The City has taken on a truly warlike aspect, an encampment surrounded by the enemy. But the enemy in this case is within the house: temporarily disbanded army men who post themselves at the foot of bridges, and at major street intersections, paralyzing and obstructing traffic and the entry into the city. It is clear to the public that the preparations of the army are being directed more against their brother Asians than against air attacks.
Undoubtedly, the enemy planes are not going to respect anything in Philippine skies or that the Pacific fleet will direct its attacks at the head of the Empire flanking these Magellanic islands. For the last 15 days, Davao has been under heavy bombings, and so has Northern Mindanao. It was announced today that some near the coast bombed Cebu, Negros and Leyte. Where was the Imperial Fleet hiding, that it could not go out and chase these pirates? The waves of aerial invasion are increasing and it will not be long before the enemy enters Manila, as the optimists on one side and the pessimists on the other are predicting.
What destruction had these raids caused? According to the prevaricating press which nobody believes in no damage was caused aside from the death of civilians and the destruction of their houses. Since the American planes dropped their bombs at random, they could not do any damage except to schools, churches, and hospitals visibly marked with the Red Cross and the humble homes of the Filipino workers, and they only aimed to kill women and children. It would seem that the bombs, before exploding examined the birth certificate of the unfortunate victims. The same thing happened at sea, where the American submarines allegedly sank only hospital ships and ships transporting prisoners who were their own countrymen. As a result of these atrocities, the Filipinos in Mindanao are boiling with indignation, to the point that they had gone to join the guerillas.
Requiem masses are being celebrated in different churches in Manila in memory of the late President Quezon whose birthday we commemorate today. The masses are well-attended, in spite of the fact that invitations had been secretly made, for fear of the Japanese mascots who might consider the ceremonies hostile. In the past, only the President and his family attended the mass at Letran, after which he would join us at breakfast. Today neither the President nor the chapel was around. The new Letran building would probably not exist for long, as the new occupants are converting the building into an anti-aircraft fortress and if the zealous Americans learn about it, they will certainly destroy it, and kill women and children as they did in Tokyo.
Yesterday morning, the news of the death of President Quezon spread in Manila. The news was confirmed by the Press in the afternoon and unfortunately it was true. It was a great loss for the country. With the change of the present regime, a man of Quezon’s energy, prestige and ability was needed to reorganize, reconstruct and pacify these devastated and discouraged islands. The first President of the Commonwealth had directed the destiny of his country, for the last twenty years, fought for and defended the Philippines and died just when the triumph of his cause was to be realized. The void he left during these critical moments was difficult to fill. May God take him into His eternal repose.
The Japanese propaganda reaches up to ridiculous extremes. There was a photo in the papers showing half a dozen eminent old Chinese in a pose of tilling the soil. The photo carried this caption: “Helping in the reconstruction of the Philippines.” The succeeding account stated that the Chinese community had offered to work for the country’s projects, giving an example of civic consciousness and enthusiasm for the development of the Co-Prosperity Sphere. It was further stated that the Hindu community has an ardent desire to emulate the Asian zeal of the Chinese and would soon join them.
However, the reality is an entirely different matter. The fact is, everyday a group of five hundred Chinese are required to report in front of the Far Eastern University which is being occupied by the transportation corp of the Japanese Army. There, they are loaded into army trucks and brought to places of work in army installations outside Manila, where they sweat it out under the sun from eight in the morning to five in the afternoon. And for this they get no compensation but sunstroke and aching muscles.
The Japanese were also made to do this kind of work and one of them commented, after the first day, that he preferred to be thrown into Fort Santiago than to get sick and cramped for the rest of the week. Anyone who seeks to be excused from this kind of work—and sickness is the only acceptable excuse—will have to pay ₱20.00 for every day of absence. Each worker is supposed to offer his free services one day a week.
The Military Police continue to arrest big fish. Some are being suspected of coddling guerillas, others of listening to short wave broadcasts. Private houses are being converted into prison cells, among which is the house of Dr. Burke near Malacañang.
Dr. Burke was arrested three weeks ago for reasons nobody knew. The Elizalde brothers, meanwhile, are still under detention, and according to rumors, things are not going well with them. Nothing is known about the Mother Superior of the Canadian congregation, Fr. Santos, Capt. Mañosa, Virgilio Lobregat, the wife of Major Manzano who aided the major in escaping to the mountains or to Mindanao or to Australia. It is the same thing with a host of others.
