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Life in the Occupied Zone: One Negros Planter's Experience of War

  • Josefina Dalupan Hofileña (a1)


Throughout the Japanese occupation of the Visayan island of Negros in the central Philippines, two armed groups — the Japanese and the Negros guerrillas — sought to win the support and cooperation of the civilian population. The wartime experiences of Negros sugar planter Jose Gaston reveal, however, that this need to cultivate civilian support did not shield civilians from abuses by both sides.



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1 Interview with Mrs. Lourdes Gaston Dalupan, Quezon City, Philippines, 17 Feb. 1996. The interviewee is the daughter of Jose Gaston.

2 Philippine Executive Commission, Department of the Interior, Bureau of the Census and Statistics, Statistical Abstracts (Manila: Bureau of Printing, 1942), p. 14.

3 McCoy, Alfred W., “Politics by Other Means: World War II in the Western Visayas, Philippines”, Southeast Asia Under Japanese Occupation, ed. McCoy, Alfred W. (New Haven: Yale University Southeast Asia Studies, 1980), p. 193.

4 Abcede was the commander of the Negros District Sub-Sector No. 5 which covered the area of Negros south of the Castellana-Vallehermoso Road. The 2nd Battalion, 74th Infantry was assigned to this Sub-Sector. Baclagon, Uldarico S., They Chose to Fight: The Story of the Resistance Movement in Negros and Siquijor Islands (Manila: Capitol Publishing House, 1962), p. 7.

5 Although not quite thirty-seven years old at the time, Montelibano was a well-known sugar hacendero who had served as Mayor of Bacolod City prior to the outbreak of the war. Zaragoza, Dominador Y., Defiance — The Human Side of the Negros Guerrillas (Bacolod: Free Negros Printing Press, 1946), p. 2.

6 The trucks used by the Japanese bore the names of such pre-war firms as the Hawaiian-Philippine Central, Pacific Commercial Co., and the Insular Lumber Co. The Japanese did not bother to erase these names. Vaughan, Elizabeth, The Ordeal of Elizabeth Vaughan: A Wartime Diary of the Philippines, ed. Petillo, Carol M. (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1985), pp. 104, 164.

7 Early in the occupation, the Japanese called in all Commonwealth (”genuine”) currency and “emergency” notes issued by the Philippine National Bank in order to replace them with Japanese war currency, which Filipinos called “Mickey Mouse” money. In addition to these currencies, scrip issued by Montelibano's Free Negros Civil Government circulated in Negros, and guerrilla forces also issued currency. See Vaughan, The Ordeal of Elizabeth Vaughan, p. 82; Nicholas L. Ledesma, Personal Diary, 5–30 Jun. 1942 (copy in the of the residence author at Silay City, Negros Occidental); Bureau of Communications, Circular No. 29, Series of 1942 (12 Oct.), “Currencies —Authorized and Prohibited”, Japanese Occupation Papers, MCF 7530, Filipiniana Division, University of the Philippines Library, Quezon City, Philippines.

8 For the period 15–23 Jun. 1942, for example, a total of 2,693 persons were refused rides, resulting in losses that nearly equalled the VRT's total cash collection for the same period. Manuel Cusi to the JMA, 23 Jun. 1942, Jose Gaston Personal Papers, Hda. Sta. Rosalia, Manapla, Negros Occidental, Philippines.

9 JMA to Cusi, 1 Jun. 1942, Gaston Papers.

10 Agreement Between the Visayan Rapid Transportation Co., New Administration and die Private Operators of TPU Trucks and Owners of Private Trucks Authorized by the JMA to Engage in Land Transportation in Negros”, Sep. 1943, Gaston Papers.

11 JMA, “Rules and Regulations Governing the Operation of Motor Vehicles”, 1 Jun. 1943, Gaston Papers.

12 “Minutes of the Special Meeting of Truck Owners”, 21 Jul. 1943,Gaston Papers.

13 Cusi to Gaston, 5 Sep. 1943, Gaston Papers.

14 Gaston to C. Lindsay, 2 May 1945, Gaston Papers.

15 The VRT management, for example, took pains to emphasize that the VRTC-NA was not the same as the VRT, the latter merely being one of the truck owners merged with the New Administration. Cf. Atty. M. Concepcion to Cusi, 5 Sep. 1943; “Agreement, VRTC-NA and Owners (Draft)”, Sep. 1943, Gaston Papers.

16 Cusi accused the private truck owners of being “just a bunch of unruly money hunters without even observing good ethics and principles of business”. Cusi to Gaston, 5 Sep. 1943, Gaston Papers.

17 Ibid.

18 Transcript of Negros Occidental Historical Commission (NOHCOM) interview with Leon Moya, Sr., undated, p. 10.

19 Bryant, Alice Franklin, The Sun Was Darkened (Boston: Chapman and Grimes, 1947), p. 137; Historical Data on Bo. Antipolo, Pontevedra, Negros Occidental. The National Library, Manila, Philippines.

20 Interview with Soledad Lacson Locsin, Silay City, Negros Occidental, Philippines, 18 Oct. 1988.

21 Historical Data on Bo. Miranda, Pontevedra.

22 The Negros guerrillas were initially part of the IV Philippine Corps which covered the islands of Panay, Negros, and Cebu, with headquarters located in Doilo.

