August 29, 1945, Wednesday

Taruc and Alejandrino, the two communists or ex-communits and Hukbulahaps, were notified yesterday that they were leaving for Manila today. This morning they left by plane. We noticed that they left with a heavy heart and we felt exactly the same. Those two men have won the friendship and admiration of all of us. As friends and comrades they are as good as anybody can be. The impression they left is just the reverse of what they were pictured to us before. They were not quarrelsome, cruel and bloodthirsty as they were reputed to be. On the contrary, they are suave in manner, sociable and know how to get along with others. We do not know whether they have modified their views, but several interviews with them have convinced us that they are not the radical men who would forcibly deprive all the citizens of their right over their property. They harbor no ill-feeling or prejudice against the capitalists. They only insist that the masses be given such social protection and opportunity to enable them to live decently. They hate a dictatorial government; they will die for democracy. They are highly patriotic; they love their country above everything. They assured us that there would be no compromise as regards Philippine independence. They will fight even the Americans if they deny us our right to freedom. They are very willing to join hands with us in everything that would help our country and our people. They do not know what is in store for them. We hope that they will be released outright. They are not so optimistic, however. They fear that they will again be requested to surrender their arms numbering about 20,000 rifles and other arms. They were requested to donate these weapons to the Philippine Army for the reason that our Army had no money to buy arms. They refused. Before leaving they told us that they would not compel their men to turn in their arms. Let them do so on their own free will. They will remain in prison if necessary to uphold their views. Or they may be tried for some other cause. They are not collaborationists in the sense that they served or in any way were connected with the Japanese for the truth was that they fought the Japanese. They, therefore, should not have been placed among us. Perhaps the Americans prefer to dispose of their cases before the government is turned over completely to the Commonwealth.

Taruc and Alejandrino returned as they were not able to catch the plane this morning. They are scheduled to leave tomorrow.

Tonight the Class B quarters were inspected and searched. The Lieutenant found clothes supposed to have been stolen from the Supply Office. Some internees are implicated. They did not search the Class A quarters. Had they done so, they would have a large quantity of clothes, shoes, etc. which belong to the Army. These were acquired through donation or purchase. The Captain and the Lieutenant asked us to cooperate with them. I suppose what they were really saying was that they expect us not to receive or buy hereafter. They happened to see the Navy shoes of Arsenio Luz. They confiscated the shoes.

Recto is found to be positive for malaria. We are all scared as so many of us are already suffering from that sickness, we fear that if we remain here for a few weeks more we will all contract the disease.

My son Tony tried to land a job. He failed. He could not find a job — in some places, the employers expressed fear when they found out he bears my name. The Spaniards say, “No hay hien que formal no venga,” meaning that sometimes some good comes out of evil. Not being able to find employment, Tony was compelled to engage in business and he is quite successful. He makes enough money to support my family. He has already proven that he is an able merchant since during the Japanese regime he was also quite successful in business. After all, I am very happy that he did not become an employee. During inflation one of the worst sufferers are those with fixed income like the employees. But even under normal conditions I do not wish my sons to be employed, especially in the government service. There is too much injustice and disappointment. I have seen enough to dislike the public service. Furthermore, there is no future in government employment unless one is very lucky, as in my case. In so far as civic spirit is concerned, a person can also serve his country outside the public service. A merchant or a farmer serves his country just as much as politician, a government official or employee.


August 1, 1945 Wednesday

Today has been declared a legal holiday to commemorate the death anniversary of Pres. Quezon. This is a very fitting tribute, Pres. Quezon will pass in history as the greatest man we have ever produced. Correctly, he can be called the father of the Philippines. He it was who was able to insure the independence of our country. He was the one that did most to implant democracy in this country. His love for the masses, for the laboring class is proverbial. It is to be deeply regretted that he died precisely when we were at the threshold of our goal — the independence of our country.

The Iwahig people, upon the invitation of the teachers, is holding an appropriate program. They have selected Mr. Quintin Paredes as the main speaker. The Colonel-Superintendent approved. But it was disapproved in Manila. And yet we are not to be called “prisoners”. It smacks of intolerance.

At times I ponder on who suffered more — those who went to the mountains or those who stayed in the towns and cities. It is true that those in the mountains experienced untold sufferings. They had to move from place to place to avoid being hunted by the Japanese. Many times they had no food and this is the reason why they sometimes had to resort to forced commandeering of foodstuffs whenever the owners are unwilling to give. Many of them became sick, some very seriously, and died for lack of doctor or medicine. But so did those who stayed in the cities and towns. Their lives too were in danger at all times. They had to watch their conduct, their day-to-day acts for fear that they might displease the Japanese or Japanese sympathizers. The mere sound of heavy boots made them tremble with fear. Their pulse beats faster when somebody knocks at their door at night. Their fears were not without proof; the fact is that thousands in the cities and towns met their death at the hands of the Japanese or their agents, or suffered the most cruel torture at Fort Santiago and other prisons. The victims were both private citizens and officials and employees of the government. Those in the cities and towns perhaps had even less food than those in the mountains because there was very little food — food being transported to the cities and towns were confiscated by the Japanese or by crooks or false agents of the law, or could only be bought at prohibitive prices. As to medicine, the stock was very limited and mostly in the hands of soulless profiteers.

I state all the above not to minimize the patriotic services rendered by the guerrillas in the mountains as the truth is that I have nothing but respect and admiration for them. I envy them for their sacrifice and readiness to give their lives for the sake of the country. What I regret very much is that I, as many thousand others, was not in a condition to follow them for obvious reasons — my family is big and composed mostly of girls who cannot possibly escape capture. What happened to the family of unknown patriot, Col. Emmanuel Borja, is a good example. He was able to flee outside the city, but then the Japanese arrested his wife and, I understand, other members of the family. He had to come back. Many of us just did not know where to go. Many of us could not be a guerrilla at all because of physical defects. I still remember many years ago when I was still young. I applied for enlistment in the National Guard which was to have been sent to Europe. I was rejected for very defective eyesight.

