Diary of Felipe Buencamino III

February 2, 1942

HQ, Intelligence, Bataan

 

This place is getting to be a Post Office. Lorrie Tan wants a letter sent to his family. Manny Colayco wants his family contacted. “I left them with nothing,” he said, “I don’t even know where they are,” he wrote. Tony Perez has a letter for his sweetheart and one for his mother. All letters were censored. Received word from Fr. Hurley in Manila. He asks that news be given the Superior in America that “everything is o.k. with Jesuits.” Will refer this matter to Ortiz in Rock. Other men were here begging, pleading that we be kind enough to “send this little or just this two or three words to this and that person.” The General is very angry. He has ordered all agents and officers to stop bringing personal notes. He said: “This is an intelligence service not a Post Office.” Fred said the General has become very strict because he noticed that one of the letters which somebody wanted delivered was addressed to a German in the suspected list of the Philippine Army. We are having the American sergeant who wrote the suspicious note called to this HQ tomorrow.

Talked to Tony Perez this morning about penetration in Mt. Natib. He said they walked for two days and nights without stop, clambering cliffs, clinging to vines at times to keep their body steady, in a desperate effort to escape encirclement by the Japs. He said it was a pity some of the weak and wounded were left behind. There were men he said offering all their money to soldiers to “please carry me because I can no longer walk.” He said that he and a friend carried a fellow who had a bullet wound in the leg. “Some of the boys” he said “fell down the precipice because the path was very narrow, in some cases just enough for the toes.” He expressed the opinion that if Japs had followed their gains immediately and emplaced a machine gun near the cliff, they would all have been killed. “It was heart-breaking” he said. “There we were trying to run away from Japs and sometimes we had to stay in the same place for a long time because the cliffs were very irregular, at times flat, at times perpendicular.” He said that most of the men discarded their rifles and revolvers to reduce their load. Most of our artillery pieces were left, he stated. “We were happy,” he recounted, “when night came because it was dark and the Japs would have less chances of spotting us but then that made our climbing doubly difficult because it was hard to see where one was stepping especially when the moon hid behind the clouds.” He opined that the Japs probably never thought that one whole division would be able to escape through those precipices in the same way that we never thought that they would be able to pass through the steep cliffs of Mt. Natib. Fred said he will write a poem entitled “The Cliffs of Bagao” in honor of the Dunkirk-like retreat of the 1st regular division.

Leonie is also thinking of writing a book on Bataan. He says it will be fiction. It’s much easier that way, he stated.

Fred and Leonie keep on making notes of every incident and story they see and hear. Fred will write a non-fiction book.

I wish I could write a book myself but I don’t think I can. Maybe I’ll just write a couple of article for Free Press or Bulletin.

Received a letter from Baby Quezon. She wants to send a note to Miss Mary Angara. The General said we shall make an exception for the President’s daughter.

Life here is getting harder and harder. I noticed everybody is getting more and more irritable. Nerves, I think. Food is terribly short. Just two handfuls of rice in the morning and the same amount at night with a dash of sardines. Nine out of ten men have malaria. When you get the shivers, you geel like you have ice in your blood. Bombing has become more intensified and more frequent. The General is always hot-headed. Fred and Leonie are often arguing heatedly. Montserrat and Javallera are sore at each other. And I… well, I wanna go home.

 

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