Alex Cosio was only 18 years old when Japanese fighter planes swooped over his school in Indang, Cavite en route to Manila. The date: Dec. 8, 1941, just hours after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
“I was in my senior year in high school when the planes passed by our school. There was a panic. Nagkahiwa-hiwalay na ang mga estudyante, pinauwi lahat kami (The students scampered in different directions and the school officials sent us all home),” Cosio told abs-cbnNEWS.com.
Cosio and his family struggled to make ends meet while hearing the horrors of what was going on during the invasion of Manila and other parts of the country.
He said he finally joined the guerilla movement on Dec. 20, 1942 after being approached in secret by recruiters. “When the Japanese finally came to Indang, Cavite to take over in 1943, we were ready for them,” he said.
Life in the guerilla movement during wartime was neither glamorous nor easy, Cosio revealed. Because of his youth, he was assigned to spy on Japanese soldiers while evading fellow Filipinos who acted as spies for the invaders. Nicknamed “salapsap”, he said the spies were sometimes even more feared than the Japanese soldiers because the guerillas did not always know who they were.
Cosio said his first taste of an actual gunbattle was in the early part of 1945 after hearing news that American troops were coming to the Philippines.
“We had orders to fight Japanese soldiers in Ternate, Cavite. The enemy was only 50 meters away and the only demarcation line was a river. A lot of Japanese were killed then,” he said.
After their victory in Ternate, guerillas from Indang Post moved on to Mount Maculot in Cuenca, Batangas and joined paratroopers of the US 11th Airborne that had just arrived from Nasugbu. Together, American troops and Filipino guerrillas fought side by side until the surrender of Japanese forces later that year.
Francisco San Miguel, secretary-general of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines, said guerilla fighters under the Markings Unit led by Marcus Villa Agustin were instrumental in the victory in the Battle of Ipo Dam on May 17, 1945.
“The Japanese wanted to bomb the dam, which was a major water supply in Manila. But Agustin was able to lead Markings guerillas to capture the dam and defeat the enemy,” he said.
San Miguel, who was 18 at the time of the battle, said Agustin was later castigated by his superiors for not following orders and going to the south side of the dam. To which, Agustin replied: “I do not need anybody’s permission to fight for my country.”
Waiting for benefits
Cosio said all guerillas from Indang Post were summoned to the 11th Airborne’s headquarters in Tagaytay where the Taal Vista Hotel is now located.
“They gave us discharge papers, which indicated when you joined the guerilla movement, your rank, what you did and when you left,” he said. He added that his papers were signed by a certain Major Vanderpool and Major Schumer on Feb. 3, 1945.
Ironically, however, the same piece of paper that would have granted Cosio benefits as a veteran of the Second World War would become meaningless a year later after the US Congress signed into law the Rescission Act of 1946. Under the Rescission Act, the service of Filipinos “shall not be deemed to be or to have been service in the military or national forces of the United States or any component thereof or any law of the United States conferring rights, privileges or benefits.”
It stripped thousands of Filipino fighters of their eligibility for full veterans’ benefits, limiting the veterans to compensation for service-related disabilities or death.
Cosio, who is now 84 years old, says the Act “is an injustice that needs to be rectified.”
“Without the guerillas, American paratroopers would not have known where to strike. We knew enemy positions and how strong they were. We also sabotaged communication lines,” he said.
“We’re not asking for much. We just want to be recognized that what we did was important in winning the war. We want future generations to know the sacrifices we gave for our country,” he added.
By David Dizon – abs-cbnNEWS.com
“On my point of view I sincerely sympatized what Mr.Cosio feels.It’s very hard to be an spy and to have gun battle on those times.Hence being neglected after all.
He is our “Scout Master” during my high school days in Saint Gregory Academy.In spite of being a volunteer he is hard working and very disciplined.We have learned so many things from him.I was a platoon leader back then.By this writing I am thanking him for all those nice experienced together with fellow scouts-Nelson C.”