I was enlisted as a private by my uncle on May 18, 1936. Two other recruits, Felix Edrelin and Juanito Pumikie, were enlisted with me. They were both high school graduates but were older than me, bigger, and taller than me.
Our instructor was Sgt. Pedro Bonnol, an ex-PMA cadet. He belonged to the Ifugao Royal blood of Kiañgan. He was a very good recruit master. We easily learned the rudiments of soldiery from him and even beat the older soldiers during Saturday inspections in displaying our equipment and during our drill exercises.
We slept in the barracks with the Ifugao soldiers, who only wore G-strings and went barefooted with putis wrapped around their legs and a felt hat on their heads. They looked very funny but were very loyal, faithful, and brave soldiers whose only principle was: ORDEN, ORDEN (Order is order).
Every morning we woke up by the bugle call and lived by the succeeding bugle calls, until taps at 10:00, when lights went off and we were all supposed to be in bed. That was day-in-and-day-out routine.
Upon waking up we washed our faces, ran to the parade ground, exercised, either with or without arms, alternately, then policed the area after the flag-raising ceremony and cleaning.
We took a bath, dressed up, then went for breakfast.
My job was an office clerk. My uncle taught me how to use the typewriter and file papers in the office.
Then the dinner call was sounded for chow, followed by a short nap and then the wake-up call to resume our routine duties as members of the guard, as kitchen police, as room orderly, or going on patrol duty.
Being recruits, most of our training was rifle exercises, arm and leg exercises, drills without arms, drills with arms, bayonet training, open packs, close packs, inspection arms, etc.
This recruit training lasted for three months, then we were assigned to go on patrol duty.
I went out on Patrol Duty for three days with three Ifugao soldiers, headed by PFC. Lador. We were given rations of canned foods and grains of rice.
The Kiañgan, Ifugao, area is mountainous. The place is cold, with lots of mosquitoes, snakes, monkeys, birds, wild pigs, and deer. A barrio may consist of only five houses on top of a hill or near a brook without roads or bridges.
We hiked and walked on mountain trails across brooks and streams seldom passed by many people. There was no peace and order problem whatever. The people were peaceful and friendly. They offered us their houses to cook our meals and sleep at night. What I noticed was there were no furniture, no trappings or beds; no bathroom or kitchen, only a one-room house with four posts.
One family we stayed with overnight had only coconuts for food, which they burned with branches picked around the house and ate after the coconut water was drained by sucking with a bamboo reed.
That was all. Each person ate one coconut and no more. There were four of them in the family. Yet they looked very healthy and strong like wild animals.
I had a hard time catching up with my companions because I was the only one wearing shoes. They were barefooted. But they helped in climbing up steep trails or crossing streams by holding my rifle and my haversack which contained my blanket, meat can, soup, spoon and fork and knife, and match and candle and canned food of corned beef and sardines.
The people we visited were very poor and that made them feel ashamed not to be able to offer us any food at all.
After the war the Ifugaos left their mountain lairs and went begging as far as Manila. The Japanese had their last stand in Kiañgan, Ifugao, and they just took away from the natives whatever food they had and devastated their tribal source of food in the mountains.
I had a taste of guard duty as sentinel on post in the barracks one hour at a time by rotation. We had formal guard mounting every time a guard was relieved and posted.
The only time we could leave the barracks was when we went on Pass on weekends, from 6:00 to 6:00.
I was visiting a beautiful lady with eyes like those of people from India. She was tall, slender, and very friendly. Her name was Ursula Garcia, “Soling” for short. She was the daughter of our tailor, Mr. Garcia from Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya.
We were beginning to fall in love and she even embroidered a pillow case for me with my name, adorned with flowers and butterflies. She was about my age and had just graduated from high school. Had I stayed longer in Kiañgan, we could have gotten married.
When I left for Manila in August, 1936, we continued to write each other for some time, then our line of communication stopped. I guess she got married!
Through the recommendation of Lt. Bravo to his compadre, Capt. Antonio Villalobos, Sec. Gen. Staff, HPA, Manila, I got an order transferring me to Manila. Praise the Lord!
This was the “BIG BREAK” I’d prayed for as a BPW employee – to have a chance to continue my studies in Baguio or Manila.
In the meantime, Tata Anton was left alone in Kiañgan by his family on account of very sad happenings among his daughters, Loling and Susing.
Mg. Loling became pregnant by Agepito Joegas, a married man. Their daughter is Belle.
Mg. Susing became pregnant by a man who did not marry her (Menzana). His daughter is Dioney, now married and living in Baguio.
They failed to continue their studies in Manila. Hence, Tata Anton decided not to let Mg. Maning meet the same fate and did not let her continue her studies in Manila. She later on got married to a handsome mestizo, Eli Mina, of Tagudin, Ilocos Sur. They put up a store financed by Tata Anton in their BIG mansion in Tagudin near the market.
When this house was being constructed, Tata Anton proudly showed me the first-class materials of oak and narra that were being used which he accumulated during his service for years. He showed me the rooms for each of his children in the two-story mansion and a master bedroom at the corner facing the market. The ocla was big! Its floors were of red and white narra alternately nailed down like an American flag.
But during World War II the guerillas burned down this house because, according to Mg. Loling, her sister Mg. Susing got a child with a Japanese Officer. This also caused the massacre of the Almagan family (parents of Xana Iday), together with Tata Anton and Ben.