Silak - a quarterly publication for Bantoanons

Silak September 2004 Issue


Rodil F. Fadri


Heart-break kids no more. The Greenhorns beat the Playboys 73-71 in the BBT 2004 finals at the St. John Academy Gym on Sunday (Sept.12, 2004). It’s the Greenhorns' first championship in 14 years. Down by seven with less than four minutes to go, the Greenhorns’ solid team defense enabled them to overtake the Playboys with 51 seconds left. The Playboys had a chance to win or send the game to overtime in the last 14 seconds but their three point try missed and their follow-up shot was blocked. In the game for third place, Candelaria repeated over Gudalupe to bag the 2nd runner up trophy.




I first met Mang Minyong sometime in 1999. It was after hearing the 7 o’clock mass at San Beda church when I spotted him right there, standing on his frail small frame at the front of the church’s gate clad with yellow Ninoy T-shirt and faded maong shorts.



Ish Fabicon

There in the island where the waves rock the beaches of sand and stone, my father was born. There, in his childhood, he skin dived to learn the wisdom of the stonefish and the sea horse.


Togong Beach pa rin

  Book Review Nestor Famatigan, Sr.

Was the Battle of Sibuyan Sea the “greatest naval battle in history?”

(The Response)

Editor’s note: Through an article that was published in Silak, and also in the Sanrokan website, Ismael Fabicon, a noted Bantoanon writer, expressed reservations on calling the Battle of Sibuyan Sea the “greatest naval battle in history.” This is the response from the author.

This article is in response to a write-up on entitled, "Was the Battle of Sibuyan Sea the Greatest Naval Battle in World History"

 My answer is: "Yes, it is." 

I am glad that the question was asked. It will give me an opportunity to explain why it is really the greatest. It will give a chance to the readers of the book to evaluate whether the statement, "The Battle of Sibuyan Sea was the greatest," was valid and true. 

On the cover of my book, it was printed, "The Battle of Sibuyan Sea, the Greatest Naval Battle in World History." On page two, I wrote that "The Battle for Leyte Gulf was massive and decisive." I did not say that the Battle for Leyte Gulf was the greatest although I said it was decisive. 

To make sure that we are on the same page, I would like to define "decisive" and "great" in relation to battles. The American Heritage Dictionary, 2nd edition, defines "decisive" as 1. Having the power to decide. 2. Characterized by decision and firmness. 3. Beyond doubt, unmistakable. "Great" is defined as 1. Extremely large in size, big. 2. Larger than others of the same kind. 3. Large in quantity or number. 4. Extensive in time or distance. 5. Remarkable or outstanding in magnitude, degree or extent. 

What are the implications of these definitions in relation to battles? Decisive and great are contrary terms. 
Ø A battle can be both great and decisive but not necessarily "non sequitor" or it does not follow.
Ø A battle can be great but not decisive or decisive but not great.

Decisive battles are mutually exclusive and are conditioned by various reasons or significance why it was decisive. It happened in different periods of history. So, there can be several decisive battles in history. 

When we talk of "great" battle, there is an element of comparison in size, quantity, number, time, magnitude, degree or extent. One battle can be great. In two battles, one is greater and in several battles, one is the greatest. 

Let me now expound on the use of prepositions "OF," "OFF," and "FOR." in relation to battles. 
Ø "Battle of" used in a general sense is applicable to battle on land or at sea, i.e., Battle of Bataan (place) or Battle of Sibuyan Sea.(sea). 
Ø "Battle off." - It is specific that the battle is at sea, i.e., battle off Samar. It was fought offshore of Samar.
Ø "Battle for" is used for a destination, i.e., battle for Leyte Gulf. On page 24 of my book, I wrote that Leyte Gulf was the destination. It can be also used for an objective, i.e., battle for victory. These three prepositions can be used in different perspectives as regards battles. 

Ish quoted Astor and Agoncillo that they wrote books that stated, "The Battle for Leyte Gulf was the greatest naval battle in history." May I add Samuel Eliot Morison, one of America's distinguished naval historians for writing 15 volumes of the "History of U. S Naval Operations in World War II." He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1943. He was a professor of American History at Harvard University. He wrote that the "Battle for Leyte Gulf was the greatest naval battle of all time." Astor and Morrison were two of my sources.

When I chose the title of my book, I was aware that Astor said that "the Battle for Leyte Gulf" was the greatest naval battle in history. I had the courage and guts to write that the "Battle of Sibuyan Sea" was the greatest naval battle in world history because I believe that this was the historical, logical and empirical truth.

Why? It needs a logical and critical analysis to come to a compelling conclusion that the battle of Sibuyan Sea was indeed the greatest naval battle in history. Astor used the "Battle for" in the Battle for Leyte Gulf which was a battle for destination - Leyte Gulf. In my book, I used "Battle of" in the Battle of Sibuyan Sea. It was used as a battle "per se" or as a single battle. It could stand as a battle in itself. It had two combatants and it contained all the elements of a battle. As such, it can compare with the other battles of the world in history and be considered the greatest.

Astor used the "Battle for Leyte Gulf" in one sense. Author, Nestor Famatigan, used the "Battle of Sibuyan Sea" in another sense. In Astor's view, the Battle for Leyte Gulf was the greatest naval battle in history. In my view, the "Battle of Sibuyan Sea" was the greatest naval battle in world history." Every author is entitled to his own opinion. 
Both our views are correct but arrived at different perspectives. Our views do not contradict each other. My view was not a "misnomer" or "exaggeration." I only applied semantics, morphology, pragmatics and metalinguistics.

