Today is a holy day of obligation, Corpus Christi, and we heard Mass.
Upon our arrival from church, there were rumors that more detainees from Manila were coming. At 11 o’clock, an amphibian truck arrived with 35 persons. I could recognize only two—Dr. Gualberto, the Mayor of Rosario, Batangas and Mr. Aurelio Alvero, a young leader. They informed us that thousands are being detained all over the Philippines and that many more will be brought here. I could not help but cry.
I know that those who left the country when the Japanese came or who fled to the mountains are undoubtedly patriots. I am not willing to brand them as cowards, renegades. They complied with their duty towards our country in their own way. I admire them. But we sincerely hope that they too would understand our situation. Not all of us could go abroad or live in the wild parts of our country, either for reasons of age or physical condition, or family. I know of countless persons now under suspicion and detention who were more than willing to leave and continue their patriotic activities either abroad or in the mountains. But what could they do” They could not leave their family behind—their wife and small children. They could not be thoughtless and cruel to their family. But know that deep in their hearts they felt sincere sympathy towards the Americans and true love for their country. Some found ways in which they could be of help to their country, without exposing their lives too much. Many of them were actually caught, tortured, and incarcerated, and some even killed by the Japanese. Many, although working for the government, never failed to do their bit for our country. As a matter of fact, we know positively that more than one half of our personnel were American sympathizers and guerrillas. We knew who they were. We took no action.
Let it be known that we here have never been traitors to our country and that all we did was done in the spirit of service to our people so that they may survive and so that our country may enjoy that for which we are ready to give our very life—her independence.
The newcomers came by airplane—better than the means of transportation given us. We were herded like cattle, loaded in a boat and crammed in a hold (bodega) with no water and very little ventilation.
I need not make a “Who’s Who” of the 35 newcomers. But I would like to say something about five of them. Dr. Gualberto was elected Mayor of Rosario many times. He was Mayor before and during the Japanese regime. When the Americans came he was asked to serve and did serve for 6 days. But the C.I.C. came, investigated him and later arrested him. He related that he was taken to the public plaza. A small section of the plaza was encircled with chicken wire and in the middle of the circle, he was made to sit on a wooden box. He sat there for two days. When he could not stand it any longer, he stood up and walked around. He was punished for that. He was taken to Manila and lodged in Bilibid Prison. His wife and family did not know where he was taken. It took them a month to find him. It is hard to believe that a man who had been chosen by the people so many times to head them was so disgraced and humiliated—exhibiting him like an animal in a public plaza.
Aurelio Alvero, is a master of the Tagalog language. He had been leader of the young people for many years. He organized various associations, one of which was called “Kalturap”. Later, when the Makapili was organized, it was generally believed that he was one of the organizers and one of the leaders of that society. He denies it vehemently. He believes that the impression was created by his association with Pio Duran who he greatly admires. According to Alvero, Duran was sincere and a man of conviction. He sought nothing for himself. He loved his country no less than the most patriotic Filipino. In fact he was admired by everybody who knew him intimately. He honestly believed that the course he had taken was the best means of helping our country. He was never pro-Japanese; as a matter of fact, he was thought to be pro-Chinese. The truth was that he is pro-his-country. He had nothing in his heart but the liberty and welfare of his country. For it, he was willing to sacrifice his life. Alvero continues about Duran: his last act was a great blunder and is regretted very deeply by his numerous friends. He was linked to Benigno Ramos, an ambitious man, wholly unprincipled whose sole aim was to be in power and amass wealth. Ramos organized an Army called the “Makapili” which, according to him would fight against the Americans. Many of them did fight. Duran joined Ramos as his assistant and one of the leaders of the organization. He is reported to be dead. We lost a patriot whose life had been dedicated entirely to the cause of his country.
Mr. Alvero alleges that he disagreed with Mr. Duran on the organization of the Makapili, so they parted ways. Duran continued with the Makapili and he organized a new one called the New Leaders Association. The organization had for its aims: to teach love of country; to propagate the national language; to keep peace and order; and to help the people in the procurement of food so that they may live and survive. Those purposes are indeed praiseworthy.
