In dying hours, ‘Kumander Liwayway’ asks for PH flag
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—In his last act of patriotism, former Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon (Hukbalahap) commander Arcadio Ramos asked for the Philippine flag a few hours before he died of kidney failure at 1 a.m. on Tuesday at the age of 93.
Ramos may have been the last surviving Hukbalahap commander in Lubao town, and was a participant in the “Battle of San Vicente” during World War II.
His daughter, Elsa, fulfilled the Huk leader’s death wish by securing the flag from the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) in this Pampanga capital and draping it on her father’s coffin.
“He instructed me that when he is gone I should go at once to PVAO and arrange for the burial assistance and get the flag that has been set aside for him. That’s precisely what I did today,” Elsa said.
Fighting the Japanese
PVAO files show that Ramos joined the Hukbalahap, a homegrown anti-Japanese army, in August 1942 when he was just 17. He served as an intelligence officer, with the rank of lieutenant, in the second platoon of Company C, Second Battalion of the 7th Regional Command—first under Abelardo Dabu, alias Senti, and then under Ignacio Dabu.
His last commander was Silvestre Liwanag, alias Linda Bie, according to declassified Hukbalahap files of the Philippine Archive Collection from the US National Archives.
According to PVAO records, Liwanag, testifying on behalf of Huk leader Luis Taruc in 1979, confirmed that Ramos served in the intelligence department of Squadron 18, one of Hukbalahap’s pioneer units.
Ramos, who used the nom de guerre “Liwayway” (sunrise), said the Battle of San Vicente might had happened sometime in 1943.
It began when 15 fighters of Squadron 18 ambushed 10 Japanese soldiers in Sto. Domingo, a village across a river in San Vicente.
Nine Japanese soldiers were killed. But the Japanese Army sent reinforcements via railway that linked the Pampanga Sugar Mill (Pasumil) central at Del Carmen, Floridablanca town, to what is now Sitio Tramo in San Francisco beside San Vicente.
Ramos and his comrades, augmented by reinforcements sent by Liwanag, mounted a surprise attack that lasted until nightfall, killing dozens of Japanese soldiers.
“After those two consecutive fights, the villages were at peace,” said Ramos, who joined the Huks to fight the atrocities of the Japanese invaders, especially the rape of women and girls.
Squadron 18 also looted Pasumil for sacks of sugar to give to barrio folk, and burned two Japanese planes at Barangay Landing (now Basa Air Base in San Jose, Floridablanca).
Ramos left the Huks in December 1945, joining the police force in the time of then Gov. Jose Lingad and, for years, as security aide of then President Diosdado Macapagal.
“When I’m alone and I recall the past, I wonder why I am still alive. I credit that to civilians. They protected us Huks,” Ramos said.
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