Battle of Patag in Silay City

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By Ver F. Pacete

As I See It

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


IT WAS a sentimental journey back in time when Silay City hosted (for the first time) the commemoration of the Battle of Patag. The date was July 4. This was (meantime) the choice of the organizing committee. The preparation (five days only) started after the meeting of Sir Modesto Sa-onoy, Col. Ray Bañares, an American friend, and yours truly.

Mayor Jose Montelibano approved the proposal and the final plan was drafted at SORETA (Silay Outdoor Recreation and Eco-Tourism Area) in Barangay Patag with village chief Milagros Catalan. We were joined by Leo Canson, Francess Dane Cobrado and Edmar Villanueva of the Silay Tourism Office. The invitation letters signed by Mayor Montelibano were sent to the offices of the possible honorees. The follow-up was not easy considering that there were just few days left.

To make the long story short, July 4 in Silay marked the Philippine-Japan-American Friendship Day to commemorate the Battle of Patag. Those who braved the cold, foggy, rainy morning were Mayor Jose Montelibano and wife Marissa, Vice Mayor Mark Golez, Col. Jon Aying, Senior Supt. Milko Lirazan, Sir Modesto Sa-onoy, Col. Raymundo Bañares, representatives of the US Embassy, and friends from Japan, USA, and Australia. (We were there earlier with the residents of Patag.)

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Sir Modesto Sa-onoy, KCSS delivered a gut-wrenching sequence -- a blow-by-blow account -- of how the American and Filipino soldiers won the unassailable battle in Patag against the cynical performance of the Japanese Imperial Army to the battle that was irredeemably brutal. Just like in any war, the end of the conflict could be meaningless and absurd. There are no victors only losers.

At any rate, as described colorfully by Sir Mode (a historian), the unshaven and unkempt soldiers who waged a dirty war were also victims of amorality and brutality. The crowd was all ears to Sir Mode... government officials, soldiers, residents, Boy Scouts, DepEd Officials, students, pupils and veterans. The words of Sir Mode echoing in cliffs, ravines and slopes have iconoclastic qualities asking why nations engage in war at the expense of our conventional social values.

The lectures (with the rain bombarding the audience) was action-packed and of highest caliber. It was just like viewing the movie "War in the Pacific." The narration (on actual engagement) is a rollicking adventure with a hefty dose of adult gratuitous violence. The spectacular jump stunts (in words only) of Sir Mode put the audiences' hearts in their mouths. It simply reminds us that all of war is hell. The key question is, "Is war inherent in human nature or the by-product of man-made influence?"

The music played by the Philippine Army Band particularly the anthems of USA, Japan and the Philippines made everyone remember the doom-laden tension, the explicit violence, and the compelling realism of World War II. All those who were there were given the opportunity to ascend the natural elevation in the area (that serves as the stage) to offer flowers to the tombs of the unknown soldiers... Japanese, Americans and Filipinos.

The speeches were delivered in varied styles and with assorted gesticulations... sober, teary-eyed, bombastic, oratorical, political (in tone), environmental (in color) and dramatic (as if delivering a line from "The Thin Red Line" or "Saving Private Ryan"). The climactic incarnation and the most gregarious part was the Boodle Fight. Everybody fought over a hill of rice and lines of "adobo" and "pancit-bihon." I noted that everybody is brave.

The tired soldiers (wet and tamed) and the excited audience were entertained with a tribal dance from Tribu Pat-ag (produced by Cap Milag Catalan). The dance was about the Legend of Kansilay. Mountain villagers (residents) showed the lowlanders that their pelvic gyrations are stronger than the sound of bomb. The battle of Patag ended with the fight for survival between Lunok and Lawaan. Princess Kansilay died so that her legend may live for Silay.

That was a real friendship day for the Filipinos, Americans and Japanese. The Battle of Patag was fought well. Nations wage war to achieve peace. We are at peace now (no more war) but we still have conflicts among us. We are facing a battle for climate change, economic deluge, war against drug lords, and war against graft and corruption. We are a part of history. History makes war. (To be continued)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 08, 2014.

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