May 10, 1945 Thursday

Everything was routine up to today. The classification had not yet arrived. An insinuation was made that we would be classified as officers and that we would be put together in one wing of one of the buildings in the same premises.

Upon the request of Paredes and myself a meeting was held this evening around the bed of Chief Justice Yulo. All the 14 men originally confined in Quezon City were present. Paredes suggested that we send a memorandum to President Osmeña and Gen. MacArthur explaining our case and protestations against our detention. I seconded him. He explained that our silence might be considered conformity or acquiescence to our situation. We have not been given an opportunity to defend ourselves. In fact, we were not even notified of the charges against us. The memoranda submitted to Mr. Stanford in Quezon City were unofficial according to him. Besides, they were not answers to specific charges. Furthermore, at about the time we submitted our memos we were turned over to the Army and the C.I.C. ceased to have jurisdiction over us.

I also think that we should ask for a clarification of Gen. MacArthur’s statement that we would be held during the duration of the war as a matter of war security. Does it mean that we constitute a menace to the war effort? If so, we would be willing to show that we do not. Some Ministers opposed the submission of any memorandum on the ground that it is unnecessary and might even be prejudicial. It was decided to draft the memorandum and decide what to do later. A committee for the purpose was appointed composed of Chief Justice Yulo, as Chairman and Messrs. Recto and Paredes, as members. Messrs. Abello and Sebastian were designated as assistants.


May 7, 1945 Monday

A series of conferences began between Mr. Sanvictores on the one hand, and Col. Forbes and Lt. Severance on the other. The Colonel would allow us to run our community affairs. We could organize to enforce rules and the Army was willing to give its full backing. Most matters taken up were internal. But during the conversation, the Colonel stated that we were “modified war prisoners”. He said we would be classified and that classification would be done in Manila. Sanvictores reported that the Colonel said we could not send letters. This news made many cry. Many were not given any opportunity to see their families to bid them goodbye. Later this was modified. We will be allowed to write letters but under censorship. In replying to our letters, our families should address the letters to the American officers, and they deliver them here.

Some of the guards are very good. Others are just mean. They order us around just like regular prisoners. They roughly order us to fall in line. They do not allow us to receive anything from the outside or to send out for anything including our laundry. Some are good fellows and seem to sympathize with us deeply. They allow us to do what we want, but cautioned us not to let their superiors know. One of them called Johnny was especially good to us. He also expressed the opinion that it was a blunder to detain us. All said that Johnny would be given a grand time when we return to Manila.


May 3, 1945 Thursday

Americans on board are going crazy over souvenirs of ₱5000 Japanese bills with our signature.

We were told to get ready. We did not actually leave the boat until about 3 p.m. We were loaded in three amphibian boats. After an hour sailing on a river, we reached the Colony. The boat went up the bank and functioned like a truck. It certainly is a wonderful invention. We saw amphibians for the first time along the road from Tubao to Manila and I was glad I had the experience of embarking in it. It is a real boat when on water and a real truck when on land.

We reached Iwahig at about half past four. We were taken to a stockade less than 100 meters long and about 80 meters wide. We were divided into three groups for the three “Camarines”. The “Camarines” are big enough for our number. The list of prisoners included high officials of the Commonwealth government, prominent citizens, businessmen, Hukbalahaps, Makapilis, and those accused of murder and other atrocities.

Upon our arrival, Col. Forbes who escorted us on board the Lewis Morris ordered us to line up. He made a few remarks which substantially were as follows: “I have been designated to be your head custodian in the representation of the United States Government and of the Philippine Government. It is a painful duty, a task which I would have preferred not to have. I want to make your position clear. You are not here as criminals or convicts. Your status shall be that of a war prisoner under the Geneva Convention. I hope you will not try to escape. If anybody outside talks to you, ignore them. Until I receive instructions you shall all be treated equally. If you want anything or desire to say anything you shall communicate with me.”

