Allies for Freedom

Portraits of Filipino and American Courage in World War II

By Intramuros Administration

Portrait of Amicedo Farola of Dulag, a Philippine Scout who operated with a reconnaissance squadron of the 24th Division. Digos, Mindanao. April 26, 1945. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration (111-SC-206780-S), From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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In December 1941, Japanese Imperial forces attacked the U.S. Army Air Base at Clark Field in Luzon and the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, prompting the United States to enter World War II. The Philippines, at the time a Commonwealth of the United States set to be fully independent in 1946, would become intertwined in the largest conflict the world has ever seen.

For nearly three years, a Filipino guerilla movement resisted Japanese occupation. This movement was reinforced by the United States Armed Forces in 1944, as tens of thousands of American soldiers arrived to help liberate the Philippines and secure its freedom. Fighting side by side, American and Filipino troops defeated the Japanese Imperial forces, inspiring an alliance that has since ensured the safety of both nations.

The photographs in this exhibition honor the Filipinos and Americans, military personnel and civilians alike, who demonstrated extraordinary courage in the face of war. Most were taken by U.S. Army photographers as the events unfolded, offering an intimate glimpse of the heroism that made victory possible. Seventy-five years later, these images serve as testament to the powerful bond between the Philippines and the United States that emerged from the crucible of war.

Keeping his promise to return to the Philippines, U.S. General Douglas MacArthur marches ashore alongside President Sergio Osmeña. Leyte. October 20, 1944. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration (111-SC-349595), From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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U.S. General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, who was ordered to retreat to Australia during the Japanese invasion, famously vowed that he would return to liberate the Philippines. Landing ashore at Leyte on October 20, 1944, he began the fulfillment of that promise. By the end of the year, American troops and their Filipino counterparts had reclaimed Leyte and stood poised for decisive victories in Luzon and Manila. Japanese forces opted to fight to the last man, a decision that led to some of the most devastating days of World War II. From February 3 to March 3, American and Filipino troops moved building by building, wearily fighting Japanese combatants barricaded throughout the city. Tens of thousands of innocent Manileños would tragically lose their lives, while much of the city would be irreparably destroyed. On February 23, Allied forces took Intramuros, Japan’s last stronghold, allowing thousands of residents to escape to safety. Securing the Walled City was the beginning of the end of the battle, though it would be days until the last Japanese finally surrendered. As Allied forces moved on to Palawan and Mindanao, they encountered the same dogged resistance, but the Japanese occupation of the Philippines was effectively over. The time for rebuilding had begun.

The heroic first patrol to reach the Davao Penal Colony, including members of the U.S. Armed Forces and Filipino guerrillas from Colonel Claro Laureta’s 107th Guerrilla Division. Davao, Mindanao. May 1945. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration (111-SC-282303), From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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A band of Filipino guerrillas and American soldiers from the 6th Ranger Battalion after a daring mission to rescue more than 500 prisoners of war from behind enemy lines. Cabanatuan. February 1, 1945. Photo by Carl Mydans. Courtesy of the LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images, From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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Citizens of Intramuros, some carrying infants, reach the safety of American lines. Manila, Luzon. February 23, 1945. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration (111-SC-203041), From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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A nun, aided by another evacuee and an American soldier, escapes from Intramuros as crossfire rains overhead. Manila, Luzon. February 23, 1945. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration (111-SC-123027-1), From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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American soldiers assist an injured Filipino woman who was recently freed from captivity during the Battle of Manila. Manila, Luzon. February 23, 1945. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration (111-SC-325952), From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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American and Filipino soldiers marching side by side to liberate the Philippines. The photographer, Carl Mydans, was briefly an internee at the University of Santo Tomas and later returned to the Philippines to document the liberation campaign. Northern Luzon. 1945. Photo by Carl Mydans. Courtesy of the LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images and the International Center of Photography (281.2005), From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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The liberation of the Philippines would not have been possible without the Filipinos who fought to defend their homeland. Though they came from various backgrounds and all corners of the nation, they were united in their cause for freedom. The U.S. Army photography collection chronicles these heroes and their invaluable contributions to the Allied war effort. Official Filipino military personnel included the Philippine Scouts, a proud and distinguished division in the U.S. Armed Forces, and the Philippine Army, the national force formed with the establishment of the Commonwealth of the Philippines in 1935. These troops were the foundation of the Allied forces’ defense during the Japanese invasion in 1942. Though greatly outnumbered and under supplied, they withstood the Japanese advance for several months. For their bravery in battle, Filipinos were some of the first soldiers whose actions merited the Congressional Medal of Honor during World War II, the United States’ highest military decoration. From the outset of the Japanese occupation, underground bands of guerilla fighters, including both military personnel and civilians, developed throughout the country. As Allied forces abroad learned of their activities, clandestine efforts were made to establish a vast network to support their operations. Intelligence gathered on everything from the enemy’s movements to the weather provided the U.S. Army’s command with an extraordinary tactical advantage when the liberation campaign began in 1944. The close collaboration between Filipinos and Americans was essential to victory, and would serve as the foundation for our nations’ alliance.

