Valeria Panlilio, popularly known as Colonel Yay, is considered the “brains” of the Marking’s Guerrillas, one of the resistance forces against the Japanese military administration. Yay was born in the United States to a Filipino mother and an Irish-American father. She returned to the Philippines after marrying Eduardo Panlilio and had three children with him. Their marriage was not to last however, thus Yay focused on her work as a journalist, becoming a reporter for The Philippines Herald.
When World War II broke out in 1941, Yay served in the underground movement by joining the US military’s S-2(intelligence) unit. In the earliest part of the occupation period, the Japanese administration requested Yay to serve as a broadcaster of KZRH radio station, which was used as a Japanese propaganda machine. Yay utilized her role as a KZRH broadcaster by relaying to the US military valuable intelligence information on the Japanese administration through codes in her broadcasts.
Because of this involvement, the Japanese administration eventually hunted her which forced Yay to hide in the mountains of Sierra Madre where she met and eventually married Marcos Agustin a.k.a Marking, the leader of the famed Marking’s Guerrillas.
Because of her crucial contributions in the strategic planning on the group’s operations and the handling of the administrative duties, she was named second-in-command of the Marking’s. She also held the helm of the anti-Japanese propaganda wing of the group and was also involved in the training of the members.
Colonel Yay was considered mother figure of the guerrillas and was often called by the men as “Mammy Yay.” In her honor, a detachment of the Marking’s was named after her, the Yay Regiment. The Yay Regiment was involved in the famous Battle of Ipo Dam on the 19th of March 1945. The group successfully blocked the enemy’s attempt of poisoning the water in the dam, which served as the primary water source of Manila.
After the war, Colonel Yay came back to the United States and continued her work as journalist. She was eventually awarded the United States Medal of Freedom for her services during World War II. She died in January of 1978.
Kaminski, Theresa. Angels of the Underground: the American Women who resisted the Japanese in the Philippines in World War II. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.
LA Times August 1945. “Mrs. Yay Panlilio.” Nehalem Valley Historical Society Online Archive. Accessed on 28 April 2020 from http://nehalemvalleyhistory.org/omeka/items/show/495.
Muñoz, Analyn B. “Ang Kababaihang Marking ng Morong, Rizal.” Daluyan: Journal ng Wikang Filipino (Sentro ng Wikang Filipin,o UP Diliman) XVI, no. 1 (2010): 134-148.
Panlilio, Yay. The Crucible: An Autobiography. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1950.
Ms. Marian Kate Tenorio