BALANGA City, Bataan: Nicolas Cabalang, 97, bravely fought for his country and lived to tell about the horrors of World War II (WWII). But he remains in shock at his measly monthly pension of P6,700 which is barely enough to support his family.
“I hope the government increases the amount. Have pity on us,” he said when asked what he wanted to tell President Benigno Aquino 3rd and US President Barrack Obama.
Although a little short of hearing, Cabalang is still sound in body and mind. He chops firewood once in a while at his residence in Barangay Cupang West, Balanga City.
During WWII, the Pampilona, Cagayan native served as a private first class with the “F” Company of the 11th Engineering Corps, 11th Division of the Philippine Army.
Tears fell from his pale eyes when he recalled his near-death encounter with Japanese troops. But he smiled when he mentioned his late wife Rosita Mendoza whom he met during his escape.
Rosita, who was five years his junior, died at the age of 76 in 2000. She left him with four children.
Cabalang was 25 in 1942 when he was assigned to the Engineering Corps in Dagupan, Pangasinan.
“When the Japanese arrived in La Union, we fled to Calayungan and went to Arayat, Pampanga where we felled a big tree to block the road,” he said.
From Arayat, they went to Lubao, also in Pampanga, and destroyed the railway bridge with explosives.
In Hermosa, the first town of Bataan from Pampanga, a Japanese warplane bombed their vehicle that resulted in the death of his two companions. However, their vehicle was still usable so they proceeded to Balanga where they joined Filipino and American soldiers.
From there, they went to Balut, Pilar, before proceeding to Orion where they fenced the seaside with barbed wires. From Orion, they went back to the crossing of Pilar bound for Bagac where they were met with heavy gunfire.
When the Japanese found that they had run out of ammo, his companions were brought to the river and killed. Fortunately, Cabalang escaped and lived to tell his harrowing tale.