lifestyle

A Century and 17 years of History ANG KATARUNGAN, Mindanao’s Oldest Newspaper

June 15, 2020

Few people would imagine from its humble four pages that the tabloid-sized Weekly Katarungan is Mindanao’s, and possible the Philippine’s longest surviving Filipino-owned, edited and produced newspaper.  First established as Ang Katarungan (The Reason) on July 1, 1903, it was founded by the distinguished Neri brothers Ramon, Felino and Vicente in Cagayan de Misamis (as Cagayan de Oro was then known).  Ramon B. Neri was the Mayor of Cagayan de Misamis from 1912–1916 and represented Misamis during the 4th Philippine Legislature. He is the father of the former Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Felino Neri.  Felino was a lawyer and Vicente Neri San Jose was a former Misamis Oriental provincial governor (1934), journalist and publisher .  When it first appeared, Ang Katarungan had the same size and number of pages as its present day descendant: the Weekly Katarungan now edited by Jerry Valenton and published by the founder’s great, great grandson Anton. It was type set by hand and printed in the venerable Minerva letterpress, many of which can be seen operating all over the countryside and had a respectable (for those days) 300 copies circulation    During the next 45 years, Jose A. Bautista of Camiguin, a staff writer of the Bisaya magazine, wrote that the paper changed its format no less than five times.  Bautista said among its past editors included Felino Neri, Salvador Pacana, Jose V. Yasay, Fidel Valledor, Patria Neri, Fidencio Neri, and Eustaquio Batoto Gonzales.  “From 1926 to the present (March 26, 1949), the paper had come out regularly as a Visayan-English newsmagazine in 16 pages, carrying on its masthead the pledge Devoted to the Development and Progress of Mindanao (which it does to present day).”  During that year, Ang Katarungan had a weekly circulation of 4,000 copies, and reached many points of Misamis Oriental and Mindanao.  It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the paper, starting with April 1937 when its office and printing plant was razed to the ground. Another fire struck on June 28, 1940 when a great fire which killed 12 persons wiped out the business and residential districts of the municipality. Barely two months later, however, published Neri San Jose set up another printing plant and resumed publication on August 17, 1940.  World War II began on December 8, 1941 and the paper was shut down in 1942. When Filipino guerrillas liberated Cagayan on May 10, 1945, the paper’s offices and plant were again destroyed.  But the indefatigable Vicente Neri San Jose persevered and again managed to resume publication on its 45th anniversary on July 17, 1948. That week’s issue had the late President Elpidio Quirino on its cover and cost 15 centavos. Not bad for a 16-page newsmagazine in those days.  During the paper’s centennial, writer E. Lazaro Garcia said the paper featured the Sept. 1, 1948 eruption of Mt. Hibok-Hibok in Camiguin (then a part of Misamis Oriental).  Garcia said among its ads for that issue were offers for the yet undeveloped Nazareth Subdivision (Cagayan’s first) and Ah Fat Store and Bakery with its ensaymadas, mammon, broas, cakes, etc. located at the corner of what was then known as South Divisoria-Real (now Capistrano) streets.  “It was housed at Neri’s Printing Press at Mindanao (Tiano Bros.) street.  Among its later distinguished editors and publishers were Augusto F. Neri, Sr., father of Atty. Augusto “Titot” Neri, Jr., former president of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club, COPC) and added the prefix “Bag-ong” to its name.  AFN, as he was known to readers of his Political Diary, served as a city councilor of Cagayan de Oro for two terms during the 1960s, and was chairman of the board of the Cagayan de Oro City Water District until his death in 1982. He was also president of the COPC in 1958.  Regular contributors included Atty. E. M. Tamparong, Atty. Juan B. Regalado, Dr. Blas Ch. Velez (composer of Diyandi, a song-dance, believed to be the oldest song in Cagayan de Oro), Adrito Labial, J. M. Gandionco, Guido R. Ongpin and former Cagayan de Oro Mayor Reuben R. Canoy (In a Nutshell).  Garcia said it also carried anonymous columns and articles by writers with “varied and amusing” nom de plume like Ginaraying Tistis ni Intoy Kinilaw (in balak form), Piko-Piko Laguring ni Pakang; Siesta of Mari Lu Valdez and Kulas Lipak. (RMB)

READ MORE
For the Human Race: Coca-Cola helps inspire renewed hope for a better tomorrow

