January 5, 1942

Very busy day in the office organizing rice distribution for the people. Thank goodness, the rice situation is now more or less under control, but I am losing weight.

Almost everything in the market has gone up in price. A pound of meat, for example, has risen from 60 centavos to ₱1.50. Soap, cigarettes, medicines, and canned goods are going up fast. Only rice is stable, I’m proud to say. Its price must be kept down by all means, because it is the index-commodity, being the staple food of the people. Had another meeting at the Army and Navy Club this afternoon with Colonels Mazaki and Yoshida. Others present were Mayor Nolasco, Director Silayan, Col. Buenconsejo, Dr. Icasiano, Undersecretary Bayan, Dr. Gonzalez of the Census, Director Misa and representatives of hospitals and other welfare institutions.

It was agreed, during the meeting, to fix the amount of ration of rice for each inmate in different institutions as follows:

“Hospitals—200 gms; orphanages—300 gms; police stations 350 gms; city jails—200 gms; Muntinglupa prisons—200 gms.”

The number of inmates, it was understood, was to be checked daily by Japanese officers. If found incorrect, the ration of the whole institution would be cancelled.

Delay in the delivery of rice to the markets this morning, because Japanese soldiers arrived very late. Hundreds and hundreds of people were waiting in the different markets for its distribution. In three or four markets, there were no dealers to sell the cereal, and so I had to order NARIC men to undertake the sale.

There are rumors that the U.S. convoy will arrive in Corregidor. They say it’ll be this week. People expect the USAFFE in Manila by the end of the month. Some say, “Hell, it’ll take ten years!” There will always be dreamers and defeatists. My wife is a dreamer and yet she cries. Women are bundles of contradictions.


January 4, 1942

Warnings have been issued by the Commander of the Japanese Landing Forces.

(1) Anyone who inflicts or attempts to inflict an injury upon Japanese soldiers or individuals shall be shot to death.

(2) If the assailant or attempted assailant cannot be found, we will hold ten influential persons as hostages who live in and about the streets or municipalities where the event happened.

(3) Officials and influential persons shall pass this warning on to your citizens and villages as soon as possible and should prevent these crimes before they happen on your own responsibilities.

(4) The Filipinos should understand our real intentions and should work together with us to maintain public peace and order in the Philippines.

Reign of terror! The law of the gun! People avoid Japanese soldiers in the streets. Everybody is afraid. When you pass a Japanese sentry, you must bow. A man was slapped for not bowing. Others have been tied to posts and made to look at the sun for hours. A man stealing a can of milk from a parked Japanese truck was bayoneted to death. Saw a naked woman bound to a post. She was quite young. There were many onlookers.

Had an important meeting with high ranking Japanese officers at the Army and Navy Club this afternoon. The food situation, particularly rice, was discussed. Present were Col. Masaki, who was apparently the ranking officer; Lt. Col. Yoshida, supply officer; Mr. Mori, manager of the Daido; Yamamoto, manager of the Yokohama Specie Bank; Murasse of the Oracca Candies; Kitajima of the Kinkwa Textile Company; Mitsuda, manager of the Bank of Taiwan and C. Mori, head of the Nang Prostoa. The Filipinos were Gregorio Anonas of the NDC, Jacinto, Villamin, Sabalvaro, Melo and myself.

Discussions mainly centered around the problem of rice distribution. NARIC would distribute rice to dealers in 12 public markets within Greater Manila for sale to the public. Purchasers would be required to first present their residence certificates. The selling price to the public was fixed at P.15 for one-half ganta. The price to rice dealers would be at P6.20 each cavan. Japanese soldiers were to be posted in the 12 markets to insure order. War notes (military money) have been issued by the Imperial Japanese Government. The proclamation of the Commander-in-Chief says that the military notes are backed by the Japanese Government. The death penalty will be imposed on anyone “who attempts to interfere with the circulation of the war notes such as deeds of rejection of payment, forgery or spreading false news regarding the war notes.” I am afraid the printing of this money will cause inflation in the not-too-distant future. The days of “a wheelbarrow of marks for a loaf of bread” may yet come.

Five truckloads of Japanese dead, covered with vegetables, passed by Santa Mesa this afternoon at a little after sunset. There must be stiff fighting in Bataan.

More Japanese troops have arrived in the city. It is their convoy that keeps on arriving.

More people go to churches these days. There are a lot of marriages too.

In a small side-door, ironically near Quiapo Church, many soldiers go in and out. It is a flourishing business.


January 3, 1942

Looting continues unabated. War brings out the noble and the degrading in man. Saw three Japanese soldiers talking with two women with painted faces in a street-corner.

Thousands of people mobbed our warehouses. The bodega on Batangas street was completely looted. Asked Chief Torres and Mayor Nolasco for police protection, but they had none to offer.

