(16th of a series)
Search for Radio Gadgets
THE World War 2 diaries of my father, the Deputy Governor of Ifugao, have time and again expressed his high respects for Fr. Jerome Moerman, the Roman Catholic Church parish priest of Kiangan. A Belgian missionary citizen, he literally pioneered, introduced and converted a large chunk among local residents, considered “pagans,” into the Christian faith. He was also sought after for his sound advice in peace and war times.
Quite of a handyman with engineering knowhow, the priest was able to generate electric power that provided light within the church premises in rural Mountain Province. So the Deputy Governor was not surprise when:
“On September 25, the garrison commander called me and we went to inspect the church premises and convent buildings of the priests. I suspected that the enemy had in mind some hidden arms or radio, since the priest was using electric light, furnished by a small dynamo generator.
“No radio was discovered despite the rigid search conducted by a squad of Japanese soldiers.”
When the war ended, my father confirmed in his memoirs that “Fr. Moerman indeed had a radio that kept us abreast in tidbits over developments of the European and Pacific wars.”
Search for Guerilla commander
Guerilla activities against the foreign enemy occupation agitated the garrison commanders based in Kiangan and Banawe. It placed the Deputy Governor in an unsafe situation, and must accede to orders given by the Japanese yet find ways and means to safeguard his people.
“On September 28, I started for Burnay District together with Mrs. Manriquez, per order of the Japanese garrison commander to look for Captain Manriquez. I sent her instead to Boliwong where her sister in-law, Miss Macaria Manriquez was teaching, and to wait for me there.
“While we pretended to look for the guerilla leader, I went around collecting some paltik (homemade handguns) arms to be presented to the Japanese commander. It is one ploy to convince them that there are no more arms being hidden by the local folks. I also pretended to have inquired of Capt. Manriquez as I held personal conferences among village headmen in Luta on September 29 and in Caba the next day. I collected more paltik handguns.
“Mayor Baywong and Treasurer Liangna joined me as they collected taxes from the people in Japanese money. After collecting 24 paltiks, we hiked around the mountain to come out at Boliwong on October 1 arriving there late in the afternoon and very wet. I found out that Mrs. Manriquez already returned and I am glad.
“On Oct. 2, I arrived at Kiangan, proceeding at once to the garrison to meet the new commander, who arrived during my absence, relieving Zuiky. Lt. Teramoto received the paltiks and he told me that those are not the ones they are after.
“I told him that all arms that we know in the hands of the people and soldiers who surrendered were already collected; and these paltiks are the only ones we found in the homes of the people.
“Mrs. Manriquez reported that she could not find her husband and that the report about her husband being in the area was unfounded.”
Change of Garrison Commanders & Independence Day rites
“On October 6, we local officials, per instructions of the newly arrived commander, had some sort of meeting to draft the program on October 15, Independence Day. The garrison commander gave us newspapers and we read that Dr. Jose Laurel was elected President and Aquino was the Speaker. He wants to see a good program and many people; because it will indicate that the people appreciated the granting of independence by Japan to the Philippines.
“On October 13, another new officer arrived to relieve the newly arrived officer, Lt. Teramoto. Lt. Miyasaki was young and loves ‘good time’ as we later observed. He wanted to celebrate Independence Day with such pompous noise to show our appreciation; wanted to have a modern dance in the evening and then native dances.
“On October 14, barrio people and children from barrio schools numbering about 2,000 came to celebrate the ‘real Independence Day’ granted by Japan. It was the biggest crowd ever gathered at war time. The entertainment program presented by the school children and native dances by the elders pleased the new garrison commander.
“On October 15, a banquet was given by the prominent citizens and barrio district presidents to welcome the new officer, and to celebrate the day. Per protocol, Lt. Miyasaki invited most of us for a drink where he informed that in Manila and in all other places, people will not sleep but make noise in celebration and in gratitude. Mayor Dulinayan, Mr. R. Baguilat and some others went from house to house around town singing and shouting to residents as if it was like welcoming a New Year.
“We had to do that to comply with the wishes of the garrison commander.”
Lt. Miyasaki, a broad minded Japanese Commander
After the celebration, the commander called his first conference with the Deputy Governor where he emphasized the resumption of the collection of arms. My father informed him: “... that his predecessors already collected all the arms and the last effort only yielded in the collection of homemade paltiks which are now in your garrison. Since that time he never bothered us about uncollected arms.”
“At this time, I took the opportunity to inform him that Japanese soldiers from Bagabag (Nueva Vizcaya) are encroaching on our territory: that they usually come to Lamut as far as Nayun and get from civilians whatever they wanted especially chicken, pigs, rice and whatever they fancy.
“He immediately wrote to the Bagabag garrison commander through a special messenger. Since that time, there was no more friction between the officials of Bagabag and Japanese soldiers with our people in Ifugao.”
“Lt. Miyasaki was a young man of about 30 years old highly educated and seemed a sort of broad minded Japanese. He spoke good English enough to be understood. He confidentially told me what he thought of the war and its probable results.
“It was on October 20 when he told me his personal circumstances and his own feelings about the war. He said:
‘I am a civilian, not a professional soldier, engaged in a useful occupation in our country, but when the war broke out, I was called like millions of my countrymen. I for one, like most of us, do not like this war because we know that in the long run, we will be defeated. But we had to comply with military orders.
‘I do not like a war with America; I like only Japan to continue her policy with China and no more. In here in the Philippines, I know the Filipinos will not support us if and when the Americans come back. Why? It is because I know how Americans taught Filipinos and you have the best living conditions here in the east.
‘When the war ends, I like to come back here and earn my living. I like the Philippines and the Filipinos, will marry here when and if the war ends and I still live.
‘What do you think of this war? I told mine.”
My father was dumbfounded upon hearing what the young officer revealed. However, caution was still paramount.
“I could not give my own opinions right at that time. Besides I was foxy about it, thinking that he was trying to catch something or information from me. I only told him that the Filipinos cannot for a short time observe what you are teaching us at the present time.
“Some of you Japanese wanted us to be Japanese within these one and a half years of your occupation. But I will tell you that for 300 years, the Spaniards could not implant all what they wanted except Christianity. America came and it took seven years for them to suppress guerilla activities of Filipinos against them. And for more than 40 years, they thought us the principles of freedom.
“I think you also want a freedom like that, the way I understand it from you, that is if you can help it, is not it?
“He said: ‘yes, only we Japanese cannot make or say anything against our government or the policies it tries to follow. We are taught to do and obey the words of our Emperor’”.
“I thought this was quite an interesting conversation and in the course of time of his few months stay with us, he mixed most of his time in groups and made us feel that he was so far our best garrison commander. When he left (on March 21 the following year), a band hired by his friends here played some sweet music as he was leaving. Tears were falling from his eyes.”
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.