1st World Fintech Festival: Philippines as Asia’s next big tech hub Marks digital footprint across the globe

The Philippines is set to showcase its best financial technology (fintech) practices to an international audience and cement its global digital footprint in the five-day virtual World Fintech Festival (WFF) on December 7-11. Previously presented as the Singapore Fintech Festival (SFF) in past years, this year’s WFF shall spotlight key executives and decision-makers from different Asian nations as they discuss how they pilot fintech to produce societal impacts.  Global tech legends like Bill Gates, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will broadcast their talks to WFF participants in ten free sessions through YouTube and Facebook. 

The WFF-Philippines, co-presented by leading telecommunications company Globe, is also intended to galvanize Philippine industries to accelerate their own adoption of fintech, be open to innovation, and invest in their workforce’s digital upskilling. It is designed to bring together the public and private sector to help build inclusive digital economies.

During the virtual presser on November 18, Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief Fintech Officer of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), remarked on the readiness of the nation’s fintech industry. He said, “The Philippines is the country that I will never ignore. You have a remarkable GDP and a fairly young demographic. The true test of a company’s strength comes from a crisis—and the businesses in the Philippines have truly demonstrated this.”

A first in the country, the WFF – Philippines is organized by GeiserMaclang Marketing Communications, Inc. (GMCI) in partnership with MAS and SingEx. It is expected to draw in the same crowds who attend the SFF, including business leaders and CEOs from 140 countries. 

Industry leaders who will headline the WFF-Philippines were present during the virtual presser: Melchor Plabasan, Director, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas; Martha Sazon, President and CEO of Mynt and Chairman of the EMoney Association of the Philippines Inc.; Dr. Justo Ortiz, Chairman, UnionBank of the Philippines and President of the Fintech Philippines Association; Noel Bonoan, KPMG Vice Chairman and COO; and Atty. Mark Gorriceta, Managing Partner of Gorriceta Africa Cauton & Saavedra.

WFF-Philippines Convenor and GMCI’s Co-founder Amor Maclang, who moderated the panel discussion, says the event can amplify the Philippines as a tech hub attractive to global investors. “We are championing the Philippines, following the footsteps of Singapore, as an incubator for technology and fintech. At the same time, tech is here to serve the underserved, the underbanked, and the undersheltered. Fintech has created opportunities for people on the spot,” said Maclang, citing the sari-sari stores and online entrepreneurial shops as examples of fintech’s inclusivity.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has also paved the way for the country to be more open when it comes to seamless and contactless payment behaviors. Its data shows a surge in the use of internet banking, mobile apps, and services like Instapay and PesoNet during the pandemic.  BSP Director Melchor Plabasan revealed some initiatives, saying, “More than four million accounts were opened during the first two months of the lockdown. We recently crafted a three-year roadmap which aims to develop an efficient, safe, and secure digital-payment ecosystem. We aim to shift 50% of retail payments to online, and ensure that 70% of adult Filipinos will have access to digital accounts.”

Martha Sazon, President and CEO of Mynt, which manages the country’s leading mobile wallet app GCash among its innovations, revealed one of the trends observed during the lockdown:  “It is the younger generation who is most aware of their financial stability within this time. These things have pushed us to provide savings, credit, and insurance, all within GCash. To date, we have gained 26 million GCash customers, which is ten times higher than our monthly users in 2017.”

Ms. Sazon, who is also Chairman of the EMoney Association of the Philippines, estimated that one trillion transactions will be made through GCash by the end of December. 

Meanwhile, UnionBank of the Philippines, which pioneered digital banking, was able to accommodate the large spikes of consumer demand when the clamor for online transactions soared during the first few months of the COVID-19 crisis. Dr. Justo Ortiz, UnionBank Chairman, pointed out the future of money movements:  “Financial transactions, embedded in actual live transactions people do day to day, are the ultimate end game. Whatever you do, whether you buy food, take a trip—we will embed it in financial transactions across the board.”

Auditing firm KPMG has leveraged on tech to redefine its business operations, services, and client management system. Its Vice Chairman and COO, Noel Bonoan, explained, “We assist our clients on automation, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity. You cannot properly assist them if your organization cannot practice what you preach.” 

Atty. Mark Gorriceta, Managing Partner of law firm Gorriceta Africa Cauton & Saavedra, affirmed that speedy, accountable action holds the keys to digital transformation. He said, “We help our clients navigate and understand its intricacies. In aiming for responsible fintech, we closely work together with the BSP, the Insurance Commission, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.” 

Dr. Ortiz reiterated that in all great journeys of impact, making the difference at scale requires great effort and investment in human capital which is “the challenge of our generation. As the speed of innovation is accelerating, we need to double-time and intensify our efforts so nobody will be left behind,” he emphasized. “Learning, unlearning, and relearning will be a consistent process in our digital journey to become a robust and competitive digital society.”

The World Fintech Festival-Philippines agenda of speakers will span the length of the five-day global program which will run from December 7-11. For more information and to register for the event, click here: https://www.fintechfestival.sg/register-now

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Marawi Bio Testing Laboratory opens

MARAWI CITY —– The local government unit of Marawi City opened Wednesday (November 18) a P28-million bio molecular testing laboratory located inside the old building of Amai Pakpak Medical Center (AMPC) this city.

The opening delayed for two-months since several documents and requirements from the Department of health (DOH) needed to be complied with first, chief of hospital Dr. Shalimar Rakiin said.

The P 28-million biomolecular testing laboratory inside the Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Marawi City opened Wednesday, November 18. (Divina M. Suson)

The four staff assigned to man the facility also had to undergo a series of trainings in Davao City and pass an examination before a license to operate (LTO) was issued.

The LTO was only received Tuesday morning (November 17) and APMC management immediately opened the laboratory since there were still many collected specimens that need to be analyzed.

Rakiin said the establishment of the laboratory is a big help to the responses made by the provincial government of Lanao del Sur and the city government of Marawi that contributed funds from their Bayanihan Grant Funds to construct the facility.

A staff member of the  biomolecular testing laboratory at the Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Marawi City tours reporters inside the facility following its ceremonial launching Wednesday, November 18. Behind her is the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine that runs the specimen samples and the biosafety cabinet that stores the samples. (Divina M. Suson)

Previously, it would take four to five days before the APMC or the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) received the result of those swabbed for the reverse transcript polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.

“Because we have to first gather specimen samples here (at APMC), then after two days we send them to NMMC (Northern Mindanao Medical Center) in Cagayan de Oro City then wait for another two to three days to get the result,” Rakiin said.

With the opening of the facility, pregnant mothers who would undergo caesarean operations and patients who need surgery would minimize their waiting time and resources waiting for their COVID test results.

“One of the required procedures in the medical management of patients scheduled for caesarean procedure or surgery, is to undergo a RT-PCR test,” Rakiin said.

A staff of the newly-opened biomolecular testing laboratory inside the Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Marawi City checks on the first batch of specimen samples to be tested and analyzed by the brand new polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine on Wednesday, November 18. (Divina M. Suson)

Mayor Majul Gandamra, who graced the opening, said the establishment of the biomolecular testing laboratory in Marawi City showcased the collaborative efforts of the city and the provincial governments in responding to the pandemic.

“The challenge of fighting the virus while simultaneously rebuilding our city from ruins is not an easy task to achieve. Thus, we are thankful for the efforts of all our frontliners from the local government to the health workers in APMC, the City Health Office (CHO) and the IPHO,” Gandamra said.

In June, Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiong, Jr., turned-over P10 million while Gandamra turned-over P2-million from the Bayanihan Grant Fund the national government downloaded for the local government’s response against COVID-19.

In May, LGU Marawi received P58.7 million as Bayanihan Grant for Cities and Municipalities (BGCM) fund, equivalent to one month internal revenue allotment (IRA) share while Lanao del Sur received P117 million Bayanihan Grant for Provinces fund equivalent to half a month IRA share.

This is in accordance with Republic Act (RA) 11469 or the Bayanihan Heal as One Act to allow LGUs to quickly respond to the public health crisis.

The BGCM is intended to “boost the LGU’s capacity in immediately responding to the COVID-19 emergency” while the BGP is to used “as augmentation to the funding requirements for the operation of provincial, district and other local hospitals operated by the provincial government and maintenance of duly established provincial checkpoints related to COVID-19, in support of the on-going efforts of the government to respond to the crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pendemic.”

As of November 14, Lanao del Sur logged in 30 confirmed cases with 971 recoveries for a total of 1,041 infections since the start of the pandemic in March. There are 40 reported deaths due to COVID-19 in the province, including Marawi City.

Eight of the 30 active cases are from Marawi as of November 16. The city has recorded 581 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic. Twenty one (21) of the 40 reported mortalities are from Marawi City. 

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The Talakag Operation

Guerrillas vs. Japanese, Korean & BC troops in Talakag, Bukidnon

18 June 1944 – 29 June 1944

It was considered as one of the most intense battles between the guerrillas and the Imperial Japanese Army in Mindanao during World War II.

For eleven days in June 1944, guerrilla units of the 109th Division of the 10th Military District engaged Japanese, Korean troops of the Imperial Japanese Army’s 41st Infantry Regiment, 30th Panther Division, the latter bolstered by Filipino Constabulary soldiers, close air and artillery support in a running gun battle at the key Bukidnon town of Talakag.

This encounter makes it a unique study in the history in a number of ways.

For one, it involved the dominant colonial masters of the time in the United States and Japan, as well as their allies in their colonies: the Filipino Guerrillas under their American officers on one side, versus the Korean volunteer soldiers and their Japanese Officers on the other.

Two, it was one of the rare occasions of the war in Mindanao when Korean garrison troops comprised the bulk of the enemy soldiers who were in the forefront of an offensive action, when usually they were consigned to the less glamorous duties of policing POW camps and maintaining order in the occupied areas of the island, which most Japanese soldiers allegedly believed to be below their social status as esteemed warriors of the Empire. (see Annex 1: Koreans in the IJA).

Or perhaps, this just lends credence to the claim of Gil Yun-hyung, staff reporter of The Hankyoreh, (Korean: 한겨레, literally The Korean Nation or One Nation) a center-left daily newspaper in South Korea, in an 2013 article that Many of those Korean soldiers were used as cannon fodder by the Japanese military.”  

Lt. Gen. Gyokasu Morozumi, Commanding General, IJA 30th Panther Division (U.S. Army photo Via Paul Tillery, cropped by author)

However, this was not true for this particular instance as attested by Lt. Gen. Gyokasu Morozumi, commanding general of the Imperial Japanese Army’s 30th Panther Division when asked in a post-war interrogation in Japan about the quality of the Korean volunteer soldiers under his command.

“These Koreans were especially picked troops and were excellent soldiers,” Morozumi stressed. 

Three, this battle, more a series of encounters over twelve days, also featured the deployment of Filipino soldiers of the Bureau of Constabulary (better known as BCs) in significant numbers against their fellow Filipinos in an outright offensive action, in contrast to their usual police duties (see Annex II: Bureau of Constabulary).

Just what was it exactly in this little town of Bukidnon that raised the ire of the Imperial Japanese Army so much that made it one of their favorite targets?

Talakag, Bukidnon

Talakag is a landlocked municipality of Bukidnon province ringed by several bodies of water: Bayog River (west), Cagayan River (northwest), Maridugao River (south) and crisscrossed by various tributaries of the Cagayan River such as the Batang, Tikalaan, Bulanog Rivers, Kabangalasan Creek and many others(MCLUP, 2000).

Map of Bukidnon showing municipalities

In 1944, the town was enclosed by the regional capital town Cagayan and the Municipality of Baungon (north), the municipalities of Kalilangan and Pangantucan (south), Lantapan and Valencia (east) and the Lanao Province (west). It’s is about thirty five kilometers from Cagayan and about 132 kilometers from the Bukidnon capital of Malaybalay.

Although Talakag is readily accessible today, up until the 1960s, traveling, mostly done through carabao-driven carts, would take almost a day because of the winding, forested and sometimes impassable rocky roads. Talakag then was accessible from Cagayan mainly through a single-lane, carabao trail-like path.

Dissected plain in Talakag circa 1939 (NARA)

It is this particular geographical and topographical characteristic which made Talakag a relatively safe haven of refuge for its residents and non-residents alike when it was declared as an evacuation site during the Second World War. (Montalvan, 2004).

When the Japanese occupied Cagayan in May 2, 1942, most of the residents evacuated to nearby upland municipalities. Talakag, in particular, was declared as an evacuation site (Montalvan, 2000). Many residents from Cagayan and nearby towns evacuated there. Talakagnons who studied in Malaybalay and in Cagayan were ordered to return to their respective homes. Residents then began to store food and other necessities needed in case of emergency evacuation (Golo, 2008).

Talakag itself is a place where its topography, lush forests and high agricultural lands, played a crucial part in their survival of the occupation. Talakag also became the convergence point for United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) personnel who chose not to surrender to the Japanese at Malaybalay.

A Peaceful Town

Bukidnon’s political status was Special Province up to the outbreak of the Pacific War. It was during the American colonial government that the whole of Mindanao was opened to resettlement and corporate investments. (Tawagon, 2008).

Pre-war photo of Del Monte Plantation Area (NARA)

The Americans had initiated the development and cultivation of highly arable but idle agricultural lands. The principal agricultural activities were the cultivation of rice and corn, cattle ranching and pineapple growing in the 1920s.