May 29, 2020

MANILA – The human race is facing one of the biggest crises to happen this century; a health, social and economic calamity like we have rarely seen before. During this period, uncertainty and fear have gripped everyone—across nations, across faiths, and across cultures. Yet, it is clear, that to navigate this crisis, one must keep an optimistic spirit. And to remember that while we are physically apart, we are also emotionally drawn together in this common fight, certain in the coming of a better tomorrow. It is against this backdrop that Coca-Cola has launched “For the Human Race” a tribute to positivity, togetherness and the human spirit in these challenging times.  “The world today is in the midst of extraordinary and difficult times,” says Winn Everhart, Coca-Cola Philippines General Manager. “But we also acknowledge that this is a moment in which we need to come together and support each another anyway we can. This is a time for us to help uplift the spirit, bring needed encouragement, and inspire,” he said. “For the Human Race” – a timely and powerful message and movement A celebration of everyone that brings light into these dark times, this message and movement is a tribute to the men and women that truly go beyond. This includes non-government organization (NGO) volunteers involved in providing aid and relief to the marginalized; essential service staff such as drivers, food delivery riders, and store workers who continue to serve their communities despite the risks; and countless individuals who, in their own meaningful ways, are touching lives and inspiring others day-by-day. We see exemplary people like Neil Delgado-Garcia from Baguio. Despite being a person with disability, he hops onto his motorcycle to make vital deliveries, including volunteering to deliver food to frontliners. “Wala namang makakatulong sa atin kung hindi tayu-tayo din,” says Garcia.  It was upon seeing a restaurant prepare church-donated food for frontliners that inspired him to reach out and volunteer as a delivery rider. As a further act of kindness, Garcia would set aside the tips he would collect to buy coffee for the soldiers and police stationed at the checkpoints. Never letting his physical condition get in his way, his is an inspiring story of hope and an indomitable spirit against the odds. “Parang hindi tulong yung binibigay mo—saya. Sobrang ganda sa pakiramdam ‘yun,” he adds. Garcia tells his complete story in the Coca-Cola Philippines #ForTheHumanRace video. Coca-Cola’s long-held belief in universal togetherness, positivity and hope is the foundation of the “For the Human Race” movement.  “We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to those who continue to keep us all safe through the crisis, particularly those people on the front lines,” Everhart says.  “Every day, we are inspired and uplifted by countless acts of selflessness, kindness and courage from people across the Philippines and around the world. Please know that the good work you do serves to inspire us and that we are with you all the way in this fight.” More stories of hope for the human race will be shared in the Coca-Cola Philippines YouTube page. Supporting the community and responding collectively to the COVID-19 crisis Coca-Cola and their valued partners, including TOWNS Foundation, UP Medical Foundation, the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation, Caritas Manila, McDonald’s Kindness Kitchen, Rise Against Hunger-PH, Philippines Business for Social Progress, and Jollibee Foundation, have been supporting relief efforts since the start of the crisis in the Philippines. This includes the company’s initial Php 150 million donation that translated into providing personal protective equipment (PPEs), food packs, and beverages to medical workers and local communities. To date, more than 50,000 medical workers have been provided with PPEs, critical protection they need in treating patients, a significant portion of which was coursed through the tireless efforts of UP Medical Foundation and the TOWNS Foundation. Together with Caritas-Manila, Rise Against Hunger and PBSP, the distribution of food packs to 39,000 vulnerable families are ongoing, addressing the urgent need for nourishment and sustenance. Additionally, over 500,000 liters of beverages have been distributed to 125 public and private hospitals, 99 local government units, 53 national government agencies, and 50 non-government organisations and foundations. Coca-Cola continues to coordinate with partners, medical facilities, and communities, and provide much-needed support.

