Salvador A. Rodolfo, Sr., Filipino war hero, died from leukemia he was 92
Col. Salvador Rodolfo, Sr. was a Filipino War Hero who liberated the Island Province of Catanduanes in the Philippines from the clutches of the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II died from leukemia he was 92.. He was known in Catanduanes as “Phantom” or the “Man who Never Dies”, based on the comic book hero created by Lee Falk in 1936.
(7 February 1919 – 9 January 2012)
He organized the Catanduanes Liberation Forces (CLF), the guerilla
unit that paved the way for the liberation of Catanduanes in 1945. The
CLF fought the Japanese without any external help. They were fearless
and fought so hard that the Japanese forces were virtually destroyed
before even the American forces, the supposed liberators, arrived in
Catanduanes in 1945.
Rodolfo was born in 1919 in Bato, Catanduanes, Philippines.
He was a descendant of Don Juan Rodolfo of Almeria, Spain who went to
the Philippines in the 18th century and married the daughter of Datu
Bantog, who was then one of the Tribal Chieftains in Catanduanes, in
order to put to a halt the hostilities between the natives and the
Spaniards. The Rodolfos played an important role in Catanduanes politics
in the Spanish Colonial Period. His father, Roman Rodolfo, was an
undefeated Mayor of Bato, and his mother, Maria Tan Arambulo, was a
Chinese businesswoman.
World War II
When the Second World War broke out, Rodolfo was called to arms in
defense of the Philippines against the invading Japanese Imperial
Forces. He fought in the three-month Battle of Bataan in 1942, and was a
survivor of the Bataan Death March, a Japanese war crime in which
thousands of prisoners of war were forcibly transported after being
defeated. While in Camp O’Donnel in Capas, Tarlac, he met the then Lt.
Ferdinand E. Marcos, who would later on become President of the
Philippines. He was released later. After being released from the
concentration camp in Capas, Tarlac, Rodolfo organized the Catanduanes
Catanduanes Liberation Forces
The Catanduanes Liberation Forces
headed and organized by Rodolfo was the back bone of the resistance
movement in Catanduanes. It performed numerous ambuscades against the
Japanese Imperial Army and conducted intelligence gathering, which was
necessary in paving the way for the eventual liberation of the province
by the Americans. During his exploits as a guerilla leader, Rodolfo was
rumored several times to have been killed in battle but time and again
he keeps on coming back to destroy every vestige of enemy control in the
province of Catanduanes, hence he was called “Phantom” or the Man who
On February 8, 1945, when Rodolfo was about to declare the
independence of the province after he and his men killed every Japanese
Imperial Army and burned every Japanese garrison in Catanduanes, one of
his men approached him and said that there were Japanese reinforcements
on board 2 vessels approaching the island. He then talked to his men,
most of whom were wounded and exhausted, he said:
Japanese reinforcements are coming. I have two options for you, we
can go to the hills and save ourselves and wait there until the
Americans arrive, but I assure you that all civilians left behind will
be massacred by the incoming Japanese, or we can repeat what happened in
the Battle of Thermopylae and stand our ground. Most of us will die,
but we will live forever in the pages of history as the men who fought
for the liberation of Catanduanes”
With that, everybody decided to stand their ground and fight the
incoming Japanese. They went to their posts to wait for the enemy’s
arrival but then, as if by providence, American planes arrived and
bombed the Japanese vessels. Rodolfo declared independence of the entire
province on February 8, 1945.
Later Life and Death
In later years, he played a role in local politics in the 80’s and
90’s serving as Senior Provincial Board Member of the Sangguniang
Panlalawigan and acting Vice Governor in Catanduanes. He was a key ally
of the late Gov. Leandro Verceles, Sr. ultimately bringing an end to the
political dynasty in the province.
In 1995, he was appointed as Chief Security Consultant in the Bureau
of Immigration under then Commissioner Leandro Verceles during Pres.
Fidel V. Ramos Administration.
He was granted US Citizenship in 1992 after the US Congress passed
the law granting citizenship to the USAFFE Veterans who served under
Gen.Douglas McArthur. He decided to stay in America for good in 2002.
He died a very peaceful death surrounded by family members on January
9, 2012 at Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks, California. His last
words to his son were “You will succeed for as long as you are on God’s
side”. He was a month away from his 93rd birthday.
His remains lie in the Garden of Valor in Valley Oaks-Griffin Memorial Park in Westlake Village, California.
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