Filipino prisoners-of-war (POWs) were incarcerated.

Soldier-Priest

Angeles Labrador Limena was born October 2, 1899 in Sorsogon, Sorsogon. He was christened Angeles by his parents since his  birth date fell on the Feast of the Catholic festival of the Guardian Angels.

He went to study in Sorsogon to be a priest, but before he was ordained he left to join the armed forces in Manila where he was accepted into the Philippine Constabulary.

Camp Keithley, Dansalan, Lanao (courtesy of Brig Gen Resty Aguilar (ret).

Limena was assigned to the School for Reserve Commission in Camp Keithley, Lanao (now the Philippine Army Officer Candidate School at Camp O’Donnel, Capas, Tarlac) where the American camp commander noticed his all around abilities and sent him for formal military training to the Philippine Constabulary Academy at Camp Henry T. Allen, which eventually became the Philippine Military Academy in 1936.

However, before he was assigned to Baguio, Limena met and married Mary Figuro Kelley while he was at Camp Keithley. Mary was the daughter of Marion Lee Kelley from Grand Rapids, Michigan, a US Army veteran who fought in Cuba during Spanish-American War, and came to the Philippines to help educate the Filipinos.

Col. Angeles and Mrs. Mary Limena (photo courtesy of Alice Limena-Lacson)

When World War II broke out, Limena was assigned as the Provincial Commander of  Camp 1Lt Vicente Garcia Alagar, Cagayan de Misamis, Misamis Oriental. Major General William F. Sharp, commander of the USAFFE Mindanao Force, on orders of Major General Jonathan M. Wainwright from Corregidor, ordered all American and Filipino soldiers under his command to surrender to the Japanese on May 9, 1942.

Limena surrendered Camp Alagar to the Kawamura Detachment on May 10, 1942, and he and all his men were forced to walk from Cagayan to Camp Casisang, in Malaybalay Bukidnon, previously a training ground for the Philippine Constabulary.

Another Death March?

Although Google maps says it usually takes a one hour and 54 minute ride to negotiate its 93 kilometers, the old Sayre Highway which the marchers took was a much longer route, and definitely as long as, if not more brutal than the Bataan Death March. It has an all uphill stretch at Carmen Hill in Upper Puerto and a particularly difficult stretch through the Mangima Canyon where it dips down gorges and up cliffs as deep and high as 420 meters. Older folks from Malayabalay used to say it took them around 5-6 hours to travel to Cagayan by motor vehicle over the old route.

The zigzag road portion of the Sayre Highway in Mangima Canyon, Tankulan, dips and rises in gorges and cliffs as high as 420 meters. (NARA)

“I became a Prisoner of War of the Japanese Imperial Army on May 10, 1942 on the island of Mindanao in the Philippine Archipelago. On that date all U.S. armed forces were ordered by our commanders to lay down their weapons and to surrender to the Japanese,” reads the personal account of Pvt. First Class Robert W. Phillips, an Aircraft and Engine Mechanic, Second Class, crew chief and flight engineer with the 28th Bombardment Squadron stationed at Del Monte Airfield.

Camp Casisang, Malaybalay, Bukidnon

“Immediately after our surrender we were ordered to make our way to the Philippine Army cantonment called Camp Casisang, near Malaybalay, Bukidnon Province. I walked most of that distance before catching a ride in one of our trucks whose destination was the same as mine.”

However, even before the Japanese evacuated all POWs from it on August and October 1942, Limena managed to escape, walking towards Misamis Oriental, avoiding Japanese soldiers, crossing rivers, forests and mountains. He reached Alubijid where he meet few of his trusted soldiers guarding his family.

Guerrillas Organized

On September 22, 1942, Limena organized the Western Misamis Oriental Sector Guerrilla at Manticao, Misamis Oriental, around the core group of Ramon Legazpi, Sr. They covered the province from Lugait, Misamis Oriental to Ugyaban river, Cagayan.

Unsurrendered soldiers from the USAFFE, Philippine Constabulary, Philippine Army and Philippine Scouts comprised the fighting core while fishermen, farmers, students from surrounding barrios also volunteered to serve as civilian volunteers.

Among the ranking officers who reported to Major Limena upon the creation of his guerrilla were Major Juan Taduran, Capt. Laureto Talaroc, Capt. Carlos Subang, Capt. Porferio Pakingan, Capt. Ricardo Abellanosa, Capt. Magno, Capt. Vicente Austria, and Capt. Antonio Ognir. Major Juan Taduran, a Bicolano, inducted the new officers-Lt. Ramon Legaspi Sr., Lt. Salvador Legaspi, Lt. Paterno Padua, Lt. Elson Lagrosas, Lt. Paterno Lagrosas, Lt. Elegio Pacana, Lt. Jose Carlos, Lt. Alfonso Dadole, Lt. Ben Johnson Ratunil, Lt. Gang Wilkomm, Lt. George Wilkomm, Lt. Jose Gabe, Lt. Eutiquio Madriaga, Lt. Amado Ravidas, Lt. Monico Chaves, Lt. Herculano Babatido, Lt. Edipalo Lagrosas, Lt. Jesus Juario, Lt. Romeo Villaraza, and Lt. Elpedio Lagrosas.