23 Capt. Hillodoro Infante to Jose Gaston, 28 Nov. 1942, Gaston Papers.

24 Gaston to Maj. Cesar P. Roces, 15 Jan. 1943, Gaston Papers.

25 Bidan was Commanding Officer of the Manapla Sub-Sector.

26 Gaston to Infante, undated, Gaston Papers.

27 The fire destroyed the following: (1) one hacienda residence house; (2) the administration house; (3) fifteen labourers' houses of strong material; (4) two labourers' houses of bamboo and nipa; (5) one Ford Jitney service car; (6) oneCamarin shed for work animals; and, (7) one Camarin for cantina, bakery, and machine shop. Also taken were: (1) one diesel Caterpillar tractor, 45 H.P.; (2) one electric light plant engine; (3) one Surveyor's combination level transit; (4) one “Scott” radio set of thirty tubes with its extra loudspeaker; (5) all the furniture of thehacienda residence house: (6) one bull cart; and, (7) 120 cavans [1 cavan = approx. 44 kg.] of palay [unhusked rice] and an undetermined number of sacks of salt. Gaston to Infante, 2 Jan. 1943, Gaston Papers.

28 Gaston later discovered that three of these bulls had been slaughtered. Gaston to Infante, 2 Jan. 1943, Gaston Papers.

29 Ibid.

30 Ibid.

31 After the 22 November incident, Gaston sought the advice of a group of officers including Roces, Bidan and Capt. Height. All said he should file a written complaint. Roces attached to Gaston's complaint his own personal and confidential letter to Infante. Gaston to Roces, 15 Jan. 1943, Gaston Papers.

32 Prior to the reorganization and consolidation of the Negros guerrillas under the leadership of Abcede, Lt. Col. Macario Peralta (over-all commander of the Panay guerrillas) established the IV Philippine Corps covering the islands of Panay, Negros and Cebu. Major Cesar P. Roces was chief of the G-4 (Supplies) section of the IV Philippine Corps. Later, island commands based on the pre-war Military Districts were organized. Abcede assumed the over-all leadership of the Negros district (known as the 7th Military District) in July 1943.

33 Roces to Infante, 11 Dec. 1942, Gaston Papers.

34 Memorandum to All Officers and Enlisted Men, Northern Negros Sector, 15 Dec. 1942, Gaston Papers.

35 Infante to Gaston, 17 Dec. 1942, Gaston Papers.

36 Gaston to Infante, 19 Dec. 1942, Gaston Papers.

37 Gaston to Roces, 15 Jan. 1943, Gaston Papers.

38 Subsequently, Gaston was informed by his labourers that 2nd Lt. Mateo L. Garganera, commanding officer of Company B, Sub-Sector F, had taken over the administration of his hacienda and appointed as his representatives, Gildo and Gallardo. Gaston to Lt. Mateo L. Garganera, 9 Jan. 1943, Gaston Papers.

39 Gaston to Infante, 2 Jan. 1943, Gaston Papers. Garganera investigated Leoncio Salvacion, Gaston's cabo, for having attempted to send to Gaston at Hda. Sta. Rosalia what remained of his small poultry at Hda. San Jose. Gaston to Roces, 16 Jan. 1943, Gaston Papers. Garganera later restricted the transfer of property from one place to another. Garganera to Mr. Ricardo Suarez, 5 Feb. 1943, Gaston Papers.

40 Infante to Gaston, 9 Jan. 1943, Gaston Papers.

41 Ibid.

42 Gaston to Infante, 14 Jan. 1943, Gaston Papers.

43 In another letter, Gaston reported that on 27 Dec. 1942, Gildo and his brother Federico (a labourer of the hacienda), took from the hacienda bodega, used lubricating oil and sold it at forty centavos a bottle in anotherhacienda. Furthermore, on 8 Jan. 1943, Gildo delivered to Pvt. Rafael Sison, one F&M engine which was connected to the artesian well from which the hacienda labourers got their drinking water. Two driving belts and one generator were also taken. Gaston to Roces, 16 Jan. 1943, Gaston Papers.

44 Gaston to Roces, 15 Jan. 1943, Gaston Papers.

45 Ibid.

46 Gaston to Infante, 12 Feb. 1943, Gaston Papers.

47 Mata was the commander of the North Negros Sector, covering the areas of Murcia, Talisay-Bacolod, Silay-Victorias, Bago-La Carlota, and Cadiz-Manapla.

48 German Gaston explained that the Japanese had appointed Jose Gaston to represent the sugar associations of Victorias. As representative, Gaston had to travel to Bacolod to meet with the other representatives from the other towns. German Gaston to Jose Gaston, 14 Feb. 1943, Gaston Papers.

49 Ibid.

50 On 16 February, a soldier by the name of Aladin took the working carabao of one of Gaston's labourers. A certain Sgt. Santiago Leal also took two pregnant carabaos from Hacienda San Jose, although Infante's memorandum authorized Leal to borrow “2 working animals” for Leal's personal use. Gaston to Infante, 16 Feb. 1943; Gaston to Roces, 11 May 1943, Gaston Papers.

