March 30, 1942

Must employ a good interpreter. Misunderstandings arise out of the inability to understand each other’s language.

Had a tense showdown with the new Japanese supervisor, Mr. Fukada. He called me to his desk. I told him to come to mine instead. He didn’t seem to understand. I told him straight: “If you want anything from me, you come to my desk; if I want something from you, I’ll go to yours.” He stood up and came to my desk.

Don’t give an inch if you don’t want to lose a yard.

 


March 29, 1942

Gave the men in the office a confidential, heart-to-heart talk. This is what I said:

“Many responsible people outside and inside this office have suggested that I should be more assertive or aggressive regarding my powers and authority, and that if these are not accorded me, I should resign.”

“This is very easy to say, especially for people outside who are wont to criticize without knowing what is going on in this office As a matter of fact, I placed my resignation verbally with Secretary Vargas as far back as January, which was denied, and also with Mr. Noya on three subsequent occasions, each time likewise denied. I could not put this in writing for obvious reasons.”

“To the people in the office, in particular, I must remind that since the Japanese Army of Occupation took possession of the NARIC we have been literally sitting on top of a volcano, what with every one of the personnel being under a constant nervous strain, and more so when Mr. Castro Unson was taken to Fort Santiago, and subsequently, our Assistant Manager, Mr. Victor Pagulayan. In other words, as a conquered people, we have to grope our way through the confusion and uncertainty, and accept orders as they come. Under the circumstances, we should not demand anything but merely suggest, petition or make of record.

“The truth is that the many unnecessary inconveniences which the public suffered in the manner in which rice and flour were distributed, in the purchase of palay, and in the issuance of passes—all caused condemnation of the writer, without the public knowing that those procedures were made upon orders of the Japanese authorities regardless of our suggestions. Our men in the office know that nothing can be done without the stamp of approval by any of the dozen Japanese civilian authorities placed in this office. What could we do? Merely accept orders and invite their attention. What has been their answer? That people erroneously believe we are proceeding on peace-time basis, and they forget that we are still at war: in short, their answer is, ‘Such is war!’

“I now ask every member of this office to think in retrospect from this day back to January, and consider what has been their state of mind. Hasn’t it been incessantly under nervous strain on the verge of prostration? How many have left on account of that condition? They are Abes, Melo, Paez, Occeña, Orendain, Sison and other minor employees. The rest of us have stood at our posts and tried to work as best as we could under these very difficult circumstances, which means, to obey orders and not to demand anything. We are sacrificing ourselves to serve the people.

“With the placing of the NARIC under the control of the Army, in which I was formally named Manager, I shall now try gradually to demand the authority which corresponds to the Management. But this must be done with plenty of good judgment and prudence.

“This morning Mr. Tanco and I are going to return the visit of Gen. Yamakoshi and pay our respects to him. I shall make my first overtures on the authority of the Manager.”

I must study tight-rope walking.

 


March 27, 1942

Noya has been replaced by Mr. Fukada as Supervisor. Noya was all right. He was not arrogant and we got along quite well. There must be a code of gallantry between generals. A friend of mine told me that when General MacArthur left for Corregidor he left his room in the Manila Hotel just as it was. “As if he just went out for a walk,” my friend related. “His books were in the shelves, some on top of the tables and his clothes and even his decorations were left as they were. There was obviously no effort to hide anything.” My friend said General MacArthur left a little note to the commander-in-chief of the Japanese forces entrusting his belongings to him. The Japanese general, in turn, has not touched Gen. MacArthur’s room. “And he has ordered the Manila Hotel Manager,” recounted my friend, “to see to it that nobody touches anything in the room.” The age of chivalry has not passed.


March 26, 1942

Had an important conference with Colonel Uzaki, head of the Army’s Food Division. I took up all the important matters preoccupying me.

First, the flour distribution. He stated that as long as the amount of daily release previously fixed to authorized bakeries is not exceeded, the authority to determine who should or should not receive flour rested upon me.

Second, rice distribution. Authority, he said, also rested on me. In other words, Mr. Inada must submit to me his plans for decision and action. Under the present set-up, Mr. Inada tries to do things as he pleases and in case he bungles them up, the entire corporation, including myself as Manager, will be blamed by the public.

