HomeThe Journal of Historyvol. 57 no. 1 (2011)

American Guerrilla Life in Mindanao

Violeta S. Ignacio

Discipline: History



The American guerrillas in Mindanao during World War II were like the American guerrillas in other parts of the Philippines. They were soldiers who eluded capture, escapees from captivity, or civilians displaced from jobs by the Japanese invading forces. They were forced to retreat to the mountains and jungle, engaging in hit-and-run tactics and surviving by employing ingenuity to provide themselves with basic necessities. Insufficient in so many things but not in courage, they experienced harrowing and exciting moments, hair-raising adventures, and tragedies. But it may be said that life on the run was not always unpleasant. Filipino live bands and fiestas were sources of entertainment between fighting engagements. The American soldiers were not formally taught jungle survival in guerrilla war in U.S. military schools. They learned by experience the hard way in the Philippines. In the end, these men outlived the war mainly through the help of Filipinos who fed, sheltered, hid, provided intelligence information, and fought side-by-side with them. The unsurrendered Americans in Mindanao emerged as survivors, welcoming the return of Gen. Douglas MacArthur and his invading forces to reclaim the Philippines