January 8, 1942

Corregidor

Malinta Tunnel

I don’t like this place. Yes, it’s safer and bombproof but the air is damp and stuffy. Give me the cool mountain breezes and the starlit skies of Bataan anytime.

The general has been relieved of his command. He has been assigned to a more important, delicate and interesting job. He will be made head of the Military Intelligence Service.

His main mission will be to secure information regarding the enemy in the occupied regions of Luzon. The service will be under the G-2 section of MacArthur’s staff.

Corregidor is a wreck. The docks have been bombed and rebombed. The chapel is partially destroyed and nothing remains but the cross and the altar. The area around the Post Exchange has been leveled by fires due to incendiary bombs and the cinema house has been razed to the ground.

In the little harbor, I saw the Casiana lying quietly under the water with only the insignia of the Commonwealth Government afloat. Had many happy hours in the good old days in the presidential luxury [yacht]. That’s where I first met Morita when she arrived from the States.

First person I saw this morning was Vice President Sergio Osmeña. He wore a white “cerrada” and he had black shoes. He looked thin, bored and worried. When he saw me he asked: “When did you arrive?” I said “Just now, sir with Gen. de Jesus and Major Lamberto Javallera.”

The Vice President asked: “How is it in Bataan? Is it safe? I am thinking of going there. When is the best time?”

I told the Vice President that the best time to cross the Bay would be either early in the morning or late at night to avoid enemy raiders.

General Basilio Valdes then arrived. He was carrying a towel and a piece of soap. The general had just taken a bath. He said: “To take a bath here, you have to go out of the tunnel.” Toilets in Corregidor are out in the open.

The general was anxious to hear news about the boys in Bataan and he told me to give his regards to several of his friends in the front.

“Who are you with?” he asked.

“With Gen. de Jesus, sir.”

“Where is he now?”

“Conferring with Col. Willoughby, sir.”

“Tell him to see me before he leaves.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Have you taken your breakfast?”

“I had coffee, sir in the gunboat. When we were crossing the Bay, a Navy gunboat stopped us, sir. The Captain said it was not safe to approach Corregidor very early because the coast artillery might fire at our launch. So he invited us to take coffee with him and that was perfectly all right with the general and I because we were not able to take our dinner last night.”

In the breakfast table, I saw Major Carlos Romulo and Lt. Col. Manuel Nieto, aide to President Quezon. Romulo was growing a small moustache, a poor imitation of Adolf’s. He was slightly thinner and his eyes showed lack of sleep.

He told me to find out if his eldest son, Carlos Jr., was in Bataan. “If he is there,” he pointed out, “he is probably with Gregg Anonas.”

I assured Mr. Romulo that I would do my best to look for Baby although I don’t think he is with Gregg’s bunch because I would have seen him.

Romulo said that he was sick and tired of the canned stuff in Corregidor and that he misses the “pesa” and “adobo” he used to eat at our home and with the Vasquez family.

He also told me that before he left for Corregidor he called up my dad and told him to take care of his family. “I wonder how they all are in Manila,” he said.

He said he heard that my general was going to head the Military Intelligence Service. “In that case,” he said, “you are going to have operatives in Manila. Could you arrange to have a man find out how my family is?”

I promised Mr. Romulo that I would attend to that matter personally if the general takes me along with him. “If I remain with the 51st, I won’t be able to find out for you.”

Mr. Romulo was in the press section of MacArthur’s staff under Col. Diller. I think he should be made chief of that section because he has the most experience in propaganda.

He told me he was busy censoring the news reports of the foreign correspondents in Bataan and Corregidor and writing the scripts for the Voice of Freedom everyday.

After breakfast, Col. Nieto brought me to the President’s lateral. In one corner, I saw Mrs. Quezon seated on a bench between Dr. Cruz and Fr. Pacifico Ortiz S.J. Mrs. Quezon embraced me and she’d wanted to know how I was and if life in Bataan was very hard because of the bombings. Fr. Ortiz who was my logic professor in the Ateneo said: “I’m glad to see you, Phil.”

