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The Crucible

The Crucible: An Autobiography by Colonel Yay, Filipina American Guerrilla

Yay Panlilio
EDITED BY Denise Cruz
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    The Crucible
    Book Description:

    On December 8, 1941, as the Pacific War reached the Philippines, Yay Panlilio, a Filipina-Irish American, faced a question with no easy answer: How could she contribute to the war?

    In this 1950 memoir,The Crucible: An Autobiography by Colonel Yay, Filipina American Guerrilla,Panlilio narrates her experience as a journalist, triple agent, leader in the Philippine resistance against the Japanese, and lover of the guerrilla general Marcos V. Augustin. From the war-torn streets of Japanese-occupied Manila, to battlegrounds in the countryside, and the rural farmlands of central California, Panlilio blends wry commentary, rigorous journalistic detail, and popular romance.

    Weaving together appearances by Douglas MacArthur and Carlos Romulo with dangerous espionage networks, this work provides an insightful perspective on the war.The Crucibleinvites readers to see new intersections in Filipina/o, Asian American, and American literature studies, and Denise Cruz's introduction imparts key biographical, historical, and cultural contexts to that purpose.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-4820-3
    Subjects: History, Language & Literature, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VI)
    (pp. VII-VIII)
    (pp. IX-XXVIII)

    On December 8, 1941, Yay Panlilio found her life suddenly and irrevocably changed by the bombing of Pearl Harbor.¹ Panlilio, amestizaFilipina-Irish American woman, had moved from the United States to the Philippines and quickly ensconced herself in the capital city, Manila, as one of its most intrepid journalists.² When reports of Pearl Harbor reached Manila, Panlilio was one of a few envoys selected to relay grim news to President Manuel Quezon. The war was on its way to Philippine shores. In a matter of days, she would see her beloved newspaper, thePhilippines Herald, razed to the ground,...

    (pp. XXIX-XXX)
  6. The Crucible:: An Autobiography by Colonel Yay

      (pp. 3-4)

      WE, “MARKING’S GUERRILLAS,” BELIEVE it is the right of every Filipino to walk in dignity, unslapped, unsearched, untied; to speak freely of honor and injustice alike; to assemble freely; to mold our destiny as a people.

      WE BELIEVE that we owe allegiance to America, and that the only flags to fly in this sweet air are the Stars and Stripes and the Philippine flag until such time as the Philippine flag flies alone. We want no independence by treachery. Our independence will come to us in the benevolent manner consistent with the way America treated us for more than two-score...

      (pp. 5-6)
      Kate Holliday

      This story was lived by one of the most gallant women of our time, a woman of whom two nations should be proud.

      Colonel Yay did not see the Philippines until she was eighteen. Born in Denver of an Irish father and a Filipina mother, she grew up in the freedom of the United States, and she took with her into the hills of Luzon not only the American ideals of justice and pride but the Filipino traits of courage and unselfish devotion. In the crucible of war, in herself as well as her adopted country these qualities were blended...

    • CHAPTER 1
      (pp. 7-14)

      War came thundering over the Philippines, and seven months after the bombing of Oahu, I, Yay Panlilio, reporter and United States Army agent, had a price on my head and lay alone in a remote foothills farm hut, freezing and burning with my first attack of malaria. To that hut where I lay alone, badly needing help from somewhere, God brought the guerrillas.

      I had tried, since the Japs had landed on the Islands, to fight them in my own way, on my own. It had been impossible. Now, like thousands of others before and after me, I took the...

    • CHAPTER 2
      (pp. 15-28)

      They rolled up in the middle of the night, ragged, soaked with the night’s drizzle, on weary retreat from a three-point attack by the Japs on their Tatala-Binangonan Camp. They stacked their rifles wherever they could lean them, wrung out the remnants of their shirts and warmed their bare backs at the fire, which Igi the farmer had covered with ashes and they had built up again into a fine, crackling blaze. It was July of 1942.

      I had heard about the guerrillas and had thought about joining them, but realized honestly that I was kidding myself. It was hardly...

    • CHAPTER 3
      (pp. 29-38)

      TheJaps patrolled oftener and oftener, in groups ranging from 30 to 150. We moved back. We moved forward. We side-stepped. We sat tight. For more than eight months—from August 1942, to April 1943—the main base, our guerrilla headquarters, played blind man’s bluff in a strip four miles long and two miles wide, and little crossroadsitioswere to be consecrated in suffering and death: Kalinawan, Rawang, Makantog, Sulok, Mayton, Kanumay.

      Marking and his men learned self-sufficiency the hard way. The first camps never knew where the next meal was coming from. Pooling resources from empty pockets was...

