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By: Bonifacio G. Perpuse
My father, Juan, Sr, who is still alive at age 87, is a veteran of World War II. He was a new recruit of the Philippine Army during the Japanese Occupation. He was designated to used the machine gun. But after the infamous Death March of which he was a lucky survivor, he became a member of a guerilla force operating in Pangasinan, his home province, while waiting for the return of the American forces. Their task was to monitor the night movement of the Japanese patrol. They were told to avoid encounter with the enemies. They were not meant to fight them because the civilians would suffer the consequences of reprisal. Besides, my father’ group was not fully armed. The group had only one short and long fire arm and with limited ammunition. They were seven in that group.
One bright night when they were on their tour of duty, they decided to sleep. But they were in the middle of a rice field which was not really a comfortable place to rest for the night. They had to avoid sleeping in that place, the sneaky Japanese soldiers might see and catch them easily. The Japanese soldiers had the ability of stealth- they can attack quietly, their enemies were always caught off guard. My father had this bad experience with them before. He recalled how they were caught by the Japanese before their planned surrender to Join the Death March. During that fateful morning, they decided to take their breakfast first before surrendering . But as they were about to start their meal, they were pulled up by someone by their collars. As they looked behind, they saw that the Japanese soldiers were already there with their bayonets pointed at them.
Concerned for their story safety, they looked for a safer place to sleep. They were lucky to find a leveled ground in a nearby river. the ground was under a tree and was well hidden by bushes. They built a makeshift sleeping area by putting several bamboos and woods across on the ground and on a portion of the narrow river. The structure was high enough to keep their backs dry from the river. Feeling safe, all seven of them went to sleep. In the middle of the night, one of them got up to take a pee. Upon his return to his place, he counted his companions to check if anyone was missing. He was surprised to count seven. There were supposed to be only six since he didn’t count himself. To be sure, he counted his comrades yet again. He still counted seven bodies. The next thing he did was to wake the others. When all seven of them were up, one body was still fast asleep. Without any word, my father and the rest scampered away, unmindful of the possible from the Japanese patrol. They were sure, that was an entity sleeping with them.