Who would have thought that a poor boy from Loay, Bohol, would someday be tasked to feed an army?
Just four months after the surrender of American and Filipino armed forces in Mindanao, the guerrilla movement led by the unsurrendered soldiers started to come together.
Without an overall leader, without a word from MacArthur nor information from the outside world, the Filipinos from all over the country started to organize not so much as to create an armed resistance against the Japanese Imperial Army, but even more to restore law and order in a land rocked with crime and lawlessness by opportunistic bandits masquerading as guerrillas.
A self-made man
Pastor Putian Ilogon was born in July 26, 1893, to a very poor family in Loay, Bohol. The Philippines had just become a colony of the United States of America. While free education was offered for all, school was 30 kilometers away in Tagbilaran, a distance he would have to walk to and from every day.
His parents and older siblings saw the potential in the young Pastor. They took menial jobs like pamoso and working as farm hands to help give him a proper education under the Thomasites. They dreamed that this bright young man would someday lift them all out of poverty.
With the patronage of the Clarin brothers, paisanos from Loay who became prominent senators (the eldest becoming House Speaker), he secured a teaching job in Cabadbaran, Agusan, in Mindanao, eventually becoming principal of Cabadbaran Central School.
His last position before he left Agusan for Cagayan, Misamis Oriental, in 1922 with his Butuanon bride, Pilar Dumanon Bongato, was Deputy Governor for the non-Christian area in Agusan.
Pastor was an industrious man. While employed as a property custodian at the provincial capitol, he was also a weekend farmer. With his hard earned money he acquired a vast ranch and a chromite mine in Awang, Opol; a homestead in Lapad, Alubijid; and a 6-hectare fish pond in what is now Luyong Bonbon, Opol. Here, he put up a small wharf for loading his chromite ore for delivery to Manila. The wharf is now a seaport of the Philippine Ports Authority.
After he prospered in his adopted hometown, he brought over his siblings in Loay, Bohol and relocated them in the Land of Promise.
Feeding an army
Pastor Ilogon Sr. was inducted into the resistance on October 23, 1942 by Maj. Angeles Limena at Alubijid, Misamis Oriental.
He was appointed Chief Food Administrator, charged with feeding the 109th Infantry Regiment of the 109th Division, 10th Military District.
At 49 years old, he was too old to be in the firing line, but the guerrilla leadership made good use of his lofty reputation, business acumen, and financial standing in the community.
In a memorandum dated July 18, 1943, 1Lt M.P. Barilla, acting commander of 109th Regiment, lauded “the help you extended to the Army as mentioned in the foregoing paragraphs during this time of emergency is tantamount to fighting against our common enemy in the firing line.”
Maj. Ignacio Cruz, Quartermaster, 109th Division, cited to Lt. Col. Robert Bowler, 109th Division Commander, “Mr. Ilogon, making use of his unquestionable standing in the community, was able to raise P 21,800.00.”
While Ilogon remained undaunted by the challenge of feeding an army that was always short of cash, it was even more so for Cruz who was obligated to raise an equal amount according to their agreement.
“Due to a shortage of funds, I have never been able to make good this promise,” Maj. Cruz admitted in a letter to the Bowler. “Our failure to put up our share of capital stock has not, however, discouraged Mr. Ilogon; neither was he discouraged by our failure to meet our outstanding obligation as shown by the fact that he has continued supplying us with our requirements using his own personal credit standing to procure them.”
In gratitude to the land and the people who helped him and his family prosper, Pastor lent the guerrilla army his personal money for the procurement of supplies, and provided livestock from his ranch in Awang, Opol which the guerrillas paid for in IOUs. The guerrillas consumed a total of 996 cattle and carabaos up to the end of the war.
He organized a food caravan that carried food and logistics from Lapad, to Talakag, Bukidnon when the 109th Division Headquarters was besieged by the Japanese Imperial Army in 18 June– 29 June 1944.
He rode far and wide with his horse, encouraging farmers to plant more and reminding them of their patriotic duty to support the resistance. He also encouraged friends and responsible citizens to provide financial assistance in support of the guerrilla army.
He promised his friends who invested money to help finance the guerrilla army that they would get their money back. When liberation came, he worked hard and corresponded with various government agencies to so all investors were refunded by the Contract Claim Section, Camp Murphy, Quezon City in Feb. 15, 1949.
