PART III- THE JAPANESE OCCUPATION

 

1.  PEARL HARBOR

ON DECEMBER 7, 1941,the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. That started the pacific war.

In going to war the Japanese had wanted to conquer the whole of southeast Asia.. This includes the Philippines. The Japanese aim in conquering these Southeast Asian countries was to exploit their rich natural resources.


2.  PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT EVACUATES

When the war began the Lingayen Gulf areas was heavily guarded by American and Filipino soldiers. But suddenly Gen. Douglas MacArthur commander of the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) decided to concentrate his forces in Bataan. The USSAFFE, contingents in the Lingayen Gulf areas were ordered to move out to Bataan.

As this developed, the provincial officials of Pangasinan were alarmed. About the middle of December, Governor Santiago Estrada called the members of the Pangasinan Provincial Board and various provincial chiefs of offices to a general conference, the agendum was the evacuation of the provincial government.

In the conference, the provincial officials unanimously decided to evacuate the government to Tayug. By Christmas day the provincial government moved out to Tayug.

 

3.  LOOTERS BURN DAGUPAN

When Mayor Angel B. Fernandez learned of the decision to evacuate the provincial government to Tayug, he also moved his family to San Manuel in Eastern Pangasinan. Practically all the other municipal officials of Dagupan also went into hiding.

With a vacuum of leadership in the town, looters burned some sections of Dagupan. Anarchy arose. Looters raided several commercial establishments.

 

4.  CONFUSION AROSE

By January, 1942 a general confusion arose in the entire province. At least three people claimed that he was the governor of Pangasinan.

One was the Japanese businessman Yamari, who stayed in Dagupan several years before the Japanese invasion; the second one was a certain Dr. Diaz of Alcala, who studied medicine in Japan, and the third was Provincial board member (Vocal ) Enrique Sta. Maria of San Quintin.

In some towns of the province, certain pro-Japanese elements who came out were appointed as municipal mayors of their respective towns. Gov. Estrada, who previously went into hiding, was forced to come out He decided to recognize the provincial government.

 

5.  DAGUPAN WAS CAPITAL

In need of MEN to help him run the provincial government, Gov. Estrada went to Manila and sought out Blas F. Rayos. Rayos, when the war broke out was called to active duty in the USAFFE. He had the rank of Kapitan and was the executive officer for the central Luzon District of the USAFFE when his group was in Tarlac.

Capt. Rayos, in the company of Lt. Cornelio Tomeldan of Lingayen, attempted twice to go to Bataan and join their mother units, but their efforts were frustrated.

Estrada found Rayos in Manila and convinced him to return to Pangasinan, to prevent anarchy and save democracy. Estrada appointed Rayos as secretary of the provincial board. This was about the end of January, 1942.

In Dagupan, the Japanese soldiers gathered some 30 prominent citizens. They held an election to choose a mayor to govern the town.

Councilor Amado Li. Ayson was elected. He requested from the Japanese that Dagupan be made the wartime capital of Pangasinan. The Japanese agreed. The West Central School served as the capitol.

 

6.  RAYOS WAS WORKHORSE

As provincial board secretary, Rayos was the workhorse of the provincial government.

The condition being too dangerous, Gov. Estrada tried to play it safe and stayed in his residence in Calasiao most of the time.

The burden of running the government fell on the shoulders of Rayos. One week after the provincial government was organized, Rayos, in the company of a Japanese Kempetai officer, toured western Pangasinan to organize the municipal government there.

The Guerillas, who were already active by then, almost killed him.


7.  BATAAN SURRENDERS

On April 9, 1942 Bataan surrendered to the Japanese. By then, Gov. MacArthur had escaped to Australia. The USAFFE were made to march from Bataan to Capas, Tarlac. This was where the Japanese built a concentration camp for their camp prisoners. This long march was known as history as the Bataan death march.

After sometime, The Japanese decided to release the war prisoners, but they would release only those where there was a responsible official of the province who would answer for their good conduct.

For the sake of the Pangasinan soldiers, Rayos stayed in Capas for four months. He served as a hostage for the Pangasinan soldiers who were released from the prison camp.


8.  GUERILLAS BURN BRIDGE

One day, the Guerillas burned the bridge near Alaminos. The Japanese got mad. They summoned Mayor Agapito Braganza, who was then acting mayor of Mabini, to the Kempetai Headquarters in Dagupan.

The Japanese Kempetai ordered Braganza to restore the bridge in three days. Should he fail to do so, they would execute him. Braganza was scared. He said , it was impossible for him to restore the bridge in three days. There were no lumber materials for him to use, and there were no nails.