Third, police protection. We agreed that if the Army cannot furnish us with soldiers and if we cannot, in any particular case, depend on the provincial or municipal police, then we should be allowed to possess firearms. He asked me how many we needed. I answered, “Offhand, about 10.” He said that he would make arrangements for this purpose.

Fourth, financing. I told him the necessary finances should be made immediately available because when purchases start in Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Tarlac and Pampanga, they should be done fast to avoid the undesirable effects of the rainy season. The colonel replied that if the funds as planned are not sufficient, the NARIC would have to buy on credit. This alternative is not so satisfactory.

Fifth, Was authorized to buy palay stored in bodegas of Ileto and Pinaod. Was told not to pay the palay deposited by Nueva Ecija producers which has already been taken by the Army, until arrangements are made with the Army.

Sixth. Asked him to secure enough fuel for us if he wants us to succeed in our work.

Seventh, I am authorized to take up matters directly with the Military Administration after consulting Mr. Fukada, Supervisor de facto. When Japanese assistants to the supervisor de facto go to the Military Administration, it is understood that they must first advise Mr. Fukada or me about it.

Eighth, All matters not otherwise specified are to be submitted in writing (copy of which must be handed to Mr. Fukada in advance) for final decision by Col. Uzaki. Heavy raid on Corregidor fortifications. General MacArthur is no longer there. KGEI said he was sent to Australia. The Japanese claim he “escaped.” They are “peeved” about his “escape.” No, not MacArthur. He is not the type that runs always. He has brave blood in his veins. We cannot judge his acts until the end of the war. Let us await the verdict of history.

 

 


March 25, 1942

Another man arrived from Bataan. Said he was Philip’s sergeant. He was sunburnt and thin and sick with malaria. “Do not worry about Phil,” he said. He would not stay for dinner. We asked him if Philip was sick “No,” he replied, he is all right.” Vic, my other boy, wanted to go with him. “One in the family is enough,” he replied. He was a very cheerful fellow. I can still remember his smile. He was like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day.


March 24, 1942

If the news about President Quezon is true, this country has lost one of its main pillars. But I have a feeling, the news is false. Men like Don Manuel do not die in times like this. He is destiny’s godson.

Capati and Oliveros called to Fort Santiago.

Pagu and Unson still languishing in the fort. Their families have not heard from them.

More troops have arrived. Saw them speeding through Taft Avenue in camouflaged trucks. Somebody said they were speeding to their death.


March 23, 1942

The Army formally took over the NARIC this morning. This is what I said:

The work of the NARIC heretofore has been to stabilize prices both to producers and consumers. Notwithstanding forecasts of failure by many of the best business minds of the country, this corporation has been successful from the beginning of its operations, as compared with results obtained from similar institutions in other countries.

We have been ordered verbally by the Japanese authorities to control and regulate the harvest and distribution. It is undoubtedly a colossal task. We have been requested to cooperate towards that end and our adviser-supervisor Mr. Yoshio Noya, has asked us to muster up determination, because this is the policy of the block economy of Japan. Under these circumstances and upon orders as you have just heard, it behooves each and everyone of us to work and cooperate along this policy to the end that we may assure the country its main staple food—rice.

As to the present harvest, time is running short. To save the harvest from spoiling, I earnestly reiterate what I have repeatedly urged upon the authorities: to provide immediately these four indispensable needs: (1) police protection; (2) fuel for trucks, threshers and mills; (3) sacks; (4) financing.

We are appreciative for this visit of the High Command and we hope it will be fruitful to all concerned.

Today’s shocking headline: “QUEZON REPORTED DEAD IN ILOILO.”


March 22, 1942

Had a showdown with the Supervisor. There is nothing like talking frankly. I told him I wanted to know just where I stood. If I am Manager, I want to manage. Otherwise don’t call me manager.

We agreed on these things: (1) That the whole office is under my responsibility. He (Noya) is only an adviser. (2) That he (Noya) will be the chief of the General Service Department. (3) That all decisions of the department chiefs, including those of the Japanese, must be approved by me. (4) That the main objective of the corporation at present is to insure the people’s food supply. Towards this end, we shall presently exert our utmost to save the crop in the fields from spoiling.

Noya revealed that almost all plans of the NARIC have already been approved by the Army. He also stated that the ₱600,000 for this month is forthcoming.

It is clear that I have the responsibility. Shall I have the authority commensurate with it?

Man is not always guided by reason and justice.