Col. Alfonso Torillo was a Major in the Philippine Constabulary when the war broke out. When the Constabulary was inducted into the USAFFE, he naturally became an officer of that Army. He was then stationed to Cavite as Provincial Commander. The Army ordered him to retreat to Bataan before the Japanese takeover. But his column was cut off and they had to remain in Cavite. Naturally, he disbanded his force, and like all other officers of the USAFFE, surrendered to the Japanese. The Japanese asked him to rejoin the Constabulary, and at that time refusal to obey was considered a hostile act and consequently meant detention at Fort Santiago. Torillo accepted. He was made Commander of the general service troops in Manila. When the Americans landed in Leyte, he lost no time in deserting the Constabulary and, together with the men in his troop in the USAFFE, joined the guerrillas. He and his men brought with them the weapons they were able to conceal from the Japanese. The guerrillas welcomed him and recognized him as one of them. He took part in various engagements, including that of Norzagaray.
But later, he was arrested by the C.I.C. and now he is here. He must have been the victim of the practice of the C.I.C. of arresting anybody against whom two affidavits have been received. He is now very bitter against the Americans.
In this connection, I notice that the C.I.C. is very slow in sizing up the situation. They do not seem to know that some persons are taking advantage of the situation to denounce and have their enemies arrested. Some make affidavits to cover up crimes they had committed by having possible witnesses imprisoned or even killed. Also, some detainees denounce persons, especially former officials and prominent persons, because they believe that the more important persons are detained, the better their chance of creating public reaction in their favor. They will then have a better chance of being released. The C.I.C. is blind enough not to see such diabolical plan.
Among the newcomers, there are two extremes in so far as age is concerned. One is very old and the other very young. The old man is almost 90 years old—87 to be exact. He has been charged with espionage. Is it possible that this feeble old man could still do some work of espionage? Well, I know that in this world anything is possible, but I think they should pardon him, whatever it is he has done. Let the few remaining years of his life be free from bitterness.
At the other extreme is a boy named Alfredo Camilon, only 14 years old. I was told that in Bilibid there is a 12-year old. Alfredo used to work in an airfield in Batangas together with hundreds of his townmates. According to his story, while walking home from the airfield with two gantas of rice, he was accosted by men who robbed him of his rice, and afterwards accused him of espionage. His father is a paralytic, and he had to be the breadwinner and therefore had never been to school. Could it be possible that this boy was a spy?
A funny, but at the same time tragic, incident occurred. On his first day in camp, Alfredo walked with us to the messhall. The American guard thought he was one of the local boys who sometimes are able to sneak in to mix with us or try to sell us something. He ordered the boy to get out. But then he was told that the boy was one of the detainees. The guard got very mad; he began damning his own countrymen. He said that he could not believe that Americans would do such an absurd and stupid thing.
We noticed that the guards are very eager to learn more about us. At the beginning, they took us for ordinary criminals and we were treated as such. There was one young guard who treated us very roughly. He ordered us around in a most haughty way, using rough and even indecent language. But he has changed. The guards must have found out who we are. They now seem to understand our situation and are as agreeable as possible. They try their best to make us comfortable; we can see that they fully sympathize with us. The officers complain that in spite of the ban, so many things are being brought in for the detainees. In order not to get our friends, the guards, in trouble, we do not tell them that the guards sneak the gifts in.
Sometimes the situation is reversed—they are the prisoners and we the guards. They become very melancholy and call on us to talk to them and cheer them up. They talk and dream of home and the loved ones they left behind. They are homesick. We try our best to help them forget, otherwise they get drunk to drown their sorrows.
Since the newcomers came, we have been with them constantly to get the latest news. They brought with them many newspapers and we have been reading them very thoroughly.
First I asked about Batangas from Dr. Gualberto. He said many towns have been almost completedly destroyed. Very little is left of Lipa, Bauan, Batangas, Lemery and other municipalities. First, the Americans shelled these cities and towns; afterwards, the Japanese burned everything before withdrawing. Thousands and thousands of my provincemates have died from bombings and shellings, and the guerrillas who killed indiscriminately. But the greatest number of casualties was massacred by the Japanese upon their retreat.
My relatives seem to be all safe. My uncle Vicente is alive. So are many of my friends. My cousin Rufo Noble is again the Mayor of my hometown, Taal. I was told that my cousin, Froilan Noble, who disappeared about a year ago, came back. He was arrested by the Japanese and taken to Mindoro. He was reported to have been killed by the Japanese or died from malaria, and we had already mourned him.