The "Battle for Leyte Gulf" and the "Battle of Sibuyan Sea" were two different genera. In definition "per genus et differentiam" (class and also difference), the two have different attributes and qualities. Each has its own denotation and connotation. The fact that the prepositions used are different gives different meaning. The Battle for Leyte Gulf started on October 23 and lasted up to October 27, 1944 whereas the Battle of Sibuyan Sea was only for one day, October 24, 1944.

Be that as it may, let me dissect the "Argumentum" (proof, subject) and the "Modus" (measure) of the Battle for Leyte Gulf which was a series of battle (Sibuyan Sea, Surigao Strait, Samar and Cape Engano) for a destination - Leyte Gulf.

The Battle of Sibuyan Sea "per se" is considered as a single and separate battle. On the Japanese side, the Center Force used 60% of Tokyo's major naval units consisting of 5 battleships, 12 cruisers and 15 destroyers. The 40% were used on the three other battles for Leyte Gulf and some found in other places. There were no planes and submarines. On the American side, the entire Third Fleet was involved consisting of 5 battleships, 6 aircraft carriers with several hundred planes of different types, escort carriers, cruisers, destroyers and submarines. 




Banton 2003 Update
   Sports Feature
       BBT Season 5
      Greenhorns Champs
Book Review
   Is the Battle of Sibuyan Sea
       Really the Greatest Battle in


  In the Battle of Surigao Strait, on the Japanese side, the Southern Force consisted of few battleships, cruisers and destroyers and that of Shima's 7 ships. On the American side, there was an element of the 7th Fleet consisting of few battleships, cruisers, destroyers and PT boats. There were no planes on both sides. 

In the Battle of Samar, on the Japanese side was a diminished Center Force with few kamikazes. On the American Side, there was only an element of the 7th Fleet consisting of escort carriers with escort destroyers and l58 planes.

In the Battle of Cape Engano, on the Japanese side, there was the Northern Force with 4 aircraft carriers without planes, 2 battleships plus cruisers and destroyers. On the American side, there was only an element of the Third Fleet plus some planes. For details, read my book. 

Combining the three battles (Surigao Strait, Samar and Cape Engano), the Battle of Sibuyan Sea, considered as one, will emerge as greater. Therefore, the Battle of Sibuyan Sea was the greatest battle of the four battles of the Battle for Leyte Gulf. 

Ish Fabicon mentioned that Rey wrote that the American aerial attack sank one battleship, two cruisers and disabled two cruisers. In my book, I said that the American aerial attack at Sibuyan Sea sank one battleship, Musashi, and disabled one cruiser, Myoko. Two cruisers, Atago and Maya were sunk and one cruiser, Takao, was disabled off Palawan by two submarines and certainly not by aerial attack.

Ish also mentioned Woodward who said that the Battle of Leyte Gulf was the greatest naval battle of the Second World War. Woodward has to explain his view as he used Battle of Leyte Gulf. In my view, the Battle of Leyte Gulf did not exist in history. There was no battle that was fought off Leyte Gulf. It was never a venue for any battle.

Ish mentioned Dr. Salustiano Faigao as having written an essay about the battle of Sibuyan Sea. Dr. Faigao was mentioned on page 14 of my book as a witness of the first engagement of the battle as he was in Kabanto, Balogo. His observations were in agreement with those of Honesto Famatigan, my brother, Atty. Alfonso Fallarme and Maj. Celestino Monroy. There were five engagements of the battle within the vicinity of Banton. He could not write on the other four engagements as he was unable to observe them. But the first engagement was not the totality of the Battle of Sibuyan Sea. What he witnessed was only part of the whole battle of Sibuyan Sea. 

The Battle of Salamis, the Battle of the Nile, and the Battle of Trafalgar were fought by the use of ships powered by oars and sails. They were very few and small. The tactics were crude and primitive. All the ships used can even be loaded in one U. S. aircraft carrier. All the ships can be wiped out in just a short time by one destroyer by not even firing a shot but by simply crashing them or bumping them. These battles may have been decisive during their time but we cannot consider them on the same category as the battle of Sibuyan Sea.

The Battle of the Coral Sea, the Battle of Midway and the Battle of Villa taken as an individual battle cannot compare with the battle of Sibuyan Sea.

There were other naval battles in World War II Pacific which Ish hinted but did not give names. I will name these battles in chronological order from February 1943 to June 1944. These battles were: Java Sea, Sava Island, Eastern Solomons, Cape Esperance, Santa Cruz Islands, Guadalcanal, Tassafaronga and Rennell Island, Bouganville Battles and the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Not one of these battles can equal the Battle of Sibuyan Sea.

The facts and arguments have been presented to the readers. These explain my position why I believe that the Battle of Sibuyan Sea is the greatest naval battle in world history.

Astor, Gerald. Crises in the Pacific: The Battles in the Philippine Islands by the Men Who Fought Them. New York: Donald I. Fine Books, 1996.
Masmori, Ito with Roger Pineac. The End of the Japanese Imperial Navy. W.W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1962.
Morison, Samuel Eliot. The Two-Ocean Wars. A Short History of the United States Navy in the Second World War. Brown & Company, 1963.
Sins, Edward H. Greatest Fighter Missions of the Navy and Marine Aces of World War II. New York: Harper Brothers, 1962.
Fitzsivnons, Bernard, ed. Warplanes & Air Battles of World War II. New York: Beefman House, 1973.

Copyright (c) 2004, Silak it Bantoanon Inc.