(33rd of a series)
Move out of artillery fire
IN the middle of May, there was an order for all civilians hiding in evacuation camps in the Nagacadan and Ahin areas to move to the Antipolo sector. In his diary, my father commented the danger of evacuees moving in large numbers through enemy infested areas.
“On May 15, Councilor Comila Puguon came to inform that there is an order for all civilians to go to Antipolo, behind the allied lines. Civilian evacuees on the other side of the mountains and in forests where they were not cut-off by the Japanese began to move to Antipolo by night. Countersigns were adopted for identification because Filipino soldiers of the 14th Inf. took shots at several civilians by mistake.
“Americans were rumored to be at Antipolo but this was not so after verification was made. The Americans advanced only as far as Bannit, between Lamut and Nayun.
“The reason for the order was that the artillery will soon be hitting the barrios and nearby mountains. Aeroplanes were also to fly over this side to drop bombs.
“Earlier on May 12, Mr. Bulayongan and I went up to our observation post, to view the village of Maggok. Harvest in the rice fields was on-going hurriedly by civilians as no Japs were insight.
“We observed hundred of Japanese soldiers coming from Ahin and Hungduan proper marching via the mountain ridges to reinforce their colleagues raid the Antipolo supply depot.
“On May 13, the Japs again attempted another assault on the allied supply depot, but the 14th Infantry held them at bay in the surrounding jungles. More Japs were pouring into Antipolo side.
“Meanwhile on this day, Inoyay Toleng, one of my men, was shot near the camote plantation. As he was rolling the telephone wire which he cut, the guard on the other side of the hill noticed the wire being pulled down. The Japanese soldier spotted my man and shot him critically. Inoyay was able to roll down the banks of the brook below where he died. We were able to get his cadaver later. Our men cursed the Japs and vowed to revenge his death.
“On May 14, Mr. Bulayongan personally led a few spearmen to observe the movements of the enemy at Pudawan, Nagacadan barrio. His report late in the evening stated that there are a few Japs guarding the granaries. He added that civilian Japs are carrying rice palay and bringing them to the Nagacadan school building at Pundontogan from which the same was carried to Kiangan central.
“On May 17, I attempted to contact any of the soldiers of the 14th Inf. who were reportedly coming to face the enemy on the southern part of the trail to Ahin.
“My plan was to inform the HQ that thousands of civilians evacuated to this part of the jungles; and that the aeroplanes and artillery gunnery should be informed. I wanted to suggest that their guns be directed between the mountains toward Ahin where more Japs are concentrated; and also Mt. Puloy where the Japs are stocking their supply depot at Makakkalong. I prepared a sketch map.
“The 14th Inf. soldiers retreated when I came near the area where they were to engage the enemy. I could not go through the enemy lines and outposts on the ridge. I sent Daniel Araujo, a young man who was with a group of Antipolo spearmen. They planned to pass through the enemy lines at night through bushes and creeks.
“Late in the afternoon, Mr. R. Baguilat came to see me. He came from Maggok area and informed that he and the rest of the blacklisted civilians were ordered by Military Deputy Gov. Famorca to report to him for instruction. I was one of those to go.
“The Dep. Gov. did not designate the place to report and so, I advised Mr. Baguilat to endeavor to inform the Governor that under the present situation, we could not go freely within the occupied places. He left and two days later, I was informed that the order was revoked because the military governor with his family was moving toward Barlig, the HQ of Captain Swetck.
“On May 18, Ex-Assemblyman Gumangan came again with his spearmen. He and I tried to combine our forces to break through the enemy lines to Antipolo. However, we could not go as planned because the enemy already doubled their number with reinforcements. Besides, we were armed only with a few repaired carbines with single shots and very limited ammunitions.
“In the afternoon, I personally led the men to Balitihon sitio to check on a rumor that several sick Japs are occupying the granaries and native houses. I calculated that they must be guarding the granaries, and if they are sickly, we could make a surprise attached by nightfall.
“Upon reaching the place, we found out they were in the granary of Barrio Lt. Guimbongan. The other granary at the higher elevation was not occupied and my men were able to get some rice palay out.
“We could not attack the Japanese guards because they surrounded themselves with stone parapets they put up. I slowly moved some 20 meters toward them to see from what point could we make the attack. They were completely protected and they installed a protected stair up into the granary.
“I decided not to molest them but take advantage of the palay in the other granary. We returned to camp at dawn with full loads of palay to augment our dwindling food supply.
“On May 19, I remained in the camp. I wrote Mayor Dulinayan who was reported around Olnoy sitio with a few men armed with carbines and sub-machine guns. I asked him to join me for a couple of days to harass the Jap lines on the southern sector. The rumor of his presence was not, however, true so the messenger returned with my letter.
Japanese in big numbers moving like ants
“On May 20, no further information from the Antipolo area. Sounds of bazooka fire were heard from the Hungduan area.
“More Japs are pouring in from Ahin sector while Japanese civilians are coming down nearer to a small village at Maggok, near Bangot. The Japanese are moving like ants, others were carrying loads of supplies.
“Early evening we heard heavy gun fire from one of the Japanese outposts in the southern sector directed toward Amduntog and Antipolo.
“Later in the evening, a report stated that some civilians who evacuated near the edge of Bangot were discovered: some were captured as prisoners and others killed.
“On May 21, Pinkihan came late in the afternoon and informed that Mr. Gumangan finally came at the edge of Nagacadan barrio to call some of his spearmen. He returned without anyone joining him because a Japanese patrol got wind of his presence.
“May 22 was quite and no reports of engagements in every sector. The next day, spearmen from the 3rd Battalion tried to take-on the enemy at Madanum village but could not hit any who were positioned at higher rice terraces.
“On May 24, I wrote a letter to Col. Manriquez inquiring if one of my messengers, Daniel Araujo reported to him. The young Araujo never returned and his parents, Dr. Placido Araujo, District Health Officer of the sub-province, were worried.
“Information however, came later that they could not return as the enemy completely block up their way, which was true and that they were registered as regular soldiers by Col. Manriquez.
“The Colonel may have received my letter or not for he never replied it. We civilians who were not able to go behind the allied lines were, however, glad that no bombs and artillery shells ever fell at our evacuation places.
“On May 25 to 31, heavy rain poured during these days and no important engagement against the enemy was reported.
“The enemy, however, took advantage of the nature cover and got busy transporting their supplies toward Hungduan and Bangot. They captured some civilians and forced them to carry their supplies.
“One among them is Emiliano Bulahao who was able to escape later at night in the thick of darkness. He and his family were deprived of all their belongings, except for the clothes attached to their skins, when his native hut was burned to the ground. We accommodated them into our camp.
“On June 1, the Japs began to roam nearby our mountain jungle hide-out for they discovered some animal footprints. They found some cows on the ridge, belonging to Goppac and G. Anudon, and had good time in feasting over protein meat.
“On June 2, I led a few of my men toward Malohong, passing through thick bushes and creeks. However, we could not succeed in crossing the ridge as more Japs happened to advance toward Amduntog and Antipolo today. We stayed in the forest observing their movements.
“On June 3, a runner reported that civilians in Maggok proper harvested some rice fields even if the grains were not quite ripe because the Japs are getting nearer and are moving on patrol to the nearby villages from Bangot.
To be continued. The series is published weekly every Saturday at Sunstar Baguio, Philippines
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.