In that talk there is an insinuation that we are being held to protect our lives. Such a protection may be necessary for those in the service of the Japanese who had killed or committed abuses. It may be necessary for those who had been spies. But certainly we do not need such protection as our lives are not in danger. Our people perfectly understand that our purpose was only to protect them and to serve them.

Col. Forbes then asked whether anybody wanted to say something. Mr. de la Rama mentioned Minister Quintin Paredes as one who might want to speak. Mr. Paredes declined to say anything.

Afterwards, we selected our respective places. I selected building No. 2. We occupied a corner—Minister Jose Paez, Gen. Francisco, Vice Minister Sergio Bayan and Gov. Sebastian, and myself.

We took our meals in our quarters until May 5, when we were asked to move to the mess hall nearby. At the beginning we all refused to go. Mr. Paredes and I vehemently protested on the ground that it was too much humiliation. I said that I preferred not to eat. Mr. Paredes began shouting at the Sergeant who had asked us to go. Later a meeting was held and cooler heads suggested that the Sergeant could do nothing as he was merely complying with the order of his superior. Since the Colonel was away, we better obey in the meanwhile. We then marched to the mess hall located near the plaza about 200 meters away. It was also built like the “Camarines” but the walls are much higher. The kitchen before which we lined up to get our ration, was just in front of the mess hall. We found the place really better. At least the jostling to get the food stopped and it was easier to keep our quarters clean.

We saw the necessity of organizing especially in order to have and enforce rules on sanitation. A council was selected and Chief Justice Yulo was elected Chairman. Committees were created, among which were that of Peace and Order, and Sanitation to which Mr. Paredes and Mr. Bayan were appointed, respectively. All seem to understand the necessity of keeping perfect peace and no one showed any opposition. The Sanitation Committee, however, had its hands full. Cleanliness was not observed by some especially in the toilets. Cigarettes and used matches were thrown everywhere. Bayan was so desperate that he wanted to resign. Paredes threatened to turn over the enforcement of the rules to the Army. The position of Liaison Officer to discuss matters with Col. Forbes and his assistant, Lt. Severance, was created. Jose Sanvictores was designated for this position.


May 2, 1945 Wednesday

On deck this morning. Chief Justice Yulo reiterated his previous statement that he is for immediate independence; that readjustment with the help of America can be done even under independence; that America’s treatment of us is the result of race prejudice.

Zulueta entertained us by reciting Spanish poetry. He said he found a new philosophy. He will not worry nor think about our situation anymore. He will try to recover his health to be able to fight those who have been responsible for our situation.

The convicts who are on board, most of them very poor, have shown deep sympathy for us. They always endeavor to relieve us of all work, including getting our meals. I am after all happy that I am with them as I got an inside view of their hearts. They are better than many of our big shot politicians in that they harbor no vengeance, no hatred, nor envy in their hearts. They are sincere.

Arrived in Puerto Princesa at noon. The port is full of warships, transports, landing barges, launches, etc. We were told that we were staying on board until the next morning. We did not get much sleep because the heat becomes unbearable whenever the boat is anchored.


May 1, 1945

Labor Day. We left San Jose at noon. While on deck this morning, some expressed their hope that the justice or injustice would be righted. I said that perhaps we stopped in San Jose to receive further instructions from Manila, and we might turn back. Otherwise, we might as we get used to our situation. America said nothing could be done so we might as well not worry about it.

The food is better; each meal we’re given a can of biscuits, candies and concentrated drinks which we reserve to eat between our two meals.


April 30, 1945 Monday

Last night we slept in cots that were crammed in the hold. We were always soaking wet with perspiration. I passed the night thinking of our situation.

Breakfast was again served at 9 this morning. There was a fight between two prisoners. They were men who were serving long prison sentences and were being transferred from Bilibid Prison to the Iwahig Penal Colony. It seems that one wanted to have more than his ration and the other who was in charge of the distribution prevented him. Some of these prisoners are rough and always rush to get their ration. Many go through the food line more than once.

