Amusing Moments of the Fil-Am War
Bradley H. Fiske, author of Wartime in Manila, served on the U.S. ship
helped ground troops secure their hold on certain areas near Manila Bay by bombarding
Filipino positions from the sea. One day, they spied a Filipino on a bench near Parañaque
church, so they decided to blast the wits out of him with a six-pound shell. How nasty can
"You may fire one shot," said the captain, "But don't hit him; just
scare him a little."
So we fired on shell, and it struck a few feet from the man; but the man remained firm in
his seat, as we could see through the telescope.
"Try one more," the captain said.
"The next shot came closer, but the Filipino held his ground.
Two more shots were fired,
with the same result.
"'Try to hit him,' ordered the captain, who like the rest of us was
getting interested, and a little
vexed (asar na sila).
"Away went several more shots, but without disturbing the Filipino's extraordinary nerve.
"'Shouldn't be surprised that was a dummy, said someone. So I
got to telescopes of
considerable magnification; it showed a most dilapidated dummy sitting on a bench."
(They wasted half a dozen shells on a dummy; now who's the real dummy? Eh, di Gringos.)
One of the most interesting arrests of a Filipino general was General
Pantaleon Garcia's, who
commanded the Filipino forces in Luzon. Edwin Wildman (not the U.S. Consul who duped
Aguinaldo, this one is a war correspondent) in his book, Aguinaldo: A Narrative of Filipino
Ambitions, says that the Americans swarmed around a house where General Garcia was said
to behiding. They found a man in bed, sleeping. They woke him up and asked:
"What is your name?" asked Lieutenant Day, who commanded the expedition.
"Pedro Gonzales!" replied the man in bed, at the same time handing out
a visiting card upon
which that name was printed.
Lieutenant Day pulled down the blanket, looked at the man's face
and compared it with the
picture from Harper's Weekly which he carried.
"Pantaleon Garcia!" he exclaimed with conviction.
"The insurgent general meditated a moment. Then he replied in a tone of resignation, 'Si, señor.'
"The bedclothes being pulled down revealed Garcia in uniform under the blanket..."
Now I understand why Rizal's brother, General Paciano Mercado Rizal,
refused to be
photographed even after the war. His reasoning was that if the enemy didn't know what
he looked like, it would be more difficult to catch him.
General Quintin Salas, who led the Filipino forces in Iloilo and Antique,
was mistaken for
a dirty rheumatic pauper and was set free by forces out looking for him. This is according
to Mary H. Fee in her book, A Woman's Impressions of the Philippines.
One last sidelight is found in war correspondent Albert Sonnichsen's
book, Ten Months
CaptiveAmong Filipinos. Sonnichsen had taught Macario Acosta, military governor of
Ilocos Sur, some English words to prepare him for his surrender to the Americans. He
later wrote about this incident.
"The Governor came out, and I introduced him to Commander McCracken,
he expended just one half of his entire English vocabulary, "Welcome!." which so impressed
the American officer with his knowledge of our (American) language that he at once expressed
himself as deeply impressed to meet the honorable Governor. Acosta understood not a word,
so in despair he let fly the other half of his vocabulary, "Good-bye!"
Could this have been a Freudian slip?
Ocampo, Ambeth R., "Looking Back," Anvil Publishing Inc., 1990.