Meeting Harry Fenton’s Kin: Dirk Barreveld letter

March 20, 2015

Here’s another letter from Dirk Barreveld, an update on his upcoming book on the Cebu World War II guerrillas. There are interesting infos here. I received this on March 16, 2015:

“Thanks for the nice piece last December about my Cushing-book. The book comes out on May 19, 2015 in the US and in Europe and on May 28 in Australia. You can find details about the book on the website www.cushings-coup.com.

“Recently I came across some information I am sure you are interested in. You know if you write a book and it is finished it does not mean the story ends there. Often information keeps on dripping in long after you did cut off your investigation.

 “During Christmas I had a few discussions with Steve Trent Smith, the author of “The Rescue.” I am sure you know the book. I know Steve for long. He brought me into contact with Anna Pearman. Anna is the daughter of Betsy, the wife of the late Harry Fenton (Aaron Feinstein). The former co-commander of the Cebu Area Command. In other words she is the step-daughter of Harry Fenton.

 “Betsy married Harry in 1939. They had two sons Steve and David. At the time of Harry’s execution (1943) Betsy and her two sons were prisoners of the Japanese. The ended up in Santo Tomas internment camp. They survived the war and Betsy remarried in 1945 an American sailor by the name of Pearman. They moved to the US where Anna was born. Betsy passed away in 2010, she was in her nineties. David died last year, but Steve is still alive.

 “Harry’s grandparents arrived from Polish Russia in the late-1800’s. His father was a milliner in Schenectady. Harry graduated from Schenectady High in 1925. He was very active in music, singing, oration, and theatrics in high school and college. He was also a record-setting sprinter on the college track team. Harry attended three years of medical school in Ireland, before quitting in 1934. At some point he enlisted in the U.S. Army Medical Corps and was sent to the Philippines. He became a popular radio announcer in Manila. In 1939 he married Betty. In 1940 he moved to Cebu.

 Some of Frank Cushing’s family is living on Guam. A son of Charlie Cushing lives in Chicago. I think one of the most interesting of the brothers was the heroic, dashing Walter, about whom little has been written. I could not find any trace of him (so far).

“All this information is not in my book, I was not aware of it during writing.”


Dirk Barreveld on James Cushing, First Letter

March 20, 2015

Dirk Barreveld is a former professor at the University of San Carlos in Cebu and once wrote for Sun.Star Cebu where I am working. He wrote to me late last year to inform me about the book on the Cebu guerrilla’s struggle in World War II. I wrote about the Cebu guerrillas when I was with The Freeman in the ’90s. Here’s Dirk’s letter:

“My name is Dirk Jan Barreveld. I used to live and work in Cebu from 1987 until 2002. That was in the Sun.Star  time of Reina Bernaldez and (Wilfredo) Veloso. Most probably we met, but to be honest I do not remember. I was involved in the Mactan International Airport renovation and reconstruction project and at the same time Professor in Economic Science at the San Carlos University. I had my own column on the Sun.Star Cebu business page for many years.

“You wrote a number of articles about Col. James M. Cushing. Well, I just finished a book about Cushing and his World War II struggles with the Japanese and his capturing of Admiral Fukudome. The book will come out next March or April under the title: Cushing’s Coup: The True Story of How Lt. Col. James M. Cushing and His Filipino Guerrillas Captured a Japanese Admiral and Changed the Course of the Pacific War. It will be published by the American publishing house Casemate Publishers.

“For Cebu it will be a major chance to be put on the world map.”

 


Edsa 1 Not a Beginning

February 27, 2013

COMMEMORATING Edsa 1, or the first People Power uprising, always generates conflicting views instead of just being remembered as our best moment as a people. Two points there: repetitiveness and politics.
The date the uprising broke out surfaces once every year, and the number of times its narrative has been retold, including this year, a total of 26 times already. There have been attempts to present different angles and provide the narrative with additional details, but the repetitiveness in rituals invites the feeling of monotony in some people.
Also, the uprising was mainly a political act, thus it has been viewed using different politically colored lenses.
The general view of the uprising has shifted with the pendulum-like swing in the political standpoint of the majority. Progressive thought permeated in the few years after the uprising, thus the good vibes Edsa 1 generated. The shift to a moderate and even conservative stance (punctuated by the reacquisition of political influence by the Marcoses) has prompted a reinterpretation, even revision, of the Edsa 1 narrative.
Relative to this is the use of Edsa as a marker from where the country’s march to the present is being viewed and assessed. The tendency is to attribute the success or failings of the country post-Edsa to the realization or non-realization of the uprising’s supposed goals.
Perhaps, Edsa would be better viewed as the culmination of a struggle and not as a beginning of a process. A big chunk of those who joined the uprising did so because they wanted to topple the “hated” dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. They might have seen the outline of a democracy restored, but it was secondary to the main goal.
Edsa 1 was mainly about the toppling of a dictatorship. In this sense, it should be celebrated in a positive light, as a success.
This is what makes the remembrance relevant. As for how the democracy and the country was rebuilt after that, or what happened to this country almost three decades after Edsa, that can be considered a separate and continuing narrative whose end we still have to see.
Edsa 1 was the culmination of a process. The new process it ushered, that of making democracy work fully, is up to us and the coming generations to bring into a successful conclusion.