At about 10 a.m., we reached San Jose, Mindoro, the place where the Americans landed after Leyte. From the boat we could see a broad fertile plain, which after several miles to the interior rises up to the mountains. Ships were all around us and many planes above us, and on shore we could observe great activity.


April 29, 1945 Sunday

It was 3 o’clock in the morning; the boat started to move. We could not see anything; it was pitch black. Destination unknown.

In the dark, the events of the past days came back to me.

We left Irisan, a town about six kilometers from Baguio on April 12, 1945 headed towards Agoo, an American-captured territory in the Province of La Union. After walking four days and four nights across mountains, we arrived at Pitugan, La Union. Across the river which bordered the U.S.-liberated province, we saw our first sight of our American liberators, a group of soldiers led by a Capt. Linguist. Our happiness at seeing the Americans was such that tears streamed down our faces. “Here are our liberators!” we exclaimed.

The Captain was tall. He might not have been a handsome man but to us he was the embodiment of perfection. He shook hands with Manuel Roxas first, with Jose Yulo next, and then with me. I had shaken hands with presidents (including Roosevelt), emperors (Hirohito and Pu Yi), and princes (Prince of Wales), but I had never taken a hand with more gusto than when I shook the hand of the Captain.

Capt. Linguist was very kind and nice to us. He gave orders left and right, doing everything he could for us. The Americans helped us across the river and, although we were already in the safety zone, the Captain took all the necessary precautions; soldiers with sub-machine-guns were posted around us throughout the night while we slept before proceeding towards the town of Tubao.

Deep in our hearts we felt an unbounded feeling of gratitude. Not for a moment did it enter our minds that our liberators, for whose return we prayed fervently everyday, were going to be our incarcerators.

At 7 a.m., we started for Tubao. When we reached the town of Rizal, we were met by a military truck driven by an American. We boarded the truck and reached Tubao about 10 a.m. Here in Tubao, we saw the place where the shelling of Baguio came from. That same morning, we were taken to Aringay, to the U.S. Army Headquarters. The Americans served us lunch. For the first time since the war, we had a real American dinner with bread and butter, ham, coffee, iced tea, etc. Here we were introduced to the head of the Army operating around Baguio, Major General Carlson.

We were photographed with the General and his staff. The Filipino group was composed of Gen. Manuel Roxas, Chief Justice Jose Yulo, Minister Rafael Alunan, Minister Teofilo Sison, Minister Quintin Paredes, and myself. We were also introduced to Lt. Col. Arcing Arvey. We were asked many questions, one of which was what we thought about the postponement of Philippine independence. As the senior in our party, Mr. Yulo answered for the group—that we were opposed to the proposition. Col. Arvey asked whether we did not need time for economic readjustment. He answered, “There is no incompatibility between the two. We can have independence and economic readjustment with the help of America.”

I was elated at his response as this represented my own thoughts and sentiments. We have heard rumors that the Imperialists had sent men here—Army officers, and men in the C.I.C.—to work for the withdrawal of the independence plan. It was their plan to work through the Filipinos: they want the Filipinos themselves to petition for the postponement of independence. They cannot do it directly in America as the majority of the Americans are against imperialism. As a matter of fact, I was present in the U.S. Congress when they voted down a large appropriation for the fortification of Guam. They argued that America should pull out of the Orient. But the Imperialists want to be able to show that the Filipinos themselves do not want independence. They are absolutely wrong if they think the Filipinos will give up their lifelong desire for independence.

We stayed three days in Tubao. We were given plenty of K-rations to eat. On the morning of April 19, a car driven by an American came for us. We thought we were going to be taken to San Fabian as we were made to understand. But before we started the trip, a Capt. Donahue explained to us that we would be brought to San Fernando where he hoped we would not stay long. He was very nice and apologetic.

