Address: BHS Museum of History
No. 06, Rizal Ave. (MacArthur Hi-way),
Brgy. Lourdes, Bamban, Tarlac C2317 Philippines
Cell No. 0063-908-915-0686, 0063-922-280-1271
Last Updated: June 21, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009


May 24, 2009
By: Joshua Little John Dela Cruz

During the Second World War, thousands of young soldiers from the far county of rural America answered the call of their nation and enlisted in the military. As young as eighteen years old, these men and women were drafted and sent to far away places like the Philippines which were almost unknown to them. Some were anxious as to what lie ahead of them in the fiercest battle against the Japanese who occupied the islands for more than three years. Of course, they were fighting for America but they were also to give the ultimate sacrifice to liberate the Filipinos from the clout of the Japanese invaders. At the beginning of battle of Luzon campaign, with Bamban and Bamban Hills protecting the Japanese defenses, two American infantry divisions; the 40th and the 37th were poised to wrestle the fanatic Japanese army and navy forces. Another three American divisions would follow suit in order to eliminate the remaining Japanese forces holed up in the crevices of the Bamban mountains and deep into the Zambales mountains With the aftermath of the campaign in the hills and ridges pockmarked with hundreds upon hundreds of tunnels that were meant to delay the American advance to liberate Manila and the other areas, more than two thousand American soldiers gave their lives in order to give Filipinos their liberty from the then enemy. In one of the intense battles with the fanatical Japanese soldiers hiding in the numerous holes in the mountains of Bamban, Private First Class William H. Thomas, 149th Infantry, 38th Division received the highest military award for bravery; the Congressional Medal of Honor after eliminating Japanese positions until his last bullet and grenade expended while suffering from massive wounds due to grenades hurled against him by the well-entrenched enemies.

Every last Monday of the month of May, Americans commemorates the US men and women who died while in the military duty. This is known as Memorial Day and it encompass all those who died in the action against enemy, much like what had happened in the Battle of Bamban Hills. JCI Bamban Kayabe in partnership with the Bamban Historical Society participates in the annual commemoration of the Memorial Day in memory of those American soldiers from the 40th, 43rd, 38th and 6th Divisions who died in the Battle of Bamban Hills and the Zambales mountains.

JCI Rhonie C. Dela Cruz, the immediate past president of the JCI Bamban Kayabe and the only credible local historical of Bamban; a researcher and field explorer in the real sense, narrates how American soldiers as mentioned above fought the Japanese along side with the local Bruce Guerilla of Bamban and the Aeta Squadron 30 in fierce engagements against the Japanese holding up in the mountain positions locked up in numerous crevices and tunnels dug from the hard sandstone of the Bamban Hills.

A delegation was created and composed of twelve members with JCI Rhonie Dela Cruz himself as the Committee Chairman with his position as concurrent president of the Bamban Historical Society. The delegation was warmly welcomed by no less than the director of the US Department of Veterans Affairs; Jon Skelly along with the vice-president of the American Chamber of Commerce and high-ranking officer of Filipino-American Memorial Endowment, Inc. (FAME); Mrs. Leslie Murray. Various dignitaries and diplomats from various foreign embassies attended the event. The Philippines was represented by Lt. Gen. Yano, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The Bamban Kayabe delegation was joined by the Junior Chamber International Philippines’ national officers headed by the National President, Fulbert Woo and Glendo Dasmarinas. A wreath dedicated to the dead American soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the Philippines was presented by JCI Bamban Kayabe along with the JCI Philippines and various organizations.

The United States of America, represented by the ambassador, Honorable Kristie Kenney, gave her speech reminding everyone about the sacrifice of the American soldiers and all those in the military serving in various services. She also thanked all those participating organizations like the JCI Bamban Kayabe for such a worthy endeavor in remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the liberation of our country.