Mrs. Quezon brought me to President Quezon. The President was wearing a white shirt and white riding pants, a striking contrast to the khaki of the soldiers in the Rock. He was carrying a short whip. He looked thin but smart and snappy. The President said that he was glad to see me fighting for my country. He said: “I was in Bataan too during the revolution as an aide to Gen. Mascardo. I know every nook and corner of that place. I got malaria there too.”

Fr. Ortiz then brought me to a small altar in the President’s lateral. “Better pray first and give thanks,” he said. While I was praying, Nonong Quezon came from behind and he slipped a couple of chewing gum packages in my pocket. Then Nonong obliged me with a comb, soap and towel, “to look decent,” he said. And then he cracked: “Sorry, I can’t lend you my toothbrush.” I retorted: “I didn’t know you had one.”

That was the first time I looked in a mirror since Silang. I guess I must have been very dirty because Ah Dong, the President’s valet, asked me if I wanted to take a bath. The people in Corregidor are all very neatly dressed and their uniforms are well pressed. There is no dust, no fighting here in Corregidor. Chinese servants serve the officers during meal time. There are electric lights, fans and even refrigerators. Each and every officer has a decent bed with cushions and mattresses. I even noticed that the shoes of the officers here were shiny. In the main entrance of the tunnel, they even have a barber shop and near the hospital lateral is a library. In some of the empty tables, I saw several officers and nurses playing cards. Outside the tunnel, on the benches overlooking Manila Bay, I noticed several lovebirds talking in whispers. There is no war here in Corregidor except for occasional bombardments at noontime. Japs are at present concentrating forces in Bataan. I suppose they’ll attack this place afterwards.

Next person I saw was Baby Quezon. She was wearing blue slacks and it made her look sleek. “I thought you remained in Manila,” she said. Then came Nini. She was neatly fixed up, the usual pigtails and an ugly looking pimple on her nose. She said Miss Labrador, the nurse, woke her up and said that I was around but that she thought it was just a joke. Both girls asked me to join them for breakfast and so I had a second breakfast. During the breakfast, Agatona, Mrs. Quezon’s maid came along and she asked me to give a letter to her cousin in Bataan and she pinned a miraculous medal on me. Nini then gave me a crucifix and Fr. Ortiz blessed it.

At about noontime, I walked with Nini to the hospital lateral. Then suddenly the lights went out. The tunnel walls began to shake. Japs were dropping 1000 pounders. Air inside tunnel was pressing against the lungs. More bombs dropped. Detonation reverberates louder in tunnel than outside. Nurses started mumbling prayers. Salvos of AA guns shook cement under our feet. Then I saw a flashlight. It was Mrs. Quezon. She was looking for her children. Nini said: “We are here mama.” Mrs. Quezon was afraid Nini and Baby were out in the open and felt relieved. There we were —Mrs. Quezon, Nini and I— cramped between soldiers and laborers who rushed inside the tunnel when the raid started. It was the equality of war. Then came the parade of the wounded. Filipino soldiers were rushed in on stretchers. There were cries of pain. Many were unconscious. I saw Fr. Ortiz giving blessings, hearing last minute confessions. He was here, there, everywhere. I saw an American whose leg was covered with blood being rushed to the medical department. Gen. Valdes who is an expert surgeon was busy assisting the wounded. The raid continued. I tried to remain cool even as the tunnel shook with the detonation of bombs and the firing of AA guns, but inside I was getting afraid. I kept telling myself it is safer in the tunnel, not like in Bataan. But I guess fear is contagious and there something about the tunnel that makes one feel asphyxiated.

After the raid, everybody started talking about the convoy. Officers were asking: “When will it arrive?” Some said” “By the end of the month.” But Mr. Romulo whispered authoritatively that he had inside information “the convoy is very near and may be here in a week’s time but keep that under your hat, pssst.”