I can cite very many other incidents which show that our lives, those who stayed in the cities and towns, were all but rosy. There was a proclamation providing for mass responsibility and death if any Japanese was harmed or killed. In the streetcars, many were slapped for just jostling a Japanese. I remember an incident in front of my house. A “carromata” (horse rig), probably unintentionally on the part of the “cochero” (rig driver), blocked the way of another “carromata”. The passenger in the other “carromata”, a Japanese, attacked the “cochero” and almost killed him. The people gathered around wanted to lynch the Japanese. But someone in the crowd with presence of mind told them to desist as it would have meant the arrest and death of many persons in the neighborhood. We resorted to cowardice to avoid any trouble with the Japanese.

I would like to relate what our life in Baguio was like and our trek down down the mountains from Agusan, Baguio to Tubao, La Union.

Since the landing of the Americans on the Lingayen Gulf on January 9, 1945, there were daily flights of American planes to Baguio to bomb and strafe the different parts of the city. By the middle of March, bombings had become very intense. The central part of the city was almost all destroyed. Hospitals, convents, one Protestant church and the surroundings of two Catholic churches were destroyed. Many died or were wounded, especially in the bombed hospitals. The people expressed deep resentment for what we thought was indiscriminate bombing. My own experience with American planes was on January 5, when the market was strafed. I was then holding office at the Philippine National Bank, just around the corner from the strafing.

The Cabinet Hill was surrounded by military objectives. In the east were the South Road and the Teachers’ Camp (converted into a Japanese military camp); in the north, Elizalde’s compound and various private houses occupied by the Japanese; in the west was Hogan’s Alley occupied by the Japanese Marines; in the south, Baguio Auto Line (BAL), Engineer’s Hill, the Government Center and the Justice Hill. Hardly a day passed without bombings of these places. The first heavy bombing was staged by various B24’s and I actually saw the first bombs being released as they were discharged right above our house. We ran to the shelter under our house. The shelter withstood the ordeal but when nearby houses caught fire, we moved to the tunnel-shelter of Minister Sanvictores. Later, we used the shelter of Minister Jose Paez. Luckily enough, not a single bomb fell within the Cabinet Hill compound, although all the houses were full of shrapnel and bullet holes.

Since my family was very big, I decided to build our own shelter-dormitory on the eastern side of Cabinet Hill where we transferred on the 18th of March. The dormitory, built by the male members of my household including my two sons, was 2 by 3 meters with passage of 2 meters. The height was 5 feet 10 inches to the beams. The posts were of fair-sized pine trees. The sides and ceiling were of burnt galvanized iron. Near the passage we built a shaft for ventilation, but principally for an exit in case of necessity. We braced the shelter with two iron pipes so it would not collapse. We covered the shelter with about a meter and a half of earth. It was quite comfortable for sleeping.

The bombings continued. The Mansion House where the President and his family were staying, as well as Speaker Benigno Aquino, Sr. and other officials, was hit and badly damaged. When the American airmen staged carpet bombings, a bomb which would have hit squarely my air raid shelter and the adjoining shelters of Ministers Recto and Paez, exploded in the tree tops. If it had exploded on the ground, all three families would have been wiped out completely. Mr. Recto’s chauffeur was killed and my cook seriously wounded.

We got scared. We decided to walk everyday to the Catholic Cathedral to seek shelter during the daytime. But bombs fell all around the Cathedral and one of the bombs hit the road near the church. We decided that it was too dangerous for us to stay in the city and so we evacuated to a place called Irisan, in the outskirts of Baguio about 6 kilometers away. All the other Ministers also fled the city.

In Irisan, my two sons Tony and Alfredo, and my Filipino bodyguard, Venancio Llagas, built shelters in a narrow gap between two mountains — the shelters were actually caves. It would not be possible, therefore, for the bombs to hit us. My Japanese bodyguard, Mr. Ishikawa, did not accompany us to Irisan.

By this time, a big contingent of the American Armed Forces was proceeding to Manila while other forces prepared to go to Baguio and other places in the Mountain Province.

On the afternoon of the 12th of April, 1945 at about one o’clock, I decided to evacuate from Baguio because for weeks a continuous stream of people fleeing Baguio passed in front or near our shelter. In conversations with them, I came to know that they were leaving to save their lives either as a result of American air and land bombardments, or of massacres being perpetrated by the Japanese. They were all very anxious to go to the American occupied territory. Among them were men and women from all walks of life, from the poorest laborer to the richest tycoons, from a humble messenger to a very high government official. There were doctors, lawyers, engineers, nuns, priests — in fact all human activities were represented. There were newly born babies as well as persons who were visibly sick or over seventy years old who could hardly walk. I could not see how the old and the sick could make it, but I learned later that they all reached their destination after crossing steep and apparently insurmountable mountains, deep ravines, crystal-like rapid streams, thick forests. They arrived at the safety zone more dead than alive, however.

This stream of people so impressed us that we decided to take the long journey ourselves, although we had my child of 6 years, Menchu, who had been sick, and my mother-in-law, Maria de Lontoc, who was old, sickly and could hardly walk.

