trust and confidence of the Japanese Kampeitai. However, the movement was sensed from the collaborators and several of these guerrilla officials were tortured and put to death. Among them was Lt. Marciano Evangelista Jr. and Lt. Espina.
THE COMING OF THE LIBERATORS….. On November 25, 1944, a squadron of U.S. fighter planes made their first appearance in the skies of Batangas. The people were alarmed by the strange airplane sound at about 10:00 a.m. Then followed the explosion of bombs faintly heard by the townsfolk. The Lipa Airstrip was being pounded. After ten minutes pounding of the airport, the sound became more audible and finally, deafening. The planes soared above the skies of Batangas and circled around. Before they could finish the circle, they banked and dived one after another raining death and destruction on the Batangas Airport. The Japanese anti-aircraft barked and retaliated but all the planes left unscathed.
The planes reappeared the following week and came in regularly thereafter until the airstrip was totally destroyed.
In December of the same year, the town was hammered heavily by the P.T. Gunboat. The civilians fled in panic, but were happy for it was a sure sign that the liberators will very soon arrive. About the middle part of January, 1945, clouds of bombers and fighters appeared in the skies south of Batangas. They were escorting U.S. transport ships loaded with U.S. soldiers which made their successful landing in Nasugbu, Batangas.
On March 8 and 9, 1945, the Japanese applied the scorched earth measure to this town knowing pretty well that the American soldiers would be due any minute. In the evening of March 10, 1945, the Americans who were at Bolbok, Batangas, incessantly shelled the town until the following day. They entered the town in the morning of March 11 but the Japanese offered only a very slight resistance.
Soldiers’ camps sprung like mushrooms; ships docked in Batangas Bay; tools, equipment, food supplies and clothing were unloaded and brought to the depot. Batangas finally became a base called Sub-Base “R.” Schools were opened on June, 1946, financed by the PECAU for 3 months. Slowly and gradually, the normal life was restored with the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the buildings that were the remnants of the war.
DESTRUCTION OF LIVES, PROPERTIES AND INSTITUTIONS
DURING WARS, ESPECIALLY IN 1941-1945
The Japanese militarists under the leadership of Premiere Hideki Tojo adhered to a policy of territorial expansion; and not being satisfied with their gains in Manchuria and China, treacherously attacked Pearl Harbor, a U.S. base in Hawaii, on December 7, 1941.
On December 8, 1941, the United States of America declared war against Japan. The Philippines being a Commonwealth and a protectorate of the United States became also at war with Japan.
Several days after the destruction of the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor, a group of fifty-four planes on December 15, 1941, bombed the town of Batangas, destroying the house of Mr. Eriberto Briones on Vergara Street, the Batangas Cadre and Air Field, and some airplanes.
During the air raid, bombs fell like rain along the vicinity of the cadre and airfield. The Philippine Army and the air force at Batangas suffered a great loss in lives and property. Among the civilians who died were Mr. Alejandro Espina of Calicanto, an old man known as Valentin, a daughter of Blas Lontoc, the carpenter and a child of Mr. Felino Montalbo.
It was reported that eighty Japanese transports and warships would land at the Batangas shore. Pursuant to an order of the U.S. Army High Command to destroy the pier and the barrio of Sta. Clara, so the landing might not be possible, in the night of December 24, 1941, said pier was blasted by powerful explosives and the whole community along the shore was in conflagration. Almost all the houses in Sta. Clara were burned.
Several days after the destruction of the pier and the community of Sta. Clara, all hardware and lumber stores in the poblacion were ordered burned. The Batangas Chief of Police, Mr. Domingo Burog, and an American captain of the U.S. Army carried out the order willingly but with sorrow deep in their hearts. The business section of the town was all burned, and together with the National Lumber Store and other private buildings on P. Burgos Street, the Batangas Elementary School went with the flames.
On a sunny day during the first week of January, 1942, the Japanese Army occupied the town of Batangas. They used the Batangas High School, the Batangas Trade School, both on Rizal Avenue, the Batangas Elementary School on P. Herrera street and several big buildings in the town as their garrisons.
