27th of a series
Loyalty and respect to the man
My late father's appointment as commander-in-chief of the Spear-Bolo-Force (SPF) was revoked on February 1, 1945, almost six weeks after he was given the task of organizing and making the same operational in the Sub-Province of Ifugao. The position was assumed by no less than the Battalion Commander of the 11th Infantry Capt. Bunol.
Nine days later, his neighbor Alexander Lanag was appointed in his stead. Mr. Lanag also took over the office of Deputy Governor in acting capacity.
My father took the matter "as a matter of course" and devoted valued time with his family. Yet despite his civilian status, the former Deputy Governor was fed with current events and sought for his sound advice and discretion. His evacuation camp was getting larger as more and more civilian families chose to survive the war with the protection of his wings. It was a well organized camp with food procurement and kitchen staff, look-outs and guards, first aid unit, and most of all emergency brigades for defense and protocols for immediate flight and mass departure.
"On February 5 onwards, my civilian neighbors in Nacagadan, as in other nearby barrios of Kiangan, were called to the aid of soldiers. Gun shots could still be heard from the Ibulao and Sto. Domingo mountain sectors as some 150 Japs pushed their advance. They retreated back to Nayun as they could not penetrate the defense of our defending soldiers. "After the encounter, most of the civilians were also asked to help clean foot trails covered with bushes and clear other obstacles that hampers movements. The boys who returned from Ibulao informed they also buried Japanese cadavers who were killed by our soldiers.
"On February 11, Mr. Alfred Dulnuan of Duit barrio and six others came for the typewriter lent to me by Mr. Guyguyon, the forest ranger. They informed of allied aeroplanes dropping arms and ammunitions in the C-2 of B Company sector.
"On February 12, I received a surprise visitor in the person of Lt. Pablo Mariano who was on his way to Hapao where they moved the Battalion Headquarters from Burnay due to the nearness of the enemy.
"He came to see me but jokingly I sarcastically reminded him of the warning for me not to be near any officer or enlisted men. He just laughed and called it 'beyond the order'.
"On February 14, several heavy and light planes were flying somewhere above Antipolo barrio. In the afternoon, information circulated that one of the transport planes crushed near Amduntog, a few kilometers from C-2 sector. Nine Americans burned to death including all equipments. The plane was a total wreck but the dead Americans were removed and were buried by civilian responders.
"On February 15, Rev. Fr. Alfonso relayed to me radio news reports that Manila was occupied by American soldiers as of Feb. 5; and that Baguio City is only 15 miles from American forces who were advancing up from La Union province. He also mentioned that the Russians were 38 miles to Berlin, Germany.
"'The day is not far for the Allies to crush their enemies', said Fr. Alfonso."
Enemy forces re-take Kiangan
"On February 17, about 5:25 p.m. three soldiers led by Mr. Anastacio Manghi dropped by. They walked from far away Apayao enroute to HQ. B Company for enlistment and active duty. From them, we learned that the Japs in Cagayan and Isabela are also attempting to enter the Mountain Province. However, the men under the command of Major Joaquin Dunuan, 3rd Battalion Commander of the 11th Infantry are giving good accounts of themselves.
"On February 18, information circulated that Capt. Bunol ordered Lt. Tuguinay to Hapao while his men under non-com officers were defending Kiangan poblacion from another attempt of the enemy to reach their besiege garrison camp.
"The Japanese force has reportedly reached Mount Sto. Domingo, Baguinge, and Yokko and moving cautiously to Kiangan. They advanced as far as Dinapogan on February 20 and from there divided into two groups. One group went down to the fields and would make their entrance from below Kiangan poblacion while the other half followed the road via Mongkilong creek to engage the few soldiers trying to harass their march.
"No reinforcement from Hapao came as was requested by the Sergeant in-command. Our soldiers retreated under cover of darkness, giving the enemy free entrance to Kiangan.
"The Japanese re-enforcement finally rescued their comrades in the stone garrison building, after two months of confinements. They at once posted outposts at sitio Linda over the hill on the west, to Tuplac on the southern side, and then on the ridge above their barracks. The water pipes were also repaired by them. The enemy, once again, were moving freely, getting firewood and food stuffs they could find in the deserted town.
"Meanwhile, Lt. Chungalao, according to information did not know the whereabouts of his men. They were scattered, and so Lt. Chungalao retreated with spearmen units toward the higher elevation of the southern side of Poblacion. This led to sporadic shootings between his men and patrolling enemy patrol.
"On February 21, Lt. Tuguinay rushed back from Hapao and went to Tuplac to contact Lt. Chungalao. He passed by my camp and he got my pistol which I surrendered to him since I am no longer connected with any governmental functions. And I did not wish to carry one now.
"I had to evacuate again to a new location to the higher elevations of the forest.
"On February 22, Victor Codamon, S-2 of Captain Bunol, sent for the map of Ifugao and I immediately sent it to him.
"On February 23 and 24, American aeroplanes were flying at the southern side of town. A transport plane circled over Antipolo and probably dropped more equipment while two pursuit planes guarded it, circling higher in the air.
"Information also reached me that Baguio was already in the hands of the Americans after US planes carpet bombed the city. Together with soldiers under the 66th Infantry, they were pursuing retreating enemy forces in Benguet.
"On February 25, there was heavy rain and no further information was relayed to me.
"On February 26, information has it that two Japanese on patrol as far as Longa, a kilometer from Kiangan poblacion, were killed by our soldiers. This prompted the garrison command to send more of their men on patrol.
"Our few soldiers who were harassing the enemy patrols had to retreat to sitios Bolog and Punduntogan at Nagacadan barrio.
"Ricardo Saquing, one of our observers, arrived at our camp and informed us of the huge number of Japanese soldiers marching toward Kiangan. He estimated 400 to 500 were already in town, 500 to 600 were at Nayun, and about the same number were at Lamut.
"On February 28, the Japanese were reported to be hauling all rice palay they could find along their path and from houses in Lagawe as far as lower Burnay.
"On February 29, Lt. Chungalao with a squad of soldiers was transferred to the Bontoc-Sagada side to reinforce outnumbered guerilla units against the retreating enemy coming from the Baguio-Benguet area.
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.