General MacArthur praised Igorot Soldiers during WW2

Thursday, April 16, 2009

sagada igorot macarthurI've come across a recent Inquirer post that described how courageous Igorot soldiers were in helping American soldiers fight the Japanese forces during World War II. It quoted a New York Times (Feb. 23, 1942) article that said: "Hampered by the dense undergrowth and lost in the confusing maze of bamboo thickets, vines, and creepers, the tankers would have been impotent had it not been for the aid of the Igorot troops of 2d Battalion, 11th Infantry. Hoisted to the top of the tanks where they were exposed to the fire of the enemy, these courageous tribesmen from north Luzon chopped away the entangling foliage with their bolos and served as eyes for the American tankers. From their position atop the tanks they fired at the enemy with pistols while guiding the drivers with sticks."

Other articles of the said encounter that were apparently published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Chicago Tribune all noted that Gen. Douglas MacArthur gave lavish praise to the Igorot soldiers for their bravery. He grave credit to these soldiers for having "completely annihilated" a Japanese regiment. While recounting the story of the battle to an assembly of his officers, MacArthur's was quoted as saying:

"Many desperate acts of courage and heroism have fallen under my observation on many fields of battle in many parts of the world. I have seen forlorn hopes become realities. I have seen last-ditch stands, and innumerable acts of personal heroism that defy description. But for sheer breathtaking and heart-stopping desperation, I have never know the equal of those Igorots riding the tanks. Gentlemen, when you tell the story, stand in tribute to those gallant Igorots. As members of the Philippine commonwealth, they have proved to be excellent fighting men."

Along with all other brave Filipino soldiers who risked their lives for the freedom we Filipinos enjoy today, these Igorot soldiers are to be thanked for their selfless sacrifice and courage.

Here's a microfilm of this news article published almost 70 years ago through the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. The story is in page 1, and continued on page 4.

Photo Credit: Naval Historical Center.


Kayni April 16, 2009 at 4:37 PM  

i love history. my grandfather and his brother fought at bessang pass as guerilla fighters. although they both died without proper distinction and recognition, i'm glad the few left, Filipino veterans, are getting it. i'm still sad that it has taken a really long process and that they're being given their dues in a piece meal basis.

Mei Yan April 17, 2009 at 9:16 AM  

offtopic: many thanks for the sweet comment! :)

our blog has numerous contributors, and they are gamers themselves. :)

Mei Yan
ZXOnline Community Manager

SaGaDa-iGoRoT April 17, 2009 at 11:51 AM  

kayni, my grandfather also fought in the war. in sagada, i've heard a couple of war atrocities committed to close relatives.

mei yan, thanks for the visit and the note.

Mia April 19, 2009 at 1:02 AM  

Maya-mayat. It is interesting that the courage of Igorot warriors were already recognized in US media as early as World War II. I read the full article in the "micro film". It was actually headline news.

Anonymous January 10, 2012 at 12:53 AM  

May I post my comment here to pay tribute to the bravery of my lolo. He was one of the igorot leaders fighting the japanese soldiers passing at mt. trail during the war. had not for his love to his family, he would have enlisted himself and left his family to join the american soldiers. Because of it, he was not given credits as the veterans are receiving today. Anyways, he is still very much alive and happy sharing his great experiences during those days. thanks!

ohmar vizcayano September 21, 2013 at 11:22 AM  

A good history to be proud off.
I believe the past will mold us into a good citizen today and for the future.
Thanks for sharing your research.

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Fred L. Bagbagen March 30, 2018 at 5:58 AM  

my father was 17 years old when he joined the guerillas because according to him he could not stand the Japanese atrocities and was shot at the back by a Japanese sniper.

Andy August 5, 2018 at 6:01 PM  

All these years later, it is still important to honor these Igorot warriors who joined in the battle for freedom. I'm an American living in Baguio and my Filipino wife's father was a guerilla fighting the Japanese in Pangasinan. He had tales of the fight and of the hardship during those years when he was alive. I have great respect for the American and Filipino soldiers who sacrificed so much. I like to stop every once in a while and imagine that battles that took place here in the Baguio area and say a few words of gratitude for the brave men who fought so well.