Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Heroism of Captain Manuel Colayco

Inside the UST Main Building, WWII

Santo Tomas internees liberated

If you went to High School in UST during the 80's and before that, you'd probably be familiar with the bamboo garden and the statue of Manuel Colayco.

This statue of Manuel Colayco was much abused every year.  Students would dress it up with caps, scarves, shades, skirts, neckties and all other manner of clothing -- being foolishly unaware of his role in liberating the prisoners that were held captive inside the UST grounds.

Map of the capture of Manila
On 3 February, elements of the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division under Maj. Gen. Verne D. Mudge pushed into the northern outskirts of Manila and seized a vital bridge across the Tullahan River, which separated them from the city proper. A squadron of Brig. Gen. William C. Chase's 8th Cavalry, the first unit to arrive in the city, began a drive towards the sprawling campus of the University of Santo Tomas which had been turned into an internment camp for civilians and the US Army and Navy nurses sometimes known as the "Angels of Bataan".
Since 4 January 1942, a total of thirty-seven months, the university’s main building was used to hold civilians. Out of 4,255 prisoners, 466 died in captivity, three were killed while attempting to escape on 15 February 1942, but one made a successful breakout in early January 1945.
At 21:00, a lead jeep crashed into the main gate, triggering a firefight, and its driver, Capt. Manuel Colayco, a USAFFE guerrilla officer, became the first known Allied casualty for the city's liberation. He and his companion Lt. Diosdado Guytingco guided the American First Cavalry. Both were unarmed. Colayco died seven days later in Legarda Elementary School, which became a field hospital. Simultaneously, a single tank of the 44th Tank Battalion, named "Battlin' Basic," rammed through the university walls, while four others entered through the Calle EspaƱa entrance. American troops and Filipino guerrillas immediately followed and, after a brief skirmish, freed many of the internees.
The Japanese, commanded by Lt. Col. Toshio Hayashi, gathered the remaining internees together in the Education Building, as hostages, exchanging pot shots with the Americans and Filipinos. The next day, 4 February, they negotiated with the Americans to allow them to rejoin Japanese troops to the south of the city. The Filipinos and Americans agreed but only allowed them to carry their rifles, pistols and swords. That same day, a patrol from the 37th Infantry Division and 31st Infantry Division came upon more than 1,000 prisoners of war, mostly former defenders of Bataan and Corregidor held at Bilibid Prison, which was abandoned by the Japanese.
On the morning of 5 February, forty-seven Japanese were escorted out of the university to the spot they requested. Each group saluted each other and departed. The Japanese were unaware the area they requested was near the American-occupied MalacaƱang Palace and soon afterwards were fired upon and several were killed including Hayashi. Later in the afternoon, the survivors of the same group returned to Santo Tomas, captured as prisoners in the same day.
In total, 5,785 prisoners were freed: 3,000 Filipinos, 2,870 Americans, 745 British, 100 Australians, 61 Canadians, 50 Dutch, 25 Poles, 7 French, 2 Egyptians, 2 Spanish, one Swiss, one German, and one Slovak.[citation needed]

No comments:

Post a Comment

Share your lumang tao moments