HomeThe Journal of Historyvol. 56 no. 1 (2010)

Human Bibingka: Leyteños under Japanese Rule (1942-1944)

Rolando O. Borrinaga

Discipline: Society, Philippine History



This paper presents the experiences of ordinary Leytenos during the Japanese Occupation. The main source-materials for this study were oral testimonies from key informants born before 1940, which were placed in their proper context through the use of documentary sources. The study aims to show that the Japanese Occupation disrupted Leyteno social interactions between occupied town centers and their peripheries by creating an atmosphere of suspicion in which ostensibly siding with either the Japanese troops or the guerrillas often had deadly consequences, a condition described by some informants as "baga hin bibingka (like bibingka)," referring to the method of cooking the popular Filipino rice cake delicacy inside a clay or can oven with fire from above and below. The study also argues that this center-periphery conflict was rooted in Leyte's precolonial past as well during over three centuries of Spanish rule and the almost half-century of American rule which preceded the brief Japanese Occupation.