On November 28, 1942, Limena was designated Regimental Commander of the 109th Infantry Regiment. 109th Division by Col. Wendell W. Fertig.

His assigned officers and their designated area of responsibility included Lt. (later Maj.) Fidencio Laplap’s 1st Battalion, covered Lumbia District to el Salvador, Cagayan; Capt. Carlos Subang’s 2nd Battalion, covered Alubijid to Initao, Misamis Oriental; and Capt. Vicente Austria’s 3rd Battalion, covered Naawan, Initao to Lugait, Misamis Oriental. 

Perhaps it was only fitting that Limena returned to his Creator on April 9, 1976, appropriately enough the 34th Anniversary of the  Araw ng Kagitingan.

-30-

Arcadia y Salud : Women Freedom Fighters of Misamis

Cagayan de Misamis, as Cagayan de Oro was known in the turn of the century, did not only have men but women freedom fighters as well.

When the first Recollect missionaries arrived in Cagayan, then known as Himologan, Datu Salangsang received them hospitably.

In the ensuing struggle with the rising Maguindanao sultanate under Muhammad Dipatuan Kudarat, the Kagay-anons sided with the Spaniards. In the following centuries of Spanish rule, the Kagay-anons remained loyal to Catholicism and the Spanish.

There was only one recorded instance when they attempted to rebel. This was in 1659 when a shaman named Salud (Salor in some accounts) led a brief and unsuccessful revolt against Spanish authority.


Revolt of Salud by Nonoy Estarte (XU Museo de Oro Collection, photo courtesy of Oscar Floirendo)

Salud was a baylan of the old religion and sought to revive her ancestors’ customs and traditions. According to Spanish accounts, she attracted many followers through her Panambal (traditional healing) and Panagna( fortune-telling). She conducted animist ceremonies in the tribes’ sacred grounds near the town.

Fr. Nicolas dela Madre de Dios, put her under close surveillance, and launched a campaign to discredit her among her followers.

Some time after, Salud and her son Apolinar were captured and brought to Cagayan where they were sentenced to death and executed.

Salud and her feats as baylan were just fitting being the shaman for the tribe. Her task as baylan was to bridge the relationship between the visible and the invisible, to maintain harmony and to cure disharmony (like illness, calamity, or conflict that affect a person or a community) through ritual rites which each has a proper protocol to use and to invoke like the names of nature spirits relevant to the case of the one/or those afflicted, said Maria Easterluna Canoy, executive director of the Kitanglad Integrated NGOs (KIN) advocating the environmental conservation of the Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park in Bukidnon Province and the cultural preservation of its predominantly indigenous population–as she reckons from indigenous practices and wisdom from that of Bae Inatlawan of the Bukidnon-Daraghuyan Tribe and the Council of Elders safeguarding ancestral domains inside the protected area by means of living culture and traditions

“Our Bae Inatlawan is like the living legend in our tales of baylans and their role to the community in the past and present. We celebrate having them as our protectors and we, with the present generations of Mindanawons, have all the reason to accord them the respect and reverence for the extraordinary courage they have shown to defend our kind from the colonizers,” she added.

Much later when the seeds of rebellion were already sprouting in Luzon, Cagayan also boasted of a woman warrior in the mold of the famous Gabriela Silang.


Arcadia Valenzula – Heroine of Lapasan by Cris Rollo (Tile Mosaic on Marine Plyboard 4×4 feet)

Arcadia Valenzuela y Babangha of Lapasan was an amazon warrior who fought against the Spaniards and the Americans during the country’s long fight for independence.

Valenzuela organized a troop of women revolutionaries who came mostly from Lapasan.

According to accounts collated by the late Fr. Francisco Demetrio, curator of the Xavier University Museo de Oro, these amazon warriors gathered at the public plaza, present day Gaston Park, for drill and military instruction together with the men.

The sentiment of the women warriors echoed their counterparts in Cavite who fought the Americans as reported by US General Elwell Otis in 1899:

 “Even the Filipino women of Cavite province in a document numerously signed by them, gave me to understand that after they were prepared to shed their blood for the liberty and independence of their country.”

Arcadia Valenzuela by Nonoy Estarte ( XU Museo de Oro Collecion, photo courtesy of Oscar Floirendo)

Accounts of her exploits and bravery in battle gathered by her descendants indicate that although she was captured several times by both the Spaniards and the Americans, she always managed to escape.

Rumors abounded that she was invulnerable to bullets that men feared she was a balbal (witch) and thus she remained single until her death by smallpox in 1923 at the age of 49.

Unfortunately, except for a plaque from the Ayala Business Club and some lines in Fr. Demetrio’s source book of local history, the heroism of Arcadia Valenzuela seems to have been forgotten by the people for whom she fought so bravely for.

Roman Ellovido of the Xavier University library, great grandnephew of Arcadia Valenzuela, led the Valenzuela clan’s move to have their ancestor properly recognized, and have petitioned the Lapasan barangay council to set up a memorial for Arcadia and the forgotten women warriors of Lapasan.