Because of its ideal climate, Talakag became known as the agricultural hub in Northern Mindanao before the war. In 1939, Talakag produced 35,724 cavans of corn, the largest among all the towns of Bukidnon (Lao, 1985). Lao further contended that migrants were attracted so much to the economic boom of Bukidnon that they came as far away as Ilocos and from nearby Bohol.

In the 1935 census data (CMDP, 1991), Talakag had a population of around 35,000. However, population and other pertinent municipal records after 1935 were lost when the old municipal hall was burned.

Philippine Constabulary soldiers. Pre-War. The PC had a good reputation for keeping the peace in Talakag prior to World War II.

Talakag was a peaceful town. Peace and order was maintained by the Philippine Constabulary and a Police force under the Office of the Mayor also assisted. Talakag-proper was described as a very alive town (Murillo, 2002). The various social and religious activities the residents engaged in were indicative of a strong social cohesion. Games and various sports were also held in the plaza complex on Sundays after the mass.

Fr Edward James Haggerty, the legendary Guerrilla Padre of Mindanao (Jesuit Archives)

Fr. Edward James Haggerty, S.J., the famous “Guerrilla Padre” of Mindanao, relates how it was when the Jesuit priests dropped by every fourth Sunday of the month to celebrate Mass for the Talakagnons.

“The children along the road come out to wave and shout, “Pari, Pari” (“Father, Father”), but their shouts brings little joy to my heart. That one word is about all they know of our religion.

Children of Talakag await the arrival of the Jesuit priest who only visited them once a month. (Jesuit Archives)

Once a year, at fiesta time, there will be one Mass in these twenty two miles between Cagayan and Talakag, and parents will bring their babies to be baptized.

Fr Edward James Haggerty and friends pushing the old Ford up the rocky road to Talakag (Jesuit Archives)

Then God drops out of their lives, and the only glimpse they have of religion is once a month when the  priest goes hurrying by in the old Ford.”

The Pacific War

When the Pacific War broke out in December 8, 1941 (December 7, 1941, Hawaiian time), the news was received with mixed reactions by the people of Talakag. Some felt a sense of dread and panic, hysteria and fear, while others all but dismissed the news as something mundane.

Japan-declares-war-by-bombing-Pearl-Harbor-in-Hawaii-and-the-US-joins-WWII-1941

Part of the residents’ placid reaction to the news of the war was the geographic distance. According to one eyewitness: “Layo rana ang Pearl Harbor Dili lage maabot sa Pilipinas and gyera..”(Murillo, 2002) (Pearl Harbor is far. War will never come to the Philippines.)

The war became real for them when these residents were made to prepare hideouts and foxholes by the USAFFE and even more when the Japanese started air strafing northern Mindanao. Blackout orders were also issued to avoid being strafed by enemy planes.

A B-18 Bolo destroyed by the Japanese raids on Dec. 19 and 20, 1941 on Del Monte Airfield. (Feredo Collection)

Reyes (1984) said that the arrival of Occupation troops in Northern Mindanao was preceded by heavy bombings. Del Monte had received the heaviest and most persistent bombing since it had become the only large airfield after Clark and Nichols Field. Cagayan, Bugo, Malaybalay and Misamis were also bombed. Given the relative proximity of these places, Talakag was not spared.

The Empire comes to Talakag

When the Japanese occupied Cagayan on May 2, 1942, they consequently went up to Talakag accompanied by a strong infantry and air support. However, they went down immediately to the coast according to Kohler (n.d). Since guerilla bands were not yet active at this point, the Japanese army then planned the re-organization of the municipality.

IJA 5th division landing on Malayan beach 1941. The Kawamura Detachment, an elite unit of the 41st Infantry Regiment which was detached from the 5th Division, invaded and occupied Northern Mindanao, including Talakag on May 2, 1942. (IJA photo)

The Japanese formally occupied Talakag in March, 1943 (Golo, 2008). They established a government and appointed Marcelino Lagamon as the mayor. The appointed Alipio Urbina mayor (or “presidente” as they were known before the war), who went into hiding and a certain Mr. Taga refused the position (Kohler). It should be noted that the Japanese Military Administration recognized the indispensable role of the local officials in the process of political integration (JOP, Folder No. 41).

The provisionary government stayed only within the vicinity of the Poblacion. It seemed that they never had the chance to evacuate or hide for fear that the Japanese would kill or harm them for neglecting their responsibilities. The incumbent municipal officials went into hiding, and found the time and effort to check on their constituents (Kohler, n.d.).

When the incumbent officials evacuated, the local Japanese Military Commander was forced to look for other persons “willing” to accept the positions. The Japanese army did not stay long enough to enforce whatever policies they needed to do for occupation. They only came up to Talakag every two weeks and when they did, the people left the town-proper and evacuated to the forests.

This was because it was difficult for the Japanese to travel to Talakag. They often had to pass through Malaybalay, Miarayon or Guimbalaron because of the presence of guerrillas along the more accessible Macahambus road.

Heavily armed truck convoys would make surprise visit to Talakag often accompanied by planes that randomly strafed the area. pinterest.com pin 37788084359975874

In fact, whenever the Japanese came to Talakag, they rode in heavily defended conveys with planes providing close air support and strafing of random targets.

Reynaldo Y. Abejo (left) with some  Japanese Officers,  taken at Pacana St. Puntod, CDO
(Photo shared by his son-in law Francisco Acero Daclag Jr).

The Japanese were initially friendly, and took great pains to be friendly with the Talakagnons, especially through their children. In their absence, the Japanese-organized police known as the BC (Bureau of Constabulary) (Lao, 1985) maintained peace and order with the dispensary (Talakag Health Center) used as the Police station.

The Bureau of Constabulary helped defend Talakag from cattle rustlers even during the war. (NARA)

Deveza observed that cattle rustling was minimized due to the presence of the police force. The rustlers were mostly Moro bandits. Kohler wrote that in a meeting in Miarayon, provincial police encouraged the people to cooperate with the new government in Talakag. They even tried to collect firearms and announced a cedula tax of 50 centavos a month or be fined ten pesos.

the Imperial Japanese Army demanded one third of farmers’ crops, poultry and livestock for their food supply.

The Japanese also wanted to get one third of their crops, livestock and poultry for the Imperial Army’s food supply. All in all, though, the BC helped maintain peace and order in the municipality as well as in the entire Bukidnon province.

When the Japanese-sponsored Philippine Republic was inaugurated on October 14, 1943 with the two days preceding declared special public holidays, its impact was not felt in the far flung provinces. Thus, Talakag residents continued to evacuate whenever the Japanese visited the community, then returned to the town after they departed.

From what Mrs. Pabilona remembered of her parents’ remembrances of the war, “sige ug bakwit, kada nay buto-dagan” (we kept evacuating, every time we heard shots, we ran). They were very afraid of the Japanese, especially those that conducted foot patrols.

Talakag residents would immediately flee to nearby forests to hide whenever they got news of the imminent arrival of Japanese convoys.

Although most residents had never seen a Japanese, their reputation for cruelty and ruthlessness seemed to have preceded them, thus civilians would flee their homes and run to the hills as soon as they heard that the Japanese were approaching (Alexander, 1945).

As Murillo (2002) recalled in her autobiography during the early part of the war: “Then the Japs began to raid in and out of town places, oftentimes we would be awakened by friends that the Japs were on their way to us. Then we would run and go to the deepest forest. It was a terrifying time for all of us. We were hungry most of the time; we had nothing to eat but bananas and plant roots, there was no rice or corn.” (Murillo)

The road to Talakag was as equally difficult to traverse for the heavily armed Japanese truck convoys as it was for the Jesuit priests before the war.

Aside from the fact there were orders coming from the guerrillas to evacuate, fear of what the Japanese might do to them in case they were captured also spurred residents to flee to the forests.

Bowler leads the guerrillas

Left to right- Thomas Cabili, Robert Bowler, Khalid Salipida Pendatun, Charles (Chick) Parsons, unknown, Manuel Fortich & Edwin Andrews in Malaybalay, May 1943 (MacArthur Memorial)

As related by Cpl. Jesus B. Ilogon, Jr, in his unpublished manuscript “Memoirs of the Guerrillas: The Barefoot Army”, sometime in October, 1942, bakwits (internally displaced persons) from Cagayan pleaded with Maj. Robert V. Bowler to lead a guerrilla force to protect them two roving bands of self-proclaimed guerrillas who were preying on the defenseless bakwits.

Bowler was an American officer who chose not to surrender to the enemy but instead stayed in Wanguilan, a sitio near Talakag. Along with Fr. Haggerty, Bowler was asked by the town’s leaders to protect them against the brigands and the Japanese.

Up to 29 Oct 1942, Talakag was governed by Japanese puppet Filipino officials and was frequently visited by Japanese officers and soldiers as well as Japanese civilians. The Cagayan—Talakag road was at that time still passable by motor vehicles.

Upon orders of Maj. Bowler, Lt Waldo McVickers with eight armed men took Talakag by surprise on 29 Oct 1942 and captured the Talakag police station without firing a shot, forcing the surrender of the Japanese police and eleven puppet officials.

The policemen joined the uprising and turned over forty of their rifles. Over a hundred rifles previously buried beneath the church were dug up and distributed.

Immediate1y thereafter, a conference was held in Talakag, presided over by Bowler, McVickers, Benito T. Hidalgo, William F. McLaughlin, Nicolas Denosta, Albino Noble, Cirilo Rivera, Amado Santiago, Ricardo Rodriguez, all made Captains later attended the meeting.

Plans for effective campaigns against the enemy; mustering of men into the guerrilla fold;
collection of more arms and ammunition; feeding of the troops; and establishment of the civil government were among the matters discussed.

Bitao River Ferry on Cagayan-Talakag Road. Pre-War View from the North Bank (NARA)

On 30 Oct 1942, Bowler raised the American and Filipino flags over Talakag in front of the school. A patrol under McVickers was immediately sent to destroy the ferry-boat at Ugiaban, Talakag which heretofore had been unused by the Japanese. All along the highway from Talakag to Lumbia, outposts were established.

Bowler had previously been trying to consolidate the guerilla forces in Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon and Cotabato. These units later formed the core of the 109th Division that was activated on March 14, 1943 along with the creation of the 10th Military District, United States Forces in the Philippines (USFIP). The division was assigned the sector covering Bukidnon, part of Misamis Oriental, and initially, also Cotabato.” (Baclagon, 1952)

Upon assuming command of the 109th Division, Bowler established his headquarters at Wanguilan, a sitio near Talakag, and took the following staff officers: Chief of Staff – Maj. Manuel Jaldon (transferred to Zamboanga and replaced by Maj. James R. Grinstead), Lt. Norberto Gasendo (G1); Lt. Primitivo Quiem (G2); Maj. Onofre H. Hipe (G3), and Lt. Cirilo Rivera (G4). (Baclagon, 1952)

Through the “bamboo telegraph” (the Philippine grapevine), the news spread like wildfire and hundreds of recruits including unsurrendered Americans, many of whom were former soldiers who eluded capture or escaped from the Japanese, trekked to Talakag to join the unit.

Map of Talakag showing barangays

Despite being located relatively close to Talakag, the location of109th Division headquarters at Sitio Wanguilan, was never disclosed to the visiting Japanese forces, as attested by Gaite’s respondents. They felt that the presence of the headquarters and some American officers gave them a sense of security every time they returned from evacuation.

According to Velez (2009), a key study respondent, some of the indigenous peoples in Talakag also joined the guerilla effort primarily for protection since they were going to be issued weapons. Some of them also served as guides and aides to guerilla leaders.

The 109th Division (Guerrilla)

The 109th Division garrisoned that portion of Misamis Oriental West of the Tagoloan River, and the province of Bukidnon. It consisted of the 109th, 111th, 112th and 117th Infantry Regiments. Pangayawan, Alubijid to Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental and the entire province of Bukidnon was the 109th Division’s area of responsibility.

Datu Khalid Salipada Pendatun

Guerrilla bands covering the Bukidnon-Cagayan de Misamis area led by famous guerrillas like  Lt. Colonel Khalid Salipada Pendatun, Maj. Manuel Jaldon, Major Frank McGee, and Lt. William McLaughlin formed the cadre of the division.

Major Jaldon with Lt. Akas P. Silliek had his group at Himaya, El Salvador, Cagayan. A Sgt. Marcelino Maagad and a Pvt. Marcelo Wabe who had their own outfit at Malanag, Barran and Iponan later joined him. This affiliation formed what became the 109th Infantry Regiment, one of three regiments of the 109th Division.

Mindanao 10th Military District Guerrilla Organizations 15 February 1944 (NARA)

Lt. Col. James Grinstead, AUS, assumed command of the 109th Division on January 1944 when Bowler was appointed Commanding Officer of the “A” Corps.

Col. Grinstead was between 50 to 55 years old and was a retired PC officer of many years’ service in the Philippines. He was living on his plantation in Cotabato when the war started. He reported to the District Headquarters in February 1943 and was asked to return to Cotabato to organize guerillas. He was later made CO of the 109th Regiment, then Chief of Staff 109th Division before taking command.

109th Inf Reg CO Maj. Fidencio Laplap became Police Chief of Cagayan de Oro after the war.
(Laplap Family photo)

Among his key officers were Maj. Crispino M. de Castro, PA (Chief of Staff), Maj. Fidencio M. Laplap, (CO, 109th Regiment with 63 officers and 1,005 enlisted men with headquarters in El Salvador, Misamis Oriental); Capt. J.S. Cruz (CO, 111th Regiment with 86 officers and 1,144 enlisted men with headquarters in Imbatug, Baungon, Bukidnon); Capt. William MacLaughlin (CO, 112th Regiment with 36 officers and 626 enlisted men with headquarters near Sumilao, Bukidnon) and Maj. Waldo McVickers (CO, 117th Regiment with 41 officers and 534 enlisted men with headquarters near Mailag). Division Headquarters  included 101 officers and 678 enlisted men.