(I wrote this for Sun.Star Cebu (Editorial, Feb. 27, 2013)


While I Was Sleeping

June 4, 2010

The problem with taking a respite from the task of updating this blog is that a stupid comment poster takes over. As I said before, I want the sharing of ideas in this blog to be on the level. Yet there is this virus who insist on introducing garbage comments and childish ranting in this site. Kapoy ra bag delete aning baho nga basura.

I understand that some comment posters are interested in my article about World War II. Those who are asking me about certain personalities and places (Hill 22?), sorry but I am not an expert in these matters. You can check with the Cebuano Studies Center of the University of San Carlos if you are in Cebu.

It’s good that relatives of the late mayor and poet Rene Amper are posting comments in the article I wrote about his death. Through it, we have been enlightened about the man’s life. I hope relatives of the other late poet, Temistokles Adlawan, will also find time to comment.

I have returned. Hopefully I can post new articles and materials soon.


Cerge Remonde

January 28, 2010

A few months before I married Edizza in 1999, I met Joy, a Cerge Remonde relative and former dyLA secretary. “Niingon to si Cerge nga masuko siya kun dili nimo siya himoong ninong sa kasal,” she said. Actually, we had considered him as our wedding sponsor even without the reminder. But that was typical Cerge,

Cerge wasn’t in Malacañang yet at that time but he was busy with his work and other activities that went with his being a popular broadcaster and media leader. Besides, the wedding date, Dec. 18, was too close to his birthday, Dec. 21. So while we didn’t expect him to be there at the wedding, we listed him as one of the sponsors nevertheless.

Indeed, we didn’t see Cerge’s shadow during the ceremony, but I was surprised when he did pass by at the reception that was held at the back of the church in Sitio Laray, Barangay San Roque, Talisay. He was smiling when he shook our hands. “Tan-awa, di ba niari gyod ko,” he said, obviously proud of what he did. Again typical Cerge,

I first met Cerge when I decided to go back to society’s mainstream after months of “rehabilitation” in the early ‘90s. I was in need of work but was an undergrad. I had worked part-time in dyLA before and had trained at the then Broadcast Production and Training Center. I thought I had a chance of landing a job if I applied in that radio station.

DyLA then could be described as a Cerge Remonde-Leo Lastimosa organization. Cerge was the manager and popular radio commentator while Leo was the news director and popular broadcast journalist. Both were intimidating to a work applicant like me. Besides, Cerge had gained a reputation as leader of the anti-communist movement.

When I went to the radio station, I therefore made sure I brought with me a note from a military official vouching for my “rehab.” Cerge read the note then referred me to Leo. I actually expected the cold treatment. Fortunately, Leo was more accommodating and recommended that I start work immediately. That jump-started my media career.

I didn’t know that it was the waning weeks of the Cerge-Leo partnership. Just when I was transferred from desk work to the field as City Hall beat reporter in 1991, Leo would be “pirated” by dyRF, leaving Cerge to scramble in looking for a replacement. And weeks after I was designated as news director, Cerge himself left to join politics.

That also marked the beginning of the end of my stint in dyLA. Cerge ran for the congressional post in Cebu City’s north district against the formidable Raul del Mar in 1992. That meant an OIC had to take over as station manager. When Cerge lost his bid, he was not allowed to go back to his dyLA job but was instead assigned to Manila.

Meanwhile, the OIC initiated changes that tended to scuttle dyLA’s reputation as news and public affairs station. Threats of retrenchment followed. I stood by the reporters and vowed to resign if any one of them was fired. When Cerge visited Cebu, he told us to stay put because he was finding ways to return as station manager. But things came to a head fast. I was eventually forced to quit.

When Cerge stood as sponsor in my wedding, memories of my foray into broadcast journalism were receding. I also met him only in rare instances. The linkage would continue to weaken, especially during his stint in Malacañang. But that did not mean my appreciation of him had been scuttled. Reports of his passing yesterday therefore saddened me. May he rest in peace.
(This came out in my January 20, 2010 “Candid Thoughts” column in Sun.Star Cebu)


The Year 2009

January 7, 2010

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. No, I am not referring to the Charles Dickens masterpiece but to 2009 and the country. If this were a kind of travel, this was one hell of a trip for us. Who would have thought that events that happened in the past 12 months would include those that straddled two extremes?

