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Anti-Japanese guerrilla vet still at war

/ 12:25 AM February 05, 2016
MAXIMIANO Gama, 90, is fighting a different war for his pension.         TONETTE T. OREJAS/INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON

MAXIMIANO Gama, 90, is fighting a different war for his pension. TONETTE T. OREJAS/INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON

ANGELES CITY—Maximiano Gama, 90, a guerrilla during World War II, is fighting a war that has taken him to a battlefield much different from the one he fought in against Japanese soldiers—government bureaucracy.

To Gama, now nearly blind, the atrocities that the Japanese Imperial Army committed during the second world war is now a thing of the past.

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Gama, who had joined the Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon (Hukbalahap) in the fight to resist Japanese colonization, was not reminded of it by the visit of Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.

World War II lasted for four years. The war Gama is now fighting has already taken 10 years.

Gama is fighting for the resumption of his old age pension from the Philippine government, which he lost for reasons still unclear to him.

He had been receiving his pension from 1998 until 2004 when the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) told him that his alias—Angel Sigua—had been claimed by three men from Nueva Ecija province.

No official notice of termination was given to Gama, his daughter Marilyn said in a recent interview.

Told of Gama’s plight, PVAO Administrator Ernesto Carolina ordered a review of the former guerrilla’s records.

Gama said he used the alias Angel Sigua because Sigua was his mother Lorenza’s maiden name. He picked Angel because it sounded ordinary but Catholic, the dominant religion in his hometown of Bacolor in Pampanga province.

“If you didn’t have an alias back then, you would be easily traced. The Japanese had many spies,” said Gama, a member of the Hukbalahap’s Squadron 24, Battalion 2.

According to Gama, his immediate commander was Ka Bumebito Santos while the overall commander was Silvestre Liwanag, aka Ka Beting  and  Linda Bie, a native of nearby Lubao town.

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Gama said he handled logistics, including the distribution of rice and corn to villages where Hukbalahap members hid.

Huk leaders asserted that the homegrown army liberated the country before Gen. Douglas MacArthur and the American forces returned to free the Philippines in 1944.

In his file is a PVAO certification, dated Oct. 19, 1990, and signed by then Administrator Ernesto Giduya, stating that Gama’s name was in the Hukbalahap roster attached to Presidential Decree No. 1207 that recognized its former members under Luis Taruc “who fought the Japanese in World War II as elements of the underground forces in the Philippines…”

Marilyn said most of her father’s original documents were given to PVAO in 2005.

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