After the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on December 7, 1941, the Philippines hastily set up its defense system against the Japanese juggernaut – to no avail. Its troops consisting of US and Filipino soldiers were trapped in a peninsula called Bataan and were forced to surrender against a numerically inferior enemy. Afterwards they were herded to a concentration camp hundreds of miles away in Manila in a gruelling death march that saw thousands dying either from hunger, sheer exhaustion or from the Japanese bayonet.
In the island of Leyte, its political and military leaders at first resolved to fight against the Japanese. But when the latter landed, the said leaders retracted and then surrendered. But a few lower-ranked officers did not. They organized guerrilla units and established their headquarters in the mountains.
In the meantime, a high military official who was a native of Leyte, also surrendered to the Japanese in Mindanao and became a member of the Japanese Bureau of Constabulary. He later “escaped” from the Japanese concentration camp in Butuan province, took a small sailboat to Leyte and joined a notorious local guerrilla unit in the southern part of the island. A few months later, he started to assume the leadership of the guerrilla movement in the island – much to the chagrin of the original unsurrendered officers.
This book is about the rivalry of these guerrilla groups in a deadly struggle for power that impaired their capacity to fight against their true enemies. A lingering question hangs: Was that high military official a Japanese spy? It is up to the reader to make his conclusion.