Philippines Killing Scene Revisited
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ As a child, Jean Wall would hear her father wake up from nightmares screaming, ``They’re coming!″
Now a grandmother, she traveled for the first time recently to the Philippine town where her father and his fellow soldiers from Company C of the U.S. 9th Infantry were nearly wiped out by Filipino insurgents.
Of the 74 U.S. soldiers stationed at a garrison in the town of Balangiga on Samar island, only 26 survived the well-planned attack by the rebels _ many disguised as women _ as the Americans ate breakfast on Sept. 28, 1901.
One of the survivors was Pvt. Adolph Gamlin, Mrs. Wall’s father, who was the first soldier to be attacked. He was hacked with a bolo knife _ a long, heavy machete _ and clubbed over the head with his own Krag rifle, slashed on his back and cut on his stomach.
Filipino historian Rolando Borrinaga says the ``Balangiga Massacre″ was the only victory by pro-independence Filipino rebels during the Philippine-American War, which followed the U.S. annexation of the Philippines in 1898.
Just months earlier, Filipinos had declared independence from their previous colonial ruler, Spain. The Philippines was ruled as a U.S. colony until 1946.
In brutal retaliation for the massacre, American Brig. Gen. Jacob Smith ordered his troops to kill everyone on Samar island over the age of 10. Villages were set on fire, crops were destroyed and thousands are believed to have died.
In Balangiga, Mrs. Wall was welcomed as a special guest of the town during celebrations of the massacre’s 97th anniversary. She joined a parade and laid a wreath at the foot of a monument to the leader of the attack, Valeriano Abanador.
Mrs. Wall received a small replica of the bolo used against her father, a quiet man who spoke little about his experience to his own family.
``I walked in my father’s footsteps so that I could see the scenes as he saw them through his eyes. I could smell the smells, and I could feel the oppressing humidity and heat,″ she said.
Mrs. Wall was received as the guest of a grandniece of Abanador and stayed overnight at her home.
Abanador had grabbed Gamlin’s Krag rifle and clubbed him over the head with it. Within seconds after Gamlin fell to the ground and was left for dead, the Balangiga church bells rang and conch shells were sounded, signaling the start of the assault by hundreds of Filipinos.
Mrs. Wall said she was received warmly by the people of Balangiga.
``I was treated in their home as if I was one of them. It was a marvelous experience,″ she said. ``A hundred years have passed and we found that our lives paralleled one another. We had so much to talk about it was almost like old friends getting together again.″
Rene Valdenor Amano, the husband of the rebel leader’s grandniece, Yolie Abanador, said his family was very pleased with Mrs. Wall’s presence at the anniversary.
``She was kind. She said she wants reconciliation,″ he said.
Mrs. Wall, an interior decorator from Phoenix, said her trip to Balangiga was part of her campaign to ask the U.S. government to ``review the heroic and courageous act″ of the Balangiga survivors so they could be given proper recognition.
She said her father, who fought back despite his wounds and helped other survivors escape, had to wait 32 years before receiving a Purple Heart.
``It’s an effort to reopen a closed chapter in our history, both for the Americans and the Philippines, to call attention to this incident that took place in the Philippine-American War in the early 1900s that little was known or written about from either side,″ she said.