Thursday, April 16, 2009
I'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.