Arcadia Valenzuela Avenue, Bgy. Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro City (CTTO)

The campaign resulted in the renaming of the then Agora Road in Lapasan to Arcadia Valenzuela Avenue through the Cagayan de Oro Historical and Cultural Commission, which was subsequently enshrined with a city ordinance passed by the Cagayan de Oro City Council.

Beside the road, the only other existing memorials to Arcadia Valenzuela is a painting by former Museo de Oro resident artist Nonoy Estarte, first unveiled during the Museo’s 1998 Centennial exhibit entitled “Misamis During the Time of the Philippine-American War: 1900-1901” and Cris Rollo’s mosaic “Arcadia Valenzuela:  Heroine of Lapasan” which hangs in his parent’s residence at Puntod.

-30-

Holy Week and Easter Message

Usa ka balaang pagsaulog sa Semana Santa ug Malipayong Kasaulogan labina sa Pagkabanhaw sa atong Ginoo mga Igsoon!

Archbishop Jose Cabantan, D.D. Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro

Atong saulogon karon ang kinauyokang misteryo sa  atong pagtoo ning Semana  Santa ang iyang pagpasakit, pagpakamatay ug pagkabanhaw.  Kini man ang sangputanan ug kinapungkayan  sa iyang  pagluwas kanato sugod  sa iyang pagkatawo hangtod sa iyang kamatayon sa Krus.

Siya gayod ang Dios sa gugma, kalooy, pasaylo ug kaaghop. Nagmadaugon ang hustisya sa Ginoo batok sa hukom sa tawo. Ang iyang Diosnong kaluoy milagbas sa tawhanong  hustisya. Ang iyang gugma nagpahiuli kanatong tanan ngadto sa atong langitnong Amahan.

Sulod  na sa 500 ka tuig  sa atong pagdawat sa atong pagtoo diin ato kining  gipuy-an,  diha  sa inadlaw adlaw nga pagkinabuhi pagmantala   sa  Dios sa gugma,  kalinaw ug hustisya. Atong pangayoon ang grasya nga mas mainiton pa ug mas makugihon   kitang mopakaylap  niini sa tanan niini sugod sa atong   pamilya.

Atol sa pagsaulog sa kahimayaan, kalipay sa Pasko sa Pagkabanhaw, padayon  usab natong iampo ang atong igsoon nga naa pa nakasinati sa kasakitan sa ilang kinabuhi kadtong naapektuhan niining pandemiya, apil usab ang atong kaigsoonang Lumad  padayon  nga  gihasol sa ilang kinabuhi  diha sa pagpanalipod niini nga makab-ot ang tiunay nga kalinaw  base sa hustisya  ug malangkubong kalamboan sa kinabuhi  ilabi na usab sa pagpanalipod sa ilang  yuta nga kabilin ug yutang nahibilin.

Hinaut  unta nga uban kanilang tanan,  atong saulogon ang Pasko sa Pagkabanhaw sa Ginoo puno sa kaisog ug gugma ngadto sa tanan.

Kini usab nga panahona, atong buksan ang atong mga gitawag nga Jubilee Doors atol sa pagsaulog sa  500 years of Christianity Jubilee Doors  or Jubilee Churches or Pilgrim Churches. Kini ang musunod nga mga Jubilee Churches  o Pilgrim Churches sa atong Arkidiyosesis:

St. Augustine Cathedral

 Immaculate  Conception Church, Jasaan Misamis  Oriental

 San Nicholas de Tolentino Church, Mambajao, Camiguin

 Divine Mercy Shrine, Ulaliman,. El Salvador, Misamis Oriental

 St. Francis Xavier Church, Pueblo Upper Carmen, Cagayan de Oro

 Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Binuangan, Misamis Oriental

 Sta. Rita Church, Balingasag, Misamis Oriental

 Sta. Rita Church, Gingoog City

 St. Joseph Church, Salay, Misamis Oriental

 Eucharistic  Shrine of the Sacred Heart, RER, Carmen, Cagayan de Oro

 Our Lady of Peace and  Good Voyage Church, Lugait, Misamis Oriental

 Jesus Nazareno Shrine , Cagayan de Oro

Atong gipahibalo nga ang pagbukas sa  pultahah niining Pilgrim Churches nato himoon sa Domingo sa pagkabanhaw  gawas lamang sa Divine Mercy Shrine, ang ilang pagbukas sa Jubillee Doors himoon atol sa Kapistahan sa Divine Mercy  Sunday

Atol  usab sa kalihokan sa Semana Santa mag-agad usab kini sa lainlaing sitwasyon   sa  tagsa tagsa ka parokya ug sa ilang pakigsabot sa local government  opisyal  ug  sa Department of Health ug IATF.

Dinhi sa Cathedral, sa  Domingo sa Lukay  ang pagmendita sa lukay himoon 15 minutos  sa dili pa   magsugod ang matag Misa. Kini himoon sa Cathedral. Ang buot ipasabot niini atol sa entrance prosesyon padulong  sa altar, himoon  nianang higayona ang pagpamendita sa lukay.

Sa Lunes hangtod sa Biernes Santo padayon ang Via Crucis o Estasyon sa Krus  matag alas 5:00 sa buntag sa dili pa ang alas 6:00  nga misa.

