Sulok was also the site of many Japanese atrocities committed in early 1945 as American forces advanced from Nasugbu to liberate Batangas. Some of these atrocities were described in a sworn testimony by one Apolinaria Navarro, who testified at Sabang in Lipa on 1 November 1945 as to the sequence of events to which she was witness.
Her testimony was presumably used in the trials of Japanese personnel charged with various war crimes. Documentary evidence was accumulated by the Judge Advocate Office’s War Crimes Branch, later handled by the same office’s Prosecution Section. The text of Navarro’s testimony is provided in its entirety below. The pagination is as it appeared in the original document for citation purposes.
|Possibly the river where the actual massacre occurred. Image credit: United States National Archives.|
Q: Please state your full name, age, address, and nationality.
A: Apolinaria Navarro, 32 years old, Sabang, Lipa, Batangas Province, P. I., Filipino.
Q: What is your occupation?
Q: Do you intend to remain at your present address, and if not, how can your whereabouts in the future be ascertained?
A: I intend to stay here for some time.
Q: Where did you reside during the Japanese occupation?
A: We stayed at the barrio of Sulac2, Sto. Tomas, Batangas Province, P. I.
Q: Did you observe any cases of mistreatment to Filipino civilians by the Japanese?
Q: Will you describe fully what you observed?
A: We were living at that time on the outskirts of the barrio of Sulac. At the end of February 1945, we were ordered by the Barrio Lieutenant to concentrate inside the barrio of Sulac. The reason for this was that all those to be found on the outskirts of the barrio would be killed by the Japanese. Around a thousand of us were concentrated in the center of the barrio, in the shacks we built for our own shelter. As soon as we had been concentrated, all men were gathered and taken on forced labor in the Malarayat Mountains, telling us that they would be returned in a week.
plunged savagely by the Japanese. The baby was dead before it reached the ground. I also saw about 500 bodies all scattered around the bank of the river with blood oozing out of them, and they all seemed to be dead. They had not been removed yet but were allowed to stay on the place where they died.
Q: Did you recognize any of the dead bodies what you have mentioned?
A: Besides my two children and the Mangubat family that I have mentioned, the other dead bodies that I can remember are the following: my sister-in-law Maria Rucafor3, aged 30; her daughter, Conchita Hernandez, aged 6, and her son, Antonio Hernandez, aged 3; My sister-in-law Juliana Rucafor Magsino, aged 50; my nephew and nieces, Proferio Magsino, aged 25, Presento Magsino, aged 30, Conchita Magsino, aged 13, Aurelia Magsino, aged 6; my brother Agaton Navarro, aged 33, his wife Maria Villanueva, aged 28; my cousin Bibensio Navarro, aged 50; my sister-in-law Cresenciana Rucafor, aged 40; my nephew, Lazaro Navarro, aged 12; Mena Navarro, aged 10; Alejandro Navarro, aged 4; Jose Navarro, aged 2; Juana Navarro, aged 30; Tamasa de Leon, aged 60; Sixto Kamintano; Eulogia Rucafor, aged 26; Benjamin Rucafor, aged 4; Carolito Dimafeles4; Pastor Rucafor, aged 30.
Q: Do you know any of the Japanese?
A: I only know of Yamashita. It was [a] common rumor in our town then that the Japanese General, Yamashita, had ordered the killing of all Filipinos in the Philippines.
Q: What happened to your husband?
A: My husband, Maximo Rucafor, 50 years old, was one of those men who were taken by the Japanese on forced labor in the Malarayat Mountain. He was taken by 2 Japanese soldiers and 2 Makapili members — Primo Quintos and Dalmacio Bueno, in the morning and allowed to return at about 6 o’clock in the afternoon of the same day. His job was to carry boxes of ammunition from the church where the Japanese had previously stored them to the foot of Malarayat Mountain. This went on for almost two weeks. At the end of the second week, the same members of the Makapilis informed my husband to take the following day as a day of rest. But early the next morning, the Makapilis returned and took my husband with them. Since then, my husband never returned and I never heard news of him. Anxious to learn the whereabouts of my husband, I inquired from Mr. Quintos. He told me that my husband had some work to finish and will return soon. But after 3 days, Mr. Quintos told me to pray for him because he will never return.
Q: Can you tell us the number of Japanese soldiers present at the time of the execution?
A: There were 20 officers and 100 soldiers.
Q: Can you describe any of them?
A: No Sir, but I can tell you that the officers wore leather leggings and carried sabers, while the soldiers wore short-sleeved khaki uniforms and carried rifles and bayonets.
Q: Do you know to what unit the Japanese soldiers belonged?
A: No Sir, I do not know to what unit the Japanese belonged. We never talked with the Japanese soldiers as we were afraid of them. We always tried to stay away from them when we see them.
Q: I hand you Exhibit G, will you describe it to me?
It is a picture of myself showing the bayonet wounds I received on my back.
Q: I now hand you Exhibit G-1, will you describe it to me?
A: It is a picture of myself showing four bayonet wounds I received on the right side of my body.
Q: Do you have anything further to add to your statement?
A: No sir, that is all.
Notes and references:
1 “Testimony of Apolinaria Navarro,” Document 2720, compiled by the War Crimes Branch, US Army Judge Advocate’s Office, Western Pacific Theater, November 1945.
2 Presently called Barangay Santa Cruz, Santo Tomas, Batangas.
3 The transcription was possibly done by US Army enlisted men. It is possible that “Rucafor” was in reality “Rocafort.”
4 Possibly Dimapilis.