Cebu’s Little Bataan (Part 1)
CEBUPEDIA - Clarence Paul Oaminal (The Freeman) - December 7, 2018 - 12:00am

World War II showed Cebuano bravery through numerous battles. One of these happened in a place the locals call “Little Bataan.” This was how it got its name according to Colonel Manuel F. Segura, the Cebuano war hero and adjutant of the legendary Colonel James Cushing of the Cebu Area Command.

In his book, “Tabunan” (copy available at the Casa Gorordo Museum of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc., publisher of its 2018 edition), Segura vividly illustrates the event:

“In one of the Japanese attacks during that first week of December 1942, Lt. Rogaciano Espiritu and his men at Junior Corregidor exchanged fire with the Japanese who were lined up on the opposite ridge. The enemy was superior in number and firepower, so Espiritu thought of creating a diversion. Deciding on the best man for the job, he called Lt. Severo Mabini and asked him about the possibility of going around the enemy’s flank and attacking them from the rear. Looking over the familiar terrain, Mabini made a quick estimate and told his commander that he thought it possible and was willing to try.

“With this platoon, Mabini moved behind the cover of Junior Corregidor on his left and took trail that led to the enemy’s right flank. However, when they were going down the nose of the hill, the platoon was hit by a barrage of mortar and machinegun fire. They rolled, crawled and slid downhill in their hurry to get away from the enemy fire, until they hit the bottom where they were for the moment out of sight of the enemy and relatively safe.

“Mabini checked the men. Everyone was present and no one was hit. So they continued, this time passing through a dry a canal –at the end of which was open space, in plain view of the Japanese on the ridge. Profusely perspiring with the hot sun on their backs, their chests heaving from their exertions, the platoon stopped to rest, while Lieutenant Mabini searched for a way out of the enemy’s sight. After a thorough search, he decided that the only way was through a thick bamboo grove. Not having a bolo or hunting knife on hand, Mabini took off the World War I steel helmet he was wearing and used it to clear a hole though the bamboo thicket. It was a slow, laborious, energy-sapping process but it had to be done for this was the only way. His men slowly crawled after him –one-by-one- through the tunnel he had opened through the bamboo. Once out of that thicket they made for another ridge, behind that was occupied by the Japanese who were still busy firing at the guerilla positions on Junior Corregidor.” (To be continued)

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