Marinduque Battle of Pulang Lupa: Day of Filipino victory yes, but Americans retaliated with long reign of terror and severity they'd rather forget that part of our history!
|Insulting Barack Obama made the headlines, but Rodrigo Duterte's remarks referred to a long and dark history of US interference in the Philippines. EPA|
So asked Duterte after being confronted with a hypothetical question:
You must be kidding. Who is he to confront me? America has one too many to answer for the misdeeds in this country … As a matter of fact, we inherited this problem from the United States. Why? Because they invaded this country and made us their subjugated people … Can I explain the extrajudicial killing? Can they explain the 600,000 Moro massacred in this island [Mindanao]? Do you want to see the pictures? Maybe you ask him. And make it public.
For in the case of Filipino-American War in Marinduque, a would-be president of the United States, the former Governor-General Howard H. Taft had even this to say of its mission of revenge on that Island:
"The severity with which the inhabitants were dealt with would not look well if a complete history of it were written out', wrote Taft of the Marinduque episode.This was after the dramatic victory staged by Col. Maximo Abad, Commander of the Marinduque Forces. Remember that Abad and his men armed with 2,000 bolomen and 250 rifle men battled against the forces of Col. Devereux Shields, September 13, 1900, and emerged victorious.
With The U.S. Army's Pacification of Marinduque, Philippine Islands, April 1900-April 1901 by Andrew J. Birtle as main source (on UlongBeach.com) we further learn about the encounter and more:
|Capt. Devereaux Shields|
Shields walked right into the ambush. A fire fight ensued for several hours before Shields ordered a retreat into a covered ravine. What began as a slow withdrawal quickly turned into a race down a rocky stream bed, as the Americans scrambled to escape the pincers that were moving to surround them. After retreating for about three and a half miles, the beleaguered detachment entered a rice field near the barrio of Massiquisie (Masaguisi). Here renewed enemy fire forced the Americans to take cover behind some paddy dikes. Shields fell seriously wounded.
All told, the Insurgents killed four Americans and captured fifty, six of whom, including Shields, were wounded. Shields later claimed that the Filipinos lost thirty dead, though this number was never confirmed. After months of hiding, Abad in a few short hours had destroyed nearly a third of the entire American garrison on Marinduque.It was in Marinduque where after negotiations for the departure from Marinduque of the American forces were grudgingly received by Abad, that the Americans soon imposed coercive measures on the civilian population to stop the people from giving food, information and material support to their defenders.
The Americans then set their machines in motion for the release of all prisoners captured by Abad and his men.
Two full battalions (under Brig. Gen. Hare), of the 1st U.S. Infantry were dispatched to Marinduque with orders to free the prisoners and effect "the complete stamping out of the insurrection on that island."
|A concentration camp in the Philippines. Location not specified.|
Eventually Shields and his men were rescued. Abad failed to surrender.
Among those leaving the island for good were the men of A/29, who before their departure paid a visit to Paye, the site of the campaign's first ambush. They burned the barrio to the ground, destroying forty houses and over two tons of rice in retaliation.Then a veteran of the Civil and Indian Wars, took over the Marinduque command, Lieutenant Colonel A.W. Corliss, whose task was "to bring the island to its knees through mass devastation."
Corliss's plan thus reflected the new mood and won the endorsement of Bates's personal observer, Captain Wright, who reported that "Marinduque is an excellent place to experiment with the numerous schemes suggested for the pacification of these islands."
|Lt. Col. A.W. Corliss|
In mid-December Corliss launched the experiment. Corliss's policies meant that many expeditions took on an apocalyptic quality. For example, over the course of five days in mid-December Captain Francis E. Lacey, Jr., and 127 men destroyed 364 houses, 45 tons of palay, 600 pounds of rice, 30 bushels of corn, 188 bales of hemp, 330 ponies, 100 carabao, 233 cattle, and killed one Filipino who ran at the column's approach. Lacey saw no guerrillas, and none of the destroyed property was specifically linked to the insurgents. Conditions got worse before they got better.Private Ralph L. Bitting described one such expedition:
(We) captured all the men, rations, and ammo we could get, burned all the houses and villages in sight. We had to shoot several who tried to run away. It was sad to see some old woman turned into the road, her rice (which is their chief food) scattered in the mud and her house burnt down. We left desolation in our trail; talk about American liberty and humanity, it makes me sick.After releasing about 140 men due to illness, the Americans transferred the remaining prisoners to Polo Island for internment. Bitting reported the scene:
The friends and familys [sic] of the captured Gugus were allowed to bid them good-by before we loaded them on the boat ... You could not hear your own ears for the women and children crying and groaning. Just before we started them to the boat one woman who had no doubt come dressed for the occasion threw her dress over her husband and sat down on him. The sentry saw it though and so her ruse did not work. Just as we got them to the beach several tried by making a sudden rush to get away. Two were shot dead and several wounded right before their familys [sic] eyes
By February 1901 Corliss turned over the command of Marinduque to Major Frederick Smith, another veteran of the Indian wars. He capitalized on the successes of Corliss. Smith imposed the use of concentration camps. Spain had used it in Cuba and gained such distasteful reputation that the U.S. Army refrained from resorting to it in the Philippines.
