28th of a series
The civilian police force
AT THE END of February 1945, the 14th Infantry led by Col. R. Manriquez relieved the 11th Infantry on the Kiangan sector in the Sub-Province of Ifugao.
He also named former assemblyman Miguel Gumangan, commander-in-chief of the Civilian Police Force (CPF), under it the Bolo-Spear-Unit and the Women Auxiliary Service.
Originally planned, organized and made functional by my father, the Deputy Governor of Ifugao Sub-Province, these support bodies did as much service and sacrifice for their country. He wrote:
“Among the duties of (CPF) civilians was to act as runners by bringing messages and carry supplies for the army / guerilla forces from point to point. They were also tasked to collect food supplies from residents for the army.
“In certain instances, they were required to act as component of the soldiers in the front lines.
“Anent to this matter, it was rather difficult sometimes for the spearmen, armless as they were, and yet the soldiers sometimes required them to stay awake at night in the foxholes to guard any approach from the enemy, while the soldiers may sleep some yards behind.
“In some instances, some spearmen would be the ones holding the firearms.
“One spearman from the Caba group, Burnay District, was able to ambush a Japanese soldier at Nayun with his spear.
“A number of Japanese were also killed by traps set by these spearmen. A case on point happened in Haliap. Led by Councilor Kimayong Dulnuan, they engaged and killed ten enemy soldiers with no casualty on their side. In retaliation, a larger enemy force pursued the spearmen into the forest that found and massacred civilian evacuees.
“The death of unarmed civilians, including women and children, drew the ire of Ifugao natives who launched a vengeful warpath that saw the brutal death of a number of enemy soldiers. The Japs finding that they could not fight the natives on equal footing in the forests retreated back to Kiangan.
“This battle in Haliap undauntedly showed the enemy of the civilian’s fierce determination to defend their homes. Councilor Dulnuan narrated how they found ways and means to repair some of the burned carbine rifles which they found in the crushed U.S. cargo plane. Only single shots could be fired from these rifles yet it gave the civilians some confidence when facing the enemy.
“Night and day, the civilians faced the enemy, because they realized that the defense of their homes depended upon them, since the soldiers of the 11th Infantry are now doing nothing but demanded food and on the ran.
“Many civilians were blacklisted for not complying any more with orders to surrender their food rations with the soldiers. In the Nagacadan area, many spearmen after their tour of duty use to go home to eat, and return to relieve each other.
“The enemy march in big forces towards the east from Kiangan and Nueva Vizcaya prompted the retreat of the 11th Infantry elements. Battalion Commander Capt. Bunol ordered Nagacadan spearmen and civilians to transport his family and food supplies. They were not compensated per agreement.
“The organization I started to form functioned well with few changes of personnel by acting military Dep. Gov. Lanag.
“The Women Auxiliary Service (WAS) could not perform as much work as the men. With the march of big enemy forces into Kiangan, the WAS had to be disbanded subject to call any time by the army. Despite the replacement of the 11th Infantry in the Kiangan sector, Capt. Bunol would continue to call on WAS women to Hapao, a distance across mountains, for entertainment. Non-compliance meant blacklisting.
“I pitied some of the girls who were unaccustomed of hard trips by foot, passing through difficult muddy mountain trails and slippery dikes of the rice terraces. Poor women.
Capt. Bunol relieved
“Before the end of February, I was informed that a representative of Col. Blackburn was moving around to inspect guerilla and army defense activities and was not quite pleased with the activities of Capt. Bunol. As a result, Bunol was relieved as Battalion Commander of the 11th Infantry by a Capt. Swetch, an American army officer.
“There was jubilation with the change of command among guerilla unit commanders and men; so with CPF and civilians.
“Capt. Bunol was transferred elsewhere and we understood that the Ist Battalion was re-organized under the new commander. We all said: ‘good luck to him always.’
U.S. Army march through N. Vizcaya
“On March 1, the loud roar of planes in the Lamut and Nueva Vizcaya skies could be heard in our evacuation camp way above barrio Nagacadan. We also heard heavy artillery fires from the east Nueva Vizcaya side. This meant that the Americans successfully came across the Sante Fe mountains.
“In the afternoon, American planes began bombing Nayun and strafing enemy forces. This hamlet became the center and concentration of thousands of Japanese soldiers retreating from Nueva Vizcaya. Part of their force was able to escape Nayun as they reached the forest covers of Sto. Domingo mountain.
“On March 2, U.S. planes continued air attack with bombs over Nayun while fighter planes also continued to strafe ground enemy troops retreating towards the mountains closer to Kiangan.
