Diary of Victor Buencamino

July 2, 1942

Mr. Nakashima, Assistant Supervisor-de-Facto, has taken charge of the purchasing of spare parts. Naric needs a two-year supply, at least. Honesty is essential in this task.

Mr. Fukada reported that the Army is ready with soldiers for Nueva Viscaya purchases. Next move depends on the Naric, he stated.

The body of a Japanese soldier was found floating on the banks of the Pasig River.

Philip told us many stories about Bataan. He attributed the USAFFE’s defeat to two things:

(1) the meager, almost nil, food ration; and

(2) the complete aerial superiority of the Japanese.

“We were like rats,” he said, “only worse. When Japanese planes swept down, bombing, strafing… the only thing to do was to bury yourself under the ground. If you were lucky, you came out alive with earth all over your face and body. If you were unlucky…” He did not continue his sentence.

The ration in Bataan was a handful of “lugao” every day, nothing more. “It was a pitiful sight,” he said, “to see soldiers hardly able to lift their rifles, extending their hands to their officers, begging for food.”

Philip said there were no replacements in the front lines. While the Japanese forces used fresh troops, the USAFFE did not have enough men to cover the front lines. The same troops stood in the front from January to April, from morning to evening and morning again, till the lines finally broke before the ceaseless firing, bombing and shelling of the Japanese forces.

He explained that the only thing that kept the spirits of the boys alive was the hope of the convoy. “We were told that the convoy was on the way. And so we waited and waited. I have actually seen officers standing on the shores, scanning the seas, looking for the convoy. Sometimes they would see a wave and they would say, ‘There… that look like the spearhead of the convoy.’ We were like thirsty men in a desert, scanning the sands for an oasis. But the convoy did not arrive. Next week, they would say. Then it was ‘in a month,‘ ‘in two months,’ in three… never!”

He said that he was not sorry he went to Bataan. Aside from the satisfaction of serving his country, he looked at it as a post-graduate course in a University. It was educational, he pointed out. It was life.

Somehow man understands life better in the face of death.