The US Armed Forces awarded Maj. Waldo McVickers the Legion of Merit  for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements as CO of the 117th Infantry Regiment. The Legion of Merit (LOM) is a military award of the United States Armed Forces awarded to members of the eight uniformed services of the United States.

Thus, the 109th Division at the time had a full complement of 327 officers and 3,987 enlisted personnel.

109th Division Officers & Personnel Complement (Gaite, 2009)

One thing to note between these two documents is that while total division strength is placed between 3,000-4,000 personnel, the SWPA Intelligence Section report notes only about over half or 1,600 firearms were available for the whole division as of 15 February 1944 which may have affected how it responded to the Japanese attack on their headquarters, not to mention the always present constraint on ammunition.

Within this area lay the seaport of Cagayan, considered the second most important in Mindanao, the Del Monte airfield complex in Tankulan (now Manolo Fortich) in Bukidnon and the pursuit fields in Patag and Lumbia, Cagayan, which were frequently used by the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy Air Forces (IJAAF/IJNAF).

Sayre  Highway crossing Mangima River. Oblique looking North. 20 June 1939 (NARA)

Also within Cagayan was the key terminus of the strategic Sayre Highway (formerly Route 3) that terminated in Barrio Bugo and extended 192 kilometers to Kabacan, Cotabato traversing the provinces of Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon and Cotabato.

Pre-War birds eye view of Sayre Highway winding through canyon (probably  Mangima Canyon) in Tankulan. (NARA)

The Sayre Highway extends southward through central Mindanao for about 161 kilometers (100 mi), linking the northern and southern arms of Route 1 (Digos–Butuan Highway). Japanese and American planners both considered control of the Sayre Highway as crucial to the total control of  Mindanao.

From the latter part of May 1944 until the opening of the Leyte invasion, Japanese troop strengths, dispositions, and transportation, were under constant surveillance by the guerrillas.

The guerrillas also kidnapped many influential Filipinos who had been collaborating with the Japanese, and disseminated propaganda to the inhabitants causing much confusion and discord.

No attacks were made against Japanese installations nor did the guerrillas destroy roads or attempt to disrupt communications. They did, however, attack survivors of a sunken transport ship off the cost of Camiguin Island who managed to reach the coast of  Balingasag as well as stragglers who wandered outside of the defense lines.

With the start of the Leyte invasion on 20 October 1944, the guerrillas on Camiguin Island and along the coast of Mindanao became more active, and arms, ammunition and medical supplies brought in by American submarines.

The guerrillas constructed an emergency landing field in Talakag where American airplanes frequently landed during March 1945 in order to unload guerrilla supplies. The IJA 30th Division sent out a detachment to capture and destroy the airfield, forcing the guerrillas to withdraw from the area.

The IJA 35th Army

At the time of the Battle for Talakag, the IJA 35th Army under General Sosaku Suzuki, had about 43,000 Japanese troops stationed in Mindanao.

General Sosaku Suzuki, Commanding General, IJA 35th Army (1891-1945)

The Japanese 35th Army was raised on July 26, 1944 in the Japanese-occupied Philippines in anticipation of Allied attempts to invade and retake Mindanao and the Visayan islands in central and southern Philippines. It was under the overall command of the Japanese Fourteenth Area Army.

Initially intended as a garrison force to withstand a long-term war of attrition, as the war situation on the Pacific front grew increasingly desperate for Japan, the Imperial General Headquarters ordered the bulk of the IJA 35th Army to Leyte as reinforcement to Japanese forces in the Battle of Leyte to fight against the combined American and Philippine Commonwealth troops.

However, at the time of the Talakag operation, the Japanese troops garrisoned in Mindanao consisted of the following units:

The 100th Infantry Division and the 32d Naval Base Force were concentrated around prepared defenses north of Davao. The 74th Infantry Regiment and the 2d Air Division were at Malaybalay, Bukidnon in the center of the island.

The 30th Infantry Division , considered Suzuki’s best unit, held the area between Malaybalay and Cagayan in the central region and northern coast, while the 54th Independent Mixed Brigade remained on the Zamboanga Peninsula.

The IJA 30th Panther Division

The 30th Panther (or Leopard, in other reports) Division was organized at Heijo, Chosen, in March, 1943. All the troops of the command at the time of its activation came from regiments which were transferred to the newly formed unit from other divisions.

Organizational Chart IJA 30th Panther Division (8th Army, AUS)

The 74th Regiment previously served with the 19th Tiger Division, and the 77th Regiment was formerly of the 20th Morning Division. Both 19th Division and the 20th Division were raised as a garrison force for Korea. These troops had not seen action for several years and their espirit de corps was high.

The 41st had previously been under the 5th Koi (Carp) Division and had extensive combat experience in China, Malaya and  New Guinea. With its combat experience and record in China, the 5th Division was considered one of the best units in the Imperial Japanese Army. It participated in the Battle of Malaya and paved the way for the capture of Singapore on 22 January 1942.

Japanese army Chi-Ha tanks and trucks during the invasion of Malaya 1942.

At the Battle of Slim River in the Battle of Malaya, the 41st Infantry Regiment, supported by tanks, swept through sixteen miles of British defenses, shattering the exhausted11th Indian Division and inflicting an estimated 3,000 casualties.

The 4,160-man strong Kawamura Detachment (comprising an elite part of the 41st Infantry Regiment of the 5th Division) landed on Panay island on 16–18 April 1942, resulting in a force of 7,000 U.S.-Filipino combatants retreating from the coast on 20 April 1942.

IJA 5th_division, landing on Malayan beach,1941. The elite Kawamura Detachment of its 41st Infantry Regiment invaded and secured Northern Mindanao, including Talakag, on 10 May 1942.

The Kawamura Detachment then proceeded to land on the north coast of Mindanao on 3 May 1942, and forced the surrender of the USAFFE Visayan-Mindanao Force under Maj. Gen. William F. Sharp on 10 May 1942.

After participating in the New Guinea Campaign, the 41st Regiment was returned to Japan where it underwent a complete reorganization. Thereafter it was ordered to Korea where it joined the 30th Division. Its combat experience in the South Pacific had acquainted it with American tactics and tropical warfare.

Other regiments in the division were the 30th Engineers, the 20th Artillery Regiment, the 30th Reconnaissance Regiment, and the 30th Transportation Regiment. The men in these regiments came essentially from Kyushu and northeastern Honshu. About 10% of the personnel in each unit were Korean volunteers.

By April 1944 Japanese reinforcements were pouring into Mindanao, and enemy commanders were laying plans to wipe out the guerrillas before the anticipated U.S. invasion of the island. 

On May 25, 1944, the 41st Infantry Regiment landed at Cagayan, while the other regiments landed at Surigao. The general mission of the division under the command of Lt. Gen. Gyokasu Morozumi was guarding and defending Surigao and Agusan, and the easter part of the Misamis province.

When Suzuki was ordered to Leyte in October, 1944, Morozumi assumed command of the defense of Mindanao, and was officially confirmed as commander of the IJA 35th Army on April 1945 after Suzuki was killed in action.

The IJA 41st Infantry Regiment

The attack on the 109th Division headquarters at Talakag was carried out by the IJA 30th Division’s  41st Infantry Regiment that was headquartered in Impalutao, Impasug-ong in Bukidnon.

Disposition of the IJA  30th  Panther Division (May 1944-August 1944), 8th Army (AUS)

Specifically, the units assigned to the battle area at this time were the 30th Reconnaissance Regiment and 2nd Battalion of the 41st Infantry Regiment.

From 18 June 1944 to 29 June 1944, the entire 111th Infantry regiment was under enemy pressure by a force of approximately 900 Japanese and Korean garrison troops attacking from different points. This force succeeded in penetrating as far as Talakag, Bukidnon where the 109th Division had its Headquarters.

The Battle of Talakag opened with a barrage from Japanese artillery probably like this Type 91 10CM howitzer on guerrilla positions.

About 6:30 on June 18, 1944, the area of the 1st Battalion was shelled by two field guns, ineffectively expending thirty—two shells. The fire was directed towards Macahambus, Tagpangi, Cabula, and Maasin. The shelling later proved to be the prelude to an attack on the 111th Infantry Regiment.

Two hours later, some 150 Japanese moved out from Lumbia towards Macahambus. Guerrilla outposts at Bagalangit and other outposts to the west  fired on this party but withdrew after a brief skirmish. At 11:30 AM, the fight was over with Bagalangit lost to the guerrillas. The enemy  then outposted their own line and the main body bivouacked.

At the time of the attack, the 1st Battalion was deployed in depth with its rear elements as far back as Tignapoloan, thus could not be mustered fast enough to counter the enemy thrust. However, it was promptly moved forward, and on the night of 18 Jun 1944, two companies were position in the hills around Bayanga with another rifle company between Dansolihon and Monigue.

This enemy offense was at first believed to be a mere outpost action but by mid-morning, the guerrillas became convinced that it was a seriously intended drive. Consequently ‘I’ Co of the 112th Infantry Regiment stationed at Dagumba-an as Division Reserve was moved to a position of readiness between Patpat (now San Isidro) and Balubal.

During the night of 18—19 June another force of enemy infantry estimated at 250 men, proceeded from Lumbia to Batinay where they were observed by the outpost of the 109th Infantry Regiment. This movement was promptly relayed to the 111th Infantry outpost at Tagpangi who transmitted the information to the 1st Battalion Commander and then withdrew towards Monigue without engaging the enemy.

The Japanese stopped at daylight; cooked chow, and then advanced slowly towards Tagpangi.  It was not until 2:00 PM that guerrilla forces encountered this group about two kilometers southeast of Tagpangi. The guerrilla forces there were the company that stationed near Dansolihon reinforced by the retreating Tagpangi outpost.

At the time of the encounter, about two-thirds of the enemy were moving along the main trail, with the other third moving cautiously along the ridges. It appeared that the enemy was baiting the guerrillas into attacking their main body and be crushed by their flank column.

The guerrillas in fact struck at the main body of the enemy but the skirmish was a hit-and-run  affair. An undetermined number of casualties was inflicted on the enemy and caused some confusion. The guerrilla unit then retreated towards Monigue keeping just out of touch with the enemy in pursuit.

During the morning, 20 Jun 1944, the enemy deployed near Bayanga but did not advance. The only engagement was a skirmish between the guerrilla reconnaissance patrol and the enemy outpost.

Japanese Planes Strafe Guerrillas

About 3:00 PM four Japanese dive bombers appeared over Bayanga and strafed the area for about an hour. Although the attack did no material damage, it did affect the morale of the sadly equipped guerrillas. Faced with death from above and the threat of a flanking attack from Monigue, the entire 1st Battalion withdrew to the neighborhood of Mambuaya to establish its two companies in position there.

Ki-51 Sonia of the 10th Dokuritsu Hikodan Shireibu (Independent Air Brigade Headquarters – 独立 飛行団 司令部) near Miri airstrip, Borneo at 1155 hrs on 22nd March 1945. The dive bombers which strafed the guerrillas were most probably of the same type from either the  65th and 66th Hiko Sentais (air regiment) of the Imperial Japan Army Air Force (IJAAF) which were deployed on a rotation basis and patrolled Palawan and Cagayan/Northern Mindanao and based at either Del Monte, Cagayan or Lumia airfields.  The Mitsubishi Ki-51 (Army designation “Type 99 Assault Plane”; Allied code name Sonia) was a light bomber/dive bomber already obsolescent by this time but still useful in the ground attack role especially against the guerrillas.

The enemy force from Tagpangi left Monigue to link up with the other force at Bayanga and both forces withdrew to the Bayanga Cemetery where they bivouacked for the night.

On 20 Jun 1944, about 10:00 AM, two Japanese training planes strafed Talakag. Bowler ordered the evacuation of civilians and his own rear installations. This strafing had little effect except to speed up compliance with the evacuation order.

According to Tony Feredo of the Pacific Air War History Associates (PAWHA), it was only the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force (IJAAF) that had armed training units in the Philippines.

“One training unit was in Del Monte by June of 1944, the 31st Kyoiku Hikotai (operational air training unit).  They later moved to Sibulan and Tanjay airfields in Dumaguete by July, but they may have maintained a sub-unit in northern Mindanao rotating between Del Monte and Cagayan.”

Initially based in Luzon, Feredo said the air training units moved a number of their elements to Panay (San Jose Buenavista Airfield), La Carlota (Negros) and Puerto Princesa (Palawan).  Some units were moved to the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) and used Mindanao as their staging area. 

 Other than being operational air training units, their deployment to the Philippines also helped in garrison duties by maintaining air patrols and attacks against guerrilla elements while the major air units were preparing for the defense of the Philippines against the anticipated US invasion, he added.

Feredo said the 31st Kyoiku Hikotai had a complement of 20 aircraft, of which most were Ki-79 Mansyu but also had Ki-36 Ida, Ki-55 Ida and Ki-54 Hickory.