It’s ten o’clock now. I guess it’s time to sleep. I can see Justice Abad Santos putting on his pajamas right now and Vice President Sergio Osmeña is fixing his bed. I’m writing this on the upper deck and Fr. Ortiz is praying below me. He says its time to go to bed.

We are leaving for Bataan early tomorrow.


January 7, 1942

51st division C.P.

Bataan

 

Japs are in Manila now, according to KZRH. I wonder how the family is. Seat of government has been transferred to Corregidor.

Jap successes in Luzon theater have been made possible by crippling of our airforce in first raids on Clark, Nichols, and Zablan. Many bombers were grounded. Right now, there are only seven fighters here in Bataan. Gen. Brereton, chief of airforce, has left for Australia. New air chief is Gen. George.

Saw hundred of men working on airfields in Cabcaben and Mariveles. Tractors were leveling ground. Giant cranes were roaring whole day. Labor crews were hastily building caves in mountain sides to serve as hangars for planes.

Meanwhile Japs dropped dozens of bombs in Cabcaben and Mariveles aerodromes. Huge craters made in middle of fields. As soon as Japs disappeared, men hurriedly covered bomb-holes and leveled ground with rollers.

Saw Jess Villamor and G. Juliano in quartermaster dump near Lamao field. Both fellows have been awarded Distinguished Flying Crosses for dogfights with Japs. Villamor was requisitioning for some uniforms. He had only two. They said they had no more planes and were waiting for shipments from Australia. I think the quartermaster chief denied their requisition, poor fellows. Found out Juliano is a cousin of mine. He said his dad and mine are cousins.

On my way back to our C.P., I had my sergeant sit on the engine so he can watch the sky for planes. It was a good precaution because two or three times, Jap fighters strafed the road. A truck ahead of us was hit by three bullets but the driver was uninjured.

Went to Gen. MacBride’s headquarters to arrange for a launch to bring the general to Corregidor. Col. Willoughby, MacArthur’s G-2, said the general’s presence was required in the Rock on the 8th. While I was in MacBride’s command post, AA shrapnel started raining near the Signal Corps tent. Nobody was injured. Everybody remained calm. Had a little discussion with a nasty American lieutenant while I was waiting for Major Raymond, MacBride’s assistant G-2. The lieutenant told me to stand at attention when in his presence because I did not notice him when he passed. I told him “To go to He–l”. He said he was sorry and explained that he thought I was “the fresh Filipino sergeant who was here yesterday. You look alike. Sorry.” I replied: “Your apologies accepted. Go to a doctor to get your eyes straightened.” He said: “Tough guy, eh?” I said “Nope, just been around.” “So, smart guy?” “Nope,” I replied, “just my poisonality.” The guy gave me up for hopeless and Major Raymond and Col. A. Fisher arrived. Fisher shook my hand and said: “Here’s a good friend of mine” and he introduced me to everyone. When he was going to introduce me to the nasty mutt, I said: “We’ve met, colonel.”

Missed my dinner because I arrived too late and the stupid mess sergeant didn’t keep anything for me. “I thought,” he explained, “you ate somewhere else already, sir.” I told him that from now one he must always reserve my food when I am not around because people in other divisions don’t offer food for visitors and where does he expect me to eat. The sergeant looked genuinely sorry. I guess I’ve got to stay hungry till tomorrow morning, heck. Missed Mama’s cooking more than ever.

 

(later)

 

Just arrived from lines. Reports received in C.P. that Japs have opened infantry fire. Went to the line. The men were cool and raring to fight. The night was lovely. Plenty of stars. Jap firing was very ineffective. Men asked only one question: “Where is the convoy?” They themselves answered the question with “Oh well, maybe in a week.” Must sleep now. It’s midnight. I’m hungry.