READ MORE
75th Cagayan Liberation Anniversary Feature Dodong's soap opera

May 29, 2020

FILOMENO “Dodong” Avanceña Bautista Jr. was 14 and a second year high school student when the war broke out between Japan and the United States on Dec. 8, 1941. At Misamis Oriental High School that Monday morning, as he stood waiting for the flag ceremony to begin, students and teachers seemed lost and disoriented. He noticed that people were saying goodbye to one another, acting as if they would not meet again. He kept hearing about the surprise bombing by the Japanese of the US naval facility at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and the subsequent bombing of American installations in the Philippines. “We were all told to go home and join our families,” Dodong recalled. But members of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, of whom he was one, were told to wear their uniforms and help in various civic activities, like directing traffic in what was then formally known as Cagayan, Misamis. Soon Cagayan, the capital of Misamis Oriental, was involved in the war. Citizens volunteered as peace officers, air raid wardens and coast watchers. By then the army and police were preparing for the Japanese invasion. All business establishments in the vibrant commercial hub of Misamis Oriental closed shop. Except for civilian volunteers, no one was allowed on the streets. Heads of families scrambled to procure food supplies and essential items for their households in preparation for evacuation to rural areas. “There were two activities that were prevalent during that time—profiteering and evacuation,” Dodong said. Panic gripped the citizenry of the town. The government ordered nightly blackouts. Army trucks and commandeered buses rumbled in the darkness as the military mobilized. Private vehicles were also commandeered by the authorities. Establishments owned by the Japanese in Cagayan were looted and closed, their owners arrested by the authorities. Within a few weeks, order and stability in Cagayan were gone. Many families had left and moved to the rural areas. Dodong’s father also decided that it would be safer for his family to leave Cagayan. In May 1942, the family moved to their farm, some 10 kilometers away from the town center of Balingasag, also in Misamis Oriental (46 km from Cagayan). The family stayed on the farm for several months until an indigenous tribe, the Magahat, forced them to move to the town proper for their safety. A few days before, they had heard that a family that sought refuge in a rural area not far from where they were had been massacred by the Magahat. In Balingasag, Dodong would come into contact for the first time with Japanese soldiers, an encounter he would never forget. By this time, the US Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) had been largely subdued. The first Japanese soldiers to arrive in Balingasag were part of Task Force for the Pacification Group. They were headed by Captain Okumura, an English-speaking, US-educated officer. Dodong remembered him as looking dignified and possessing a very strong personality. The task force was accompanied by Filipino USAFFFE officers, led by Capt. Jesus Yamut. At about the same time, a guerrilla group was forming in the area. The less than a hundred armed fighters were headed by USAFFE officers Captains Clyde M. Abbott and Pedro Collado. The guerrillas would later meet the Pacification team of Okumura and two Japanese soldiers. They tried to arrest the Japanese but Okumura resisted and attempted to evade capture by hiding inside the Santa Rita parish church in Balingasag. Guerrillas gathered outside the church and soon there was an exchange of gunfire. The Japanese were outnumbered but the old church was as strong as a fortress. The guerrilla officers decided to burn down the church to flush out the Japanese, despite the objections of Fr. Clement Risarcher, SJ, the parish priest. As the church burned, Okumura and his men went up to the belfry. Dodong, who lived very near the church, saw Okumura and his companions jump out of the burning church and try to hide behind an acacia tree. But the guerrillas repeatedly fired at them and all three were killed. “Captain Okumura’s life ended on top of a wheelbarrow… where he was mutilated,” said Dodong. The guerrillas, it seemed, did not plan to take the enemies as prisoners of war. Remembering war’s cruelty, Dodong seemed to understand why Filipinos acted in this manner: “Brutality is always the consequence of injustice. Whenever a Filipino family was affected or a member of the family was killed by the Japanese, you would always look for an opportunity to hit back. There was no such thing as forgiveness—it was more about vengeance.” Dodong’s father, Filomeno M. Bautista Sr., fearing reprisal from the enemy garrisoned in Cagayan, decided to move his family from Balingasag to the next municipality, Lagonglong. Here they would stay until the country’s liberation from the Japanese. Dodong said their stay in Lagonglong was generally peaceful, interrupted occasionally by Japanese patrols near the coastline. Wartime business With their almost idyllic situation, the family attended to its economic needs. Dodong’s father, who was a government scholar at the Philippine School of Arts and Trade (now Technological University of the Philippines) in Manila, tried making laundry soap. The essential household item was no longer commercially available, so there was quite a demand for the product. But the ingredients they needed were no longer available. “The most important ingredient was lime (apog) and it had to be made near the beach,” Dodong said. Limestone or coral had to be gathered near the seashore, then burned in a process similar to making charcoal to extract the lime. Dodong found an old woman who lived near the beach and manufactured lime. Fearing they would be spotted by Japanese patrols if they met near the beach, Dodong and the old woman transacted business without meeting face to face. The old woman would leave the lime powder at a designated place for him to collect and he would leave the payment by one of the posts of the old woman’s hut. It was all a matter of trusting each other to keep his/her end of the bargain. Reflecting on this relationship later, he expressed his eternal gratitude to the old woman whose name he never even knew. Because of her help, Dodong’s family was able to make quality homemade laundry soap that they sold or bartered for fish, meat, root crops and bananas. The cottage industry sustained the family until the liberation in 1945. Some 68 years after the country was liberated, Dodong’s memories of the war remained vivid, his experiences unforgotten. He said the war had its good and bad points. Although he witnessed cruelty many times during the war, he also saw several positive things. He said the war strengthened the people’s faith in God. He also found that those who had least in life had the biggest hearts, sharing their meager resources with whoever was in need. Dodong, who turned 87 on May 26, is my maternal grandfather. I am one of his 14 grandchildren from his six children.  (First prize winner Celine Marie B. Itchon was a senior high school student at St. Mary’s High School in Cagayan de Oro when she wrote this story in 2013. She was mentored by her dad, Eduardo S. Itchon Jr., who happened to be her teacher. Our grateful thanks and appreciation to Mr. Mike Villa-Real of Philippine Veterans Bank and Ms. Bianca Kasilag-Macahilig for graciously permitting us to republish this gem in commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of Cagayan’s Liberation on May 12, 1945)