The Japanese told him to tear down the big houses in Alaminos and use them to construct the bridge. To save Braganza from his predicament, Rayos advised him to promise to do as he was told and go into hiding afterwards. Thus Braganza was released.

 

9.  CONTACT WITH GUERILLAS

While Secretary Rayos and Mayor Ayson were at the nerve center of government operation in Dagupan, they were in close contact with the various guerilla units operating in Pangasinan.

One night, guerilla leader Ferdinand Marcos, in his reconnaissance of Pangasinan province, slept in Rayos' residence in Pantal.

In 1945, when the Americans arrested Rayos and incarcerated him in Muntinlupa,, Marcos interceded for him. With the help of our influential Filipino leaders , Rayos was subsequently released.

The greater part of the service of Rayos and Ayson to our people was devoted to doing liaison work with the Japanese Kempetai to save the lives of people captured or arrested for guerilla activities.

 

10.  DAGUPAN GUERILLEROS

Three Dagupenos figured prominently in the underground movement during the Japanese occupation. These were Miguel R. Acosta, Felipe Llamas Cuison and Jaime Arzadon, Sr.

Arzadon was the member of the national volunteers when the war broke out. He was then in San Miguel, Pangasinan.

On Christmas day on 1941, the Japanese invading forces learned that the provincial government evacuated to Tayug.

A Mechanized contingent of Japanese proceeded to Tayug to capture the provincial officials. To their dismay, the bridge in Barrio Toboy, Asingan, on the way to Tayug , was burned down. The invaders thus took a detour through San Miguel. When the Japanese arrived in San Miguel , Arzadon was there to meet them. At first Arzadon thought they were allied forces, so he came out to welcome them. Then he realized they were Japanese soldiers.

They asked Arzadon to surrender. Arzadon raised his arms, but when he noticed that a Japanese officer got his pistol to shoot him, Arzadon fired his gun and killed the Japanese officer. Then he scampered away for safety. With that initial encounter with the Japanese invaders, Arzadon later teamed up with Miguel and Acosta, who was able to escape capture in Bataan. On April 18, 1942, the two Dagupenos organized the Army of the Agno in Barrio San Isidro, San Nicolas, and Pangasinan. This guerilla force used to ambush Japanese soldiers on their way to Baguio.

While Acosta and Arzadon were operating in eastern Pangasinan, Cuison,on the other hand was leading Guerilla operations in eastern, Pangasinan and Zambales. Right in the Kempetai headquarters, the guerillas had a planted man who regularly informed them of the movement of the Japanese. He was Sgt. Bato of Aguilar.

One day, Cuison received Bato's message. He prepared to ambush the Japanese convoy between Sual and Alaminos. Three truckloads of Japanese soldiers, together with their commanding officer were killed. Only three Japanese soldiers escaped.


11.  LIFE IN DAGUPAN

As Dagupan served as the war time capitol of Pangasinan, life in the community was generally peaceful.

Capitan Valdez, a guerilla leader in Mangatarem, several times threatened to enter Dagupan and raid the Japanese Kempetai headquarters. On the other hand, the Kempetai chief in Dagupan threatened to burn the town of Mangatarem on account of the gueriIlas.

It was Secretary Rayos who averted both camps from executing their threats. Thus Dagupan and Mangatarem were spared from bloody encounters between the two forces. Many Prominent Pangasinenses lived in Dagupan during the War years. They felt safer in the community. One of them was Speaker Eugenio Perez. 

 

12.  VICTORIANO C. DAROYA

For a deeper insight into how Dagupenos managed to live during the Japanese occupation, here is the war time experience of Victorino C. Daroya, the accountant.

"I was in manila when the war broke up. I was the assistant advertising manager of the Philippine Free Press. The Free Press continued publication until March, 1942, when manila was declared open city. One morning, I came to office. The main door of the free press building was locked. A Japanese Flag was hanging on the door and a warning was posted which read: ‘whoever enters this building will be shot.’ The Free Frees was owned by an American, R. McCulloch Dick. The Japanese considered the publication an enemy."

"A few days later, I learned that the Japanese raided the house of Free press staff writer Leon O. Ty. Luckily for him, he was out of that time. Mr. Ty left for the mountains and joined the Guerillas. For my part, I left Manila to escape the Japanese. I went to Tarlac. I went around hunting for a job, any job at all to keep me busy. The only job available was that of sanitary inspector, at P40.00 a month. I took it."