A Safe Haven
Lapad became a guerrilla and free area. Pastor’s farm in Lapad, Alubijid (now a part of Laguindingan) became the regiment’s headquarters, where the unit’s officers and men could get free chow anytime.
“[That] I know Mr. Ilogon’s family lived in Lapad, Alubijid, Misamis Oriental, a place where there was no transient mess, and as such Mrs. Pilar B. Ilogon, his wife, gave chows for free to any soldier or officer serving the United States Armed Forces in the Philippines that stopped at Lapad on their way from one battalion to another in compliance with their duties,” 2Lt Arturo Campo of the 109th Division testified in a post-war affidavit.
The farm was fully planted with crops like corn, root crops and sugar cane. Freshly harvested sugar cane were fed into a Karpetse (indigenous sugar cane mill), powered by a huge carabao to extract sugar cane juice which was then boiled down to produce calamay (molasses).
Fruit and banana trees provided ready snacks for the soldiers. Ipil-ipil trees were abundant and were used as feeds for hundreds of white leghorn chickens.
Fresh food was also foraged from two streams alive with shrimps, fishes and edible frogs, while carabaos wallowed in mud holes near its banks to keep themselves cool.
Pastor also provided free farm animals to bakwiters in Lapad to help them feed their families and their neighbors.
Dead or Alive
Pastor was so effective in his job as Chief Food Administrator, the Japanese put a prize for his capture – dead or alive.
“The 109th was the best fed Regiment in the whole Division,” said Maj. Ignacio Cruz, who became Misamis Oriental Governor and Congressman after the war.
Lapad became a sanctuary for Cagayan and Misamis Oriental public servants such as provincial veterinarian Mr. Llanderal, school principal Jaimie Bautista, and the grandfather of Cagayan de Oro Congressman Rufus Bautista Rodriguez. The families of Filomino Abellanosa, Bacarrisas, Salcedos, the Daels and the Toledos were also there.
It stood proud as home to the six siblings of the Tiano family who served in the guerrilla army. A street in Cagayan de Oro was named Tiano Brothers in honor of three siblings who died in service our country.
Guests and transients at Lapad
Some of the transient officers, their staff and escorts who enjoyed the hospitality, shelter and food of Pastor Ilogon and his family at their evacuation place at Lapad, Alubijid, Misamis Oriental:
Lt. Commander Richardson (Guerrilla from Leyte)
Lts. Manners , Sanders, Wood and Frederick (from Davao going to Misamis)
Col. James Grinstead (109th Division Commander)
Maj. Ignacio Cruz (Quartermaster, 109th Division)
Maj. Manuel Jaldon, Fidencio Jaldon (109th Regiment)
Maj. Angeles Limena, Maj Johnny Taduran (120th Regiment)
Maj. Pedro Andres (120th Regiment)
Col. Mortgage, Maj. Curaming (10th Military District Headquarters)
Capt. Andres Bacal (109th Regiment)
Capt. Vicente Austria, Capt. Gil Sumpio (120th Regiment)
Capt. Ricardo Abellanosa, Capt. Laureto Talaroc (120th Regiment)
Dr. Jesus Seriña (109th Regimental Surgeon)
Father James Edward Haggerty, S.J. (Guerrilla Padre)
Father Hamilton (El Salvador Parish Priest)
Col. Tomas Cabili and party (from Cotabato to Misamis)
Army Lts. Leo Boelens, Capt. William Dyess, Lt Sam Grashio, Marine Lt. Michael Dobervich, Navy Lt. Commander Melvin McCoy (Escapees from Davao Penal Colony)
Even after he passed on, the legacy of Pastor Ilogon Sr.’s generosity was continued by his grandchildren from his oldest son Jesus B. Ilogon and Mike K. Ilogon (son of Pastor Ilogon Jr.), when they donated 1,500 square meters of their inherited property to the Municipal Government of Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental, for the 15-meter wide access road that provides access to the town’s bus terminal from the highway.
Inaugurated on November 16, 2017, his granddaughter Dolly B. Ilogon said the road, christened Pastor P. Ilogon Sr. Avenue by the municipal government, is dedicated to the next generation to remind them of their grandfather’s patriotism and love for his family and fellowmen.
“The name Pastor Ilogon doesn’t really ring a bell. Many people’s memories of my Lolo are not as vivid and clear, but his contributions will remain forever etched in our history. This is also for the next generations of the Ilogon family, so that they may remember our hero, our Lolo, with honor and pride.”