After consultation with Sec. Vargas, it was decided that I take up the problem to the Japanese authorities. I called up Consul General Nihro, but he was not in his office. Vice-Consul Itoh attended me instead. I made the following representations, having nothing but the people’s welfare in mind. Firstly, the people must be assured of their rice supply; otherwise there will be riots, bloodshed, deaths. Secondly, NARIC warehouses must be provided with military protection. Thirdly, sales must be authorized in Pureza, Evangelista, Batangas, and Azcarraga. All these selling points must be well protected. Fourth, NARIC trucks must not be confiscated. Rice distribution must not be hampered in markets, sari-sari stores, schools and NARIC warehouses.

Mr. Itoh was courteous, understanding and helpful. I think he realizes the seriousness of the food situation. We went to the Manila Hotel to look for the Army’s quartermaster. Finally, found the supply officer at the Army and Navy Club. The Japanese commander said he would study my propositions tomorrow, Sunday, and he promised to give his decision on Monday.

A government official’s job is a thankless one. I’d like to leave my work right now, stay home, sit on my sofa, and read books. That’ll free me from a lot of headaches, gossip and a strained health.

There are bombers again. I can hear their drone. It must be another raid on Bataan. I wonder if my son is still alive. I keep telling myself there is nothing more glorious than the death of a soldier in the battlefield. My eldest brother Joaquin died in the war of 1898.

Thinking of the eternal sleep keeps me from sleeping.


January 2, 1942

(Noon)

Looting.

Met a man carrying a leg of ham on one hand and a roll of khaki on the other. Saw a truck full of cigarette packages and boxes of sardines and Carnation milk. Three men were running with typewriters and adding machines. A boy smashed display window and a mob entered the store.

The police cannot stop the looting. A police jitney with a loudspeaker went around the city urging the people to return to their homes, but nobody paid any attention. Saw a policeman carrying belts and hats.

Law and order have vanished. Looting reigns.

(Night)

Rice riots in three of our warehouses this afternoon. Looters and boarders demanded that the bodegas be opened. I asked for police protection, but only a few policemen arrived and they were without arms.

A big mob tried to force open the NARIC gate, demanding “Rice!“ I ordered the bodega closed. Whatever rice we have will be rationed to the people. I always keep in mind what President Quezon told me a few days before the war: “Whatever happens,” he said, “everybody must eat, rich and poor, alike. There must be no discrimination.” But the profiteers, the mob of looters were insistent. They banged the gates, waved their hands and clubs and demanded, “Rice! Rice! “ My two policemen were unarmed. The door was being forced open. So I drew my .45 and told the crowd that I’d shoot the first man that crosses the line. I waited for five tense minutes. Nobody stirred. Nobody took a step forward, but neither did anybody leave. My heart began to beat fast. I have placed my life in peril, but that was the only step to take under the desperate circumstance. If I gave in to the unreasonable clamor of that mob of looters, Manilans would have no rice. Fortunately, no one in the crowd protested. I gave my gun to the policeman and I gave him orders loud enough for all to hear: “Shoot anybody that passes that line, officer!“ and to emphasize my point, I squeezed the trigger and there was a faint “click.” The bullet was a dud.

I can hear the roar of many planes. They are probably going to bomb Bataan. I think I will pray. Brandy is not such a good palliative.

Midnight

Can’t sleep. Worried about my son, worried about the rice rioting, and the looting that has gripped the people. Worried about the Japanese. Yes, they entered quite peacefully and in an orderly manner, but you never can tell what they are up to. Man can be the most brutal animal. Females will be females and males will be males. History and biology repeat themselves.

I can hear the tramp of marching feet. It must be a battalion. The Japs prefer to move at night. What is that they are singing? It is a strange, weird, hymn.

Only last night, it was boogiewoogie.


January 1, 1942

Most of Luzon is in Japanese hands. The USAFFE has retreated to Bataan. Where are the U.S. planes? Will the convoy arrive? My eldest boy is with the 51st division. He is a lieutenant. God protect him.

Manila’s gates are open. The Japanese are expected any moment. The oft-repeated, long-foretold “yellow menace” has come true. How will they treat us? I am not worried about myself, but of my wife and daughters. There are fires all over the city. Historic Santo Domingo church is a mass of ruins. The oil and gasoline dumps of Pandacan have been set ablaze. The piers are destroyed, wrecked, charred. The red sky above the city and the black coils of smoke rising to the clouds present a weird picture. At night, Manila looks like a burning cauldron.

Lolita cries over her son. In war, mothers suffer most. Can hear the San Juan cabaret band playing a fast boogie-beat.

Had a busy day in the office. Worked till late in the afternoon. Jorge B. Vargas said that President Manuel Quezon’s last order was for all government officials and employees to stick to their posts.

This is my saddest New Year. I think I’ll open a bottle.