Most of those who grew up missing the Second World War, there’s a persistent impression that Japanese were everywhere. I can still remember the story of the Sorsogon National High School’s being the Japanese stockade where hundreds of Filipinos were locked up. Or when people would pass by the Camp Escudero Sr., they have to bow to the Japanese sentries. Stories like this reinforces such impression on the Japanese occupation.
Late last year, I had a chance to talk to my maternal grandmother, who has been a source of great stories in the old days. He told me that her family stayed in Castilla. Although there was a Japanese garrison in the area, she could still remember the Japanese officer to be very respectful of the local populace. One time, there was a rape incident in their area, the Japanese office made sure that it wouldn’t happen again – the rapist was publicly shot to make a point. Not a rape incident happen afterwards, according to my lola.
I also decided to ask my paternal grandmother who grew up in Brgy. San Isidro, Bacon (now a district of Sorsogon City). I was hoping to get a gory story from my grandmother. Instead, she had benign experience with the Japanese soldiers. She can only remember one incident where the Japanese soldiers showed up. My father explains that San Isidro, back in the early 40s, had very narrow access trail, thus, one has to walk. My grandmother told me that there’s no public transport available then. And even if she had to walk to the poblacion of Sorsogon, she can’t remember being mistreated by the Japanese soldiers.