From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 28): Feature: The day we saw them flying: A Dapitanon soldier's diary
First Lieutenant Francisco "Iko S. Hamoy, head of the guerrilla unit in Dapitan known as the "Bravo Company" of the 1st Battalion, 107th Infantry Regiment. (Photo by: Gualberto M. Laput)
DAPITAN CITY, Zamboanga del Norte – Their hit and run tactics waged against the Japanese occupation forces was going on for more than two years. The guerrilla unit in Dapitan – “Bravo Company” of the 1st Battalion, 107th Infantry Regiment – composed mostly of Dapitanons under 1st Lieutenant Francisco “Iko” S. Hamoy - were exhausted and at times hungry, but still fighting and hoping against hope that someday the Philippines would be free from the invaders.
It was just another Friday morning, September 15, 1944, and Lt. Hamoy wrote in his diary that all was well. There was no radio broadcast or news because of “statics” and “bushier interference” from the much stronger communication station at a Japanese camp in nearby Sicayab, Dipolog City.
At 10:30 that morning something unforgettable happened. Lt. Hamoy wrote in his diary: “… suddenly… airplanes (with engine sound) much different from (that of the Japanese planes that) we used to hear, was heard from the south. Two planes came at high altitude and close to each other, but later they gradually separated from each other. Both threw white and milky ribbon of smoke forming the biggest letter V. (These are) the first American planes I saw after a period of two and a half years.”
The fighters of Bravo Company were jubilant and for the first time since the Japanese invasion, got a feeling of relief seeing the two fighter planes with stars on the fuselage, indicating the aircraft were American.
The civilians also felt the same, Lt. Hamoy said in his diary: “Everybody was rejoicing – shouting, clapping their hands… with their own eyes (they saw) American planes hovering over… it seems to show that liberation from the Japanese yoke is on sight… Governor (Matias Castillon) Ranillo (Sr.) celebrated it by buying all the tuba, cigarettes and slaughtered a pig worth P25 for the soldiers, officers and civilians… one of the planes returned and again released smoke forming letter I after V which gave us the idea of victory."
“We give thee thanks oh Lord for the coming liberation of our land from the Japanese tyranny. We also give thanks for sparing our lives and we may be given long lives to see again a peaceful Philippines,” Hamoy wrote in his diary.
Lt. Hamoy was 2nd Lieutenant commanding the Philippine Constabulary Company in Tagbilaran, Bohol, when war in the Pacific broke out with the bombing of the United States 7th Fleet at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 8 (7 in the United States), 1941. A few hours later, Japanese planes attacked Clark Airfield in the Philippines.
In the face of the mighty Japanese Imperial Forces, the defense of the Philippines slowly collapsed and on May 30, 1942, Bohol surrendered. But Lt. Hamoy did not.
He escaped alone towards Baliangao in Misamis Occidental on a small sailboat known as “binigiw.” He then walked his way through the jungle in Baliangao to his hometown in Dapitan.
On September 19, 1942, Lt. Hamoy organized and commanded the Bravo Company, a guerrilla unit composed mostly of Dapitanons like Antonio A. Balladares, Vicente Recamara, and Dodo Carreon.
Despite the uncertainty of General McArthur’s return after escaping to Australia, the Bravo Company continued to fight Japanese forces in Dapitan and Dipolog areas.
A month after those two planes appeared in the sky, General McArthur fulfilled his promise and returned to the Philippines - bringing with him a large liberation force that landed in Leyte.
About 76 years ago, the love for our country and freedom were the driving force strong enough for Lt. Hamoy and his guerrilla fighters to leave their families and put themselves in harm’s way to fight the Japanese - without a hint they would achieve victory.
It was their love of the country and freedom that they felt in their hearts the suffering of their struggling people, and they vowed to bear witness to their liberation.
There are people whom we look up for the money they have, the positions they hold or even just by their good looks. We believe that those who have a lot of money, those who are popular or the good-looking are the most capable of loving our society.
But ultimately, the persons we should look up to should be those who set aside their own safety and comfort for the love greater than themselves. And we will know them by the people they helped, the lives they saved and hearts they touched.
We cannot thank Dapitan’s guerrilla fighters enough. All we could do is to honor their sacrifices by imitating the love they had for their country, and live honorable lives.
God bless the men of the Bravo Company.