Mansyu Ki-79 ©AirPages 2003-2020

The Mansyū Ki-79 Trainer version was built by Manshūkoku Hikōki Seizo KK with a 510 hp Hitachi Ha.13a-I or Ha.13a-III engine. A total of 1,329 aircraft built in four sub-versions (The single seat Ki-79a (Ha.13a-I) and Ki-79c (Ha.13a-III) and the two-seat Ki-79b (Ha.13a-I) and Ki-79d (Ha.13a-III)

The Ki-79c, like the Ki-79a, was a single-seat trainer armed with a single 7.7mm (0.303 in) Type 89 machinegun, while Ki-79d, like the Ki-79b, was a two-seat trainer armed with two 7.7mm (0.3030 in) Type 89 machineguns with 500 rounds per gun or 1 x 12.7 (0.50 in) mm Ho-103 machine gun and 1 x 7.7 mm (0.303 in) Type 89 machine gun on later models They could also carry four 25 kg (55-lb) for a total of 100 kg (220 lbs.) bombs.

Both Ki-79c and Ki-79d were made  of wood and steel (light alloys had become too scarce) and the engine was different (although of the same basic model).

Protecting The River Crossings 

“I” Co of the 112th Inf Regt moved to the Cagayan River to protect the crossings over Kibulawan. During the morning however, a force of the enemy estimated at 250 Korean troops and 150 Filipino BCs- forced their way across the Agusan River in the neighborhood of Camp 12. This force was supported by six enemy planes.

IJA(Imperial Japanese Army) Special Korean Volunteers Jan 1943
(Asahi Historical Photographs Library War and People 1940-1949 Vol.2)

Capt. Ramon Onahon, who led the “M” Co. of the 3rd Battalion, 111th Regiment escorted some one thousand civilian evacuees to Cagayan via Imbatug, Baungon, Bukidnon.

Sgt. Celestino Onahon, of the “I” Co.,  at 97 years one of the last surviving witnesses of the encounter at Imbatug, said it was the most intense fire fight he had experienced.

Sgt. Celestino Onahon helped defend the civilians fleeing to Cagayan with his.50-cal Heavy Machinegun. (RMB)

“We were in a defensive position and I was charged with manning our .50-cal. machine gun,” recalls Onahon, who now serves as a pastor in his church in Manolo Fortich (formerly Tankulan).

“We have been fighting for three days and I was the first to open fire since the .50-cal. had a greater range than our rifles. Our companions only had an average of seventeen rounds for each man, so when our ammunition was running low, we ran!”

After a considerable skirmish “M” Co., 111th Inf Regt which was attacking, was forced to withdraw and moved southward in the direction of Tigbao. The remainder of the 3rd Battalion reinforced by a platoon from the 112th Inf Regt concentrated in the area to protect against any drive in the direction of Mampayag.

After the skirmish, the enemy group divided the part pursuing “M” Co and one group moving towards Libona. The first group spent the night in a concrete starch factory at Camp 8.

At dawn, 21 June 1944,  elements of the 3rd Battalion attacked this last unit in an indecisive engagement. The remainder of the battalion moved forward to protect against a drive to the south. The enemy, however, continued to patrol Camp 12 area, Libona, Santa Fe and Camp B, and no other engagement took place in this area during the day.

IJA Advance

The 1st Battalion had lost contact with about 150 of the enemy, later reported to have crossed the river near Cabula and proceeding southward along the east bank of the Cagayan River.

At this time, the 2nd Battalion concentrated near Imbatug and had no force in position to interrupt this advance.

The battalion did however, send troops towards Langawon but they arrived too late to be of service. This enemy force recrossed the Cagayan River near the mouth of the Taguiti River coming in at the rear of the Guerrilla Mambuaya position.

At the time, an enemy advance was made from Bayanga.  The 1st Battalion, caught between forces, withdrew and took position with two companies at Dansolihon but with the other company still in the vicinity of Monigue.

Filipino machine gun team (courtesy of US Library of Congress)

Immediately after this, the enemy force proceeded to Uguiaban and attempted to cross the river at that point. One machine gun of “D” Co of the 111th Infantry Regiment which in position there, repulsed this thrust and forced the enemy withdrew, who made no further attempt to cross that night. This was the last appearance of the 1st Battalion in this action.

Important supplies and communications were being sent from the coast to the Tignapoloan are and the battalion was left to protect the trail. It was not attacked again by ground troops and a combat patrol that operated along the road between Bayanga and Ugiaban encountered no enemy troops.

Talakag Burned

At 7:00PM, 109th Div Commander, Lt-Col James Grinstead, ordered  his headquarters and the town of Talakag burned. He then took the few rifles that were in this area and some of his staff and joined “I” Co and the 112th Infantry Regiment in actual combat. This company had taken up a position at Balanon.

On the morning 22 June 1944, the enemy at Ugiaban began desultory firing from mortar and machine guns which continued up to about 2:30 PM.  Under cover of this, they succeeded in infiltering a sizeable group between Uguiaban and Kibulayan, and by 2:30 o’clock this force endangered the guerillas advance position at Balaon.

In addition, another enemy force had crossed the river and were in position for a frontal attack. The guerrilla forces then fell back to a second position slightly north of Balubal and reinforcements were sent to it.

By  the time this movement was completed, the enemy attacked in full force and after an hour of intense fighting the guerrilla forces were forced out of position.

Grindstead’s plans of operation was predicated on the use of veteran troops, but actually most of his troops were not. They held their position till the fighting was next thing to hand to hand combat, but they were shaken  badly enough to make it impracticable to occupy a third position south of Balubal. The engagement was ordered broken off and troops retired to Malinao.

While this was going on, the 3rd Battalion made another attack on the enemy at Camp 8 but they were also forced to withdraw. The enemy spent the night in the neighborhood of Libona.

The Fifth Day

On 22 June 1944, this enemy force moved forward towards Patpat (present day San Isidro) south of  Imbatug. About 8 AM, they came upon the outpost line of the 2nd Battalion somewhat unexpectedly and a brief skirmish followed. The 2nd Battalion at that time vas concentrated somewhat behind this position and it was withdrawn to a previous selected fallback position while attempting serious defense of the Bubunawan River crossing.

This move appeared to have been an error and resulted in a slackening of morale which significantly  reduced the efficiency of the battalion. The enemy then patrolled this area rather intensively burning the Battalion Headquarters at Patpat and the Regimental Headquarters at Salimbalan. Part of the enemy force spent the night in Imbatug which they entered without opposition while part was near Patpat.

On the Talakag front, a patrol of “I” Co, 112th Infantry Regiment, contacted the advance guard of the enemy just as they were proceeding through Balubal. In this engagement it appeared that both forces were too surprised to fire and the guerrilla force promptly withdrew to Malinao. After this, the enemy rested until air support arrived.

Death from the Air

Considering its proximity to Talakag, the Japanese close support aircraft were most probably elements of the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force (IJAAF) based at the Del Monte in Tankulan, and the two airfields in Cagayan: Lumbia Airfield, a Japanese constructed pursuit field with a capacity of 20 planes, and CagayanEast (Cagayan/Patag Airfield), which were both utilized as fighter fields.

According to Feredo, the Japanese were anticipating that the US would make a hard push in both the Central (under Nimitz) and SouthWest Pacific (SWPA, under MacArthur) areas as US carrier raids were stepping up to clear the way for the island hopping of MacArthur. 

The IJAAF were transferring air units to the Philippines by June 1944.  They chose to use Negros Island as their main base of operation (4th Air Army) but also deployed several air units to army airfields in Mindanao in anticipation of an expected US invasion from November 1944 to January 1945.

The 65th and 66th Hiko Sentais (air regiment) were deployed on a rotation basis and patrolled Palawan and Cagayan/Northern Mindanao.

Each Sentai usually had 27-34 Mitsubishi Ki-51 (Army designation “Type 99 Assault Plane“; Allied nickname “Sonia“) light bomber/dive bomber usually utilized in the ground attack role and noted for its ability to operate from rough airfields. 

The Ki-59 Sonia dive bomber was obsolescent by 1944 but still effective in the ground attack role especially against ‘soft targets’ like the guerrillas.

The Sonia dive bombers were most probably the type utilized against the guerrillas. It was similar in size and performance to the German Stuka Ju-87 and the US Army Douglas A-24 Banshee (similar to the US Navy SBD Dauntless patrol dive bomber).

About 10:00 AM, three dive bombers strafed and bombed the Tignapoloan area of the 1st Battalion, Talakag around the 111th Infantry Regiment, and Imbatug.

Under cover of these attacks the enemy force at Balubal proceeded to Talakag along the main highway and entered the town about 11:30 AM. Heavy flanking detachments came through Malinao and along the Kalawaig River. During the afternoon, four dive bombers repeated the bombing and strafing all over the area and the following morning two others did the same. No more planes came after that.

The enemy at Imbatug patrolled throughout the area between 23 and 25 June 1944. On this date the BCs were withdrawn to Cagayan while the Japanese troops advanced via Dangol and entered Talakag on the afternoon of 27 Jun 1944.

During this period several small groups of the 2nd Battalion, 111th Infantry Regiment engaged the Japs in numerous skirmishes. These inflicted some casualties on the enemy but were not material enough to affect the enemy operations.

Changing Battle Lines

The Regimental Commander had ordered the 3rd Battalion to take over the area of the 2nd Battalion and a large part of the battalion had moved in but did not arrive until 26 Jun 1944 when it was too late to stop the Japanese force.

However, both battalions were combined and took positions along the Tumala-ong River facing south and covered the crossings. This was done with the plan of reengaging the enemy when returning to Cagayan.

An enemy patrol sent on 27 June 1944 to Cagayan, was driven back to Talakag, and on 29 Jun 1944, a minor engagement was fought against the retreating enemy in the vicinity of Lingating. In this case the enemy was so much superior that this action was merely another hit-and-run guerrilla skirmish. In the meantime, the force at Talakag patrolled the area intensively until joined by the other group on 27 June 1944.

IJA Retires

On the 28 Jun 1944, the whole enemy force retired towards Cagayan and re-entered Cagayan on the afternoon of 29 Jun 1944. In Talakag there was not much resistance to these patrols. Those along the Cagayan River were so strong that the various guerrilla attempts to trap them had to be abandoned.

The placid Kalawaig River belies the past of the intense encounter which happened here during World War II between Japanese garrison troops and Filipino Guerrillas (photo by Raphael Kiefer)

The unit around the Kalawaig River was forced to cross that river and did not again enter the action. Grinstead and some of his staff left the Malinao-Maigtang area on the night of 26 June 1944 and by that time the majority of “I” Co had been re-assembled along the Cagayan River near Dagmbaan.

29 Jun 1944, this company was moved back into position at Balubal and the guerrilla MP Detachment reoccupied their old position at Talakag. Immediately after the skirmish on 29 Jun 1944, the 2nd and 3rd Battalions resumed their original positions while the 1st Battalion moved back to Mambuaya and assumed its original position there.

The Imperial Japanese Army started accepting young Korean volunteers into its ranks in 1937. In 1944, a law was passed mandating forcible conscription.(hani.ko.kr)

The enemy troops were mostly Koreans under Japanese officers. Approximately 100 operated through the area of the 1st Battalion. About 150 of these were engaged at Ugiaban but by the time the force entered Talakag it had increased to approximately 500. The force which operated through the 2nd and 3rd Battalions was about 250 Japanese and 150 BCs.

Casualties

Estimated number of Japs killed was fourteen and thirteen wounded, at least two of these killed being officers. Since the termination of the fight however, eight bodies Japanese soldiers were seen floating in the Cagayan River near Cagayan. These must have been lost during the activity along the Cagayan and Bubunawan Rivers.

In spite of the great amount of ammunition expended by the enemy, the number of casualties inflicted on  the guerrilla forces was only three men killed and one officer and two men wounded.

The casualty list for this action recovered so far from the Philippine Archives Collection of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) revealed the following names: Pvt. Alacoke Balcos, M Co, 111th Inf (KIA 19 June 1944), Pfc Resurrecion Llagano, E Co, 112th Inf (WIA 19 June 1944), Pvt. Antonio Gener, L Co, 111th Inf (KIA 21 June 1944), Pfc. Teodoro Cabanieros, L Co, 111th Inf (KIA 21 June 1944); Cpl. Antonio Ofera, F Co, 111th Inf (MIA 21 June 1944), and Pvt. Gaudenico Bation, MP Co, 111th Inf (KIA 21 June 1944). 

Throughout the entire engagement, the guerrillas were as usual short of ammunition to make a reasonably decent fight. At the beginning, the 3rd Battalion of the 111th Infantry Regiment had only seventeen rounds of rifle ammunition for each rifle, with other battalions only somewhat better. Only in  “I”  Co, 112th Infantry Regiment was there a reasonable quantity of ammunition -about seventy rounds per man.

People in Malaybalay celebrate the Japanese surrender of May 25, 1945 at the town plaza. (NARA)

Eleven months after this battle, American liberation forces bolstered by Filipino guerrillas occupied Malaybalay on May 21, 1945 and on May 25 marked the formal liberation of the entire Bukidnon province from the Japanese invaders. The Talakagnons held a victory parade when Talakag was declared safe thereafter.

Annex 1 : Koreans in the IJA

During World War II, American soldiers and Filipino guerillas frequently encountered Korean soldiers within the ranks of the Imperial Japanese Army. Most notably was in the Battle of Tarawa, which was considered at that time as one of the bloodiest battles in U.S. military history.