Sa Martes  Santo, sa alas 5:30  sa  hapon himoon ang Misa Krisma. Niining higayona ang atong mga kaparian magbag-o sa ilang panaad  isip pari ngadto sa Obispo ug labaw sa tanan ngadto sa atong Ginoo ug ug mao usab ang pagkonsagrar sa mga lana.

Sa Huwebes Santo  sa buntag alas 6:00 himoon  ang morning prayer ug sulod sa morning  prayer himoon ang Rito sa  commissioning  sa bag-ong laygong  ministro ug rite of commissioning sa daang laygong ministro nga  magbag-o sa ilang panaad.

Sa Huwebes Santo himoon ang Misa sa  katapusag panihapon o  Last Supper sa alas  5:30 sa hapon.  Ang Santisimo Sakramento  ilibot sa syudad human sa Misa. Walay repositoryo ug pagtukaw atubangan niini sa panahon sa pandemiya.

Sa Biernes Santo ang Unang Novena  sa Diosnong Kalooy  himoon  sa alas 2:00  sa hapon, sundan dayon kini  sa liturhiya sa  alas 3:00 ug sundan sa veneration sa cross ug wala nay prusisyon sa sepulcro human sa kalihokan.

Sa Sabado Santo ang Bihilya sa Pagkabanhaw himoon sa alas 6:00  sa hapon. Walay pamunyag nga himoon  niini  kay ang pagbunyag himoon sa Abril 14, kay ang abril 14 mao ang  paghandom  sa unang pagbunyag sa Abril sa 14,1521.

Tanang bunyag sa tanang parokya himoon sa Abril 14 karong tuiga agig paghandom sa  unang bunyag nga nahitabo  sa Abril 14, 1521.

Ang Rito sa Pagsugat pagahimoom human sa Misa sa Sabado  Santo diha ra pod sa sulod. Ang Domingo sa Pagkabanhaw  mao usab ang pag-abli ug pagbukas  sa mga Jubilee Doors ug niadtong Jubilee Churches o Pilgrim Churches.

Sa katapusan atong pahimangko nga magasunod sa mga health protocols aron malikayan ang pagkaylap sa mga covid virus.

Mang hinaut kita nga ang pagsaulog sa balaan  nga Semana Santa ug Pagkabanhaw sa atong Ginoo dili ang  covid ang mapakaylap kondili ang way sukod nga gugma sa atong Ginoo.

Malipayong Pasko sa Pagkabanhaw kaninyong tanan!

JE Hydro breaks ground for Indahag Level III Water System

In about a year’s time, Barangay Indahag will finally have its own Level III water system delivering potable water straight to the homes of its long-suffering residents.

JE Hydro & Bio-Energy Corporation broke ground at the site of its proposed water treatment plant Thursday morning led by Luis Ramon P. Lorenzo, Jr., chairman of the LLJ Water Resources Corporation, one of three firms undertaking the project.





Time Capsule Laying for Indahag Level III Water Supply Project: (left to right) Jimmy P. Arco, Ruben A. Vegafria, Jocelyn N. Dahino, Cito Lorenzo, Joel A. Baldelovar and Ian Mark Nacaya. (JEHBEC)

“It’s wonderful to see how we’ve all come together-Bayanihan spirit.  Four presidents told me if there’s one lesson you learned if you serve in government is you cook it like the bibingka-from one top, from below, from the side, so that everything is fresh,” the former agriculture secretary noted.

“It took time and perseverance which is why I am pleasantly and happily surprised It is time to really understand that the future of Mindanao is precisely because we are working together. I am happy to be part of the team for our beloved Mayor Oca of Cagayan de Oro, and everyone who’s represented here.”

Joining Lorenzo during the ceremony was Indahag Punong Barangay Jocelyn N. Dahino, City Councilor &  Majority Floor Leader Ian Mark Q. Nacaya representing Mayor Oscar S. Moreno, Land Bank of the Philippines AVP/CDO Lending Center Head Jimmy P. Arco, and Joel A. Baldelovar, Director for Business Development of JE Hydro.

Also present to show their support for the project were City Councilors Roger D. Abaday, Maria Lourdes S, Gaane, and Jay Roa Pascual.

LGU and Private Sector Support: Councilors Malou S. Gaane, Jay Roa Pascual, Ian Nacaya and Roger Abaday show their support for the water project with Oro Chamber President Ben Vegafria (3rd from right) and Indahag Punong Barangay Jocelyn N. Dahino (2nd from left).

City Councilor Maria Lourdes S. Gaane, M.D., Chair of the Health and Health Insurance Committee of the 19th City Council, emphasized the importance of sufficient water supply especially during a pandemic. She said that basic health protocols mandate frequent handwashing to prevent transmission of the coronavirus.

“With the current resurgence in Metro Manila of the COVID-19 virus, this groundbreaking ceremony is both timely and fitting as we struggle to end a raging pandemic,” she stressed. “Indeed, water is life.”

Indahag officials led by Punong Barangay Dahino were also present, with SB members Renejane D. Babia, Bruno C. Exequil, Dolly B. Bete, Fe C. Nambatac, Carmelito R. Damo, Silvestrito J. Reyes and Kristoffer John M. Rivera, with SB Secretary Cesar D. Bautista.

