40th of a series
Intense allied offensive
SERVICE above personal interest and welfare has always been the motto of my father. Stripped of his position as Deputy Governor of the Sub-Province of Ifugao bestowed upon him during the Commonwealth years, he unselfishly continued to serve his people and country by joining the American soldiers in the front lines press for the immediate annihilation of enemy soldiers or surrender, and end the war.
He was confident my mother, Angeline, can fend for herself and us, the seven young children. She was comfortable fixing our home in the bullet-battered house. My mother, a kind hearted woman, was provided the needed support by barrio relatives who cannot yet go home to their war-stricken villages.
(Addendum: our eldest sister Junia, then 11 years old, narrated how Mama Angeline packed rice in socks and hang them in twos around the necks of her four older children as they hiked back to safety in Kiangan. It nourished them for several days as Angeline avoided feeding her family ASAP with rich American Army food rations and prevent stomach problems. Our sister and the families of her three children, now lives in northern California with her husband Agriculturist Jose dela Cruz.)
“On August 8, I am still at the front lines with the American officers. Artillery guns and aero plane bombs continue to hammer the forests of Makakkalong and the villages around. It appears the enemy is making a strong stand with arriving reinforcements to defend this mountain. I am assuming that if the Americans capture it, all their perimeter defenses (of their over-all commander Yamashita) will be at the mercy of allied guns and bombs. The enemy soldiers were bravely dying.
“At around 9:00 a.m. an allied plane flew so low and dropped its bombs. The explosion upsurge hit the plane and caught fire. The pilot bailed out all right and landed somewhere in the vicinity of Bokiawan.
“Spearmen led by Darwin Tobiagon rushed over the ridge but arrived too late as Japanese soldiers captured the pilot. We never knew whether or not his life was spared by the enemy.
“In the afternoon, Councilor Puguon and his men were ordered to spy on the enemy at Politang where one machine gun is suspected to be posted. I joined the American soldiers at Nunto-ol opposite Politang. The Filipino soldiers of the Buenavista group were positioned below in the caves at Montua-on.
“The route to Politang is through open rice fields then crossing the brook before climbing up. Both Filipino and American soldiers agreed to allow the native spearmen to make dash along the dikes of the rice terraces and seek cover in the stone embankments. Soldiers on both sides would provide cover. The Filipino soldiers did not follow the agreement and fired at our men (US soldiers) which almost led to an exchange of fire power.
“I complained to Major Figley and Captain Burgh, hence, the Buenavista group were pulled out from the front lines and ordered to withdraw to Bagabag in Nueva Vizcaya. This ultimately led to re-positioning of Filipino and American forces in the war zone.
“Only American soldiers were detailed to engage the enemy on the Nagacadan sector while the 14th Infantry remained on the Antipolo and Amduntog area with American junior officers supervising. Complaints were aired earlier that Filipino soldiers were shooting at civilians and burning their homes and rice granaries.
“I was informed that military Deputy Governor Famorca reported the matter to commanders of the 14th Infantry. However, instead of investigating the matter, he became the subject of an investigation and ordered to provide and prove evidence. Nothing was done to appease the minds of the native victims.
Finally a newspaper copy
“On August 9, a fresh group of American soldiers arrived with food and ammunition supplies. A young soldier gave me an old newspaper, an item of which said that Russia declared war against Japan last night. The news item was mentioned very much earlier in a radio broadcast. This meant shortening the war with Japan.
“By the newspapers I came to know of a new American war armament called ‘Atomic Bomb’ which was to be used for the first time against Japan. Probably, such deadly bomb was already dropped and exploded.
“Councilor Puguon’s team reported of Japanese snipers on the eastern side of Mount Puloy. This brought about renewed shelling and bombs dropped by planes which were conveniently flying over. His team of spearmen with two squads of US soldiers then proceeded to Kimbuluan and Nunto-ol forcing enemy remnants to retreat to Imaguling ridge.
“On August 10, for the first time ‘liquid fire’ was used against Japanese hiding in the caves above Day-ya sitio. The group of Councilor Puguon reached Pudawan, beyond and above Nunto-ol, where they communicated with the Kiangan gunners to target resisting enemy at nearby sitio Badon.
“The spearmen and US soldiers returned early tonight. No ration was available for the Americans so we gave them three cups of rice as they put up their tents under my father’s house.
World War II over ... not just yet
“At about 8:30 p.m., all the Americans were yelling and shouting the war is over! The yelling by soldiers and civilians could be heard all over from Kiangan central to the barrios. About an hour later, there was again complete silence except for the artillery guns which kept booming.
“Early in the morning we learned that the supposed surrender of Japan was not true, because Japan has not yet accepted all the terms of surrender as presented by the United States.
“The shooting war continued.
“On August 11, a few surviving civilians coming from sitio Kimbuluan informed me of a few Japs on the mountain ridge, but are concentrated in the forests of Kidotchong, Dinayahan and Kimbuluan. It must be a second line of defense for the ‘Tiger of Malaya.’ I relayed this information to Major Figley who informed the gunners at Kiangan. More shelling started whistling toward those forests.
“On August 12, I told the American officers that I have to see to my family in Kiangan central. I met Col. Manriquez and he made me understand that only Mayor Dulinayan helped his family at Kiangan during the Japanese occupation.
“I simply gave him a wry smile and said that records will speak for itself and his own family, if they must honestly judge, how much I too helped them time and again. I suggested he should not credit only Mayor Dulinayan. Civilians of Kiangan also deserve tribute for keeping their mouths shut during those terrible days to help protect his family and others in the Japanese calaboose at the stone building garrison.
“I do not mind whether or not the help I extended to protect his family on several occasions under the hands of the Japanese were acknowledged and appreciated. The civilians too deserve a simple praise and recognition for their cooperation. I let it pass.
“My small core group of civilian leaders told me that Mayor Dulinayan spoke for himself only in an attempt to impress and hoodwink the Col. from any suspicion for serving under the puppet government. It was said that Dulinayan wanted to be inducted into the 14th Infantry but was never accepted by higher authorities in spite recommendations of Col. Manriquez.
“On August 13, I was informed the Americans advanced to Pudawan. Enemy snipers were reported to be holding safe positions at Mount Puloy.
“On August 14, the heavy gunners at Linda sitio kept on hammering targets at Mount Puloy and Kodotchong forcing the Japs to move back to Lobong and Dinayahan.
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.