In Manila things are getting back to normal, but prices are going up because of shortages of supply. There is also the very serious menace of inflation. I regret that no importance is being attached to this phase of the problem. Rice is already costing a few hundred pesos a cavan. A newspaper article fears that it may go up to the same level as during the Japanese occupation. I worry about what is happening to my family.
The government is not running smoothly. The head, President Osmeña is away and those remaining are confused and lack leadership. The people do not respect them. The most important problems are left untackled.
Some of the newcomers are Ministers Emilio Tria Tirona and Arsenio Luz, Mayor Leon Guinto, Justice Jorge Bocobo. Many more arrive everyday. The American guards remarked that soon they themselves would not be able to enter the crowded prison.
* * * * *
Because of the Madrigal-Aguinaldo incident with Confesor, the Board of Directors of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce was reorganized and Gil Puyat was appointed President. It is a very good selection in my opinion. Puyat is the youngest leader in our business world. He is a successful merchant and when the College of Commerce of the University of the Philippines was reorganized, Puyat was asked to be the Dean of the Institution. His first step was to bring in outstanding or successful Filipino merchants as lecturers on certain phases of business. I was one of those prevailed upon to give lectures on merchandising as I learned it as Vice President of Marsman Trading Corporation. Teaching is not new to me as I began my career as a teacher and for many years I was a lecturer in Political Science in the University of the Philippines. So I would merely be resuming my former activity. The war prevented the carrying out of my new activity.
There is a growing tendency to encourage or create a division between Osmeña and Roxas. From all indications a fight may not be avoided. I am sure their many friends, like myself, would like to intervene to prevent such a thing from happening. Osmeña is now a very old man. He has been a leader or one of the two leaders of our country for generations. He had been our leader until he shared it with President Quezon. The first time I heard of him was in 1907 when I read an article written by an American praising him for the way he organized the new Philippine Assembly. All agree that he is honest and his love for his country is very intense.
Osmeña puts the welfare of his people above personal ambition. I remember that in 1922, his most ardent followers were very disappointed when he settled his differences with President Quezon on the Collectivista-Unipersonalista issue to prevent disunity among the people. In 1933-1934, he entered into an understanding with President Quezon after his defeat on the Hawes-Cutting Act. I was not certain whether the people were behind Mr. Quezon on that issue as the weighty reasons were on the other side. Furthermore, Osmeña was also backed by many young and upcoming leaders, like Speaker Roxas. But he knew what a separation and fight with President Quezon would mean—it would be most prejudicial to the welfare of the people and future plans to prepare our country for an independent life. He withdrew and left the leadership of President Quezon undisputed.
What a beautiful lesson this is for our people and future generations. Personal ambition, everything must be sacrificed for the good of the country. I wish every Filipino would be imbued with that spirit. We would then be a great people. Osmeña makes sacrifice a gospel and preaches it enthusiastically.
In the many elections I have run in, I was defeated only once—that was my second or third fight for Speakership against another great Filipino, Speaker Quintin Paredes. After his election, I made a public statement conceding it, praising him and offering my unconditional support. I stood by my word as I had never worked in the Assembly as hard as when Mr. Paredes was our leader. In a short time, we again had to face each other for Speakership Protempore. This time, I regained my former position. They say the Ilocanos are regionalistic. However, I received almost one-half of the votes from all the Ilocano provinces. A big banquet was tendered in my honor in front of the provincial building in Batangas. One of the speakers was President Osmeña. As usual, he preached unity for our country’s sake. Among other things, he cited my conduct after my defeat by Paredes. He spoke of it in glowing terms, considering it as an act which would foster unity and the stability our country. Osmeña is old now. Many believe that as a fitting recognition of his fruitful career in public service, he should be honored by electing him the first President of the Republic.
Manuel Roxas, a young man, has been in the public eye since 1919. He graduated from the University of the Philippines with honors. He was one of the topnotchers in the bar examination in 1914. He had a good start in life as he immediately went to work for one of our great jurists as private secretary. He was a good disciple, rising in stature in the legal profession. In 1919, his province claimed him by electing him provincial Governor of Capiz. But it soon became obvious that that place was too small—Manila was the field for him. He was elected Representative. His ability was not yet known in Manila at that time. Nobody thought of him for Speaker.
