Provincial officials treated badly
UPON his arrival in Bontoc on August 9, the deputy governor immediately sought an audience with Dr. H. Clapp, the provincial governor, for suggestions and instructions. He was advised never to mention the presence of allied soldiers and to inform the garrison commander of their retreat to the lowlands.
“Upon entering his (Maj. Yanase) office I did not bow and he growled at me, stating that the report of his officer (Kawano) in Kiangan concerning me seemed true. It gave me the opportunity to present my opinions.
“I told Major Yanase that Kawano was such a cruel officer and could not control his men: who get animals such as chicken, pigs and other food stuff from the people without paying. Even then, the soldiers are slapping the people and I could not endure seeing them suffer. That if the Japanese Army wanted to get the friendship of the people, they should not unnecessarily maltreat them.
“Observing my outspoken words, he looked at me severely and ordered his aide de camp to (physically) examine me: the muscles of my shoulders, my palm and then legs ... suspecting me as an army man. They grilled me if I had been in the army and I denied telling them to ask Dr. Clapp about me.
As to the whereabouts of the American women (hiding in Kiangan), “I told the major that they left Kiangan in December as soon as the war broke out and I never knew where they are... they must have gone up to Baguio to surrender as the other missionaries did.”
As to the whereabouts of (Pilipino) army, “I told him they were already annihilated by the Japanese Army and he smiled broadly and seemed pleased with that statement. But there are some more, he insisted that I told him I do not know about it because I remained in my evacuation place as soon as our army was defeated.”
“He insisted of the presence of some ‘bandits’ as he termed them. I replied that that is now the job of the (Japanese) soldiers to hunt for them if he thinks there are ‘bandits’ in the Mountain Province.
“I was grilled from nine o’clock in the evening until about two o’clock in the morning. He threatened me that I seemed to be a hard headed man and there is no alternative for him to do but to garrison me and change me of my job. I immediately answered that I wanted to be a private citizen, not wanting to re-assume my position and he flared at me the more, and when I told him that he can keep me in his garrison if he thinks me guilty. I, however, told him that I am not guilty and willing to help provided that I was given the freedom to act with my people.
“What do you mean by that he inquired, and I told him that if the Japanese Army will not molest the people except to demand their help in the surrender of arms, repair the roads with pay, and leave them as they are, since they are peaceful, I believe that they will continue to respect the new government.
“Further, my father told the commander: “The people are ignorant ... and unless you begin to teach us kindly and properly, you will in the course of time win their friendship if that is what you want.
“For me, I would not be their governor any more if what I do was dictated to me by his soldiers. He kept me in suspense for a while and finally he stood and told me to wait. I waited in his office with a guard until morning.
Early morning, the Japanese Commander and Gov. Clapp came back where the Provincial Governor “told me to condescend a little bit in my dealing with the Major or any Japanese. I told Governor Clapp that I appear to them as humble as I could and as courteous as was possible in my own way but if they think that I am proud, they are mistaken. I further told him that I could not say yes or no to their inquiries when I know it is not true.”
Hungry and weak from a sleepless night, the Deputy Governor was accused of being “haughty and rather proud in my way of talking” by Yanase. He asked Gov. Clapp “if there is any other man to take my place.” Gov. Clapp told him, “none and that I was the best qualified considering my holding the position since 1935 and therefore, have all the experience and knowledge of the people.”
“Dr. Clapp told him that he cannot change me since General Narra was the one who installed me. The Major shouted at Governor Clapp that he can change any official whom General Narra installed by his order. I noted that even Dr. Clapp, the Governor at that was somewhat treated roughly and with such a commanding voice, making the governor to fold his hands, as humbly as he appeared. Gov. Clapp finally answered: ‘all right you may do as you please’.”
The two ranking civilian officials were dismissed and ordered to report back at 10 o’clock that same morning. The provincial governor then invited my father in his house for a breakfast conference covering various topics involving the interest of civilians, protection of allied soldiers, and missionaries in hiding.
Back at the Japanese Commander’s office at 10 a.m. they were made to wait for over one and one half hours, “then he called for us, for 20 minutes he told us to work more sincerely and seriously with them, and if they will notice no improvements in our work, he will garrison us. He then dismissed us, ordering me to report to the Kempei’s office.
“I reported as directed and the Chief upon my entrance shouted (inquired) what I wanted. I told him that I was ordered to report to him by Major Yanase and he inquired if I was the ‘Gonzo’ of Ifugao. I asked, I do not know ‘Gonzo,’ and he replied, ‘Governor.’ I said, yes and he pointed to me a chair to sit down.
“He extended his hands to shake, I accepted. He ordered drinks and we drank from a blue bottle, containing the ‘Japanese Sake,’ he said. I told him that I do not usually drink and he gave me beer, opening half a dozen bottles (San Miguel beer).
“In the course of our drinking, I noted that he was rather respectful and inquired as briefly he could what he wanted to know from me. He requested that I send him any useful information or reports against any members of the army, not forgetting of course to report to him immediately the presence of any ‘bandits.’ I heard this word twice from two different Japanese, I begin to think that they call our hiding army as ‘bandits.’
“It looked as if the Kempei works separately from the army, so I thought of mentioning some of the abuses of the soldiers in Kiangan. He was glad that I told him and he will see to it that they reform or suffer the consequences of their acts.)
To be continued...
Note: The narrator is the youngest son of the late Luis I. Pawid of Kiangan, Ifugao and Angeline Laoyan of La Trinidad, Benguet. He is a journalist by profession, former town Mayor of La Trinidad, Benguet, and former Executive Director of the defunct Cordillera Executive Board, Cordillera Administrative Region. He now resides in New Jersey, USA.