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Home Articles Feature Story Pacifico Fajilan - The Journey Of An Icon

Pacifico Fajilan - The Journey Of An Icon

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by Teresita Eden Fajilan


Facifico Fajilan

PACIFICO FRONDA FAJILAN, born in Corcuera, Romblon, Philippines. His real birthday is a big question. He only heard from his parents that he was born during World War I. His parents didn't have any birth records when he started school. All the kids were asked to put their right hands over their heads and if they could touch their ears on the left side then they were accepted into school. Guess that meant they were old enough--5 years or so.


When he joined the service, he had to pick a false date for his birthday, so he would be old enough to join the service. September 7, 1919 sounded pretty good and made him eligible. He joined the Philippine Scouts and was in Bataan when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Philippine Scouts USA established a line of defense to Mabatang, Bataan when they were also attacked at Clark Field. They were ordered to clear the enemy at Anyasan Point and after surviving daily bombings, had to withdraw but was captured and began the Bataan Death March.


Hiking 80 miles without food or water was early military experience for Sgt. Pacifico F. Fajilan. He saw many comrades fell and bayoneted to death. Some escaped into the cane fields only to be shot. Some were lucky to escape. Along the highway, civilians called names of their loved ones and threw food at the marching POWs. After three days, they reached San Fernando and Pacifico was put on a truck to Camp O'Donnell and assigned to Group 9. It was the first time he received food: a bowl of rice and a can of water. That night they slept head to foot and an older man asked him to give a message to his family, but he fell asleep.

Bataan Death March. Click here to read related narrative.


Bataan Death March casualties.

The next morning, he woke up the old man only to find out that he was dead. They were then given instructions to carry dead comrades for burial. They wrapped them in blankets and threw them into a big hole.


For 96 days, he was interned in Camp O'Donnell. Pacifico was assigned to a suicide squad in the Philippine Scouts when Corregidor fell. While there, he contracted malaria, beri-beri and dysentery. He was excused from his duty and was in near death but was saved by a guava sprout he saw; he ate its dirt and all.


He was scheduled to be set free in the next few months when his brother Johnny Fajilan, a lieutenant with the guerrillas went to sign for his release. He was sent home, but instead he joined a guerrilla band and operated an intelligence section in the city of Rizal, attacking Japanese supply installations. Rizal was occupied by the Japanese and Pacifico barely escaped capture several times. At one time the guerrilla headquarters was raided by the Japanese only minutes before it had been abandoned. For the remainder of the war the guerrilla group remained active and continued to attack Japanese supply installations. Two days before the liberation of the Philippines, his brother Johnny Fajilan, was executed by the Japanese.


When Manila was liberated by the US Air Force, he reported for duty and became an American Citizen on September 30, 1941. He asked to be discharged so he could join the Regular Army of the United States. He served as sergeant with the 515th Military Police Battalion, Mandaluyong. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, third highest Army decoration, and the Combat Infantry's Badge. Pacifico Fajilan was the first native of Simara to become a citizen and the first to join the Regular Army of the United States. He served as an Aide to General Baker, O'Meara, Gomez and Westmoreland. His duties took him to different places like Fort Carson, Colorado; Germany; Japan; JUSMAG, Quezon City, Philippines; Fort Myer, Virginia and Fort Ord, California where he was Chief Nutritionist at the Silas B. Hayes Hospital. He retired in September 30, 1973 after 32 years of service.


He married the girl of his dreams, Rosalina and had eight children: four boys and four girls, two who are now gone.


At 8:45 AM on August 10, 1998, Pacifico Fajilan went to Veteran's Administration Clinic in Fort Ord. He was having difficulty breathing. As soon as they finished examining him, they loaded him into the ambulance for the V.A. Clinic in Palo Alto, California, a two and a half hour drive away. After a few miles, the ambulance attendant told the driver to go back and asked the driver to turn on the siren lights and crossed the freeway and headed back towards Salinas, California where the nearest hospital is located. They took Pacifico to Natividad Hospital but he was not in any condition to answer the questions of some medical representatives. He did not recall anything at all about how long he was in the hospital; maybe he was dead really he didn't know at all. He was dreaming he was in his home town Corcuera, Romblon, Philippines in a big building by the ocean in his property. He was in a room which was very small and the walls were very white all around, no windows, doors and nobody around, just him. He was trying to touch the wall but he could not feel anything. Suddenly he opened his eyes and was surprised to see some white uniformed nurses and doctors all around him. The very first word he heard was: MIRACLE. Then he saw his wife with tears in her eyes and then saw the rest of the family. Two days after he came back from his coma, they loaded him into the ambulance for the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Palo Alto, California. At the hospital, specialists and private nurses watched over him very closely. They couldn't believe his speedy recovery. He was released earlier than expected. After one year, he enjoyed the treatment his family gave him during the first year of his new life. He was really happy for the love and care that they gave him as he loved them dearly.


Now his birthday is August 15 - since that is the fantastic day that he woke from his 26-hour coma to see his entire family by his side. At age 82, Pacifico Fronda Fajilan died at Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula. He will always be remembered.


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 March 2009 09:44  

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