All our friends in the neighboring shelters, Dr. Jose de la Rosa and family, the Suntays and others, had already left and we regretted not to have gone with them. We received news that they arrived safely at their destination behind the American lines. Mr. and Mrs. Salvador Araneta, Compadre Lacson and family, Atty. Feria and many others stopped for a while at our shelter on their way to Agusan. We became more anxious to go. Two days before our departure, a massacre of about 32 occupants of 2 Igorot houses was perpetrated by the Japanese soldiers. The next day we found the places all around us deserted. I sent my son, Alfredo, to the shelter of Eugenio Lopez and they had just left without notifying us although we had agreed to go together. We inquired about Mayor Mitra and he had also fled. In the meanwhile, we noticed that fighting was getting nearer and nearer judging from the sound of cannons and machine guns. Shelling was becoming intense. Shells were falling all around our shelter. We could distinctly hear the whistling of shells passing overhead. At one o’clock, I sent my bodyguard to Minister Sison to tell them that we better leave right away. The answer came that they could not go as Mrs. Sison was sick and they were waiting for Major Leocadio de Asis who they had sent ahead to explore the way. I immediately went to their shelter which must be about 200 yards distance from my shelter. Shelling was very intense that afternoon and the shells were falling near our shelter and along the way. I had to dive to the ground many times. After almost running the whole way, I arrived on top of the hill where the shelter of Minister Sison was. Up there the explosions were louder; it seemed that the shells were falling just a few yards from us.

I proposed to Mr. Sison that we leave that same afternoon. He refused saying that his wife was sick and that he would prefer to wait for Major de Asis. I pleaded and pleaded, but he would not budge an inch. I then told him that we were leaving anyhow as I was afraid that the next day would be too late. I also told him that we had no guide but that I was sure that we would find other people fleeing on the way. Probably because shelling was becoming more intense and the shells were falling nearer and nearer, Mr. and Mrs. Sison decided to come.

I returned to our shelter and announced that we were leaving right then and there. Everybody was ready; everything we could carry had already been packed. Each of us, especially the body guard and the servants, practiced carrying our packs. All gave assurance that they could carry their respective loads. Even small Menchu had a small package. Needless to say, we were able to take very little. We left several sacks of rice, plenty of canned goods and other food provisions. We left almost all our clothing and several valises full of miscellaneous things. They were scattered in and outside the shelter as if a typhoon had just passed. We hid a little food in one of the caves and sealed the entrance, in case we should be compelled to return. We carried food only for one day as we could not carry more. We knew we had to travel at least 3 days but we were expecting to dig camotes along the way and, at any rate, we were ready to suffer hunger. We felt that all we would need was water and we had been assured that there was plenty of water along the way.

We climbed the first hill which was already steep although it was nothing compared with other mountains we had to climb later. We had a great deal of difficulty going up. When we reached the top, we realized that our packs were too heavy to carry all the way. We threw most of our load. The guard and the laundry woman, without even consulting us, left behind a greater portion of their load. It so happened that my clothes were in one of the packs. I had other clothes being carried by a small young servant girl, but they were all woolen clothes. I gave up hope of saving them because I did not believe the little girl could carry her load which was quite heavy. But to the surprise of everybody, she reached our destination without throwing any part of her load.

We went by the shelter of Minister Sison where the family joined our party, and proceeded on our way. Crossing the Naguilian Road, the trail was downhill and it was quite good. After walking about four kilometers we were stopped. On the way we were stopped by two Japanese soldiers. One of them, an officer, asked us where we were going. We told him that we wanted to escape from shells and bombs. We indicated that we were going to Amasi. He was very nice. He allowed us to proceed but warned us not to go straight ahead or turn to the right as there was fighting. He said we should take the left trail as it would be safe.

The place where we stopped and passed the night was near a Japanese patrol station. From there we could see the flash of cannons, hear the whistling of shells overhead and afterwards the sound of bursting shells. On the hillside some of our companions, mostly girls, danced and sang. We had a good sleep and the next morning, we had enough strength to proceed.

Starting our journey early in the morning at about 5 o’clock, we passed through rough trails dotted with big stones, indicating that we were walking on a river bed where a rapid stream runs through during the rainy season. Eight kilometers further, we reached the Asin road. We walked for another eight kilometers along this road where we arrived at a spot where heavy fighting had taken place. It seemed to be a dead trail. Trying to pick up the trail, we explored the area for a while and right up the road about a hundred yards from where we were, we found another trail. There could be no mistake about it; clothes were strewn all along the path. As a matter of fact, from this point on there were clothes thrown all along the trail to Pitugon. We could not possibly lose our way. We contributed our own clothes to the litter, including my terry cloth coat which had covered me for years after playing tennis.

We crossed a big river, went up a steep mountain where we saw some Japanese picking “camotes”, and reached a narrow plateau where at about 9 o’clock we stopped as airplanes passed overhead and began fierce bombardment. I was surprised to learn, especially since shell explosions had been taking place around her shelter, that during a bombing, Mrs. Sison is unable to walk. We could see the target distinctly. It was the place where we used to live and had just left only the previous day. There could be no mistake about it as we could see bombs exploding on and around the lime factory. (Lime is “apog” in Tagalog; this is the reason why the place is called Apugan. Irisan is the next barrio, the boundary of which is very near my shelter). Our shelters are just a few yards below the factory. We were sure that our shelters had been bombed and this was confirmed by reliable information we received later. We probably would have been killed if we had remained until the next Saturday as proposed by Sison. I do not know whether I had already said that I insisted in leaving that afternoon and did not wish to leave the next day as this day was Friday the 13th. Later we also learned that the only places in Baguio where hand-to-hand combat between Americans and Japanese took place were Irisan and vicinity. In other words, fighting was right there where we lived. What would have happened if we had not left?

