A. Arrival of the Japanese Imperial Army
In January 1941, the first Japanese Imperial Army contingent arrived in the area. It was one battalion composed of thirty soldiers. They came from Baguio City passing via the Halsema Mountain Highway. They came to Sayangan by foot. In 1940, before the Japanese Army arrived in Baguio, there were three US army men from Camp John Hay who upon hearing the news that the Japanese were in Manila immediately took action in destroying the Halsema Mountian Highway. They started bombing the road from La Trinidad towards the north in Bontoc with the use of dynamite purposely so that the Japanese invaders will be deterred from entering the sub-provinces of the Mountain Provinces and the surrounding areas, because the conditions of Halsema Mountain Highway was rendered impassable. The Japanese Tankers and weapons carriers cannot pass the road. They must have to hike by foot.
When this Japanese battalion arrived in Sayangan, nobody of the natives residing specially along the highway was around. All of the natives left their places of domicile, since 1940 upon hearing the news that the Japanese were in Manila. They evacuated into the mountains because of fear for the Japanese soldiers.
This Japanese battalion established their garrison in Sayangan. They patrolled around Paoay where they shot three cows owned by Mrs. Susie vda. de Haight. for their food.
One Japanese soldier, who was patrolling around Km.49 near Sayangan, while walking along the road saw a woman washing camote in the creek, because he was so inhuman, he raped the woman but later, luckily set her free.
Among the evacuees were not only natives but also Chinese from the place as well as from places outside Atok. The Japanese High Command decreed that they should voluntarily surrender themselves to the Japanese authorities in Trinidad. As soon as they surrendered themselves to the Japanese authorities in Trinidad, as soon as they surrendered, they were forced to render services for the repair of the Halsema Mountain Highway.
The Japanese Imperial Army built another garrison extension in Sapiangao, km.26 with six soldiers, km.35 with six soldiers and a cannon, and made Sayangan as their headquarters with thirty soldiers and two machineguns.
Aside from these there was a highway patrol group along the Halsema Mountain Highway coming from Baguio City.
At the same year the Japanese High Command declared that all civilians who were hiding in the mountains must have to present themselves to the Japaneses Army whose main headquarters was in Sayangan. Anybody who did not comply with the order was shot to death. So the natives of the area, fearing to be killed presented themselves to the Japaneses officers. The Japanese forced them to work the road connecting Balangbang to Km. 35 to Km. 30.
They were paid P1.00 and provided with one small can of rice per day. Later on, when the people were settled, they resumed their daily activities and worked their kaingin. This was the time when there was abundant harvest of plants grown due to the Japanese order to grow plants for food. This was done so as to have constant supply of food for the Japanese. It was from 1942 until 1943 when Atok was relatively peaceful. All the civilians were free to move out to secure their food supplies.