- 1941-1945 -
The Fruit Front, Part 5

     California Packing Corporation opened a plant in the Philippines in 1930.  It became a fully producing modern cannery ten years later.  Located in Bugo on the island of Mindanao, the cannery was a subsidiary of Calpak called Philpak. 

     By April 1942, the cannery and company property suffered from constant aerial bombing by the Japanese.  American employees left for safer ground, but a small contingent, including Assistant General Manager Norris Wordsworth, patrolled the company’s property to reduce looting.  In spring 1942, allied forces began using the company airstrip.  General Douglas MacArthur traveled from the island of Corregidor to Mindanao by PT boat, but finished the final leg of his evacuation to Australia on B-17s from this airfield. 

     Japanese interned many American employees at Impalutao, Bukidnon, a former U.S. Army base.  Those not with the main group tried to get back, and some perished in the effort.  The Filipino employees of Philpak left when the islands surrendered to Japan, and many joined guerilla forces that fought the Japanese.

     After three years, the U.S. Army liberated the seventeen interned American Philpak employees.  The facilities at Bugo were heavily damaged, but the fruit plantings, albeit overgrown, survived the war.  The management group, including Neil Crawford, Norris Wadsworth, Howard Dennison, and Max White, returned to Philpak in 1946 after convalescence.  By 1948, the facility was running again and produced one million cases of canned pineapple that year. 


Braznell, William. California's Finest: The History of the Del Monte Corporation and the Del Monte Brand. San Francisco, Calif.: Del Monte Corp, 1982.