With the outbreak of World War II on December 8, 1941, my parents decided that we leave Kiangan, Ifugao, and go back to Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya, our ancestral province (The Lumauig’s are a close-knit clan in town), where we had our relatives and few land holdings. My late father, who was a sort of political or economic strategist, opined, that in critical times, it’s always best to be among your support groups and dependable allies. He proved to be correct. Our adjustment to a new environment was rather easy and convenient as we were warmly welcomed by our relatives (uncles, aunties and cousins) and immediately made us comfortable as the 1st group of war evacuees that arrived in Bagabag.
From the mainly scholastic-oriented life in Kiangan, Ifugao—where my parents were teachers, and we the children were all in school, the exigencies of the times demanded, that we must now adopt to the ways of rural living. My late father, a very versatile person really loved farming, decided that we now personally work on, and improve the family farm, introduced us to a crash course in farming. Even barely eleven years old at that time, I easily learned to plow with the extended arched handle of the wooden plow on my right shoulder. I dexterously handled the plow and guided the carabao, on a straight line course in plowing the rice field. From plowing, planting and seeing to it that the irrigation water flowed constantly to the rice fields, then to harvesting and stacking up the harvested palay, to be threshed by a circling carabao into palay grains. It was a practicum in actual farming. My late father, in recognition for my being a tried and accomplished farmer, gave me two more carabaos and a horse to tend to.
Such was the rustic life that we led in Bagabag, for the duration of the war, until the liberation period in 1945. Meanwhile, the family bonding even became more intense, as we maintained our religious closeness through constant individual and collective devotional prayers, always mindful of the adage, that “the family that prays together, stays together.” The family, placed total faith in the Lord, fully conscious that those were perilous times. We feared not only the oppression and the brutality of the Japanese occupation forces, who were then garrisoned at Bagabag,—but also, our dread for the harsh impositions of some guerilla elements, on the civilian population. My late mother, who was a devotee of Our Lady of Piat as well as to St. Jerome, the Patron Saint of Bagabag, was untiring in her regular prayers for protection that, no harm shall befall the family. Through all those dangerous years though, we knew we were fully taken cared of by the Lord. Our faith in his goodness and caring never wavered. As the scriptures say in Lamentations, 3:22, 23, 24 “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness, the Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in him.” We were the only family in town that was spared of casualty. The whole family survived the war.