We were shown the April 18, 1945 issue of the Free Philippines which stated that Gen. MacArthur had announced that American liberation forces “captured four members of the collaborationists cabinet”. The article continues: “The puppet officials who fell into American hands were Jose Yulo, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Antonio de las Alas, Minister of Finance, Teofilo Sison, Minister of the Interior, and Quintin Paredes, Minister of Justice, in the quisling Laurel Cabinet.” It also quoted from the American General, “They will be confined for the duration of the war as a matter of military security and then turned over to the government of the Philippines for trial and judgment.”

We were all dumbfounded. We never expected it.

On the way to San Fernando, we passed through San Fabian, a very busy port. All roads were improved, even widened and asphalted. The roads were jammed with military vehicles, including amphibian trucks. We arrived in San Fernando and proceeded directly to the U.S. Army Headquarters. At about 3 p.m., we were told to proceed to Manila. We were not able to say goodbye to our families.

We arrived in Manila at sundown. We drove around to different places, including offices in the Government Insurance Building and the Singian house just below the Ayala Bridge. It seemed like they didn’t know where to take us. Finally, we were taken to a house in Quezon City, arriving there about 7 p.m. Since may daughter Lily, Mrs. Ambrosio Padilla, lived nearby in the San Miguel district, I asked permission to be allowed to visit her. I was rather surprised when my request was denied.

When we arrived in Quezon City, we were joined by Pedro Sabido, F. Baybay, Jose Sanvictores, Francisco Zulueta, Sergio Bayan and Proceso Sebastian. Zulueta sympathized with me; he too could not understand why I was not allowed to see Lily, especially since we spent several days in Quezon City. On April 21, Zulueta was taken ill and had to be brought to a hospital.

We expected to see Gen. Manuel Roxas who was not brought with us to Manila, but he was not among those who arrived. It is said that he was also detained but given a certain degree of freedom.

In the morning of the 24th, Ministers Claro M. Recto, Rafael Alunan and Emilio Abello, and Gen. Guillermo Francisco arrived from Baguio. Recto and Gen. Francisco were very indignant. Recto said that if he had known what was in store for him, he would have preferred to have stayed in Baguio.

Next day, Wednesday, April 25th, we were all photographed and fingerprinted. I felt humiliated. We were all bitter, and we broke into tears. Generally, however, we thought that even this forced detention was better than our situation in Baguio where we were virtual prisoners subject to the dangers of bombing, shelling, and above all massacre by the Japanese Armed Forces.

In the afternoon, we were fingerprinted and photographed again, Gen. Francisco included. The morning photographed and fingerprinting session was for the Military Policy Command; the afternoon session, for the Counter Intelligence Corps.

When we arrived in the house in Quezon City, I was interrogated by two gentlemen, a Mr. Stanford and a Mr. Hendricks. I was questioned not only about myself, but also about others in the party, and other persons. I was asked about Secretary Kalaw, Mayor Guinto, Vice Mayor Figueroa, Vicente Madrigal, Leopoldo Aguinaldo, Sergio and Nicasio Osmeña, Fiscal Mabanag and Camino Moncado. I tried to make a correct and just appraisal of them.

In the following days, from April 25 to the 27th, I was questioned repeatedly. I was asked by Mr. Hendricks and Mr. Stanford about the Philippine currency taken from banks. I prepared a statement in reply to all their questions. In my report I also mentioned about the seizure by the Japanese authorities of the Philippine National Bank funds in Baguio.

After a week of separation, I received for the first time letters from my wife and other members of my family. They arrived in Manila last Sunday, April 22. My son-in-law, Ambrosio Padilla (Paddy), and my brother-in-law, Jose Lontoc, drove all the way from Manila to Tubao to get them. My family is now staying in an “entresuelo” in the grand old house owned by Paddy’s mother located in Rodriguez Arias St. In the letter, my wife wrote that on the way to Manila, they passed by Paniqui, Tarlac, to the house of my other son-in-law, Ramon Cojuangco. Ramon confirmed the death of my daughter, Natividad (Neny). I became almost desperate. When we were taken to the U.S. Headquarters in La Union we met some friends from Manila who were officers of the USAFFE. One of them was Major Nakpil who told me of Neny’s death. Before this, I refused to believe it.