    • CHAPTER 4
      (pp. 39-53)

      Benjamin was my first personal loss. I lay in the night, cocooned in a blanket, held close in the curve of Marking’s arm with my head pillowed on his shoulder. The cicadas thrummed and shrilled in the thickets around the camp. Without stirring, I lay remembering young Benjamin of the eager, gentle eyes.

      “Sleep,” mumbled Marking. “You sleep.”

      I neither answered nor stirred. He would think me asleep if I kept silent and made no move.

      But the arm around me tightened, shook me once, imperative and possessive. “You sleep,” he commanded.

      “Can’t,” I said.

      “Sleep!” And his other hand...

    • CHAPTER 5
      (pp. 54-57)

      Barr, an American, and his wife, Nene, were swept up by the guerrilla movement, and joined the headquarters, Nene as a registered nurse, Barr as a willing worker. An instinctive trail man, Barr found Makantog, the one blind spot the Japs, in all their patrolling and attacking, never found. They shaved by time and again, but always, somewhere along the line, they took the wrong fork, and Makantog remained the hidden valley cupped by high mountains in the heart of a labyrinth of mountain paths leading up and by and away but never in. One wrong turn could take a...

    • CHAPTER 6
      (pp. 58-65)

      By October of 1942, the outfit was growing by leaps and bounds: full-time fighters in the hills; part-time saboteurs, working for the enemy and undoing all they had done; propagandists writing, printing, passing their down-in-black-and-white defiance; men and women training themselves as intelligence agents, learning to observe and retain and evaluate what they saw and to convey the information accurately and quickly; a countryside, bending its back to a double load: the Jap army that took by force, and their own patriotic army that begged, begged, begged.

      “Marking’s Guerrillas” was not the only organization, although it was the largest and...

    • CHAPTER 7
      (pp. 66-70)

      Runners and sick men reporting back from Marking gave me juicy bits of gossip. He and his “expeditionary forces” were having their troubles. After the headache he had left me, I was maliciously gleeful, and plied each man with questions. Blisters, cut feet, lack of food. Those were the answers. A hundred men all armed was big stuff back in October ’42. The knack of feeding them en route had to be acquired by teaching them to go hungry first.

      Marking had led them forth, then stepped out of line occasionally to check each platoon as it filed by, sweating...

    • CHAPTER 8
      (pp. 71-75)

      At sunrise on January 3, 1943, the Japs came straight up the trail to the wigwam camp, led by a Filipino unknown to us. They were almost lost to sight in the brush at the foot of the mountain when the outlook in camp, using binoculars, spotted the end of their line. It was a five-minute warning, for the head of the line was well up the mountain, almost at the outpost—one turn more in the zigzag trail, and the boys there would be firing.

      As usual, the regular fighters were out on raid or patrol. Only the sick...

    • CHAPTER 9
      (pp. 76-82)

      Though it was defendable, we could not make a camp of San Andalis; once discovered there, it would be marked a war zone for the duration, and none might return there with safety. Out of consideration for the helpless people, we serpentined our way up over the brow of acogon-covered mountain, dropping out of sight into rolling country dotted withkainginsand threaded with shrimp rivers. Here the men, sick and tired, crowded into farm huts and threw up additional shelters of saplings, bamboo slats, andcogon. Headquarters—Marking and his bodyguards and key officers—built a smaller camp...

    • CHAPTER 10
      (pp. 83-101)

      Except for the limestone parapet, Mount Mayton had no cover except isolated clumps of trees and bamboos, and the Japs had learned how to deal with that—they burned it off. For an encirclement, it was perfect for them and death for us.

      Across the valley loomed heavily forested Mount Kanumay. Down from the parapet we picked our way, across the valley, and up the steep sides of our next camp. The two-hour hike took some of the men the whole day.

      Kanumay was the kind of natural stronghold that looks good before a fight, not after it. The approach...

    • CHAPTER 11
      (pp. 102-120)

      Kanumay was the main base of them all.

      From Manila and seven provinces—as far north as Baguio, as far south as Mindoro—reports flooded in, and from the towns and the subcamps near the towns all roads led to our guerrilla Rome.

      To fortify the more obvious entrance on the San Andalis side, Marking built what we dubbed his “Wizard of Oz” creation. It was a bin, a broad shelf made of logs and suspended by vines, thick and strong, overhanging the steepest approach. Working with his fighters, heaving and pushing, Marking loaded it down with boulders of all...

    • CHAPTER 12
      (pp. 121-124)

      Something more than Japs was troubling Marking in the early days of May 1943. Time and again I caught his eyes upon me, brooding. My health had improved. I had gained weight. I was almost happy. Yet Marking followed me with morose eyes.

