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DVD Documentary: “Unsurrendered—100 Voices" (Read 7650 times)
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DVD Documentary: “Unsurrendered—100 Voices"
Mar 08th, 2009, 1:47pm
DVD Documentary: “Unsurrendered—100 Voices"
Produced by Peter Parsons and Lucky Guilermo
Reviewed by J. Michael Houlahan

Peter Parsons and Lucky Guilermo have produced an excellent, often inspiring, documentary chronicling World War II mainly through the eyes of men and women who took part in the guerrilla movement against the Japanese following the surrender of the USAFFE troops in April and May 1942.  As the title implies, the story is told through footage from that period and the videotaped interviews with 100 who took an active part in the resistance.  There is no narrator, so the veterans of nearly three traumatic years of guerrilla combat tell the story unedited and in their own voices.  This was a fortunate production decision, as it lends enhanced credibility and poignancy to the tale.  

The resistance was massive, with an estimated 300,000 guerrillas and their auxiliaries taking part.  The effort was primarily Filipino.  Of the approximately 400 American military evading capture or escaping from the Death March, approximately half died of disease, starvation or Japanese action during the first six months.  About half of those remaining played an active role with various guerrilla groups.  Most who evaded death during those first six months, survived the war.  All of those Americans credited the bravery and loyalty of the Filipino people for their survival.

Overall casualties among the mostly Filipino resistance movement were huge and in the early months particularly heavy as the guerrillas were lightly armed and not yet sophisticated in unconventional warfare.  

The movement grew progressively more powerful, as more and more Filipinos joined, alienated by a continuous string of Japanese atrocities.  They were greatly aided when General McArthur authorized a fleet of twenty submarines to bring tons of supplies to guerrilla groups on the main Philippine islands.  The man in charge of organizing this was Peter Parsons’ father, Cmdr. Chick Parsons, a Manila businessman and naval reserve office.   The submarines delivered up to 100 tons of arms, ammunition, food, medicine, radios, money, cigarettes and propaganda material per visit.  They also brought in small commando and coast watcher units and evacuated wounded guerrillas, as well as rescued American pilots shot down by the Japanese and some allied civilians caught in the war zone.  Without such support, a massive resistance would have been impossible.

Sadly, the Japanese were not the only hurdle faced by many of the guerrilla groups.  Several of them engaged in repeated and violent turf battles.  Some of the groups turned to banditry and had to be suppressed.  And often there were clashes between USAFFE guerrilla groups, frequently under American command, and Hukbalahap squadrons, which were mostly (but not entirely) communist-led.  Indeed, as the documentary points out, a few units spent more effort in battling each other than in fighting the Japanese.  

Another problem was the relatively small number of informants, who betrayed fellow Filipinos to the Japanese, especially as efforts to suppress guerrilla activities became more violent and less discriminating as the occupation wore on.  These traitors sometimes acted out of pro-Japanese sentiment, but more frequently were opportunists seeking rewards or settling old grudges.

Some of the highlights of this DVD were the pre-war footage of Manila, the “Pearl of the Orient”; the largely unreported history of the massive resistance resupply efforts by submarine; survival for the three years before liberation; the country-wide attack on the Japanese launched four days before General MacArthur’s liberation army landed; and interviews with individual guerrilla group leaders, including Philippine Scout Officers Ed Ramsey and Bob Lapham (the latter now deceased).

To obtain this 103 minute DVD in the U.S., send a $30 check, made out to Peter Parsons,
6960 Magnolia Ave; Suite 200, Riverside, CA 92506.  In the Philippines it can be purchased at La Solidaridad Book Store in the Ermita area or by mail through sending a 750 peso check to Peter at 309 Ambuklao Rd., Baguio City 2600.  (The high cost in the U.S. is due to a recent doubling in Philippine international postal rates.)  Peter Parsons can be contacted by email at

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