After aerial bombardment at about 11:30, we moved ahead. We decided not to eat lunch until we were a little further. We crossed the narrow open plateau and again went up through a narrow trail well shadowed by trees. It was quite a winding trail. We seemed to be going around and around. Finally, we reached a ridge which was quite open. We went along this ridge. Ahead of us we could see shells bursting. Before we reached the place where the shells were falling, we turned left. We reached a place where very large rocks nestled several Igorots houses, all deserted. I forgot to state that after crossing the first river after the Asin road, we were stopped by a Japanese civilian. He asked us many questions and ordered us to give all our revolvers if we had any. We carried 6 revolvers. He took them all, but later returned them except one that belonged to Col. Desiderio which was really a very goodlooking revolver. Afterwards, he asked for cigarettes. We were convinced that he was not connected with the Army but was one of the Japanese civilians who went around robbing people. I should also state that from the time we left our shelter, an American observation plane had been flying overhead. It flew very low and we could see the pilot distinctly. He evidently knew that we were evacuees as he waved at us. We waved back whenever we were sure there was no Japanese around. We had to be careful. My son, Tony, was almost killed because a Japanese sentry saw him waving while an American plane flew overhead. He was lucky that the Japanese believed his explanation that he was waving at a girl friend in a house up the road, which was the truth.

We considered the Igorot village as unsafe as it could be the target of shelling. So after two hours of rest, although we were still very tired, we moved. We wished to reach the other side of the valley which we thought was only about two kilometers away. We walked and walked but it took us hours to reach the river bank bordering the village. This was a trail which descends very abruptly. The hill to the river bank was almost perpendicular. We looked down and we were perplexed as to how we could do it. Finally we decided to slide down. It was a most dangerous feat. It was raining hard and this made the trail very slippery. We feared that my mother-in-law might have to remain behind since she could not continue walking anymore. But she was brave and determined. She said she could make it also. She did, and we attributed it to a miracle. She could hardly walk but by sheer strength of will and perseverance she always could go farther and farther.

But there was a time when the way seemed impossible for her and to make things worse, she had fever. She did not wish to go any further; she could not. It rained and she had to lie down on the wet ground. But my son, Tony, true to my instructions to him to take care of Lola (grandmother), stuck to her. Tony and my Filipino bodyguard, Llagas, carried her down to the river bank. This took several hours. Could she continue? It looked impossible. We prayed and prayed. God must have heeded us as the next day, she found enough strength to proceed. She was able to go several kilometers when it started to rain again. Still suffering from a high fever, she had to take a long rest. Then, although practically dragging her feet, she continued on her way and was able to walk almost all the way to the border of the safety zone. All along the way since the start of our trek, I tried to find carriers, but I could not get any. I asked an Igorot guide to furnish me men to carry my mother-in-law but he said it would have to be after Ambosi as runners thought it dangerous to approach Baguio. A man was willing to do it for ₱3,000 worth of treasury notes. I did not have the money; I carried over ₱3,000 but half of them were PNB notes. He lowered his rate to ₱2,000, but I still could not pay. But the Igorot leader assured me that he would have some men carry Mama (my mother-in-law) after Ambosi. Finally, when we were almost at the end of our journey, a man agreed to carry her. How she was able to walk about 25 kilometers of trail crossing high mountains and deep valleys can only be attributed to God’s mercy.

Going back to the river bank, there was a lone house near the bank. As it was raining we went under it where we slept on the dirty ground with our wet clothes on. We slept soundly probably because we were tired. We did not mind the mosquitoes. It is possible that my wife was bitten here by a malaria transmitting mosquito since after her arrival in Manila, she had bouts of malaria. The house must have sheltered numerous evacuees; on the floor and all around were clothes and human refuse. It was upon our arrival in this place that an Igorot leader with several companions passed by and told us they were on their way to Baguio on behalf of the American Army to rescue General Roxas. I told them to be careful since Roxas was being closely watched. The leader said that he expected to be back next morning with Roxas. I thought he was just boasting.

The next morning we could not leave because my mother-in-law had not arrived. We worried about her and feared for her safety, and the two men with her (Tony and Llagas). We were embarrassed because we were delaying everybody in our party. Fortunately or unfortunately, an air bombardment staged by many airplanes began, so we could not leave anyway. The planes started diving just above us, and we could see the bombs being released. The target to be Japanese positions at the end of the Asin road. Finally, my mother-in-law arrived at about 10 o’clock. Shortly thereafter, we continued on our journey. While crossing the river I took a bath in the rapid crystalline current. When my mother-in-law saw my body which was more of a skeleton than anything else, she cried.

On the river we were advised that Gen. Roxas and Chief Justice Yulo and their families had arrived. The Igorot leader had made good his promise. It seems that he went directly to the shelter of Roxas, and upon his insistence the Roxases and the Yulos left at once. Mrs. Roxas, Mrs. Yulo and Miss Roxas were carried by the Igorots in hammocks. Sison and I decided to leave at once and go a little faster as we did not want Roxas and Yulo to leave ahead of us; we feared that the Japanese would pursue them. They were not pursued, however. I doubt whether the Japanese could have followed them because all along the way American airplanes flew above them as if patrolling to protect them from attacks by the Japanese.

We climbed one steep mountain and another steep mountain. We stopped to rest and shortly afterwards, to our surprise, my mother-in-law came walking. But she was very weak and again with fever. A very kindly mestizo gave her medicine. It started to rain hard again, and again she had to stay in the rain with fever.