Of all the Collectivista Representatives, I happened to be the only one who was known nationwide. Many representatives talked to me; they wanted to honor me with the Speakership. I well knew that I was not prepared for the task; but then there was nobody else—none of us had any parliamentary experience. I agreed. The Unipersonalistas were composed of formidable debaters and parliamentarians, like Briones. We Collectivistas had the most number of members but we did not have a majority to put up a candidate for Speaker, unless we entered into a coalition with either the Unipersonalistas or with the Democratas. The composition then was about 33 Collectivistas, 28 Unipersonalistas and 22 Democratas.
One evening, President Quezon who was also President of the Senate, invited me out, and to my surprise he took me to Dreamland Cabaret in Cavite. After dancing a little, he talked to me thus:
“Tony, I understand you are a candidate for Speaker.”
“Yes,” I answered.
“Can you get elected?”
“Well, judging from the number of Collectivistas who talked to me, I have a majority.”
“But the Collectivistas do not constitute the majority.”
Here I remained silent because I did not want to tell him a plan that had been carefully laid out by his “enemies”.
Somehow or other it leaked out that the President wanted Roxas to be the Speaker. Plans were afoot to defeat Quezon’s wishes. They had conducted an investigation and found out that I could get a majority among the Collectivistas. A delegation of three Unipersonalistas, headed by Representative Briones came to see me to insist on my continuing my candidacy. They pledged 100 percent support of the Nacionalistas. On the other hand, the Democratas did not seem to favor my candidacy. However, they led me to believe that they would support me.
Returning to the cabaret conference, President Quezon stood up and said:
“Well, I congratulate you. You will be the Speaker. But I will not be President of the Senate.”
“Why, Mr. President?”
“You and I cannot be President and Speaker. We are both Tagalog, and to make it worst, we come from the same district. Unless I can enter into an understanding with Osmeña in the next election, we will be defeated.”
I instantly answered him: “Continue as President. We cannot afford to let you go. I withdraw.”
My friends were very disappointed. They charged me with cowardice and pessimism. I kept quiet. Roxas was elected after several days of deadlock, with the support of both wings of the Nacionalistas. The enemies of Quezon and Roxas, however, did not stop their intrigue against them. During the first days, we had sensational sessions. They always raised points of order to engage Roxas, and they were encouraged, by a third party—the Democratas. Whenever there was such a crisis I was asked to intervene. Many times I had to go around and talk to our friends, sometimes up to midnight, to save the Chair. Finally, Mr. Roxas was sent to America and I was elected Speaker Protempore. He remained there for many months. When he returned, he acquired enough reputation and prestige to ensure full recognition as a national leader. He was not only a brilliant orator, but he also had the courage to fight. He was ambitious and read extensively. In a very short time he mastered parliamentary rules. He could talk and debate on any question, including financial and economic. He had the personality that appealed to men and women—but especially to women who later became a decisive factor in the elections. He is highly patriotic, so when the clarion call of his country sounded, he hurriedly donned his uniform to fight. He is now one of our two outstanding leaders. His leadership is undisputed. He is bound to reach the summit.
Many Filipinos believe that our country will be able to regain the strength sapped by the war if Roxas and Osmeña work hand in hand in solving our serious problems. They wish that the people will allow Osmeña to close his long career of service to his country by honoring him with the Presidency. Roxas is young. He will still be around for many years. If there is any period in our history which requires understanding and unity, it is now. This is perhaps the most critical period in our history. Much of what we do now will bear upon the future prosperity of our country. We are praying for a united front. In this we sincerely offer our assistance, but not in the capacity of leaders but of followers.
Other news: the prices of commodities continue to go up. The necessary action should be taken now to avoid inflation.
The newcomers tell us of how they were insulted and villified at the beginning by our own countrymen—some even threatened to shoot them. In many cases, they did this in the presence of the Americans just to get their favor. Many of us still have a lot to learn—a strike against a countryman causes no more than a laugh and ridicule on the part of the foreigners who see us. Much need to be done along these lines.