My Ultimate Guerrilla.
Mac Peralta, Brains of the
The book by Gamaliel L Manikan, 1977, Guerrilla Warfare On Panay Island In The Philippines (Quezon City: Sixth Military District Veterans Foundation Inc, 756 pages, excluding Appendices), is the source of much of the information in this essay, content indicated by page number, such as (p57). GL Manikan did a fine write-up of the struggles and successes of the intrepid warriors of
Macario ‘Mac’ Peralta Jr is my own Ultimate Guerrilla. Inexperienced, armed with theory and emboldened by target practice, as it were, Mac along with dedicated men and women guerrillas, essentially held off from the depredation of the Japanese Army the people in an island of 11,515 sq km during World War II, 1942-1945. Did Mac learn from Mao? The enemy, Mao Tse Tung had said, at different times must be ‘harassed, attacked, dispersed, exhausted, and annihilated’ (Bard O’Neill, 1990, Insurgency & Terrorism, books.google.com.ph). That is an excellent summary of the classic definition of guerrilla warfare. But not brilliant. Jen Ch’i Shan said, ‘The question of guerrilla hostilities is purely a military matter and not a political one,’ to which Mao said this was the view of those who have ‘lost sight of the political goal and the political effects of guerrilla action’ (‘On Guerrilla Warfare,’ 1937, marxists.org). Guerrilla warfare is also political warfare, Mao and Mac knew it in their heads.
Five years after Mao had written that masterpiece, which was based on Sun Tzu’s ancient treatise The Art of War (500? BC), the hour of humiliating defeat of the Filipino and American forces fighting the Japanese in the
What if General Douglas MacArthur called for guerrilla warfare and nobody came?
Sharp obeyed Wainwright, who then instructed Sharp to order Col Albert Christie, who was commander of the 61st Division in Panay, to surrender, saying ‘in the name of humanity, there is but one course of action to take’ (p39). Which one? Mac Peralta must have asked. The course could have been courage; it could have been carnage. He took courage. Carnage we now know was the disastrous course of action Wainwright took – courtesy of the Japanese Imperial Army: 10,000 Filipino and American POWs died of malnutrition, maltreatment, murder. The conquerors were barbarians. Had they not laid siege on
In Advanced ROTC, Mac and his wife Nati (shown here on horseback) and the rest of them had learned about the need for Duty to be well performed, Honor to be untarnished, and Country to be above self. So, answering MacArthur’s call, they said, ‘We will not surrender.’ This act of defiance spread like wildfire among the great majority of the officers and enlisted men in Panay, wary of the cruelties and brutalities they knew were visited on those who surrendered in Bataan and
On 24 May 1942, 1,000 officers and enlisted men, mostly Filipinos, surrendered to Gen Kawamura; 7,000 had refused to give up the fight for freedom (p44). The Japanese took note of the number and extended the deadline for the boys to surrender: 31 August 1942. After that, the Japanese would hunt down those who defied the order, and the civilians were warned of ‘severe consequences if non-surrenderees were found within their midst’ (p48). The threat of death was in the air.
On 18 June 1942, the Daanbanwa Conference of officers was called by Mac and it was agreed to silently reorganize and lie low temporarily (p53). He then issued General Orders #1 assuming command of all USAFFE forces in
My hero was only 29 years old when Mac became commander of the remnants of the USAFFE to wage a guerrilla war on the Japanese on
The role of the civilian population was crucial to the whole resistance movement. Mac referred to this as ‘effective control,’ meaning, ‘at its best, that the civilians will voluntarily give moral and material support to the resistance movement as a matter of personal conviction, to the extent that they will risk their lives’ (p55). Mac said, ‘The safe assumption to take was that the enemy action would be governed by the same realization: that victory is, first and foremost, a race for the people’s mind, their sympathies and, if possible, their loyalty’ (p56).
In a war, the bandits & lawless take advantage of the unwary, and the traitors to the cause take advantage of everyone. That is why a rebel civil government is necessary. That is why they needed the full cooperation of Governor Tomas Confesor and the other provincial officials.
That is how they survived.
The most famous guerrilla leader in
Mac and most of the Force for the Liberation of Panay survived their Japanese encounters. Guerrilla warfare could be suffered and mastered.
We now leave those 2-year long untold sufferings of the guerrillas and the citizens of Panay and fast-forward to 01 September 1944 when Mac sent out the stirring message that ‘The Enemy is afraid’ and that the Battle of Panay is coming’ (p545). The End Was Near.
In mid-morning of 13 September 1944, carrier-borne aircraft of Admiral Halsey’s Third Fleet in the Central Pacific suddenly appeared and dropped bombs on and strafed enemy installations in
I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God, our forces stand again on Philippine soil … Rally to me. Let the indomitable spirit of Bataan and
But as a matter of fact, Mac and The Force – military and civilian – had already expurgated from themselves the warrior spirit of Bataan and
Mac and The Force did it so well that the landing on
That is how Mac and The Force succeeded.
On 31 July 1945, Mac’s military guerrilla command was disbanded; everyone said goodbye to the Free Panay Guerrilla Forces (the historical name of Mac and The Force), but not to the memories.
