(21st of a series)
Indiscriminate Civilian Arrests
“Life under the Japanese is more than a spectator sport. The heart can beat faster than one could imagine. On the other hand, life in captivity in the hands of our very own hiding soldiers is heart breaking. It can shoot blood pressures up to the skies.”
This how my father, the Ifugao Deputy Governor on sick leave, summed up his experience when arrested by ph soldiers on unimaginable and baseless unpatriotic charges.
“It all started on November 13 when a messenger from the guerilla HQ sent word to meet with him at the edge of town. I met Sergeant Tomas Pumihic at the west side of town where he informed me that I was needed for a conference at the B Company HQ. I inquired why no letter and he told me that Lt. Alberto Puguon and Lt. Guinid Dumalili (alias Lt. Hitler) just instructed him to call for me. Since it was late in the afternoon, I arranged to start the next day and meet with him at Palao, six kilometers from the south side of town.
“At the break of dawn the next day, I took my trip with a spear man who carried my small backpack and met with Sergeant Pumihic and his men in Palao as agreed. We reached the forested area of Haliap and slept there, finding that I was not yet quite strong to hike long distance.
“On November 15, we continued our trek through jungle foot paths arriving at HQ about 4:30 p.m. I found only Lt. Guinid. Lt. Puguon was out on a two-day patrol, and upon his arrival about midnight, showed me the communication from the HQ of Captain Bunol, Commander of the first Battalion, Ifugao instructing the CO of B Company to arrest me; and investigate the charges filed against me. Lt. Guinid, it appeared to me, did not see the communication which Lt. Puguon received. The latter, the commanding officer, simply told Guinid to send soldiers to call and investigate me.
“I was surprised and taken aback.
“Lt. Guinid told me to make my affidavits, but I said I do not know yet the charges against me for which I have to make my affidavits. He blatantly insisted, telling me to write down as far as my memory can recall all my official activities since the outbreak of the war!
“I began to type it direct on the typewriter until Lt. Puguon arrived. I told him that I had been always confident that I was doing some valuable services to them, as he and Lt. Guinid knew ever since the beginning; that they also knew of my early and on-going contact with their present commander, US Army Major Blackburn. Both also knew of how we were monitoring the enemy and informing the HQ of Maj. Blackburn of their movements.
“Both officers were also ignorant why the charges against me were filed. They too were both surprised as I was when they received the arrest order.
“The affidavit I made, very general in nature, was carried by a special messenger who started at 1:30 a.m. for Hapao HQ of Capt. Bunol.
“While under interrogation, I found out that I was being charged for surrendering the arms (to the enemy) in Ifugao; and employing spies or informants. After I answered and explained myself in another set of affidavits, he immediately dispatched them to HQ Hapao through another messenger.
“I wrote to Major Blackburn informing him of my arrest, and explaining the circumstances of the accusations against me. As I mentioned in my affidavits, the surrendering of arms is not entirely to be blamed on me. There are countless reasons that forced the men to surrender them.
“The surrender of ph soldiers too was not due to pressures from neither me nor the mayors but from above (civilian authority) and the Japanese soldiers. That charges regarding my employing informants against our resistance movement is unfounded as I have explained in my letter dated March 16. The letter was forwarded with the endorsement of Lt. Puguon.
“I wrote another letter the next day to Maj. Blackburn asking for his consideration and an audience to clear up matters. I never received any reply.
“Truth is never simple”, my father wrote in his diary.
Friends and foes missed my father
“On November 18, about noon, a note came from my worried wife. She mentioned of the people in town and close family friends getting agitated and bothered of my absence; and that even the Japanese soldiers were asking my whereabouts.
“My wife mentioned that she told everyone I went to the barrio to see the workers in the rice fields, but the Japanese soldiers and suspicious persons were observed to be casing our house.
“I showed her letter to Lt. Puguon who said that since there is no answer from Capt. Bunol, he permitted me to go home to ease the restlessness of the civilians and to avoid the Japanese inquisitive of my disappearance. I arrived home at midnight, and found my family still awake.
“Early morning the next day on November 19, I walked about town just to show myself to the community and informed those I met to remain calm. I conferred with the acting dep. Governor Dulinayan and informed him of the charges filed against me.