We continued our way and after about 3 or 4 kilometers walk over a comparatively good road, we arrived soaking wet at a place which was apparently a rest house. As it continued to rain, we huddled like sardines in the one room house. In size, it must have been four by four meters. It had a front porch that sagged. At about 5 o’clock in the afternoon, we were startled by our Igorot guide suddenly jumping out the window. A Japanese soldier appeared with a loaded sub-machinegun pointed at us. Another armed Japanese soldier with a big scar on his face stood just outside the door. We could not tell whether there were others outside. The one inside the hut, with Capt. Desiderio who studied in Japan and spoke Japanese acting as interpreter, told us not to move. He told us to surrender all firearms. We showed him our five revolvers. He got them all, but then returned my revolver and that of Minister Sison. But almost immediately, he took mine back. He ordered us to open our baggage, which we did. He examined each of them. He got all the foodstuff. One of our companions, Mr. Gatchalian, remained seated on his bundle. The Japanese pulled it from under him and opened it. To our consternation, it contained a revolver with many rounds of ammunition. The Japanese became very angry. He pointed a revolver at Mr. Gatchalian. We thought the Japanese was going to shoot him, but fortunately he merely got the revolver. The tension eased. He asked us for our watches which we gave him. He returned some but retained the expensive ones, including my gold watch. I did not expect him to like my watch as I had been told that the Japanese preferred wrist watches and the watch of Mr. Sison was a gold wristwatch of the best kind. I prized my watch very much; it was a gift to me of Don Antonio Roxas. My other watch which had been presented to me by the employees of the Executive Bureau when I resigned from this office and which I therefore also prized very highly, had been accidentally included in the bag containing our very valuable medicines left along the way. I could not blame my wife for this as like others she was not herself. It was plain robbery, a regular daytime hold-up. As it turned out, the Igorots jumped out of the window to warn Roxas that there were Japanese and not to proceed. Roxas and Yulo did not arrive until after the Igorot had assured them that the Japanese were no longer in the vicinity.

Roxas and party arrived in the hut that night. He told us that they decided to leave Baguio after they found out that Sison and I had already left. They feared that the Japanese would take action against the Ministers who were left in Baguio. They walked very fast even during the night because they feared that they were being pursued. Fortunately, they met no Japanese. We had a long talk about many things that night. We agreed to leave early the next morning, April the 15th, 1945. He proposed that we go in groups instead of together, each group to leave at half hour intervals.

We learned that we were within the jurisdiction of Ambosi; that we were not yet in the safety zone. Although we were very tired, we did not sleep well that night. The Roxases and the Yulos slept in a nearby house, but we were still too crowded. We slept in a sitting position. The mestizo who gave medicine to my mother-in-law suffered a deep cut on his foot when he stepped on a can which had been thrown out the window by the young son of Mr. and Mrs. Villegas. He was bleeding profusely.

Mr. and Mrs. Villegas had a small baby and they kept lighting matches throughout the night. We could not understand why. We all grumbled and protested but they paid no attention. Because of them, I do not believe anybody was able to sleep.

We had no more food. The men went to search for food and they came back with a load of “camote”. This is what we ate for breakfast the next morning. We received information that the Japanese were pursuing us, so although according to Roxas’ plan they were to leave before us, Sison and I decided to go ahead. At about 5 o’clock, we continued our journey. I left my son Tony, my bodyguard and our laundrywoman to take care of my mother-in-law. I told my son that we would be waiting for them when we reached the safety zone. To make sure that they would not lose their way, I told them I would mark the turns or crossings with toilet paper, which I did. They could not lose their way as there was only one trail and the whole way as littered with clothes and other things thrown by the evacuees. My mother-in-law was growing weaker and weaker. I knew that, her strong will notwithstanding, there would come a time when it would just be impossible for her to continue.

The trails continued to be perilous — in fact they were even worse. Almost perpendicular mountains had to be traversed. After ascending and descending a mountain, another one loomed ahead. We counted nine high mountains before reaching Tubao. Many times we just had to slide down on our backs. There was one portion of about 100 yards on the side of a steep mountain with the trail no more than a foot wide and very slippery. In parts, avalanches had occurred and the trail disappeared down the mountain. We passed these portions by holding tightly on tree roots and vines which fortunately were quite abundant. We had to do some Tarzan stunts. To fall meant certain death as the ravine was very deep. Fortunately, no accident happened to any of us. It was the Almighty protecting us.

The first man we met along this trail told us that he had seen Japanese soldiers on the way. We became very nervous. Although we were already dead tired we accelerated our pace. Mr. and Mrs. Sison and our other companions were far ahead of us. My whole family with the exception of Tony, who was with his grandmother, were walking together. My wife was visibly very tired and weak. But the others, including little Menchu, seemed to be still strong. At one time, we stopped to take a little rest. My three young ladies, Dely, Tesy and Ming, who were a little ahead of us entered a dilapidated shack to take a rest. They came running and very excited. They saw a horrible sight — the body of an old person which they could not distinguish to be that of a man or a woman, already in an advanced state of decomposition. We left the place hurriedly.

We again climbed up a mountain so thickly forested that we could not see the sky. The trail was also very bad, but because it was very shady, we considered it the best portion of our trip. We crossed other streams with crystalline water, but although we wished to wash ourselves, we did not stop. We finally reached a group of houses. There were four or five persons in the village. They said that the day before they had been visited by Japanese soldiers which information scared us awfully. After eating some bananas which we picked along the way, we left. We were again caught by heavy rain. We stopped at an abandoned shack with a roof that hardly protected us. It was here that the Roxases and Yulos overtook us. The ladies looked fresh as they were carried in hammocks. As soon as the rains subsided, we proceeded. We had hardly walked 2 kilometers when it began to rain again. The trail was already very slippery and impassable. We had to stop under a structure which seemed to be an old stone bridge. When the sky cleared, we beheld a mountain on the other side of the river. Behind the mountain was already the safety zone. We burst in jubilation. Roxas signalled us to be quiet as there were Japanese. Sure enough; to our right we saw some Japanese soldiers going in a direction parallel to us. Are we going to meet misfortune at the last lap of our trip? We proceeded quietly and fortunately the Japanese did not see us or pretended not to see us.

As if to complete our suffering and martyrdom, the last lap to safety was a steep mountain which was very slippery from the rain. I fell down many times and at one time I almost rolled down into a deep ravine. I would have met instant death. It was impossible for my wife and daughters to go down the mountain. Roxas approached me and told me that runners and carriers would come for them. I still wonder how these Igorots can go down a steep mountain trail so easily just as if it were a perfectly level road. We arrived at the river bank safely and easily. For the first time since the war, we laid eyes on an American soldier. Our emotions were indescribable.

