(18th of a series)
The first day of January 1944 was an escape for my father, the Deputy Governor of the Sub-Province of Ifugao in the Mountain Province, from the stressful demands and responsibilities of his office.
He wrote: “I went to hear mass after which I called on the priests. Spending moments with these Belgian priests was a break from the nerve-racking day-to-day activities in the office under foreign military occupation. They provided me with useful information and inspiration that gave me the strength to further protect my people, the Pilipino soldiers, and the Americans in hiding.”
Two weeks later on January 13, he asked for a ten-day leave of absence to go to Baguio City for medical treatment. He added: “My health has deteriorated since the outbreak of the war with the strenuous trips to remote places within my jurisdiction.”
He recommended Kiangan Mayor Jose Dulinayan to be designated acting Deputy Governor during his absence.
His memoirs continued:
“On January 19, on my way to Baguio, there was a truck at Km. 72 along Mountain Trail (now Halsema Highway), which was dynamite blasted to pieces by Pilipino soldiers in the Benguet. Vicente Nibaten of Maggok, Hungduan, Ifugao was suspected by the Japanese. He was arrested and brought to the Mankayan garrison for interrogation. Nibaten was employed as road head-laborer before the war and continued to work the road under the Japanese.”
“On my trip back to Ifugao via Bontoc, I rode in an army truck along with a man by the name of Justo Lungui of Apayao. I found out he fought in Bataan and was among those boys who escaped from the Tarlac concentration camp of the Japanese. Upon reaching Benguet, he stayed with my relatives in La Trinidad.
“He pleaded that I help him. I advised him go home to Apayao and report to any hiding guerilla organization or army detachment, in order that his days of service since Bataan capitulation are recorded.
“Back to office in Kiangan on February 2, the Mayor of Hungduan came upon orders of the garrison commander. He was grilled about Sergeant Alfredo Bunol, Puguon, and Aydinan. These boys are soldiers of the Philippine Constabulary at Kiangan during the Commonwealth Government, and had been in hiding. It appeared that Bunol and his men passed by Hungduan one night and somehow, the Japanese got wind of their movements.
Later on February 15, the uncle of Bunol, Madiwo was garrisoned and investigated about his nephew. I pleaded his innocence, being an ignorant man and the fact that his living peacefully in Hapao, Banawe. He was released the next day.
Battle of Ibulao third anniversary
“February 23. Today is the third anniversary of the battle at Ibulao and I had secretly celebrated it together with my close friends, telling them it is my birthday.
“Lt. Emiliano Dulnuan was ordered to go to Burnay district and observe the movements of Bunol and companions. Just to comply with orders from the Japanese officers, he just went to Lagawe and returned.
“The last few days of the month saw the arrival of:
“1) Messrs Flores and Antonio from the Bontoc Retail Association Federation who brought clothes to Kiangan for Mr. Famorca and Mrs. Aquire, members of the retail association. I had the goods deposited in my house and personally supervised the sales to the public, to avoid the skyrocketing of prices in the black market scheme.
“2) Mr. Felix Diaz of Bontoc came to recruit some 20 laborers to work at the Mankayan cooper mines in Benguet;
“3) Captain Joaquin Dunuan also arrived from Bongabong, Nueva Ecija where he was imprisoned together with Lt. Tomaliwan, Col. Green and others;
“4) Governor Clapp also came escorted by Lt. Quirobin of the puppet Constabulary in Bontoc to look into the sale of clothes, imploring the retailers to avoid black market activities.
“I escorted the Governor to Banawe where he held similar meetings with retailers.”
President Jose Laurel’s birthday
“A simple program was held in honor of the birthday of Dr. Jose Laurel, President of the Republic of the Philippines. There was no fanfare nor celebration as the day was occupied with routine matters.
“During the day, I accompanied a man by the name of Bomidang to secure a travel pass to Isabela province. However, the garrison first sergeant, in the absence of the garrison commander did not want to issue one. Upon my insistence, he made it but refused to sign it. Again I demanded for his signature but he got angry instead that lead to exchange of hot words between us. He was about to slap me.