      “Do you really like roast pig?” he asked.

      Food was all he could give me, when he would have liked to give the moon, or a guaranteed safety, and I made a point of appreciating all he could offer. I did appreciate it, and I took special pains to express my gratitude.

      I grinned. “Where is this...

    • CHAPTER 13
      (pp. 125-135)

      We needed rest desperately after Kanumay, and at last in the summer of 1943 we found it. But only for a moment.

      Cabalhin and Salvadore took our sick fighters and gave us fighters from their units for our protection. Thus, with thirty bodyguards and heavy reserve enlistment guarding us, we retired to Talim Island, a lovely paradise of forest, farm, and duck yards. Marking held headquarters there, picking up the threads of organization, changing plans, renewing assignments—and renewing himself. We set up in style in a little dispensary in Lambacbarrio. There were beds. There was a floor underfoot....

    • CHAPTER 14
      (pp. 136-152)

      We lingered by a stream called Kaliwa, left-fork headwater of the Agos River flowing east through Tayabas province to Infanta on the coast. Bottle-green and white foam, the water splashed and rolled and roared along between high rock walls and steep, thickly forested banks. Already, three days into the interior, there was comparative safety. The fighters lolled around, as Marking and I did, talking idly. Sweet corn and blessed sunshine and finally Truadio’sbancamen with a new kind of craft. I marveled at the graceful shells, technically dugouts, yet thin almost to frailness and shaped to canoe points—a...

    • CHAPTER 15
      (pp. 153-160)

      We were in the schoolroom.

      “Marking,” said Schaffer, “this is Captain Bernard L. Anderson.”

      Gunpowder and matchstick.

      “Captain, this is Yay.”

      I shook hands, too, and said to myself, Lady, this is going to be historic—you’d better say something too. I said aloud, “How do you do?”

      Marking gave me a quick, suspicious look, and so I didn’t speak again until spoken to. For he could be a devil as well as a leader.

      A week before, in a jealous fit, he had thrown me on the ground, leaped over me to grab me up by my shirt front,...

    • CHAPTER 16
      (pp. 161-169)

      We talked and we talked, Marking and I. We sloshed around in the mud by the schoolhouse, and the fighters sloshed around in the mud, and there were boils because we were hungrily glutting ourselves on pork in the paradisical river-bankbarriowhere we held headquarters, a village with more pigs in it than people.

      Cabalhin checked in with more fighters than the lad should be carrying. Cabalhin checked out with even more to feed and discipline and direct and hide. Bernie was in close to Marking, studying his ways, learning hill movements and customs where he had specialized in...

    • CHAPTER 17
      (pp. 170-179)

      The tragic histories were more than Marking and the fighters could bear.

      “If we have to die,” they said, “let us die fighting. We left the people for the safety of the majority, but the time has come to change our tactics. If the whole Filipino nation must perish, let the conqueror pay a bitter price.”

      Back over the Sierra Madre into our previous stamping ground in Rizal province we filed.

      We bided our time in the old Sulok camp, waiting, watching, and an event, for me of great moment, took place there. It marked the spot for me as...

    • CHAPTER 18
      (pp. 180-185)

      We bided our time in the old Sulok camp, waiting, watching through Christmas of 1943, and it was not peace on earth nor good will toallmen.

      The Japs passed on to other areas and other helpless people. And when the pain had passed and their minds were clear again the people of Talim themselves hunted down those who had been the traitors during the zoning. Those who had hunted became the hunted.

      They were delivered—alive—to the fighters.

      The men looked to me. Would I insist on merciful execution for dignity’s sake? Would I be cold and...

    • CHAPTER 19
      (pp. 186-195)

      It was tough on the fighters, concealing them within the camp, but we wanted to keep our return to Rizal province secret as long as possible, the quicker and better to organize the shattered city units. While our contact men floated everywhere through city and town, the fighters groused restlessly, day after day performing the camp details, and each day hoping to roll. The comradeship of the camp was good enough, but the comradeship of the trail was better.

      Japs were again patrolling the foothills.

      Thepalaythat Lucio had piled up in great, golden piles was no more. How...

    • CHAPTER 20
      (pp. 196-211)

      Suddenly there was little left to eat in the land. With hunger came another pale horseman, disease—with them both came the short tempers which almost undid us all.

      Guerrillas and civilians alike clawed for food, the starving from the starving. Pride was the tail between the legs and the hand stretched out begging from the hand that clutched. He got the grain of rice who reached it first, and over and over again the Japs reached it first. Jap patrols guarded the reapers in the paddies, not from the “misguided elements” but from the very hands reaping their own...