READ MORE
Guerrilla Raid on Talisayan

May 27, 2020

One of the most unusual guerrilla operations in the Philippines during World War II was the guerrilla raid on Talisayan, Misamis Oriental, which was conducted with the assistance of the US Navy to eliminate and wipe out the Japanese garrisoned at this key objective. Amphibious in nature, the operation involved guerrilla units of the 110th Infantry Division, 110th Division United States Forces in the Philippines (USFIP) with an original strength of 200 men but which rose to 350 when a call for volunteers was issued. The US Navy Task Group 70.4 coordinated the operation. Task Group 70.4  was created to aid Filipino Guerillas in the southern areas of the Philippines. As originally constituted, the Task Group consisted of Landing Craft, Support (Large) LCS (L) 9 and 10, and Landing Craft Infantry (Large) LCI (L) s 361 and 363 under the command of Lieutenant Albert C. Eldridge. Organized on 24 January 1945, the Task Group was charged with the supply and support of Filipino guerrillas in Mindanao. Guerrillas had been previously supplied by submarines through the Spyron operation, which however, limited the amount of material they could receive. With the increasing American air and naval presence in the Philippines, it was now possible to use surface craft for supply. The Spyron submarine missions ceased in December 1944, when surface deliveries began. It was this role that the two LCS (L) s and two LCI (L) s were assigned. From February 1945 to May 1945, Task Group 70.4 completed thirteen missions. It was during one of these missions that the genesis for the Talisayan Operation was subtly intimated by Commander Charles “Chick”  Parsons, whose work in organizing the submarine supply of the guerrillas had given him a great deal of expertise in the matters facing Task Group 70.4. The way the suave Parsons proposed the raid to the new commander of the Task Group as described later by Eldridge in the ship’s history is a rather amusing read in hindsight. “While we were waiting for darkness and the return run to Leyte, the skipper and Cmdr. Charles (Chick, Chico) Parsons talked of this and that. Parsons had been the mentor of the previous work by sub and was starting us off in the right foot by giving advice now and then as to what had been done previously and how we might best work with the guerrillas.  He had a background as large as all outdoors in Filipino affairs before the war and exploits as long as your arm in spying activities against the Japs in Manila.” It was during this trip that Eldridge conferred with Parsons, leading to the first raid against Japanese installations. Their conversation went as follows: “I imagine there’re quite a few Nips ‘round here, Commander.” “Helluva lot of ‘em right close.” “Right over there-across the strait.” “Mmmm. Doesn’t appear more than twenty miles. Wonder why how much hot water we’d get into, going over to say hello.” “Can’t say. They have quite a few men, and are building barges in Talisayan.” “No, that’s not the kind of hot water I mean. I mean we have no orders to go running over here and there shooting people up. And someone back in Tolosa might not like my straying from the path on the first run.” “You’re right. Some few can cause a lot of trouble. But there’s a mighty nice concentration of them there.” “Think we could get at them?” “They’re right on the coast.” “Mmmm. Like to take a trip! Let’s go look at a chart and see what kind of water there is down there.”  Plain smooth Chico. Silky smooth!  Plans of operation were laid out in a conference between Major Paul H. Marshall, commanding officer, 110th Div (Guerrilla) and Major Harvey Harcourt, Inf, Capt. T.R. Daniel, Inf., Capt. William V. Pritz, Inf., Lt. William Griffin (USNR), and Lt. Albert E. Eldridge (USNR), of Task Group 70.4. The Talisayan garrison was selected as the target of an amphibious operation because of its value as a barge staging base midway between Cagayan and the Mindanao Sea, as Parsons aptly stated in his earlier conversation with Eldridge.   Reports indicated that the garrison had an approximate strength of 250 Japanese in the town center with another seventy in an outpost at a barrio two kilometers south. Guerrillas coached in Amphibious Landings Marshall, following instructions, proceeded to Balingasag, Misamis Oriental, and undertook the training of the guerrillas to be utilized as a landing force. Rigid training lasted ten days. The 110th Infantry Regiment headed by Maj. Rosauro P. Dongallo, Sr. covered the area from Tagoloan River to Lenugos (present day Magsaysay), Misamis Oriental with headquarters at Balingasag, Misamis Oriental. The regimental staff under Dongallo included Capt. Clyde Abbot (Executive Officer); Capt. Benjamin Pacana (Adjutant, S1); Lt. Fabian Villaroya (Intelligence, S2); Lt. Ireneo Villano (Plans & Training, S3); Lt. Papias Tiro (Finance Officer); Dr. Julian Tolentino (Regimental Surgeon); and Alfredo Hojas (Food Procurement Officer). The company commanders included Capt. Benjamin Hernandez, Capt. Fernandez, Lt. Emeterio Moreno, Lt. Nilo Moreno, Lt. Jose