January 6, 1942

Bataan

Limay Hospital

 

Helluva day. Almost died. It was noontime and the sun was very hot. So I stood under the shade of a tall tree beside the municipal building of Limay. The general was standing at the entrance of the building talking with colonels Sevilla, Garcia, and Caluyag. I was talking to Major Mascardo, former aide of President Quezon. Mascardo was telling me about the narrow escapes he had from bombs dropped in Camp Murphy and he said it was bad to be near the transmitter of the Signal Corps. Suddenly somebody shouted: “Planes! Planes!” I saw the general run for his life. Instinctively I dove flat. In a second I heard the droning of many bombers. They were diving towards us. I closed my eyes and prayed. Louder and louder came the planes. Then the eerie swishing of bombs and more bombs. The earth trembled. My chest was compressed by the concussion. My ears hummed. More bombs exploded. Trees fell and a pall of smoke filled the entire area. The municipal building began to burn and I was partly covered with mud. When the planes were gone, I slowly stood up. I was shaking from head to foot. I looked around and everything was burning. Two trucks loaded with troops were hit by incendiary bombs. In a nipa shack which was partially destroyed, there was a woman crying for help. The driver of Major Mascardo’s jitney lay sprawled beside a fence, an ugly gash on his brow and a piece of iron sticking out of his left eye. I saw the mangled bodies of three officers and two drivers who were playing dice under a mango tree. The dice was still in the hands of the chauffeur. I saw Fernando Poe, cinema star, running across the field with a soldier on his shoulder who was covered with blood. He was rushing the man to the medical department. Tony Arrieta was shouting for assistance because he said three of his friends were hit and bleeding to death across the road. Meanwhile Mascardo’s jitney caught fire. The gasoline tank exploded and the box of ammunition inside the car started to explode. I didn’t know where to go or what to do. I just stood pale and looked at everything blankly. Then the chaplain told me to accompany him to the truck with the troops. None of the passengers were saved. There they sat on their seats like carbon statues, charred to death, their rifles beside them. They could not be identified except for names or initials scratched on their helmets. Fred saw a helmet with his brother’s name. He asked me to look for the corpse but there were too many and it was almost impossible to distinguish. I told him “Maybe that’s just a fellow with same name, Fred.” But he wouldn’t be consoled. He is probably still examining each and every corpse. Under one of the Pasay trucks, I saw the body of an American boy. He was only partially burnt but a shrapnel pierced his lungs. I walked to the nearby schoolhouse as everything around me was burning and I could no longer stand the stench of roasted human flesh. Under the schoolhouse, I saw my general crouched beside Major Monserrat. The general was wounded on the shoulder.


January 3, 1942

Bataan

51st Division C.P.

(Provisional Brigade)

 

Slept last night in a deserted nipa shack beside a lazy river. It was very windy and I missed my soft, warm, spring bed. Bothered by mosquitoes the whole night. This morning the doctor gave me quinine. He said “mosquitoes here are anopheles. You might get malaria.”

Spent morning looking for C.P. of Gen. Jones. nobody knew where it was. Major Mascardo gave me a good suggestion. He said: “Follow the telephone wires and they will lead you there.”

My general and Jones had a long conference. I was outside talking to some of the officers who were having fox-holes dug. Officers in this C.P. believe the convoy will arrive in two weeks time. The general opinion is that the USAFFE will be back in Manila “by the end of the month.” Very few think “maybe by next month.”

Concrete impression is that Japs were not such good fighters and that they were very poor in hand-to-hand fighting. Everybody ended conversation about Japs with sigh: “If only we had the planes, not a single Jap would have been able to land.”

Chaplain Quadra caught a chicken and he fried it for the general and staff. I am ashamed I had such a good meal because I know that up to now some of the troops have not yet eaten. I have a feeling food will be a problem here unless the supply system is organized. Col. Caluyag, G-4, said the food for the troops is being cooked right now. My sergeant asked me for a banana. He said he had not yet taken his breakfast.