After the event, Ambassador Kristie Kenney joined the delegation of the JCI Bamban Kayabe and personally thanked the group for their active participation on all historical commemorations like the Memorial Day and the Veterans’ Day. After the ceremony, JCI Bamban Kayabe joined various officials and head of organizations and took souvenir photos, highlighting that freedom is not free; as in this case, the lives of young American soldiers were given so that a new Philippines will be borne in the aftermath of the Second World War.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

JCI Bamban/BHS Veterans’ Week Observance

By AnacBamban

We at the JCI Bamban Kayabe/BHS firmly believe that our veterans of WWII deserve the highest respect and admiration for their sacrifice and love of freedom in their fight against foreign invaders. The names of these veterans be their Commonwealth Army (USAFFE), Philippine Scouts, or USAFFE and Hukbalahap guerillas etched in the history of our struggle as a nation must be remembered, the living and the dead. Theirs is a legacy of heritage that must be calculated in the heart and spirit of our generation. It is in the concept of historical and cultural paramount that the organization, the Bamban Historical Society was created and established. Hence, it is just fitting that such Veterans’ Week, the 67th Anniversary of the Araw ng Kagitingan be celebrated and observed by us in the highest form of participation.

JCI Bamban Kayabe, with its sister organization, the Bamban Historical Society, earmarked three special projects for the Veterans’ Week. Operation Bayang Matangkilik has been launched as a brainchild of Rhonie Dela Cruz, himself a product of veteran family. Coordinating with the Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor and concerned government agencies, a delegation was sent to Mt. Samat on April 7, 2009 where the Shrine of Valor (Dambana ng Kagitingan) is located. That big cemented cross overlooking the whole Bataan Peninsula symbolizing the extreme battlefields between Filipino-American forces against the Japanese invading army in 1942. In the end of the battle for Bataan, more than 70,000 Filipino-American soldiers were surrendered to General Homma. The aftermath is what is now known as the Bataan Death March; a 120 kilometer march without food, water, and medicines for the dying soldiers and battle-weary and hungry prisoners of war from Mariveles, Bataan to San Fernando, Pampanga. The march started from April 10, 1942 up to April 15; or a minimum of three-day march. From the train station of San Fernando, the prisoners were cramped in hot, steel box car and were transported to Capas, Tarlac. From the train station, another eight kilometers of March of Death endured the prisoners. Along the route of the Death March were silent massacres conducted by the Japanese guards against helpless prisoners. However, the earth open up and Hell Hole sprouted from the former USAFFE encampment that was Camp O’Donnell. More than twenty six thousand Filipino prisoners and five thousand Americans died at O’Donnell.

The delegation was warmly welcomed by various veteran organizations like the Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor. US Ambassador to the Philippines, Kristie Kenney and Director of the US Department of Veterans Affairs Jon Skelly joined the delegation during the ceremony. The next day, April 8, 2009, JCI Bamban Kayabe/BHS sent another delegation to the Capas National Shrine, site of the former Hell Hole O’Donnell for a sacred observance of the Araw ng Kagitingan. The delegation brought the surviving veterans of Bamban and their families. During the ceremony, no less than Usec. Ernesto Carolina of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, Mr. Johnson of the office of the US Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and Tarlac Governor Vic Yap joined the JCI Bamban delegation. Atty. Rafael Evangelista, National Commander of the Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor thanked the delegation for the support and participation and most importantly, the sincerity in promoting the legacy and heritage of our veteran-heroes of WWII.

In the final program of the JCI Bamban Kayabe, an exhibit for WWII was launched at the foot of the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, the site of the 40th Division Memorial on April 8 (Holy Wednesday) in the afternoon up to April 9 (Good Friday). The exhibit shows images and photographic mural of the Battle of Bamban in 1945 (Liberation) with the Filipino, American, and Japanese military during the campaign and the town as it was ravaged by the result of the great battles for the control of Bamban Hills and Clark. Hundreds of visitors and tourists went to the exhibit hall inside the memorial and were impressed with the collections as a portal to the history of the place that was as sacred to the pilgrims as to the Filipino, American, and Japanese soldiers who shed blood and tears in that place called Grotto, Hill 500, and Hoshino-yama.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Melencio Figueroa (26th Cavalry, PS)

March 20, 2009

Joshua Little John Dela Cruz

On January 30 (Friday) 2009, on the eve of the Bamban Fiesta, the bust of Melencio Figueroa, a local hereo of WWII belonging in the famous 26th Cavalry Philippine Scouts, was finally erected in the premise of the BHS Bamban Museum of History. Members of the BHS, headed by Luisito Caguiat, finally put the finishing touches of painting gold on the support base of the bust. Family members of the late cavalryman from barrio Banaba donated the bust in response to the request of the BHS president last year. Bill Asprec, nephew of Melencio, worked with a famous Kapampangan sculptor in Balibago, Angeles City for the making of the bust.