Reminiscing, MacArthur had the last word (p732):
The history of the guerrillas on
MacArthur had high praises for all the guerrillas. He knew the
Before the fall of Bataan and
That weak signal came from the guerrillas of
4 months after that message from him, in November, Mac Peralta radioed MacArthur that 'he was taking command of the fighters in the Visayas' and that they had secured 99% loyalty from civilians and officials (MacArthur, page 202). Mac had declared martial law and had installed Tomas Confesor as Governor of Panay. MacArthur replied immediately: 'Your action in reorganizing Philippine Army units is deserving of the highest commendation and has aroused high enthusiasm among all of us here. You will continue to exercise command.'
Among other things, MacArthur instructed Mac that martial law was unwise, that it was not practical to issue money; that, instead, certificates should be issued that the United States owed the guerrillas back pay, which would be honored in due time. MacArthur also promised that he was coming back. (We all know he was as good as his word, if it took him so long – 3 years.) He also instructed Mac to create an intelligence network to the max; following orders, Mac initiated the intelligence penetration of Luzon, the Visayas, and
No sacrifice was too great. Even when the parents of Mac Peralta were arrested by the Japanese in
As expected, for 3 years, the relationship between guerrillas and civilians in
As expected, for 3 years, Mac Peralta’s guerrillas fought the Japanese Imperial Army in
In the end, Mac’s guerrillas ‘practically cleared
More than myself, this high decoration also belongs to you and all the gallant officers and men who have fought, suffered and died in the service of our country and people.
On 30 April 1945, Mac received a most welcome ‘Letter of Commendation’ from none other than General Douglas MacArthur himself, saying (p735):
I wish to express my admiration for the soldierly qualities that you and the troops of your command have displayed throughout the black era of Japanese domination of the
Our own President of the Philippine Senate and Brigadier General Manuel A Roxas wrote Mac a letter dated 4 May 1945 and gave his own high estimate in these heartwarming words (p734):
That you had been able to build up your force and checkmate the enemy for three long years, and at the same time maintaining the morale of, and protecting the civilian population, is in itself an extraordinary achievement for which the whole nation is grateful to all of you.
Incidentally, reading that quote inspired me and now, perhaps we have the best summary of guerrilla warfare since Sun Tzu:
Build up your force, checkmate the enemy, protect the people.
10 words. The inspiration along with the summary comes from me; the words come from Manuel Roxas and the deeds from Macario Peralta Jr and The Force for the Liberation of Panay.
Mac was smart. In fact he had always been smart. In his time, he was the youngest General (at 33), youngest Senator (at 36); he was Valedictorian at
In fun, he became well-known in UP as ‘Chocolate Soldier’ (there was a 1941 comedy-musical of the same name); it was meant to be a double ribbing, as a chocolate soldier is someone (a) meant only to impress and/or (b) who has a dark complexion. In esteem, the American officers called him ‘Chocolate Colonel’ (the same ribbing in a slightly different language). In scorn, the Japanese officers referred to him as ‘Scourge of Japan’ – because he was masterminding slowly but surely the defeat of the Japanese Imperial Army in
There are some who would deny that the heroism of any of the Filipino guerrillas and leaders during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines was for love of country, that it was rather in subservience to the United States of America, because the country was a US colony at that time. I heard that line before, 41 years ago to be exact – and the sound came from my own lips. Pertinent to this, in 1970, Renato Constantino wrote his now-famous essay, ‘The Miseducation of the Filipino,’ in the maiden issue of the Journal of Contemporary Asia; 3 years earlier, in 1967, on October 10, ‘Loyalty Day’ to alumni of up Los Baños, I wrote an open letter that I signed with my name, with the mocking title ‘What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?’ referring to the action of the staff and students of UP College of Agriculture who volunteered to train and fight in Europe during World War 1 – I said it was loyalty to the US, not loyalty to the Philippines because the war was thousands of miles away; it had nothing to do with us and something to do with US. I was logical – and wrong. Adolf Hitler’s war was everybody’s war; we have always been a global village even before Marshall McLuhan invented the term. When a butterfly flaps its wings in
He was ‘a man of courage and principles, honest, and a disciplinarian’ (ANN, dnd.gov.ph). Mac had not only been a gallant guerrilla leader but also a brilliant lawyer (dnd.gov.ph). He was appointed Secretary of National Defense by President Diosdado ‘Dadong’ Macapagal on 01 January 1962. Dadong, the bar topnotcher of 1936, had appointed Mac, the second-placer. Neither was intimidated by the other.
He was born in
For all his guerrilla activities, he was awarded among others the Distinguished Service Star by his grateful government, the Distinguished Service Cross and the Silver Star by the
In 1945, he was sent to the Command and General Staff (CGS) College at
But his peripatetic mind could not be boxed in. He resigned from the Army in 1946. He was subsequently appointed by President Manuel Roxas as Chair of the Philippine Veterans Board, staying up to 1949. With the Magsaysay Mission to the
In 1949, he became a Senator under the Liberal Party. Macapagal appointed him also Administrator of the Philippine Virginia Tobacco Administration. Mac was the 13th Secretary of National Defense, 1962 to 1965.
Mac spearheaded the move to organize the UP Vanguard alumni into one solid group, with the help of