Interestingly, 2009 is in the end part of the first decade of the Third Millennium. I remember us a decade ago welcoming the entry of the new century with all the hoopla and hope attached to major milestones. By the time we reached 2009, however, it became increasingly apparent that we are into more of the same, especially in a country living in a continuing past.

So we may have to accept the reality that the past year and the coming one is not really about the old and the new but is merely, for our country, a continuation of the process of being. But I may have waxed philosophical for several sentences already, so back to the “best of times, worst of times” thing.

Two points stand out in 2009, and I am not talking about the constant, which is the unfortunate way President Arroyo has been handling this country’s affairs and the allegations of corruption hounding her administration. The first point that I may have to start off with is about the worst events of 2009, or should we say events that are worse than the usual “worsts” of past years.

Here, the Maguindanao massacre stands out. The murder of 57 people by members of the powerful Ampatuan clan in Maguindanao is considered the worst election-related violence in the country in decades for several reasons, among them being the brutality of its execution and the number and the kind of personalities executed.

The suspects also included high-ranking officials of local government units, policemen and members of civilian volunteer organizations. The weapons used in the killing and the equipment used in the attempt to hide the crime included government procured firearms and a Maguindanao government-owned back hoe. The victims were women members of a rival clan, two lawyers and 30 journalists.

The worst climate-brought tragedy in decades was the the flooding in Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon in 2009 brought about by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng. Ondoy brought six-feet floods in Metro Manila in only thirty minutes while Pepeng brought about killer landslides in Northern Luzon. Scenes of families huddled in rooftops surrounded by brownish water will remain for long.

Lest I be accused of mentioning only the “worse worsts,” 2009 also provided us with the “better bests.” There was Manny Pacquiao with his masterful performance in defeating some of the world’s renowned boxers in Ricky Hatton of Britain and Miguel Cotto of Puerto Rico. In the process he won an unprecedented seven world titles in seven divisions and became the toast of the boxing world.

And we did produce other heroes that caught international attention, like Efren Peñaflorida, awarded by the international media giant CNN as its Hero of the Year for 2009. Construction worker Muelmar Magallanes, who died while saving 30 people at the height of typhoon Ondoy, was among Time Magazine’s Top 10 Heroes of the year.

We don’t know what 2010 and the new decade will bring us. Elections will be held in May of that year and the hope is that governance will change for the better with the Arroyo administration finally out. The economy? Peace and order? Climate? Let’s just hope for the best.

(I wrote this for my January 1, 2010 “Candid Thoughts” column for Sun.Star Cebu)


Yuletide Perspectives

December 26, 2009

I used to sit alone on top of the Cebu City mountains on moonlit nights just to immerse myself in the vastness of nature. When the terrain is bald, you see the rough hillsides gradually fall down to the darkness that are the rivers and creeks and then rise up again going up to the other peaks. The mystery deepens with the gray of the surrounding.

Above you, the stars, millions of them, assert themselves even with the moon lighting up the usual brooding blue of the sky. The white orb looks flat at first glance, but becomes three-dimensional once probed deeper. The moon has been there through time, titillating limited minds with the inscrutability of its existence. Mine was no different.

Man has always been puny but often wallows in the illusion of power created by its communities. When you are in the metropolis surrounded by man-made structures and gadgetry, you lose sight of the ethereal and the universal. That is why I always cherish the moments when I commune with the earth and the heavens and be other than human.

One of my better recollections of Christmas happened in one of the mountains overlooking the city. In the village called Patayng Yuta nights take over early and the farmers immediately fall prey to its spell, even on Christmas eves. One time, I just decided to climb the hilltop to watch ignited pyrotechnics rise above the city lights.

I could not recall now how long I sat there. The midnight air was biting despite my thick jacket and my alone-ness added to the coldness that permeated the thick mix of grasses, bushes and trees. But time seemed to fly by as my thought drifted from the man-made—the family left behind, city life, etc.—to the profound—nature, God and creation.

I grew up spending my Christmases in the comfort of home and neighbors. In Sitio Kawayan where I grew up, we children would go caroling, light firecrackers or just watch our elders in their festive mood. In that kind of celebration, the communal is the props. And often, the Christ in Christmas is lost in the passing, though we don’t admit it.

At the back of our present home is a hill topped by towers of two telecom firms. I haven’t climbed the hill at night and don’t intend to do it now. Spending a moment alone in the yard tonight and feeling the cold air on the face while watching the stars would be enough to put in perspective this age-old celebration. A Merry Christmas to one and all!

(I wrote this for my December 24, 2009 Candid Thoughts column in Sun.Star Cebu)