35th of a series
The frightening sounds of war
BOMBS DROPPED by allied planes and artillery shells are exploding in every distant mountain surrounding the evacuation hide-out of my father and company in the forest at the south-western section of Kiangan, Sub-Province of Ifugao. These war sounds are so frightening that can shake the minds and bodies of children and women including the rest of the adult civilians.
My father wrote: “I felt pity and pain to see the children and women bodily shaking whenever these military war armaments explode near us. Traumatic for all yet the will to survive in His care is the only prayer that keeps us sane and alert.
“On June 19, enemy soldiers were sighted by our observer above our camp. The children and women were immediately moved to our emergency evacuation camp. The men and I scrambled to our defense positions and waited for the enemy to come. By the grace of our Lord and Savior, the Japs did not come farther than on the ridge overlooking Tabonnok sitio.
“Heavy cannon shots were exchanged. The Japanese artillery sounded differently from the allies. I always hear this first shot and then followed by some minutes of silence; usually about five minutes, and then shots in threes or fours in succession. I heard these sound from nearer points and I found out later on that these came from the enemy line in the southern part of the ridge.
“The allied cannons were usually fired continuous one after the other, and then all at once simultaneously targeting the estimated locations of the enemy in the mountains. The explosions were terrible.
“The exchange of artillery shots kept on until dusk on the side of the allies, whereas the enemy continued their replies up to about 10 o’clock tonight.
“At dawn on June 20, allied artillery shots greeted the day and there were no replies from the Japanese.
“Benjamin, Manghi and Tomas, all spearmen in the 2nd Battalion walked into our camp and partook of our simple camote breakfast. They came from the Antipolo side last night passing through the forest in wide detours to avoid Japanese soldiers. They left their arms in the forest so that in case of discovery by the enemy, they may claim to be civilians. Readily they did not encounter any Japanese patrol for, at these times, the enemy is reportedly killing civilians including women and children.
“On June 21, my men at our observation post informed that the Japanese seem to be retreating farther to the north marching through the horse trail in the southern ridge. We suspect the Americans are now in sitio Bolog in Nayun, and not in Kiangan central as originally reported.
“If this were so, their artillery fires could reach the mountains farther beyond Nagacadan in my calculation.
“On June 22, the heavy guns from both sides were silent. Our camp is calm with everybody breathing with relief. We observed the continuous march of the Japanese toward Hungduan, fully loaded with rice palay and food supplies in addition to their arms.
“On June 23, we heard a few rifle shots from the enemy at Kidotchong sitio camote plantations. Buyayo, whom we sent to spy against the Japanese over the ridge, came back and reported that enemy soldiers there has relocated to the higher points at Kimagoling. This elevated area is overlooking every direction around: Kiangan, Antipolo and even as far as Lagawe, Burnay; and toward Hungduan. There is nothing more important today.
“On June 24, our observer-spearmen reported today that Japanese soldiers who were holding on to their positions on the eastern side of Kiangan central are now retreating toward Hungduan area from the advancing American forces. Allied artillery from Bolog in Nayun is forcing the enemy to hasten their retreat. Kiangan central up to Nagacadan barrio became a ‘no-man’s land’ as these areas became the target of nonstop and incessant artillery bombardment.
“Our observers say able bodied Japanese civilians are carrying loads of food supply alongside the soldiers.
“On June 25, the movements of the Japanese continued and are converging in the vicinities of Ahin, Wangwang, Tokokan and Tinoc barrios.
“On June 26, Buyayo with his watchful eyes came running to camp to report that enemy soldiers were marching toward our side. They were following the small path along the creek. My men and I started to go down the creek with plans to initiate an ambush near the precipice where they could neither turn back nor come up into camp. Luckily, they did not continue their advance toward our side, but followed the other creek down to Olnoy. Lord Jesus, our protector and savior, is great!
“On June 27, Pepito Tayaban, a former constabulary soldier during the Puppet government and now a team leader of spearmen, came to report that the Japanese retreat is on-going.
Allied planes renew dropping bombs
“On June 28, several allied planes once again appeared in the skies dropping their bombs in the forests beyond Kiangan and Nagacadan barrio where they sighted the retreating enemy.
“On June 29, Pilipino soldiers and spearmen taking advantage of allied bombs were engaging retreating enemy in eastern Antipolo and at Dinayahan forest. At Dinayahan, the enemy seemed to have dug in at an advantageous position over our soldiers.
“We can hear the exchange of rifle shots: rapid fire coupled with single shots from repaired carbine rifles from Pilipino soldiers. On the other side are Japanese guns that sounded like our cal. 22 rifles yet accurate in their sights.
“On June 30, American planes continued to drop bombs.
“Around noon time, Pinkihan came to report that an enemy platoon was passing by our mountain side. I gave instructions not to engage them and avoid detection for our camp was surrounded.
“On July 1, rifle shots were heard from the Kidotchong side as if they were signals. At this time, Kitdotchong is the center of operation of the enemy on the southern side.
“We see eight allied planes, instead of dropping bombs, were releasing pamphlets all over the forests in Maggok and Nagacadan barrios, and toward Ahin and Hungduan.
“Later in the evening Melecio and companions, escaping the Japanese cordon, came and told us that the Japanese simply sneered and laughed at the pamphlets which called for their surrender. ‘Nippon no hatai, no soko’ meaning ‘Japanese soldiers, no surrender’; Melecio trying to quote the enemy.
“July 2, showering the whole day and no planes were heard everywhere. It was precious family time playing with the young ones.
“July 3, several planes are flying over Hungduan sector as if making reconnaissance of the situation below. They dropped some bombs over enemy targets that seem to be entrenched on the mountains in Nagacadan barrio.
“Civilians who reached us tonight revealed fighting along the trails of Puloy point and the ridges at Pidpid sitio.
Celebrating American Independence Day
“Today is July 4. This day must be celebrated in all parts occupied by the Americans. We too held our own celebration with feasting on a wild pig caught in one of our traps last night. I gave a short lecture on how the Americans earned their independence from the British after which declared July 4 as their Independence Day.
“A few allied planes flew the skies but dropped no bombs.
“In the afternoon of July 5, we continued celebrating the American holiday by partaking on a jar of native rice wine, buried for one and a half months by one of the civilians. He buried the valuable jar, an old China, for safe keeping.
“While we were sipping our drinks, Bolhayon, one of my spearmen arrived and narrated his encounter with enemy soldiers. He was chased by Japanese guards as he was sighted passing on the edge of the creek below. Shots were fired at him. He evaded them by taking a detour back to where the Japs came from; and from there touted at them to chase him. He was fired upon again and again but the shots were quite wild, and Bolhayon continued to sneer at the poor shots.
“He allowed himself to be seen going to the opposite mountain away from our side, and then followed the creek back to our side. When he reported the matter, I reprimanded him for his recklessness. I pointed out to him that he was just lucky there were no other Japs where he escaped.”
To be continued. This series is published weekly every Saturday by 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.