This study is intended to answer the following questions: what caused some of the Filipino masses to collaborate with the Japanese?; and why did their collaboration for the Japanese bring about severe violence?
Over seventy years or so since the end of the Asia-Pacific War in Asia, numerous academic works have been discussing so far the subject matters on the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines. However, only a few of them have discussed the issues of the collaboration with the perspectives from “below.” Even though there have been published numerous studies on the Filipino popular history, very few historians have examined the nature of collaborationism transpired in the local setting of the Philippines with such perspectives.
This paper aims to shed light on rampant severe violence frequently happened among the masses or locals in Leyte Island of the Philippines, one of the rural areas of the country, during the Japanese occupation, that have not yet been thoroughly examined in Philippine historiography. Applying theoretical frameworks of Ranajit Guha (2007) dealing with the historical study on the mass movement in India, this study tries to clarify the characteristics of the mass violence by focusing on the actuations of a number of actors, most of whom belonged to low middle class including some local governmental officials (municipal mayors, treasurers, or chieftains of small villages in the province), local small merchants or landless peasants with a scant educational background. These kind of people tended to be treated as minor actors in “periphery” in the Philippine society when describing the history of the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. Some of them were said to be involved in severe violence during the time of their organizing some paramilitary groups for the Japanese such as the Home Guard in Ormoc or Jutai in Abuyog. Being minor one in Philippine historiography, the significance of mass violence have had been ignored, and these violent incidents were considered nothing but black side of patriotic movements against the Japanese initiated by the anti-Japanese guerrilla groups. Therefore, their involvement in the local history have been forgotten on the minds of locals and local historians as well.
Discussing several cases presented in this paper, the author tries to posit that such minor actors in “periphery” of the Philippine society tried to delineate themselves in the elite-dominated society like Leyte Province by collaborating with the Japanese. Unfortunately, their activities were too sporadic to unite other minor elements toward the unified movement as the Sakdal Movement or Hukbalahap Movement in Luzon Island did during that time.