WWII: Uncle Olympio


If you have looked though my Blog you will have noticed that I write short snippets of family history. (e.g WWII: A Fish for Papa ) Last time I was in the Philippines on the Island of Bohol where my family is from, I talked to the people about what happened in our town during the Japanese occupation. When I got home we went to visit my uncle and auntie and my cousin told me a story about what happened to my uncle during the war. I then talked to my uncle and got more detail. The below story (still under edit) is a combination of his story and detail of the occupation I learned from other elders from our town. All of this is factual and happened.

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My family originates from a small island in the Philippines called Bohol. The Japanese were brutal; families hid their daughters so that the Japanese didn’t rape and kill them. Random acts of rape and murder by the Japanese on our small island were not uncommon nor was the annexing of food and live stock. Life was no longer normal and the people lived in constant fear; schools were closed, teachers slaughtered, people were prisoners in their own homes and subject to constant harassment.

During the occupation life was difficult and travel restricted between the surrounding islands the Japanese tried as best they could to control the people though fear and intimation. The Boholano’s like others in the Philippines resisted the Japanese; guerrillas units formed thought the island and carried out daily attacks on Japanese patrols and convoys. This infuriated the Japanese who would then go from village to village killing anyone they suspected or anyone the Filipino collaborators identified.

Near the town of LOON (pronounced Low – own) a group of Boholano Guerrilla’s attacked a Japanese Army convoy killing the soldiers in the process. This sent the Japanese into a revenge frenzy. Japanese solders along with their Filipino collaborators traveled from town to town, village to village beating, shooting and bayoneting anyone and sometimes whole families they felt might be a guerrilla or aiding the guerrillas. On this particular killing spree after beating and killing their victims the Japanese would toss the bodies into the back of trucks as they moved from house to house, village to village and town to town.

My uncle Olympio Galon was 15 years old when the Japanese invaded and occupied our island. He lived with our family in one of the smaller towns that dotted the edges of the islands shores called Calape; we were a family of farmers and business people.

It would not take long that day for the Japanese to work their way from LOON some 8 miles from our home town of Calape. My uncle was dressed that day in a khaki shirt and pants and was sent out to fetch water from a well not far from the main road. As he was retrieving the water he was spotted by the Japanese Army looking for the guerrillas. Because my 15 year old uncle was wearing khaki colored clothing the Japanese made the assumption that he must be in the Army or a guerrilla.

The Japanese detained and questioned him but when he did not provide the answers they were expecting to their questions they beat him, eventually they beat him so brutally that he passed out. The Japanese thinking they had killed him threw his body in the back of a truck onto a stack of dead bodies of his countrymen one piled on each other.

He awoke groggy and disorientated as the truck bounced down the dirt roads; entangled in the stack of bodies. The blood and the smell of death permeating in the tropical heat of the day. He didn’t know how long he had been in the back of the truck but it had stopped again this time in Tubgion (To-be-gon); Weak from the beating barely alive he struggle to free himself from the bodies. A Japanese solder noticed that he was alive; he announced to the others and a Filipino collaborator that one of the men in the back of the truck was alive and was about to finish him off with his bayonet when the Filipino collaborator; stopped him. He told him that he knew this boy and his family, that he was no guerrilla and asked the Japanese to set him free.

For whatever reason the Japanese pulled him from the truck and left him on the side of the road. People in the area picked him up from the road and were able to get him home to his family in Calape. After he healed he was sent to one of the villages in the mountains with family so that he would have less of a chance of being harassed and killed by the Japanese.

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8 Responses to WWII: Uncle Olympio

  1. Doc' & CJ says:

    An Excellent Post!

    These are the kinds of stories that play a critical role in preserving history, and the sources of such first-hand accounts are quickly disappearing from the face of the earth. I applaud your efforts and encourage you to continue as much as possible. I bought a decent digital recorder for about $50.00, it is an invaluable tool that makes the process of gathering and recording reports much easier and is far more reliable than memory.

    Thanks for sharing your families story with us, it means more than you may know.

    Thanks,
    Doc’ & CJ

  2. It’s so easy to forget how ugly human beings can be until one is reminded with stories like this. One wishes it were otherwise. The fight against brutality and inhumanity must never cease.

  3. Compelling story. Unfortunately I have heard such horrific stories also from my older relatives during the Japanese occupation.

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