Calamba to celebrate the people’s courage this doce de Pebrero

by Toni Krizia E. Vivares and Danielle C. Santos

Samahang Doce de Pebrero, in cooperation with Calamba Cultural Affairs Tourism and Sports Development Department, organized the 68th commemoration of the 1945 Massacre this February 12.

Aulogio T. Tañala president of Doce De Pebrero, announced that this year’s theme will be “Doce De Pebrero, noon hangang ngayon sa Aplaya, pagsubok kayang-kaya.”

Rev. Fr. John Jerick Manalo, Parish Priest of San Pedro and San Pablo will hold a mass. The Sangguniang Kabataan as well as the students and the members of the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) of Lingga Elementary School will lead the floral offering.

Mayor Joaquin Chipeco and Laguna Governor ER Ejercito are expected to attend the said event. There will be float parade in the morning and a local pageant and Gawad Parangal in the evening.

For 67 years residents of Barangays Lipa, Sampiruhan, Palingon, and Real  commemorated the massacre. Tañala said that for this year, it is no longer a commemoration but a celebration of people’s courage.

Seventy eight year-old Gorgonio Habacon remembers the dawn of February 12 1974. He said he was ten years old at that time. A group of Japanese soldiers came and gathered all the able bodied men including Basilio Habacon, his father. These men were told that there will be a forced labor and anyone who disobeys will be bayoneted. “Dumating yung mga hapon.. inipon yung mga tao. Tapos pinamartya hanggang Real… Tapos doon pinagpapatay. Yung tatay ko at mga kapatid niya.. kasama dun sa mga pinagpapatay.”

In the afternoon the marshalled men were transported to Baranggay Real. They were then blindfolded and killed one by one by battalion of Japanese soldiers. Several Filipinos attempted to escape but they were either stabbed or shot. Their cadavers were then burned. Close to 1000 people died that day.

Nanay ko yung nakakita ng  bangkay ng tatay ko sa daan papuntang Aplaya. Ang naisip naming baka gumapanang siya pauwi.” Habacon did not see the remains of his father. “Kaya pala hindi na siya bumalik.”

A year after the massacre, Lino Habacon founded Samahang Pebrero de Doce. The members were survivors and families of those who died.

Today, the members of the organization were community members who are composed of teachers of surrounding schools and residents. Retired DepEd supervisor Tañala assumed the presidency of the organization as the old members died. He said that the massacre happened five months before he was born.

“I was at the womb of my mother when the massacre happened…Kaya hindi ko ho makakalimutan yun e, kasi nung taon na yun ako ipinanganak”. His father is one of the 2,000 men killed in Real.

A landmark was built along the National Highway in Real Calamba city in honor of the Filipinos who were killed. Also, the protestant church was named Lingga Memorial Church, in memory of the fallen.

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