Juez de Cuchillo
Entry by Kuh Del Rosario
19 Oct 2017
75 years ago on October 19, 1942 at the corner of Os-Rox Avenue and Rizal Street in Poblacion, Batan, 74 men, women and children were rounded up and beheaded. At the hands of gorilla soldiers called Juez de Cuchillo, or Judge of the Knife, the little town of Batan was terrorized and became forever imbued by the atrocities of World War II.
To commemorate and honour the slain innocents, October 19th has been turned into a Batan Holiday. This year was not unlike the years before. A full commemorative program organized by the LGU (Local Government Unit) started at 5am with mass at the Immaculate Concepcion Municipal Parish Church. Hundreds of people gathered from the 20 baranagays to attend the mass, followed by a civic parade to the massacre site. With full costumed marching bands from different schools, people made their way slowly, gathering at the corner of Os-Rox Avenue and Rizal Street. The program began with the national anthem followed by the Aklan Hymn. Mayor Rodell R. Ramos and Vice Governor Reynaldo M. Quimpo addressed the people, with encouraging sentiment. An Aklanon folk song, 'Ro unga nga wa kabati' was sung by RD S. Victoriano, a native Batangnon whose family lineage could not be more entrenched in Batan history. More Filipino Kultura was celebrated through traditional dance numbers by students from the Napti Integrated school. A dramatic interpretation of the massacre played by Batan Integrated College of Technology and the Kalantiaw Institute triggered a cathartic release from the audience. Floral offerings and candle lighting were made as the victims names were read one by one.
It was an emotional day. 75 years was not that long ago. There are elders who still remember the day Juez de Cuchillo came to town. One lone survivor from the massacre still lives to this day. He was 8 years old at the time and evaded his own beheading by burying himself among the pile of bodies, playing dead until the opportunity came to escape.
Juez de Cuchillo was feared all over the Negros for their brutality. They killed under the duress of the Japanese Army. Some joined the guerrilla group for personal gain, under the guise of killing those suspected of colluding with the Japanese. The war seemed to blur the division of right and wrong, as people did what they could to save their own lives.
To The Victims of Juez de Cuchillo
by Maria S. Placer
To you victims of greed for power.
Who gave your lives in great surrender;
May your names be inscribed here
In our hearts deepest chamber.
The pains you endured together,
Showed your love for one another;
Soldier's rudeness deepened the injury,
You received them with great humility.
Beloved brothers and sisters brave,
Hear the emphatic hurrahs e gave
See the light that brightens eternity;
Smell the flowers perfumed on the way
Hear our prayers for you dear
Hear surprises loud and clear;
Hear our laughter though froth with pain;
The blood you shed is not in vain.
Reading the names of all the victims of the Juez de Cuchillo, shed light on the encompassing effect of this massacre. Family names repeated throughout hint at the great loss of one family. Babies and young children were not spared. One thing to understand about Batan, is that everyone is connected, if not by blood, then by marriage. These connections are very important and regarded highly by Batangnons. To understand this, is to know that nobody was spared the grief and mourning.
Rev. Fr. Fransisco Bolivar
Ester Cortes Cleope
Rev. Fr. Bartolome Conanan
Martian Gipti David
Mary Jane Delfin
Ester Delos Reyes
Baby Rufina Lauz
Rufina S. Lauz
Anna Lauz Salazar
Baby Anna Salazar
Ma. Lourdes Salazar
I was surprised by my own reaction and the effect the whole day had on me. Watching teenagers dressed in traditional garb reenacting the scene of bloodshed at the very same location from which the massacre took place was moving. Year after year, the town of Batan collectively recalls this day. Mourning happens communally supported by the local government. By this ritual, the people take the control back over and over, once lost to the Juez de Cuchillo. The Batangnons are in full ownership of their own history.