Late in January 1945, the United States 8th Army landed on the beaches of Nasugbu virtually unopposed, making the town the first in Batangas to be liberated from Japanese rule in World War II. From the so-called “historical data1” of Poblacion Nasugbu, we are able to paint a picture of the days immediately after liberation.
The document described the three or so years under Japanese rule as an era when citizens could not “sleep without entertaining the fear of death during the night… because death lurked in every corner1.” This was the situation elsewhere not only in Batangas but also the rest of the country where there was a Japanese presence, particularly in the months preceding the return of American forces to the country.
News of the Nasugbu landing must have spread like wildfire in the rest of Batangas, because evacuees from neighboring towns, fearful for their lives because of the increasing number of atrocities being committed by the Japanese elsewhere, flooded into Nasugbu. “Nasugbu became the evacuation center of thousands of people from neighboring towns.”
Momentarily, Nasugbu became the seat of the provincial government of Batangas when one Colonel Fortunato Borbon of what is now the city of Batangas2, was appointed Provincial Military Governor by the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE). A “youthful” Atty. Lino Inciong of the nearby town of Tuy was also appointed as Borbon’s Secretary. Initially, of course, actual jurisdiction was limited, inasmuch as the rest of Batangas was still under Japanese control.
Meanwhile, one Maj. Basilio Fernando was appointed Military Mayor of Nasugbu. Former Mayor Florencio Oliva, appointed to the position by the Japanese in 1942, was arrested “for having collaborated with the enemy3.” [Please see Notes and References section below.]
Fernando, the new Military Mayor, was considered among the pioneers of Philippine aviation. He would be sent to Texas after World War II to undergo a transport pilot course but would regrettably be killed in a plane crash in Oklahoma4. Fernando Air Base in what is now Lipa City is named after him.
Mr. Francisco Alix Sr., who served as Nasugbu’s Municipal Treasurer from 1902-1941 but refused to serve under Japanese rule, sought to be reinstated. He would serve until 1946.
Fernando’s term as Military Mayor was brief as, understandably, he likely had to move out with the rest of the Allied forces as the liberation of Batangas began in earnest. In his place, Atty. Jose Valladolid was appointed Civil Mayor and occupied the position from March to April, 1945.
There was a succession of appointed Civil Mayors until Atty. Gregorio Pañganiban was elected to the position in 1947, after the Philippines had been granted independence by the United States.
Although Allied Forces had landed in Nasugbu as early as January, their initial priority was to support the US 6th Army in the drive to liberate Manila and would not push out from Nasugbu for the liberation of the rest of Batangas until March 1945.
Hence, Nasugbu had a head-start over the rest of the province in the return to normalcy. On the 8th of March, schools were already opened in Poblacion Nasugbu. The shortage of classrooms was remedied by “civic-spirited citizens” who made their homes available for free.
The “historical data” source document noted that, among other things, the engagement of people in the “buy and sell business” (as a means to survive during and immediately after the war) meant that “there were not enough professionally-trained teachers who could be employed.” Thus, even high school graduates were “taken in to teach.”
Meanwhile, school resumed at Barrio Wawa on 15 March while the same in other barrios would follow as soon as conditions normalized. Just like in the Poblacion, when infrastructure was a problem, citizens stepped in and made their own homes available for use as classrooms.
By July of 1945, the private school Nasugbu Institute would also open with three freshman sections, two sophomore sections and one class of juniors. The total enrolment of the school was 281 students with seven teachers employed.
Notes and references:1 Most of the information contained in this article, unless otherwise annotated, from the document“Historical Data of the Municipality of Nasugbu,” online at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections, p. 17.
2 “Fortunato Borbon,” Wikipedia.
3 Batangas History is unable to establish what became of Mayor Florencio Oliva after the arrest, or if indeed he was found guilty of collaboration with the Japanese. It is entirely possible that his acceptance of the position was made under duress.
4 “Flying brotherhood, Class of 1957,” 2017 by Ramon Farolan, online at the Inquirer.Net.