Kuniaki Koiso, Japanese Governor-General of Korea, implemented a draft of Koreans for wartime labor. (National Diet Library)

A fifth of the Japanese garrison during this battle consisted of Korean laborers who were trained in combat roles. Like their Japanese counterparts, many of them were killed.  In Prisoners of the Japanese, author Gaven Daws wrote how the Japanese in Tinian killed 5,000 Korean laborers believing they could not be trusted to fight along the IJA against the Americans.

Although the Japanese colonial government of Korea announced on 09 May 1942 that Korean men would be drafted in the military, it wasn’t until December 1944 when this was enforced.

Korean military participation until 1943
YearApplicantsApplicants
accepted
Acceptance
rate [%]
19382,94640613.8
193912,3486135.0
194084,4433,0603.6
1941144,7433,2082.2
1942254,2734,0771.6
1943303,2946,300[57]2.1

This was most probably because prior to that date, enlistment in the Imperial Japanese Army by ethnic Koreans was voluntary, and highly competitive. From a 14% acceptance rate in 1938, it dropped to a 2% acceptance rate in 1943 although the raw number of applicants increased from 2,946 to 303,294 in just five years.

In 1944, Japan started the conscription of Koreans into its armed forces. All Korean males were drafted to either join the Imperial Japanese Army, as of April 1944, or work in the military industrial sector, as of September 1944.

Korean soldiers (under arms) [training with fixed bayonets] – looking N.E. to the gate of the old Royal Palace, Seoul, Korea. By Underwood & Underwood 1904. (Underwood & Underwood)

Before 1944, 18,000 Koreans passed the examination for induction into the army. Koreans provided workers to mines and construction sites around Japan. The number of conscripted Koreans reached its peak in 1944 in preparation for war. From 1944, about 200,000 Korean males were inducted into the army. By the end of World War II, 110,000 Korean conscripts served with the Japanese armed forces.

Officer cadets had been joining the Japanese Army since before the annexation by attending the Imperial Japanese Army Academy. Enlisted Soldier recruitment began as early as 1938, when the Japanese Kwantung Army in Manchuria began accepting pro-Japanese Korean volunteers into the army of Manchukuo, and formed the Gando Special Force.

The controversial  General Paik Sun-Yup served with the Gando Special Force of the Japanese Kwantung Army but later became a hero for helping save South Korea during the Korean War. (Quora.com) 

Koreans in this unit specialized in counter-insurgency operations against communist guerillas in the region of Jiandao. The size of the unit grew considerably at an annual rate of 700 men, and included such notable Koreans as General Paik Sun-Yup, who served in the Korean War. Historian Philip Jowett noted that during the Japanese occupation of Manchuria, the Gando Special Force “earned a reputation for brutality and was reported to have laid waste to large areas which came under its rule.”

After the war, 148 Koreans were convicted of Class B and C Japanese war crimes, 23 of whom were sentenced to death (compared to 920 Japanese who were sentenced to death), including Korean prison guards who were particularly notorious for their brutality during the war. The figure was considered relatively high considering how ethnic Koreans only constituted a small percentage of the Japanese military.

Judge Bert Röling, who represented the Netherlands at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, noted that “many of the commanders and guards in POW camps were Koreans – the Japanese apparently did not trust them as soldiers – and it is said that they were sometimes far more cruel than the Japanese.”

Bataan Death March(AP)

 In his memoirs, Colonel Eugene C. Jacobs wrote that during the Bataan Death March, “the Korean guards were the most abusive. The Japs didn’t trust them in battle, so used them as service troops; the Koreans were anxious to get blood on their bayonets; and then they thought they were veterans.”

Korean guards were sent to the remote jungles of Burma, where Lt. Col. William A. (Bill) Henderson wrote from his own experience that some of the guards overseeing the construction of the Burma Railway “were moronic and at times almost bestial in their treatment of prisoners”.

This applied particularly to Korean private soldiers, conscripted only for guard and sentry duties in many parts of the Japanese empire. Regrettably, they were appointed as guards for the prisoners throughout the camps of Burma and Siam.”

The late Prof. Lydia N. Yu Jose of the Ateneo de Manila University’s Department of Political Science sought to get to the bottom of alleged atrocities of Korean soldiers in the IJA in “The Koreans in Second World War Philippines: Rumour and History.”

In her abstract, Yu Jose wrote: ‘Mas malupit ang mga Koreano kaysa mga Hapon‘ is a rumor about Koreans in Second World War Philippines that has persisted to this day. A comparative, quantitative statement, it is roughly translated as ‘The Koreans committed more atrocities than the Japanese in Second World War Philippines’.

“This is a half-true memory: true, there were Koreans in the Philippines; false, they could not have committed more atrocities than the Japanese because there were very few of them, as archival evidence discussed in this article proves. If only the Koreans and their role in the war were properly discussed in Philippine textbooks, this rumor would not have persisted to this day.”

Despite a thorough search for eyewitnesses, documents and other references, she did not find sufficient proof to support the widely held-belief, outside of the trials of some ethnic Korean officers which however were mostly confined to atrocities against POWs under their command.

Hong Sa-ik, a Lieutenant General of the Imperial Japanese Army

The highest-ranking Korean to be prosecuted for war crimes after the war was Lieutenant General Hong Sa-ik, who was in command of all the Japanese prisoner-of-war camps in the Philippines.

Even in the case of  Lance Corporal Kenyo Ohara (Chui Wong-yon) who was with the 30th Division, 77th Regiment under Mikami Kое, one of the 12 accused in killing six non-combatant Filipinos near Langasian, La Paz, Surigao del Sur, on or about 16 September 1945, Yu Jose found him to be acting only upon orders of his Japanese superiors, and insufficient proof of Korean brutality against Filipinos.

Bureau of Constabulary

During the Japanese occupation, the puppet government appointed by the Imperial Japanese forces organized their version of the Philippine Constabulary known as the Bureau of Constabulary (better known as the BC); it was later renamed to match the pre-war Constabulary with the creation of the Second Philippine Republic.

President Manuel L. Quezon while administering the oath of office of the new head of the Constabulary, Brigadier General Guillermo Francisco. (Photo from the Quezon Family Collection)

A handful of former PC officers and men were rounded up and forced to work with this outfit, notably former PC Chief Brigadier General Guillermo Francisco, who was earlier appointed by President Manuel L. Quezon to head the PC.

With the threat that their loved ones would be harmed; majority of the men who escaped managed to find their way into the hills where they joined the resistance movement until liberation came in 1944.

According to Robert Lapham, an American officer who had headed to the jungles to become a guerrilla commander, Francisco had been “de-Americanized” by the Japanese after the surrender of Bataan, after which, they “half trusted him to do their will”.

Francisco and his men pursued “bandits and cut-throats, which was good in itself and which allowed them to look good to their Japanese overlords, but it was known among many of his officers and some outsiders as well, that he and most of his men were just waiting for an opportune time to change sides.”

Vintage portrait of Philippine Constabulary soldiers with their American officer. Note the 1899 Krag Carbines known as the PC Rifle which were specially ordered for PC Constables.

It is a fact that much of the stigma that haunted the PC was the result of the establishment by the Japanese of the BC. Many had the wrong impression that the occupation Constabulary was the same force as that of the pre-war organization.

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Sources/References:

1.       The Talakag Operation, History of the Mindanao Guerrillas, by the American Guerrillas of Mindanao (unpublished manuscript), pages 100-104

2.       The 109th Division, History of the Mindanao Guerrillas by The American Guerrillas of Mindanao (AGOM).pp 58-59

3.       Hayrosa-Gaite, Catalina R., Responses to Conflict: A Case History of Talakag during the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines, 1942-1945, Thesis presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Xavier University (Ateneo de Cagayan), Cagayan de Oro City, March, 2009

4.       Haggerty, James Edward S.J., “Pari, Pari,” Stay with Us, Jesuits in Mindanao The Mission, 2013 Media Wise Communications/Muse Books, page 85, ISBN No. 978 971 94465 5 2

5.       Baclagon, Uldarico S. Heroes of World War IIMakati, Metro Manila: Agro Printing and Publishing House, 1980.

6.       Baclagon, Uldarico, S. . Philippine Campaigns. Revised Edition. No further publication details. 1952.

7.       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 485-487, page 504- 506

8.       Holmes, Kent, Wendell Fertig and His Guerrilla Forces in the Philippines: Fighting the Japanese Occupation, 1942-1945 (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 2015), pp. 114-5.                                                      

  1. Smith, Robert Ross (2005). Triumph in the Philippines: The War in the Pacific. Honolulu: University Press of the Pacific. ISBN 1-4102-2495-3.

10.   Staff Study of Japanese Operations in Mindanao Island, Special Staff U.S. Army Historical Division, (Historical Manuscript File) File No. 8-5 SS-8, Acc Np. 786/2-8, 10th I&H Service, Eight Army (courtesy of Dr. Ricardo T. Jose) ©1946

11.   Madej, W. Victor, Japanese Armed Forces Order of Battle, 1937–1945 [2 vols], Allentown, PA: ©1981

12.   Rottman, Gordon. Japanese Army in World War II : Conquest of the Pacific 1941-42, p.17

13.   Ilogon, Jesus B. Sr.,(Cpl), Memoirs of the Guerrillas: The Barefoot Army ©2001 (Unpublished manuscript)

14.   Montalvan, Antonio J. II; Fortich, Chic. A Cagayan de Oro ethnohistory reader: prehistory to 1950, Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines: Legacy ©2004.

15.   Francillon, Ph.D., René J. Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War. London: Putnam & Company, Second edition 1979, First edition 1970. ISBN 0-370-30251-6.  p. 486.

16.   Wieliczko, Leszek A. and Zygmunt Szeremeta. Nakajima Ki 27 Nate (bilingual Polish/English). Lublin, Poland: Kagero, 2004. ISBN 83-89088-51-7. P.26-27

17.   Encyclopedia of military engineering /Aerospace Publishing/

18.   Air War Ki-27, /# 101/

19.   Doroshkevich, Oleg, Japan Warplanes of World War II”,

20.   Francillon, Rene J. Ph.D., Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis Maryland, Reprinted 1990, ISBN-0-87021-313-X

21.   Mikesh, Robert C. and Abe, Shorzoe, Japanese Aircraft 1910-1941, US Naval Institute Press, rok 1990, ISBN:10-1557505632

22.   Bueshchel, Richard M., Nakajima Ki.27A-B, Manshu Ki.79A-B in Japanese Army Air Force-Manchoukuo-IPSF RACAF-PLAAF & CAF service, Osprey Publications, Ltd., January 1, 1970, ISBN-10: 0-668023-031

23.   L+K 19, 20, 21 a 22 /1992, J. Hornát, Monografie Ki-27 Nate

24.   Palmer, Brandon. Imperial Japan’s Preparations to Conscript Koreans as Soldiers, 1942-1945, Korean Studies, Vol. 31 (2007), pp. 63-78 (16 pages), University of Hawai’i Press https://www.jstor.org/stable/23720161

25.    Kratoska, Paul H. (2006). Asian Labor in the Wartime Japanese Empire. NUS Press. p. 115. ISBN 978-9971693336.

26.   “Blood Brothers A Medic’s Sketch Book / Jacobs, Colonel Eugene C.” Project Gutenberg. Archived from the original on 6 May 2008.

27.  ^ Jacobs, Eugene C. (1985). Blood brothers: a medic’s sketch book. Carlton Press. ISBN 978-0-8062-2300-1.

28.  ^ “Bridge Over the River Kwai – Chapter 8”. Mekong Express. Archived from the original on 28 August 2008.

29.   ko:조성근 (1876년)

30.   ^ ko:왕유식

31.   ^ ko:이병무

32.   ^ ko:이희두

33.   ^ ko:김응선

34.   ^ “육군 참모총장, The Republic of Korea Army” (in Korean). Retrieved 19 February 2007.

35.   ^ 초기 육군 총장들은 일본 육사 출신, 여야 설전. CBS Nocut News/Naver (in Korean). 26 September 2005. Archived from the original on 12 July 2012. Retrieved 19 February 2007.

36.   ^ Philip S. Jowett (2004). Rays of the Rising Sun. West Midlands: Helion & Company Limited. p. 34.

37.   ^ “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 13 April 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2015.

38.   ^ “Pride and Patriotism: Stamford’s Role in World War II: The Battle of Tarawa”.

39.   ^ “The Battle of Tarawa, November 20–24, 1943”. World War II Multimedia Database.

40.   ^ Gavan Daws (1994). Prisoners of the Japanese: POWs of World War II in the Pacific. New York: William Morrow & Company. p. 278. ISBN 978-0-688-11812-9.

41.   Jose, Lydia N. Yu. “The Koreans in Second World War Philippines: Rumour and History.” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, vol. 43, no. 2, 2012, pp. 324–339., www.jstor.org/stable/41490327. Accessed 14 Nov. 2020.

42.   Lapham, Robert; Norling, Bernard (1996). Lapham’s Raiders: Guerrillas in the Philippines, 1942–1945. University Press of Kentucky. p. 78. ISBN 978-0-8131-1949-6.

43.  ^ Lapham & Norling 1996, pp. 78–79.

44.  ^ Salah Jubair. “The Japanese Invasion”. Maranao.Com. Archived from the original on July 27, 2010. Retrieved February 23, 2011.

45.  ^ Jump up to:a b Hunt, Ray C.; Bernard Norling (2000). Behind Japanese Lines: An American Guerrilla in the Philippines. University Press of Kentucky. p. 107. ISBN 978-0-8131-0986-2. Retrieved February 24, 2011.

