Monday, December 28, 2015

Theresa Kaminski's "Angels of the Underground"

Theresa Kaminski is Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. She is the author of Citizen of Empire: Ethel Thomas Herold, An American in the Philippines and Prisoners in Paradise: American Women in the Wartime South Pacific.

Kaminski applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Angels of the Underground: The American Women who Resisted the Japanese in the Philippines in World War II, and reported the following:
The Page 99 Test, as Ford Madox Ford set it out, works for my book in revealing both its quality and its scope. The page centers on one of the angels, Yay Panlilio, revealing how she became involved in anti-Japanese resistance.

On page 99, the reader is plunged into Japanese-occupied Manila in January 1942. Yay, a Filipina-American newspaper reporter and undercover intelligence agent for the United States Army Forces Far East (USAFFE), had been trying to figure out how to help the troops that had withdrawn to the Bataan Peninsula in a futile wait for reinforcements. She’d wanted to go with them, to drive a truck, do anything to help, but a USAFFE officer had been dismissive--she was only a woman, what use would she be?

Yay remained in Manila, unaffected by the Japanese roundup of Allied civilians for internment because of her Filipino heritage. She took every opportunity to observe the enemy forces and assess their strengths and weaknesses. When a Japanese businessman, a prewar acquaintance, asked Yay to help launch radio station PIAM, the mouthpiece of the occupation, she agreed.
Yay was presented with broadcast scripts tightly controlled by Japanese censors, still she concocted phrasing Japanese translators would not fully understand but her English-speaking audience probably would. Using ‘innuendo so obscure sometimes that only mental telepathy could decode it,’ she cautioned Filipinos about how to deal with occupation forces, gave advice to the Voice of Freedom broadcasting from Corregidor, and passed along military information to USAFFE officers.
It worked, at least for a while. Yay stayed at it as long as she could, until the Japanese caught on and she had to flee Manila. Even then, she declined to sit out the remainder of the war doing nothing. Yay headed to the hills east or the city, where she joined up with guerrilla forces and continued her fight from the field.
Learn more about Angels of the Underground at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue