By Francis Neil G. Jalando-on
Where safety and quietness reign, with room for thoughts and dreams and hopes, of peace on earth again – the poetic words of Jenny Claire Adams describing their refuge in Hopevale.
On April 10, 1942, Mrs. Ruth Meyer, wife of Dr. Frederick Meyer, wrote on her diary, “Bataan has fallen.”
The night before, April 9, 1942, 3rd Lieutenant Norman Reyes read the announcement written by Captain Salvador P. Lopez. The opening sentences read, “Bataan has fallen. The Philippine-American troops on this war-ravaged blood-stained peninsula have laid down their arms. With heads bloodied but unbowed, they have yielded to the superior force and numbers of the enemy.”
Six days later on April 16, 1942, the diary of Mrs. Meyer had this entry: “The enemy invaded Capiz and occupied the Mission compound. Frantic times. Night of the bodega looting.” On the following days, the missionaries and nurses in Capiz decided to evacuate and escape to the interior towns or into the mountains. They decided to scatter. On April 25, 1942, Mrs. Meyer wrote, “Evacuated our group to the Ula-ugan River. A new experience to live in grass huts—a feeling of safety in our seclusion.”
Later on, when the American Baptist missionaries settled in Hopevale, Tapaz, Capiz, they built grass huts as their home. Dr. Francis Howard Rose made a pencil drawing of their grass hut. The original drawing of their home in Hopevale is preserved in the Archives Section of the CPU Henry Luce III Library.
Jenny Claire Adams, a missionary nurse in Capiz Emmanuel Hospital, was with Dr. Frederick and Mrs. Meyer when they evacuated to Hopevale. Upon settling in their place of refuge in the mountains, she wrote a poem, dated May 23, 1942, describing the grass hut of the Meyers. She gave this poem to Mrs. Ruth Meyer on the occasion of her birthday on November 19, 1942.
Hut in the forest
By Jenny Claire Adams
There’s a little grass hut in the forest
Where the trees stand stately and tall,
Lifting their leaves to the sunlight
And catching the raindrops that fall.
Entwined by garlands of verdure
And flowers fragrant and fair
Boughs decked with clinging orchids,
Like flowers in the hair.
O little grass hut in the forest
Where birds gay-feathered and free
Join their sweet songs in medley,
Sharing their joy with me!
Bright fireflies flitting at night time
Like twinkling stars in the trees
Give a cheerful glow to the darkness,
And life to the spicy breeze.
O quiet grass hit in the forest,
With a crystal brook running near,
Gurgling and tumbling over the rocks
Its water so cool and clear
Lovely green ferns grow unhindered
Along the moist rocky banks,
Begonias lift blossoms dew-covered
And offer their silent thanks.
O peaceful grass home in the forest
Where safety and quietness reign,
With room for thoughts and dreams and hopes
Of peace on earth again.
O lovely ravine in the forest,
Where we patiently wait for a while,
Till the noise of the battle is over,
And we end our long exile.
More than a year later after writing this poem, on December 20, 1943, the 11 American Baptist missionaries were martyred because of their Christian faith in Hopevale, Tapaz, Capiz.
On December 17-20, 2018, the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches will spearhead the Hopevale Diamond Commemoration to be held in Central Philippine University, Filamer Christian University and in Hopevale, Tapaz, Capiz. If you attend, you will surely hear more stories about these American Baptist missionaries and their Filipino counterparts.