97-year-old Bataan veteran recalls World War II experience PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 06 April 2014 14:00

By ERNIE B. ESCONDE

BALANGA CITY, Bataan — Nicolas Cabalang turned 97 years old last December 6.

Although a little short of hearing, the old man has still sound body and mind.

He said he still chops firewood once in a while in his residence in Barangay Cupang West here.

Cabalang, a native of Pamplona, Cagayan, still vividly recalls his experience during World War II when he was a Private First Class with the “F” Company of the 11th Engineering Corps, 11th Division of the Philippine Army.

Some tears formed beneath his pale eyes when he recalled an almost death encounter with Japanese troops but smiles began to radiate from his thin face when he mentioned his wife, the former Rosita Mendoza whom he met after his escape from captivity by Japanese soldiers.

Rosita, who was five years his junior, died at 76 in 2000. They have four living children.

Cabalang began his story when at 25 years old in 1942, he was assigned with the Army Engineering Corps in Dagupan, Pangasinan.

“When the Japanese forces arrived in La Union, we retreated in Calayungan and then we passed through Arayat (Pampanga) where we put big woods to block the road.”

He described Calayungan as a place with a big bridge and airport.

From Arayat, they passed through Lubao, also in Pampanga where there was a bridge for the railway.

“We bombed the end part of the bridge,” he casually said.

In Hermosa, first town of Bataan from Pampanga, he said a Japanese warplane bombed their vehicle that resulted to the death of two of his companions but their vehicle was still usable so they proceeded to Balanga.

“We overtook the Infantry (Filipino-American soldiers) at the side of the road. We were asked to cut down some sugarcane stems so we can see at far distance if there are coming enemies,” Cabalang said.

Then, he said they went to Balut, Pilar before proceeding to Orion where they fenced the seaside with barbed wires.

From Orion, Cabalang narrated that they went back to the crossing of Pilar bound for Bagac where soon after joining the Infantry, they were met with heavy gunfire.

“After the heavy gunfire, the Japanese sensed that the Infantry men had no more bullets, that’s why they were arrested. The Infantry men were brought along the side of the river where many of them were killed. Lucky for us that we were able to escape,” Cabalang said in Filipino.

He could not say how many of his companions were killed by the Japanese soldiers.

He said that he and some companions escaped toward separate directions.

“We separated from each others and I went to the mountains until I found some civilians,” he narrated.

Cabalang said he stayed in the hut of his then future father-in-law where he helped plant crops.

At present, Cabalang receives a monthly pension of P5,000 plus P1,700 or a total of P6,700.

“I will ask for an increase of our pension because it is not enough,” he said when asked what he wanted to tell President Benigno S. Aquino III.

“I hope President Barrack Obama (of the United States) would also give an additional pension,” the old man added.