The great disorder and panic, the evacuation times, the fear, the anxious waiting for the elders on guard of the ili, the tortures, the bombs that burned houses and the formidable garrisons during the Japanese occupation are not happily told by anyone. Worst were the times the villagers were ordered to make dumping pits where the dead were dumped and sometimes the living were pushed to be buried alive unless they were able to escape, An elder said with a sigh and teary-eyed, ‘Ine, ina-inayan baw di as en sagrapen di ipugaw. Kae-egyat. Kaasina, adi en kasin um-umat’, It means ‘God forbids, it is unthinkable to recall, May that never happen again’. Because of the negative side of what was experienced during the Japanese time and because the Americans were at war with the Japanese, some children changed their Japanese surnames by carrying their mother’s name as in the case of Dr. Leon Carlin who carried her mother’s name ‘Kalling’ and Yamashita to Bacayan
The good thing most could remember from the Japanese was when they learned some familiar phrases like Arigato for Thank you; Kumbawa for Good Evening, etc. The usual practice of the Spanish soldiers of getting any food product for their survival continued but this time, the Japanese would readily pay with yapyap (Japanese money) what they get. Those determined to intermarry with the Sagada people were however made to adjust to the more humane culture of the Sagada people. In the later days, the Japanese-Sagada intermarriages were acceptable and comfortable for all parties. As the policy of attraction continued in the later years, the accommodation of Filipino-Japanese descent to go to Japan as migrant was a privilege the descendants enjoyed even until today.
These special accounts were noted from actual interviews and supplemented by the teachers’ compilation and edited by Epifanio Ramos, their District Supervisor in 1953. During the WWII, most of the buildings of Sagada were destroyed by liberation planes. This was because many Japanese were then garrisoned in Sagada. With the help of war damage money, however, most of the buildings were reconstructed and many others were constructed from private funds. Sagada was liberated from the Japanese on July 4, 1945.
Among those recruited and died during the war was Angel ‘Aklayan’ Egsaen. His family was compensated when some years after the war, he was among the many enlisted War Veteran pensionados and lately when Barrack Obama won the Presidency in the United States of America, he worked for the back pay of pensioners in the amount of $15,000 that was partly enjoyed by the pensioners including Averyl Egsaen born April 9, 1913 and died on August 6, 2009 at age 96.
Most of the local battles in Sagada in 1945 were done by the bolo men. They made their first attack on Japanese soldiers on February 2, 1945 when they ambushed 7 Japanese soldiers coming from Besao. They killed one, wounded one and captured several arms and ammunitions. The second battle of Sagada is the fight of Lallalayan during the return of the Americans. The bolo men captured a submachine gun and about two hundred rounds of ammunition. This was in addition to 4 rifles. As said by Bartolome Daoas, it is hard to forget how the local bolo men and a few soldiers moved fast over an open space shooting and throwing grenades to the enemies. It was in this battle that one teenager from Sagada killed seven Japanese in a close fight before he died by his own grenade which he failed to throw on time. At Ampacao was the killing of a Japanese soldier by Dopais and at Kapay-aw was the death of a Japanese in the hands of Gambican.
In a district report submitted July 15, 1953 by Bartolome Daoas as the Acting Principal, during the Japanese occupation, many houses in Ambasing were burned by the Japanese. In July 1945, there were 10 pupils killed when the school building was hit by the American bomb intended for the Japanese. The building had been rebuilt financed by American War Damage funds. Some houses were rebuilt by the people from their earnings and supplemented by the American War Damage claims.
Sometime in 1945, as accounted by Soledad Killip at age 92, born August 16, 1917, “I saw some Japanese soldiers who just passed by from Besao when all of a sudden I heard sounds of dynamite blasting (bongbong). Then later there were airplanes above but I could not see what was going on. I was pregnant that time so I joined all others move to an evacuation site. We first went to Kamit-aw then to Lamagan and then Tanulong.”
During the Japanese war, Diyaw Domingo Degawan recalls how a woman was killed by enemies from another village when on their way to evacuate. Apparently, the woman returned supposedly to get her acusan. Acusan is a woven utility kit where one places her valuables such as needles and thread, money, garter, receipt, and sometimes an amulet.
As recalled by Melecia Segwaben (91 years old), they evacuated in Nagawa near Banao lake. She used to see Japanese walking in a far distance. One day her father collected much liyek (winged flying insect) and roasted it for their food. At another time, her grandmother Manuela Baoangan suddenly appeared hiking a long way from Besao to bring camote for their survival. The Japanese soldiers were kind to them because they shared with them some food.
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In 1941, were conflicts among neighboring communities too. Ankileng and Bagnen had conflict over the question of boundary and irrigation that resulted in the death of two men from Bangnen and two injured. In January 1, 1942 the case was settled amicably and the people of Ankileng had to pay indemnity of P2,000.00. At another time, villages from Bontoc attacked Sagada the third time, the first was the Dagdag massacre during the Spanish time and the second time, the Balugan attack during the American time . As the people recalled what happened during the massacre, the Sagada people united in defense of their town chased them with their bolos. That’s when they saw the Bontoc attackers ran as fast as they could back to their villages. As described in the book of Jenk, the attackers keep running, running, running.
In an account by Capuyan, three orphans were victims of a naughty man from Besao. These three orphans were buried in Mabinoso. Later, there were incidents of burning of houses in Besao that were mysteriously identified to be line of fire coming from Mabinoso. This incident led to the peace pact agreement between Besao and Sagada performed in accordance to indigenous and customary laws with the offering of a native sow as a sacrifice during the ritual. Similarly there had been attacks of the Tanulong tribe by Mainit, Guinaang and Dallic that only stopped after a peace-pact ceremony was performed. This peace-pact is binding until today.
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