    • CHAPTER 21
      (pp. 212-216)

      When our first fevers abated, Lucio moved the group of sixteen from his father-in-law’s farmhouse some ten minutes’ walk up in the hills behind it to a tinykuboin a park-like mango grove. Morning and afternoon, Jap patrols climbed trails to the left and right of us, searching the farther hills. We kept very quiet, talking only in muted tones lest our voices carry.

      More fevers came. Only the men needed to bring our food were allowed by Lucio to come. Marking relapsed. Lyd and I nursed him. I relapsed. She and Marking nursed me. Bernie burned with fever,...

    • CHAPTER 22
      (pp. 217-221)

      Lucio came in a few days later.

      “Sir, it is getting worse in the towns. More and more Japs. The people say that some of them are coming backwards—that they are not from Japan but from New Guinea. They are very cruel. Sir, it is dangerous for the towns and dangerous for you here. Every day, patrols. And at night, too. We cannot get food. The Japs watch everywhere. Sir, farther back in the mountainkaingins—we can getpalaythere …”

      “Try again here,” said Marking, thinking of our physical condition.

      Obediently, filled with foreboding, Lucio left.


    • CHAPTER 23
      (pp. 222-230)

      From haven through peril to haven. The world and the people in it rolled on.

      There were miracles. Roger came. Roger, whom we had left to fight it out alone in the torture cells of Fort Santiago.

      “Rog’!” yelled Marking.

      “Rog’!” said Lyd, tears in her eyes.

      “You!” I said. “At last!” He looked the same, and yet he looked different. The enormity of what he had been through and the guerrilla raid which had freed him were still upon him.

      We talked, and then Marking told him we were moving. “Anderson sent word before the Lagundi raid that he...

    • CHAPTER 24
      (pp. 231-239)

      Good news spreads fast.

      As we rolled over the divide into Rizal province, there was welcome: “Sir, my wife and I are giving you this chicken.” “Sir, here is a horse for Colonel Yay.” “Sir, the house over there is much bigger.” “Sir, the Manila couriers are coming, according to my son who is a Home Guard.” “Sir, the people in the towns are happy. They ask for the American propaganda, especially the cigarettes.” “Sir, may I have a khaki undershirt? See my clothes, how torn.”

      Some of the fighters were wearing the drab undershirts and pants, returning ahead of...

    • CHAPTER 25
      (pp. 240-246)

      Lyd came clambering up the mountain, a new person entirely, toughened, quick, reckless, all five feet two of her in the fight. She dismissed Marking with a kiss on his cheek, pulled me into a nook to rattle Laguna problems and needs at me, tried out a jungle hammock, gobbled any food within reach, and joyously greeted the New Guinea boys:

      “Monty? Ah, Reinforcement No. 1!”

      “This is Melendres,” said Marking, “and this is Dagdag.”

      “One, two, three. Pretty good. Did you know what you were getting into?” She laughed and pulled me down beside her on thecogongrass...

    • CHAPTER 26
      (pp. 247-250)

      On November 17, Marking’s birthday, an outpost guard came running. “Sir, the Americans are here!” And into the camp strolled the first genuine all-American GIs we had laid eyes on.

      Did they stroll? Or did they stagger? From all over the camp, eyes focused upon them.

      Said Broken-Back No. 1, Captain George Miller, “Are we here?”

      Said Broken-Back No. 2, Lieutenant Brooke Stoddard, “If we aren’t, I won’t go another step. Oh, myaching back!” Mountaineers and Dumagats brought load after load to pile high.

      There was a shaking of hands. The comforts of the camp were offered them.


    • CHAPTER 27
      (pp. 251-259)

      Miller and Stoddard were the turning point.

      Marking and the two American officers were forever in a huddle, like the football hero and a couple of fussing coaches just before the big game.

      “Teamwork,” said Miller.

      “Ya gotta have teamwork,” said Stoddard.

      “Don’t you worry about the teamwork,” said Marking. “I’ll have teamwork, or I’ll break somebody’s head.”

      “When the orders to act come for you,” Miller said, “you must be able to do exactly the missions you have accepted—cut communications, hit the highways and railroads, blow up bridges.”

      “Don’t say you can,” Stoddard said, “and then not do...

    • CHAPTER 28
      (pp. 260-265)

      Wings over Manila again, every day, three times a day, all day long. Frantic enemy movements in the city.

      Then Marking ordered, “Pack up.” “Why? This is a good camp,” said Miller. “Japs.” “I don’t see any.” “You will.” “How close are they?” “Two hours, if they come through jungle.”