Docdocil, and Lt. Atilano Labuntog. Dr. Gerardo Sabal was the 3rd Battalion medical officer stationed in Sta. Ana, Tagoloan. During a later reorganization, Dongallo handpicked the following officers, assigned them to responsible positions and assigned to strategic areas of the 110th Regiment: Lt. Eustaquio Carpio, Eustaquio Embate, Felino Pangilinan, George Ramos, Realino Edquila, Benjamin Valmores, Natividad del Pilar, and Bonifacio Pailagao. On 20 March 1945, the two LCIs supported by two LCS’s of Task Group 70.4 arrived at the barrio of Lagonglong, seven miles north of Balingasag. This task force proceeded immediately to Talisayan arriving there at dawn the following day. The Mighty Midgets cometh On 22 March 1945, enemy positions were heavily shelled by the LCS’s preparatory to the landing of troops. The landing was supported with heavy firing but no resistance was offered by the enemy. Instead, they took to the hills. In retrospect, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise why the garrison troops turned tail when the naval bombardment started. Affectionately known in US Navy lore as The Mighty Midgets,  these ‘amphibious gunboats’ usually provided close-in fire support for the first assault wave on the beach; barreling at flank speed in a straight line, making two runs and firing rocket barrages at 1,000, 800, and 500 yards. After the rocket barrages, the LCS (L) s would turn broadside and fire at any targets of opportunity. Then they were followed by the Landing Craft itself. After the troops were on the beach head, the LCS (L) would pick off any targets of opportunity. Originally designated as LCS(L)(3), for "Landing Craft Support (Large) Mark 3", these 158-foot-long, shallow-draft LCS (Landing Craft Support) ships were small compared with the more glamorous Navy warships — less than half the length of a destroyer. But they more than made up for their size with their firepower. The LCS (L) (3) ships provided more firepower per ton than any ship ever built for the US Navy. Descriptions of the ships during battles include one comparing them to a lethal 4th of July fireworks show. LCS (L) s 9 and 10  were among the first group of LCS (L) completed during the war. Both built at the George Lawly & Sons Shipyard near Boston, Massachusetts, each mounted a 3”/50 gun in the bow that could shoot an exploding projectile nearly nine miles. Additional armament included two twin-mounted 40mm anti-aircraft guns, four single-mounted 20mm guns, rocket racks for 4.5 inch rockers, a .50-cal. Machine gun and an 80mm mortar. With the addition of the mortars, the ships had an enhanced ability to attack shore installations where needed. These mortars were not usually found on the ships but had been acquired locally in order to enhance their capabilities. As Eldridge wrote later in the ship’s history: “That was the start of our favorite pastime. On the first bombardment by the Nine and Ten (i.e., LCS (L) 9 & 10) we knocked out barrels and barrels of fuel oil and gasoline burned up the huts the Nips lived in. We won our spurs by crippling barge traffic in the area when the fuel was destroyed. We were credited enthusiastically but slightly optimistically by Filipino reports with killing 600.” A ‘Milk Run’ By 0600 Hrs, the attacking force occupied Sipaca and the barrios of Sipalong and Bugdang. The ammunition dump at Sipaca was blown up by supporting shell fire. Two armored barges complete with diesel engine and two trucks were captured.  Sixty sacks of polished rice, canned goods, and an excellent automotive repair shop were also taken. Enemy casualties for the whole operation were eventually reckoned at 138 Japanese killed in action with no casualties on the side of the guerrillas and the 70.4 Task Force. No doubt The Mighty Midgets made short work of the Japanese garrison. In fact, the landing and occupation of the mission area was such a “milk run” that the Air Force was requested to cancel all bombing and strafing missions in the Talisayan area. It should be mentioned here that this Talisayan operation was the first amphibious guerrilla offensive against the Japanese- the first of several successful operations in conjunction with Task Group. 70.4. News of the raid eventually reached  Vice Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid, Commander Allied Naval Forces South West Pacific Area under General  Douglas MacArthur  and Commander of the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet,  Pleased with their success, Kinkaid authorized them to conduct similar raids on future missions whenever the opportunity presented itself. The crew of LCS (L) 9 shortly after the war. Official US Navy Photograph Charles Wesley (Charlie) Bee, 94, of Parkersburg, WV, passed on Saturday, March 7, 2020, at Brighton Gardens,  Winston-Salem, NC. He served on an (LCS)(L) on the Talisayan Raid. Vice Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid, Commander Seventh Fleet, U.S. Navy (pencil sketch by Dwight Shepler, Official USN Combat Artist, Leyte, 1945 Aerial view today of Sipaca Point, Talisayan, Misamis Oriental. (photo credit Project-LUPAD)

