Friday, November 23, 2007

Decade 1970s

This decade was characterized by military instability and natural calamities that affected the people’s socio-economic activity.

Great Fire in Poblacion.

On January 21, 1971 at about one o’clock after the stall keepers had taken their lunch a day on the festivity of Sr. Sto. Niño of Pagadian, a great fire brought disaster on the first year of this decade. This caused an economic breakdown of the municipality. It was estimated to cost 2 million of the properties put to ashes to include tailoring shops, merchandise, and hardwares owned by pioneering families that most of them were not able to recover the disaster brought by fire. An approximation of hundred-forty houses and stores were burned but luckily, no one was hurt. The government through DSWD aided the people. As to the account of Godofredo Romanillos:

It was not just the government that helped us but also the NGOs and different sectors they gave us bundles of clothes in the same color and the same size which made us laugh.[1]

Another account of Jacinta Respicio:

Our Suki (Business partner) a Chinese in Pagadian gave us help in forms of clothing and food. Cigarette products and other commercial advertisements printed on the clothing were usually given. We were not accustomed of using it but we had no choice.[2]

The Barracuda – Ilaga Conflict

Originally, Commander Toothpick, a Tiruray tribal army was famous fighting against alleged Muslim terrorism and exploitation. It was this time that the term Ilaga was introduced into the vocabulary.[3] “Ilaga” means “rat“ but Muslims of North Cotabato called it “Ilonggo Land Grabbing Association”.[4] The Ilaga was a Paramilitary Organization known for its anti-Muslim sentiments. It was composed initially, as reported in media, of Ilonggo natives of Panay.[5]

The physical pattern of events showed the spread of conflicts, from North Cotabato to Lanao del Sur, from Cotabato to Lanao del Norte, and from Cotabato to Zamboanga del Sur.[6] It should be noted that Tukuran is the first municipality from Lanao Sur in Illana Bay.It was second week of April at about two o’clock in the afternoon Al Mirasan Tampogao was shot to death in the shore of Tukuran at Sto. Niño, Tukuran, Zamboanga del Sur. This Moro was the vice-mayor of Carumatan and said to be the immediate cause of the Barracuda attacks in Tukuran.[7]Gossip haunted the people that the Moro of Carumatan will attack Tukuran in revenge to the death of the Vice-mayor.[8]The alleged assassin was an Ilaga known for its anti-Muslim sentiments[9]In May the rebels in front of the burned Municipal hall of Labangan captivated Father O’halpin, the parish priest of Tukuran, on his way back to the town, but he was released later. This related incident on rebel added the suspensions of the people that a conflict will soon come. At this time Labangan was in the hands of the Barracudas (black shirts).[10] The tension worsened when the residence of the mayor was attacked on the third week of April 1972, the day of the Molave fiesta at about 11:30 p.m to 1:00 a.m. They suspected that is was done by the Barracuda. However, others suspected that some political enemies of the mayor did it.[11]Finally on the second week of July a message received by the 29th IB, PA that on July 27,1973 informed that there will be an attack. According to the news, the rebels’ aim was the total distraction of the town. This was to burn and to kill innocent people. However, the attack took place on July 26 at about early morning.

The Barracuda hostaged one of the operators of the pump boat named Michael II. Using a machine gun they went to shell depot that was their target. Seventy five meters from the shore, the 29th IB, PA had seen the coming rebels at Lambayong. But the rebels were able to penetrate the depot. The manager was killed that made his wife deliver the pre-mature baby on the spot at about 5:30 in the morning. However, they were not able to destroy the depot because of the onslaught of the Army. Using a 3.5 bazookas and high power guns the rebels retreated having a casualty of eleven. Because the eleven slain member they took revenge by killing innocent civilians in the foxholes while they retreated going to Luy-a . Four of the members of Sauza family of Alindahaw were killed while in foxhole. Simeon Borja was slain on the 29IB, PA.There were a total of 11rebels, IPA, and 46 civilians, all Christians, slain during the course of struggle.

The other group of the Barracudas retreated to Luy-a where they beheaded two civilians. While the other group retreated and attacked Militar and its neighboring coastal sitios and barangay at about 10:30 a.m. Rebels used silent killing by using bolos. In their attempt to penetrate the town they were forced to retreat to the hinterlands of Libertad because there were blockades by the 29th IB, PA at Tukuran River. Only 3civilians were killed on the spot and another 1 in sitio Puting Balas. Some casualties were not being reported due to the tension being experienced by the people.[12]

On that very day, as they retreated, passing Brgy. Baclay, they ambushed the Parish Priest of Aurora, Father Paulo Kill and luckily, he survived while on his way to Aurora.

