War and Resistance in the Philippines, 1942–1944 repairs the fragmentary and incomplete history of events in the Philippine Islands between the surrender of Allied forces in May 1942 and MacArthur’s return in October 1944. No book has comprehensively examined the Filipino resistance during this crucial period.Here, James Kelly Morningstar provides for the first time a comprehensive history of the protracted fighting by 260,000 guerrillas in 277 units across the archipelago.
Beginning with the Japanese occupation, the collapse of the United States Forces, Far East (USAFFE), and the simultaneous rise of the complex, diverse Philippine guerrilla movements, Morningstar exposes the inadequacy of MacArthur’s conventional plans while revealing his inchoate preparation for guerrilla resistance. Morningstar then recounts in detail the impromptu resistance led by refugee American and Filipino soldiers, local politicians, and social revolutionaries left to battle the Japanese—and each other—with emphasis on how Japanese, American, and Filipino actions influenced and proscribed each other.From a distance, MacArthur contacted select guerrillas and organized agents to deliver supplies and radios to them by submarine. In this way he empowered some to gain power as part of a united framework under his leadership. This not only kept alive the resistance that denied the Japanese exploitation of the Philippines while setting the conditions for MacArthur’s return, it also ensured that no one guerrilla leader could challenge America’s supremacy. MacArthur’s selective support to guerrilla groups that encouraged continued Filipino dependence on the United States would prove fatal for the incipient Maoist social revolution on Luzon. Even so, the Filipinos’ shared sacrifice in their act of resistance fueled a national consciousness that created a sense of deserved nationhood.
War and Resistance in the Philippines, 1942–1944 concludes with a brief discussion of legacies of the guerrilla resistance. MacArthur’s return reestablished the power of American and Filipino political elites. Guerrillas and other citizens who had experienced exceptional hardship now had to fight for recognition. However, the war had resulted in a more united Philippine national identity along with new political institutions to repair the divisions between the formerly exiled government, the collaborationists, and the members of resistance. These momentous years of struggle in the Philippines changed the tide of history and challenge our understanding of war and resistance.