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Unsung Heroes: The Gallant Igorots of World War 2

Along with all the Filipino soldiers who risked their lives for our freedom, the Igorot soldiers are to be thanked for their gallant sacrifice.

· 2 min read

General Douglas McArthur hailed a lavish praise to the men in the Cordilleras, giving credits to the soldiers.

"Hampered by the dense undergrowth and lost in the confusing maze of bamboo thickets, vines, and creepers, the tankers would have been impotent had it not been for the aid of the Igorot troops of 2d Battalion, 11th Infantry. Hoisted to the top of the tanks where they were exposed to the fire of the enemy, these courageous tribesmen from north Luzon chopped away the entangling foliage with their bolos and served as eyes for the American tankers. From their position atop the tanks they fired at the enemy with pistols while guiding the drivers with sticks."

Gallant Igorots

Gallant Igorots

When the attack was over," said the General, "the remnants of the tanks and of the Igorots were still there, but the 20th Japanese Infantry Regiment was completely annihilated...

"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 breathtaking 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."

Gen Douglas McArthur

Gen Douglas McArthur

Here's an old record of the news article published in February 23 of 1942 through the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

The Time Magazine also published an article about the heroism of Igorot soldiers and the critical role they played in keeping freedom alive.

This War Department communique last week, like so many of its predecessors, was 100% terse pessimism. Douglas Mac-Arthur and his battle-weary, outnumbered troops were still holding Bataan Peninsula and Manila Bay’s five defensive forts. But their collapse under ever-increasing enemy weight and ferocity seemed imminent as never before. … There were bright spots in the picture, however. In his weekend communique Douglas MacArthur included the dramatic story of non-Christian Igorot native tribesmen who, in an offensive over rough, matted terrain, mounted U.S. tanks like so many half-nude jockeys to direct American drivers inside. “When the attack was over,” said the General, “the remnants of the tanks and of the Igorots were still there, but the 20th Japanese Infantry Regiment was completely annihilated. . . . When you tell that story, stand in tribute to those gallant Igorots.”

Along with all other brave Filipino soldiers who risked their lives for the freedom we Filipinos celebrate to this day, the gallant Igorots of World War 2 should be given gratitude for their selfless sacrifice. General McArthur said it best, stand in tribute to those gallant Igorots. So let us continue to tell the story of our gallant forefathers.

Read Also: The Battle of Bessang Pass


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Gen. Douglas McArthur said that if he had these kinds of gallant warriors, the Igorots, (he witnessed how they fought the Japs in hand-to-hand combat) he's not afraid to face any enemy in the world.

Aug 11
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