I related earlier our jubilation at seeing the U.S. Captain and his men. We were carried across the river and then we had to ascend another very steep, very difficult, slippery mountain. We did not allow ourselves to be carried any more. But we noticed that we climbed better and faster. Besides we were no longer suffering from nervousness caused by well-founded fears. We reached the top where we stopped to rest. We tarried as we were already in the safety zone. There were many soldiers and guerrillas. Shortly after we had sat down, my younger son, Alfredo, told me that my mother-in-law was coming. We thought he was joking, but then we saw her carried on the back of a man who was rather small. He was carrying my mother-in-law on his back as if she were a small child. We waited for her and there was a happy reunion of three generations of my family.

Before dusk we had to climb again, but it was not a difficult ascent compared with the others. At the top, a place called Pitugan, were three houses, one just a hut. The big one was occupied by Roxas and family and their friends. The small hut was assigned to my family and to Mr. and Mrs. Padilla. Others wanted to join as but we objected because there was no more room. I am glad the Padilla family was the one assigned to us since Mrs. Padilla is a sister of Don Jacobo Zobel, one of my very good friends whose family always supported me in my election bids in Calatagan and Nasugbu. Here for the first time we ate right; we had a good meal. Here we passed the night without hardly any sleep not only because we were almost all in semi-sitting positions, but also because we were too excited for being already in the safety zone. Even then the necessary precautions were taken by the American Captain. There were soldiers with submachine guns posted throughout the night around our houses. The order was to shoot anybody loitering around. Frequently, they searched the whole neighborhood with lighted torches and flashlights. We were cautioned not to go out by ourselves as we might be mistaken for Japanese snipers. We did not go out all night even though we felt the necessity to relieve ourselves. The precautions were well taken as the place where we saw the Japanese soldiers was just on the other side of the river, and once in a while they cross the river and shoot at anyone they see. Fortunately, no untoward incident happened that night.

The next morning, April 16th we left already rather late — about 7 o’clock. We walked not hurriedly on trails all going down. They reminded me of the trails of Batangas. I admired my wife; she had walked practically the whole way and she seemed to be still strong. She was very thin and I feared she would collapse, but she was no more tired than I was. We were, carrying nothing as we were able to hire carriers for this part of the trip. Mama and Menchu were being carried. All along the way, we met hundreds of people, many were runners and carriers. They brought canned goods and candies which they were selling at high prices to the thousands of evacuees coming from Baguio. At about half past eleven, we reached the plains. I think the place is called Rizal. There we stopped a while to eat young coconuts and sugar cane.

Gen. Roxas and Mr. Yulo walked with us. When we were half way to Rizal, a horse was brought for Gen. Roxas. We walked on the plains and after crossing two rivers we sighted a military truck. It was intended for us. The Engineer son of Minister Paredes was in it. The American driver was very nice. My wife and I boarded the truck. I wanted to bring my young ladies but I was told the truck was going back for them. We passed new roads which I understand were built by the American Army. On the way, we picked up Mama and Menchu. We reached Tubao after twelve. The truck returned to Rizal, and after less than an hour it returned with my other children.

We all went to church to give thanks to God for our safe arrival, our successful escape from the clutches of the Japanese. After we left the church, we stayed at the church plaza to wait for assignment of our quarters as we were told. It was there that we received the sad news that my daughter Neny had died. Our sorrow was indescribable. We wept like children. She had been a good and dutiful daughter. She married Ramon Cojuangco in September, 1944 a little more than six months ago. My wife and I were very happy when Neny married a man we heartily approved of. The news of her death was totally unexpected. We had always feared for Lily and her family because they lived in San Miguel near Malacañan and the San Miguel Brewery, and it was here that heavy fighting was reported. It was true that heavy bombardment was reported at Taft Avenue, but it was the Taft Avenue proper up to a little beyond Vito Cruz. This is still far from the house of the Cojuangcos which was on the southern end of Taft Avenue extension. But it turned out that the whole Conjuangco family left their house to seek shelter in the Chapel of De La Salle College near the intersection of Taft Avenue and Vito Cruz. It was a surprise to me to learn that they had gone to that place since, when I learned that the family of Judge Carlos had moved to that place, I expressed to them my belief that it was not a safe place. De La Salle College itself was occupied by the Japanese Army and it had to be bombarded from the air or shelled from the ground. I told them that they should either join the Aquino family who lived in a concrete house near Malacañan or they should just stay in their house on Taft Avenue which was a three storey cement house with a very strong air raid shelter. The reason for this instruction was that I feared the Japanese more than the American bombs and shells. It got into my head that upon retreat they would kill all the Filipinos they could find as by then they would have discovered that the Filipinos were not only guerrilleros but that they hated the Japanese. I based my belief on the record of the Japanese in China. I thought that the only house the Japanese would respect was that of Speaker Aquino for his vocal Japanese leanings. If they chose to remain in their own house in Taft Ave., my instructions to them were to secure the gates, and close tightly and securely all the doors and windows of the house. Evidently, they moved to La Salle upon the persuasion of the Carlos family, Mrs. Carlos being the sister of Mrs. Cojuangco.

