PATAG in Silay was the last stand of the Japanese Imperial Army in Negros during World War II. On March 29, 1945, Allied forces landed in Negros. Thousands of Japanese soldiers (with some non-combatants) in the island assembled in Silay to join their comrades in Patag next day (March 30).
On April 4, the allied 40th Reconnaissance Group began its assault in Japanese positions in Barrio Guimbalaon. On the following day, Guimbalaon fell to Allied Forces. The fall of Guimbalaon signaled the destruction of the first line of defense of General Kono. On April 9, Allied Forces in Guimbalaon moved towards Sitio Lantawan and Patag. An assault echelon proceeded to the enemy occupied area.
A “call for fire” started. Day and night bombardment was done and to overcome darkness, the Allied Forces used “continuous illumination fire.”
The intention of the heavy fire was not just to annihilate the Japs but also to blow to bits their “cache”, a hidden supply of food, medicine, water, and communication equipment, for use in evasion tactics.
The Japanese abandoned their position in Lantawan on April 28 and retreated to Patag. Ahead of time, the Japanese engineering units made criss-crossing tunnels in the mountain ranges. They identified areas for the kitchen, hospital and quarters for the combatants. The field commanders prepared for sustained defense with good “logistics”, the science of carrying out the movement and maintenance of troops.
May 9 was the “D-day”. The Allied Forces began its heaviest aerial and land assault on pocketed Japanese positions in Patag. The “road to Patag” was treacherous. The advancing Allied Force was hindered by scattering “antipersonnel mines” (mines designed to cause casualties to personnel) and “antitank mines” (mines designed to immobilize or destroy tanks).
The inch per inch movement needed the use of “armored earthmovers” (heavy, full-tracked bulldozers used to clear obstructions and fill antitank ditches). The combat engineer vehicles played important roles to reach the “bridgehead” (an area or ground held or to be gained on the enemy’s side of an obstacle). Along the narrow path, there were “pillboxes” to be encountered. Pillboxes are small, low fortifications that house machine guns and antitank weapons. They are usually constructed of sandbags or concrete.
“The Battle of Patag” was painted in blood, hardship, tears, screams, death for the unfortunates, and horrible stories for those who survived. Flamethrowers were used by the Allied Forces to oblige those who were inside the tunnels to go out. The “mopping up” (finishing off the last remnants of the enemy resistance in the area) could be another violent scenario that no survivor would like to tell its details.
On June 3, the Japanese soldiers (those who survived) started to surrender in small groups (to the Americans, not to the Filipinos). On June 20, the Allied Forces operations were officially declared completed and on August 30, 1945, Lt. General Takaishi Kono officially surrendered. “The Battle of Patag” was over.
Thousands died and thousands were wounded in the altar of war. Peace and recovery now reign Patag in Silay but the scars and memories of war remain in abandoned tunnels, hallowed ground, barks of century old trees, and unexplored sanctuaries. After 73 years, we have a new vision for Patag… peace, friendship, investment, and tourism.
Negros War and Peace Museum will be constructed in the battle site. This is a joint project of the Silay City government under Mayor Mark Golez and the Negros Historical Foundation Inc. under president Modesto Sao-noy. This will be constructed inside the 9,000 square-meter land (with title) of Emilio Gamboa Jison Jr. and Roberto Hinolan. It is just 300 to 400 meters away from the government road. Right of passage is being negotiated with Baby Unson-Lacson, the daughter of late Inday Fe Ledesma-Unson.
The site has an elevation of more than 500 meters above sea level. The one-story museum will have a dimension of 1,900 square meters. Ground breaking ceremony will be held on April 4, 2018. It will feature artifacts, audio-visual room, archive, library, souvenir shop, and a coffee corner. Gov. Alfredo Maranon Jr. and historian Modesto Sao-noy have seriously considered this important landmark for Negros.
Facilities in the area may include a viewing deck, heroes’ campsite, bivouac trails, and drill area for reservists and ROTC cadets. Interested residents will be trained to become good mountain guides for the special tour, “Sentimental Journey”, for Filipinos, Japanese and Americans. Patag now stands for ecotourism, history, and heritage… and it is in Negros.