Saw Gonzalo Gonzalez. He looked very tired. He said: “Phil, the troops have not yet eaten since last night and we have been working and working.” I could not talk to him for a long time because the general was in a hurry. I also saw Fermin Fernando and Alex Albert. They did not say anything to me but they just waived because they were rushing to a truck. They looked very dirty and their blue-denim uniforms were covered with dust. I told the general: “I think, sir, the troops have not yet eaten.” “I know,” he said, “it’s the fault of the damned supply trucks. Nobody knows where they have bivouacked.”

Col. Garcia just came in and told the general that our lines have been stabilized, sector strengthened, enemy not in sight, but that he’d feel better, “if we had more machine guns.”

G-2 section reported that Japs bombed Gen. Segundo’s sector this afternoon. The enemy is evidently massing his troops for a thrust in Mt. Natib. So far he is limiting himself to aerial reconnaissance and bombardment. No fighting in front lines.


January 1, 1942

Bataan

41st division, C.P.

 

Dead tired. Streets jammed from Bulacan to Bataan. Absolutely no traffic order. Roads filled with dust that covered entire body, entered ears, nose, eyes, lungs. Tanks were rattling up and down the road like lost monsters. Trucks loaded with food and ammunition were moving on, not knowing where to go. Haggard, weary troops retreating from southern front straggled on, looking for their officers. Men were shouting at one another to move out of the way so that their cars could pass. Trucks that stalled were dumped on the roadside. Gasoline cans were littered on the road for everybody’s use. American MP’s assigned to direct traffic lay drunk on the fields beside the main road singing “God Bless America.” The general told me as our car wormed its way to San Fernando: “If the Japs spot this convoy we are all goners.” Neither the general nor I could find our division in the assembly area. The night was very dark but I kept shouting for the names of the company commanders but there was no answer. Men of other divisions were in our area. Troops came to me asking where to go. Some belonged to the 71st, others to the 91st, others with the 1st regular. It was a chaotic retreat but the Japs were apparently asleep. The general then decided to leave me in San Fernando while he looked for the troops in Bacolor.

I stood under the monument at the plaza in front of San Fernando’s church, at the foot of the bridge. From afar there was a red glare that filled the skies in the direction of Manila that gave me the impression that the entire city was afire. Troops, tanks, cars, jeeps, trucks, cannons, trawlers passed by me. Some were asking where to go and I said I didn’t know and that I was also looking for my unit. Hours passed and there were no more tanks, no more troops, no more traffic. San Fernando was like a ghost city. I was all alone except for several Americans who were trying to fix their motorcycle under the starlight. In a deserted store, I could hear several drunk soldiers singing “Happy days are here again.” From the direction of Arayat came the distinct, metallic boom-boom-boom of Jap artillery. One of the Americans fixing the motorcycle asked: “Is that Porac or Arayat?” Another said: “Don’t worry bud, that’s our artillery.” They finally got their motor fixed and they asked me to join them. “We can squeeze you between us,” they said. I thanked them and explained I had to wait for the general. I was really tempted to join them but I was afraid the general might look for me. I must admit that I was getting very worried, if not afraid. I looked around for a hiding place and I kept fingering my .45 and six bullets. I must have cursed the general a thousand times and I kept telling myself: “What a way of spending New Year.” Then from a distance, I saw the hooded light of a car. It was the general and he said he almost forgot me. “We are going to Bataan,” he said. “Everybody is going there,” he explained. I was very tired and I fell asleep in the car and when I woke up, we were in Bataan and it was morning and there we were parked between two huge U.S. trucks in a dusty road, because there was another traffic jam and two tough-looking American drivers were arguing about who had the right of way.

Right now I’m here in Gen. Vicente Lim’s command post. My general and Lim are good pals. This C.P. is well-hidden on the side of a dried stream. The men have dug themselves inside the banks so that they are relatively safe from bombs and shells.

