The Tiano Brothers

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By A. Paulita Roa

Past Speaks

Monday, May 16, 2011


MOST of my life was lived on a two-storey house on 64 Tiano Brothers St., this city. In my neighborhood were the houses of Mayor Justiniano R. Borja and Councilor Augusto Neri and the latter's printing press that also published "Ang Bag-ong Katarungan" Mindanao's oldest newsweekly. Two blocks away was the residence of another City Councilor, Dr. Filomeno Raypon, and a block after that is the house of the late Mr. and Mrs. Leocadio Tiano, whose three sons, Ronaldo, Nestor and Apollo, were considered heroes by the Kagay-anons.

Many of us today do not know about the heroism of the Tiano Brothers and why their names are written on the Local Heroes Memorial in the Ramon Magsaysay monument in Divisoria and that a long street in the city is named in their honor.

Much has been written about our Philippine-American war heroes and this time, let me share with you the saga of the Tiano Brothers.

Ronaldo Tiano

Ronaldo was the eldest son and he first served as an apprentice mate on Florence D, a foreign vessel. He later enrolled at the Philippine Army Air Force Flying School in Camp Tinio, Cabanatuan in Nueva Ecija Province. He graduated on August, 1941 and was inducted to the USAFFE as a First Lieutenant and subsequently taught in the same school.

When World War II broke out, no Air Corps was formed so Ronaldo was drafted for infantry duty in Bataaan and was later assigned to Corregidor where he served as courier for Gen. Jonathan Wainwright.

When Bataan and Corregidor fell, he was among those that survived the infamous death march from Bataan to Capas, Tarlac.

Shortly after his arrival at the concentration camp, he escaped and made his way back to Cagayan on board a Japanese ship!

Ronaldo was reunited with his family in their evacuation site in Sitio Lapad in Alubijid. He later was restless and thirsted for action. He joined the underground resistance movement in Misamis Oriental in 1942 and served as the battalion commander of the 120th Infantry Regiment of the 10th military district that was headed by Maj. Angeles Limena.

In October 1944, he received orders from his former commanding officer of the Air Corps, Col. Edwin Andrews, to go to Australia. He was able to go there with his former classmates on board an Allied submarine. The group then flew to the United States upon orders of the Allied High Command to train as fighter pilots in Randolph Field, Texas.

However, after his training was completed, World War II ended so he was commissioned as officer of the Philippine Air Force. After 18 months, he was given an extended leave of absence and he became a pilot of Philippine Air Lines.

On January 24, 1950, while ferrying a PAL cargo plane from Iloilo to Manila, Ronaldo met a strong typhoon and his plane crashed to the sea. He died at the age of 34 and is survived by his wife, the former Perla Villanueva of Baliangao, Misamis Occidental and a daughter, Edwina.

Nestor Tiano

This second Tiano brother was deeply interested in radio that he gave up his studies at the Misamis Oriental Trade School and worked as a telegraph operator. He resigned from his job in 1941 and followed his brother, Ronaldo to Camp Tinio, where he enlisted as a private in the Air Corps.

Nestor served as a radio operator of the 7th School Squadron headed by Capt. Benito Ebuen. At the onset of World War II, his outfit was converted to a machine gun company attached to the 71st Infantry Division. This separated the brothers and they never saw each other again.

On January 23, 1942, The Japanese attempted a behind-the-lines landing at Aglaloma Point in Bataaan and Nestor's company rushed to repel this flanking movement. During the fierce fighting, Nestor was hit in the head by a bullet. He died at the age of 24 and was single.

Apollo Tiano

He was a high school senior at the Misamis Oriental High School when World War II broke out. In 1942, he joined the guerilla movement just like his older brother, Ronaldo and other brother, Uriel and Jaime.

Young Apollo served so well that he was promoted to Second Lieutenant by Col. Robert Bowler, Commander of the Western Mindanao Corps.

Soon after the landing of the American Liberation forces in 1945, the 108th Infantry Division, 10th Military district organized an expeditionary battalion where different regiments were recruited to help the troops in the mopping up operations. Apollo was among the officers chosen to lead this battalion.
As the commanding officer of the E Company, Apollo helped in liberating Malabang, Lanao, in Cotabato and Davao together with the 24th Division, 10th Corps of the US 8th Army.

After his honorable discharge, he took up Engineering at the Far East University and later shifted to a nautical course and graduated with honors at the Philippine Maritime Institute.

Like his brothers, a soldier's life appealed to Apollo so he reported to the AFP Service School in Fort McKinly for training. He became a Second Lieutenant and an instructor of the school. A year later, he volunteered for combat duty in Korea with the BCT.

On June 21, 1952, Apollo met his death in Chorwogon, Korea in what is described as a "battle that looked like a siege of a medieval castle with the Chinese clambering up the ladders and the Filipinos shooting them down or pushing them off the ladders.

Lt. Tiano led his platoon in a frantic bayonet charge against the advancing Chinese, killing one before being killed himself. His men held their positions. The Chinese were fought to a standstill and were forced to retreat after a savage counterattack. This fight continued till morning. The Chinese left behind the hulks of two tanks and over 500 dead. Eight Filipinos were killed and 16 wounded in this brutal night attack.

Lt. Tiano died at the age of 29 and was buried in a place that is now a part of North Korea.

For his gallantry, he was posthumously awarded the Gold Cross Medal and his name is among those written on a big memorial for those who died in that war in Korea.

Today, there is a BRP Apollo Tiano, a Conrado Yap class boat assigned to NAVFORCEN.

A bronze plaque was given to Mr. and Mrs. Leocadio Tiano by the Armed Forces of the Philippines to honor the courage and heroism of their three sons who died in service to their country.

(I would like to thank Mrs. Ruth Tiano-Panares, the sister of our three heroes, and to our World War II historian, Mr. Kerwin Salvador P. Caragos, for their big help in my research for this article)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 16, 2011.

Lifestyle

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