No traces of the American fleet were left in the Solomon waters. In five battles fought in three days in the vicinity of Bougainville, Tokyo radio had annihilated the enemy force. Within the period from October 27 to November 17, the Japanese Air Force destroyed 80 ships most of which were battleships, forty landing crafts and more than five hundred planes. There was nothing left for the desperate attackers but to flee in disorder to their Australian base.
There were a few suckers who fell for this nonsense with which the Japanese propagandists attempted to cover up their losses. Even the most myopic saw through the paradox. Everybody argued: “If the American fleet really suffered such damaging losses, how come they are able to advance and land in other islands, although the pace was too slow for the expectation of coffee shop strategists?”
As a result of the typhoon, days of hunger were predicted. Rice plants which were due to mature were destroyed in two-thirds of the provinces around the capital. Presaging scarcity, the price of rice catapulted to one hundred forty pesos. A kilo of camote cost ₱1.80 from the thirty centavos (₱0.30) a week ago, and three centavos before the war. An egg was sold at half a peso. It had been a long time that we had tasted any meat except that of the carabao which was very costly and of poor quality. Even the cats were in constant fear that they were being eyed to provide meat in eateries.
Four days of typhoon and devastating floods. Rarely had I seen such torrential rains, and certainly never during this month of November. The flood was high in all streets and ground floors of buildings in all districts of Manila, except Intramuros. The electric plant was inundated and the big light factory of Laguna blew up and for four days we had no light, no streetcars, no telephone, no cooking gas, no newspapers, no radio and almost no running water. Were we in Manila or in Batanes?
According to the old folks, they had not seen a similar flood in the century. In some districts, as Paco, Singalong and Mandaluyong, the water rose to a height of two or three meters. A good number of persons were drowned although the newspapers were silent about them, failing to make mention either of the storm or of its destruction—as if it were another war secret. If the observatory had announced the whereabouts and direction of the typhoon, many would have prepared for it. But the weather, which was the most common topic of conversation, was kept a secret as if on it depended the course of the war.
As the wind blew with greater fury, and the rain fell more torrentially, four big fires broke out.
President Laurel again flew to Tokyo, this time accompanied by Ministers Recto and Paredes, to attend the East Asian Congress of all independent nations of the Sphere. The Congress was to draft a manifesto, a sort of Pacific Charter, synthesized in five points which, like mathematics, lacked being and extension, and repeated ad societatem the abused topic of Asianism, collaboration, millions of Asians, orientalism, Anglo-American tyranny, etc.
Our guests were leaving the College, going French style. They took with them all that was theirs and all that was ours. Among the latter were chairs, beds, tables, cabinets, the refrigerator, bulbs, lamp shades, all amounting to thousands of pesos, specially now that they were irreplaceable. We were disillusioned by the belief that independence would extend to us the pleasure of having our whole building back. But other soldiers were coming in with beds on their shoulders and installing themselves in the divested building. They were sure to be groping in the dark tonight, as their predecessors took all the bulbs with them. It seemed that it was common practice among these soldiers to leave nothing behind whenever they transferred quarters. One of them, whom we approached in complaint and protest, justified such conduct saying that when General Kuroda had to leave the palace of the American High Commissioner which was converted into the Japanese Embassy, all the furniture was taken out, and Mr. Murata had to stay at the Manila Hotel until the Embassy had been refurbished.
The text of the Alliance Treaty between Japan and the new Government was published today. The pact was signed by Ambassador Murata and Mr. Recto who was today named Minister of State. One farcical fact hiding behind the formalities of protocol was that the treaty was dated October 14, that is, the very day when the Republic was proclaimed. This meant that the approval by Tokyo and the ratification of the treaty by the contracting parties took place before one of them—the Philippines—became a free and sovereign nation.
Article 2 of the Treaty provided that “the contracting parties shall cooperate strictly in political, economic and military affairs for the successful pursuit of the Great East Asia war.”
The nature of this strict military cooperation was explained by an appendix to the said treaty: “The Philippines shall apportion all kinds of facilities to the military operations which Japan shall undertake. The Philippines and Japan shall cooperate strictly between themselves to safeguard the territorial integrity and the Independence of the Philippines.”
The negative consequences of this pact, according to official interpretation were:
That the Philippines had to declare war against the Allies.
That no Filipino soldier had to leave his country to fight.
According to the same interpretation, the positive consequences were:
The economic cooperation would continue as it was.
The military cooperation would take place only in case the Philippines would be attacked or invaded.
