December 21, 1899

Yesterday afternoon about 5 o’clock news came through an Igorrote that many armed forces had arrived in Babuyan. He could not say for certain whether the forces are ours or those of the enemy, since he is not yet accustomed to distinguish them, but he says their faces are similar to ours. Two Igorrote spies were immediately dispatched to said point, to reconnoiter (and determine) if the forces are our own or those of the enemy. Our said spies returned the following day, the 21st, at about 8 a.m., reporting that there was no such a force. Immediately on receipt of the information that there were forces in Babuyan, all our troops got ready for the march to Ambayuan, with the ladies who are accompanying us. But the ladies will go forward with Captain Villareal’s soldiers, who will serve them as a guard. Col. Manuel Sytiar, of the staff, has gone along with them. Afterwards the remaining forces will march with the honorable president. The departure of the women, including the P. [must have intended “M.,” mother—J. C. H.] and the sister of the honorable president, took place at 7.20 this morning; and they had scarcely gone a distance of 2 kilometers when our spies arrived [from Babuyan—J. C. H.]. On being informed that there was no such force in Babuyan, the honorable president changed his idea about taking up the march and told Barcelona and Villa that as the day was already well advanced, and hence night would overtake us on Mount Polis, he for his part preferred to start on the following day.

The sun is beclouded; it is a sad day to us. The fresh breeze gently moves the trees. The separation from the women—from those beings who give us life and courage—or, better said, our solitude in this mountain, throughout every part of which is seen only the abyss of death—sorely afflicts us.

That atmosphere of grief compelled Barcelona and Villa to express their opinion to the honorable president to the effect that having decided to march it would be best to do so, as it was very probable that we would have to spend the night in Ambayuan anyway. In view of these statements the honorable president agreed that we should continue the journey. So in fact we started from Banane at 10.45 a.m. We commenced to ascend that lofty Mount Polis, which is 2,700 meters high. Continuing our march without cessation, at 5 o’clock in the evening we passed a beautiful spring, and there we ate a little to refresh ourselves. But we had not yet covered half the ascent.

After dinner, which never required fifteen minutes, we resumed the march.

Night is coming upon us; our vision grows dim, our legs and knees are already weak and tremulous, our breathing laborious, and the thirst is intense. The clinging mud increases our troubles. The night is very dark. The leafy mountain trees shut out the starlight of the heavens. We no longer see one another. Along that narrow path—18 inches wide—which we travel lie the deep precipices of death; and looking down into their depths suffices to make one have a feeling of faintness and swimming in the head, or to imagine himself on the edge of death. Each one of us uses as a guide the trunk [sic] of a tree, probing into the darkness with the point of it for the location of an abyss.

It is 9 o’clock at night. We are perhaps at an elevation of some 2,300 meters. Ascents are still awaiting us; hunger! thirst!—we are sick and faint. Corporeal fatigue prostrates us; darkness terrifies us; yet we continue our journey, almost crawling. We reach the summit at 10 o’clock at night. Here we see the firmament, since the top of the mountain is not covered with trees.

Our breathing is more easy. We stop on the summit to rest a little. We are exhausted; we lie down on the ground without a “petate.” [Native bedcovering of woven bamboo.—J. C. H.]. The intense cold makes our teeth chatter. Soon a profound slumber and great exhaustion has robbed us of intelligence.

At 2 o’clock in the morning the honorable president awoke and ordered that we should continue the march. We all awoke with our clothes wet with dew.

The march is not painful now, because we are descending this lofty mountain, which is 2,700 meters high. We pay no attention to the hunger and thirst; it is only the cold that troubles us.

The aurora of the day scatters her first rays upon the universe; and the small amount of light gives us courage. Our march is more rapid in proportion as the daylight appears; we are also nearing the foot of the mountain. We continue the descent.

December 2, 1899

At 5 o’clock in the afternoon the honorable president received a verbal report from two officers coming from Mount Tila, to the effect that the Americans had taken all our trenches in Tila; that General Pilar had been killed by being shot through the head; that other soldiers had also been killed; and they, the officers, were sure the Americans must be in Angaqui at this very hour. According to the statement of the officers, General Pilar died at 10 o’clock a.m.

At 8 p.m. the honorable president, his retinue, and the remaining troops marched out of Cervantes and started for the Cayan settlement, reaching there at 12 o’clock midnight, and immediately going on toward Tadian. At this last-mentioned place we took a direction toward Bagnen.

At every step we found the mountains getting higher and the cold more chilling. It was 3 o’clock in the morning. A strong wind was blowing. The cold becoming more and more intense was penetrating almost to our bones. Our skins had become dead to feeling and our lips drawn and purple from cold. We traveled on over the precipices, which each moment seemed to get deeper because we were getting higher and higher. The first rays of the sun shone dimly in the east and night bade us farewell; but the intensity of the cold was the same.

We never halted in our journey. At 6 o’clock in the morning we could make out the settlement of Bagnen, and one hour later we arrived there.

December 1, 1899

At 6 o’clock this morning General Pilar requested the honorable president to let him visit the trenches located on Mount Tila. The general immediately mounted his horse and started for the mountain, 1,300 meters high. At 10 o’clock that night he sent the honorable president a report, informing him that from Mount Tila he saw the enemy as they were entering Conception.