It is the wish of the Bamban Historical Society to immortalize the legacy of our veteran-heroes, in the name of the late Melencio Figueroa by setting up bust statue for their remembrance in fighting for liberty, love of country and extreme sacrifice in order for the present and future generations of Bambanense be proud of their veterans’ heritage.

A simple, yet striking short information on his life (as provided by his younger brother Domingo Figueroa) is etched in the base of the bust, as written:

"Melencio M. Figueroa. Pvt, Serial No. l0 306 261, U. S. Army

Company B, 26th Cavalry Regiment, Philippine Scouts

Enlisted on February 27, 1941 at Fort Stotsenberg, Philippines and sworn into service with the U.S. Army by C. R. Bowers, 1st Lt, 26th Cavalry (PS).

Records of the U. S. Army Archives show that Pvt Melencio Figueroa was listed "Missing in Action" as of 7 May 1942, following the surrender of Corregidor, Philippine Islands. Following reports on 7 May 1943 as continued missing in action, War Department AGO (Adjutant General Office) records show Finding of Death substantiates the presumptive date of death as 31st day of March 1946, U. S. Army War Department records state that , after substantial review, it was determined that evidence does not exist to contradict a finding of non-recoverability of remains for Pvt. Melencio Figueroa. "

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Rhonie Dela Cruz

After more than a year of extensive study and evaluation, the BHS Bamban Museum of History has been finally completed its first phase of renovation and was re-opened with new exhibits and memorial. The development of the museum which was first opened in September 2005 was initiated by both the Bamban Historical Society and its partner organization, the JCI Bamban Kayabe. Both members of the organization headed by Rhonie Dela Cruz conducted research subjects related to Bamban and its people and geography to complement the already existing exhibits. Some of the improvement are the following:

-New directional and sign boards.
-New painting scheme of the museum.
-Installation of tiled roof on the wall mural.
-Installation of ceiling fans inside the Macario Dela Cruz Hall.
-Installation of ceiling fan in the nipa hut.
-Erection of the 40th, 43rd, and 38th Division US Army Memorial for Bamban Campaign in WWII.
-Erection of the Lt. James H. Hart and S/Sgt. Eugene P. Zingheim Memorial (194th Tank Battalion, Squadron 101 Luzon Guerrilla Force)
-Erection of Bamban Battalion Bruce Guerrilla and Philippine Scouts Memorial of Bamban.
-The Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Photo Mural consisting of two wall exhibits.
-Various additional WWII photo and Filipino-American War (1899) exhibits.

The additional improvements were carried out by both the organizations with the help of the family of Marshall and Joan Skiff of New York (formerly of the 38th Division US Army who fought in Bamban), and the Defenders Bataan and Corregidor through its founder; Col. Rafael Estrada (retired). However, majority of the funds (90 %) came from its president of both the organizations. Additional research materials were provided by Prof. Rico T. Jose; dean of History Department, University of the Philippines in Dilimian, Quezon City and Prof. Lino Dizon of the Center for Tarlaquenos Study, Tarlac State University in Tarlac, Tarlac. Large numbers of research materials were purchased from the United States and Japan consisting of war diaries and numerous books that are related to Bamban through the help of Karon Thomas (daughter of former Sgt. Guy Cumbo of the 40th Division who led the liberation of Bamban) and Romel Dela Cruz, the vice-president of BHS who is originally based in Yokohama, Japan. BHS/JCI Bamban Kayabe members provided the important role in field research and actual construction and renovations of the museum led by Romel Dela Cruz and assisted by Alex Narciso, Buddy Carino, Bill Asprec, Luisito Caguiat, Rey Ariston, Oliver Tuazon, Eugene Pineda, Jose Sibal, Noli Dizon, and Leonor Dela Cruz.