Barangay Indahag Level III Water Supply Project

JE Hydro will construct a Water Treatment Plant (WTP) with a capacity to deliver 5 million liters daily (MLD) of clean and safe potable water at no cost to the barangay. The project will be funded by the Land Bank of the Philippines.

The raw water for the Indahag water treatment plant of JE Hydro comes from the pristine Bubunawan River. It is a class “A” river with an average flow of 1.4 million cubic meters per day. Its catchment basin is part of Mt. Kitanglad, a protected national park which makes the Bubunawan River a very reliable and sustainable water source.

The WTP will source surface water from Bubunawan River in Barangay Pualas, Baungon, Bukidnon with water rights secured from the National Water Rights Board (NWRB) for 10MLD, to provide for future expansion.

JE Hydro has a proven track record of construction of Water Treatment Plants as well as operation and management of water distribution. The Indahag WTP and distribution system will be undertaken by LPL Contractor Richard Mercado.

A Series of Miracles

“It is fortunate that we find ourselves this morning trying to produce water, which is basic to life. And we must make sure that this model becomes a symbol, and becomes an example of many more to come. Our population is growing despite covid, our economy will bounce back and will grow, and water is basic to everything,” Lorenzo said.

“Today’s a special day, I’m a Catholic, today is the feast of the Annunciation,” Lorenza said. “If you look at the story behind the Annunciation, it was a series of miracles that led to our belief that a wonderful simple lady became the mother of God.”

“That’s why when you look at the miracles happening around us, don’t forget we can never accomplish what we are trying to do today without the blessings from the Almighty, and without thanking him for all the graces we have received.”

“We are all recipients of his blessings, but we give back by being stewards of what he gives us.”

Councilor Nacaya similarly expressed his appreciation at the significance of the event.

“Today marks a significant day to not only to barangay Indahag, but to all Kagay-anons, as well. The groundbreaking of the water production facility signals new leap of progress in the city. I am very happy that JE Hydro Corp and its partners are endeavoring to design, construct and supply water, from source to the household faucets.”

“Water is not only a necessity to a person’s daily living, but it is life itself – that without it, human race cannot survive. Potable water is also of the same sphere, yet we are not able to provide our people with this basic need,” he stressed.

“The groundbreaking ceremony this morning signifies larger than a project for the people in Indahag, but it magnifies growth and development in this community and nearby areas. While it provides water and secures a healthy community, yet, it also boosts the economy of the small businesses and trigger the entry of new investments.”

The Cagayan de Oro City Council unanimously approved earlier without objection during its regular session Monday, March 1, 2021, Resolution No. 2021-47 endorsing and/or imposing no objection to the application of the JE Hydro & Bio-Energy Corporation to develop, build and maintain a Level-3 Water Supply and Distribution System in Barangay Indahag, this city with the intent to supply and distribute a safe drinking water to households and establishments in said barangay.

The Cagayan de Oro (CDO) Convention Center Main Building located in Barangay Indahag, Cagayan de Oro City is now 94% complete and will be completed before the year ends. (DPWH-10)

With a population of 16,179 per the 2015 Census representing 2.4% of the city’s population, the upland barangay in the second congressional district may soon be one of its fastest growing. Lately barangay officials estimate its population has risen to approximately 21, 000.

During an earlier committee hearing, Indahag Kag. Carmelito Damo said Indahag’s population has been expanding due to the city’s Sendong relocation projects ( Habitat Phase1 and 2, over 1,000 HH ; Caritas Village, over 100 HH) and private subdivisions such as  Mersville del Mondo which has not yet been  occupied, and Villa Vita with over 1,800 units, but only has about 50 occupied because of the lack of water supply.

Nalipay mi kay almost 26 years wala mi tubig gikan sa kagamhanan tungod kay layo kaayo among barangay ug dili makasaka ang tubig sa water district,” Damo, himself a former Indahag Punong Barangay stressed.

General assemby at Bgy Indahag on Sept 9, 2020 with JE Hydro & Bio-Energy Corp.

“Our general assembly of almost 1,000 residents unanimously agreed to accept the project tungod kay barato ra P7 kada  drum. Affordable kaayo sa amo. Naghangyo mi sa JE Hydro nga dalian kay nadaghan na mga residente tungod sa nga relocation sites.

To further emphasize the urgency of the situation, Barangay Indahag passed Barangay Resolution No. 017-2021 during its 5th regular session held March 1, 2021 requesting JE Hydro & Bio-Energy Corp. to fast track its Level-3 Water Supply Network  to service Bgy. Indahag and its adjacent communities.

The resolution rued how Bgy. Indahag had been suffering from insufficient supply of safe and potable water for decades, stressing how the barangay has not yet been served the Cagayan de Oro City Water District (COWD), and they have just been making do with water delivered by water tankers and unreliable deep wells, further putting the health and well-being of residents at risk during this time of the global pandemic.

“If we already have water in Indahag, Cagayan de Oro will not be so congested. We are flood-free.  This will also help develop our barangay,” he added.

A stunning view of Indahag Hills from Amaya View.

Despite already having a reservoir constructed 12 years ago during the term of former city mayor Constantino G. Jaraula, the barangay has remained waterless for want of a viable water supply.