|Reconcentrados was what the locals called the concentration camps. Location of this camp in the Philippines not specified.|
But such 'distasteful' practice was to be adopted in Marinduque. Smith initiated concentration on Marinduque's population of 50,000.
So the island's inhabitants had no choice but to come down from the hills. Failing to do so would mean being treated as enemies and be punished. By end of the month 12,000 people were in Sta. Cruz, more than 7,000 each were in Mogpog and Gasan.
The cat and mouse game between the Americans and the Filipinos continued without letup, producing Filipino casualties each time.
|Governor-General Howard H. Taft. |
Marinduque visitor and future U.S. President.
On 15 March Taft himself visited Marinduque together with the rest of the Philippine Commission which was touring the islands to establish civilian provincial governments.
Apparently Abad proved hard to convince, for he made no move to surrender. By 6 April, Smith was losing his patience, and warned Trias's agents that if Abad did not surrender soon, he would be forced to "take the most stringent and severe measures . . . which unfortunately may affect many innocent people and sacrifice lives and property."
|This blogger composed and directed Awit sa Pulang Lupa with Teatro Balangaw |
performers for several Labanan sa Pulang Lupa commemorations.
An account of how it was eventually done in other nearby places such as Batangas described the oppressive method:
"Filipinos were rounded up and herded into detention camps where overcrowded conditions and lack of proper food and clothing resulted in the predictable spread of infectious diseases. Malaria, beriberi and dengue fever took their toll. One correspondent described the prisoners as "a miserable-looking lot of little brown rats ... utterly spiritless."
Realizing how harshly his people were being treated, and with the news of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo's capture in Palanan, Isabela, Abad and his remaining men, who withstood all the hardships for four months since the Americans reigned, came down from the rugged Marinduque mountains to surrender.
|Col. Maximo Abad and comrades who surrendered.|
"Kill everyone over ten"."Kill and burn, kill and burn, the more you kill and the more you burn the more you please me." It was, said Smith, "no time to take prisoners." War was to be waged "in the sharpest and most decisive manner possible." Smith ordered Samar to be turned into a "howling wilderness' so that "even the birds could not live there." (The First VIetnam: The U.S.-Philippine War of 1899, Luzviminda Francisco, 1973)
No human rights, not even bird rights. Birds not allowed to fly there!
|"Hindi kayo napahiya!" (I did not let you down). said Duterte upon arrival in Davao from the Asean Summits|
So what are they saying now after the initial Duterte media flurry? The international view is changing. From The Conversation:
"Who is he to question me about human rights and extrajudicial killings?"
So asked Duterte on Monday. It’s actually a very good question, and one long overdue from a Philippine president. The extent to which the violence of US relations with the Philippines has been made invisible by a history written predominantly by Americans themselves cannot be overstated.
It began with a three-year war (1899-1902) that most Americans have never heard of. The war overthrew a newly independent Philippine republic and cost between 250,000 and a million Filipino lives – only to be called “a great misunderstanding” by American colonial writers.
After all, the US had chosen the Philippines to be its great Asian “showcase of democracy”. The invasion was a benevolent act. Hence the complete erasure of acts of American violence from the Philippine national story.
Now they're paying attention to US misdeeds in the Philippines.
Why is the Philippines president so angry about the prospect of the US president confronting him about human rights abuses? History. As Duterte said himself on Monday, violent acts of the past don’t stay in the past. They get passed on from generation to generation, especially when the injustice goes unacknowledged and unaddressed.
But if we condemn the president for his recent remarks because we claim to be concerned about the rights of Filipinos while showing no interest in acknowledging the past crimes and injustices against the Philippines, we fall into our own sort of hypocrisy.
Let’s be honest, if Duterte didn’t curse and swear and offend our sensibilities, would we be paying so much attention to the Philippines? For once, I heard a Philippine president holding the US to account for all its doublespeak and hypocrisy in US-Philippine relations. And I couldn’t help but appreciate that.