Saturday, September 6, 2014

Delfin Gonzalez in the Guerilla Movement

From the manuscript of Ken Ishikawa:

“After the Pacific War broke out and the Japanese Imperial Army succeeded in overrunning the last bastion of the US-Filipino forces on the island of Corregidor on 09 April 1941, the Japanese began their expansion to the south. On April 16, the Japanese landed on the island of Panay.  They began occupying the districts of La Paz, Molo, Jaro, and downtown Iloilo City, and started turning schools, civic buildings, and large houses into their garrisons…

“In order to raise the morale of the populace in Panay and to keep peace and order amidst enemy occupation, Tomas Confesor established a provisional provincial government. Because of his background in leading farms and haciendas, Delfin Gonzalez was named by Confesor as his Food Administrator for Jaro and Leganes, referred to by the resistance forces as Zone 9. 

“It was Delfin's duty to make sure that agricultural production continued in his territory despite enemy occupation and that the people living in the area and the guerillas operating in the sector would not want for food.  Delfin travelled across his area through rice paddies, carefully avoiding the dirt roads where squads of Japanese soldiers patrolled.  He would visit outlying farms where crops were being covertly grown.  When he was not travelling, Delfin tended his own farm with crops he used to supply the resistance.  Delfin chose to give the bulk of his harvests to the guerillas and the needy.  His son, RMG, remembers that the family subsisted mainly on lugaw or rice broth, seasoned only with either sugar or  salt, during the length of the Japanese occupation.

“Delfin did not lack for help in providing nourishment for his family; his sons, Sergio and Raul, learned how to forage for food.  They went to rice paddies, hunched, scanning the surface of the mud for mouths of tilapia or catfish.  Their tenants taught them the proper technique of catching catfish without getting stung by their barbs, a skill the boys happily applied in dozens of afternoons along the ditches and mudflats near the farms.  When villagers harvested mung bean in a field somewhere, Raul and Sergio looked for unharvested seeds along with other children and womenfolk.

“As if the routine his job demanded of him was not dangerous enough, Delfin would, now and then, get missives from his fellow guerillas inviting him to meetings.  Couriers from Confesor stashed orders and information meant for him in a hollow stalk of bamboo at a grove in a secret location near his house.  Once Delfin has memorized the instructions and the meeting places, he assigned Raul to hide these clandestine papers in the holes in the stilts of their house.  Whenever he set out for these gatherings, he would normally take someone to accompany him. One such companion was Sergio who walked with his father to Tacas to meet guerilla leaders there.

“Delfin knew that his role under Confesor's resistance government doubled the dangers for his family.  Aside from being responsible for his wife and brood of five children, he also had to worry for his sister-in-law Anita, her husband and her two children.  Because of this, Delfin was very careful not to rouse the suspicion of the Japanese.  Through his vigilance and caution, he was able to keep his guerilla and patriotic activities a secret.”

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