The Life of Commander Ivory

Currently, there are still many Hukbalahap militia men who were part of the US troops and followed orders from them but have not been given the proper benefits as a World War 2 Veteran due to lack of papers and I pity them and their families. I just hope someday they can be blessed in return from the suffering and sacrifices they made during that dreadful war in mankind's history.
Recently, I have watched a World War 2 episode in History Channel about the History of War Battle in Manila. It was then that I had an eyewitness of the whole story in that historical disaster created by war between American and Japanese soldiers. Total casualties according to US Army statistics are as follows (estimated):

Japanese: 6,550+
Americans: 1,500+
Filipino civilians: 100,000 (mostly Filipino captives, women and children)

I realized that there were no real heroes from that war. Not even Gen. Douglas Mac Arthur. Even if he has returned here in the Philippines. Still, it was not that triumphant at all. The goal of saving the lives of many Filipinos was rather ironic in the end. Especially the US bombing incident in Intramuros that has too much damage and casualties as indicated in the statistics above. So, what more if we added the casualties in the area of Luzon or even the entire country of the Philippines?

Philippine Hukbalahap Soldiers

My father, Dr. Ernesto Villante Romasanta Sr is an Orthopedic Surgeon and Scientist-4 Researcher based in Oxford University that studied archeological findings based on Darwin's theory. He was sent by Malacañang to Europe and he was the world's first Orhopaedic Surgeon that successfully conducted the world's first successful Scoliosis operation in the 1970's era.

During World War II, he was assigned in the Intelligence unit and Hukbalahap member according to his stories to me when I was still a child. His codename was Commander Ivory and together with an elite team killed Colonel Tanaka, who was one of the most brutal Japanese officer who killed innocent Filipinos, even women and children in Manila during the Japanese occupation. At first, I had a little remorse of what he did but after watching that episode. I believe he was one of our heroes and several Hukbalahap guerrillas at that time who assassinated Japanese officers who had practiced brutality amongst the Filipinos.

Since he was still in his teen years during that time and after the war ended in March, 1945. He even had a chance to go to the hotel room of Gen. Yamashita in Manila Hotel and in the adjacent room was Gen. Douglas Mac Arthur.

Gen. Yamashita treated my father as a "son" to him and he even shined his boots and at the same time was also a close confidante with Gen. Mac Arthur.

After World War 2, he continued his studies and became a resident doctor in Philippine Orthopedic Hospital. This was the time that President Marcos was closely coordinating with my father and he was his Neuro surgeon at that time. That was during the 1970's era and was the highlight of treasure hunting in the Philippines. At that time, everybody was searching for the Yamashita treasure and hoping that they could find it someday. Discovery Channel even made an episode about it. If the treasure was really true or just a myth. Maybe, I will discuss this further in upcoming blog posts if ever. But one fact is for sure, the Japanese planned to make the Philippines as their Central Bank of all the loots (gold, silver and jewelries) that they have gathered during the war that came from other countries and never thought that in due time they will be defeated by the Americans. A plan that was the biggest mistake of their lives.

At that time, many heard that Marcos have dug up several Japanese gold sites and this was placed in the central bank. There was a time that when they were discussing with my father, he has plans to make the Philippines one of the richest country here in Asia. So, they made a plan on what to do. But after a while, the EDSA Revolution happened and Marcos was exiled.

During the Cory administration, US President Reagan wrote her a letter endorsing Dr. Romasanta to be the Secretary of Health at that time but this never happened since there were some lacking documents needed that was in the hands of one of her Cojuangco cousin. This had been a big disappointment on Dr. Romasanta's part which was supposed to lead for him to help the government as planned with former President Marcos.

In the last years of his life, he dedicated giving free services to poor people who cannot afford commercial doctors and those who seek second opinions for his consultation since he was a Fellow member of an elite group of famous doctors around the world. He lived in a simple home in Pasig until his death more than 6 years ago after his birthday in September, 2002.

For me, he is one of the hero not only within the Romasanta clan but in the Philippines. I just made this blog in his memory after watching that episode in History channel that revealed the brutality of war and why the Americans bombarded Intramuros without thinking about the safety of the civilians inside the fort. I saw how the US officers who were interviewed in that episode cried in despair and from guilt but the damage has been done.