November 17, 1899

After eating a hearty breakfast for fear we might be unable to eat at noon, we left Tubao at 8 a.m. and marched toward Aringay, in Union Province. After a comfortable journey—for some of us were in vehicles and some on horseback—we arrived at that town, where all the leading people turned out to greet us. After the honorable president had urged these to be patriotic, we continued the march toward Cava, and thence directly to Baoang.

We reached the last-named town at 2 o’clock p.m. After resting for one hour, we set out for Naguilian, Union Province, arriving at 6 p.m. Here a band of music, all the leading men of the town, and a great crowd of people turned out to meet us.

We have taken quarters in the convent.

November 16, 1899

Daylight came in the midst of rain. At 7 o’clock we were all awake, and Lieutenant-Colonel Joven, one of the rear guard commanders, presented himself to the honorable president, saying he had arrived last night after we were all asleep. He also reported that the rear guard soldiers disbanded and scattered in the town of Manaoag, on account of being surprised by a large American column while they were passing through that town, and that he had only been able to collect 17 of his men, whom he brought on with him to this place.

At 9 o’clock a.m. we left Famy and shaped our course for Tubao, keeping always in the mountains. After a continuous march, without either breakfast or lunch, except the sugar cane we found along the roadside, we reached this town at 4 o’clock p.m. As we were worn out with fatigue and hunger, and unable to continue our journey, the honorable president arranged for us to spend the night here.

November 15, 1899

At daylight it was raining. At 9 a.m. we received the news that the Americans were at the entrance to the town, and, as we only had a small force, our rear guard not having yet arrived, we at once took up the march for Alava, where there are some of General Tinio’s forces. We arrived in that town at about 12 o’clock in the day and kept up the march toward Rosario, the next town, passing through woods.

The president’s wife had a fainting spell or swimming of the head. We halted. She was soon all right. We arranged a bamboo cot for her. Then all at once appeared General Tinio with his few troops, announcing to us that the Americans were pursuing us. We at once took up the march. The rain was heavy and we were drenched. At 3 o’clock p.m. we reached Rosario. We passed on, commencing for the first time to ascend the mountains of the Famy settlement or ranch. The rain was incessant and there was a great deal of mud. The hard wind and the cold made us shiver. We continued the ascent of the mountain, and, as we had already reached an elevation of 500 meters, it seemed that we were at a great altitude and pretty close to the sky.

But 5 o’clock in the morning arrived, and still we had not reached the summit. We kept up the march in the midst of a pouring rain, and just about 8 p.m. we arrived at the Famy settlement, located on the peak of the mountain. We were all wet and had no clothes for making a change, as the rear guard soldiers had our luggage with them.

Being half dead from the effects of the rain, wind, and cold, and wishing to avoid bad results, we had to immediately enter the house that were here, and without delay we kindled fires in the “calans,” or native stoves, of the houses. We at once drew near the fires so the warmth might relieve us, and at the same time we took off our clothes in order to dry them.

As soon as we were somewhat restored by the warmth we ate; that is, each of us ate a little, since there was not sufficient to satisfy the the cravings of our stomachs. Afterwards we again turned our attention to the “calans,” or native stoves, in order to continue drying our clothes, but we only finished this at about 1 o’clock in the morning, and then we went to sleep.

November 14, 1899

It was 12 o’clock noon, but we kept up the march. At 4 p.m., with our vanguard, we entered the Manaoag, a town already occupied by the Americans. We passed through it without seeing any Americans at all and marched on toward Pozorubio, arriving in this town at 6 p.m.

Our rear guard was very far behind us and we knew nothing about its movements. We were chewing sugar cane all day. At night we took supper in Pozorubio without incident. General Tinio came up to pay his respects to the honorable president and spent the night with us.

November 13, 1899

We left Bayambang by night in a special train for Calasiao, and here we disembarked. The honorable president was accompanied by the secretaries of the interior, treasury, and foreign affairs, and by General Concepcion and aides; Colonel Leyba, Lieutenant-Colonels Topasio and Quesada; Majors Tirona and Jeciel, and Colonel Sytiar, of the staff; the governor of Pangasinan, Barcelona, Villa, and others; the Cavite battalion and one company of artillery. The honorable president’s wife, his sister and mother, the sisters and mother of Señor Leyba, and the wife of Colonel Sytiar were also with the party.

It was 12 o’clock at night, and we were all assembled in the plaza of the church at Calasiao. At about 1 o’clock a.m. we resumed the march for Santa Barbara. The mud was terrible, reaching up to the knees. We made a forced march and succeeded in reaching this town at 8 o’clock a.m. and continued the journey. In this town our forces were joined by the “Mixed” battalion under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Joven, and by General Pilars brigade, commanded by the general himself. So our column was now composed of more than 1,200 armed men. We continued our journey toward the extensive forest of Manaoag, and reached it at dawn. After everybody had breakfasted the honorable president ordered that our forces be divided into two columns, one to serve as a vanguard under the command of General Pilar himself, and the other to form the rear guard commanded by Colonel Montenegro.

The honorable president, his wife and sister, the two sisters of Señor Leyba, Colonel Sytiar and wife, General Concepcion and adjutant, Majors Tirona and Jeciel, the governor of Pangasinan, Barcelona, and Villa all accompanied the vanguard. Some 250 troops composed the vanguard.

With the rear guard were the honorable president’s mother and son, Colonel Leyba and mother, and Lieutenant-Colonel Joven and his batallion.