READ MORE
75th Cagayan Liberation Feature: Life During Wartime

May 25, 2020

When Cagayan de Oro had to mark the 75th Anniversary of its Liberation from Imperial Japan on May 12, 2020 behind closed doors, it recalled a similar situation when everyone’s freedom of movement was drastically curtailed by the Japanese Occupation from 1942 to 1945. The Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) imposed tight restrictions on travel between towns and travelers had to provide “passes” similar to the Barangay Exit Pass permits only one person to step outside a residence for essential errands like medicines, foods and the like. In fact, those violating existing community protocols and loudly complaining in social media about having their freedom of movement constrained should consider themselves lucky they only get a pat on the wrist or at worst, a fine to contend with. During the Japanese occupation, violators often found themselves imprisoned, or worse, tortured and killed for merely being suspected guerrillas or spies. However, what most people could relate to during these times of the global pandemic is the adverse effects on their livelihood, household incomes and as a consequence, their daily bread, that in hindsight, is minuscule compared to the deprivations, fear and stress our lolas and lolos experienced during the three long years of the Japanese occupation. 3 Taong Walang Diyos When the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro came out last April to encourage the establishment of household and community gardening for local food production to help sustain especially vulnerable residents in the informal sector, the unemployed, and those unable to be gainfully employed at this time, it was a virtual throwback to those “3 Taong Walang Diyos” as how the title of a popular local movie then describes the dark days of the Second World War. Since many farms were abandoned and many farmers hiding out in the hills to escape the Japanese and local bandits, the shortage of food was a daily problem that haves and have-nots alike had to deal with. Agriculture Top Priority By sheer necessity, agriculture needed to be given priority. In Misamis Oriental and almost all provinces occupied by the guerrillas, Army Communal Farms were under cultivation. These were cultivated by civilians under the so-called “pagina system”. All the produce was for the Army. Evacuees were permitted to cultivate abandoned parcels of land and to them went the produce. Short season crops were produced intensively. Community farms and victory gardens, poultry and hog raising projects, sponsored by the Army and civil officials, were intensified everywhere. As vividly described by the late Cpl. Jesus B. Ilogon in his “Memoirs of a Guerrilla: The Barefoot Army”, his father Pastor P. Ilogon, Sr., as the Chief Food Administrator for the 109th Infantry Regiment, frequently and generously shared the produce of his farm in Lapad, Alubijid (now Laguindingan) with soldiers and civilians alike. “Every space of the land was cultivated. Papa (Pastor Ilogon, Sr.) planted seven hectares of sugar cane, then constructed a crapetche(sugar mill) powered by huge carabaos. He planted five hectares of cassava (camoteng kahoy), and the rest with peanuts, corn, camote, and bananas (kantong and kadisnon). His five hectares in nearby poblacion Laguindingan was fully planted with corn by tenant Isias Madjos. Because of water irrigation, the four hectare ricefield in nearby Tanabog, Alubijid was planted twice a year by tenant Amado Llamera.” “His rice produced in Bohol was transported by Barcos Dos Velas (known in local parlance as plain Dos Velas).” “From Alubijid, they were carried to Lapad by a train of carabaos. We had the luxury of eating rice as our staple food. He raised more than 100 white leghorns (chickens). The chickens were healthy because they were fed with aroma (ipil-ipil) seeds and leaves. Aroma trees grew in abundance in the farm.” Manticao, Initao, Misamis Oriental was the corn granary of both the 109th and 120th Regiments. Alubijid, Misamis Oriental, El Salvador, Cagayan and Libertad, Initao were the salt and crude soap producing areas. Soap was made from coconut oil and wood ashes. Gitagum, Alubijid was a safe haven of big Dos Velas carrying tons of goods from Negros, Cebu, Bohol, and Misamis Occidental. But as the war entered its third year in 1944, food became scarcer and corn increasingly difficult to obtain. Despite this, Ilogon described the prevailing situation at their farm in Lapad: “The fields were a beehive of activity with peanuts, camote and bananas being harvested and processed. For three years, the farm was constantly occupied with the cycle of planting, harvesting, storing and selling.” “Some evacuees survived by bartering their clothes for food. Others subsisted on boiled unripe bananas and the bananas inner core. Evacuees from afar camped on the cassava plantation and made cassava chips from the roots, still others shucked. then shelled the kernels off corn cobs to store them in sacks. Traders coming from as far as Imbatog and Talakag, Bukidnon, slept in the field and were up before dawn to load their cattle with sacks of matamis (brown sugar).” However, in spite of favorable weather during the period February 1943-November 1944, food shortages occurred due to heavy floods in free Cagayan which cost the lives of 47 persons and the loss of approximately 200-300 cavans of rice and corn in 1943. Locust infestation in June 1943 in Free Cagayan and the municipal districts of Lumbia, destroyed approximately 60% of standing crops. In Bukidnon before the war, the cattle industry was flourishing, but this was virtually wiped out. People, like the other provinces, resorted to agriculture by cultivating forested