Why the Jesuits abandoned the Camiguin Mission

The Untold Tales of Camiguin Island

In 1596, the Jesuits obtained a Sede Vacante, a license issued by Governor General Francisco de Tello de Guzman through a Patronato Real to do mission work along the Butuan River and Camiguin (Mallari,1995).

In 1599, the missionades  founded Guinsiliban, in the south east of the island: a strategic site, a natural lookout from where they could observe the sea passage of the southern pirates. It eventually became the oldest town in Camiguin.

Camiguin from afar by Jameson Go (through Queenie Anne Gumiran, 
The Queens Escape.comCamiguin DIY Travel Guide 2020 (Itinerary + Budget).

For almost twenty years, these friars came and went between the island of Cebú and that of Mindanao, using Camiguin as a stopover on their long journeys (Pedro Chirino, History of the Philippine Province of the Society of JesusVol II Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila Press, 2011).

Two Manobos and a Bukidnon (The Field Museum, Chicago, Worcester, 30457, Bk. 233, 1909 or 1910)

There they tried to establish the first Spanish village on the island.  But the project did not succeed. The Manobo who lived in that part of the island did not trust the words of these strange-looking babaylan.  

But this was not the only difficulty that the Jesuit friars encountered. For the southern pirates, Guinsiliban was their entry point of arrival to Camiguin.

A Sulu Illanoan (Iranun) pirate from Tampassook (modern Sabah), Borneo (Frank Marryat)

These incursions, which until then had been sporadic, increased as Christian influence grew in the area. It was a fight for trade in those seas. When traders of the southern sultanates such as Sulu, Maguindanao, and Lanao began to lose the monopoly they had enjoyed until then, they  shifted to the slave trade.

Piraguas piratas de los Joloanos c.1850. A depiction of garay warships used by Sulu pirates.

The trade allowed them to sell the slaves not only in their own sultanates but also to Dutch settlers who had established themselves in the East Indies. (Domingo M. Non. “Moro Piracy During The Spanish Period And Its Impact” in Southeastern Asian Studies (1993) 30, 4.)

During those first years of the seventeenth century, and given the Manobo’s rejection, Guinsiliban became too unstable for what the Jesuit friars had in mind. The Jesuits, thus, left shortly after.

All these made it very difficult for the Jesuits to build any tangible relics. Most researchers believe the Guinsiliban watch tower may have been built by the Augustinian Recollects after their arrival in Camiguin on 1622 as part of a bigger construction (church or fortress). Its design and construction materials are the same that those in Catarman (built by the Agustinians).

Moro Watch Tower in Guinsiliban (courtesy of Jorie Valcorza)

However, there appears to be an academic consensus that the slave raids were the main reason why the Spanish Jesuits abandoned their Camiguin mission in Guinsiliban.

The sultanates had the trade monopoly on the southern seas. Once the Europeans started to sail in those waters and occupy its territories (Dutch East Indies or present day Indonesia, and the Spanish occupation of the Philippine Archipelago), the more intense and frequent were the Moro/pirate raids.

Andrés Narros Lluch on a historical guide visit to Guiob Church, Catarman

“It was a way to resist to the new foreign powers in the area,” said Social and Cultural Anthropologist Dr. Andrés Narros Lluch whose recently published a book “The Untold Stories of Camiguin Island” by the Xavier University Press, seeks to fill such gaps in the island’s history.

The pirates came into the Visayas to kidnap people and sell them as slaves to the Dutch East Indies as well as in their own sultanates, he added.

“As a matter of fact, according to Fernando Zialcita, in the language of Maranao traders, the word Bisaya means slave. Similarly, Domingo Non, cites the word Lanun (Lanao) which is used in the north and west of Borneo to refer to pirates,” Lluch said.

Cosas Notables

The Untold Tales of Camiguin Island is the first research on Camiguin which is based on the archives of Augustinian Recollects and their Cosas Notables that seeks to correlate the manuscripts with archival findings and the island’s oral histories.

Lluch focused each chapter on an important historical event few Camiguingnons and scholars are aware of such as Kimigin (about the first inhabitants of the island, the Manobo, the followers of Datu Migin); Punta Pasil (the first Christian religious center on the island);  Datu Mehong the legend of a local leader, healer and warrior whose message was silenced); and The Old Volcano (what happened before and after the 1871 volcanic eruption).

Kilaha Foundation

Lluch co-founded the Kilaha Foundation in 2015 to document and support local culture and identity, as well as preserve the fascinating biodiversity of Camiguin. He is currently an affiliated researcher at Research Institute of Mindanao Culture (RIMCU) at Xavier University (Ateneo de Cagayan).

He earned his PhD in Social and Cultural Anthropology from the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED). He has done field work as an aid worker and social researcher in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Central America, South America, East Africa, and Europe for twenty years.

He belonged to the Southeast Asia Department at the School of Oriental and African Studies (2011–2012), was guest researcher in the Department of Anthropology at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and associate researcher in the Department of Anthropology at the University of the Philippines Manila (2012–2014).  

He has previously published La comedia de la cooperación internacional: historias etnográficas del desarrollo en la isla de Camiguín (Catarata, 2016) and currently commutes between Spain and Brussels, where he works at ODS as Senior Evaluator.

The Untold Stories of Camiguin Island by Andres Narros Lluch

More details about The Untold Stories of Camiguin Island from the Xavier University webpage here.

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Conflict Sensitive Journalism training for journos covering Bangsamoro

LIBERTAD, MISAMIS ORIENTAL —– Seven selected journalists, covering the Bangsamoro region and a peaceworker in Lanao del Norte, finished on Saturday (November 14), a three-day training and workshop on Conflict Sensitive Journalism (CSJ) held at the Jazh Dreamland Resort in Libertad, Misamis Oriental.

Organized by the non-government organization (NGO) Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) and supported by the DW Akademie, the training sought to expand the proficiencies of the media practitioners in writing and handling conflict sensitive stories specially conflicts within the Bangsamoro region.

Seven journalists and a peace worker in Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro City recently completed a three-day training on Conflict Sensitive Journalism organized by the Nonviolent Peaceforce and DW Akademie: (seated left to right) Bonita Ermac (Manila Bulletin), Roxanne Arevalo (ABS-CBN), Rigine Clyr Arraz (NewsLine.ph), Divina Suson (Philippine Daily Inquirer/NewsLine.ph), Merlyn Manos (GMA 7), (standing from right to left) Ghiner Cabanday (DXIC RMN Iligan), Nef Luczon (Philippine News Agency), Elnathan Brant Ermac (Pakigdait, Inc). and resource person Ryan Rosauro
(Philippine Daily Inquirer). (Photo: Nonviolent Peaceforce/DW Akademie)

The participants were as follows: Elnathan Brant Ermac of a non-government unit (NGO) Pakigdait, Inc., Ghiner Cabanday of DXIC RMN Iligan, Nef Luczon of the Philippine News Agency (PNA), Divina Suson of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and NewsLine.ph, Bonita Ermac of the Manila Bulletin, Merlyn Manos of GMA 7, Roxanne Arevalo of ABS-CBN News and Rigine Clyr Arraz of NewsLine.ph.

“The workshop also wants to help the journalists to positively influence the outcome of conflict, through understanding its nature and dynamics, and learn the various ways to analyze it,” said NP Communication Officer Marlon Dedumo.

He added that NP has been accompanying the peace process in Mindanao for 13 years as the first international NGO which was invited to become a member of the civilian protection component, to monitor and report on the situation of civilians and assets in conflict-affected communities in Bangsamoro. 

“Considering nga dako gyud ug influence ang media o mga journalists sa mga conflicts, kaning CSJ nakita namo nga pamaagi arun mahimong kusgan nga peace force ang atong  mga journalists labi na karung panahona nga naa sa transition phase ang atong bag-ong Bangsamoro Autonomous Region,” Dedumo said. 

The CSJ course aims to develop a consciousness among participants that part of their professional duty is the building of peaceful communities.

As such, the course introduces them into the concept of conflict sensitive journalism as a pathway for media to positively influence the outcome of conflicts in society.

The course also provided an in-depth view of the Bangsamoro transition which resulted from the landmark peace deal between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2014.

This way, the journalist will have a working knowledge of the current state of the peace process as well as the outcomes still to be expected.

“I’m grateful to the NP for organizing this event. As a peace worker and content writer of Pakigdait, learning to properly cover an event thru the lens of a conflict sensitive perspective would prove beneficial because how news and stories about conflict is written directly and indirectly affects the peace situation in Mindanao”, said Pakigdait content writer Brant Ermac.

The course was a mix of lecture and workshop activities that drew on the existing knowledge and attitudes of participants regarding key aspects of their professional journalism practices.

There was also a deep conversation and exchange of views by participants led by one of the resource persons, Ryan Rosauro, Bureau Chief of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, regarding the experiences and practical reporting in the field as well as helping one another to think of a good story that is worth writing throughout a conflict from past issues in relation to Bangsamoro areas.

Another CSJ course for journalists covering the Bangsamoro region will be conducted on November 18-20 in Cotabato City.

–end–

The Japanese Surrender in Malaybalay, Bukidnon

The 8th of September 2020 came and went with nary a fanfare, perhaps adding to further proof that the Second World War is now all but forgotten in the minds of most Filipinos.

However, that date should be remembered by Filipinos in Mindanao because it marked the 75th Anniversary of the official end of hostilities on the island between the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) and the Allied Forces.

Three quarters of a century earlier on 08 September 1945 the Japanese 35th Army signed the terms of unconditional surrender at Camp Impalambong, Malaybalay, Bukidnon.

Brig Gen Joseph Hutchinson & Lt Gen Gyokasu Moruzumi signing the  Surrender Document at Malaybalay, Bukidnon. (courtesy of Mrs. Marion Hess, (widow of Fredrick W. Hess, Jr.) as President of the  124th Infantry Regiment Association & posted by The History Crier, a publication of IndianaMilitary.org

Signing on behalf of the Imperial Japanese Army was Lieutenant General Gyokasu Morozumi, acting commanding general of the IJA 35th Army and commanding general of the 30th Panther (Leopard, in other reports) Division.

Signing on behalf of the Allied Forces was Brig. Gen. Joseph C. Hutchinson, commanding general of the 31st Infantry Division (AUS).

Photo of actual surrender document
Text of Surrender Document written in Japanese Characters

Under the terms of the unconditional surrender, Morozumi surrendered all the officers and men, arms, military equipment, records and supplies under his command to Hutchinson in his capacity as commanding general, 31st Infantry Division (AUS).

The terms further stipulated that Morozumi would use all means in his possession to secure as early as possible the assembly of all troops under his command within the Reception Centers established by the US Army, and take action under Hutchinson’s direction to liaison with units and individuals who had not yet surrendered at that point.

Not the least, Morozumi committed to report all known locations of explosives and mines, both land and water, whose presence constitute a hazard to life and property.

Surrender of Japanese Forces in the Philippines 03 September 1945 in Baguio, Luzon. (U.S. Army Signal Corps photograph, Public Domain)

It should be noted that the surrender of Japanese troops in Mindanao came five days after the official surrender of Japanese forces in the Philippines on 03 September 1945 and six days after the official Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay. Like the USAFFE surrender in Mindanao on 10 May 1942, the delay was due to the time it took for the official orders to trickle down the south from Manila.

Photos provided to the December 2002, Vol. 8  No. 12 issue of The History Crier, a publication of IndianaMilitary.org, by Mrs. Marion Hess, (widow of Fredrick W. Hess, Jr.) in her capacity as President of the  124th Infantry Regiment Association, provide some interesting sidelights to the surrender ceremony.

The Battle of Colgan Woods. A Florida National Guard Painting by Jackson Walker. Mindanao, Philippine Islands, 6 May 1945. The battle was the most costly struggle endured by the 124th Infantry Regiment during World War II. On the first day of battle (May 6) Father Thomas A. Colgan was killed while bringing relief and last rites to men of the 124th. Chaplain Colgan was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the battle and woods were named in his memory. (Amelia Island  Museum of History)

The 124th Regiment was one of the three organic infantry regiments of the 31st Division, along with the 155th and 167th. The unit saw intense fighting on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines in 1945, especially in the Battle of Colgan Woods, named after Father Thomas Colgan, the Regimental Chaplain, who was killed in action while assisting wounded.

On 5 June, Corporal Harry R. Harr was killed covering a Japanese grenade with his body to save those around him. For this action, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Japanese Soldiers killed by the 124th Infantry Regiment, Mindanao Island, 1945 (cropped)

Lacking artillery support and facing an entrenched opponent, the 124th advanced for six days. The unit survived two banzai charges and inflicted heavy casualties on the Japanese. In the fighting, the 124th suffered 69 killed and 177 wounded.  The regiment was inactivated 16 December 1945 at Camp Stoneman, California.

Pre-War Camp Impalambong, Malaybalay now Camp Osito D. Bahian (NARA)

The surrender rites were held in a makeshift thatched roof building at Camp Impalambong in  Malaybalay, which is now Camp Osito D. Bahian, headquarters of the Philippine Army’s 403rd “Peacemaker” Brigade.

Lt Gen. Gyokasu Morozumi signs the surrender document while his interpreter looks over his shoulder and Brig. Gen. Joseph C. Hutchinson and staff look on. (courtesy of Mrs. Marion Hess, (widow of Fredrick W. Hess, Jr.) as President of the  124th Infantry Regiment Association & posted by The History Crier, a publication of IndianaMilitary.org

According to the notes scribbled on the photo of the signing, Morozumi had an interpreter at his side to ostensibly explain to him the terms of the surrender (the surrender document was written in both English and Japanese characters) and also assure both documents were correct in form and substance.

