With the span of time under the American regime, much progress had been accomplished which had elevated this town to the height of civilization now being lived and benefited. This rapid progress under the American leadership was greatly destroyed by the three years of Japanese occupation.
During the Japanese occupation, as the visitor wants to do, the Japanese government partly destroyed all American influence on political, economic and educational aspects to rejuvenate the Filipino minds and to rule their own ways and likes. They hardly carried out their own ways and likes. They hardly carried out their anti-American program by deceiving and imposing other methods.
On December 8, 1941, the celebration of the town fiesta was answered by the bombardment of Camp John Hay. After that, the Japanese now came through Naguilian then put up their garden in Sablan. Other Japanese forces searched the area and combed over the hills. People ran for their lives so they evacuated to other places where the Japanese soldiers cannot reach them. People walked by day and night without using any light in order not to show their presence and for their own safety. They only brought with them the important materials and food supplies for them to cook if ever they had a chance to rest. They did these even during the wet season.
Terina, an informant and who experienced the hardship during the war had welcomed and entertained anyone to her house in Kamog. Whoever came to her house, either the Japanese or Filipino guerillas were fed but the Filipino guerillas had more preference. The best food had been served only for the guerillas while camote only for the Japanese soldiers. Some of the guerillas like Lt. James Gamoning, Daniel Akia and others, after eating went out and searched for their enemies. The Japanese forces going to Bagong are usually dropping by Kamog. There was a group under the leadership of a captain (informant forgot the name), was drowned when they crossed a river and was found dead. They brought the corpse back to Sablan and burned him in a stable.
Some of the residents did not evacuate like Luis Bosoy and Mr. Quilacio. Luis Bosoy was reached by the Japanese forces and they were to blame Luis Bosoy if ever the Japanese had found them. During his term, he required the people to bring bananas for the Japanese soldiers to show in disguise that they were not enemies.
Mr. Quilacio, who was not accepted by the Japanese confidence, was locked in Monglo and was brought to Baguio for interrogation. There he met his Japanese friends: Nematsu, who managed a grocery in Baguio and Negatome, who was a contractor, were Japanese Military officers. They were freed with the help of Mr. Quilacio so they had given him and his wife the privilege to sell Japanese goods to the civilians. The goods were rationed weekly with the amount depending upon the number of the family. Mr. Quilacio supplied Kamog, Pappa, Bagong and Balluay while Pacio Rimando in Bayabas side. The commodities were canned goods, sugar which were measured by cups and also soap and rice. These were paid in Japanese money or yen. With their help extended, the guerillas were given supplies without the knowledge of the Japanese forces.
All people who passed by the place were searched and interrogated and if they were presumed to be innocent, they were given “calibad” which served as their pass or identification card, like Mr. Albert Camacho who was detained for two days for interrogation. Others were tortured where one of them was utong. They tied him and placed a lighted tobacco inside his G-string. Likewise, a woman died because the Japanese soldiers placed a lighted tobacco in her organ. Those who had relatives who joined the guerillas were also maltreated and one of them was Akis. When the Japanese soldiers learned that he had a son who was a guerilla, they forced him to drink water with the use of a funnel.
There were also scattered hideouts of the guerilla soldiers and headquarters. One of the headquarters was located in Bayabas, where food stuffs such as bananas, rice and camote had been stored. Another was in Pappa, Salat and Bagong. When the Japanese forces headed for the area of their hideouts, a messenger was sent to warn them, with the help of Mayor Empiso Caiso who was before, a chief of police. When the Japanese men came, he hosted them and asked one of his men to get chicken but purposely, to warn the people and to hold the Japanese men in order to give time for the guerillas to hide. The guerillas were not all known to them so they mingled with the Japanese men, which was one way of getting news. Mr. Marcelino Guzman acted as an interpreter and Mr. Sergio Almacan had a dual purpose that serving the Japanese will be for the benefit of the guerillas soldiers.
As war went on, Igorot cañaos also continued. Since the people were peaceful, a Japanese captain (informant doesn’t know the name), who was assigned here had a good understanding with the plight of civilian populace. He did not bring much trouble to the people. He joined alone in any feast celebrated by the people and he even removed his arms/guns. So Lt. James Gamoning ordered the people not to harm him and so with the garrison.
However, there was almost a trouble between Company “E” and 121st Infantry division which composed mostly of Ilocanos. They ambushed the Japanese soldiers in La Union and they showered themselves coming up to Sablan. So the Japanese men in return for their retaliation combed the area. This resulted to the establishment of the area of jurisdiction which was agreed by both parties.
The place was also the passage of the evacuation of Mr. Gerry Roxas prior to his presidency. He was escorted by the Company “E” under the leadership of Lt. James Gamoning. From Baguio, they moved down to Asin road which led towards Tuba, then to Tubao. Next to be escorted was Mrs. Osmeña again from Baguio down to Irisan to Balluay until Bagong. They carried her in an “amaka” (improvised carrier made up of bamboo).
When they heard of the coming of the Americans, many of the natives came out from their hiding places. The guerilla soldiers recruited more of the natives and many of them volunteered bravely. They even went to the extent of adding their age just to reach eighteen which was the qualified or allowed age for the guerilla. They were supplied with artillaries shifted by an American plane, which they used in the destruction of the Japanese garrison.
The Japanese soldiers learned of the coming/arrival of the Americans and again, with the last bid of Mayor Luis Bosoy for the Japanese man, he asked his people to get wood which had been used for the fox-hole for the Japanese soldiers. In short period of time, an American plane bombers hit Sablan while the American soldiers were advancing towards this place. They started putting up their headquarters in Palali. They also brought with them three war tannins wherein the Japanese had also three but two were already disabled. When Camp John Hay was cleared, they kept on advancing until they reached the place.
The most remembered incident was the Japanese navy ship san by the American troops in Naguilian. The Japanese navy which ranged around 1,500 men was driven by the Americans toward Sablan as they followed the river. When the guerillas knew they are coming, they waited for them in Beshing River. When the Japanese men got tired, hungry and most of them were young, they were attacked like dummies. Few of them had guns and the guerillas even used only pieces of wood in fighting them.
Some navy Japanese men were able to escape. However, many of them had died and only a few remained. Few of the Japanese navy remained when the Americans troops came from behind then cease-fired. They took them as decent prisoners of war so they were able to save medicines and food. The dead were buried, placed them together in one big hole.
On August 15, 1945, victory was on the air and was over. However, the native guerillas and civilians, with their hatred uncontented due to the previous Japanese atrociousness, they took advantage to the surrendering Japanese. They even went to the extent of killing them while on delivery cars being brought to Manila.
Almost half of the population, mostly the younger people perished in their struggle against various diseases. Many of them were killed by the barbarious Japanese soldiers. Food and animals were forged by the cruel Japanese soldiers, from palay, carabao, cattle, to the last thing they could find among the civilians. After the war, what could only be seen was what remained unburned and those left by bomb shells? Few houses in the nearby sitios remained and the household equipments were ransacked by the Japanese soldiers. The survivors returned to the site of their homes and built temporary dwellings. Most of the people were sickly. They were supplied by the Americans with medicines and food was rationed continuously and distributed to the people until they became strong enough to work for their living.