“Knowing the masterplan of the owners and officers of this hydro company, I can see better years ahead for our fellow Kagay-anons in the elevated barangays, such as Balubal, Lumbia and the hinterland communities,” Nacaya stressed. “We express our sincerest gratitude to JE Hydro and partners for this worthwhile projects in the City. More years of partnership in the City of Golden Friendship!”

-30-

Faster, cheaper internet coming soon: DICT strategy to fast track national broadband rollout

Should things go as planned, the Philippines would soon have cheaper and faster internet services that would be at par with the best other Southeast Asian nations  have to offer.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is partnering with local government units (LGUs) and the private sector to make this happen by expediting the completion of the National Broadband Network.

“The National Grid (NGCP) is not a resilient line. It is not a ring, which is the most topologically resilient network. ,” said Emmanuel Rey R. Caintic, DICT Undersecretary for Digital Philippines & Operations, in a zoom conference with the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation, Inc. (Oro Chamber) on March 15.

“A ring when it is cut off will simply flow to the other side of the circle. That’s why DICT is shifting its strategy into rings,” he added.

Oro Chamber officials and other ICT stakeholders meet with DICT Usec Emmanuel Rey Caintic (2nd from left, 2nd row) on March 15.
(Oro Chamber photo)

The Oro Chamber requested the meeting with DICT to seek ways to harmonize the National Broadband Plan (NBP) with the Master Plan for Sustainable Urban Infrastructure Development in Metropolitan Cagayan de Oro (SUID Metro CDO) being implemented by the National Economic Development Authority through its Region X office.

Metropolitan Cagayan de Oro

As presented by Engr. Mezlaine Jay S. Pacana, NEDA -X Focal Person, SUID Metro Cagayan de Oro Project, Metro CDO covers the 2 cities of Cagayan de Oro and El Salvador, and the municipalities of Alubijid, Claveria, Gitagum, Initao, Jasaan, Laguindingan, Libertad, Opol, Tagoloan, Villanueva, Manolo Fortich, and six more candidate LGUs under consideration (Balingasag, Baungon, Libona, Malitbog, Sumilao, Talakag).

Metro CDO had a population of 1,219,005 as of 2015 and covers a total land area of 227,935.49 hectares.

The National Broadband

“DICT requested P18-Billion  to build a fiber backbone covering the whole archipelago, but the NGCP line does not offer redundancy as it is built,” Caintic said.

“Initially, National Broadband was planned to be routed through NGCP lines. But this is not reflective of the national backbone, this is just one of its lines. This will take some time to reach Cagayan de Oro,” he noted.


Without waiting for further developments for the NBP, DICT has proceeded with what was possible within its allocated budget.

Under the strategy adopted by the agency, the  DICT is seeking active partnerships with LGUs and the private sector through telecommunications companies, internet service providers and value added services (VAS) providers to help expedite the construction of the national fiber optic backbone.

To build a resilient fiber backbone, DICT plans to purchase a fiber backbone ring, which it is encouraging the cities to do, and lease existing or planned fiber networks of telcos.

“Instead of relying solely on building the backbone through NGCP’s line, DICT will lease all excess capacities of players and run the national backbone through them,” Caintic explained. “Local players could then build their provincial broadband networks emanating from this national fiber backbone. Building the National Broadband would take very long without the help of the provincial telcos.”

National Fiber Backbone Plan 2020

“What we urgently need now is a national broadband highway,” Caintic noted. “By partnering with LGUs, DICT aims to expand the Middle and Last Mile.”

LGUs which have so far signed MOUs with DICT to help build the national fiber and provincial networks include Bataan, Baguio City, Tarlac, Zambales, Pangasinan, Cavite, Rizal and Batangas.

“The Free WiFi for All Program will be DICT’s means through which it can assist provincial telcos build their provincial/city broadbands,” Caintic said. “DICT will pay for the internet at endpoints which becomes the telcos revenue driver. As the anchor tenant/client, DICT would help finance the broadband and/or help extend the broadband to reach further, especially underserved/unserved areas.”

“Leasing the telcos broadband networks instead of purchasing it would help telcos better sustain and expand the networks over the long run. The Last Mile revenues would be exclusively for the local telcos.”

 Multiple internet sourcing would further bring down the cost of the internet and expand the market to those not currently using it or have no access to it.

Harmonizing SUID Metro CDO

The meeting with DICT was requested by the Oro Chamber Permanent Standing Committee for Public Utilities and Infrastructure, particularly to see how the national broadband dovetails with the SUID Metro CDO Master Plan Connectivity System – Transportation and Information and Communications Technology component.

In particular, ICT component of the Connectivity System seeks to establish the fundamental ICT components for smart city initiatives, building on the policy environment and digital infrastructure, achieving widespread use of ICT in government operations, and expanding ICT.

With a projected ICT demand of 2.6 million mbps (million bytes per second) by 2025, among the identified strategies for ICT in the SUID Metro CDO Master Plan are partnerships with stakeholders to reduce construction costs and spur investment in fiber-optic corridors; and the synchronization of data cabling with public road works projects between DWPH, DICT, and LGUs, already salient features of the DICT’s present national backbone rollout strategy.

