In the fight against the Japanese during the Second World War, the Boholano forces were led by Major Ismael Ingeniero. He was an Ilonggo from the Province of Iloilo. Through luck and intrepidity he became the overall commander of the unified guerrilla forces in Bohol.
Arrival of Ismael Ingeniero
In any war-history we are only told the “official” version of the story. There are many unofficial stories that are not told and kept secret. The story about Major Ingeniero follows this typical pattern.
Sometime in 1974 I was in Iloilo City to attend a conference. It so happened that the hotel in which I was staying was owned by the family of Major Ingeniero. I tried to ask some particulars about Major Ingeniero from his nephews and to my chagrin, everybody were tight lipped. They only admitted that Major Ingeniero was their relative and he was somewhere in Bohol during the war. You will not feel to notice that they were hiding some information.
The official story told by Judge Pio Ferandos in his book “The Bohol Guerrillas in Action” narrated how Major Ingeniero came to Bohol.
When the Philippines surrendered, the then 3rd Lieutenant Ismael Ingeniero was captured and imprisoned by the Japanese in Cebu City. By dint of good luck he was able to escape the Japanese, managed to steal a boat, and row across to Tubigon, Bohol.
He was again captured by the Japanese and for the second time managed to escape. He then joined 3rd Lt. Arcadio Fontanilla and together they formed a guerrilla unit and hid in Baang, Catigbian.
Captain Francisco Salazar
Captain Francisco Salazar (real name: Vicente Cubero) was from Lanuza, Surigao del Sur. His father, Isidro Cubero, was from Pondol, Loon. His mother, Antonia Tocmo Tejol, was from Corella, Bohol.
His educational attainment was Grade 7 and enlisted in the Philippine Constabulary. In the later part of May 1942, he was in Macrohon where he joined the crew of trading banca headed by Juan “Aning” Relampagos (note: Father of Vice Gov. Rene Relampagos).
Upon knowing that Aning Relampagos was a 3rd Lieutenant in the disbanded army, Vicente Cubero introduced himself as Captain Francisco Salazar, thereby out ranking Lt. Relampagos.
Upon the arrival of the trading banca of Lt. Relampagos in Catagbacan, Loon, Capt. Salazar immediately went on espionage and information gathering. He intimated to Lt. Relampagos that the first course of action was to kill the spy-collaborators of the Japanese. Their group was successful and other men joined the group.
In his desire to enlarge his force, Capt. Salazar searched for and found the group led by Lts. Fontanilla and Ingeniero in Maitum, Baang, Catigbian. Capt. Salazar introduced himself and told Lts. Fontanilla and Ingeniero that he wanted to led their combined forces.
Lt. Ingeniero accepted by Lt. Fontanilla was hesitant because Capt. Salazar committed many lapses that indicated that he was not a true army captain.
Capt. Salazar sent messages to other groups for an organizational meeting. Among those who answered the call were Lt. Vicente Nunag, Jr. and his men.
During the meeting Lt. Fontanilla was surreptitiously killed to eliminate any opposition. In the new organization, Capt. Salazar was the leader and Lt. Ingeniero was next in Command. The group was then dubbed the “Behind the Clouds” force.
Death of Capt. Salazar
Capt. Salazar was an aggressive military commander. He always wanted to bring the war to the Japanese. On Sept. 27, 1942 the group ambushed a Japanese Patrol at Moalong Bridge, Loon. After their victory the force under Capt. Salazar tremendously increased. All the while Lt. Ingeniero was left in the camp to garrison the place.
Capt. Salazar next planned to ambush the Japanese at Abatan Bridge but the Japanese did not come. He then brought his force to Ubujan, Tagbilaran to ambush the Japanese. In the afternoon of Oct. 22, 1942 the ambush of the Japanese occurred. In the initial encounter the Boholanos were victorious.
However the sound of gunfire alerted the Japanese force in their headquarters at the Bohol Trade School and reinforcements were sent. This reinforcement caught unaware the jubilant Boholanos. In the ensuing battle, Capt. Salazar was killed and his fighters dispersed.
Rise of Lt. Ingeniero
After the death of Capt. Salazar, Lt. Ingeniero, who was next in command, took over the leadership of the “Behind the Clouds” guerrilla unit.
Meanwhile other guerrilla units were sprouting throughout the Province of Bohol. The leaders of Bohol saw the need to unify all the guerrilla groups in Bohol.
On Nov. 29, 1942 the unification conference was held at the Central School of Batuan, Bohol. It was participated in by civilian officials, military officials, and guerrilla leaders of Bohol.
Since Batuan is near the headquarters of the Behind the Clouds guerrilla unit, Lt. Ingeniero was able to bring many of his men in the pretext of securing the conference site but in reality to bully and intimidate the participants of the conference. Lt. Ingeniero secured the overall command of the unified guerrilla forces of Bohol even when there were other officers of higher rank than him.
With the help of military officers who were graduates of the Phil. Military Academy like, Bartolome Cabangbang, Sofio Bayron, Alano, and Caldoza, the military side of the organization was finalized.
Another conference on January 23, 1943 was held at Loboc, Bohol to thresh out the civilian organization. Finally, on Feb. 27, 1943 the so-called Calape Conference was held at Calape, Bohol to unify the civilian and military government. It was attended by Senator Carlos P. Garcia who was the main speaker.
It was agreed that since it was a time of war the military organization was above or superior to that to that of the civilian government.
Therefore, Atty. Conrado Marapao, who was the chosen Provincial Governor of Bohol, was technically under Ismael Ingeniero who took on the rank of major.
The Free Bohol Government was recognized by Pres. Manuel Quezon and Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
After the war
When the Americans declared Bohol to be liberated in 1945, the Bohol Force was disbanded. Some guerrilla officers joined the regular military. However, the whereabouts of Maj. Ismael Ingeniero was unknown.
It is said that he went to Mindanao to engage in the logging industry. He died when got entangled on a rope. Some say that it was murder and some say that it was an accident.
After the Calape Conference, Maj. Ismael Ingeniero was the highest official in Bohol but it is sad to note that almost nothing is known about him in Bohol. Even his relatives that I met in Iloilo were not excited about his achievements in Bohol.