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Guerrilla Submarines in Northern Mindanao during World War II (Part 1)

November 17, 2019

(We are publishing the updated edition of this story in commemoration of the 76th Anniversary of the First SPYRON Mission to Nasipit, Caraga Region on November 15, 1943 and the addition of the Key Role played by US Navy Cmdr Chick Parsons who was the operations officer for the successful SPYRON Missions) During World War II, US Navy submarines helped supply the Filipino and American guerrillas with arms, ammunition and supplies, also ferrying personnel in and out of the islands. USS Bowfin SS-287 at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is now a museum. It was the first sub to visit Northern Mindanao in WWII on Sept. 2, 1943 just 1.25 miles east of Binuni Point, Iligan Bay. Known as the SPYRON (for Spy Squadron) Operation, it supported the Filipino and American Guerrillas resistance to the Japanese occupation after the Philippines fell to the Japanese Imperial Forces in early 1942. The Spyron operation was key to the success of the resistance. Without the arms and supplies ferried by US submarines, the guerrillas would have been unable to sustain their intelligence gathering and sabotage operations against the Japanese forces. Even before Corregidor surrendered, submarines were already playing a key role in the Battle for the Philippines supplying arms and ammunition to the beleaguered island, and ferrying people in and out the war zone. The Quezon Mission Notable among these missions was the USS Swordfish (SS-193) under Lt. Cmdr. C.C. Smith which picked up President Manuel L. Quezon, his wife, two daughters, and son; Vice President Tomas Osmeña; Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos; and Philippine Army officers General Valdes, Colonel Nieto, and Chaplain Captain Ortiz from Corregidor on February 19, 1942.  Swordfish then departed via a safety lane through the minefield in the harbor and headed for San Jose on Panay Island, where she arrived on February 22nd, and transferred President Quezon and his party to a motor tender. Quezon and his family proceeded to Iloilo and were ferried to Oroquieta, Misamis Occidental by PT-41 of MTB Ron 3 skippered by Lt. John Bulkeley, who would later successfully transfer General Douglas MacArthur, his family and staff from Corregidor in their famous “Breakout” to Australia via Cagayan, Misamis and Bukidnon on March 11-13, 1942. Hence, they motored to Del Monte Airfield in Bukidnon where they were subsequently flown to Australia by B-17. (Source: John Clear's collection of more than 63,000 pages of U. S. submarine World War II patrol reports, compiled from original U. S. Government microfilms. Chick Parsons The man responsible for the SPYRON operations was U.S. Naval Commander Charles Parsons, Jr.  Better known by his nickname “Chick”, Parsons first came to Manila when he was five years old. When World War II broke out, he and his family managed to return to the USA under a diplomatic exchange. However, Chick volunteered to return to the Philippines  to organize secret submarine missions in support of the Philippine Guerrilla movement. His extensive knowledge of the country and his network of local contacts enabled him to communicate effectively with the guerrilla units. "Chick" initially worked out of the Allied Intelligence Bureau (AIB), and later moved to the Philippine Regional Section, but his own inner group which he commanded was known as "SPYRON" and was a very independent bunch of characters. Parsons' Navy boss was Capt. Arthur McCollum. SPYRON was essentially a warehousing operation used to accumulate equipment to be sent up by submarine to the Guerrillas in the Philippines. "Chick" worked in Heindorff House at 171 Queen Street, and lived in Lennon's Hotel in George Street in Brisbane. Capt. McCollum reported to Admiral James Fife. While this was his official chain of command Parsons also reported to Courtney Whitney, Lt. Gen. Richard Sutherland and General Douglas MacArthur / Parsons had joined MacArthur in January 1943. He convinced the Navy that if they lent MacArthur "Special Mission" submarines, the guerrillas would establish coast watcher radio stations throughout the islands which would supply numerous targets for their submarines.  