“On March 3, we counted 14 allied planes flying to the west, and then to the north. Perhaps they were observing thousands of Japs rumored to be retreating from Baguio and Benguet to this area and Bontoc.
“From 1:30 p.m. heavy artillery fires which are nearer than two days ago continued to about 2:30 p.m. and then resumed again an hour later till evening. We could now tell the Americans are within the Ifugao-N.Vizcaya border.
“On March 4, I went to the observation point on top of the mountain. Planes could be seen over N. Vizcaya, Isabela and Cagayan provinces.
Kiangan suffers thousand pounds bombs
“At dawn the next day March 5, I cannot fathom the number of allied planes over Ifugao. At 8:30 a.m. I counted with interest some 46 bomber and fighter planes flying above our mountain forest hide-out coming from the Benguet side toward Nueva Vizcaya. They were dropping bombs in Kiangan poblacion and continued to pour more at Nayun.
“According to my time piece, at about 9:15 a.m. six planes bombed Kiangan. The Japanese stone garrison HQ took a direct hit. As the planes left, black smoke rose up from Kiangan poblacion. From far away to the north east, I estimated that bombs were also dropped in Banawe and Mayaoyao.
“At noon, the acting military Dep. Gov. Lanag sent me the information that his house and that of Mr. Jose Dulinayan were burned to ashes; that my house was still standing but badly damaged by two bombs dropped some 75 meters away.
“In my camp site, it was speculated that the houses of Lanag and Dulinayan were destroyed not by the bombs but by Japanese soldiers who survived the bombing.
“On March 6, Fr. Alfonso and Nicasio Baguilat went to the top of the mountain overlooking Kiangan poblacion to observe, and among others, they saw that the mountain side (Mt. Atade) of the stone garrison building was burned, and the Ifugao Academy building, owned by the American Missionaries, was entirely destroyed.
“In the afternoon, I was informed that rifles and fresh ammunitions were distributed to soldiers at Bagwong, the temporary HQ of Lt. Tuguinay.”
The diaries of my father noted that in the next few days to March 13, U.S. planes continued to bomb and strafe enemy positions between Nayun and Sto. Domingo mountain ranges. Some 150 Japanese soldiers reached and held their ground in Kiangan poblacion and Tuplac village.
“On March 11, information reached me that the enemy at Banawe attempted to move to Hapao prompting the BN HQ personnel to transfer to Hungduan proper. However, Lt. Balanban and his men were able to engage and annihilated the two squads of Japanese soldiers marching to Hapao.
“On March 12, a number of WAS members were ordered by Capt. Bunol to Hapao to entertain officers from the Regimental HQ. This raised eyebrows among civilians.
“In the afternoon, I was informed that an old man by the name of Baguilat Allaga, an ex-soldier before the war broke out, succeeded in going to Kiangan poblacion to check on his house. He observed that the Japs were in Tuplac village (above the poblacion).
“He again went to poblacion on the 15th but was spotted by an enemy patrol and shot him. His wound was skin deep on his chest but Allaga thought it was a serious one as he crawled the hills back to Nagacadan.
Bunol promoted to major
“March 16. Disquieting but true, Capt. Bunol was promoted to Major.”
“A general meeting of spearmen and women was called for by Capt. Bunol who arrived last night. The meeting was scheduled to be at the Nagacadan school, where Dep. Gov. Lanag and people will meet the captain and another officer by the name of Capt. Franco. They arrived late in the evening and spent the night at Bagwong HQ.
“On March 17, Capt. Franco passed by the edge of the village on the higher elevation, accompanied by the women who went to Hapao. He was enroute to Nungawa to assume full command of B Company relieving Lt. Tuguinay.
“It was learned from the civilians who went with the women that the entertainment at Hapao was to welcome Capt. Franco and to celebrate the supposed promotion of Capt. Bunol to Major; and of Lt. Mariano to Captain.
“In Nungawa, Capt. Franco informed the people that he will re-establish his HQ in Kiangan. The spearmen doubted his boasting.
“On March 18, Fr. Alfonso and Fr. Poot came over to Gayumhod and learned from them that the Americans are making good progress from Cervantes in Ilocos Sur and are already enroute to Mankayan mines. The Japs are retreating toward Ifugao, according to them.
“On March 20, three planes were seen flying over Kiangan and Nayun vicinities.
“I received a letter from Major Dennis Molintas of the 66th Infantry, Benguet area, informing me that my house in La Trinidad is intact; and that some of the relatives of my wife were killed by the Japanese.”
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.