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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Japanese Occupation

The Japanese soldiers advances on Philippines soil with their flag

The Japanese troops in the Philippines

Japanese soldiers relaxes



Introduction


         The Second World War started when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, an American military installation in Hawaii on December 8, 1941. The Philippines also received a sizeable portion of Japan’s misdirected fury because of the presence of back up bases in the country.

        At the outbreak of World War II, Alimodian was designated an evacuation center for civilians from Iloilo City. There was an influx of city residents into the town. Many of them were Chinese businessmen who had to close their business establishments because of the lethal danger of an impending Japanese attack. With the sudden swelling of the population, the local residents enjoyed a temporary business boom, selling their agricultural produce to the new arrivals.

        The first Japanese attack of the city occurred on December 18, 1941. Many soldiers and civilians were killed during the preliminary aggression.

        To avoid similar tragedies in the future, it was prearranged that should the enemy forces land in Iloilo City, church bells would be rung to warn the people so that they would have enough time to flee to the outskirts of the Poblacion before the slit-eyed aggressors could infiltrate the town.

        The Japanese troops landed in Oton on April 16, 1942 and reached the city proper two days later. Most of the residents in the Poblacion packed up their necessities and took them to their hideouts in the barrios. A few more optimistic souls, most of them Chinese businessmen, who frowned on the thought of more austere life in the remote hills preferred to stay in the poblacion (town capital). However, sooner or later, they became helpless victims of looting, so that most had to follow the first batch of evacuees to the barrios.

        Although food supply was relatively abundant on the hillsides, if people were only willing enough to scout for anything edible, there was an acute shortage of clothing. To remedy the situation, The Philippine Army Quartermasters depot was opened to the people so they could secure whatever supply they could salvage. The Quartermasters depot, located at the old central school at the side of the plaza, (where today stands the building housing the Alimodian Water District Administration and the Kilusang Bayan for Credit offices), was the place where army uniforms were cut and sewed for distribution to the different units in Panay. In a few hours, the whole depot was emptied of maong, khaki, de hilo (threads) and other kinds of clothing materials. For some lucky beneficiaries, the clothing they got lasted them through the bleak years of the war.

        The Japanese forces passed Alimodian on April 19, 1942 via Maasin aboard their trucks and bicycles. They left the town without any incident because no combat forces were stationed in the area as they concentrated in the mountains, like those in Cabacanan, even before the Japanese landing.

        Only the intelligence operatives of the G-2 section and other units were in the Poblacion to monitor covertly the enemy movements. Among the operatives were Sgt. Marcelo Tolentino, Conrado Norada, a former Iloilo governor, and Sgt. Alfredo Galon.

        Because intelligence reports gathered by the Military had it that the evacuees at the convent of Fr. Mariano Perez, then the parish priest at the time, had Japanese sympathizers, Sgt. Galon was planted at the convent as a houseboy. The information he gathered was relayed to Maj. Rafael Almacen, chief of the Intelligence Section G-2 operative during the war years, and it was only decades after that this activities were revealed.

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