Life Story of Commander Ivory, Hukbalahap Guerilla Soldier

In the Memory of Commander Ivory, a Legend in our Hearts

When I was in grade school in Lourdes School, Mandaluyong, my History professor gave us an assignment to ask our parents the experiences they had during World War 2. That evening, when my father arrived from the hospital, I told him about my assignment and he told me to sit down in our sofa and take notes of what he will tell me. That was the moment I finally realized who my father was and he's historical background during the last world war and thought of writing this blog in his memory and to remind his children, grandchildren and the whole Romasanta clan about his achievements and how his achievements can make us all proud.

Education and Career Background

He studied elementary at Epifanio de los Santos Elementary School in 1941 and went back to school by 1949 in San Beda College and FEU. By 1952, he took Associate in Arts (Pre-Med) in University of Sto. Thomas and shifted to Doctor of Medicine up to 1959. He passed the Medical Board Examination by Sept 1959 and started service training in National Orthopedic Hospital by May, 1959 as an Adjunct Resident. His medical career was improving and noticed by Dr. Tamesis, Chief Surgeon of Orthopedic at that time until he was promoted as Medical Specialist-1 by July 1971 up to 1977. Until he became a Consultant for three hospitals in Manila namely: De Los Santos Medical Center, Capitol Medical Center and Sta. Teresita Hospital from 1977 to 1987. He became a FELLOW in the Philippine Orthopedic Association and the Western Pacific Orthopedic Association. Aside from this he was also a FELLOW in Orthopedic and Traumatology.

Since his medical career has been improving in the following years, his wide scope of expertise as an Orthopedic surgeon has been known in local and international medical institutions (UK, US, Swiss, Japan, etc.) and was been in the list of a magazine entitled: Top 100 Most Important Persons in the World. I think I don't have to put all the fields of his expertise here and it may take much space of this blog.

Scholarship Grants was awarded to him by the British government as follows:

Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Hospital (Orthopedic), London
Subject: Scoliosis Management 7 Advancement

Royal National Orthopedic Hospital
, London
Subject: Scoliosis, Review (50 years follow-up) Conservative and Surgical

University of Berlin, Germany
Subject: Review of Surgical Instrumentation in Scoliosis and Other Spinal Conditions, Metal Metallurgy and Sylastical Implants

Sta. Monica Hospital - Piebra, Ligure, Italy
Subject: Conservative Management in Scoliosis

British Museum of Natural History, London
Subject: Physical Anthropolgy, Ancient Diseases of the Skeletal System, "Foramen Magnum Shift" in Evolution of Man from 45 Degrees - Homo Erectus (180 Degrees)

From 1978-1979, he was trained for the following:

Land, Air and Sea Rescue Missions in Clark Air Base and Subic
Advance Cardiac Resuscitation, West Virginia
Jungle Warfare, Clark Air Base
Germ and Gas Warfare, Clark Air Base
Quarantine: Disease Control Program, World Health Organization
Swiss Advancement on Total Hip Replacement (No Metal)

He was awarded HONORARIUM in the Royal College of Surgeon and in the British Association of Physical Anthropology in 1971-72. He received plaques on his Philippine Medical missions here in the Philippines such as the Southern Island, Majayjay, Laguna, Nueva Ecija and Ilocos Norte to name a few.

The Born of Commander Ivory as a Hukbalahap Soldier

During World War II, he joined the ROTC Hunters from 1942-43 as a Courier in the Manila-Bulacan zone and in 1943 to 1944, he has been am active member of the Hukbalahap's Liquidation Squad (a.k.a. Commander Ivory) that was based here in Manila. This was the time that they plotted the assassination of Colonel Tanaka, a notorious Japanese official who have raped many innocent Filipina women and killed civilians  without mercy. As a teenager at that time, he went behind the car door where Colonel Tanaka was seated and shot all the bullets of his .45 caliber pistols all in the face. While two of his comrades shot the two soldiers at the back of the car all at the same instance.

