April 12, 1942

First reports on the fall of Bataan.

Said a newspaperman who was allowed to view the fighting areas:

Once thriving communities that lay in the path of the fighting are now mere shambles and blackened debris. Guagua, Samal, Hermosa, Balanga, Lamao where fighting was protracted bore the brunt of furious shelling and the fighting that followed. Demolished structures, charred vegetation, bullet-splattered shelters, blasted dwellings and abandoned, upturned army trucks and cars—with neither man nor beast in sight—gave mute testimony of what had taken place there previously. Balanga, (the) capital, like other Bataan towns had been obliterated, with hardly a structure escaping the fierce barrage. The cathedral struck by direct artillery hits now lies in crumbled ruins, a mere pile of mortar and stone. The municipal buildings, the water-tower and residential houses around the plaza have been destroyed and the rest of the town wiped out by fire. All along in the wake of the juggernaut of war, towns and barrios follow ____. Huge bomb craters, gaping shell holes by the roadway and fields indicate where artillery duels and air attacks have been fiercest…

Said a radio commentator:

Unkempt, disheveled, haggard, bewildered, many suffering from exposure, others hardly able to walk from lack of nourishment, they came… the old and infirm, the young, the women, tired, timorous, terror-stricken, bedraggled beggars of life, they appeared, many with only the clothes on their back, some with bare necessities, scores with emaciated, blue-lipped infants clasped in their arms…

Said the Tribune:

On that day, from sunrise until dusk, the hillsides and shell-churned fields were brown with staggering, stumbling men—the defeated Filipino-American forces. By the hundreds, they came—blackened by the Bataan heat, hollow-eyed, wasted, exhausted and sore-afflicted, their lips parched with thirst, their eyes wild from near-starvation, their faces yellow with malaria…

Said the Japanese Propaganda Corps:

The Americans placed the Filipino on the front lines and stayed in the rear, compelling Filipino soldiers to fight…

Said a Filipino columnist:

During their several months stay in Bataan, the Americans never gave the refugees food. It was a pitiful sight to see them lining up in the heat of the scorching sun with bandaged injured legs and yellow dirty dust all over them, thin from starvation, fatigue and haggard, sick and…

Said a Manila society girl:

Oh dear, dear, I wonder what time the dancing will begin…

Said a mother kneeling before an altar:

O Lord…

April 11, 1942

All Manila is quiet. Sad. I can feel the loneliness in the streets. A woman reading the Tribune in a newsstand burst into tears. Her husband was a soldier. The boy who skates on the pavement near the entrance to my office was sitting on the sidewalk, dejected. His elder brother was a soldier.

Met Mrs. Gruet. Her eyes were red and swollen. Her son is also in Bataan.

Lolita was weeping the whole day. She asked Mrs. Vargas by phone if the news about Bataan was true and Mrs. Vargas could not speak clearly because she was crying, too. Her son is also in Bataan.

My barber inquired if I could ask the Japanese in my office what treatment the Filipino soldiers would receive. Would they be concentrated? Released? Killed? He was worried about his three sons. He gave them all to the Army.

The Japanese in the next house are singing, drinking, shouting.

In my house, everything is quiet. I can hear my daughters mumbling their prayers…

Uppermost on our minds was my son, Philip. What has happened to him?

April 10, 1942

B A T A A N  H A S  F A L L E N

April 9, 1942

Must order the refumigation of about 400 bags of corn-rice in our Oriente warehouse. This stock is eight months old. It came from Cebu.

Rumors that Bataan has fallen. I doubt it. Will listen over KGEI or “Voice of Freedom.”

April 8, 1942

Intro from memoirs: But one day I had a scare. Old Pio Duran, who believed in the Jap-sponsored Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, if there ever was one, called me up and said I was wanted at Fort Santiago at 11:30 a.m. on April 8th…

I was worried. I could not tell Lolita [my wife] I was wanted at the Fort…

10:30 a.m. Thinking of Lolita and the kids. In the face of grave affliction, a man’s family is uppermost on his mind. He ceases to care about himself. He only thinks of his dear ones. He suddenly realizes that it is only for them that he lives.

