By Meg Santibañez
From fierce Visayan revolutionaries all the way to brave Filipino soldiers in the Korean War, our countrymen are no strangers to hard-fought battles. But how many of them did we actually win? Here’s a little refresher course on our history that you can be proud of.
8. The Visayan Battles
Ilonggo native Gen. Marciano Soriano Araneta overpowered the Spaniards in Mangkas, which is now La Carlota City, Negros Occidental, where they captured the Spanish “Cuartel General.” In Dumaguete, Negros Oriental, Don Diego de la Viña defeated the Spanish force.
Revolutionary tandem Gen. Juan “Tan Juan” Araneta and Gen. Anicetto Lacson, who established the Independent Republic of Negros, defeated Spanish troopss on November 5, 1898. This led to the surrender of Don Diego de los Rios, the last Governor-General of Spain in the Philippines—an act titled the “acta de capitulacion 1898,” proclaiming Spain’s formal surrender to the Negros Republic (which later on merged with the Federal Republic of Visayas led by Gen. Martin Delgado).
7. The Battle of Bessang Pass
Located in Cervantes, Ilocos Sur, the Bessang Pass served as the last stronghold of the Japanese imperial force, led by Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita aka “The Tiger of Malaya.”
This stronghold was soon taken by the USIFP-NL on June 14, 1945, an army composed entirely of Ilocanos and Igorots led by an American officer, Col. Russel Volkman. A month of excruciating battle at the Bessang Pass resulted in the surrender of Yamashita and the end of the three-year reign of the Japanese Imperial Forces in the Philippines.
6. The Red Sea Incident
On November 29, 1574, a troop of Chinese pirates led by Limahong invaded the town of Parañaque en route to Intramuros. The pirates easily caused disarray among the Spanish colonial forces and Filipino natives—that is, until the arrival of a Filipino named Galo. Under Galo’s command, they were able to hold off Limahong until the arrival of backup from the Spanish forces—forcing Limahong’s troop to retreat. This would eventually reward Galo with the title of “Don.” This battle eventually became known as the “Red Sea Incident.”
5. Battle of Yuldong
The Philippines sent soldiers to South Korea to help defend against the Chinese during the First Chinese Spring Offensive. These Filipinos of the 10th Battalion Combat Team (BCT), would later find themselves surrounded after they got separated from their U.N. allies. Alone and unsupported, 900 Filipino troops stood against an entire Chinese army of 40,000.
In their stand at Yuldong on April 23, 1951, the 10th BCT held off the Chinese throughout the night, inflicting severe casualties on the enemy. The Battle of Yuldong remains the greatest Filipino victory in the Korean War. The 10th BCT stands out as the most famed Filipino contingent in that war. The allied force referred to them admiringly as the “Fighting Filipinos.”
4. The Rizal Day Battle for Combat Outpost No. 8
Another spotlight for Filipinos during the Korean War came in another heroic stand by the 19th Battalion Combat Team aka the Bloodhounds. For four days (June 17-21, 1952), they clashed threw back attacks by Chinese forces trying to seize their position in Combat Outpost No. 8, a vital location known also known as Hill 191 and Hill Eerie.
The battalion victoriously defended their position, refusing to budge even through some of the war’s bloodiest close-quarter combat, bayonet charges and hand-to-hand night fighting.
3. The Raid at Cabanatuan
Known as the Great Raid, this epic operation on January 30, 1945 is considered one of the most successful rescue operations by the US Rangers during World War II, saving more than 500 POWs detained at the concentration camp in Cabanatuan.
Unsung hero Captain Juan Pajota, a native of Nueva Ecija, played a key role after he joined the USAFFE forces and became leader of a guerrilla unit. Pajota and his 200 men held off a thousand Japanese soldiers. Later on, Pajoto’s crew was able to wipe out the Japanese, finally saving all the POWs.
2. The Battle of Pulang Lupa
During the height of the Philippine-American war, Lt. Col. Maximo Abad’s forces routed a detachment of U.S. troops, under the command of Capt. Devereux Shields. The battle took place at the island of Marinduque on September 13, 1900, in which more than one third of the American garrison fell to Abad’s soldiers.
1. The Battle of Imus
Hate him or love him, Emilio Aguinaldo actually had a proven track record for his military prowess, most notably the Battle of Imus on September 5, 1896, which ignited the start of the Philippine Revolution against Spain. This three-day battle highlighted Aguinaldo’s tactical expertise. He claimed victory against the forces of General Ernesto Aguirre. This victory would later gain him the name General Miong, the hero of the Caviteños.
Know any other battles in history that we won? Share them in the comments below!