Also listed among the ICT Programs/Projects/Activities identified in the SUID Metro CDO Master Plan are the Free WiFi for All Project and Digital Transformation Centers, likewise included in the updated DICT strategy.

Ways Forward

Engr. Elpidio Paras, president of Promote Normin and CEO of Parasat HD, a Cagayan de Oro-based ISP and VAS provider, lauded the DICT plan which dovetails nicely with the resilient ring networks telcos and VAS providers have been laying throughout Mindanao.

“Our ring broadband network in Metro Cagayan de Oro is almost complete and is now entering Manolo Fortich, and have also been already laid out in Balingasag, Gingoog, and up to Initao. This provincial network may be completed within the year, and ready to service the needs of DICT,” he reported.

To further set the long-term direction of the national broadband network in Metro CDO, Paras suggested NEDA-X to commission a study soonest on how to implement the ICT Infrastructure for the SUID Metro CDO Master Plan as described by Usec. Caintic.

“NEDA will be entering another planning cycle by 2022 and we can recommend this as one of the studies to be undertaken through the Project Development & Other Related Studies (PRDS) to update the Regional Development Plan for inclusion in the General Appropriations Act of 2022,” Engr. Pacana responded.

Karma Yasmin B. Ortiz, Sector Coordinator for ICT of the Secretariat, RDC-X Infrastructure & Development Committee, added that the policy brief to strengthen the resiliency of fiber optic networks (FONs) is now being reviewed for dissemination to key stakeholders for review and further inputs.

“The Oro Chamber is willing to host a focus group/technical working group discussion not only on these issues, but basically to determine ways forward on how the deployment of the national, provincial and city broadband networks can be expedited in partnership with the LGUs and private sector,  to realize the establishment of a robust, fast and resilient national broadband network in Metro CDO and its adjacent areas,” volunteered Oro Chamber President Ruben A. Vegafria.

Besides DICT, the Oro Chamber, and NEDA-X, the meeting was also attended by other Metro CDO ICT stakeholders including Promote Normin, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce Region X and Mindanao offices, NTC-10, the Oro Trade & Investment Promotion Center (TIPC), and Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan.

-30-

The Mystery on 17th Street by Annie Gorra Kagay-anon’s novel now part of digital libraries in US, Canada

The Mystery on 17th Street, a local book set in Cagayan de Oro and written by a Kagay-anon is now part of the digital catalogue of the public library of the City of New Westminster in British Columbia.

The book written by Annie Gorra, a Kagay-anon who resides in British Columbia, Canada, is set on 17th Street Nazareth and tells the story of families living on the street as seen through the eyes of a young boy named Agustin.

He recalls with nostalgia the life he lived there with his mother and father, his two friends and his neighbours, one of whom was an old irascible woman they suspected was a witch.  They climbed trees, swam in rivers and learned life lessons including justice when Agustin’s father stood up to the military to save the life of a young mother.

In presenting the book for consideration to the New Westminster Public Library, Gorra said that the book will most likely be strange to most Canadians but reading about strange things is part of growing up and learning.  It opens a window to learn about a culture and how people (children and adults) live their lives in other places of the world. 

“I hope it will find space in the New West Public Library Catalogue,” Gorra said.

After being reviewed, it was added to the library’s digital catalogue. Alicia Dobbs of the New Westminster Public Library said in a statement:

“We are happy to include books from local authors that are relatively new, that fill a gap in our collection, and/or may be of interest to our community. After reading a bit of it I do think that the slower pace, poetic style, and themes of nostalgia and social commentary will make it most appealing to adult readers who enjoy memoir and autobiographical fiction, though perhaps some more sophisticated young readers who are looking for something out of the ordinary will find it interesting!”

The Mystery on 17th Street is also part of the digital catalogue of the Kalamazoo Public Library in Michigan, USA. The book is published by Anvil Publishing Inc in Mandaluyong City, Philippines. It was a finalist in the Gintong Aklat Awards in 2018.

-30-

Liceo Music Conservatory does it again: Tiro wins Ani ng Dangal for Beethoven Tribute

And the hits just keep on coming!

For the third time in recent years, a faculty member of the Liceo Conservatory of Music, Theatre and Dance has brought home an Ani nga Dangal Award from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).

Niño Cesar Borromeo Tiro

Piano/Composition Music Faculty Niño Cesar Borromeo Tiro was awarded an Ani ng Dangal (Harvest of Honors)Award during the event’s 13th edition for his piano composition with the 250 piano pieces for Beethoven International Composition Project 2019, which brought pride and honor to the Philippines.

Tiro’s piano composition Phantasie für Ludwig was performed by concert pianist Susanne Kessel for Volume 9 of her global composition project 250 Piano Pieces for Beethoven.

He was the lone Filipino piano composer to be featured in the project that commemorates the 250th birthday of German composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven, widely regarded as one of the greatest geniuses in the history of Western music.


Tiro’s composition depicts the life and music of Beethoven, and was one of the most frequently featured pieces during the promotional tours and featured in the famous classical radio station WDR 3 in Germany. Three of his works are now part of eScholarship Contemporary Music Score Collection, which is an open access publishing platform subsidized by the University of California.

