Although he lived at a time when there was no internet yet, but surprisingly my Dad’s name, Jose Joson can be found on the internet. He is mentioned in relation to the history of Bayugan City, in the province of Agusan del Sur, Philippines. According to what can be found on the internet, my dad, Jose Turla Joson, led the early settlers in their desire to make Bayugan a barrio (barangay) during the 1960s.
History of Bayugan City
Bayugan City used to be just a small settlement (a sitio). Back then, it was not even a barrio yet. In so far as I can remember, it was sitio Bayugan, Barrio Maygatasan, town of Esperanza, province of Agusan. It was located at the “crossing” of the Butuan-Davao (north-south) road and the Valbueco-Esperanza (east-west) road. As a young boy, we used to live right at the “crossing” (as it was called back then) when there was no rotunda yet. It was aptly called the crossing (not rotunda) by the early settlers during the early 60s. We used to live right at the center (almost) of the present rotunda.
As Bayugan’s first Tiniente del Barrio, I remember my Dad settled a lot of disputes or misunderstanding among the barrio folks. He also counseled on marital and family problems at times. That’s how I remembered it during those early days of Bayugan. I also remember that my Dad had one rural police under him. He had a khaki uniform but he had no shoes—just slippers! And he had no gun too but just a short batuta (club) haha!
Post-humous Award for First Barangay Captain
On April 2005, my Dad posthumously received a plaque of recognition for having served as “Barangay Captain” during the years 1960-1964. I find this humorous because back then, he was never called a captain. Just a lieutenant. No, not in the military. A barrio lieutenant! Or in Spanish, the first Tiniente del Barrio of Bayugan hahaha!
Off to US after Serving as Provincial Board Member
On December 31, 1969, the province of Agusan was divided into two. My Dad was among the first three elected provincial board members of the newly-formed province of Agusan del Sur. He served until 1985 when he and my Mom left for the US to attend a reunion in Missouri of his former American war buddies in World War II. He was the only Filipino in that group of American soldiers who fought in the Philippines against the Japanese troops. Unfortunately, my Dad was never recognized officially as a war veteran because he lost his papers. According to my Dad, some Filipinos got their papers processed although they were fakes and became “veterans” after the war enjoying veteran’s benefits. He said he did not pursue being recognized as a veteran because all he wanted was to serve his country. I admire him for that.
Recognized as WWII Veteran in US
Thankfully, my Dad’s American war buddies corroborated his being a war veteran. He died of a heart attack in 1990 in Los Angeles, USA and was buried in Oregon. After some 17 years, in August 2007, I had the chance to visit my Dad’s grave and interestingly for me, I read on my Dad’s gravestone written in capital letters, “WWII VETERAN.” I thought it odd that my Dad had been recognized in a foreign land (USA) as a war veteran but not in his own country, the Philippines. At least, he was recognized by his very own American war buddies during WWII—though not officially by the US government.
Finally, this part of Bayugan City history is now written and is on the internet. I’m writing this for my kids so that they may know more about their grandfather, my Dad. And may I share this for everyone too. From a very small settlement decades ago, Bayugan is now officially a city—Bayugan City!