areas. Despite the confluence of plant pests and animal diseases, floods and drought, and on top of it active Japanese patrols which seemed to have conspired together during a period of turmoil and distress, the products produced improved the food situation impressively and led to the lowering of prices. Carabao sleds, carts and sailboats and launches were some of the means utilized in the transportation of foodstuffs from one place to another. In two of three sectors, trucks were used but only for short distances as most of the roads and bridges were unserviceable –either blasted purposely in the early days of the war or destroyed by action of the elements, and never repaired. Home & Village-Level Industries In all places, the civil government waged a campaign directly supported by the Army for the development of home industries. More Industries Encouraged (pp. 128) Weaving was encouraged. Cloth was manufactured from cotton, ramie and abaca fiber. Finished products were in great demand, which, of course, could not be met because of the limited production. Cigarettes, crudely manufactured, substituted for American brands- though a poor substitute, were in great demand. The biggest handicap was lack of rolling paper. Salt, soap, coconut oil, and alcohol from tuba were produced in sufficient quantities to supply civilian and army needs. The intensified stimulus for the production of food products included the tending of home gardens, and the employment of unarmed soldiers in Army farm projects. In the provinces of Agusan, Surigao, Misamis Oriental , Misamis Occidental and Zamboanga, merchants frequented the market place to sell their good and commodities. Business was retail. Articles sold were rice, corn, soap, salt, fish, sugar, vegetables and other foods. Inter-island trade It is consoling to note that even during the dark days, Mindanao had been able to share food with adjacent areas in the Visayas, like Leyte, Cebu and Bohol. Slow-moving bancas were used to ply between Agusan and the Visayas. Productive industries consisted in the manufacture of tuba, nipa wine and nipa shingles. Weaving was lucrative. In Lanao, periodic trips were undertaken by traders from Bohol, Negros, Siquijor, Cebu and Camiguin, bringing in sugar, garments, dried and salted fish, medicines and others. On their return trip, they brought with them rice, corn, and other food which were lacking in their places. Very often, these trips were undertaken by the ubiquitous Dos Velas sailboats. “Barco Dos Velas was a 2-masted sail boat common between Visayas and Mindanao during colonial times,” said Antonio J. Montalvan II, a Europe-based Filipino public writer, social anthropologist, university professor and heritage activist. “Vela means candle in Spanish and it was called such since its two masts looked like two upright candles. These were the sailboats which many Visayan immigrants took when they moved to Mindanao.” The sailboats and bancas revived the inter-island trade interrupted by the war. They traded in salt, corn, rice, guinamos, dried fish,, sugar and soap. Normal trade relations existed between Lanao and Misamis Occidental. This trade relation, however, between these two provinces and from other islands in the Visayas, were at times paralyzed due to active Japanese patrols, both by land and sea. The daring viajeros crossed the sea at night and hid in island coves during daytime to avoid Japanese sea patrols that prowled Macajalar and Iligan Bays searching for guerrillas going to and fro Fertig’s headquarters at Misamis, Misamis Occidental. It was the usual practice of guerrillas going to Misamis to commandeer a sailboat, cross Iligan Bay at night to avoid Japanese motor launches based in Iligan, and arrive in Jimenez in the morning. When a banca was commandeered, its skipper was given a “Jefe de Viaje”(Safe Passage Pass) by the area guerrilla commander which guaranteed him safe passage through territories controlled by the guerrillas. However, savvy traders were also known to obtain similar safe passage passes from the Japanese (written in Nihongo) which they flashed when hailed by Japanese patrols. Of course, these were usually kept under wraps from the guerrillas. The Japanese often intercepted the sailboats at sea, confiscating their cargo, and took the crew prisoner. Because of this, business declined and later, markets and retail stores were closed. The sudden rise of commodity prices inevitably followed. Unlike the other provinces, Cotabato and Davao whose coastal areas were occupied by the Japanese, and land-locked Bukidnon, could not fully sustain inter-island commerce. Salt and fish, for instance, were difficult to obtain. Native cloth like pinocpos and saguran made from buri palm, were brought in by some bancas from other provinces, were also difficult to secure. Some inhabitants who depended on selling the rice, corn or tobacco they cultivated, also found it hard to trade due to Japanese patrols which confiscated their produce. So the next time you hear someone griping about how the coronavirus have made life so much harder, remind him our grandparents fared even worse during the “3 Taon Walang Diyos” and survived to tell their tales. With all the help people are now receiving from their barangays, local government units and national agencies like DOLE, DSWD, DTI and DA, not to mention the hundreds of good Samaritans and NGOs sharing their blessings, they should stop complaining and stay put at home. The better we comply with the health protocols of social distancing, mandatory face masks, and limiting time outside our residences to essentials, our chances of beating this virus increases and with it, our chances or returning to closer semblance of how it was before. (Compiled by Mike Baños)          

