ROQUE B. ABLAN
Ablan, guerrilla leader and war hero, was born to a poor couple, Victor Ablan
of Salsona and Raymunda Blanco of Paoay. He studied at the Laoag Elementary Schooland
graduated from the Laoag High School in 1924. He went to the University of the
Philippines and there obtained a Bachelor of Philosophy degree in 1929 and a
Bachelor of Laws degree in 1930. He took the bar examinations the same year he
finished law and obtained 9th place. He managed this despite his having been a
the UP, he was a reporter for the Philippines Hernld and edited the Carnival
Courier during the carnival season. He taught for some time at the Chinese Elementary
School and at other schools in Manila and edited also the Philippine Collegian,
and the Philippinesian, the graduation yearbook. He became president of the
University of the Philippines Alumni Association in Ilocos Norte and secretary
of the Ilocos Norte Bar Association.
graduation, he went home to Laoag where he was elected governor at the age of
32. He was the youngest provincial executive of his time. He was backed by some
colleagues but his victory was also partly ascribed to the work of his wife,
Manuela Ravelo, of Batac, who was a high school teacher.
problems faced his administration: lawlessness and unemployment. He sought to
remedy these by increasing the daily wage in his province from 60 to 80
centavos. One of his outstanding achievements as governor was the establishment
of a provincial hospital in Ilocos Norte, one that came to be considered as one of the best institutions
in Luzon. He also in establishing a branch of the Philippine Normal School in
Laoag, move that enabled the poorer
families to have their children their
studies at minimal expense. Finally, he worked for the construction of
theprovincia1 capital, the revival of rural credit and the organization of
producers' cooperatives. He also espoused
idea of giving more authority and power to local govemment. Where he
received by his constituents, he was re-elected to a second term.
the Japanese landed at Vigan, Ablan refused to extend his operation to them. He
left the provincial capital of Laoag to avoid arrest and transferred the seat
of government to a remote barrio near the boundary of Ilocos Norte and Apayao.
From there he led in the organization of guerrilla units in coordination with
Lt. Feliciano Madamba of the Philippine Army. By mid-January, 1942, the Ablan-
ba Guerilla Group of Northern Luzon was organized.
January 27 Ablan and Madamba went to
Solsona where they unearthed an arms cache of numerous rifles, machine guns and
several numbers of ammunition. The following day, January 28, their first encounter with the enemy took place when
Madamba's unit successfully ambushed a Japanese detachment at Banna, and in the
process, killed about 50 Japanese soldiers.
efforts of Ablan and Madamba were welcomed by the people. Many soldiers who
failed to join the USAFEE (United States
Forces in the Far East) in Bataan joined them. The Japanese sent planes
to the towns of Banna and Nueva Era, and
bomb and strafe guerrillas and civilians. Ablan managed to get in
contact with President Quezon in Washington D.C. by radio and reported that "despite the occupation of Laoag
and San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte, our government is still functioning and our
people have not alienated a bit of their allegiance to your leadership and to
the Philipine Government and to the United States Government. Every day the
will of our people against the Japanese becomes more intense as the enemy rob
our homes, destroy property, kill civilian and rape our women."
after, Ablan radioed again President Quezon requesting P100,000 with which to pay the employees and
keep the machinery the underground government functioning. Because of the
difficulties involved in the transmission of money, Quezon authorized Ablan to
issue emergency notes as previously authorized by your provincial expenditures." Ablan notified his
people of Quezon's intention and the information, having spread throughout the
province, they founded other small but independent guenilla groups
to affiliate them with Ablan's outfit.
Ablan then began to organize all these men
to a more cohesive unit. He divided Ilocos Norte into several sectors
posed of one to three towns. Each zone was headed and supervised a guerilla leader. He established an
intelligence section to gathering
information from as many sources as possible. A runner-relay system was
also set up for the purpose of disseminating news and sending orders to
different sectors, thus linking towns and scattered guerrilla camps. Ablan
assigned Lt. Isabelo Monje to take charge of operations in Batac, Paoay and
Currimao; Vicente Cajigal was assigned the towns of Badoc, Pinili and Nueva
Era. Ablan named Juan Albano as deputy governor, designated Lieutenant Madamba
as executive officer, and placed Capt. Prime Lazaro and Damaso Samonte as chiefs
of the intelligence corps. Captain Pedro Alviar was placed in charge of the
guerrillas had a series of bitter skirmishes with the Japanese. After Bataan
and Corregidor had fallen, the Japanese under Colonel Watanabe established
their headquarters in Laoag. The enemy hunted Ablan and his resistance fighters
and air units dropped Leaflets urging him and his men to surrender. He refused
to give up the struggle. Large forces hunted him down. A series of raids were staged on his guerrilla camp. He
escaped enemy traps twice but his outfit nevertheless sustained tremendous
losses. His units then adopted hit-and-run tactics.
November 8, 1942? Ablan launched a successfulattack against Japanese patrols in
Pampaniki, Solsona. On December 10 that same year, he left for Cagayan to
confer with Governor Marcelo Adduru. His last words to his family reportedly
were: "How I hate myself for having only one life to give to my country.
But don't cry. I will be back when liberty returns to our people." He never came back.
probably perished during an encounter with the Japanese or was captured,
imprisoned and subsequently executed by the enemy. His heroic deeds have earned
for him an honored place in his country history.
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