The worries, distress and school problems, aggravated by lack of food, have drained my strength, and I had to go to Laguna to recover some vigor from the fresh breeze and nourishment offered by this province. These towns northeast of Makiling are the most peaceful in the archipelago. The guerrillas had already taken refuge in the mountains several months ago, or had returned to their homes, reconciled but not appeased, waiting for further developments. The more zealous groups have settled in the mountains at the opposite coast of Makiling, from where they descend and prey upon the lowland towns, though infrequently, ambushing trucks and destroying army trains.
The bandits of Cavite are the only ones showing signs of happenings all throughout the country. They steal domestic animals, crops, farm equipment, rails and rail ties, electric wires, laundry clothes and even the clothes on persons’ backs.
The Commander of the Constabulary of Calamba called up the El Real Plantation where I was vacationing asking for a truck to transport a contingent to the nearby town of Santa Rosa where the bandits were attacking an outpost. When the driver returned, he was pale and frightened, recounting the fierce battle he witnessed. We did not know what happened and what the casualties were.
I have noted two things in the south. First, that laborers do not want to work in the fields or in factories. They say that their wages would not suffice even if it were doubled, what with rice costing ₱12.00 a ganta and sugar about that much per kilo. Unless they are given these commodities, they will not work.
The Army was expecting this year’s sugar cane yield to be high, but the harvest did not reach even a tenth of the past year’s harvests. After a serious dissappoinment in the failure of the cotton experiment, the military authorities launched a feverish campaign in favor of sugar cane as they are fast running short of alcohol for fuel. The Sugar Association which was commissioned by the military to produce and distribute sugar announced that it would pay ₱16.00 a picul of actual harvests, and that the planters could buy their sugar equivalent to 10% of their production from the Association at ₱35.00 a picul at the black market. How would you expect them to be interested in the Association’s offer?
Another noteworthy development is the intensity of preparations for defense which the Japanese are making around Manila. From Muntinlupa to Caloocan are being constructed a chain of airfields and a small Maginot line from north to south through the towns surrounding the city. It is evident that they are taking the invasion threat very seriously.
“If you want to be free from the yoke of the military police, then sign the Constitution,” President Laurel told his constitutional assembly. All the delegates unanimously and hastily signed, especially those who were guests of the Military Police at its hotel by the Pasig. Although the Japanese have demonstrated a decrease in persecutory activities during these four months of independence, they are not sleeping and they continue keeping watch.
Recently, they showed their fangs again, making a series of spectacular arrests. Among those apprehended were sixteen Spanish Filipinos belonging to well-known families—Elizalde, president of the Casino Español, and other persons who were at a party celebrating the birthday of Joaquín Elizalde, Resident Commissioner in Washington.
Also arrested were the Mother Superior of a Canadian religious congregation, and Fr. Rufino Santos, Secretary of the Archibishop.
Vargas was named Ambassador to Tokyo more than three months ago, but he has not yet moved from Manila. The press reminds us periodically that the Republic has an Ambassador, the first and only one named so far, although without residency. He was named in October and he assumed the post the month after. In December, the names of the embassy personnel were announced, and the Assembly approved the purchase of a mansion for the Embassy in Tokyo for a million yen. Yesterday the immobile Ambassador presented his credentials to the President and Minister of State. What next? According to rumours, the Ambassador is neither interested nor in a hurry to move out, and that his family is hoping his departure would be postponed.
Explosive news spread like wildfire yesterday, causing a great furor throughout the city: that the Americans have landed at the Marshall and Wake Islands and Guam, occupying them. Another portion of it: that Rome has fallen; that Gen. Franco has resigned.
Like all other previous news, it was partly true and partly false. For instance, it is not true that the Spanish chief executive has resigned, yet Tokyo talks about Anglo-American pressures and manipulations on Spain to make her give up her neutrality and demand the resignation of Franco. Rome has not yet fallen, although Allied forces are nearing its gates.
There are landings on the Marshall Islands, but not on Wake and Guam. An occupation of Wake and Guam would be critical for the Philippines since these islands are virtually at the gates of our country and would therefore place us within bombing distance of the Americans.