January 12, 1942

The course of history is a cycle. The present becomes past and the past returns to the present. The future is something forever to be hoped for. The dungeons of Fort Santiago, past reminders of Spanish tyranny, are now being used by the Japanese. In some dark cell, Theo, an old family friend, is languishing. Many others are there too, including a woman. The dark ages have returned.

Stayed in the office till eight. Yoshio Noya has been appointed Supervisor of NARIC. S. Terada, who speaks English well, is his assistant. Japanese civilians have been placed as supervisors, but actually they are in charge of various sections. I hope they are not arrogant.

One-third of 10,000 pounds of the stock of yeast will be sold twice a week in limited amounts. For this purpose, bakeries operated by Filipinos, Spaniards, and Swiss may secure application blanks from the office and after approval, they can take yeast from the San Miguel Brewery.

Had a long conference with a Japanese officer who asked a lot of questions. Didn’t give his name. Neither do I know his rank. These people are quite secretive about their names and ranks.

Formulated a plan for rice rationing. Secured passes for De Leon personnel, who will go to the provinces to see their harvest.

Plan on the proposed regimentation of the palsy industry:

(1) NARIC organization must be expanded.

(2) Farmers will be told to harvest and thresh their palay.

(3) NARIC will guarantee purchase of palay and only NARIC will be authorized to buy and sell the cereal.

(4) NARIC to take care of transportation, warehousing and milling.

(5) Japanese Army will solve the question of financing.

(6) Operate whenever practicable in Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Bulacan, and Rizal.

(7) Most important is to get palsy into bodegas and convert it into rice without delay. There are only three months left. Must act now. Otherwise, there will be many losses.

There are a lot of factors to be considered in the regimentation of the harvest. The end is good: the procurement of rice for distribution to the people. But several points must be given due consideration, such as: guerilla warfare, lawlessness, Japanese sentries and their abuses. Passes must be given by the Japanese Army to producers to avoid molestation by soldiers and being commandeered for forced labor. The poor condition of roads, the wrecked bridges, the lack of trucks and fuel must also be taken into consideration. What about warehousing? Mills? Sacks? Prices? It is better not to take a leap in the dark. Nothing is lost by caution, study, preparedness.

On my way home, saw Japanese soldiers beating an old man in the cross section of Azcarraga and Legarda. In a house nearby, there was a celebration, a birthday perhaps. Life is tears and laughter. What is death?

January 11, 1942

What is a diary? Webster’s dictionary says it is a “a register of daily events or transactions; a journal.” With me, it is something different. It is an outlet, a porthole in a stuffy cabin.

Why do I write this? Because I want it read someday? Not at all. Because I want to remember the things I have gone through? More plausible, perhaps, but not exactly. I write because, after doing so, I feel relieved.

Am I too old for that sort of sentimental stuff? Age has made me realize that time makes a man sentimental. The older you are, the more the memories. The grey hairs and the wrinkles make detection of your feelings more difficult. You can hide your thoughts better. But it’s there just the same. In man, everything ages except the heart.

This talk on age makes me feel old. I think I’ll play tennis with Vic tomorrow.

January 10, 1942

Meeting from 5 p.m. till late in the evening with the Industrial Committee of the Japanese Army. The members of the Committee are Mr. Abe of Ohta Development, S. Fukada of Mitsui, and S. Tamura of Nippon Bazar. Yoshio Noya acted as interpreter.

The gathering of the harvest was discussed. The Japanese are for regimenting it. They want the sale of rice to NARIC to be made obligatory.

I told the committee that I wanted more time to think over their proposition and to discuss the matter in a conference with my men. I also stated that the task of handling the whole rice industry in 5 provinces was too gigantic for NARIC’s present organization.

There are many difficulties regarding the gathering of the harvest. People must have an inducement to go to the field. Their personal safety must be guaranteed. Their families must not be molested. There are too many stories of rape and abuses committed in the provinces. There is also a shortage of fuel. This will hamper threshing and the movement of trucks. Transportation is dislocated. Roads are destroyed and bridges have been broken. It will take time and persuasion to ‘round up’ skilled, semi-skilled and technical personnel. There seems to be a lot of military restrictions regarding the harvesting of palay. This expansion will also involve the enlargement of NARIC‘s personnel which means a bigger, costlier organization. It is easy to plan. It is difficult to execute. There is a long gap to be bridged from the paper and ink stage to the point of harvesting.

What’s that? The rumble of cannons. But it sounds so far. It might be thunder. Nope, it’s artillery.

Can’t write anymore. Am thinking of my boy.

January 9, 1942

Talked to an officer whose troops were cut off from the main body of the USAFFE retreating to Bataan. He said the MacArthur strategy in the north was to delay the Japanese advance as much as possible. He recounted the charge of the 26th cavalry. “I saw those Filipino scouts charging armored units, riding on, on, on, matching flesh with tanks. I saw headless riders. . .” I did not make him go on.

Another very busy day. It seems that every day is a busy one. My gasoline petition was authorized, but only 50%. In other words, 50 cans a week. Of these, four to five cans must be given for Japanese demand.

Must make two copies of daily sales reports. One for Col. Yoshida; the other for Mr. Kitajima.

All market deliveries must be limited to 1,000 sacks daily. The opening of the Bamban market was denied by the military.

Rice for NARIC employees not granted. This will dishearten the boys. They must send members of their families to fall in line like the rest of the people. Pills of bitterness make the man…

Obtained approval from the Japanese Army to have a section of the San Miguel Brewery opened for the manufacture of yeast to be used in making bread.

