Monday, March 3, 2008

Cannibal Lim's legacy




At West Point, where Vicente Lim was the first
Filipino graduate, he was called “cannibal” because
of his skin color. That was in 1914 when the majority
of Americans knew next to nothing about us, except
what they had seen or heard at the St. Louis World
Fair. Born in Calamba in 1888, Vicente Lim was an
impressionable ten year old lad when the First
Republic was established in Malolos in 1899, and when
the Philippine Revolutionary Army had to defend it
against American invaders. Last 24 February, the City
of Manila celebrated the 120th birthday of this
Filipino hero and martyr.

Fresh from West Point, Vicente Lim was sent to
Europe during World War I as 2nd lieutenant in the US
army. Upon his return to Manila, he joined the
Philippine Scouts, then the Philippine army and by
1940, he was Chief of Staff. When the Philippine Army
was incorporated into the American Armed Forces on
July 16, 1941, Vicente Lim was promoted to Brigadier
General, the top–ranking Filipino officer under
General Douglas MacArthur.

However, he did not always agree with Gen.
MacArthur. Cannibal Lim opposed MacArthur’s National
Defense Plan for the Philippines and as it turned out
he was right, subsequent events proved the plan
useless. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Lim was
placed in command of the 41st Philippine Division
which led the rear guard action against the Japanese
in Abucay, Bataan, but was ordered to surrender to
General Homma on April 9, 1942. He became a prisoner
of war, survived the infamous Death March, and on
June 6, 1942, was admitted to the Philippine General
Hospital for treatment of injuries from where he
conducted secret guerrilla activities.

In 1944, Gen. Lim received orders to join
General Douglas MacArthur. He could have figured
prominently in the Leyte Landing, but sadly enough,
enroute to Australia he was captured by the Japanese,
incarcerated and brutally tortured in Fort Santiago
and the Bilibid prison. The Japanese drained his blood
(for transfusions to their own soldiers) after which
Vicente Lim was beheaded. Like many of those who
perished in February 1945, his remains were never
found. General Lim is listed in the Tablets of the
Missing at the Manila National Cemetery and was
awarded, posthumously , the Legion of Merit and the
Purple Heart.

Lim and MacArthur never agreed on the officers
corps. The latter concentrated on training reserve
forces while the former insisted that a "half-baked”
officers corps is “an agent for abuse and corruption.
He was right; a “fatal tradition” had crept into the
Armed forces, a distorted “utang na loob” which Lim
said was meant “to help each other right or wrong”.
He also wrote that “... the minute you put in
favorites, relatives, and compadres, then this army
will bring down the government…” How prophetic! ” No
matter how crooked and weak the President ,” Lim
said, “ ... as long as the army is strong, honest, and
free from politics, the nation will stand.”

His analysis of Philippine democracy is relevant
today: "The principal defect of our national defense
is not the training or lack of finances, but the
great and dangerous defect of democracy which has been
implanted into the minds of the Filipino people. We
have a nationally wrong conception of democracy. Our
democracy in the Philippines is unilateral. It is only
for benefit, for freedom, for Rights, and only for
the comfort and happiness of each individual member of
the nation. That is the common belief, and I venture
to say 99.9% of our people believe in that kind of
democracy.” He said that Filipinos should be
cognizant of their obligations and duties and must be
willing to sacrifice for the good of the State , in
the same measure they enjoy “ personal democracy”.






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3 comments:

DJB Rizalist said...

Love your blog, Gemma. It's been linked to Philippine Commentary and you are on the Front Page Revolver Feature. Just keep publishing stuff you find interesting. You can't go wrong. Before you know it...look out Adriana Huffington and Virginia Postrel.

Dean Bocobo

Sue said...

Precious GEMs can be found in the value of words. "Our democracy in the Philippines is unilateral. It is only for benefit, for freedom, for Rights, and only for the comfort and happiness of each individual member of the nation. That is the common belief..."

"Happiness" -
"He said that Filipinos should be cognizant of their obligations and duties and must be willing to sacrifice for the good of the State, in the same measure they enjoy “personal democracy”.

Those are awesome words and thoughts to ponder. They are "Values" which are always revolutionary, patriotic, and nationalistic. They are timeless, humble, and they are godly.
"Our democracy in the Philippines is unilateral." It is not for oneself only. 'Filipinos....willing to sacrifice for the good of the State'. Filipinos willing to give all.

It is not for oneself only.
It was General Lim's affirmation of life that allowed him to live and to die "not for oneself only."

Thank you Gemma, for your gift.

José Mario "Pepe" Alas said...

It is such a shame for those concerned for not doing anything at all to revive General Lim's ancestral house in Calambâ. And, as if adding insult to injury, a historical marker was placed by the ruins of his home which is now filled with assorted junk.