Parsons sailed to the Philippines on eight occasions on board a submarine to supply Filipino guerrillas in enemy occupied Mindanao. Amongst the submarines used for these missions were USS Narwhal and USS Nautilus, the two biggest submarines in the US Navy at the time each of which could carry up to 100 tons of supplies compared to 30 tons for the usual fleet submarines. By 1944, his notoriety had grown so much Japanese authorities in Tokyo offered a "$50,000 Dead or Alive" reward for Parsons. According to Captain Bobb Glenn, Chief Supply Officer for the AIB who was deeply involved in supplying the  guerrillas in the Philippines, once Col. Courtney Whitney (Sectional Officer, AIB) arrived in GHQ, the AIB was more or less out of the picture as the Philippine Regional Section was more favored by MacArthur for his special missions and the Philippine resupply effort. (source: https://www.ozatwar.com/sigint/prs.htm) Spyron in Northern Mindanao The first Spyron operation in Northern Mindanao and seventh Spyron mission overall,  involved the Bowfin (SS-287) under Cmdr. J. H. Willingham on Sept. 3, 1943 when it embarked nine persons and  delivered seven tons of radio equipment and supplies at Iligan Bay, 1 ¼ mile east of Binuni Point (off present day Bacolod, Lanao del Norte). Four weeks later on Sept. 29, 1943, at the same location, Bowfin evacuated nine guerrillas, selected by their superior officers, to be transported to Australia. Among them were Luis Morgan, executive officer of Col. Wendell Fertig, who headed the organized Filipino-American Resistance in Mindanao ; Edward M. Kuder, a well-known superintendent of schools in Mindanao and Samuel C. Grashio, a U.S. Army Air Corps fighter pilot prior to his capture on Bataan. Grashio had survived the infamous 'Death March' to be confined in three different Japanese prison camps before finally escaping from the Davao Penal Colony with a group of 10 POWs and two Philippine convicts and then joining the guerrillas. The Narwhal cometh But perhaps the most famous submarine to figure in Spyron operations in Northern Mindanao was the USS Narwhal (SS-167), the lead ship of her class of submarine and one of the "V-boats", the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for the narwhal. She was named V-5 (SC-1) when her keel was laid down on 10 May 1927 by the Portsmouth Navy Yard in Kittery, Maine. At 371 feet long and with a displacement of 4,000 tons submerged, Narwhal was one of the biggest US Navy submarines during WW2, but was not really suited for attack, thus was assigned to transport supplies and personnel to guerrillas in the Philippines especially, eventually became the leading submarine in supporting the Philippine guerrillas with nine secret transport missions to her credit, five of which were conducted in the Caraga and Northern Mindanao regions.  First Mission to Nasipit On her seventh war patrol and ninth Spyron mission, Narwhal skippered by Lt. Cmdr.Frank D. Latta, entered Butuan Bay submerged at 0508 hrs on November 15, 1943. At 1605 hours, she sighted a launch flying the proper security signal. She surfaced and Colonel Wendell W. Fertig, commander of the United States Forces in the Philippines (USFIP) and head of the organized resistance in Mindanao, came aboard. Narwhal then proceeded to Nasipit Harbor. On her way in she ran aground on hard sand in the channel's west bank, but managed to free herself quickly. At 1746 hours, Narwhal moored starboard side at the Nasipit dock as a Filipino band played “Anchors Away.” At 2330 hours, she completed offloading 46 tons of supplies. Early the next day, she embarked 32 evacuees, including POW escapees Shofner, Hawkins and Dobervich, women, two children, and one baby, and got underway. Spyron Operations Chief Lt. Cmdr. Chick Parsons left Narwhal with the harbor pilot. Remarks the Narwhal's patrol report: "The very real need for any kind of stores in guerrilla occupied areas led us to transfer considerably more stores than were actually consigned as cargo. Additional arms and ammunition as well as foodstuffs were transferred to Col. [Wendell] Fertig. An eyewitness account of this story is told in the book “My Faraway Home” by Mary Mackay Maynard, who was one of the two children evacuated. It is also related in John Keat’s book “They Fought Alone” which relates the guerrilla war in Mindanao under Fertig who was on hand to meet the submarine.  Seventeen days later, on Dec. 2, 1943,  Narwhal entered Butuan Bay and surfaced at 1706 hours, some 1,000 yards off Cabadbaran. Shortly thereafter, a 150-ton barge came alongside. Fertig and Parsons came aboard.  Narwhal embarked seven evacuees - two soldiers, three civilian men, one woman, and one eight-year-old girl. She unloaded 92 tons of supplies, 300 gallons of lube oil, a small amount of hand tools, received three messages regarding the next phase of her mission, and used the portable radio station on the barge to send three messages. At 2205 hours, she got underway with Parsons aboard.  (Photos courtesy of ozatwar.com & MacArthur Memorial) (to be continued) (About the author: Mike Baños is an amateur World War II history buff, a former commissioner of the Cagayan de Oro Historical & Cultural Commission and at present Executive Director of the Cagayan de Oro World War II & Veterans Studies Committee)  

