I was twenty years old when the war broke out.: Becoming Minnesotan

Victorino Alojado on his 90th Birthday, March 5, 2011.
  • Name - Victorino Alojado
  • Age at interview - 89
  • Gender - Male
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview - 01.28.2011
  • Victorino Alojado in Manila, Philippines. Minnesota Historical Society.
    Carabao cart, Albay Province, Philippines. Library of Congress.

    Filipino, Food, War

    Essential Question

    Life in the Old Country: What makes a country a person’s homeland?

    Politics & Government: How are other systems of government different than the U.S. government?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    The day after the Pearl Harbor attack on the U.S., December 8, 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on U.S. and Philippine forces in the Philippines. Most of the outnumbered Americans and Filipinos retreated to the Bataan Peninsula, and were finally forced to surrender to the Japanese in April 1942. The Japanese occupation was harsh on the Filipinos, and many of them were forced into slave labor or threatened with other types of violence, and the invaders faced strong resistance from Filipino underground movements, bands of guerrilla fighters, and the remainder of the Philippine army. The resistance fighters managed to retake much of the islands from the Japanese before the war ended, including most of Luzon.

    To learn more about Filipino history and culture, visit our Filipino Community page.

    • Chapter 1

    Download Victorino Alojado 4
    3:11 Minutes | 3.07Mb


    Narrator: Victorino Alojado (VA)

    Interviewer: Lita Malicsi (LM)

    VA: I think I was twenty years old or twenty-one years old when the war broke out. That was 1942.

    LM: Now, do you remember if you had to leave your home to evacuate to a different place?

    VA: When the first Japanese plane air raid our place, then the people start moving up in the hill.

    LM: Did you have to walk to the mountains with all your belongings?

    VA: Yeah, but we hired the carabao. They load it and took it on the hill.

    LM: So you used the carabao for loading your belonging?

    VA: We got improvised, just like a cart. It was pulled by carabao.

    LM: Yes, yes.

    VA: And then we built a house on the side of the hill, on the side of the mountain.

    LM: What kind of houses did the people build?

    VA: My brother-in-law give us a thick canvas, so we built like a… So we stayed there. Then, the Japanese invaded much. They keep shelling and there is just seaplanes going around dropping bomb, but the Japanese just stay in the city. They didn’t go farther. They just occupied the city.

    LM: Now, you mentioned the word "air raid." What was that like?

    VA: It’s a seaplane. They go around and drop bomb, you know. At that time, they drop bomb.

    LM: Were there civilian people who were killed during the air raid?

    VA: Maybe, right in the city, you know. But we were up the hill.

    LM: Okay, now, what did you eat during the war?

    VA: That’s the problem.

    LM: Why was it a problem?

    VA: I don’t know why we weren’t able to eat, you know. But we got rice, you know. We cook it with, mix with cassava.

    LM: And that’s what you ate?

    VA: Yeah.

    LM: Where did you get the rice?

    VA: Some neighbor, just people leaving, they give us. But we were able to buy rice at that time.

    LM: Did you always have enough food for everybody or did you have just very little food?

    VA: That’s what I’m telling you, that we don’t know how we survive during that time. And we don’t have soap, you know. But we still can eat it [chuckles].

    Related Glossary Terms


    Noun: A domesticated subspecies of the water-buffalo, native to Southeast Asia.


    Noun: A tropical, starchy root vegetable, also known as manioc.


    Noun: A person who is not an active member of the military.


    Verb:  To leave or to remove troops or people from a place of danger. (evacuates, evacuating, evacuated)


    Verb:  To enter by force in order to conquer.  (invades, invading, invaded)


    Verb:  1. To conquor somewhere.  2. To live or reside.  (occupies, occupying, occupied)


    Verb: To bomb (shells, shelling, shelled).


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access]. http://www.mnhs.org/immigration
    nid: 2128