42nd of a series
The surrender of Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita
THE diary of my late father, former Ifugao Deputy Governor Luis Pawid, has this to say of the days of September, 1945 after Japan surrendered to the Allied Forces and ended the war in the Pacific Theatre.
“On September 1, civilians were forbidden to go the barrios, particularly in the Nagacadan sector, by American soldiers. Before noon, some civilians, mostly close relatives, came down from Nagacadan and stopped by our house. They informed that thousands of Japanese have guarded the barrio in ring formation and prevented civilians from getting near them.
“This kept me wondering that a big event is about to happen. I suspect high ranking officers of the Japanese Imperial Army must be the subject of a military protective cordon. I kept this to myself and continued to closely observe what is happening.
“On September 2, one American General arrived early this morning. All Filipino soldiers and civilians were ordered to get out of the road and stay away at a distance of at least 50 meters. I went up to the hill at Linda (sitio) to have a clearer view. The American guards who saw me walking up advised me to stay away from the road which I did. They informed that General Yamashita was to surrender this day.
“I went behind the cluster of banana plants, a good distance away, to watch the Japanese General and his entourage hiking down the road.
“Upon his arrival on the level ground and cleaned portions of the road, he stopped awhile to fix himself. Then he and some 15 other officers marched to where the American soldiers stood, and who escorted them to the main road where he stopped for picture taking. He was photographed in close up and all angles. The other officers were also photographed.
“Then, the Japanese general and his military entourage marched down the main road with military escorts passing in between American soldiers who stood guard by the road side in port arms.
“General Weightler, as I later learned of his name, was waiting with other ranking allied officers in front of the CP (Command Post) of Captain Marvel.
“General Yamashita and his officers came forward, stopped, and stood at attention, and gave the command to salute.
“General Yamashita and his officers gave the American general a snappy salute, and General Weightler returned the salute. They shook hands after the ‘Tiger of Malaya’ handed his beautiful sword to the American General as a gesture of surrender.
“They proceeded to the Command Post where they rested.
“Soon thereafter three-quarter trucks arrived and all the Japanese high commanding officers were loaded and they all rode away.
“The whole ceremony did not take 30 minutes.
“As they rode out of town, the Filipino soldiers and the civilian population yelled to the limit of their voices in jubilation that finally, the war and the atrocities of warfare were over.
In a footnote, my father made the following observation on the Japanese Supreme Commander. He wrote:
“General Yamashita, judging from his uniform which was rather loose must have been a stout officer. Apparently, his appearance seems very well compared with his officers and men who looked haggard, emaciated due to illness and hunger.
“In the afternoon, hundreds of Japs came down to surrender accompanied by some 50 officers. They were immediately placed in army trucks and brought to Bolog (toward the lowlands) where they were provided food and medical attention; and processing.
“On September 3, information from civilians allowed to go back to the barrios revealed that thousands and thousands of Japanese soldiers are coming to Nagacadan sector. They have reportedly put up tents in the rice fields while others were simply laying alongside the foot trails. None came to surrender. I surmise they are following a military protocol of giving themselves up in surrender.
“On September 4, some 20 Japanese came down and again taken right away, loaded in a truck bound for Bolog.
“I was informed that all Japanese soldiers meaning to surrender must come from the Nagacadan sector. Hence, all those in Hungduan, Amduntog area, and as far as Banawe side are marching to Nagacadan barrio where all will come down.
“American army trucks brought plenty of cases of rations for the Japs. Aeroplanes also dropped rations in the adjoining barrios for the defeated Japanese soldiers to eat.
“I was also informed that civilians are trading food with the Japs. Rice that they buy at P10.00 per ganta in the lowlands is sold at P100.00 to the Japs.
“On September 5, a thunderstorm exploded in town and rain poured heavily as if wanting to wash away the hardships everyone has undergone, and our present sorry state of chaos. We the civilians are protected with make-shift roofs over our heads while the Japanese soldiers who are still in the barrios must have drenched to their bones.
“On September 6, no civilians are again allowed to pass through the American guards manning the surrender route of the Japanese soldiers. However, Councilor Puguon with his men were able to secure passes from Captain Marvel and were permitted to go through.
“The remaining soldiers of the 14th Infantry left today because the defeated Japanese are afraid while there are Filipino soldiers in the vicinities.
“The next day September 7, members of the 11th Infantry 1st and 2nd battalion were also ordered to move out to Nueva Vizcaya. Many of my soldier relatives joined the march.
“This evening, the American soldiers had a good time drinking and yelling at the same time. It must be a victory celebration and/or perhaps a birthday festivity.
“On September 8, the American soldiers with native carriers brought plenty of provisions and medicines to the barrios for the Japs. Wonder why the Americans do not force the Japs to surrender instead of feeding them in the barrios.
Civilian deaths mounts
“On September 9, death among civilians are mounting high daily. Today over a hundred reportedly died due to various illnesses. The missionaries, policemen and the mayor can hardly recruit men to help bury the dead.
Meanwhile, trading between civilians and the Japs goes on. Food such as rice, can goods and anything edible command high prices. Some Japs pay in cash, jewelries and clothing. It is sad to note that some sickly civilians persist in doing business with the defeated enemy in good and foul weather. Quite a number are reportedly dying and their profits go to their next of kins.
“September 10, some 50 Japs surrendered today, but they returned to the barrio again. I learned that these 50 Japs made themselves available as go-between and arranging the surrender of their comrades’ bivouac in Nagacadan. They should be able to speak English.
To be continued. The 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.