|Jose B. Sibayan’s Japanese Issued ID
“For everything comes from God alone. Everything lives by his power, and everything is for his glory. To him be glory evermore.” Romans 11:36 (The Book)
This ID saved my life and my family. It is dated September 1943 and bears the signature of Col. Tomas Domaoal who was born in Bangued, Abra. My picture was taken when I was still single before the outbreak of World War II. A seal of Major Sugiyama, a high ranking officer of the Japanese Kem Pie Tai (Military Policy Command), is stamped on the Japanese characters.
Major Sugiyama was the Superintendent of the Constabulary Academies 1, 2 & 3 in Manila during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. His office was in Academy Bldg. No. 1 where I worked as Clerk-Stenographer and at the same time as Chief Clerk of Academies 1 & 2 located in Intramoros. He was my friend.
When Nana Iday, mother of Manang Susing, died in Manila in 1943, transportation from the City to the provinces was very difficult. Major Sugiyama game me a PASS to have the body of my late auntie shipped by train accompanied by Manong Pito, husband of Manang Loling, from Manila to Tagudin, Ilocos Sur.
This ID was issued to me when I became a Civil Service employee of the Constabulary Academy. I started as a janitor in Academy Bldg. No. 3 in Sampaloc, Manila; was promoted as a clerk there and later on transferrred to Intramoros after taking a course in the Government Employees Institute where my grade in Nippongo was 98%. In that Institute I mounted a platform every morning to lead the students in Radio Taiso or Physical Exercise before taking our breakfast after bowing towards the Rising Sun at six in the morning led by our Japanese Instructors.
Inside the Armory of the Academy in Intramoros, Manila, was an underground radio connected with the Headquarters of General MacArthur operated by T/Sgt. Hilarion de los Santos, a friend of mine. Hence, I was a member of the underground guerrilla movement relaying information received from American source. When Gen. MacArthur landed in Leyte, T/Sgt. de los Santos left the Academy with a truckload of rifles from the Armory and joined the guerrillas outside of Manila. Col. Domaoal and the other officers of the Academy were executed by the Japanese. At that time I was already in the province with my family.
Nana Ulli, Pat’s mother, developed cancer of the cervix that was found beyond medical remedy in the Philippine General Hospital after the birth of Betty. The doctor’s advice was for us to take her to the province where she can have better food as there was a grave shortage of food in the city. She also wanted to be treated by the “herbolarios” there.
To encourage the people of Manila to leave for the provinces, government employees were allowed to transfer as Food Production or Pacification agents with full pay and allowances in the provinces. I applied as a Food Production Agent in the province of Nueva Vizcaya where Nana Ulli had a sister married to a retired Constabulary soldier, Sgt. Major Hilario Bayabos. It took us one week to reach Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya with me and my family consisting of Pat (my wife), Tony, Betty, and Boy (Rudy) riding on top of the driver’s cab of a cargo truck. How we made it is another long story. we arrived there on my birthday, May 8, 1944.
When I reported to the Provincial Governor, Demetrio Quirino, for duty as Food Production Campaign Agent, he immediately assigned me as his Secretary after looking at my ID as Clerk-Stenographer. I did not have to go out to the municipalities and barrios to encourage the farmers to raise more vegetables or farm products.
In due time, Nana Ulli heard of a faith-healer in a barrio not very far from Bayombong who required us to buy some chicken and pork as food offerings for the healing rituals. The entire barrio people got invited. The house was full of people. Then the “healer” went into a trance and started dancing and chanting around her patient as we silently watched. All of a sudden we were startled with the appearance of a Japanese soldier with fixed bayonet ordering us out of the house which was surrounded by soldiers in fixed bayonets ready to spear anyone who made any false move. Only Nana Ulli, who could not move, was left.
We were lined up to be executed with soldiers ready to thrust their bayonets in front and at our back. I was carrying Tony and Pat was carrying Betty. Boy was clinging to my leg as I searched my pockets for my ID with my free hand.
I could see women fainting and others falling to the ground with knees buckling down shaking with fear while men can not control wetting their pants with trembling hands and legs. We were around thirty persons, excepting children, to be massacred. One word from the Japanese could have caused our death. He was in front of me with his sword, ready to give the signal, glittering menacingly in his hand. He was a Japanese Captain.
I bowed down before him and said: “Gomen Nasai” (pardon me) as I showed him my ID with a Constabulary badge attached to it. He took it, read it, and handed it back to me saying in Nippongo: “Interpret.” Calling each man to him, he asked them his name, occupation, and where he lives. I interpreted his questions and the men answered by making signs about their occupation and pointing at their house down the hill.
He ordered soldiers to inspect and search every house in the barrio. When the soldiers returned empty-handed for guns, he ordered them back to attention and placed his sword in its scabbard while the soldiers unfixed their bayonets from their guns. Bowing to me he said: “Arigato.” As I bowed, I said “Sayonara.” When the barrio folks regained their composure they profusely gave me their appreciation and thanks by kissing my feet, saying: “Last week the Japs killed all nearby people of Barrio La Torre.” I advised them that we should give our praises and thanksgiving to God.
We were suspected as guerrilla collaborators or a part of the hospital people that left the hospitals with the guerrillas several hours before our healing rituals. The Provincial Hospital was just across the hill of Barrio Busilak not far from the town of Bayombong where the Jap soldiers were stationed.
After the death of Nana Ulli, we witnessed with our own eyes the almost everyday execution of innocent men, women and children by the same Jap soldiers. Truckloads of passengers of confiscated vehicles passing Bayombong were killed daily.
The house where we evacuated was just across the fence of the school building converted into a barracks by the Japanese. Back of our house was the dry river bed of the Magat River where shallow graves were dug into which the bayoneted victims were thrown and covered while they were still moving. We watched with terrified eyes the merciless massacre from our kitchen window. It was a terrible daily nightmare!
If not for this “ID” we could have been innocent martyrs like those unfortunate victims of WAR! Praise the Lord.