Latest Stories

War stories worth telling and retelling

Ricardo Balbido Jr.

Filomeno “Dodong” Avanceña Bautista Jr. had hoped somebody would tell the World War II stories about what happened in Mindanao. He noted that very little had been said about the situation in the south.

“We have good stories but they have not been documented,” the 86-year-old war survivor said. The tales were as rich as others and were worth keeping for posterity.

Now at least his personal war experiences as a boy in Cagayan de Oro City have been told by his own granddaughter, Celine Marie B. Itchon.

Bautista’s war memories won first prize in the WWII True Stories essay writing contest, a joint project of the Philippine Veterans Bank (PVB), Inquirer in Education and the Department of Education.

Itchon of St. Mary’s High School in Cagayan de Oro City received the judges’ nod for her retelling of how her grandfather’s family made a living during the war years.

She was coached by her father and teacher Eduardo Itchon, who also mentored the third prize winner in the same competition in 2011.

Although Bautista’s children, including Itchon’s mother, had heard the story before, the granddaughter had only caught snippets of it. It was not until Itchon sat down with the old man for a formal interview did she hear his story in full. “What he went through made me more proud of him,” she said.

Another side to war

It also made her realize there was another side to the war. “It was not just about violence and hatred. There were also positive things.”

It was precisely what her grandfather wanted people to know about the war. “The war had good points. It unified Filipinos. They instinctively helped one another. Many people in the rural areas had big hearts. They did not hesitate to help when help was needed,” her grandfather said.

“There was a unity of purpose among the evacuees. The people’s spirituality was very strong. And, in spite of the war, there was so much hope,” he added.

Ricardo Jose

Bautista came with his granddaughter when she received her Apple iPad (64GB) prize.

The other two top winners in the contest, their interviewees and teachers were also present at the awarding ceremony held at the Mandarin Hotel ballroom.

Second prize winner Dominic B. Dayta of Caloocan City Science High School received an Acer Aspire laptop. Her teacher-coach, Melvin M. Navarro, had also mentored a previous winner.

Julio Rodrigo M. Lopez, who is a home-schooled student, received a Samsung Galaxy Tab (16GB). His teacher-mentor happened to be his mom, Desiree.

University of the Philippines history professor Ricardo Jose, the foremost Filipino WWII expert and chair of the board of judges, said there were so many war heroes but the country did not have as many memorials for them.

The WWII True Stories Contest enabled young people to “see their heroism and see that they are worth emulating,” he said. Older people were extremely active as Filipinos during the war.

With the competition, organizations were “trying to keep history alive and their (WWII survivors) legacy is kept alive.”

Stories of heroism

Ricardo Balbido Jr., PVB president, said the competition was “making sure the young generation does not forget the heroism of WWII veterans.” They built the foundation for the freedom Filipinos enjoy today.

“The contest allowed the young to hear stories of heroism, bravery, patriotism and love of country,” he said.

TOP WINNER Itchon is flanked by second-placer Dayta (left) and third-placer Lopez

Balbido added that people were now seeing that movies, particularly those made by foreigners, were not telling the true stories about the war. Los Baños (Laguna) was liberated by guerrillas before the Americans returned and by the time the Americans came, Yamashita was ready to surrender.

The day-to-day pressure on the enemy that made it easier for the Allies to defeat them came from Filipino soldiers and guerrillas, Balbido said.

The PVB president also commended the teachers, calling them unsung heroes. He said they made a lot of sacrifices but got very little appreciation. His voice almost breaking, Balbido admitted he got emotional when talking about teachers because his own mother was one.

Chelo Banal-Formoso, Learning section editor, said the contest was an opportunity for teachers and students to learn together about an important part of Philippine history.

She said the contest wanted to make history more personal for students and teachers through the stories about the sacrifices Filipinos made during the war so succeeding generations could live in peace and freedom.

The contest was also meant to hone interview,  research and writing skills and reacquaint students with nationalism, which was lacking today, she said.

Miguel Angelo Villa-Real

The three consolation prize winners of iPod Shuffles were announced by PVB vice president Miguel Angelo Villa-Real: Janz M. Sampaton of SPED Kalibo Integrated Special Education Center, Lille Faye N. Sarayan of Davao City National High School and  Danielle Elisha F. Ching of University of the Philippines Rural High School.

All the winners and their coaches each received P5,000 in deposit accounts from PVB.

The winning stories are currently being published in a series in this section (See Page E4).


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Learning , true stories , World War II

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  2. Cagayan mayor shot dead after flag-raising ceremony
  3. Obama, family cause a small stir at Easter service
  4. Santiago sees Palace hand in Gigi’s return
  5. ‘Malang’ next crocodile attraction after ‘Lolong’
  6. Gigi Reyes’ only option: tell all
  7. Malaysia Airlines jet turns back after tire burst
  8. Ancient enigmatic carvings in danger of disappearing
  9. New plant to boost supply of clean energy
  10. More bodies from ship; transcript reveals wavering
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  5. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  6. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  7. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  8. Massive infra spending set
  9. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  10. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  9. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia


  • Light plane crashes on banana plantation; no one hurt
  • Annual blackout simulation drill held
  • Saudi Arabia reports 3 more deaths from MERS virus
  • Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  • Why are Americans obsessed with missing plane?
  • Sports

  • PBA D-League: Waves edge skidding Superchargers
  • Ilad’s last-second basket lifts Gems over Bakers
  • Reigning champs Miami open playoffs with win
  • Spurs subdue Mavericks in playoff opener
  • Wawrinka beats Federer to win Monte Carlo Masters
  • Lifestyle

  • Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  • Transitions and resurrection in the performing arts
  • ‘Archaeology tour’ of Cebu’s heritage of faith
  • Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  • ‘Imports’ from London, and play of the year
  • Entertainment

  • Arrest warrants out vs. Deniece Cornejo, Cedric Lee, et al over serious illegal detention
  • Lindsay Lohan says she had a miscarriage
  • Discovery network cancels Everest jump
  • ‘Captain America’ stays strong atop US box office
  • Easter musings
  • Business

  • Century Pacific Food sets IPO price at P13.75 per share
  • Oil prices down in quiet Asian trade
  • Asian shares mixed in holiday-thinned trade
  • BDO seen keen on bidding for Cocobank
  • Bataan freeport investment pledges up 1,302%
  • Technology

  • PH has slowest internet in Southeast Asia
  • Nintendo’s trailblazing Game Boy marks 25th anniversary
  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Opinion

  • Gigi’s home
  • Palace stonewalls on MRT inquiry
  • Couple of things too
  • There is plenty of water behind Wawa Dam
  • Triduum thoughts of a young boy
  • Global Nation

  • Filipinos in Middle East urged not to panic amid MERS-CoV scare
  • Obama on mission to quiet Asia skeptics
  • Search for Etihad passengers launched
  • Japan presents $57-B ‘dream plan’ to solve Metro congestion
  • Tim Tebow’s charity hospital in Davao seen to open in 7 months
  • Marketplace