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2 NPA hitmen arrested after encounter

November 17, 2019

MARAMAG, Bukidnon, Nov. 16 -- Two members of the New People's Army (NPA) death squad were arrested by government troops at 2:00 pm, November 14, during a Joint PNP-AFP Law Enforcement Operation. The two were identified as Peding Pal-os Mondol alias Santo/Agay and Frederic Tagurda Malong alias Rek-Rek, both members of the Special Partisan Unit (SPARU) of Company “Thunder” (Guerilla Front 6), Sub-Regional Command 2 of the North Central Mindanao Committee. Troopers from the 88th Infantry Battalion (IB), MIG10 of ISAFP, 1003rd Mobile Company of RFMB, PNP Valencia City, and 2nd PMFC of Bukidnon Provincial Police Office launched the operation in Purok 12, Brgy Tongantongan, Valencia City to arrest the two. The two rebels are the principal suspects in the shooting of Zhaydee Cabanelez, the teacher who was shot in front of her students; killing of Pablo Omblero, a member of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit Active Auxillary who was hogtied and killed in front of his live-in partner; and grenade throwing in Quezon Municipal Police Station, and in a Checkpoint of 88IB at Valencia City wounding 4 military personnel. A gunfight transpired between the government troops and the two NPA members during the operation which resulted in their capture. Both rebels were also wounded after the gunfight. Moreover, the troops recovered from them two caliber 45 pistols, one grenade, four blasting caps, and 1 XRM motorcycle. NPA SPARU operates in urban areas. Their task is to kill soldiers, policemen and non-combatant individuals such as off duty CAFGUs and civilians who were suspected as military informants. They even kill their fellow CPP-NPA members and supporters who surrendered to the government to sow fear to other members and prevent them from surrendering. Meanwhile, Lt. Col Franklin F. Fabic, commanding officer of 88IB, commended the joints efforts of the different members of the security sector who were instrumental in the success of this operation. “A display of courage and determination of combined security forces brought this remarkable accomplishment. It was proven once again that no one is above the law. Your soldiers and policemen are very willing to risk their lives to hunt down these NPA terrorists who are threatening the lives and properties of our peace-loving citizens in the mountain or even in the urban centers,” he further said. (88IB, PA)

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Radiowealth Finance Company holds Go Negosyo at Ayala Malls Centrio

November 16, 2019

RADIOWEALTH Finance Company held a three-day showcase of its various offerings at Ayala Malls Centrio in Cagayan de Oro from November 14 to 16, this year. During the event, RFC – a leading pillar in the country’s financing industry – showcased its offerings such as financing loan, business loan, OFW loan, professional loan, prenda OR/CR, lessors loan, educational loan and appliance loan, among others; and entertained walk-in inquiries from Ayala Malls Centrio shoppers. To make the three-day event livelier, RFC initiated a range of gimmicks such as a motorshow display, flyering, BOP sessions, fun games and surprises, singing taxi drivers competition, free motor oil samples for approved walk-ins, DTI business opportunity 101, videoke challenge, singing professionals competition and a dance competition. Partner merchants also exhibited their wares such as Madz ATV, SO Photocopier, Ulric Slar, Arez, Beaute Emporium, PC Ezra, Hino Cagayan de Oro, TCTS, Kimura Chaves Enterprises, Power Traq, San Lucas Labline and Castrol. RFC is a proud Filipino company that offers accessible and easy credit to people from all walks of life. They are a brand that is committed to delivering and empowering lives of every individual. The Cagayan de Oro office is located inside Limketkai Mall at its ground level.