During this period, he was also a member of the Chinese 13th Squadron from 1943-45 delegated as the Coordinator in the Laguna region. From 1943 to 1945, he was assigned as a Runner-Courier here in Manila by the USAFFE and was classified as "Deserving".

Commander Ivory a.k.a. "Tony Boy" Romasanta

On instances that I was brought by my Dad in Malacañang, I remember how President Marcos calls him: "Tony Boy, how are you? Let us talk in the other room." This was the name that President Marcos used to call him for a meeting in Malacañang. At the same time he was the Neurosurgeon of the President and usually checked his health condition that has been part of dad's routine when they meet personally. 

After he resigned in National Orthopedic Hospital in the late 70's, regular meetings developed between the two and Dad started to focus on joint-venture projects with the President and these were kept highly confidential. There were two top military officials who were also present in their meetings and they formed a "Council" that has been the key team that are authorized to check on project updates or when reports are sent by Dad to the President and vice versa. Close door meetings were always held in secrecy and it lasted for a few years. This was the time I remembered that I always had bodyguards even in school and I was not in favor of that situation. Dad has been issued by the government a license to kill that can be use for self-defense or eradicate any outside force who tries to delay their business activities in any manner. During the Marcos administration, he was been assigned as an FBI Consultant since he provides confidential information and the FBI Director at that time visited him personally.

After the EDSA People Revolution

During the term of Pres. Corazon Aquino, my father went to private practice and continued to provide free medical missions and consultation sessions for the less privileged people. Most of the time, our visitors are usually foreigners and have high designations from their origins. They have been discussing important topics and issues and mostly consulted my father's advice.

To be able to serve more Filipino people, he tried to fill an open position of the Aquino administration as Secretary of Health but the Cory did not give any consideration to check on this and had been telling dad that he's papers are with Mr. Peping Cojuangco. The problem with a President that has no political experience or even to review a simple resume to analyze a person's achievements and appoint him or not in that instant. But she has to confide with too many of her advisers until my dad lost interest on his goal.

US President Ronald Reagan's Endorsement

This was the time that the White House reacted and US President Ronald Reagan sent Mrs Aquino a signed letter tagged as "High Priority" dated June 14, 1987 and was delivered to Malacañang on June 15, 1987, indicating that he was personally endorsing a list of people (5) to be in her presidential list and dad was number 1 position as Secretary of Health since he knew my father's achievements and the goal of improving the health issues of our country at that time. Further stated is that President Reagan knew that dad's papers are in the possession of Mr. Peping Cojuangco and was just waiting for her immediate perusal. It ended with a note that the US is in full support with the Aquino administration.

So, you cannot blame me if I cannot consider Cory Aquino to be a hero knowing this background experience of how she handles situations in a small scale and she never responded to it. It is evident that all decisions did not come from her but from her cabinet members.

Last Years Spent in Free Medical Mission and Family Bonding

In spite of what happened with former President Cory Aquino, my father continued his medical mission in his own little way by whatever resources he can just provide in handling patients who cannot afford expensive doctor's fees. He has been helping numerous patients during the last years of his life. He was disappointed at times because of the limited resources he had.

In the contrary, this was the time I got the chance to bond with my father intimately and for longer periods which never happened when I was still a child due to the busy schedules he had as a doctor. He was suppose to be the next Orthopedic Chief after Dr. Tamesis but he quit his job and endorsed Dr. Dueñas, who was his top student at that time. I tried to ask him why he decided to do that but his answer was "political reason" and that's it. During that time, even if we are in family outings, he had to leave soon if he got emergency calls from the hospital. I guess this was the reason why we siblings never had the interest to take up Medicine in the first place.

"We miss you Dad and Mom..."

Dr. Ernesto Villante Romasanta Sr.,
M.D., F.P.O.A., A.A., B.S.A., F.W.P.O.A., F.R.C.S.

Born: September 2, 1930
Mother: Doña Torribia Villante Romasanta
Father: Pedro Romasanta


Were All World War 2 Veterans Really Got Compensated?