READ MORE
Schools help students transition to online classes

May 16, 2020

When the coronavirus disease was declared a global pandemic, Ateneo de Davao University immediately responded by preparing to hold classes online.     For several weeks, university officials, professors, and programmers met online to discuss and develop tools that would be needed by both students and teachers so that learning could continue while schools were closed. Teachers prepared instructional content in digital and video format, while student government officials helped in the dissemination of details to their schoolmates.     The university’s experience since 2013 of using the digital platform as one of its learning modes also helped students and teachers readily shift to online instruction for their summer classes on April 22, following the implementation of enhanced community quarantine in the region.     The students and their teachers met via Google Classroom and Moodle, and used social media, videoconferencing, and chat apps to communicate with each other. At home, their laptops, tablets, and mobile devices were connected to a reliable internet source.      “With the Covid-19 pandemic, people have to get used to a different way of interacting with one another. Through the internet, students have more freedom to think deeply about the learning material and do the tasks needed to accomplish their learning goals,” said AdDU executive vice president Jeremy S. Eliab.     Davao Christian High School encountered the same difficulty when it had to stop its classes six weeks before the end of its academic year. Like Ateneo, DCHS had also planned ahead.     Teachers were trained on the use of Google Classroom, and accounts for students were set up. The school had also been using the Dynamic Learning Program, where students answer questions on worksheets based on discussed lessons, helping them continue their classes even with minimal teacher intervention.     “Our online classes are far from perfect but I am very much encouraged with the discipline, hard work, and understanding our students and teachers have shown. The parents have also been very helpful in supporting the kids’ learning from home,” said Desi Dario Magnaye, junior high school principal of DCHS V. Mapa Campus.     To further support learning, AdDU provided their students and teachers with PLDT Home Prepaid Wi-Fi units, which could help them connect online and ensure uninterrupted learning. Ateneo also distributed 155 tablets and digital pencils to its scholars and financially challenged students.     With classes being accessed at home, studying has become easier for their children, according to Dr. Francis Ho and Phany Castillo-Ho. Their brood of three is all enrolled at DCHS.     Despite the lockdown, the couple remain busy at work, with Dr. Ho specializing in internal medicine and endocrinology and his wife running a hospice, palliative care and nursing home, and a small hotel. The hotel is being rented by a private firm as housing for its employees during the ECQ.     While the couple oversee the homeschooling of their children, they appreciate online learning. “Becoming our kids’ teachers and making sure they accomplish schoolwork on time and correctly can be quite a challenge. We have to relearn lessons we took more than 30 years ago. But it’s an opportunity to be more involved in their daily lives,” said Dr. Ho.     “The children are frustrated that they’re not allowed to leave the house and don’t have regular interactions with their classmates and teachers, but being able to spend more time together as a family helps,” added Ms Ho.     In a statement, AdDU president Fr. Joel E. Tabora SJ said staying at home was an opportunity for genuine academic growth. “In a dialogue with our students, in collaboration with the Commission on Higher Education and the Department of Education, we firmly believe that if we must stay at home to help preserve life, we must use the time at home productively,” Tabora said.

READ MORE

Subscribe Now!

Receive email updates from Mindanao Daily News.