51 Lt. Jose A. Ortaliz to Gaston, 6 Mar. 1943; Major M. V Ganaban to Gaston, 14 Mar. 1943, Gaston Papers.

52 Gaston to Ganaban, 15 Mar. 1943 and Medical Certificate, 15 Mar. 1943, Gaston Papers.

53 Sometime in March, Gildo went to see Gaston in order to explain the accusations levelled against him by the labourers of San Jose. Gildo realized the anomalous situation he was in when Lt. Garganera placed him in charge of San Jose (given that he was a former labourer of the hacienda) and subsequently began to explain to Gaston what was in his affidavit. Gaston to Infante, 13 Mar. 1943, Gaston Papers. Unfortunately, no copy of this intriguing affidavit has been found.

54 Gaston to Bidan, 7 Mar. 1943, Gaston Papers.

55 Infante to Gaston, 8 Mar. 1943, Gaston Papers.

56 Ibid.

57 Ibid. Gaston also heard that Garganera was determined to get this affidavit, using force if need be. Gaston to Bidan, 7 Mar. 1943, Gaston Papers.

58 Gaston to Ganaban, 12 Mar. 1943, Gaston Papers.

59 It is not clear why Alqueza did not appear. Montelibano's memorandum to Free Negros Deputy Governor Tranquilino Valderrama stated that Alqueza was being detained by the Army, pending the resolution of his case. Deputy Governor Tranquilino Valderrama to Gaston, 26 Apr. 1943, Gaston Papers.

60 Gaston to Valderrama, 5 May 1943; Gaston to Deputy Governor Aurelio Locsin, 8 May 1943, Gaston Papers.

61 Gaston to Roces, 11 May 1943, Gaston Papers.

62 Ganaban to Gaston, 26 Jun. 1943, Gaston Papers.

63 Valderrama to Gaston, 26 Apr. 1943, Gaston Papers.

64 Valderrama to Gaston, 9 May 1943, Gaston Papers.

65 Civilians who were not issued any kind of receipt were told to file their affidavits containing the list of property taken, the date the goods were taken, the name of the officer and enlisted men responsible for the commandeering of these goods, and the unit to which these men belonged. Only true copies of the affidavits were to be submitted, and the originals were to be kept by the owner. Those who possessed official or unofficial receipts were told to submit true copies of the same. This was necessary in order to verify their authenticity and payment in order for the Civil Government t o ascertain the total indebtedness of the Army. Furthermore, civilians whose houses, property, livestock, and other properties were burned or destroyed by the Army or the Japanese were also advised to file affidavits specifying the articles burned or destroyed, the date of their destruction, the party responsible for their destruction, and their estimated value. “Memorandum to All Municipal Mayors of District No. 2”, 8 Jun. 1943; Montelibano, “Proclamation (Pahibalo)”, 5 Jun. 1943, Gaston Papers.

66 Gaston to Judge David Fuentebella, 24 May 1943, Gaston Papers.

67 Infante, “Memorandum to All Members of this Command”, 22 Aug. 1944, and Letter of J. Gaston, undated, Gaston Papers.

68 Montelibano and Abcede to Gaston, 5 Jan. 1943, Gaston Papers.

69 See “Receipt”, 14 Dec. 1942; “Memorandum for All Officers and E. M., Sub-Sector F, 72nd Division”, 11 Feb. 1943; Ganaban to Gaston, 17 Jun. 1943, Gaston Papers.

70 Zaragoza, Defiance, p. 130; Baclagon, They Chose to Fight, pp. 91–94.

71 Among the items taken were: (1) one electric stand lamp; (2) three pieces of Air cushion foam; and, (3) three bottles and two packages of medicines. Gaston to Provincial Governor Vicente F. Gustilo, 3 Jan. 1944, Gaston Papers.

72 Gaston to Gustilo, 2 Jun. 1944, Gaston Papers. Among the items taken were: (1) pieces of furniture: one spring bed, two cupboards, six chairs, one desk, one typewriting table, and one hat rack; (2) utensils: eight table forks, one table knife, and seven teaspoons; (3) other furnishings: two glass table tops and two glass lamp shades; (4) different kinds of wire: one insulated flexible wire with socket, one roll of insulated weather-proof wire, one roll of fuse wire, three rolls of antenna wire, and twenty-one rolls of poultry wire netting; (5) automobile parts: two rear springs and two old batteries; (6) three empty fifty-gallon drums; (7) one “caponizing” set; (8) five orchid plants; (9) twenty-five coconuts; and, (10) other miscellaneous items: one piece of Air foam, one baby carriage, two bulbs, one bundle of bakery paper, and one hook and line. “See List of Properties Taken by the Japanese from Hda. Sta. Rosalia”, 29 May and 31 May 1944, Gaston Papers.

73 Gaston to Gustilo, 14 Nov. 1944, Gaston Papers.

74 Interview with Mrs. Lourdes Gaston Dalupan.

Life in the Occupied Zone: One Negros Planter's Experience of War

  • Josefina Dalupan Hofileña (a1)


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