I was called to the Municipal building where the office of the C.I.C. was. Engineer Paredes accompanied me. I met there Justice Yulo, Mr. Sison, Mr. Paredes, an American and a priest. There I cried again. The priest was trying to console me by saying that the news about Neny could not be true. This gave me a ray of hope. I was given a little brandy to drink probably to bolster up my spirit. I left the building without having been questioned at all. I think they just wanted to know my personal circumstances and these were provided by Engineer Paredes. I had just returned to the church yard when I was called again. We — Roxas, Yulo, Sison and Paredes and myself — were loaded in two jeeps and taken to Agoo which was the headquarters of the 6th Army operating toward Baguio. There we were introduced to the Commander of the Division, Gen. Carlson. We were invited to a luncheon which was a typical American meal. For the first time in a long time, we ate good bread with butter, nice sweets, ice cream, etc. We had a hearty meal. All the members of the staff of Gen. Carlson were there. After the meal group pictures were taken of us.

Gen. Roxas and Mr. Paredes were closeted with Gen. Carlson probably to learn from them some facts of military value in connection with the operations to take Baguio. We were taken to the office of Col. Arvey whose position we did not know. He might have been the Judge-Advocate. He seemed to have complete files on us and other Filipino high officials. He had a good many personnel and the office seemed to be a busy one. We were asked many questions, but the one that struck us the most was when he asked us what we thought of the postponement of independence. Yulo, our spokesman, answered immediately and without the least hesitation. He answered that our independence should not be postponed at all. The Colonel argued that what we need now is the country’s rehabilitation and this would require the assistance of America. Yulo answered that there was no incompatibility between independence and American assistance to our rehabilitation. I could not help making my sentiments also known by nodding approval to the statements of Mr. Yulo.

The Colonel immediately retorted, “I am surprised with your attitude. I have talked to very many Filipinos and 98% of them were for postponement.” I do not doubt that the Colonel was telling the truth. This reveals the inherent weakness of the Filipinos. I am sure that a great majority of them are for immediate independence. But we generally do not want to displease our hearers especially if they are Americans. We readily agree to insinuations. Or we are apt to presume that all the Americans are against our independence and so whenever we talked to them we give them to understand that we are not enthusiastic for independence. This trait, this weakness in our character must be remedied.

Before leaving another Colonel talked to me. He said that a mob near Baguio had unearthed about 800,000 of silver pesos, and he asked me whether I knew something about it. I told him that I was reliably informed by the Japanese that they were able to recover in the waters around Corregidor several boxes of silver pesos. These were turned over to the Taiwan Bank. This bank had a branch in Baguio and it is possible that the bank had buried the silver pesos in the place where the Americans found them. The Colonel after some recollecting exclaimed, “Oh yes, there was a piece of board with ‘Taiwan’ written on it.”

We returned to Tubao and rejoined our families. We were taken to the school building where two families were assigned to a classroom for living quarters. We, with the Sison family, occupied the classroom on the right end of the building, and the Roxas and Yulo families, the room on the other end of the building. We were given rations of canned goods at nominal prices; We had everything we needed, including butter. We had more than enough. What a contrast! Whereas the Japanese stole our food, the Americans gave us food. Our only problem in that building was sanitation. The authorities were doing their best to keep the surroundings sanitary. There were many toilets behind the building. But just the same human refuse was found abundant all around the building.

I forget to recount that before we reached Ambosi, there was continuous shelling directed by slow flying planes hovering above — the target of the shells was a mountain top just above us. In that place we heard sounds that were most terrifying. The sound travelled through the ravine where we were. I believe it was the whistling of shells falling above us, but instead of the whistling sound, it sounded like the zooming of many airplanes on account of the ravine. Or it might have been the sound of the cannonading at Galleno, the place below Asin where heavy fighting was taking place and as cannonading was on the ravine we were in the sound path.

The 17th and 18th, we spent resting, recovering from our ordeal. Each one of us had lost at least ten pounds on the way. We inquired about when we were to be brought to Manila. The military people promised to provide transportation to Manila just as soon as the quarantine of Manila was lifted and they could secure special passes for us. In the morning of the 19th, we were loaded in a closed small truck, and the rest of the story has already been told. Little did we imagine that it was the beginning of a long incarceration. We were ignorant of what they intended to do to us and we brought nothing. We were originally told that we were only going to San Fabian. I had nothing but the clothes on my back and my toothbrush and shaving kit.

I want to record the departure of President Jose P. Laurel.

On Sunday, March 18, we were called to a special meeting of the Cabinet at the Mansion House. All the Ministers, with the exception of Yulo, Sison and Roxas, were present. It was a very solemn meeting. The President spoke for more than one hour beginning at about half past five. We consider it one of the best speeches that he had ever delivered.

He explained that Ambassador Morata had seen him to transmit the wish of the Japanese Supreme Council to have the President, the members of his Cabinet, the Speaker and the Chief Justice brought to Japan. Laurel asked that he be given until that evening to give his answer. His purpose was to be able to consult his collaborators in the government. He showed us a letter which he had dictated when he was told in Manila that he and the members of his Cabinet might be taken to Japan.

In the letter he declined to go to Japan, giving his reasons. He accepted the Presidency on the conviction that he would be able to serve his country and people. He can only do so if he stays in the Philippines. He was determined to stay and serve his people even if it would cost him his life. His leaving the Philippines at this time would be a desertion and he cannot betray his people by such a cowardly act. Besides, Pres. Quezon was criticized by the Japanese themselves for having abandoned his people when they needed him. He considered the criticism well founded and he should, therefore, not commit a similar dereliction of duty. But if circumstances prevail on him to leave, he would like to request as a counter proposal that he go alone. Just as when the “state of war” with the United States and Great Britain was declared, he was desirous of assuming alone and exclusively the full responsibility, he was now willing to make another sacrifice by going alone so that the others would not have to undertake a dangerous trip to Japan.

Everybody was so affected that no one could speak after the peroration of the President. The President himself had to ask our opinion. The consensus of opinion was that, if possible at all, the President and his Cabinet and other high officials should not go. But if he had to go, each and everyone were willing to accompany him. The President reiterated his determination to go alone. He promised to go to the Cabinet Hill the next day to tell us the result of his negotiation with the Japanese.