Also featured in Kessel’s global composition project was Fantasie über Ludwig van Beethoven by world-renowned composer/conductor Prof. Horst Hans Bäcker, associate dean of the Liceo Conservatory of Music, Theater and Dance.

Prof Horst Hans Backer and Maestro Niño Tiro present Mayor Oscar Moreno a copy of the 250 Piano Pieces for Beethoven.

Concurrently serving as an EdTech Specialist and Research and Community Extension Coordinator for Liceo Music Conservatory, Maestro Tiro is the second  Liceo Conservatory faculty to receive the prestigious award following Maestro Cipriano Zip de Guzman, Jr. in 2018 and 2019.

The Artist Niño Cesar Borromeo Tiro

A true-blue Kagay-anon, Tiro was born and raised in Cagayan de Oro and starting piano lessons when he was five.

Among his mentors were the late concert pianists and composer Lino Abrio and Anita Nita Velez Abrogar-Quinto.

Tiro was already flexing his musical chops even in school, graduating with High Honors in Bachelor of Music, Major in Music Education, Piano Principal at Lourdes College, and Magna Cum Laude at the Liceo de Cagayan University Conservatory of Music, Theater and Dance where he was mentored by world-renowned Composer/Conductor Prof. Horst-Hans Backer for his Bachelor of Music in Composition.

He is now a full-time faculty of the Liceo Conservatory and currently pursuing his Master of Music degree at the same institution, continuing his passion for teaching and making music.

Not confining himself to classical music, Tiro has indulged in an eclectic mix of music genres such as  rock, blues, and jazz. He plays electric bass as a professional session player in various local bands, and as the Principal Double Bass Player of the Cagayan de Oro Symphony Orchestra under the baton of conductor Horst Hans Backer.

He describes his music as anachronistic, eccentric, eclectic, and outright melodic. In 2004, his band’s song was a radio hit and was #1 for eight weeks on the local airwaves. He has also worked as an OFW in Guam as The Life Teen Music Director of Santa Barbara Catholic Church.

Ani ng Dangal (Harvest of Honors) is an organizational award given by the NCCA during an annual event celebrated as a highlight and concluding rite of the Philippine Arts Festival.

Now on its 13th year, the Ani ng Dangal recognizes Filipinos and Filipino works in the arts field who brought glory to the country in the past year. The awards are given for architecture and the allied arts, broadcast arts, cinema, dance, dramatic arts, literary arts, music and visual arts.

The Ani ng Dangal is given to those who garnered the top awards in legitimate festivals. The NCCA only recognizes competitions which have existed for not less than five years and which have adjudicators.

“I’m truly honored to be a recipient of the 13th Ani ng Dangal Award in Music. This is IT. This is a massive achievement. A milestone for me!,” Tiro wrote in a social media post.

“Thank you, friends, family, especially Ena Marie Tiro, for the never-ending support, love, and being my all-time number one fan. Nenette Tiro Antonio for being the talented extraordinary beta-tester of some of my works, Susanne Kessel for playing and believing in the power of my music and being the official musical ambassador of my little tribute to Ludwig, and Meister Horst-Hans Bäcker for guiding me and awakening my powers as a composer and musician, and to the Liceo de Cagayan University Conservatory of Music, Theater and Dance family for all the love and the support!”

-30-

PCCI: Unless gov’t allows private sector to import vaccines, offing lockdown will be fatal to economic recovery

17 March 2020 – The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the largest business organization in the country, is calling on the government to allow the private sector to import and buy COVID-19 vaccines directly from accredited sources without restrictions or conditions amidst the reported surge of infections in Luzon.

Benedicto V. Yujuico

PCCI President Benedicto V. Yujuico said that the government should speed up the procurement and rollout of vaccines “to ensure the safety of our workers and people, improve consumer confidence and hasten the recovery of our economy”.

PCCI pointed out that even as restrictions eased, companies continue to see sharp drops in sales mainly due to combined restrictions in mobility and fear of people to travel to buy goods or avail of services.

“We urge the government to allow the private sector to import vaccines without restrictions or conditions so we could move quickly and efficiently in vaccinating more people,” Yujuico said.

 “We have to keep pace with our neighbors, which except for Indonesia, have lower infection rate than us and yet are ahead of us (including Indonesia) in implementing the vaccination program. We cannot risk being left behind again and revert to being the basket case of Asia.”

PCCI also expressed concern on the COVID-19 vaccine passports now required in many countries, which has an impact on the country whose economic growth is driven largely by remittance-fueled consumption.

“Without an early widespread roll-out of the vaccination program, many of our overseas Filipino workers who found themselves repatriated because of COVID-19, may be unable to return to their work once restrictions are lifted, and find themselves without jobs,” Yujuico stressed.

The first batch of coronavirus vaccines for Region X being unloaded at Laguindingan Airport, Misamis Oriental. (CIO)

PCCI urged the National Government to consider the proposal of House Deputy Speaker Rufus B. Rodriguez to allow the private sector to buy and import vaccines for their employees and their families tax-free. This would reduce pressure from government, which has a limited budget to inoculate all, or even 70% of the population, PCCI said.

PCCI also called on the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) to accelerate its review of the applications for emergency use authorization of various pharmaceutical firms for their vaccines. (PCCI)

-30-