“It appeared that there was a misunderstanding where my wife suspected Mr. Dulinayan of submitting discriminating reports as the basis for the false accusations against me. My wife’s suspicion gained more weight when the acting dep. Governor was systemically avoiding her. Mr. Dulinayan and I threshed out the misunderstanding.
“In the next few days, I took time to rest at home with my family, and sometimes walked to play poker with close friends in town. It was in the poker table where I heard of some mayors facing similar unfounded charges; and that several civilians in the sub-province began to mysteriously disappear after being taken by ph soldiers.
“Lt. Puguon sent me a note inquiring how the situation in town is and requesting me to send him some office supplies and a map of the sub-province. I sent all what he requested.
A meandering and roundabout treatment
“On November 26, I received again an order from Lt. Puguon to report to him once more. I requested two days grace period because I was actually sick on bed. His approval came in at noon time. It appeared he was two kms. away from town.
“On November 28, I started very early in the morning as before meeting the patrol on the other side of town. We proceeded passing via Antipolo proper where we slept overnight. I was very exhausted.
“The next day we continued our trek without breakfast arriving at the HQ about 9:00 a.m. Lt. Puguon told me that the Battalion Commander Capt. Bunol ordered my re-arrest as the latter was afraid to be dressed down by Maj. Blackburn who never sent instructions about my case. I remained in their camp for the rest of the week.
“Before going on patrol, on November 30, Lt. Puguon showed me a letter of mine addressed to the mayor of Hungduan wherein I stated in part: “...spy on Bunol”. Said letter was intercepted and captured by Capt. Bunol.
“As I opened and reviewed the dates in my diary, it showed on April 26 that it was one of the letters dictated to me by the Japanese garrison commander in the presence of Mayor Dulinayan and Lt. Emiliano Dulnuan. After reviewing said dictated letter, the Japanese officer ordered me to sign it.
“I answered the malicious allegations in the new investigation. I wrote Capt. Bunol, explaining the circumstances how the letter was written.
“I also informed him of another open letter I sent and relayed via several messengers hinting that Japanese garrison spies are closely monitoring the movements of ph soldiers in Hungduan.
“Now it is for me to explain, and that is exactly what I was thinking of at the time I relayed said letter that should someday I will be questioned, I will explain. I firmly believe that in our democratic way of life; explanations are first demanded followed by accusations based on evidence, unlike the ways of the enemy which exact punishment before investigation.
“My first sentence read: ‘The Garrison Commander informed me that ....etc’. It was sufficient to convince anyone that it was not written on my own volition or intention to spy on them (Bunol & his men), since I already know where they are and their movements; having always in contact with them.
Bonifacio Day celebration
“Today is Bonifacio Day ... National Heroes Day throughout the country. People from barrios Antipolo, Amduntog, and Halliap came to celebrate the day with our Pilipino soldiers. A big fat cow was butchered to feast on. An appropriate program was prepared by Lt. Guinid and me (upon his request) that included lively activities.
“As the celebration continued I must state in here that the people, the soldiers and officers could not believe me guilty as they treated with respect as a person and still as their governor.
“I gave a short talk to the people, imploring them that the time has finally come when all of us in Ifugao have to pool together our small resources of food supplies and energies to help win the war.
“I informed them that Councilors Kimayong and Timmikpao notified me of the first day the whites stepped into Ifugao territory. As Deputy Governor I instructed them to advise everyone to remain secretive of their presence and to extend to them every paramount protection.
“I expressed the idea that we should be grateful to Councilors Kimayong and Timmikpao and all the people around for their patriotic duty and silence in shielding the hiding place of the two Army American officers, and the three American lady missionaries.
“In the afternoon, there was a military demonstration by our soldiers and I noted that they had only seven rifles in B Company. How in the world we could face the enemy without the necessary arms and ammunitions?
“We had native dances in the evening, and I forgot that I was a detention prisoner for I was given every courtesy as usual by the people.
“On December 1, I spent my time in detention by reading old newspapers. I wrote my wife to keep calm and not to worry. I advised her never to show signs of anxiety if and whenever the Japs inquired about me.
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