Gen. Lim is in good spirits. His belly is considerably thinner and his face is tanned. When we arrived, he said: “Don’t worry, in a week the convoy will be here.” He compared war to boxing. “They’ve won the first round,” he said, “but the war’s not over yet.” He gave us quite a good breakfast: coffee and carabao meat. Ernesto Santos and Vidal Tan, both friends of mine, are his aides.

From the conversation during breakfast, I gathered that all troops from the North and South fronts have been ordered to retreat to Bataan. This hilly spot of land, this bottle-neck will be USAFFE’s “last stand.” The principle of retreating to a favorable terrain and there engaging the enemy is going to be the strategy. The other half of the grand game will be up to the United States. Out here in Bataan, we will hold to the last ditch; the U.S. Navy on the other hand will rush the reinforcements.

Just a few minutes ago, the air was filled with the roar of many planes. Gen. Lim looked up and said “They’re ours.” Gatas Santos, his senior aide, was skeptical and his doubts were soon confirmed by the barking of AA guns. In a few seconds, the beautiful formation was broken up. More AA fire. Smoke oozed out of one plane, its wings wavered, it fell out of line and a silvery veil trailed its earthward descent. That is the first real action picture I’ve seen of a plane going down. I hope I see more.

Nice bunch out here in the 41st. Lorrie Tan said Teddy Arvisu is here too as staff sergeant. Montemayor and Henry Powers are also with this unit. Powers is in “No Man’s Land” as head of a scouting patrol. Estanislao Feria is assistant G-2 in Lim’s staff and Rufino is chief quartermaster.

The view is beautiful. Very many talls trees that give a lot of shelter. Beyond are grassy plains and little hillocks. Behind are old wooden barracks and a small training camp but Lim’s troops are not using the garrisons, In front is a flat terrain with call cogon and many clumps of bamboo and tall trees here and there. To the left of the 41st is Gen. Capinpin’s 21st which has behaved very well in the face of strong enemy thrusts in Lingayen. Johnny Fernandez, my classmate, is Capinpin’s aide. Johnny has always loved military life. Now I guess he is going to get a full dose of it.

Nice weather here. Cool January breeze. Can hear many birds chirping on the treetops. Must stop writing now. Now I think the general is going to our sector.

 

Later

 

Bataan

51st div. C.P.

 

Arranged division maps. Acquainted myself with operational plans. Noted down all field orders of General.


December 30, 1941

Ft. McKinley,

Command Post

 

Our division has been ordered to move to San Fernando, Pampanga. The general said that very heavy fighting continues on the northern front. Troops under Generals Capinpin, Stevens, Shalleck and Brower are fiercely resisting the enemy’s full-dress attack.

Meanwhile the enemy has increased intensity of his raids in Luzon. Local air force however has struck back with increased fury. The 11 a.m. communique from MacArthur’s headquarters said that a Filipino pilot and two American airmen show down eight planes in engagements over southern Luzon during the past few days. Cesar Basa of the Ateneo died in one of these raids. His plane was attacked by 50 Japs. (Cesar and I used to swim together.)

Tuned in on radio with Signal Corps boys. Japs seem to be gaining ground in all fronts. Hong Kong’s governor has surrendered. Japanese troops on Malay east coast are reported approaching the Kemmanan area, 225 miles from Singapore. Contact with Kuching, capital of Sarawak has been lost since last Wednesday. Tokyo radio claims they have not bombed Santo Domingo Church.

Just found out there are many Ateneo boys with our division. Among them are Gonzalo Gonzalez, Alex Albert, Fermin Fernando, Henry Burgos, Gregg Anonas, Bert Misa, Saturn Velasco and others. Will try to find out how they are if the general gives me permission. He always wants me to be near him with all his maps and plans. Yesterday he told me that in addition to my duties as aide, I was assigned to also write the history of our division.

Heard the 26th cavalry was annihilated in Pozzorubio. They charged against tanks and artillery. An eye witness claims he saw “headless riders charging onward.” Another said that some members of said unit “jumped at tanks, pried open their turrets and hurled grenades.” MacArthur awarded DSC’s to members of this brave unit. Most decorations were posthumous.