On Tuesday, September 16, 2008, the re-opening of the Bamban Museum of History was carried out with various delegations and visitors, led by Vice-Mayor Hon. Fred Lumboy. The family of Pvt. Melencio Figueroa (26th Cavalry, Philippine Scouts) was present to turn-over the medals of the veteran who died fighting in the beaches of Corregidor on April 1942. Simultaneously, the various memorials were dedicated as mentioned during the event. It was an historic moment! Though the museum is now open to the public, the historical society will continue to pursue further research for additional information and conduct field and site investigation for a continued and sustained development of the museum.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


23 July 2008 BHS Museum of History

This project being undertaken by JCI Bamban Kayabe/BHS is intended for elementary students from Grade 3 to Grade 6 to foster their understanding of local history and culture by bringing them out-of-school tours to local museum and other historical and cultural sites of the town. The Junior Chamber International - Philippines, the national organization of young leaders and entrepreneurs, as part of its scope of national programs, has in its manual for local chapters, the awards for Youth Education Program which requires a program for young students for out-of-classroom tours that will improve their study.

Under this scheme, the JCI Bamban Kayabe/BHS initated the program "Pasyal Bata". The first beneficiary of this program were Grade 3 to Grade 6 students from Sto. Nino Academy. Aside from the usual museum tour, documentary film was shown to the young students covering the actual combat film of the Liberation of Bamban by the 40th Division (US Army) taken on January 23, 1945. The students were briefed by the president of the organization and assisted by Eugene Pineda. Local heroes consisting of the veterans of WWII from Bamban which are in the exhibit hall were presented to the visitors. Most of them however, are related to the veteran-heroes. In addition, they were educated about the Aetas, their culture and history and how these aborigines played in the history of our town.

It took more than two hours of "Pasyal Bata" touring for the students. At the end of the tour, a more and vivid understanding of local history and culture, plus the story of WWII in Bamban has been achieved by these young students who will be the future leaders of our town.

Rhonie Dela Cruz
With Eugene Pineda


23 December 2007 to 20 July 2008
Sitio Sta. Rosa, Bamban

Pan Paruman (Roman Sanches) is already 91 years old. An old guerrilla warrior belonging to Squadron 30, Bruce Guerilla (South Tarlac Military District), he cherish the ancestral land that
occupies most of the Aeta domain in Sitio Sta. Rosa. This upland areas of Bamban covering more than 10,000 hectares has been granted by the Government as ancestral domain with the issuance of CADC 107 sometime in 1997. What makes this particular land of Pan Paruman different from other Aeta domain in Bamban? It is here where you can still find local aquatic turtles, snakes, and other wildlife specie like monitor lizards. And there is a reason for other Aetas and "unats" to fear should they threaten to hunt and get "barag", turtles, even wild chickens.

The area is the site of Tiayag, a protruding cliff-like hill which dominates the lower, north-west portion of Sta. Rosa where the Marimla River traverse. The sound of the gushing waters of Marimla with hundreds of rocks on the riverbanks is there to appreciate what a beautiful landscape is Tiayag. Pan Paruman has its shed built on the dominating riverbank where you can see the Marimla snaking on circuitous routes on the enchanted Tiayag. Historically, the site was an escape route of the Aeta Squadron 30 along with other Bruce Guerrilla units such as the Bamban Battalion.