“On March 10, we saw several aero planes winging toward the north in V formation. This occurred when Lt. Carlito, the new commanding officer of the Japanese Constabulary arrived and assumed office. Lt. Emiliano Dulnuan became his subordinate.
“On March 13, the Japanese soldiers were busy making their foxholes around their garrison, one at the edge of the road and another near the gate of their barracks. Stones and soil were used. I was not allowed to look around their ground when I went to see the officer in-charge (at the pretense of discussing some matters). The guard told me to go straight into the building.
My father speculated that seemingly the enemy has knowledge of the arrival of the allied forces in the country making them, once again, edgy and jittery as he noted that:
“On March 15, the acting garrison commander called me and scolded me why the people seemed to be indifferent to the soldiers whenever an officer is absent. I told him it was not true. I observed that they were fault finding.
“On March 16, they demanded comotes (sweet potato) from the people, to be brought at once in the afternoon. Same was delivered up to late in the evening so as to avoid further trouble.
(In later weeks, the garrison commander demanded from the Dep. Governor to give an order to the people to sell their rice for their subsistence. My father suspected, as he wrote in his diary, that the enemy was stocking food.)
“On March 18, Lt. Miyasaki arrived and informed me that he is being transferred to Pangasinan with all the soldiers under his command. On March 21 they left with a band, hired by prominent Kiangan citizens, played. He was shading tears as he was leaving. He was the best officer we had in Ifugao as he had been very friendly and kind to the people.
“I observed that there was a sort of movements in all garrisons in this sub-province to move out. I sent a message to the hiding Americans.
“I called Lt. Emiliano Dulnuan on March 22 to remind him to advise his puppet constabulary soldiers to do nothing when on patrol but instead counsel the people to remain calm.
“On March 25, I was again called to Bontoc with all detention prisoners in the sub-province for a series of court hearings. Judge Enrique Braganza presided.
“Still at Bontoc up to April 4, Japanese soldiers intensified their search for firearms in every house. They found some rifles in the houses of the natives. I immediately called Banawe Mayor Duntogan and Kiangan Mayor Dulinayan and informed them of developments, talking in the dialect to avoid being understood by the Japanese telephone operator.
“Back in Kiangan on April 9, the Japanese soldiers practiced some defense maneuvers around the stone garrison barracks. Civilians were prevented about the vicinity as Lt. Ito was observing his soldiers from the windows of his room.
“Two days later on April 11, Japanese patrols went out to the south, east and west toward Hungduan. I sent word to the leaders of the ‘cargadores’ who went with them to take the regular routes and never to take short cuts to avoid places of our Pilipino hiding soldiers and guerilla volunteers. The patrol team which went south in Antipolo barrio never thought that the jungle above the trail they took was a kilometer away from the HQ of U.S. Army Col.Volkman.
“On April 12, Major Yamasta, the new Mt. Province commander, arrived in Kiangan. It dawn upon me the reason for the patrol around town was to secure his arrival. The next day April 13, Major Yamasta ordered me to accompany him to Lamut near Nueva Vizcaya province in the east. I knew he was using me as a shield from any attack or ambush from our Pilipino soldiers. A truck load of soldiers drove ahead of us while another was behind the car we rode.
“In Lamut, the people were rounded up for a public meeting where he emphasized peaceful cooperation. He asked me to speak but before I started, the Japanese Major noted that the people did not stand and bow. He interrupted me and forced the people to stand and bow as we all did to him earlier.
“He told them, if you do not show respect to your own officials, how can we Japanese know that you are learning what we are teaching you. It is not only to us that you should bow, but also your officials because they are doing a lot services for you. We returned to Kiangan in the afternoon.
“On April 14, the Major left for Bontoc, quite pleased with the situation in the sub-province. The cinema personnel from Nueva Vizcaya arrived in the afternoon and showed moving pictures. Their materials were purely all propaganda, the victory of their navy and how they conquered Bataan and Corrigidor. But the pictures were not quite clear, just aero planes flying and soldiers marching.”
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.