Through these provisions, it could be seen that the Japanese would continue dominating and utilizing the economy of the country for her ends and that the spectrum of war would move away but not disappear. The people were convinced that when the Americans would come sufficiently near, they would undoubtedly attack, first by air and then by sea, the Japanese ports and airfields in the Philippines. Would this constitute a sufficient cause for a casus belli against the aggressors and to force the government to declare war? The text of the Pact seemed to guarantee an affirmative response, since the Philippines was committed to defend her national integrity and her independence with the help of Japan in case of attack or invasion. Naturally, Japan would do what she believed would serve her interests. If she would feel that the Philippine Army was a hindrance or an enemy, she would rather fight alone in one front.
Officially the Philippines is independent. But is she? Yesterday, during and after the ceremonies, many young people were asking us: “Do you believe that we will have a true independence?” To all of them, we gave the same reply, “Let us wait for the facts to speak for themselves.”
Even the most optimistic does not have to wait long to realize that this form of independence is nothing more than another form of dependence. Neither the army nor the navy have shown any indication of returning the buildings they occupied, nor had the number of Japanese military forces invading our streets and plazas diminished, nor were we aware of any government or private enterprises confiscated during the war which were returned to their owners.
A very significant coincidence: yesterday, hardly had the birth of the Independence been poclaimed when a number of house owners in Ermita received orders from the Imperial Army to vacate their properties within forty eight hours.
Officially, the military administration, or the invisible national government, had been dissolved. But we could not ascertain whether another one, more invisible and more mysterious, had taken its place. It was clear that in matter pertaining to international relations, the sovereignty of the new government was almost nil not only because it was recognized solely within the Sphere, but also because all the other members of the Sphere were dancing to the tune that Tokyo was playing. An emasculated internal sovereignty which did not reach the level of a complete autonomy; a nonexistant or impotent external sovereignty: such seemed to be the independence doled out by Japanese magnanimity.
From now on, the Philippines is free, sovereign and independent. Japan so proclaimed, and President Laurel so announced. The inauguration was a family affair. Only the Japanese representatives were invited: aside from Mr. Murata who up to now is chief adviser of the military administration and henceforth to be the ambassador plenipotentiary; the Vice President of the House of Peers, a bearded short man who looked like Bernard Shaw; and the Speaker of the House of Representatives who just flew from Tokyo. The inaugural ceremony was as usual, copied from the traditional program of independence inaugurations within the Sphere.
The truly moving act was the raising of the Philippine flag which for the first time waved in the air after almost two years of prohibition. The ceremony impressed even the skeptical and the non-conformists, attended by gigantic crowd placed by the press first at 800,000 and later at 500,000. There was still a cipher in excess.
It cannot be denied, however, that aside from the captive audience, many came on their own. Many of those who doubted and the recalcitrants saw in the ceremony a national glorification, not Japanese. And there was therefore a greater degree of spontaneity and enthusiasm than there had been in other celebrations in the past.
The inaugural speech of the new President was magistral, delivered pathetically in Tagalog. His program of government is extensive, comprehensive, innovative and conservative at the same time—although not convincing. He accentuated certain totalitarian tendencies of the Constitution, but he prescinded from personal glory and called for national discipline.
Some of the salient points of his program are: general amnesty for political prisoners and the guerillas who surrender within a prescribed period; persecution of public enemies who persist in obstructing the program of reconstruction (for them the Constabulary will be reinforced in order to avoid the humiliation of being forced to seek foreign intervention for the suppression of purely internal troubles); suppression of political parties at least during the formative period of the Republic.
To elevate the status of the masses; fixing a higher minimum wage and helping them materially so that each citizen might be a small proprietor. A new type of citizenry must be developed, to create in each individual a willingness to sacrifice and subordinate his personal interests to those of the State. His obligations are more important than his privileges. He should know his duties as he knows his rights, ready to comply even at the sacrifice of the latter.
To emphasize the dual objective of education: the moral formation and the development of character. It is the duty of every citizen to render military and civil service in accordance with the prescriptions of law. Every student, from the primary school to the university, should submit himself to a rigid discipline and wear the school uniform as
prescribed by specific rules. It is imperative that the family circle be forged. The installation of the paternalistic family, the cultivation of the oriental vitues of piety and filial obedience and the restoration of the woman in her place in the home, are the three cardinal points on which the family should rest.
Today, the eve of proclamation day, activity was undertaken—as simple as it was new. For the first time since the withdrawal of Spanish sovereignty in this country, the government in full attendance was present in a religious act: a Mass at the Cathedral celebrated by Msgr. Guerrero, auxilliary bishop of Manila, followed by the solemn processional of the Veni Creator attended by the President-elect, the members of the Commission and all the government officals and employees together with their families. The ceremony was impressive in its simplicity. Dr. Laurel, with his prayer book in his hand, gave the example of religious fervor.
It is to be noted that the Constitution would not interfere with the Church nor with religious congregations. The preparatory commission had rejected certain quarters which pressured it into a draconic legislation of the Mexican style. Under the new statute, the Church will enjoy the guarantees which it could expect in these times and under these circumstances