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THE WARRIOR: DENNIS MESA'AO MOLINTAS

A tell of destiny

To be nowhere yet everywhere
To be nowhere yet everywhere

In a time when weapons were not of avail, the courage of the warrior was literally a savage spirit in battle. The belief in a warrior and its parallel concepts defined a brave experienced fighter, essentially of interest in former times. Distinctive of the Ybaloi ethnic group, the warrior is regarded superior with elite social status of mythical quality. A warrior is expected to possess the discipline to exert both mentally and physically to triumph in conflict with a competent adversary; in decisive protection of tribe and ancestral homeland of equal importance. Successively, a life deliberately placed in danger rather momentously for the propagation of kin, shows to say that the survival or extinction of a tribe is what constitutes the incontestable rudiments of traditional knowledge-thus the veneration of The Warrior.

Ybaloi is one among the ethnic groups of Ygolottes north Philippines. Ygolottes is the Spanish term for the prejudice for mountain dwellers both pagan and said ignorant. Over the Spanish era 1521-1898, the highland territories had not been cowed by the crown of Spain. As a matter of fact, the Ybaloi endured several genocide expeditions with significant loss of warriors , which continued with prolonged isolation and marginalisation that developed into generations of assimilation and conventions of dismissive by the change of hands at helm . Between 1826 and 1839, Lieutenant-Colonel Guillermo Galvey was Comandancia General del Pais de los Igorrotes. During the decade of command by Galvey, disparaging expeditions against the Ybaloi occurred and recalled as:

The greatest loss of life and property ever suffered by any one group of Filipinos during the Spanish regime; Colonel Guillermo Galvey, cut down Igorot crops by the hectares, burned houses by the hundreds, and decimated the population with smallpox by the thousands. By 1840, La Trinidad's 500 houses had been reduced to less than a hundred; by 1860, there was no Igorot community of more than 250 persons in the entire Agno Valley; and by 1880 all the rice terraces southwest of Kiangan were abandoned due to disease. Whatever effect these excursions may have had upon the relationships between the highland and lowland protagonists involved, they certainly helped the former to become a minority statistically .

Honourable Major Dennis Mesa'ao Molintas was a savvy intellectual and inordinate leader-with or without authority. His leadership and acts of courage compelled duty of many, many tribe warriors during the final battles in the capture of Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita, as fact instrumental closure of World War II.

It was destiny. Dennis was Principal of a Settlement Farm School when appointed by American Lieutenant Colonels who had escaped capture in Bataan: Arthur Noble and Martin Moses. Dennis was to form the 12th Infantry Regiment over the course of war; responding the fall of Bataan. Note this occurrence is within the duration the Philippine Islands surrender of Allied forces in May 1942 after the Fall of Bataan in April; and MacArthur's return in October 1944.

Alfred W. McCoy writes: Lieutenant Colonel Mosses established an 'An Anarchy of Families' of paired leaders and units for USAFIP-NL: Governor Ablan and Praeger in Apayao; Enriquez's 14th Infantry in Nueva Vizcaya; George Barnett in La Union; Robert Lapham and Charles Cushing in Pangasinan and Neuva Ecija; and Dennis Molintas in Benguet-from October 1 of 1942.

The Honourable Major Dennis Mesa'ao Molintas became the Commanding Officer of the 66th Infantry Regiment in 1944. The Regiment composition by Colonel Moses combines the 1st Battalion of 43rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion of the 11th Infantry Regiment, and the 3rd Battalion of the 12th Infantry Regiment (43+11+12=66). The Regiment was based in Kapangan; of what is now known as Camp Utopia, and popular for the personification of the creed: To be nowhere, yet everywhere.

From the Articles of the Bataan Diary Website: "Having escaped from Bataan, Lt. Col. Martin Moses and Lt. Col. Arthur Noble founded their guerrilla command in the northern mountains near Baguio. They contacted Philippine Army commanders in the area who had refused to surrender and guerrilla organizers from Col. Thorp's organization, and began to plan a major strike against the Japanese. On October 15, 1942, they attacked the Japanese-owned Itogon Mines near Baguio and held the area for more than a week. The Japanese counter-attacked with infantry and tanks and drove the guerrillas back into the mountains, then took heavy reprisals on the civilian villages in the area. Moses and Noble retreated into headhunter country, and began to collect intelligence data to send to General MacArthur. They were tracked down by the Japanese and captured in June 1943, then executed. The story of Colonels Moses and Noble is included in Bataan Diary.