Before the war, Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets from the University of the Philippines honor the sixth anniversary of the Commonwealth of the Philippines while U.S. Army aircraft soar overhead. Manila, Luzon. November 15, 1941. Courtesy of AP Photo, From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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Sergeant Jose Calugas, a Philippine Scout who heroically defended Bataan during the Japanese invasion, after becoming the first Filipino to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor, the United States’ highest military decoration. Camp Olivas, Luzon. April 30, 1945. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration (111-SC-205900), From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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Privates Dorotoo F. Corpuz and Cornelius S. Daur of the U.S. Armed Forces' 1st Filipino Infantry Battalion, during training at Camp San Luis Obispo. California, USA. April 1942. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration (111-SC-132417), From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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Captain E.R. Reamucio, head of a Filipino guerrilla expedition from Southern Luzon to Tacloban, briefs American soldiers. Calubian, Leyte. November 23, 1944. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration (111-SC-288165), From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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Captain Tranquillino Palisoc, chief of the Filipino guerrilla forces around Urbiztondo, assists the Allied forces by describing the enemy's position. Lingayen, Luzon. January 12, 1945. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration (111-SC-377700), From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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U.S. Captain Donald LeCouvre, who evaded capture in 1942 and resisted the Japanese for three years with a band of Filipino guerrillas, sits atop the unit's only horse. Zamboanga Peninsula. March 15, 1945. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration (111-SC-309075), From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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A soldier eagerly listens as a Filipino reads from a notice dropped by an American plane. Palo, Leyte. October 21, 1944. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration (111-SC-261965), From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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Sergeant Rufino Sosing of the Filipino guerrilla intelligence section identifies enemy locations for American artillery spotters. Dulag Beach, Leyte. October 25, 1944. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration (111-SC-260621), From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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A group of Philippine Scouts, veterans of Bataan and Corregidor, are sworn into a new unit. Lingayen, Luzon. 1945. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration (111-SC-199880), From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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General Douglas MacArthur oversees infantrymen raising the U.S. flag to signal the recapture of the U.S. High Commission (now the U.S. Embassy Chancery) during the Battle of Manila. Manila, Luzon. February 22, 1945. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration (111-SC-202169), From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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U.S. Army photographers documented not only the military’s progress, but the civilians they encountered. Their photographs portray the fortitude and faith of everyday citizens surviving unimaginable tribulations, and capture the feelings of joy and compassion that gripped Filipinos and Americans in the final days of war. As U.S. Army soldiers passed through towns and villages, residents flooded the streets to greet them. The many Filipinos who served as nurses and medical aides during the war supported the campaign by providing care, often working in makeshift hospitals within churches and schools. Their heroism and perseverance saved countless lives, while lifting many wounded individuals in their darkest hour. With Japan’s surrender on August 15, 1945, the deadliest war in history came to an end. As soldiers and citizens took to the streets to celebrate the long-awaited news, efforts to rebuild had already commenced. Less than a year later, the Philippines became a fully independent nation. For the last 75 years, the Philippines and the United States have built a strong alliance on the trust and solidarity established during World War II. These photographs celebrate this friendship and are a reminder of the close ties our two nations will always share.

A Filipino family waves a battle-worn flag to welcome American soldiers shortly after their arrival in Leyte. Palo, Leyte. October 20, 1944. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration (111-SC-331860), From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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Filipinos and Americans are overwhelmed with joy as they celebrate the news of Japan's surrender. Manila, Luzon. August 8, 1945. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration (111-SC-211600), From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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A Filipino ensemble piles on a U.S. military jeep on its way to a parade celebrating President Sergio Osmeña, who was alongside U.S. General Douglas MacArthur during the landing on Leyte days prior. Tacloban, Leyte. October 23, 1944. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration (111-SC-198931), From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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Captain Pinlae Unit and two Filipino guerrillas present an American flag they hid throughout the Japanese occupation. Malasiqui, Luzon. January 1945. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration (111-SC-201611), From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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Lieutenant Rosaria B. Yap, a U.S. Army nurse, attending to her patient, Staff Sergeant C. Barclay Peterson. Camp Keithley, Lanao, Mindanao. May 24, 1945. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration (111-SC-262332), From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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Downtown Manila resembles a ticker tape parade after the announcement that Japan had accepted the Allied forces' peace terms, concluding World War II. Manila, Luzon. August 15, 1945. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration (111-SC-262849), From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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American soldiers gather with mothers and children freed from Bilibid Prison. Detained for nearly three years, several of the children in this photograph were born in the prison during the Japanese occupation. Manila, Luzon. February 6, 1945. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration (111-SC-200055-S), From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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Jubilant Filipinos greet American soldiers with gifts as they reclaim Manila after three years of Japanese occupation. Manila, Luzon. February 14, 1945. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration (SC-202159), From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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Filipinos with the YMCA offer coffee to soldiers during the Battle of Manila. Manila, Luzon. February 7, 1945. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration (111-SC-203035), From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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Filipinos departing from a church, which despite damage sustained during the Battle of Manila, was open for Easter Sunday services. Manila, Luzon. April 1, 1945. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration (111-SC-264154), From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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The San Salvador Cathedral houses the 36th Evacuation Hospital during the liberation campaign. Palo, Leyte. November 18, 1944. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration (111-SC-260174), From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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A Filipino nurse evaluates an American soldier in a makeshift hospital at Cens Cathedral. Leyte. December 1945. Photo by Eugene Smith. Courtesy of AP Photo/Pool/Life, From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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In partnership with the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines, From the collection of: Intramuros Administration
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Credits: Story

Allies for Freedom: Portraits of Filipino and American Courage in World War II is dedicated to the memory of the heroes who fought together for freedom and honors the tens of thousands who made the ultimate sacrifice to liberate the Philippines. Their courage will not be forgotten.


The United States Embassy in the Philippines in partnership with the Intramuros Administration

Produced and curated by Merrion & Smith

Design by Nicki Avena

Installation by WTA Architecture and Design Studio


Photographs courtesy of
The National Archives and Records Administration
AP Images
The LIFE Collection/Getty Images
The International Center of Photography

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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