"Here’s more of my memories."
This is the continuation of my memories of World War II, the Japanese Occupation, the guerilla days in Northern Luzon until liberation when the American forces liberated not only Manila but the whole Philippines after the return of General Douglas McArthur. After the Battle of Bessang Pass that led to the surrender of General Tomiyuki Yamashita, ending almost four years of Japanese occupation, my two brothers who were both involved with the USAFIP-NL had as their headquarters Camp Spencer in Luna, La Union. This gave me the opportunity to finish my high school in Tagudin, Ilocos Sur. I was happy to go to school again, interacting with boys and girls my age. During weekends, I saw the latest American movies at a place not far from Tagudin. I graduated high school at the top of my class. I visited my brother Willie, then in charge of the Sudipen Army Motor Pool. With his help I learned how to ride a jeep. I recall meeting a certain Ferdinand E. Marcos when I visited the camp. My brothers used to tell me stories about Marcos, who was also in the guerilla movement as a major in the 14th Infantry in Nueva Vizcaya. Willie used to recount stories about Marcos who was his commander in Bataan before its fall. My brother said that during the surrender in Bataan, Marcos and other soldiers escaped. Willie could not swim so he joined the infamous Death March of both the Filipinos and American soldiers until they reached Capas, Tarlac where they were concentrated. My brother also recounted tales of Marcos earning many medals during the war. In 1946, when we returned to Manila and I stayed with my eldest brother Desi who was then made a professor at the Ateneo de Manila ruins on Padre Faura. I was granted a scholarship at the Ateneo de Manila where Desi was teaching history and political science. I decided to take up Bachelor of Arts majoring in philosophy and humanities. Ateneo was devastated by the war, when the Japanese conducted the infamous rape of Manila. There was nothing left standing at Padre Faura campus in Ermita except of a single statue of St. Joseph and the Child Jesus, which interestingly enough represents care, protection, provision and instruction, in Catholic symbolism. That statue today is in front of the Jesuit residence at Ateneo Loyola Heights campus in Quezon City. The school then, now a university, also managed to salvage other statuary and ironworks from the ruins, including the figure of the Immaculate Conception, now in the university archives, and the Ateneo monograms displayed on the campus gates. It was in 1946 that Ateneo returned to its original site. Prior to that, classes had graciously been hosted by the Hijas de Jesus (Daughters of Jesus) at their Nazareth school retreat house at Plaza Guipit, Sampaloc. It was called “Guipit,” meaning constricted and more so with two schools sharing the space. When I started school, we had to endure the heat of the row of quonset huts built by the Americans when they occupied Manila. To alleviate our suffering, the Jesuits fortunately installed electric fans for every class. I got myself involved in many school activities like the social order club, and the school organ, The Guidon, where I became associate editor. We were the first graduates at the Ateneo ruins after the war. Having chosen law as my elective, I had a classmate, former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, now running for the Senate at the ripe age of 95. He was then taking his pre-law at Ateneo. * * * If pre-election surveys are to be believed, the following, not necessarily in this order, will make it to the Magic 12: Grace Poe, Cynthia Villar, Bong Go, Pia Cayetano, Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, Bong Revilla, Lito Lapid, Jinggoy Estrada, Bato dela Rosa, Imee Marcos and Francis Tolentino.