Our division observers reported huge columns of smoke rising into the sky around Pandacan. No information on the cause or source was available in command post this morning. Apparently the Japs are not paying much attention to Open City declaration. However the general said that when we move to Pampanga we shall not cross Manila to abide by provisions of Open City.

Reports received in command post this morning indicate that troops under Gen. Segundo are also moving to Pampanga. Japs are apparently entering Laguna preceded by strong aerial and tank formations. Several young Baguio cadets, recent graduates of the Academy, were reportedly killed in action in the beaches of Tayabas. Capt. Fusilero who was in Camarines said the Japs were well acquainted with the terrain and they carried accurate maps.

Can hear Col. Garcia shouting at truck drivers. He is ordering them to park the trucks under cover of trees. “Do you want us to be bombed?” he is telling the chauffeurs.

Officers of the division spend their spare time discussing about the convoy. Some think it will arrive in a week’s time. Others say it will be three weeks. Fred said “Oh, maybe two months:” and everybody branded him a “low-down pessimist.” Fred explained: “Don’t get excited, fellows. I was only fooling. I think it will be three months.” The chaplain told Fred to pipe down because he was not funny. I ventured the opinion that the convoy would be here in three days and everybody cheered me. Fred said: “What’s your reason for thinking three days?” I said it was not ‘reason’ but ‘intuition’. I also pointed out that Roosevelt said “Help is on the way.” “If it’s the family way,” said Fred, “it’ll take nine months.”

Now Fred’s got me doubting…….

 


December 29, 1941

Command Post

Ft. McKinley

 

Our division has been ordered by Corps headquarters to retreat and form a new line with a view to defending the Southern entrance of Manila. The general has chosen McKinley as the site of his new command post.

The troops are perplexed. “Why should we retreat when the Japs have not even dented our lines?” The general explained that the enemy was fast gaining ground in Tayabas exposing our rear to a possible flank maneuver.

Am writing this in old office of Maj. Gen. Parker which is partially destroyed. The books of Parker are still here including a complete set of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Other officers have left their files, typewriters, radios, hats and shoes. Fred just popped up, looked over my shoulder to see what I am writing and said “There are a lot of canned goods left in the Post Exchange.” From the window, I can see two huge craters, big enough for ten carabaos. The Japs have evidently subjected this fort to heavy aerial bombardment. The barracks are partially demolished. Some of the cottages for officers have also been destroyed. All the houses here are deserted. Fans, refrigerators, wardrobes, kitchen utensils have been left in disorder. Names of officers are still on sign posts outside their respective houses. I told my sergeant to get all the canned goods he could lay his hands on and to put them in the general’s command car.

Must stop writing. Air-raid alarm. I wonder where the shelter here is.


December 24, 1941

Tagaytay outpost

Midnight

Can’t sleep. Just arrived from Manila. The general ordered me to supervise burning of records of G-2 Section, Philippine Army. Had a huge bonfire in Far Eastern University drill-field. Took dinner at home. Papa looked tired due to work in Food Administration and Naric. Dolly baked my favorite cake. Dindo Gonzalez dropped in asking for news on southern front. Told him I had nothing to say. He said he was very worried about Open City rumors. He looked very nervous. Mama started to cry when I kissed her goodbye. I felt like crying too but I held back my tears. Vic’s eyes were red.

Gave Morita a steel helmet, gas mask, first-aid kit and silver identification tag for Christmas. Couldn’t tell her where I was assigned because of military secrecy. She is now living with her uncle in Taft Avenue. Morita said her grandpop was very pessimistic about the outcome of the war. Wanted to ask her for just one kiss but didn’t get a chance because there were too many people around.

