Diary of Lieutenant X (Aime Ernest Motsch)

Monday, May 30, 1898

This morning, at 6 o’clock, I went on shore with a comrade. We visited the markets of Binondo and San Miguel. There is an enormous crowd of Tagals and Chinese. Baskets full of fish and delicious fruits are everywhere. The smell of the Chinese overpowers even that of the sea. There is an abundance of lively colors and movements. The looks directed at us are either sympathetic or indifferent, but not at all hostile. The streets are swarming with people discussing among themselves, keeping pace with the tempo on the streets without stopping for a single moment to reflect on the present catastrophe before them.

–And yet, someone said to us an hour later, the fighting began this morning, very early, at Las Piñas, at the very threshold of Manila. The insurgents are putting less and less distance between themselves and the Spaniards with each passing moment. Before long, the two will be at each other’s throats.

–What exactly do the insurgents want?

–The other day there was an important meeting between the Philippine chiefs and the high officials in Manila, in which Aguinaldo was supposed to have been spokesman for his side. He simply stated that his men were well armed, a fact the Spaniards are quite aware of since they themselves had armed the Tagals a month ago. They seemed pleased with themselves that the insurgents a year ago are now on their side against the Americans. In spite of everything, Aguinaldo is alleged to have offered his assistance, provided that three conditions be followed: 1) the expulsion of all religious orders; 2) the transfer of all ecclesiastical goods, furniture, and buildings for civil use of the Filipinos; 3) absolute autonomy. This is is what is being rumored around, but there is no truth to it. Aguinaldo is in Cavite, brought there from Hongkong by the Americans. In the city, the foreigners are getting worried. This is an absurd situation which cannot go on any longer. Tomorrow the ships which have been chartered will leave the river. The trunks are fast and secure and the final pieces of baggage are being put on board. . .

–And what is the news from Europe?

–The opinions one hears in the city are that the European powers will provide help. We are confident of Germany. I have received a report from a Hongkong correspondent that a naval battle can be expected. Details of the expected American defeat are not yet known, and Europe is preparing to intervene at the earliest opportunity.