Must stop writing, I’ve got to say goodbye to the boys. This silly sentimental crab will bore you no more…

11:00 p.m. Sorry, diary, the old bore is back again. No, he wasn’t detained. He was just shocked. He was a victim of a twisted sense of humor.

It was not an investigation after all but an invitation. Why I was invited, I don’t know. The others present were Dr. Antonio Sison, Messrs. Julio Francia, Pedro Aunario, Ramon Ordoveza, Pedro Vera, Bibiano Meer and Tomas Morato. Everyone was invited in the same fashion and for two days, they all imagined they’d be tortured in some dark cell. Morato arrived with sandwiches. “Just in case they lock me up,” he said.

Col. Ohta and Major Nishimura, the heads of Fort Santiago, explained the reason for the invitation. “We want to show you that Fort Santiago is not a place of torture.” We were taken around and shown the cell of Dr. Rizal. Games and exhibitions were performed before us. One Japanese officer, a Lieut. Koeki, took a bale of hay and hacked it into two parts with one swift stroke of his samurai sword.

We had quite a luncheon, too. And afterwards everybody was given a chance to speak. When my turn came, I told them what was uppermost in my mind. I was thinking og Pagulayan and Unson. I asked if something could be done to release them. But before I could say anything more, Major Nishimura raised his hands and said: “Not now, please.”

So I kept quiet, I knew all this was a sham.

While we feasted above, men were groaning in the dungeons below. The food stuck in my throat and I felt cold. I guess everybody felt the same way too…

April 7, 1942

Asked Duran if he knows why F.S. wants me. He said: “Sorry Vic, I don’t know. Major Nishimura was in my house last night and he told me to tell you to be there on Wednesday.”

Stayed in the office until eight. Gave final instructions to Valdezco. “Goodbye, doc,” he said with a sad voice. I had to cheer him up. He is a loyal man.

Couldn’t tell Lolita. She was in a happy mood and she even baked a cake. The kids were talking about a closely contested tennis game. How could I tell them?

My conscience is clear. I trust in the justice of God. I told this to a friend and he replied: “The question is whether you can trust the justice of the Japanese.”

April 6, 1942

I am wanted in Fort Santiago. Mr. Duran called me up by phone and said that Fort Santiago wants me to report there on Wednesday, April 8 at 11:30 a.m.

Shall I tell my wife?

April 5, 1942

Easter Sunday, but no celebration.

Ration cards for rice will soon be issued to the public. Rice will be distributed through 19 public markets. This system is in preparation for the releases of the increased quantity of rice for sale daily to the public.

Under the new plan, a ration card which will be good for at least three months, Will be issued against a new residence tax certificate obtained for 1942. The ration card will be punched every other day to correspond to a ganta of rice purchased.

Saw a Japanese officer walking with boots that were too big for him. They reached above his knees. He also had two watches on his wrist.

“This is co-prosperity,” said a friend.

April 4, 1942

Commencement of NARIC purchasing operations in Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac and Pangasinan.

Said Col. Uzaki on this occasion: “I wish to impress upon you the heavy responsibility that rests on your shoulders as the vanguards of your organization. It is incumbent upon each and every one of you to do the best to purchase a large quantity of rice and palay in a short time, for which purpose you will be custodians of considerable sums of money.”

He promised to supply all provincial employees with food, housing and a per diem of ₱1.00, irrespective of nationality besides rice rations.

A ₱1,500,000 account has been arranged with the Bank of Taiwan. Must immediately send ₱150,000 for Cabanatuan and ₱150,000 for Tarlac. The damage in the Cabanatuan compound due to the bombing in the first weeks of the war must be repaired.

Missing Pagulayan in the office. He was a great help. There is news that he may be executed. I refuse to believe it. Some people enjoy spreading alarming stories. I dislike gossipers and alarmists.

Saw a soldier walking with a monkey perched on his head. There must be some truth in the Darwinian theory.