Battle of Patag in Silay City, 2

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By Ver F. Pacete

As I See It

Thursday, July 10, 2014


WAR does not determine who is right; war determines who is left! Sir Modesto Palacios Sa-onoy is a historian. I am not. I am a storyteller. A historian makes research and later writes books based on facts. A storyteller adrenalizes the work of the historian and intoxicates the fact with compelling and emotional drama.

Storytellers seldom write the things they think. They simply write the things they think other folks think they think! Sir Mode delivered two rousing lectures about the Battle of Patag. The first lecture was during the opening of the Battle of Patag Exhibit at Silay Museum (in front of Silay City Tourism Office). That was on July 3. The second oratim was in Patag, in the Last Stand of the Japanese Imperial Army in Negros during the Second World War. It happened on July 4, “The Philippine-American-Japan Friendship Day” (in Silay City only).

I coerced myself to read the books of Sir Mode… “History of Occidental Negros,” “Parroquia de San Diego (1776-2006),” and “Against the Rising Sun (Guerilla War in Negros Island 1941-1945; Volume I and Volume II).” I also perused “The World at War (1939-45)” published by the Reader’s Digest, and the life and legacy of Senator (also a doctor) Jose Corteza Locsin, “Substance and Purpose” to understand better The Battle of Patag.

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I always believe in the saying, “Read the best books first – or you may not have a chance to read them all!”

As children of history, we are always amazed by war stories… the escape of the French from the invading “Boche,” dog fight over England by a Luftwaffe Heinkel Bomber and a Hurricane, the encounter of the desert rats and desert fox in North Africa, Japan’s war on China, the fight at Guadalcanal by land and sea, the bridge on the River Kwai, D-Day or the invasion of Normandy, or the assault of the Americans of Japanese HQ in the city of Intramuros.

Have you ever heard of the Battle of Patag? Is the Battle of Patag given wide publicity like the Battle of the Bulge? If many do not know, I don’t blame you for that. It could be the same reason also that only very few understand why Cinco de Noviembre 1898 is a very important date for the people of Negros. Probably our Negros Historical Commission, Department of Education, Association of Tourism Officers of Negros Occidental, and our colleges and universities should do something (big) to bring this kind of awareness to the Negrosanons.

Our film producers (local) and movie directors (Negros-based) should at least try to bring this Battle of Patag to the wide screen. I am saying this because I am a taga-Negros. We have been excited by good movies about war… “Apocalypse Now,” “A Bridge Too Far,” “The Longest Day,” “The Killing Fields,” “Good Morning Vietnam,” “Das Boot,” “Hotel Rwanda,” “Full Metal Jacket”, etc.

Before World War II, the Japanese were already here in Negros Occidental as household workers for the rich Negrosanons (cooks, gardeners, errand boys) and independent peddlers or vendors. They were roaming in our towns selling this and selling that. They have reached the rural areas and have entered the farms at the mountains. They did not have big income and some were just comfortable to work with sugarcane planters. The sugar barons of Negros appreciated their good services. They were trusted as good servants.

My father (Nicolas) befriended the Japanese cook of Vicente Gamboa, the owner of Hda. Luguay. His name is Soda. He would always borrow the extra bicycle of my father. Both of them would go to Saravia (now E. B. Magalona) to buy meat. My father was working for the family of German Unson, the owner of Hda. Adela. Soda was teaching my father how to cook Japanese food. He thought that Soda was a poor man in Japan who would want to earn money from his hacendado boss.

When the Japanese invaded the Philippines, Soda was given a military uniform. He was a lieutenant of the Japanese Imperial Army. He did not harm the Gamboas of Hda. Luguay. He simply told them, “Just obey what the Japanese want you to do. This time you have to learn how to bend. I will no longer borrow the bicycle of Nicolas. I will use your car.” The Gamboas were also very cooperative. The servant is now a master. Soda remained very respectful to the Gamboas. He told his superiors that the property of the Gamboas should not be touched.

Soda told my father, “Nicolas, my friend, I can give you ten bicycles. You can ride with me in the car.” My father politely refused the offer. My uncle, Lolo Jovito Pacete, became a spy killer later. He was a guerilla fighter under the unit of Lt. Castillo operating in Silay-Saravia area. My father donated his other bicycle to the guerillas.

To be continued.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 10, 2014.

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