Thus began the Japanese occupation of the town and with it the bowing of the Filipinos to the Japanese every time they met them was put into practice. Failure to bow to the soldiers of Hirohito was enough cause for one to receive slaps on his or her face.
Because of the atrocities committed by the Japanese soldiers, the people stayed away from the town. As the people would not go back to their homes, the High Command of the Japanese army ordered the people through Mr. Roman Perez, acting mayor, to return to their homes on or before March 10, 1942 and if not the Nippon army would burn the unoccupied houses and the owners would be arrested and imprisoned in the Japanese military stockades.
Not because of fear to lose their houses, but of being imprisoned in the stockades of the Japanese Army the people of Batangas reluctantly returned to their homes. On October 15, 1943, the Philippine Republic under the Japanese supervision was organized, with Justice Jose P. Laurel Sr. as president. Mr. Roman Perez continued to be the mayor as he was appointed by Laurel.
The municipal government began to operate and as far as possible the people attended to their occupations. There was peace, but only for a short duration. The Filipinos believed that although they had been granted independence, the independence was without freedom. They found that they had been made slaves in their own homes. They might be compared to a bird tied in their cage. The string was cut off but the bird was yet imprisoned inside the iron cage. The bird had no freedom.
The Japanese soldiers became more atrocious. Because of the Filipinos’ loyalty to the United States government, and their love of freedom, underground units were organized. Foremost among these organizations was the guerrilla unit which was founded by Mr. Espina, formerly an army officer. Many prominent citizens joined this organization, the headquarters of which were in Balagtas, Tinga and Sorosoro. One of the aims of this organization was to see to it that the officials running the govern-
ment performed their duties with justice, and that they should not be too much pro-Japanese.
One Saturday night during the month of April, 1943, the storehouse of the garrison at the Batangas High School was robbed with a great quantity of flour, rice and canned goods, probably by the guerrillas. The Japanese suspected or they might have been informed that the goods were taken across the Calumpang River; so patrols were sent to Libjo to search for the missing goods in the morning of the next day. All [the] men found beyond the river up to Mahabang Dahilig were rounded up and assembled at the bank of the river along M. H. del Pilar Street. The people rounded [up] numbered about 2,000. They were all ordered by the guards to sit or squat on the hot ground and under the hot sun from morning up to 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon without food or water to drink. Then suddenly, they were ordered to march in double file to the Batangas High School campus. Upon reaching the Batangas High School grounds, the detainees were ordered to sit on the ground. They were heavily guarded with soldiers having fixed bayonets and some with machine guns.
Most of those people said their last prayers for they thought that it was the end of their lives. The detainees were persuaded through several interpreters to tell who the robbers were, but none named the culprits.
At about four o’clock, a Japanese truck came with Mr. Jose Dimaandal, formerly a public school teacher, and Mr. Vicente Marasigan, father of Mrs. Lucia M. Ilustre. Through an interpreter, a Japanese captain said that Messrs. Dimaandal and Marasigan were not thieves; that they were not the ones who stole the goods from the garrison storehouse, but because they resisted Japanese soldiers, they (Dimaandal and Marasigan) would be beheaded. How cruel and how inhuman was the punishment given to Dimaandal and Marasigan was beyond description. Oyewake, a prominent Japanese merchant, pleaded [with] the Japanese officer for the release of the two, but only Mr. Vicente Marasigan was set free. Mr. Dimaandal was led by four Japs to the direction west of the Batangas Trade School where eyewitnesses said his head was cut off.
When Gen. MacArthur left the Philippines, he said, “I shall return.” True to his promise, Gen. MacArthur and his liberation forces landed at Leyte on Oct. 20, 1944 after annihilating the Japanese Navy. From Leyte, where the Americans got the foothold, they began to make
landings at different points in Luzon and other Visayan islands. American planes began to raid the town of Batangas. Tipped by the guerrillas that bombs and other ammunition were kept at Bagong Pook, the American planes bombed the spot and other military targets on January 17, 1945. Many civilians were killed during the raid. Among those who lost their lives were Mr. and Mrs. Remigio Arceo and one of their children; Mrs. Villapando, daughter of former auditor Villena; Mr. Florencio Untalan of Dumuclay; Bon Ilagan, Teodoro Trillanes and Mrs. Rafaela Arcenas Marcial.