My eldest daughter, Lily, and her family were all in good health. I have a new grandson, born during the battle for liberation of Manila. I have two grandchildren now, the other being Josie.

I also learned about the burning of all our houses. But we would have preferred to lose all if only Neny could have been saved.

Mr. Stanford is a very friendly and understanding gentleman. He promised to do all he could for us. He is a Republican and freely expressed his opinion. Naturally, he opposed many of Roosevelt’s policies. Among other things, he said that all allied nations must be made to defray the expenses of the war.

The next morning, we were all happy, having heard from our families and knowing that they were back safely in Manila. At about 11 a.m., an American Lieutenant came to advise that we were leaving at 12:30 p.m. All of us became very sad. We did not know our destination. I tried to get permission to be allowed to go to the house of the Padillas because it was just nearby. My request was denied. At 1 o’clock, a harsh looking Captain came in a big truck. We were ordered to board the truck. The Captain followed us in a jeep. We were escorted by American guards with rifles. We were told not to talk to anybody.

The truck headed for Quezon Boulevard, and when it turned right on Azcarraga St., we all thought we were being taken to the Bilibid Prison. But we drove by the Bilibid Prison and went straight along Azcarraga St. to the North Port. We heard the Captain asking for directions to Pier 8. We were lost for a while; we even went beyond Tondo Church. Finally, we got to Pier 8.

We were left in the open truck for two hours with the sun blazing down on us. We could have been allowed to leave the truck to be in a shady place since the whole place was under the control of the Army. Here we got an inkling of what kind of treatment was in store for us. The Filipinos around who apparently recognized us, looked at us with sympathetic eyes. Apparently, the delay was due to the fact that we waited for the four trucks loaded with prisoners from Bilibid Prison. Among the prisoners we recognized Gov. S. Aquino of the 3rd District, Gov. Urquico of Tarlac, Hilario Camino Moncado and Francisco C. de la Rama. Later, we found out that the two leaders of the Hukbalahap, Luis Taruc and Casto Alejandrino, were also with them.

At about 3 o’clock, we were ordered to board a landing barge. Gov. P. Sebastian had a heavy load, so I helped him. The barge took us to a boat of 7,000 tons capacity named Lewis Morris. We were ordered to go down to the hold of the ship. It was here where we found out that there were many other detainees, about a hundred of us. We were herded in a place too small for us—crammed in the boat’s hold, about 20 by 20 meters. It was hot. We howled in protest. Overhead, someone removed the wooden trapdoor. It became a little cooler. We were all very thirsty. Moncado saved the situation by managing to go up on deck. How he did it is still a mystery to us. I surmised that he used a human pyramid to reach the opening. He was away for a very long time and we feared that he had been caught. To our surprise and jubilation, he appeared and handed down buckets of water to us.

All expressed indignation. We did not deserve such a treatment. Recto said if he was assured that his family would be taken care of, he would rather die. Gen. Francisco said that after having served the Philippines and America, he could not understand why he was being thus treated. Yulo, the coolest headed among us, said, “I will never allow an American to cross the threshold of my house.”

Later, we learned unofficially that we were going to the Iwahig Penal Colony.

We were served breakfast at 9 a.m. At about 11 a.m., the boat stopped. We were allowed to go up on deck. The air was very refreshing. We saw a convoy of over 50 ships.

We were only allowed on deck for one hour after breakfast. Lunchtime came; we were very hungry. No lunch. After 2 o’clock we were told that we were to be given only two meals a day. Then at 4 o’clock, we were told we could go up on deck again for one hour. Finally, at 5 o’clock, they served us our supper of canned salmon. It was abundant.