Urged local bakeries to increase their bread output to relieve rice supply. Bakers pointed out that while there is plenty of flour available, their stock of baking soda is very limited.

Dismissed a chauffeur for dishonesty. Matters like this keep me from sleeping. I know I was very strict, but I must use him as an example. You cannot run a big organization like the NARIC with the heart.

Shouldn’t have told Lolita of the officer’s story about the cavalry. Just made her think of our son. She is weeping again. How many mothers must be in tears?

C’est la guerre.

January 7, 1942

Woke up early this morning. Inspected our bodegas. One warehouseman was not there. The bodega could not be opened.

The Japanese Military Administration authorized at last the sale of 327 bags of rice to different institutions, such as government and private hospitals, orphanages, as their allowance for the week beginning tomorrow, January 8. Rice ration for each institution was based on 200 to 300 grams per person.

Must not forget to make a supplementary report on the problems of food administration tomorrow.

Must remember to make a plan for the gathering of the harvest. Tanco or Silayan can do this.

It is work, work, work, from morning to afternoon and evening, and morning again. And all for what?

A government official is a slave.


Still awake and it’s almost 12 midnight. Thinking of the headline in this morning’s Tribune: BATAAN IS BOMBED. The story says that Limay, Balanga, Subic have been bombed. Assembled troops, ships, automobiles and trucks have been attacked.

Where Is the U.S. convoy? It is one month since Pearl Harbor and still no convoy.

My second boy is dreaming. He is talking in his sleep. Two more years and the military age would have gotten him too.

My Japanese neighbors are singing. They have a drinking party.

There is no sunshine without shadow. Now I am in the shadow.

More work today. Problems on the people’s food keep on mounting. Our high officials are not very much concerned about economic matters. My insistence that more attention be paid to the food question is like a voice in the wilderness. I feel alone.

Several urgent points:

(1) Our gasoline supply for rice-delivery trucks to 12 markets is sufficient for only 10 days. To continue this service, about 100 tins a week is needed.

(2) Our rice and pal” in warehouses in Baliuag, San Miguel, Muñoz, Cuyapo, Rizal, Sto. Domingo, Sta. Rosa, San Jose, Cabanatuan, and San Quintin must be immediately surveyed. These stocks should be milled and the rice brought to Manila.

(3) Must survey palay in fields and prepare it for milling to increase the city’s supply. Farmers must be made to know that we are ready to buy this palay.

(4) Secure passes for the men and the cars to make the provincial surveys. If possible, Japanese representatives should accompany Filipino officials to facilitate passage through Japanese sentries, in Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan and Rizal.

The newspapers say that the Japanese Army will

(1) recognize the status and authority of officials;

(2) protect life and property;

(3) recognize free worship of religion;

(4) recognize existing laws and orders as well as customs and usages, excepting those incompatible with the new situation.

People in the street do not believe all these news announcements. News boys selling the Tribune shout: “Balitang Kochero! Kuentong Kochero!” Facts are easier to believe than what appears in paper and ink. Slapping, bayonetting,—all these sink deeper into one’s being than words.

Fortunately, I have not yet been the subject of abuse. Still no slaps, no insults. I wonder what I will do if I were slapped. It is not good to talk of what one will do. Only politicians say what they will do. They are used to breaking their word.

The Imperial Headquarters have issued a communiqué, stating that Corregidor has been intensively bombed. I’ve seen the tunnel years ago. I think it will hold. I wonder how Rommy Romulo is. He always maintained that Japan had designs on the Philippines.

At the office, a man called me up. Said he was looking for my son, Philip, “He is in Bataan,” I said. “I was with him in the mountains,” he recounted. But I kept silent.

There are many spies. Men are not all the same under the skin. Judas had many children.

January 6, 1942

The Boulevard is like a carnival. There are so many people promenading; society matrons lounging on easy chairs, chatting and gossiping; boys and girls talking, laughing and playing; youths in pairs, seated on the rocks facing Manila Bay, hands romantically joined together. Have they forgotten that just across the bay, brave blood is being shed?

Gave a report, as per order, to the Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Occupation Army regarding the immediate problems of food administration. Salient points of my memorandum:

(1) Gather the palay (rough paddy) now in the fields and mill; otherwise it will spoil. For this purpose, issue passes for about 200 trucks, as the need arises.

(2) Supply and transport rice to hospitals, orphanages and police headquarters.

(3) Open NARIC safes which were sealed by Japanese gendarmes. These safes are needed to safeguard daily collections.

(4) Fix telephone No. 6-73-08 of NARIC bodega at Pureza. This phone is needed for orders from main office. A pass is required to enter the premises.

(5) Suburban towns near Manila, especially those not agricultural, should be supplied with rice. Among them: Mandaluyong, San Juan, Caloocan, San Francisco del Monte, Quezon City, Malabon, Navotas, and Makati.

(6) Open the National Trading Corporation for milk distribution.

(7) City Hall vaults should be opened to get the blanks for residence certificates.

(8) Rice purchases by rice dealers should be left in their respective stalls. Let dealers take care it is not looted until next morning.

(9) Hotels and restaurants should be given a supply of rice in accordance with number of clients.

(10) Assign your representative with ample authority in this office, to render decisions.

Armed with three Japanese passes. I don’t know what’s written on them. They look like chicken scrawl.

Some sentries are odious, like the one in Santa Mesa, who is a mean-looking fellow. A man bowed before him, holding a cigar. He slapped the man, got the cigar and burned the man’s face with it. Saw another naked woman tied to a post. She was a mestiza. Street urchins were giggling.

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.