Let us remember the veterans who fought for the freedom and peace of can never be escaped.
March 23, 1942
I was barely sixteen when I entered this war, leaving family and friends behind to take up arms in the defense of my home.*bayan ko. huddled under the sands of defense, armed with a Springfield '03 rifle of world war 1 vintage, there we withstood the attacks from incoming aerial bombings and artillery fires from our opposing foes, despite our strong efforts, Gen. Douglas Macarthur withdrawn his army down the island of Luzon's Bataan Peninsula, the Americans would slow their entry into Bataan at the front lines of Layac, there I joined the line of defense.
April 12, 1942
For endless nights and days we fought valiantly, yet the Japanese army held on strong, the Japanese had penetrated about a thousand yards of our main battle position and within time, mount Samat was second battle of Bataan has was yet only the beginning of the end. Before the night of our surrender, April 9th, earthquakes rocked Bataan and within day break, a heavy rain fell down upon us, symbolizing our tragic defeat. Major General King surrendered the Bataan infamous death march began.
Many brave men who dare stood up against the Jap's or even dared was killed with bayonets, stabbed to to save a bullet, a bullet was more important than life itself. This was yet only one form of revenge the Japanese has in mind, their lost at the Battle of Bataan has caused them greatly, soldiers and time. For endless hours we stood under the sun together with other American soldiers, some Japanese took out their fun, whenever there was a passing vehicle a captured soldier of Bataan was pushed in front of it. slowly one by one, we were all killed off, if not by the Japanese, but through fatigue, hunger, thirst and disease. I recalled, for every mile we have walked 1 or 2 heads would be lost. The road sides were littered with bodies, the bodies of men who gave their lives to the war, as their fore fathers had long before.
Many who were desperate enough or even who dared to ran into the talk stalks of crops as we passed by, they hid and ran. they were the escapees. Some didn't even made it out alive.
After marching for endless hours I could no longer go on, I needed something to quench my thirst, slowly as we passed by fields of cane, many other men would try to grab one to chew on, within this point I no longer dared cared, to live or die, death would only be a pity, to live would be another torture. And so I took one, I clunked to it with all my might and chewed, within seconds I expected a bullet or a bayonet to penetrate my skin. only to my surprise a strong hand grabbed me and pulled me back into the line.a higher power must have been looking out for me.
So isolated my home land of the Philippines became, that help could not be reached, no one would have learned of this death march.
April 24, 1942
After six days and six nights of endless torture, we came to the town of San Fernando, we were given rest and thin food and water, many men have died during the torturous death march, men I knew, men I grew up with, men whom I learned to call family.
Arriving in San Fernando we were then quickly packed into train carts again to be taken some place else where, we departed for our first concentration camp, this was the final journey to Camp O'Donnell, the train carts were so packed, you could have barely moved, in the hot sun of April many men suffered from heat and suffocation during the trip, again men died, within sometime in the afternoon, the train has stopped in Angeles, where there, many of the civilians tried to feed their fallen defenders, yet the Japanese guards stopped them, some threw the food but to no avail, none of us manage a scrap of food. Days would go on and the death toll would only rise up yet again.
Within eight days we finally arrived into Camp O'Donnell, to our relief the death march was if we had known what lay ahead of us, we would have preferred to have died during the march.
Life in the camp was yet another torture, if not, worse than the march, we were only given rice as meals which we would cook into Lugao, thin rice with some water as stew. this was nothing compared to what my mother use to prepare, instead, this Lugao was poor and thin, which it should be rich with rice and beef. But to our starving stomachs this was a banquet.