After hearing the news in CNN confirming that World War II veterans can now get their benefits or lump sum money from the United States after a bill has been approved. Personally, it was really good news to hear that World War 2 veterans, especially here in the Philippines have finally got what they have hoped for. After waiting for decades for this great opportunity to materialize since World War 2 ended.

The question is that, were all the war veterans have been really compensated? What if they lack the papers or evidence that were required before they are given such benefit? Well, that is another big question and issue these veterans must face.

Hukbalahap Guerrillas - Are They Covered?

I know that some of the veterans, especially those who were with the HUKBALAHAP (Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa mga Hapon) have not been considered to receive such benefit. Those who were entitled must have been enlisted in the US Military or USAFFE and they possess their US Military ID to present.

For those Hukbalahap guerrillas who have been fighting in the mountains and in the city proper that has served as Information Officers or Couriers were used by US Military Officers in the mid-part of the war and after the war, they were not been officially enlisted in the US Military office that is why they were not compensated up to this time. But still they have served a great part of rescuing American soldiers and officers during World War 2 and their fighting skills were amazing. If ever their stories got the chance to be heard but most of them have died and it was never been published.

The worst part here is that they were even been accused as hoax or having a false identity and making up stories. I really pity these old people since most of them lived poorly in different parts of our country.

There was a time when my father, Dr. Ernesto V. Romasanta Sr. gathered all their applications that he submitted in the US and hoping that these applications may be re-considered as US beneficiaries as World War 2 veterans and that happened early 2000 and two years after that my father has died.

A Glimpse of an Accomplishment by Hukbalahap Guerrillas

From my previous postings, I mentioned that Dad had been a Hukbalahap guerilla (a.k.a. Commander Ivory) who killed the notorious Japanese officer, Colonel Tanaka in Manila downtown area and this event was one of the greatest assassination plot in World War 2 history here in the Philippines that was carefully planned by Hukbalahap guerrillas, together with a US Military officer. Since Colonel Tanaka was one of the most notorious Japanese officer who killed thousands of women, children and US military personnel during World War 2.

Assassination Plot for Colonel Tanaka

It happened in Manila, where Colonel Tanaka used to drink in a bar and the group planned the assassination plot through a 1 month surveillance led by Commander Ivory (Dad). Everyday, Colonel Tanaka was in this local bar in the afternoon accompanied by two Japanese soldiers who stayed in the car while Colonel Tanaka is inside the bar to drink.
During the day of assassination, Commander Ivory, who was in his early teens during that time and two other Hukabalahap lookouts started the plot and waited for the exact hour when Colonel Tanaka started to go out of the bar and sat at the front seat of his vehicle beside the driver seat. Commander Ivory approached the vehicle from behind the back of the car and went to the spot where he can see the face of Colonel Tanaka seating at the front passenger seat. He started to pull out his .45 caliber handgun and aimed the gun right in front of the Colonel's face and started firing shots until he consumed all the bullets from his handgun. While this was happening, two of his comrades who were lookouts (boys ages 9-12 years old) went to the back of the vehicle and after hearing the first shot that rang out from Dad's gun, they started firing at the two Japanese soldiers and emptied their handguns as instructed, killing the two soldiers on the spot.

After confirming that Colonel Tanaka is dead and the assassination plot was successful, the ladies from the adjacent bar where Colonel Tanaka used to drink, grabbed all of the boys, looked around the street and saw no one in site and started to bring the boys inside the bar and pointed them a way out in the back to escape unnoticed. The ladies even gave them food to bring during their escape.

The news spread out in the neighborhood very fast and all of them were celebrating in silence. They tried to know who did the assassination plot by asking the ladies who helped them eradicate Colonel Tanaka. But they remained silent and told them they never knew who killed Colonel Tanaka and just saw him dead when they went out the bar. They were eager to know who it was because they wanted to thank whoever it was who did the assassination  because they have helped them serve justice to thousands of victims being murdered by this Japanese officer and some of them have been members of their family.

But they never knew who he was until now that I have made this story public since my father is gone too. I just don't know if anyone of those who knew that event would have the chance to read this blog and finally knew who was their hero at that time. I guess it was just time to share this untold story in memory of my father. I believe that at this point, it was time to tell one of his heroic deed that has never been told since World War II ended.