EDs Note: The Davao Historical Society Foundation, Inc. published a special millennium edition of the Davao Historical Journal entitled Davao Historical Progress (2001). We take the liberty in publishing excerpts of the book every Saturday in the run up to March 1, the city’s foundation anniversary.
The short-lived Japanese period
When the Second World War broke out, the airport of Davao City was bombed by the Japanese airplanes (camouflaged as U.S. planes) on December 8, 1941. But the actual landing of the Japanese Imperial Forces was on December 20, 1941, a couple of weeks after the bombing. When the fearful Dabawenyos heard that the Japanese soldiers have landed, they evacuated to the outskirts but some opted to stay in the city. Davao was occupied by the Japanese Forces under the command of Admiral Shiroya.
The Japanese settlers in Davao, planters as well as laborers, became soldiers of the invading forces, became the occupation units and controlled Davao City. Those who came as business executives during the late ‘30s turned out to be military majors and colonels.
Liberation and Post-Liberation Period
Dabawenyos rejoiced when liberation was declared with the arrival of the American Liberation Forces on May 2, 1945 under the command of Major General Woodruff. The life of the people was somewhat dominated by a mixed feeling of joy and fear. There was joy because the people were once again free to move about and fear because of the “barbaric” acts shown by some Filipino guerillas who in their anger against the abusive Japanese soldiers, turned their ire on the captured Japanese soldiers until the American Liberation Forces imposed discipline.
Among the officials who came back to Davao City after Liberation was Atty. Pantaleon Pelayo, Sr. He was again appointed as City Mayor. Apolinario Cabigon succeeded Mayor Pelayo when the latter was assigned to Zamboanga. After Mayor Cabigon, Atty. Fundador Villafuerte served as city mayor up to June 1946.
Davao City’s onward march to progress took place after the Liberation Period. The principal industries were logging, copra, banana, corn, abaca, ramie, mining and fishing. When the logging industry declined, next to flourish was the banana industry. The coconut industry emerged as the Philippine’s biggest dollar-producing and earning industry after the Second World War.