The retreating force of Barracuda in Luy-a had moved to the neighboring barangay Sto. Rosario where they slaughter one carabao for their consumption and fed on uncooked mais. It took them a week in retreating since there were 29th I.B. P.A. blockading them in their way out to Tukuran and caused them a casualty of three while retreating. They slaughtered bodies in the foxhole accordingly the victims were members of the Molina family of Luy-a. With all the blockades, the barracuda rebels were quite successful in their retreat going to Lanao Norte.[13]

The total Diaspora of the people had taken place after the 26th of July incident that caused the serious depopulation of the municipality. Atty. Francisco D. Boter, the municipal registrar, in his article in Pagadian Times reported:

Like a volcano that had erupted, Tukuran became a ghost town with only a handful of people roaming the streets with the mournful howling of scraggy dogs now and then disturbing the cemetery-like silence and solitude that pervaded the ones buzzing and taming residents.

Will the ones happy and prosperous people of Tukuran resume once more their active and enterprising way of life?

The Tsunami of Illana

In 1977, the wound of the Barracuda-Ilaga conflict could have started to heal but on the evening of August 17,1976 tsunami shook the Illana Bay. The August earthquake struck first at 6.7 of Richter scale. People that night living in the coast heard the roaring sound of the sea, ran to save their lives going to Curvada at about 9:30 in the evening.[14] In Bayao, the tsunami destroyed many properties. Houses in semi-permanent type were seen in the mangroves and delta of Bayao River.[15] This time the residents were given assistance by the joint group of social action center (SAC), Kapapagaria Foundation Inc. (KFI) in form of food, clothing, and draft animal, other relief goods and building materials for their houses in coordination with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).[16] It’s a relief to note that only one casualty was left by the tsunami on that year. He was Pampang an old Moro police of the town.

In 1978, right in his office, Mayor Antonio Jimenez, O.D. was arrested. An ASO or arrest on seizure order was issued against him from the national government. The remaining populace were baffled on the fate of the honorable mayor.

Fishing Industry

The unvanishing fishing industry of the town resumed its activity after the Ilaga-Barracuda conflict during late 70s.The accounts of Atty.Francisco Boter in his article in Pagadian Times:

One of the most important industries in our province is fishery. Tukuran and Pagadian City and many of the western towns have rich fishing grounds and the fish caught in Tukuran and Pagadian City are exported to Ozamiz City, Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro City. The fish caught in the western towns, due to costly transportation, are either salted or dried and exported to neighboring provinces. In order to bolster the fishing industry as a source of livelihood to a greater number of the inhabitants, especially the unemployed, the following are needed (1) Establish a fishery school in Tukuran to teach the people better methods of catching and processing of fish products; (2) Establish cold storage and refrigeration plants to store excess fish products and stabilize prices; (3) Establish a canning factory; and (4) To liberalize the giving of loans to small fisherman. Tukuran is the largest fishing ground in Zamboanga del Sur. Her sea bounds in Tuna. Her fame is known throughout Mindanao. But the greatest stumbling block in the full development of our fishing industry is the Muslim piracy. In the evening when fisherman go to sea with their pump boats., the Muslim pirates by Blitzkrieg methods paunch, kill them and escape with the fisherman’s pump boats before any help could arrive. So, many fishermen and their pump boats were lost, with the marauders unapprehended. Only the fearless and the brave go out to sea at night to fish relying on luck or fate.[17]

The decade of 70s left three marks: first, as the years of ashes that brought destruction to Poblacion that caused severe economic breakdown of the municipality. Second, the tidal wave on Illana Bay that destroyed properties. Third, was the Ilaga-Barracuda conflict in Tukuran that brought famine and hunger to the people and the very reason of the depopulation of the municipality. The general masses, both Christian and Muslims were caught in the middle of crossfire. Many of them transferred to neighboring towns of Aurora, Molave, Bonifacio, Pagadian, and even going back to Visayan islands their homeland, to secure their life. Most of the Visayan people in the Poblacion took refuge in Dumaguete.

As far as History is concerned, the third quarter of the twentieth century, was the dark years of Tukuran. Meanwhile, the New People’s Army has entered into the scene while the decade was about to close.

[1] Tape interview with Mr.Godofredo Sandes Romanillos, 56 years old at his residence in Romanillos tailoring shop, Tukuran, Zamboanga del Sur on December 17, 2001 at 8 p.m. henceforth referred to use Jr. Respicio interview.

R. Romanillos Interview

[2] G. Respicio Interview

[3] Mastura, Muslim Filipinos ,op.cit., p33

[4] Rodil.,The Minoritization.,op.cit., p335

[5] Ibid.p70

[6] Ibid.p50

[7] E. Rivera interview

[8] Ponce interview

[9] Tape interview with Mr.Rufino B. Respicio Jr, 52 years old at his residence in Respicio Rice and Corn Mill, Tukuran, Zamboanga del Sur on December 17, 2001 at 8 p.m. henceforth referred to use Jr. Respicio interview.

[10] E. Rivera interview

[11] Jr. Respicio interview

[12] Pvt.Lit. Marcelino Rivera ballistic report of 29thIB,PA.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Alfredo Boncales interview

[15] Thessa Boncales interview

[16] A profile of Brgy. Lower Bayao, Tukuran Zamboanga del Sur.p.8.

[17] Pagadian Times.May 23,1977

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