Pan Paruman has been a long friend of the Bamban Jaycees/BHS members. Having known the old warrior for sometime, he gave his vision of a wildlife sanctuary where young generation of Bamban can see the wildlife of Tiayag, like the aquatic turtles gently display themselves on the banks of Marimla and Tiayag Creek. The idea is worth an endeavor for the Bamban Kayabe. On December 23, 2007, a Committee for the particular project was created and tasked to do the job of creating a sanctuary for the wildlife of Tiayag, Sitio Sta. Rosa. Jose Marie Sibal, or Joy as we call him, was chosen as the Committee Chairman. Joy has the blood of the Aeta running in his veins. His mother, Carmelita Gutierrez, is the daughter of Marcelo (Apung Selu) Guiterrez originally from Sta. Juliana, Capas, Tarlac. Her father who worked before as the Municipal Planning and Development officer in Bamban, belonged to the Aberling Tribe; a mix Aeta and Zambal. Pan Paruman conducted a ritual to appeas the Deity living in the area. The cliff-like hill of Tiayag, according to him, is where the spirit of "Tiayag" lives, looking after any human who hunt or get turtles, "barag", or any wildlife animals living in the area. For such violation, sickness, or even death, can come to the person.

Survey of the land as designated by Pan Paruman has been conducted for several occassions. It is situated on a small plateau near the riverbanks of the Marimla, about 200 meters away his shed. However, turtles hibernate on hot climate days of March through May. His sons helped the team to evaluate and made assesment as to the population density of the turtles. This is very important since non-Aetas, particularly the Kapampangans living in the vicinity of the Aeta domain considered turtles as delicacies. Streamers were put on the village of Sta. Rosa for the preservation of such wildlife in the area.

Rainy season came in full bloom in the month of June. Waters from the numerous small creeks came cascading down from the Tiayag Hill and nearby ridges of Mabilog. By July, turtles can already bee seen "sun-bathing" on the edges of the riverbanks. Plans were made to set-up a screen premises where you can put several turtles which is near the small creeks. Several visits were made by the Team. On July 20, four such premises were established on the designated sites as given by Pan Paruman. About 13 members of the Bamban Kayabe/BHS with five of Pan Paruman's grandsons participated in collecting turtles and putting them in the premises. It is a small work for the preservation of wildlife, but a giant achievement for the ecology and distinct environment of the Aetas, for the generation of Bambanense and Aetas to see the spectacular wildlife at Taiyag.

Rhonie Dela Cruz
With Pan Paruman and his Aeta Tribe

Friday, August 1, 2008


American Cemetery
Fort Bonifacio, Taguig, Manila

Americans celebrate their annual Memorial Day on May 30 in commemoration for its citizens who served in the military particularly WWII, Korean, Vietnam War, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Hope - Afghanistan. The mother organization, the Bamban Historical Society, has been a constant participant to this solemn event. BHS represent those Filipinos and American soldiers who fought in the liberation of Bamban and the Battle of Bamban Hills whose units composed the 40th, 38th, 43rd, and 6th Divisions covering the period of 1945 until the end of the war in August.

In 2004, Bamban Historical Society erected the 40th Division (US Army) Liberation Memorial on the foot on Hill 500 (Grotto, Bantiti, Hoshinoyama) in commemoration of the liberation and subsequent of Battle of Bamban Hills by said unit. In July 2007, JCI Bamban Kayabe was established from the core component members of BHS. From 2005 till the last annual Memorial Day, JCI Bamban Kayabe/BHS members participated in the US Memorial celebration at the sacred grounds of the American Cemetery. Flower wreaths are being offered in remembrance of those who served by Bamban Kayabe/BHS especially for those American divisions who participated and gave their lives for liberty of the Bambanense.

Another project being undertaken by Bamban Kayabe/BHS is the TARLAC POW MEMORIAL MARKER, the site of the American prisoners of war (POW) enclosure at Tarlac where the general and other high-ranking officers from colonel to generals were separated and imprisoned covering the period May to mid-August 1942. A tarpaulin photo exhibit of the American POWs' at Tarlac taken in 1942 was presented during the memorial day. BHS will cooperate with other concerned organizations like the Filipino-American Memorial Endownment (FAME), PNP Camp Macabulos Administration, the Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, and the National Historical Institute.

Among the American delegates participating in the annual Memorial Day are Ambassador Kristie Kenney, Leslie Murray (FAME/AMCHAM), Robert Sears (AAP), and Jon Skelly (USDVA), to cite a few. In the light of the Jaycee Creed upholding development for international relations like the US, we will continue to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and to those who participated in the liberation of Bamban.

Rhonie Dela Cruz