Dropped by Manila Hotel bar to buy a bottle of whiskey. Saw Theo Rogers of Free Press. He invited me to eat with him. I took coffee. He was very sentimental and he said he was proud to see me in uniform. I will write about the admirable spirit of the Filipino youth, he said. When I told Rogers I had to leave, he held my hand firmly and he said: “I will pray for you every day.”

Reports from MacArthur’s headquarters indicate heavy fighting including tank combats with new Japanese landing forces in Lingayen. It seems to me that our airforce has suffered greater damage than has been disclosed in surprise raids made by Japs in first days of war. It is apparent that Japs have complete aerial superiority over entire Luzon area. When I dropped by Victoria No. 1, MacArthur’s headquarters, officers were talking of the convoy. (Gen. MacArthur was no longer there. Together with the staff of the forward echelon of the USAFFE, he has gone to the field to personally head his forces.)

Can hear my sergeant snoring. I guess it is time for me to sleep too. Quite cold in this tent but there are no mosquitoes. It is past midnight.

Merry Christmas.


December 23, 1941

Silang, Cavite

Headquarters, 51st Division

 

Still no action. Troops ready in positions. Morale of men very high. Spent whole day running to a nearby foxhole every time Jap planes flew overhead. Several bombs dropped on grass field near ammunition dump but no damage done.

Ate with Silang’s parish priest. He gave me ham and eggs and coffee. He said he was glad the 51st was in Silang to defend the town from Japs who might land in Nasugbu Bay. “when there is a raid,” he said, “you may use the cellar of my church because it is very safe.”

Accompanied Gen. S. de Jesus during his inspection of front line and reserve lines. High spirit of troops impressed me. The boys are raring to fight and anxious to “knock out a couple of Japs.” One private raised the flag atop a ridge. Somebody said: “Better remove that because it will disclose our positions.” The general remarked: “Take every normal precaution but let’s keep the flag flying.”

Went to Signal Corps tent to listen to radio. Tuned in on San Francisco, Tokyo and Manila. Heard Ignacio Javier’s daily commentary on the news. Signal Corps officers said they intercepted Jap messages at about eleven last night. “There must be ships nearby” remarked the radio operator. On my way to the command post, I stopped at a store to buy several packages of Camel’s . When I offered to pay, the waitress said: “never mind, you are a soldier.” I insisted but she refused. She was a smart looking girl although somewhat plump.

Wrote Mama three nights ago. Asked her to stop worrying about me because I can take care of myself. Fred also wrote to his mother but his letter to his wife was longer. I wonder whom a man loves more, his wife or mother. Started writing to Morita but tore the letter because I didn’t know what to say or how to say what I wanted to say. Fred smiled and remarked: “I’ve gone through all that.”

Attended staff meeting which lasted until 9:30 p.m. The general said main effort of enemy being exerted on northern front. He said a huge enemy fleet of about 80 transports was sighted off Lingayen Gulf. He stated that Gen. Capinpin’s 21st division will be on hand to welcome the Japs. The general explained that this was the second enemy thrust upon the Lingayen sector. The first landing was attempted on December 12. The division G-2 pointed out that Jap troops from 40 transports landed in Atimonan. He said that MacArthur’s headquarters gave information that troops of General Parker in this area are “behaving very well but are greatly outnumbered.” He opined that if the enemy continues gaining ground our lines may be outflanked. It was decided to establish closer contact with units under Gen. Albert Jones to coordinate defensive efforts. Capt. Fred Castro was told to act as liason and he was given a fast Ford coupe and Signal Corps men for transmission of messages as need arises. The general told Fred that he must observe conditions in Camarines and Tayabas fronts and relay information to our command post continuously. “Be sure you don’t lay down on the job Fred because I don’t want our rear exposed.” Fred’s face beamed with importance.

It is a beautiful night. Thousands of stars in the sky. Fields are green, river beyond is quiet, papaya trees are about to bear fruits. I can feel a soft wind blowing on my face right now. The soldiers sitting under the trees in the orchard nearby are singing “Tayo na sa Antipolo.”

I’m homesick, really.