"Not long after that, the Tarlac-Pangasinan branch of Naric was opened in Tarlac. I applied for a job. I was accepted as a chief accountant. The guerillas in Tarlac disliked us, Filipinos, who were working with the Japanese in the Naric. They posted a warning to liquidate us. There were six of us in the black list. Immediately I went into hiding. In Tarlac, I slept in a different house every night."

"When I could no longer endure the tension in Tarlac, I decided to take the train for Dagupan. I did not have a ticket. I hid in one of the baggage cars. Along the way, some Japanese soldiers were checking every Passenger for their tickets. They even went into the baggage cars. I was so scared. From the baggage car, I transferred to the front coach. A re-check was made while I was on the coach. What bad luck, I told myself then I realized I was carrying my identification card as a Naric official, and a safe-conduct pass issued by the Japanese Kempetai in Tarlac which I was hiding in my shoes."

"I displayed my ID card and my safe-conduct pass. When the Japanese soldier saw them, he saluted me and did not ask for my ticket any more. I felt relieved."

"After sometime, I wrote the Naric general manager in Manila that I have gone into hiding from the Tarlac Guerillas. I told him that if the Naric still needed my services, he should assign me to another place."

"On December 27, 1943 a Pangasinan branch of the Naric was opened in Rosales. I was assigned there as auditor. The manager of the Rosales branch of the Naric, Olympio Quintos, was a guerilla. Very often his fellow guerillas would visit him in the office; they bring with them their revolvers. These visits endangered our lives. Should the Japanese officials supervising us discover that the visitors were guerillas, they would kill us. The guerillas used to come to my desk. They would tell me that they had no money to finance their operation. I used to contribute to their treasury."

"Thus, I managed to survive the Japanese occupation."

Victoriano C. Daroya grew up in Mangin, Dagupan, the son of a carpenter. He worked his way through college. He finished his degree in comnerce, major in accounting from the Jose Rizal College in 1941. Before he could take the board examination, the war broke out. He took the board examination in 1949 and passed. He is today one of the most successful accountants in Dagupan.

The story of the Late Victoriano C. Daroya was gathered in an interview about a month before he passed into Great beyond.


13.  DINNER WITH KEMPETAI

Don Alipio Fernandez, Sr. was municipal councilor of Dagupan when the Pacific war broke out. He served as technical adviser to Mayor Amado LI. Ayson during the Japanese occupation. In an interview, he told us this story:

"At first I went with Angel (Don Angel B. Fernandez) to San Manuel. We evacuated there. Later, I came back to Dagupan to see how things were doing."

"Don Amado (LI, Ayson) was already installed as mayor. He advised me to take my family back to Dagupan and help him to run the government. Satisfied that the life in Dagupan was comparatively peaceful as it was in San Manuel, I brought my family back to town."

"Later, Angel followed suit and come back to Dagupan. So as not to antagonize the Japanese, Angel (B.. Fernandez) presented himself to Governor Estrada, who appointed him as Director of Amusements."

"Angel put up A movie house and he showed some movies. Once in a while some plays were staged in the movie house. There was one play presented. It was a comedy that poked fun against Japanese. Pauling Fernandez was the leading Lady character. Pauling was a very good singer. Pauling’s leading man was Ermin Garcia. That was how the two meet. The two later got married."

"0ne portion of the script called for a gun battle between the Japanese and the Americans. As the comedy came to the portion of the gun battle, somebody exploded a firecracker. Hell broke loose inside the movie house."

"One day Kee See Ong, a Chinese businessman, gave a lauriat party. I was invited and I attended. The chief of the Japanese Kempetai was the guest of honor. To my consternation, Kee See Ong seated me beside the Kempetai chief."

"As we were dining, the Kempetai chief engaged me in a conversation. "Mr. Fernandez, why is it that you, Filipinos, hate us; Japanese?"

"Oh, no sir, we do not hate you. As a matter of fact, the people of Dagupan like you very much and they want to adopt you as a son." I told him.

"Of course, there were some very bad Japanese as there are some who are bad; but we like those who are very good, like you, sir!" I continued. Then he said to me: " Mr. Fernandez, if I visit you in your house, will I be welcomed?."

"Yes , sir; yes, sir! you are most welcome, I replied, but deep inside, I got scared. This will lead me into trouble. "I will be there on Sunday."

"When I came home and I told my wife about the forthcoming visit of the Japanese Kempetai chief, She got so scared she threatened to leave the house and go to San Fabian."

"The Kempetai chief never came."

 

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