This diet was designed to starve many of us, once a day we would be fed, not only did this diet brought a downfall to our health, but as well took away our energy to withhold resistance. Day to day life within the camps were followed with brutal beatings and insults from the Japanese guards, we were bruised and cut, our blood would spill and stain our clothes and floor, many of us were denied medicine or bandages. the stench of disease, blood and death carried everywhere, no matter where you were, the smell of rotting flesh followed, and the cry of pain from others who suffered enough, death would only be a blessing to them, yet the Jap's saw this as another game to them, they dragged weakened men out into sun or rain, waiting for them to die there. We were denied of the request for food and medicine, they were absolutely determined to have us as well was scarce, we only had one pump of drinking water for the entire camp, day after day we would line up for endless hours for water. When the Jap's wanted some fun, they would cut of our water, and there we would wait to what seemed like eternity. Baths and latrine was denied of us as well, we were force to dig our own to use as latrines. There was no privacy. yet by this time you would have though you needed not to uphold your own moral and dignity, when you had to go, you had to. Never again would they hear the symphony of independence, the music of Julian the rise of the flag, our flag.
febuary 13, 1943
The Japanese tried to turn many of us against our own country, for endless hours we were interrogated and beaten, others were threatened with the death of their family, some were forced to go through the worst, nail were pulled out by force with the use of pliers, they would continue on until you scream out in pain to answer their bidding. While others would only pass out.
I myself have almost lost my own, if not I have passed out from the pain. I was taken back to my cramped quarters.
Other brave ones tried to escape, their were many ways to do so, yet the Japanese still held the upper hand, my fellow Filipino's were offered sacks of rice to turn in any American escapees, desperate for food, many called out names of innocent men.
But slowly in time, the Japanese had finally given some of our commanding officers charge of our quarters, they took this chance to their advantage and demanded their own space within our everything, there were still some 'rotten apples' within us, they would bully their own kind, taking over the weak and sickly, in this game of life, only the strong shall live.
Even after all that, humiliation continued to pour down on us, we were forced to acknowledge the Japanese, we were to bow before them in respect, no matter how low or high the rank was. To does who refused and held their heads high, they would receive a beating, learning next time to obey as they were told. Our freedom and pride was taken from us, we were no longer known as men, but as slaves. and they were our masters. Able men were forced to work the field, serving under the eyes of the Japanese, we worked the fields and at time, many of us would pocket some of the smaller vegetables for us to feed on within the discreet of our quarters.
We work and they feasted on our harvest, whatever was left were given to us, nothing was ever enough.
In time, men were stroke with many other diseases, yet among the worst was malaria and dysentery. The disease took on anyone, no matter how high your rank were, ranks didn't exist within this time, ranks would not save you from anything or anyone, we were forced to acknowledge the Japanese, by bowing, does who refused would get their punishment by a severe beating, we received our beatings as a daily dose of everyday life within the camps, it was truly a nightmare to be here.
Dysentery soon stroke me, it was at all without a doubt the worst, it would cause you terrible pain, uncontrolled diarrhea and vomiting, means skins were turned to bones within the nights toll, the disease itself would literally feed on a horrible that I have longed awaited.
With my final breathe of strength, in hopes to God and my country, somehow, let my family reach this conclusion of my what I had to go through.
No words can express what I have went through, and may it not happen to you, how long have I awaited this day to long have I awaited to see my country in all its freedom. but day shall never come, dark as the clouds of death will slowly devour us. bring me to the land of my eternal sleep.
December 20, 1944
Still suffering from pain, as most of the sickly were taken to Bilibid Prison, I was fortunate enough to be rescued by a guerilla team stationed near Leyte rescuing me form whatever laid ahead of me within the Bilbid Prison, with them, I was given medicine and slowly is recovering from my disease. Sad to say I shall never set foot within the battle ground, due to my weakened condition, yet, from afar I watch the dawn rise, and within minutes many of the Japanese soldiers were awaken to the raining noise of bomb shells, Macarthur has returned and with his promise, he brought about reinforcements.
God has not forgotten us a ray of hope has shinned.I, Ambrosio Bagauisam was considered a very lucky man, with the arrival of the new American fleet, freedom was now within the reach of many Filipino' American's served this bloody massacre of a war.
*bayan ko: my land/home