Earlier, when we blogged about a video documentary on Igorot soldiers during World War II, we wondered why the producers were giving special mention to Benguet. We denied being nitpicky then but maybe we actually were. (But we also had a point, he he.) Well, this is what we said:
Not to be nitpicky but what’s up with Benguet being specially mentioned? I’m sure there’s a reason but the video didn’t clarify. Did the then sub-province have more soldiers in this particular infantry regiment? Or is the video specifically directed to a Benguet audience?
Hopefully the producers can clarify because, to me, this special mention unnecessarily distracts us from the noble purpose of the project. Its effect on me was this: instead of feeling good about what the soldiers accomplished, I was left wondering about why Benguet was specifically mentioned. Para kasing naging adjunct lang ang the rest of the Cordilleras.
Thankfully, one of the producers, Ryan Camado Guinaran wrote a comment in said blog entry and clarifies the matter for us. Essentially, the video project [which is still a work in progress] focuses on the 66th Infantry Battalion of the USAFIP-NL. The 66th IB was operating in the Baguio/Benguet area so, not unexpectedly, it was comprised mostly of iBenguets.
Sixty years or so later, the grandchildren of these soldiers somehow grouped themselves to produce a video about their ancestors. Isn’t that neat? I must say that they have done a really good job so far. We are putting Ryan’s comments here not only because he shares with us some historical information but also because we want to echo his hope that young people from other provinces will likewise draw upon “their own stories of heroism and local history and culture.”
Ryan Guinaran on their video project (edited and reorganized):
The documentary entitled: “Our Igorot Fathers, the Heroes: The Untold Story of the 66th Infantry Regiment USAFIP, NL” was initially thought of as our (the Benguet youth’s) tribute to our local heroes during the Adivay Celebrations in Benguet.
The 66th infantry is usually dubbed as “Benguet’s very own”. The USAFIP NL commanded by Col. Volckmann had 5 subordinate units: 11th infantry operating in the Cagayan Valley, Bontoc, Kalinga and Apayao, 12th infantry in Isabela and Vizcaya, 15th inf in Ilocos Norte and Abra, 66th infantry in Baguio and Benguet, 121st infantry in Ilocos Sur and La Union.
Telling the whole story of the USAFIP NL which covered Cordi and Northern Luzon will be cumbersome so we chose a theme closer to us and to home, so we focused on the 66th infantry which was mostly comprised by Benguet people.
Just identifying the leaders of the 66th infantry, would make you think of Benguet- the leaders of the 66th infantry were Dennis Molintas, Bado Dangwa, Felipe Tio-tio, Eugene Badival, Morris Fianza, Pedro Baban, Ben Palispis, etc and many others who became prominent statesmen of the province.
The docu really wont be about all the guerillas in the Cordi during the WWII, it focuses on the 66th Infantry, but it would tell the story of the bravery, determination and strength of the Igorots who gained admiration from locals and foreigners alike. While we mention Benguet often times in the docu, we recognize that there were people from adjoining provinces who comprised the 66th infantry. Even even Chinese Filipinos were part of it, these facts are tackled in the docu too- there was cultural diversity in the infantry. The docu is inclusive more than exclusive.
Most of the production team are grandsons and granddaughters of the 66th infantry members (I for one am a grandchild of 2ndLt. Alisandro Marquez, a platoon leader (M compnay 3rd battalion) who was then leading operations in Kabayan and we have embraced it to be our personal responsibility to tell others of their gallantry.
It is our hope that more young people and the young people of other provinces in our region would also take interest in their own stories of heroism and local history and culture.
Making the docu is a bittersweet experience. You find relics of WWII sold to junk shops and you also find people cherishing it; you come face to face with the veteran heroes themselves in their rural homes still strong and happy, at other times you reach their place only to know they’ve just died days or a couple of months ago.
Thanks Ryan. We look forward to watching your completed project. Again, we hope the young people from other provinces will follow your lead and likewise produce similar videos of WW II veterans from their own areas.