Battle of Santa Cruz
Battle of Santa Cruz / Sta. Cruz, Laguna
The Battle of Santa Cruz, Laguna on 26 January 1945 marked an everlasting bond between the Filipino and Chinese community in the Philippines. Filipino guerillas such as the Hunters ROTC, Marking Guerillas, and HUKBALAHAP (Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon), and the Chinese-led Wa Chi 48th Squadron collaboratively defended and fought the Imperial Japanese forces.
Upon the invasion of the Japanese and the start of World War II in the Pacific, Chinese workers in the Philippines, including teachers, trade unionists, and clerks, volunteered to join the guerilla movement. The name of the guerilla movement, Wa Chi, means Overseas Chinese Anti-Japanese Guerilla Force.
During the onset of the liberation campaigns, after the retreat of the Wa Chi in Zambales and Pampanga area, the Chinese guerillas travelled to the fringes of Sierra Madre for 26-days and suffered from hunger due to lack of food. After surviving the endless trail along the foot of the mountain range, they headed to Laguna where they became comrades with the Hunters ROTC, Philippine-Chinese Anti-Japanese Guerilla Forces, and the troops of the pre-war 4th and 42nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Commonwealth Army. The Wa Chi risked their lives in staving off Japanese patrol operations in the agricultural fields in order for the Filipino guerillas to advance their attacks. They also defended the farmers and villages exploited by the Japanese. The combined forces of the guerilla movements originating from two different nations also liberated the church of Sta. Cruz in Laguna.
The triumph of the Filipino and Chinese forces in the Battle of Sta. Cruz strengthened the friendship between the two nations and proved the allegiance of the Filipino-Chinese and the Chinese community to the Philippines. The victory in the Battle of Sta. Cruz paved the way to the succeeding liberation campaigns in the southern part of Luzon.