Elements of their command became independent units or were taken over by Russell Volckmann's USFIP-NL. Russell William Volckmann was the Army infantry officer and a leader of the Philippine Commonwealth military and guerrilla resistance to the Japanese conquest of the Philippines during World War II. The United States Forces in the Philippines--Northern Luzon: USFIP-NL organized by Major Russell Volckmann, developed into the the largest and best organized guerrilla operations on Luzon, and one of the most ruthless.

Beneath formidable bravery, a man such compassionate with tribefolk and fellows. Written in the WWII Memoirs of Ifugao Deputy Governor Luis I. Pawid: "Kiangan suffers thousand pounds bombs on March 20, 1945, three planes were seen flying over Kiangan and Nayun vicinities. I received a letter from Major Dennis Molintas of the 66th Infantry, Benguet area, informing me that my house in La Trinidad is intact; and that some of the relatives of my wife were killed by the Japanese."

By 1997 the Los Angeles Times published: Repaying a Debt Never Forgotten by Louise Steinman: *"It was the Igorots who trekked in supplies and ferried out wounded and dead U.S. soldiers from steep areas inaccessible to Army vehicles. Igorot scouts struck at enemy supply dumps and boldly rode on the fronts of tanks attacking the Japanese. Their bravery was legendary. Gen. Douglas MacArthur praised them, saying:

'Many desperate acts of courage and heroism have fallen under my observation on many fields of battle in many parts of the world. I have seen forlorn hopes become realities. I have seen last-ditch stands and innumerable acts of personal heroism that defy description. But for sheer breath-taking and heart-stopping desperation, I have never known the equal of those Igorots riding the tanks. Gentlemen, when you tell the story stand in tribute to those gallant Igorots .'

In particular, the Ybaloi recognises the importance of the Warrior, where leadership is sought in the brave rather than the wealthy. The following men whose deeds once as brave warriors are looked up to as deities: Amdagan, Balitok, Bangon, Bangan and Bulian; Daongan, Gatan, Kabigat, and Lumawig; Moan, Montes, Obag, and Obagobagan; Wigwigan and Wigan. An ancient traditional chant in honour of the warriors had been recorded by Moss is found in his writings of Nabaloi Law and Ritual. The chant narrates the bitter hardship encountered by the warrior in protection of the tribe; the glorious victories and appreciation.

Rituals indicative of reverence to the warrior include the Bindayan and Tigiting; Pachit, Chawak and Bayjok; Batbat and Saad; Kapi and Amdag; Sagausau and Nansaang; Basil, Diau kasib and Sabosab; Abasang and Pungau. Most rituals are performed to take away illness or for good health, and prayers are also for the natural gods: Sun, moon, stars, thunder, rock and wind.

Dennis Mesa'ao Molintas was born on August 17, 1907 at Daclan Bokod Benguet and married Carmen Sabaoan of Kapangan Benguet. They had two children Dennis Molintas Jr and Lourdes Molintas-Cole (Woman standing on the right is the wife of his son, Donatela Ramirez who is daughter of Colonel Sabbath Ramirez).

The war changed the course of life of an Agriculturist, Professor and State Scholar.

  • 1918: Completed his primary course at the Bokod Central School

  • 1921: Completed intermediate schooling at the La Trinidad Agricultural School

  • 1925: Completed the high school course at the La Trinidad Agricultural School

  • 1925-1926: An assigned classroom-teacher by the Bureau of then Public School at Kabayan

  • 1927-1928: Assigned at Lao Settlement Farm School (Barrio Laoangan Kapangan). Since 1914 the Bureau of Education under Commonwealth Government, provided special insular aid to the Mountain Province and other non-Christian provinces with settlement farm schools. The schools operated to reduce tribal antagonism, and provide assistance to provincial authorities.

  • 1928: Selected State Scholar under the Bureau of Non-Christian Tribes

  • 1934: Completed his college degree at the University of the Philippines, College of Agriculture for the degree of Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and a certificate in Agricultural Education

  • 1944-1945: Commanding Officer of the 66th Infantry Regiment

  • 1946-1949: Appointed as Governor of the Old Mountain Province in the re-establishment of the Republic of the Philippines by President Manuel Roxas on August 12, 1946. The Old Mountain Province back then comprised of the Sub-province of Apayao and the Sub-province of Bontoc; the Sub-province of Kalinga and the Sub-province of Ifugao; Baguio City and the Sub-province of Benguet.

  • 1949-1953: Elected Congressman of the Second District of the Old Mountain Province, for the Second Congress of the Philippines, composed of the Philippine Senate and House of Representatives from December 30, 1949, until December 8, 1953. District Two of the Old Mountain Province comprised of Baguio City and the Sub-province of Benguet. Nonetheless, the Honourable Major Dennis Molintas lost in electoral protest in 1951 that pre-empted tenure.

  • 1952: Military Intelligence Services of Secretary of National Defence Ramon Magsaysay. Molintas later on served as Presidential Technical Assistant of President Elpidio Quirino. A formidable task for military intelligence was counter-insurgency. Editor of the AFP's Office of Strategic and Special Studies Digest, Rino Francisco, wrote in 2013: *The security challenge the Philippines faced in 1950 as a newly independent Republic of the Philippines, was a full-blown rebellion from the Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon or Hukbalahap, that first emerged in Central Luzon during the Second World War. Government efforts to end the rebellion from 1946 were largely unsuccessful, described as poor leadership and morale leading to a lack of discipline and manifested in the abuse of civilians by the military. The Huk Rebellion was put down through a series of reforms and military victories in 1954. Ramon Magsaysay became the seventh President of the Philippines.

  • April 1963: Appointed as Board Member of the Old Mountain Province by President Diosdado Macapagal

  • 1963-1968: Elected Vice Governor of the Old Mountain Province. In 1966 Molintas vacates his former position as Vice-Governor of the old Mountain Province; Pio Felwa, senior member of the provincial board of the old Mountain Province is retained by legislation. "In view of the divisions effected by said Act, the old Mountain Province is reduced to the category of a sixth-class province. Molintas as Vice-Governor of the old Mountain Province and subordinate of Governor Lamen, has become the Governor of Benguet established as a second class province."

  • 1966-1968: Transitional Governor by way of succession for the creation of the province of Benguet, in accordance with Republic Act No. 4695 enacted on June 18, 1966.

Commanding Officer of the 66th Infantry Regiment USAFIP-NL, Major Dennis Mesa'ao Molintas
Commanding Officer of the 66th Infantry Regiment USAFIP-NL, Major Dennis Mesa'ao Molintas


References:

  • Agoot, L., 2019. PVAO to correct erroneous Yamashita 'surrender' story. Philippines News Agency, 4 September. https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1079506, Accessed on January 13, 2020
  • Barton, R., 1919. Ifugao Law. American Archaeology and Ethnology , 15(1), pp.1-186.
  • Finin, G., 2007. The Making of the Igorot: Contours of Cordillera consciousness. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press
  • Francisco, Rino, 2013 AFP's Office of Strategic and Special Studies (OSS) Digest
  • https://amerigorot.blogspot.com/2014/09/
  • https://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/1956/02/01/official-month-in-review-february-1956/
  • Indigenous Survival International, 2011: Statement on Indigenous peoples and conservation. In Affairs, Arctic Environment: Indigenous Perspectives. Copenhagen: International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs
  • Kristoffer Esquejo 2018: Family and Politics in an Archipelagic Province: The Moreno Dynasty in Postwar Romblon, 1949-1969. Kasarinlan: Philippine Journal of Third World Studies
  • MOSS, C., 1920. Nabaloi law and ritual. American Archaelogy and Ethnology by University of California Publications, 15(3), pp.207-342
  • Scott, W., 1976: An Historian Looks into the Philippine Kaleidoscope. Philippine Studies, 24(2) *Volckmann obtained the rank Brigadier General nd created the US Army Special Forces, and a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point
  • Webster, N., 1709: Ethos. Springfield: Merriam-Webster, Incorporated Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary Cambridge University Press, 1995: Warrior.


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