The Grand Old Man of Bukidnon
Born in San Nicolas, Cebu on 01 January 1879. He came to Mindanao as a young officer of the Philippine Constabulary and distinguished himself in quelling brigandage in Misamis. .
In Bukidnon, he rose to become a vice governor, and finally a governor in 1914. He later on retired and became a rancher.
During the war, Don Manuel often risked his safety and that of his family by sheltering American and Filipino guerrillas in his ranch. With his extensive knowledge of Bukidnon’s terrain and as a former Philippine Constabulary, he helped train the guerrillas with military maneuvers and the proper use of firearms.
Fr. Edward Haggerty: “We spent the night at the ranch of Carlos Fortich, eldest son of Manuel Fortich, the old man of Bukidnon. We learned from them of that eventful attack by guerillas on the concentration camp of Casisang and the siege of Malaybalay. The attack on Casisang had begun on January 12th and the Japanese in panic had fled to Malaybalay, taking many of the Filipino prisoners with them. Other prisoners had escaped. The old Governor, suffering though he was with high blood pressure, had ridden off to the front on his horse, personally cheered the attackers, and directed the fire of a fifty caliber machine gun. His wife had pleaded with him, and when his sons had argued with him to stay at home he had turned in indignation on them and shouted that he cared nothing for danger, that when he died he wanted to die in the saddle. After the rout of the enemy he had returned in high spirits. The next morning when his eldest son Carlos. Tried to awaken him he found him dead with a happy smile on his face.” (Excerpts from the Guerrilla Padre)
He died at the age of 64 and was buried in Lunocan a remote plateu in Bukidnon. 50 years later he was reburied in Cagayan de Oro
The above photo was taken from the book “The Philippines Past and Present (1913, 1914)” by Dean Conant Worcester, Secretary of the interior for the Insular Government of the Philippine Islands (1901 -1913).
Lieutenant Manuel Fortich at 28 years old.