During the month of February 1945, while the liberation forces were nearing the town of Batangas, the Japanese fled to Macolot mountains. Some stayed in dugouts and tunnels in the hill near the provincial capitol. Several times, a truck loaded with Japs returned to Batangas and burned and town and the barrios of Calicanto, Bolbok and Sta. Rita. The houses along the Batangas-Bauan highway were burned.
When the liberation forces entered the town of Batangas on March 11, 1945, they were met not with bullets of the enemy but by the cordial welcome of civilians and guerrillas. Near the Provincial Capitol, there was a little skirmish between some Japs and the American patrols. All the Japanese were killed.
Batangas was made a military base of the American liberation forces. There were hundreds of thousands of American soldiers stationed at Batangas. These soldiers spent their money lavishly in the purchase of souvenirs, jewelries, fruits, such as bananas; fried chickens, wine and women. The three-year period of fear, poverty and hunger during the Japanese occupation was followed by the two-year period of happiness and health during the years 1945 and 1946. There was a boom in trade and commerce. Employment flourished. Almost every able-bodied man was employed in the construction of roads and bridges, and in the building of military barracks and depots. Many men and women were employed as civilian personnel of the army.
Many people of Batangas were able to save enough money for the construction of new houses, in place of the ugly barong-barongs. There were some who got rich overnight; yet there were also many who were not able to meet the cost of reconstruction. The town as a whole was not yet a pleasant sight. Ruins of destruction during the war were still visible.
MEASURES AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS TOWARD REHABILITATION
FOLLOWING WORLD WAR II
The Americans through their President Franklin D. Roosevelt promised that if the Filipinos would remain loyal to America, all damages caused by war would be paid for in full or in part. True to that promise, the American Congress in the year 1946 passed the War Damage Act appropriating $400,000,000.00. From this appropriation, the claimants received their war damage payments and they were able to construct better houses in place of the make-shift structures which they built after liberation. At this writing, Batangas is almost fully rehabilitated.
TRADITIONS, CUSTOMS, AND PRACTICES IN DOMESTIC AND SOCIAL LIFE
Birth….. A mother expecting to deliver walks back and forth before her labor begins. This practice results in easy delivery. She may also wear beads to help her. The husband is not supposed to lie in the room when labor is about to begin, also, the mother will suffer pains. A pullet or chick is killed after delivery as an act of gratitude to God for the safety of the mother and child. A mother expecting the first child gives birth in the home of her folks. This assures safe delivery. At first signs of pain, the family recites the Holy Rosary. When labor is hard and painful, the mother is made to look at the image of Christ or the Cross.
BAPTISM….. A young couple usually selects the person to sponsor in the baptism of the child. If they like their child to be brilliant, they choose an intelligent person. If they like their child to be rich in the future, they select those who are well-to-do. A baby boy is sponsored by a man; a baby girl is sponsored by a woman. After baptism, the sponsors throw coins to the children in the home of the child. Some girls offer empty glasses adorned with flowers to the sponsor. This means that the sponsor should drop some coins into each glass. The midwife gets a share of the sponsor’s collection. She is given at least a peso unlike the rest who are given only as much as five or ten centavos.
COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE…..
1. Before asking the girl to marry, a man works voluntarily for all the members of the family doing the major work in the house for a certain period of time.
2. Friends give gifts to the newlyweds during the wedding party.
3. The bride is taken to the house of the groom at the end of the party accompanied by relatives of the man and friends. The groom is left in the house of the bride.
DEATH AND MOURNING
1. The family of the dead (corpse in the house) is visited by relatives and friends. They make wreaths.
2. Relatives of the dead abstain from dancing. They wear black clothes, particularly the females.