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BARMM to ensure inclusive consultations on the Bangsamoro Education Code

November 16, 2019

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) will reach out to all interested parties to ensure inclusive consultations on the Bangsamoro Education Code. Minister Mohagher Iqbal, BARMM education minister, said all sectors will have equitable representation during the consultations. “We will reach out to parents, community leaders, local government units, women and youth organizations, religious groups, Indigenous Peoples (IP), education managers, and representatives from the private sector,” said Iqbal. Iqbal said the education code consultations have reached out to at least 1,000 education stakeholders from across BARMM to date with the help of Australia through the Pathways Program and The Asia Foundation. The education code is a legal system that consolidates the rights and obligations of the people, the state, and interested parties in developing accessible quality education in the Bangsamoro. Iqbal said the code will govern both public and private educational institutions in the BARMM. “We will be developing an educational framework that is relevant and responsive to the needs, ideals, and aspirations of all people in the Bangsamoro. This means that we need everyone on board in crafting the code,” he said. Iqbal stressed that education in the Bangsamoro should be accessible to all children regardless of their religion, tribe, and culture. He said BARMM will employ appropriate teaching and learning methods based on existing context as well as customary traditions such as those practiced by the IP communities. Iqbal added BARMM will also integrate the teaching of Islamic and Arabic studies in the region’s educational system as prescribed by the Bangsamoro Organic Law. "Together with the national government and our development partners, we will be investing heavily in the education of our children so that no child will be left behind in the Bangsamoro," said Iqbal. # (PAS-RCU/MBHTE)    

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Xavier Ateneo grad tops psychologist board exam 

November 16, 2019

Xavier Ateneo grad tops psychologist board exam      Mary Christine Arreza Odtojan, an MA Psychology graduate of Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan, topped the October 2019 Psychologist Licensure Exam with a rating of 85.10%. The Professional Regulation Commission announced on Tuesday, November 5, that only 205 out of 285 takers passed the said exam, garnering a national passing rate of 71.93%.   Xavier Ateneo president Fr Roberto C Yap SJ, in his memo to the academic community, congratulated Odtojan on her achievement. Yap also thanked the people behind this feat: "We thank Arts & Sciences dean Dr Judy P Sendaydiego, Psychology Department chairwoman Jhoanna Marie M Mocorro, and the Psychology Department faculty and staff for the guidance and support they have given to our students." Odtojan hails from Butuan City. She took up BA Psychology at the University of the Philippines in the Visayas.∎         

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Xavier Ateneo Chemistry prof ranks second in inter-regional research paper presentation tilt 

November 16, 2019

    Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan Chemistry professor Dr Dorothy Caminos-Peruelo won second place in the inter-regional competition for oral research paper presentation (professional category) during the 13th Philippine National Health-Related Research System’s (PNHRS) Week celebration held recently in Cagayan de Oro City. Her winning paper was titled “Preparation, Characterization of Chitosan bamboo charcoal/poly(methacrylate) Composite Beads for the Capture of Creatinine.” This research involves the preparation and elucidation of the chemical properties of composite beads for future biomedical applications. The beads can be used as a column adsorbent in a kidney-assist device like in blood dialysis to remove blood toxins. Caminos-Peruelo represented not just Xavier Ateneo’s Department of Chemistry, but also the Northern Mindanao Consortium for Health Research and Development in the said tilt. Other presenters were from the University of the Philippines - Manila (NCR), Western University Philippines (Region 4B), Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (CAR), Bicol University (Region V), and University of the Immaculate Conception (Region XI). The Department of Science and Technology Region 10 invited Caminos-Peruelo to attend the closing and awarding ceremonies of the 2019 Regional Science and Technology Week (RSTW) last November 13 in Valencia City, Bukidnon.  The RSTW bears the theme “Science for the People: Enabling Technologies for Sustainable Development” and will dedicate the celebration for the recognition of exemplary contributors to the advancement of science, technology, and innovation in the region.∎              

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