Diary of Juan Labrador, O.P.

December 22, 1944

The events are developing kaleidoscopically. The Philippine government, reduced to the bare minimum, that is, to the members of the Cabinet—the multitude of government employees are without work to do, just idling—has been moved to Baguio by General Yamashita. As we are only few, we will have a grand time of it. They are coming as political detainees so as to be nearer to Formosa. At least so they believe. The official force is being sugar-coated by the phrase “preventive protection”, which does not, however, succeed in deceiving even the unsuspecting. More than a month ago, two guards were placed at each of the houses of the ministers in the guise of Japanese police. Only Speaker Aquino had the guts to dispose of them. Angrily and firmly he told them to leave the house or he would leave them, together with all the responsibilities on their shoulders. He hit the cord at its strongest point and the guardians left. The President, with his Filipino guard, settled down at the Mansion House. Yamashita, likewise, installed his headquarters in this mountain retreat.

Manila has lost to Baguio as the capital of the Philippines. Could it be that they intend to declare this an open city as General MacArthur did three years ago today? This is the speculation of the optimists, with no other basis than their valid imagination. Or could it be that they shall convert this dead end alley into another Bataan? This is what some Japanese, who showed us proof that Baguio is being reinforced with 150,000 soldiers, are circulating. Could they be planning a semblance of defense, and if it turns out bad, they would escape to the north and, if they could do it which surely they couldn’t—they would make a run for it across the channel separating us from Formosa? This seems to be the more sensible opinion, or so it sounds, although what sounds in the meantime, are the cannons, the bombs, the mortars and all the heavy hammers of war.