Japanese Lt. Gen. Morozumi signs the surrender document as 31st Infantry Dixie Division  CG Joseph C. Hutchinson and staff look on Sept. 8, 1945 at Camp Impalambong, Malaybalay (courtesy of Mrs. Marion Hess, (widow of Fredrick W. Hess, Jr.) as President of the  124th Infantry Regiment Association & posted by The History Crier, a publication of IndianaMilitary.org

On the other hand, while Hutchison looks like he has his entire staff and officers witnessing the signing behind him, while Morozumi only had his interpreter beside him.

Col. Hal Hardenbergh escorts IJA 35th Army CG  Gyokasu Morozumi between ranks of the 31st Division Headquarters, Special Troops after the surrender at Malaybalay (courtesy of Mrs. Marion Hess, (widow of Fredrick W. Hess, Jr.) as President of the  124th Infantry Regiment Association & posted by The History Crier, a publication of IndianaMilitary.org

Another photo shows Morozumi escorted by Col. Hal Hardenbergh between the ranks of the 31st Headquarters, Special Troops after the signing. The caption said Hardenbergh hand-picked the troops so that all were 6 feet tall or taller so they would tower over the Japanese general!

Hutchison was one of the few brigadier generals in the National Guard serving in the South Pacific War Theatre. His 21 months in combat ended Sept. 8, 1945, when he accepted the surrender of the Japanese 35th Army at Mindanao, in the Philippine Islands. His World War II military honors include the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and the Legion of Merit. He retired as a lieutenant general in the National Guard in 1952.

Lt. Gen. Gyokasu Morozumi about to take a ride on a US L-4 Grasshopper (US Army)

On the other hand, Morozumi was a graduate of the Imperial Japanese Army Academy and served with the IJA 58th Infantry Regiment during the tail end of the Russo-Japanese War. He later served as battalion commander IJA 59th Infantry Regiment, IJA 1st Infantry Regiment, IJA 29th Infantry Regiment and IJA 65th Infantry Regiments and as commander of the Hongo Regimental District.

The IJA 65th Fukushima Regiment was one of the units at the Battle of Nanking in 1937 during the Second Sino-Japanese War and was accused of the massacre of prisoners of war following the battle’s end.

Morozumi was promoted to major general and assigned to the IJA 39th Division, which was still engaged in operations on the Chinese mainland, including the Battle of Zaoyang–Yichang and the Central Hubei Operation. In 1943, he became commander of the IJA 5th Depot Division

In March 1944, Morozumi was promoted to lieutenant general and was given command of the IJA 30th Division, a garrison force based in Korea. However, in November of the same year, the IJA 30th Division was ordered to the Philippines and Morozumi was based at Surigao in northeastern Mindanao under the overall command of the IJA 35th Army.

General Sosaku Suzuki, Commanding General, IJA 35th Army (1891-1945)

After General Sosaku Suzuki, commander of the IJA 35th Army transferred to Leyte  to coordinate defenses against the invading Allies in the Battle of Leyte, Morozumi was left in command with the defenses of the island of Mindanao, which soon came under attack by the American 24th31st, and 40th Infantry Divisions and the Philippine Commonwealth military including local resistance fighters. Most of his division was fed into the defense of Leyte in October to November 1944.

Assembly of surrendered Japanese troops near the bank of Pulangui river at Lumbo or Poblacion Valencia (NARA)

By April 1945, his forces were split and isolated. Morozumi was officially confirmed as commander of the IJA 35th Army after Suzuki was killed in battle on April 19th. However, in practice, Morozumi largely ignored his appointment, knowing that communications were too poor to permit any real supervision of the other elements under his nominal command. He was forced to surrender Mindanao by the war’s end.

Surrendered Japanese troops being transported to Cagayan for shipping back to Japan somewhere  in Damay, close to Culaman Bridge in San Vicente, Sumilao (NARA)

The 31st Infantry Division (“Dixie”) was an infantry division of the United States Army National Guard, active almost continuously from 1917 to 1968.

31st Dixie Division Memorial

Organized in 1917 during World War I from the national guardsmen of Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, the division deployed to France in September 1918, arriving weeks before the Armistice of 11 November that ended the war. In France, it was reduced to a cadre and most of its troops used to provide replacements for units already in France. It returned to the United States in December and was demobilized in January 1919.

The 31st was reorganized in 1923 with national guardsmen from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. It was mobilized in 1940 during World War II, and spent several years training in the United States. In 1944 it was sent to the South-West Pacific Area, fighting in the New Guinea campaign and in the Battle of Mindanao.

On 22 April 1945, the 31st Infantry Division landed on Mindanao to take part in the liberation of the Philippines, along with units of the 24th and later 40th Divisions. Moving up the Sayre Highway and driving down the Kibawe-Talomo trail, fighting in knee-deep mud and through torrential rains, the 31st with the help of Filipino guerrillas forced the enemy to withdraw into the interior and blocked off other Japanese in the Davao area. After the end of the war the division was demobilized in December 1945.

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References

1.    Surrender photos from The History Crier, December 2002, Vol. 8 no. 12, a publication of the IndianaMilitary.org, a privately owned and funded organization dedicated
to the preservation of Indiana Military History. West, James D., Editor

2.       Alabama Department of Archives and History (1959). Alabama Official and Statistical Register, 1959. Alexander City, Alabama: Outlook Publishing.

3.       The Army Almanac: A Book of Facts Concerning the Army of the United States U.S. Government Printing Office, 1950 reproduced at CMH.

4.       After-Action Report and G-3 Journal, 31st Infantry Division, NARA.

5.       Clay, Steven E. (2010). US Army Order of Battle 1919–1941 (PDF). 1: The Arms: Major Commands and Infantry Organizations. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: Combat Studies Institute Press. ISBN 9781780399164.

6.       Historical Section, Army War College (1931). Order of Battle of the United States Land Forces in the World War; American Expeditionary Forces; Divisions (PDF) (Reprint, 1988 ed.). Washington: Government Printing Office.

  1. History of the 31st Infantry Division in training and combat, 1940–1945. Army & Navy Publishing Company. 1946.
  2. Isby, David C.; Kamps, Charles T. (1985). Armies of NATO’s Central Front. Jane’s Information GroupISBN 0-7106-0341-X.
  3. Mississippi Secretary of State (1964). Mississippi Official and Statistical Register, 1960–1964. Jackson: State of Mississippi.
  4. Robert Ross Smith (1991). US Army in World War II, War in the Pacific, Triumph in the Philippines. Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History, United States Army.
  5. Wilson, John B. (1998). Maneuver and Firepower: The Evolution of Divisions and Separate Brigades (PDF). Washington, D.C.: Center for Military History, U.S. ArmyISBN 0-16-049571-7.
  6. Wilson, John B. (1999). Armies, Corps, Divisions, and Separate Brigades (PDF). Washington, D.C.: Center for Military History, U.S. ArmyISBN 0-16-049994-1.
  7. “Lineage and Honors 124th Infantry Regiment”. U.S. Army Center of Military History.
  8. “Southern Philippines”. The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II. The U.S. Army Center of Military History.
  9. 15.   Gary Taylor of The Sentinel Staff, The Orlando Sentinel

The Historical Origin of the name Camiguin

Residents and visitors to this beautiful isle off the northern coast of Mindanao have heard many versions of how its mysterious name came about, but now a book that delves into the historical origins of the its name at last gives its version a plausible leg to stand on.

In his paper co-authored with the late Dr. Erlinda Burton  Surfacing the Untold Stories of Camiguin Island published in Vol. XXXIX of the Xavier University’s Kinaadman Journal, Social and Cultural Anthropologist Dr. Andrés Narros Lluch said the name originated with the Proto Northern Manobo who first migrated to the island.

Kinaadman Journal  Vol. 39

According to archaeological and linguistic studies, a legend on the origin of the people in Camiguin tells of a certain leader/chieftain named Migin who settled down with his people on the southeastern part of the island.

The prefix Ki in the word Kinamigin means territory, thus, the word Kimigin means the land of Migin.

When Boholanos migrated to the island, its name was translated to Bisaya as Kamigin, in which the prefix ka had the  same meaning.

When the Spanish missionaries arrived on the island in the 16th century, they translated its name following their lexicon rules, replacing the with c and inserting u in between the g and i. Thus, Kamigin became Camiguin and is still spelled in this way today.

The Untold Tales of Camiguin by Andres Narros Lluch

In his book The Untold Stories of Camiguin Island which was recently launched by the Xavier University Press, Lluch aims to introduce Camiguingnons and scholars of the island’s  history  to some missing chapters of its past.

“Many of the stories of the island of Camiguin remain untold. And once one goes into the depths of search, he/she can easily understand the reasons why.”

He cited the eruptions of the island’s volcanoes, the loss of many written manuscripts to fire, and the archaic language in which the few surviving manuscripts are written among the key reasons why many chapters of its history remain undiscovered.

1952 Mt Hibok-Hibok eruption (The Illustrated London News, 12 January 1952)

“The combination of these factors resulted in the obvious chasm/gaps between the locals and their past. For all of these reasons, investigating Camiguin Island is not only a fascinating research subject with a high dose of historical vertigo, but significant to the community in understanding its past.”

“As a result of all these there is a break in the Camiguingnons’ relationship with their past. A painful break, one that bleeds in silence.”

“This book aims to heal that wound, at least in part. And it does so by building up a story based on an extensive process of ethno-historical research that includes within it fictional micro-tales among its protagonists.”

This is the first book that documents and surfaces oral history while looking at how it intertwines with the archives manuscripts. It was not deliberate it was just a process that unfolded naturally, driven by my personal curiosity, he adds.

Libro de Cosas Notables, Parroquia de Sagay, Isla de Camiguin, Provincia de Misamis

He gathered local histories from the island’s indigenous peoples, then compared these with the manuscripts written by the  Spanish Augustinian Recollects called Cosas Notables written in archaic Castellano which proved difficult to translate.

Most of the findings herein are credited to Father Calisto Gaspar. During his time as parish priest in Catarman (1884-1898), he worked hard in order to rescue lost stories (through interviews of elders, informal group discussions, readings) and to bring to light what he called the “dark tunnel of the History of Camiguin.”

Datu Migin (by Melissa Abuga-a)

However, he found many parallels between the old tales and the written records.

As the first and only research based on the archives of the Augustinian Recollects in Camiguin, Lluch focused each chapter on an important historical event few Camiguingnons and scholars are aware of such as Kimigin (about the first inhabitants of the island, the Manobo, the followers of Datu Migin); Punta Pasil (the first Christian religious center on the island);  Datu Mehong the legend of a local leader, healer and warrior whose message was silenced); and  The Old Volcano (what happened before and after the 1871 volcanic eruption).

Dr. Andrés Narros Lluch

Lluch co-founded the Kilaha Foundation in 2015 to document and support local culture and identity, as well as preserve the fascinating biodiversity of Camiguin. He is currently an affiliated researcher at Research Institute of Mindanao Culture (RIMCU) at Xavier University (Ateneo de Cagayan).

Lluch earned his PhD in Social and Cultural Anthropology from the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED). He has done field work as an aid worker and social researcher in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Central America, South America, East Africa, and Europe for twenty years.

He belonged to the Southeast Asia Department at the School of Oriental and African Studies (2011–2012), was guest researcher in the Department of Anthropology at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and associate researcher in the Department of Anthropology at the University of the Philippines Manila (2012–2014).

Lluch has previously published the book La comedia de la cooperación internacional: historias etnográficas del desarrollo en la isla de Camiguín (Catarata, 2016) and currently alternates between Spain and Brussels, where he works at ODS as Senior Evaluator.

More details about The Untold Stories of Camiguin Island from the Xavier University webpage here.

Mount Hibok-Hibok (courtesy of Fermin Alvarez)

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The Untold Stories of Camiguin Island

New Book aims to address missing chapters in Camiguin’s History

Social and Cultural Anthropologist Dr. Andrés Narros Lluch has just published a book “The Untold Stories of Camiguin Island” by the Xavier University Press, which seeks to fill in gaps in the island’s history.

This is the first research on Camiguin based on the archives of Augustinian Recollects and its Cosas Notables that seeks to correlate the manuscripts with archival findings and the island’s oral histories.

In the abstract of his paper, co-authored with the late Dr Erlinda Burton “Surfacing the Untold Stories of Camiguin Island” and published in Volume XXXIX of the Kinaadman Journal, Lluch explains the rationale for the book.

Kinaadman Journal Volume 39

“Many of the stories of the island of Camiguin remain untold. And once one goes into the depths of search, he/she can easily understand the reasons why.”

“First, the volcanic nature of the island that has been a factor in annihilating the evidence of the past. Second, many written manuscripts that contained documentation of its history were burned.  And third, there were few surviving manuscripts written in a language which Camiguinons and scholars today cannot read and understand.”

1951 Eruption of Mt. Hibok-Hibok (photo from Camiguin History Page)

“The combination of these factors resulted in the obvious chasm/gaps between the locals and their past. For all of these reasons, investigating Camiguin Island is not only a fascinating research subject with a high dose of historical vertigo, but significant to the community in understanding its past.”

This is the first book that documents and surfaces oral history while looking at how it intertwines with the archives manuscripts. It was not deliberate it was just a process that unfolded naturally, driven by my personal curiosity, he adds.