      Miller raised his eyebrows gently. He knew his orders, specifying, “Avoid any semblance of authority,” and “Security of personnel will rest with the commander.”

      But Marking no more wanted to leave the best OP in Rizal province than he, and welcomed his reluctance to move.

      “Where are the Japs?” asked...

    • CHAPTER 29
      (pp. 266-270)

      Then the world began to gain true momentum all around us. For three years it had stood almost still. Soon after New Year’s 1945, it began to turn a little faster—not yet to spin, but to revolve more quickly, more surely.

      Miller and Stoddard decided it would be better both for the forces and for local resistance to stick closer to the Net Control Station. They dared not leave the unpredictable, hotheaded Marking behind, and so they came climbing with Marking and the inevitable string of fighters up to Camp Lyd. Commander MacWilliams, a rescued flier, the true gentleman...

    • CHAPTER 30
      (pp. 271-278)

      And in the midst of the checking in and out of the fighters, there was a loud report at the outpost. A boy came running: “Accidental shot, sir!”

      They carried the wounded boy to us.

      “Sir! Ihaveto move! I can’t lie still. I must sit up, sir.”

      “Fajardo,” said Marking, “if you move, you’ll die. You’ll bleed inside.”

      “Mammy,” groaned Fajardo. “I’m not afraid. Don’t leave me.”

      The packings over the abdominal wound were soaked with blood, and it oozed out between Marking’s fingers as he held it in place. He added another sterile packing over it, firmly,...

    • CHAPTER 31
      (pp. 279-288)

      Then, in the dawn, the Japs crawled through the grass as the moon waned and jumped the outpost guards. One boy was shot in his sleep, and the corporal of the guard, leaning over in the act of awakening him, was knocked flat and bayoneted. A third killed the Jap astride the fallen fighter, then plunged into the brush behind to circle in a frantic race against time to the main headquarters.

      Marking had foreseen the attack and had kept the men alert. Bautista of Santa Maria carried the fight, with orders to draw the Japs elsewhere, while Marking and...

    • CHAPTER 32
      (pp. 289-296)

      Near the highway between Santa Maria and Tanay, we bedded down for the night, wary against crossing the open road when we could not see what lay ahead. The farmer gave us grapevine news which tallied with the more detailed intelligence reports describing the First Cavalry’s drive to the Santo Tomás internment camp, the floor-by-floor fighting in the Post Office, City Hall, and Philippine General Hospital, the shelling of Intramuros and consequent leveling of the mossy walls, and the final horror of the Malate massacre in which the Japs had driven a helpless population into the bungalow-homes, set the houses...

    • CHAPTER 33
      (pp. 297-304)

      At Angono, where a reconnaissance camp was in the making, the armored car stopped. From there to Manila, we would go by army truck. I heard the familiar voice of Bisson say, “Capt. Stoddard’s order? OK.” Then he looked up into my smeared face on the truck seat, and said, “Oh, hello!”

      “Lieutenant,” I said, “will you give this note to Marking?”

      “That I will.” He slipped it into his shirt pocket and buttoned the flap.

      There should be an explanation, I felt. “It’s a long story.”

      “Sure,” said Bisson, understandingly.

      “The note is to keep things steady. Tell him...

    • CHAPTER 34
      (pp. 305-309)

      The weeks went by, peaceful, healing. Then suddenly, in great batches, came APO [Army/Air Force Post Office] mail for me. First, under the letterhead of “United States Philippine Island Forces—Marking’s Guerrillas,” was a “pledge”:

      10 March 1945

      Whereas, This organization, “MARKING’S GUERRILLAS,” has been duly inducted into the United States Army; and

      Whereas, The fully armed members of this organization will form one regular regiment according to the U.S. Army plan and strength of organization; and

      Whereas, Henceforth this regiment will be known and called the “YAY REGIMENT” in honor of our beloved guerrilla mother, YAY B-67, MID, U.S....

    • CHAPTER 35
      (pp. 310-316)

      Excited and happy, Marking wrote his own jumbled report to me, whom he wanted to impress most: “Yay Regiment is nowthe talk of the town. GHQ published it.Ipo Damtaken, thenMarking’s Yay Regiment lauded, also ‘Yay Regiment Charges Across Dam Against Strong Resistance,’ by H. D. Quigg, United Press Correspondent, General MacArthur’s Headquarters. TheSecondYay Regiment is also recognized by the Commander-in-Chief General MacArthur, and soon there will be theThirdYay Regiment and that composes aYay Brigade. The Second Yay Regiment is now on the battlefront while the First Yay Regiment which fought in...

    (pp. 317-318)
    (pp. 319-320)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 321-322)