Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Hofileña: Negros Occidental under Japanese occupation (Part 3)

The Historian

THE history of the challenges facing the Negros resistance movement against the Japanese occupation began with the rise of small independent bands of Usaffe soldiers who had not surrendered roaming the mountainous interiors of Negros Island. From the earliest days of the resistance, Philippine army holdouts led by Maj. Salvador Abcede, struggled and succeeded to build a unified organization. From the start, Abcede and other guerilla leaders realized the need for Negrense civilian sectors to support the province-wide resistance movement. Thus, on December 16, 1942, the resistance government of Negros and Siquijor was established with Alfredo Montelibano, Sr. who led the resistance government. The proclamation of Montelibano as the free Negros Governor was well received given his service as first City Mayor of Bacolod and recognized as a model executive in 1938 by Pres Manuel Quezon. In late November, news spread that Montelibano had agreed to join Maj. Ernesto Mata in the hills and was simply waiting for an opportunity to go up to the mountains. On that day, Montelibano assumed the post as free Governor. He joined Maj. Abcede make a general call for all government officials to join the resistance government in the mountains. At that point, Montelibano also divided Negros Island and Siquijor into 8 administrative districts. The eight deputies who were also noted sugar planters and leaders were Roberto Llantada, Traquilino Valderrama, Salvador Benedicto, Miguel Gatuslao, Aurelio Locsin, Margarito Teves and Crispimano Limbaga. The new Negros Resistance government also patterned their offices and functions on the basis of the Philippine Commonwealth.

The newly-organized Free Government was relatively safe but the set up in the hills was not easy. The evacuees also had to be ready to leave their areas in case of enemy surprise attacks. Necessities were also not easily available. Their emergency lighting, shortage of fuel, and other essentials were very limited. Clothing was another necessity and lack of food was prevalent. The resistance government also established areas for palay and other crops. Health facilities were also provided with emergency health centers. Transportation was another problem to enable the movement of people and supplies. Many employees joined their landlords in their mountain areas. No formal schooling could be provided because of the constant danger of roving Japanese forces. While some government funds were also brought by Gov. Montelibano, these funds were made available on borrowings from relatives, friends, and other sources. The evacuees in the mountains were constantly contacting various financial assistance from people throughout Negros and Siquijor. Fortunately, President-in-exile Manuel Quezon authorized Montelibano to print emergency money which were then used for essential needs as well as for the use of their security activities. Much of the socio-economic facilities of the free Negros Government was difficult enough but the Japanese were constantly watching their activities. The success of the resistance movement also gave special attention to the neutralization of Japanese propaganda and sustaining special attention to maintain the morale of Negrenses in the lowlands.

The free government was also constantly managing the meager supplies for the resistance government and it was a major task of the mountain officials to provide the army with sufficient equipment. Although civil and military leaders cooperated with each other, the free government constantly facilitated close cooperation among the civilians and the resistance groups.

In his report to Pres. Quezon, Col. Jesus Villamor, stated that “The things that had been done, the sacrifices they had endured and the contributions that they had made will undoubtedly go down in Philippine history as one of the most compelling chapters in the story of Filipino participation in this war.”


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