Lluch began to realize the correlation between the oral histories and the manuscripts while researching for his doctoral thesis in Mainit, a barangay in Catarman.

Barangay Mainit Map, Catarman, Camiguin (Google Maps)

“Several elders where sharing with me their knowledge of local history. Some years after, I become intrigued by the Indigenous People of highlands of Sagay (Kimigin tribe). Then I contacted the tribe leaders, relatives of Datu Mehong Bacuñata, elders, and interviewed them.”

“Once I had plenty of the local histories, I then wanted to double check with the stories written in the  manuscripts of the Augustinian in Quezon City, which of course, were written in archaic Castellano. It was quite difficult for me to understand their language. I had to buy a big loupe and be extremely patient. Then I found out that  correlations between  all sources was much higher I was expecting, as it was the case of the story of the Volcano Eruption of 1871, the Canon of Sagay or the big battle of Datu Mehong Bacuñata.”

Libro de Cosas Notables, Parroquia de Sagay, Isla de Camiguin, Provincia de Misamis

However, beyond the superficial hints he discovered, there were barely any extant ethno-historical records to explain the island’s current historical records which had considerable gaps because of frequent volcanic eruptions which buried evidence of its past, fires which burned written records and the archaic language in which the surviving manuscripts few scholars or the island’s residents understood.

“As a result of all these there is a break in the Camiguinons’ relationship with their past. A painful break, one that bleeds in silence.”

“This book aims to heal that wound, at least in part. And it does so by building up a story based on an extensive process of ethno-historical research that includes within it fictional micro-tales among its protagonists.”

As the first and only research based on the archives of the Augustinian Recollects in Camiguin, Lluch focused each chapter on an important historical event few Camiguinons or scholars are aware of.

Datu Migin (By Melissa Abuga-a)

Kimigin is about the first inhabitants of the island, the Manobo, the followers of Datu Migin, their way of life and culture. Today this tribe’s legacy is unknown to some and silenced by others.

Punta Pasil (By Melissa Abuga-a)

Punta Pasil tells the story of the first Christian religious center on the island, its beginning and its end: a center built by the Augustinian Recollects which for centuries has slept forgotten under the sea. The existence of this religious center was rediscovered thanks to the archival research that preceded the writing of this book.

Symbol of Datu Mehong Bacuñata (By Melissa Abuga-a)

Datu Mehong deals with the legend of a local leader, healer and warrior whose message, because he lived on the edge of the island and spoke a minority language, was silenced.

Eruption of Old Bulkan 1871 (By Melissa Abuga-a)

The Old Volcano deals with the story of what happened before and after the 1871 volcanic eruption, a story which is unknown but which nevertheless shows the complex relationship between the indigenous people’s local knowledge and the Christian knowledge of the friars.

The Untold Tales of Camiguin by Andrés Narros Lluch

The book holds within it a dream: that the inhabitants of the wonderful island of Camiguin will read it. Particularly those curious and critical students who question the official account, those who are not content with what is said, but search amid what has been silenced.

History teachers can help students contextualize their program with local voices, so that these might stimulate their curiosity and sense of pride in their own cultural identity.

Beyond this work, there is an extensive ethno-history research. I dared to display its findings through fictional micro-tales. Short accounts which unfold a local history spiced with small doses of fiction. I believe that these, far from obscuring the former, will help it be displayed in all its splendor.

More details about The Untold Stories of Camiguin Island from the Xavier University webpage here.

Lluch earned his PhD in Social and Cultural Anthropology from the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED). He has done field work as an aid worker and social researcher in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Central America, South America, East Africa, and Europe for twenty years and resided in Camiguin for seven years.

Dr. Andrés Narros Lluch presents his book La comedia de la cooperación internacional: historias etnográficas del desarrollo en la isla de Camiguín during the 15th Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day National Conference held 05 September 2017 at Xavier University (Ateneo de Cagayan) in Cagayan de Oro City. (photo by RMB)

Lluch is the President of the KILAHA Foundation at Mambajao, Camiguin which he co-founded in 2015 to document and support local culture and identity, as well as preserve the fascinating biodiversity of Camiguin.

He belonged to the Southeast Asia Department at the School of Oriental and African Studies (2011–2012), was guest researcher in the Department of Anthropology at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and associate researcher in the Department of Anthropology at the University of the Philippines Manila (2012–2014).  He is currently an affiliated researcher at Research Institute of Mindanao Culture (RIMCU) at Xavier University.

He has previously published La comedia de la cooperación internacional: historias etnográficas del desarrollo en la isla de Camiguín (Catarata, 2016) and currently commutes between Spain and Brussels, where he works at ODS as Senior Evaluator.

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4th Philippine Sports Tourism Awards to be held in Clark

Following its resolve to honor and highlight the movers and shakers of the sports tourism industry in the Philippines during these tumultuous times, the 4th Philippine Sports Tourism Awards, with the Clark Development Corporation as host, will be held on December 10 at the Clark Marriot Hotel.

Organized by Cebu-based public relations agency Selrahco PR with full support from Smart Communications, Universal Robina Corporation, Coca-Cola Philippines, and Clark Development Corporation, the 4th Philippine Sports Tourism Awards will be recognizing exemplary sports initiatives from the public and private sectors who have shown interest and deep conviction in promoting sports tourism in the country during 2019.

A total of 14 categories namely Sports Tourism Destination of the Year, Sports Tourism Organizer of the Year (private and government), Sports Tourism Event of the Year (domestic and international), Sports Tourism Sport Association of the Year, Sports Tourism Destination Marketing of the Year, Sports Tourism Hotel of the Year, Sports Tourism Event Sponsorship of the Year, Sports Tourism Charity Event of the Year, Sports Tourism Airline of the Year, Adventure Event of the Year, Sports Venue of the Year, and Sports Media Coverage of the YearIn addition, two special categories will also be awarded to public and private personalities in the realm of sports tourism.

The Philippine Sports Tourism Awards also recently created the Sports Turismo Alliance, an official member of the International Associations of Event Hosts, to build a community of movers and shakers of Philippine sports tourism consisting all winners of previous sports tourism awards including Sunrise Events Inc., Dumaguete City, Philippine Airlines, Province of Cebu, Davao City, Cebu Pacific and Resorts World Manila, to name a few.

This year’s event in Clark will follow stringent social distancing and health & safety protocols for the physical event. The organizers have committed to limit guest capacity to ensure safety and security during the ceremony as it keeps the fire of sportsmanship in the country burning.

“This year has posed a great challenge for the sports and tourism sector in the country and what we need now more than anything is grit and gratitude. We are all excited and gearing up to award the most inspiring individuals and organizations of 2019.” Says PSTA founder and chairman Charles Lim.

“2019 was a bumper year for Philippine sports and tourism,” Lim explained, “and we would not want to let it go unheralded.”

Aboitiz businesses optimistic of sustained strategic growth amid pandemic challenges

Amid the ongoing challenges posed by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the various business units of the Aboitiz Group expect to maintain their momentum and proceed with their projects and plans for the year.

“Despite the headwinds of the first nine months, the Aboitiz Group’s business continuity plans have proven effective and will remain in place as we continue to exhibit resilience in our operations toward the end of the year,” said Sabin M. Aboitiz, Aboitiz Group President and Chief Executive Officer.

Power

Aboitiz Power Corporation remains committed to helping ensure the reliability, affordability, and sustainability of the country’s energy system for the long term. The company has set a target of 4,000 MW of attributable capacity by 2020 and has surpassed it with the ownership of GNPower Dinginin, which will serve the country’s baseload demand.

Unit 1 of GNPower Dinginin will synchronize by the end of 2020 and will commence commercial operations by the second quarter of 2021. Unit 2 will synchronize and earn commissioning revenues by the second quarter of 2021 and will commence commercial operations by the third quarter of 2021.

Meanwhile, the 39-MW Naga Power Plant Complex in Cebu started commercial operations last August after obtaining a Provisional Authority to Operate from the Energy Regulatory Commission.

AboitizPower has set its eyes on aggressively expanding its ‘Cleanergy’ portfolio in the next 10 years, with the goal of shifting its overall energy mix into almost 50:50 Thermal and Cleanergy capacities by 2030.

Banking & Financial Services

Meanwhile, Union Bank of the Philippines sees continued traction of its digital take-up.

In the third quarter, UnionBank breached 1.5 million retail digital customers from only 1 million retail digital customers in the second quarter. Of this figure, over 335,000 were digital accounts opened via the UnionBank mobile application (app). Consequently, UnionBank Mobile App transactions grew by almost three times to 3.6 million transactions for the month of September versus January 2020.

Similarly, corporate digital customers onboarded via the UnionBank ‘The Portal’ nearly doubled to over 14,500 from more than 7,900 at the start of the year.

Given the increased shift of customer behavior amid the pandemic, UnionBank will continue its customer acquisition and engagement initiatives via digital channels and platforms. 

However, the bank maintains its previous expectation of a flat loan and asset growth for the banking industry in 2020, given the continued weakness in the country’s economy and a slower demand for credit until the end of the year. The bank also expects the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ reverse repurchase (RRP) rate and reserve requirement ratio (RRR) to be kept unchanged this year to give the economy some time to absorb the excess liquidity freed up earlier this year. As of end-September, RRP rate and RRR is at 2.25% and 14% respectively, lower by 175bps and 200bps from the start of the year.

Food

Despite the pandemic, the Food Group continuously prioritizes vital capital expenditures to protect its bottom line.

The Farms business’ planned expansions in Northern Luzon have been recalibrated in 2020 and the Food Group has started looking for opportunities in Visayas and Mindanao. Nevertheless, sow-level capacity is still expected to reach 29,000 heads by 2030.

The Food Group has operationalized its meat fabrication and processing plant, which will provide more stability in profitability through selling high-margin pork meats compared to live hog selling.

Meanwhile, Feeds Philippines will operate its third feed mill in Iligan, which will serve the growing requirements of its Visayas and Mindanao customers by end-November 2020. 

Lastly, Food Group International will pursue fast-growing segments like aqua and attractive geographies where there is a captive market and the ability to compete. Carefully-selected and strategic investments of the group can capture outsized returns while steadily building a strong, diversified regional food business integrated across the business system.

Infrastructure (Aboitiz InfraCapital)

Aboitiz InfraCapital is optimistic about its small cell sites venture and is anticipating an uptick in leases in its current pole network in the next two years on the back of increased demand.

Meanwhile, the Aboitiz Integrated Economic Centers or Industrial and Commercial Business Units, newly-transferred from AboitizLand, only saw minimal disruptions as a majority of their locators remained operational through the strictest portions of the community quarantine.

Aboitiz InfraCapital’s three industrial zones, namely, Lima Technology Center (LTC) in Batangas,  Mactan Economic Zone II (MEZII) and West Cebu Industrial Park (WCIP) in Cebu will be expanded and transformed into smart cities over time to maximize potential while earning value from the sale and lease of industrial land and exploring new product lines to offer the market.

Lima Water Corporation, with its recently DENR-accredited laboratory services unit, will be ready to support the growth of LTC. At Apo Agua Infrastructura, Inc., construction of the Davao City Bulk Water Supply Project is ongoing despite the challenging environment brought about by COVID-19. While the company continuously reassesses the impact of COVID-19 on its program, it remains optimistic for a 2021 target completion. 

Infrastructure (Republic Cement)

Despite construction being among the industries heavily affected by COVID-19, Republic Cement’s cement milling capacity is expected to increase by 2.3 million tons per annum (MTPA) to 9.7 MTPA after the mills in Bulacan and Iligan come on stream. 

Once commissioned, these new mills will enable Republic Cement to further support the government’s Build, Build, Build program, and the private sector’s infrastructure needs.

Republic Cement’s main focus over the past few months has been to maintain operations at full capacity while ensuring the health and safety of its teams. This is done through the stringent implementation of above minimum health and safety protocols while simultaneously ensuring that all collaborators and customers are properly educated on the latest COVID-19 health protocols and government mandates.

Land

Aboitiz Land, Inc. is expected to exceed its pre-pandemic sales performance on the back of shifting market needs and its innovative selling techniques.

The quarantine shifted real estate preferences as houses and lots in suburban locations became more attractive to property seekers, according to industry watchers. Riding on this wave are AboitizLand’s residential developments, located in emerging growth centers in Central Luzon, Batangas, and in Cebu. 

AboitizLand is also banking on digitization efforts to mitigate the operational impact of the pandemic. Aside from augmenting construction efforts through digitization to build houses more expediently but with the same level of quality, it is also looking to increase efforts in the digital space to convert sales and introduce more competitive payment terms to attract a broader market.

AboitizLand’s reservation sales for the months following the community quarantine have averaged above 80 percent of original targets despite lockdown restrictions and is well on its way to exceeding its 2019 performance.

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About Aboitiz Equity Ventures

Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. (AEV) is the public holding company of the Aboitiz Group with major investments in power, banking and financial services, food, infrastructure, and land. Today, AEV is recognized as one of the best-managed companies in the Philippines and in the region, consistently cited for its commitment to good corporate governance and corporate social responsibility. With five generations of Aboitiz Group business success behind it, AEV continues to drive change for a better world by advancing business and communities.

To date, the Aboitiz Group’s total contribution to the national COVID-19 response effort has reached over P2.2 billion (excluding various payments waived, reduced, extended, or restructured to help customers cope with the impact of COVID-19), underscoring the group’s sustained campaign to help address the urgent needs of frontliners and affected communities nationwide. (AEV)