Chronicles of the guerrilla war in Negros Occidental
NOW it can be told how the Negrenses and Bacoleños fought against the Japanese forces in the 1940s.
The stories of treason and heroism, opportunism and self-abnegation, defiance and submission to tyranny have been brought back to life in a two-volume book written by a Negrense historian.
“Against the Rising Sun” chronicles the guerrilla war on Negros Island against the Japanese forces from 1941 to 1945. The book was launched on May 20, which coincided with the anniversary of the landing of the Japanese forces in Negros Occidental in 1942.
Author Modesto Palacios Sa-onoy says his book is the product of a 30-year research, including traveling to the United States thrice to go over some declassified documents in the US military archives and Pentagon in Washington.
Sa-onoy, 73, has published 14 books and is considered the leading history writer in Negros Occidental. He chairs the Negros Historical Foundation Inc.
In 2009, he was conferred the Knighthood of the Equestrian Order of Pope St. Sylvester with the rank of Commander and Great Medal—the oldest and most prized of Papal Awards—for his work in the Diocese of Bacolod especially in his various writings on the history of the Catholic Church.
For the book “Against the Rising Sun,” Sa-onoy tracked down and interviewed over 100 people—many veterans of the war here and abroad. He also went over at least 600 documents.
The result is a comprehensive and well-documented book on what happened during World War II on Negros Island.
Sa-onoy does not only include data from his researches but also injects his personal recollections of the war as well as written and oral testimonies of men and women who lived through that conflict.
The book also tries to provide a broad view of the political and economic situation on the island just before the outbreak of the war, its effects on the conflict that ensued and why the leaders of the province and the Philippines acted as they did.
A potential source of controversy for the book is its identification of Filipino spies during the war.
Sa-onoy also identifies many prominent Filipinos who were victims of the indiscriminate abduction and killing by Japanese intelligence units.
“Against the Rising Sun” also contradicts some existing historical claims with new evidence.
Some writers claimed that the Japanese surrendered on Sept. 11, 1945 but according to Sa-onoy, it happened on Aug. 31, 1945.
He also denies claims by some writers that there was heavy fighting in Negros when the Japanese arrived in 1942.
“Other writers had ignored the role of the guerrillas in fighting the last battles in Negros by giving that credit to the Americans when the Filipino fighters had also played a major role even before the landing of the Americans in Negros. They also ignored the abuses of the guerrillas against the civilians, which I included in the book,” says Sa-onoy.
The book also described how those in power used their position and wealth to exploit the war to their benefit and also discusses “wild units” in the military during that time.
Sa-onoy doesn’t mind the controversy that may be generated because of what he wrote.
“The truth had to be told especially on the collaboration of some top Filipino government officials, and the abuses of some guerrillas in looting, stealing and executing of their enemies,” he says.
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