March 14, 2005 Dear Sue: Thanks for your e-mail of today. I am delighted my little piece you found worthy of recommending for inclusion in some work in progress. If it is deemed worthy, too by the editor concerned, may I revise it a bit to make it more understandable to a foreign reader(?) My piece assumed it was for local (Manila) consumption mainly, and needed some clarification here and there. I also excluded parts that would appeal or make sense only to a reader here in Manila. Friday, February 18, 20051:40 AM Love (or War) Story T.G.I.F. By RENE AV. SAGUISAG “I cannot help but feel how providential it was that from out of the blue and out of the millions of people in the US, the one who was sent and came to interview me was the daughter of that soldier I saw 60 years ago.” LOVE (OR WAR) STORY In my sports column on Tuesday, in the paper Today, I asked where Dading Guytingco might be. The next day we were on the phone. He later faxed to me papers on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Internment Camp. Here is my condensed and slightly edited version of his poignant reminiscences. You have a hankie? "When the main building was liberated we brought the bleeding Capt. Manuel Colayco to the infirmary. Fr. John Hurley, then local Jesuit Superior who taught Capt. Colayco at the Ateneo, heard his confession and gave him the last Sacraments before the operation. Power was out. Fr. Hurley and I took turns in holding the Coleman light above the operating table. In his turn to hold it, I moved around. I saw two badly wounded and un-conscious American soldiers being wheeled in. One had a foot blown off; it was shattered. A bloodied toe, almost severed, hanging by the skin, was dangling. "I often asked and wondered `whatever happened to that soldier with the dangling toe.' "Last November, I received a letter from Atty. Santos V. Catubay, Jr., a former president of the Quezon City Chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), our national lawyers' association, of which I am a member. It was accompanied by a letter from a Richard J. Seron, from the U.S., lead writer of a documentary on that Flying Column. He had asked Atty. Catubay if he could help locate a certain `valorous Filipino resistance fighter by the name of Diosdado de la Fuente Guytingco.' "I told Mr. Seron that I was the person whose whereabouts he had wanted to find but not the singularly valorous Filipino resistance fighter he had so magnanimously described in his letter. I said my wife and I would be going to the U.S. to visit our two daughters, both married to Americans, from December 8 to January 10. And so it was that on January 3, 2005, a very warm, kind and sensitive lady named Susan Trout, came to see me in Seattle for an interview. She is the partner of Mr. Seron, and Lt Col Walter J. Landry, Jr., in the documentary they are preparing. "She said that her father was part of Col. Haskett L. `Hack' Connor's Column that had gone to UST, got badly wounded, with foot blown off, and was taken to the UST infirmary on the night of February 3, 1945. Oh, oh! Suddenly, I realized that the badly wounded soldier was the man I saw that night. Suddenly, I knew, after 60 years, who that man was! "I reddened, turned away from her, rubbed my teary eyes and face, and after a while went back to her saying, `I know him, I know him. He was the man I saw with the dangling toe in the infirmary on the night of February 3rd.' Suddenly the haunting query I had in my mind for 60 years was answered. She rose from her seat. Tearfully, she embraced me saying `that was my father, that was my father'. And the tears just flowed and flowed." Hollywood and Bollywood cannot top this, and there's more. "She said that when her Mom, who was US Army nurse, an internee nurse in UST, first saw the unconscious soldier, the one I vividly recall, it was love at first sight. He awoke to find the most beautiful angel standing by him. He wrote home about her. His letter is famous within the family. The man who would run from any woman who batted her eyes at him, said that, he had fallen in love with her when he opened his eyes and saw her standing there, crying for him. They returned to the U.S. a few weeks later, found each other and married on January 25, 1946. "Sue is an only child. Her father was 1st Lt. Francis Albert Jerrett. Her mother was 1st Lt. Frankie Thelma Lewey. They have passed away, her father in 1985, and her mother, in 1987. "Thus, my quest of 60 years finally ended. I cannot help but feel how providential it was that from out of the blue and out of the millions of people in the U.S., the one who was sent and came to interview me was the daughter of that soldier I saw 60 years ago whose foot was blown off, and toe dangling. "Time has a way of putting missing pieces together and in place. This took 60 years. I am hopeful that the wounds of this terrible episode in our generation will in time heal." I am happy for Dading who now can't go unwept, un-honored and unsung (even as we pray for the Unknown Soldier). It turns out he was a classmate of Jobo Fernandez, who later attended Harvard Business and there met Joe Bain, a Leyte veteran who became my host father when I went to Harvard Law. Years ago, Joe was moved by his visit to the Fort Bonifacio cemetery. He is very fond of our country and people and put up a scholarship in the name of Ninoy Aquino in Phillips Exeter Academy. I introduced the Bains to the Aquinos in 1982. Like the legendary CPR (Ambassador Carlos P. Romulo) I can say "I walked with heroes" such as Dading, Joe Bain, and the Aquinos. Non sibi, "not for one' self," an Exeter motto, applies to those I mention here, so aptly. The story needs to be told and retold until the desert sands grow cold. I was an urchin in Mauban, Quezon when World War II ended. Those American soldiers, standing ten feet tall, giving me more 'choclits' than I could use, will never be beyond easy recall. I remember my dad telling me about a Captain Church from Texas. Up to now, it takes very little for me to belt "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, . . ." With feelings. It is good to reminisce and be grateful. I remember Desi Jurado, with that faraway look, during the dictatorship, asking, knowing what I was going through as a human rights lawyer, and wondering, about "whatever happened to that young soldier who some decades ago, was ready to shed blood for the Motherland." Dading and Desi, et al responded, when she called, without counting the costs. We are grateful. There is some strain in Fil-Am relations now, but it was oh so wonderful in that innocent time when we were all brothers under the skin. Affectionately, Rene Saguisag In my introductory posts I said I would place Love or War Story on the site – and this seem to be where it fits best, as a follow up to .. What If … and What if I could change one thing in WWII …and it will tie into a yet to be written post to be titled, "July 1942, Five German Staff Officers" Love or War Story .... is Dading's miracle story of the answer to his 60 year search for an unknown wounded American he saw the night of 3 February 1945, in Manila. It took year for me to find the name of the unknown Filipino guerrilla who was with Capt Manuel Colayco [DIosdado de la Fuente Guytingco] and teaming with film producer Lou Gopal, and others, we were able to do what I desired. I wanted this unnamed guerrilla to be recognized . Sixty years after the liberation of Santo Tomas, he was an invited guest and guest speaker where he was recognzed and honored, at last. I have received beautiful letters from people whose lives were saved by his actions, and my treasure is a than you letter from Divi who wrote that she and their children never heard his war stories until I asked, and they never knew he was a war hero.