The next day, Monday, March 19, he did not go to the Cabinet Hill. Tuesday, at 5:00 p.m., we went to the Mansion House. This time Yulo, Sison and Roxas were there. The President informed us that he had to go, and that his proposal to go alone was partly accepted in the sense that he would only be accompanied by some Ministers and a General. He announced that those accompanying him were Speaker Aquino, Min. Teofilo Sison of Home Affairs, Min. Camilo Osias of Education and Mrs. Osias, and Gen. Capinpin. This announcement was a great relief to me because I feared that on account of my position in the government, I had to go. I was worried as I brought my whole family to Baguio, except my two married daughters. I also brought my mother-in-law. My wife was not in good health. Besides, almost all the families in Baguio were having serious problems with the food shortage. Under the circumstances, I could not leave my family. The announcement was also a surprise as regards Manuel Roxas because it was taken for granted that he would have to go. The President concluded that the departure of the party would be announced soon. We promised to come in the afternoon of the next day.

The next day, Exec. Sec. Emilio Abello sent us a note that the President would like us to go to the Mansion House early. We went at two o’clock that afternoon. We had our picture taken with the President. In the picture was the Filipino flag which the President had been using and which was almost completely torn from the bombing of the Mansion House. Those present were Claro M. Recto, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Jose Paez, Minister of Public Works and Communications; Camilo Osias, Minister of Public Instruction; Pedro Sabido, Minister of Economic Affairs; Emiliano Tria Tirona, Minister of Public Health and Welfare; Arsenio Luz, Chairman of the Board of Information; Jose Sanvictores, Head of the Food Production Activities; Emilio Abello, Executive Secretary; Ramon Macasaet, Vice Minister of Health and Welfare and private physician to the President, Maj. Gen. Guillermo Francisco, Mayor Ramon Mitra of Baguio, Jose Laurel, Jr., Assemblyman from Batangas, and myself, Minister of Finance. Speaker Benigno Aquino, Sr. was also present. Chief Justice Jose Yulo and Brig. Gen. Manuel Roxas came after the meeting, conferred with the President, and left before the President’s departure. Ministers Quintin Paredes of Justice and Rafael Alunan of Agriculture were absent as they could not be notified.

The President spoke again for several minutes. He said that he had devoted the greater portion of his life to his country. It would be a pleasure and it is his determination to dedicate the rest of his life to the service of his country. Undoubtedly, he said, he would be criticized and bitterly attacked. But he hopes that some day his people will understand. His ideals and principles are very clear, having been repeatedly expounded by him. He wants to establish a Philippine nation, truly independent and free. He will combat with all his might any intervention or interference on the part of the Americans, or Japanese, or any other foreigner. He wants his people to be happy and prosperous. He believes that we should not depend upon foreigners as no one could love a Filipino better than a brother Filipino. He would like the Philippine Republic to befriend all nations, but we should always remember that we are Oriental and our country is located in the midst of Oriental nations. It is but natural that we should establish the most friendly relationships with other Oriental nations.

Afterwards, the President sent for his crucifix. He stated that since his childhood he had knelt and prayed before this crucifix. He is leaving it with us under the care of the ranking member, Minister Recto. Before it, he would like us to pledge unity and perfect understanding. He concluded by asking us to forgive whatever offense or wrong he had committed.

It was a very touching and pathetic scene. The President was crying and so were all of us. I could not bear it — I was the most affected as I am the most intimate friend of the President — I had to leave the room for a while. Nobody could speak. In everybody’s eyes we could see the love and trust for our President. The scene was at the Guest House, amidst the ruins and debris.

We left the President and went to the Mansion House. The President spent his time bidding goodbye to the Presidential Guards and the household.

At 7:00 o’clock in the evening, the President and those accompanying him to Japan went by automobile to Ambassador Murata’s residence. We followed on foot as the residence was just outside the Mansion House compound.

Members of the party to Japan were President and Mrs. Laurel, and all the members of his family including his in-laws, Speaker Aquino, Minister and Mrs. Osias, and General Capinpin.

Those who saw the President and party off were Ministers Recto, Paez, Sabido, Tirona, Luz, Sanvictores, Abello, and myself; Gen. Francisco; and Vice Min. Ramon Macasaet.

The Japanese present were Lt. Gen. Muto, Chief of Staff; Maj. Gen. Utsonomiya; Mr. Hamamoto; and many other Japanese.

As a last wish, the President asked Gen. Muto to extend assistance and protection to the Ministers and the General whom he left behind. Gen. Muto promised to do so and, addressing us, he stated that we should not hesitate to communicate to him anything in which the Army could be of help.

The party left by automobile at 9 o’clock. Ambassador Murata accompanied the party to Japan. Japanese soldiers in two trucks convoyed the party. They were supposed to go by automobile for about 15 kilometers; walk for about 60 kilometers, and then by automobile again up to the point the party could board an airplane. A few days later, Mr. Hamamoto told us that the President and party had to walk only about 30 kilometers and that they had arrived safely in Formosa. They could not proceed to Japan probably because of the invasion of Okinawa Island, part of Japan proper.

Before leaving, the President signed an order reorganizing the government by relieving all the Ministers and other officials who remained in the Philippines. Chief Justice Yulo resigned. The purpose was to be able to organize a complete government in Japan.

Thus ended the first government of the Second Republic of the Philippines. No doubt it had been a success under the able and courageous leadership of Pres. Laurel. The government was established under the most difficult circumstances. The war reached its acute stage and it was natural that there would be conflicts between the government and the Filipinos on the one hand, and the Japanese Military authorities on the other. The Japanese naturally wanted to win the war, and at times the requirements of the Army and Navy affected vitally the interest and welfare of Filipino citizens. The difficulty of subordinate Japanese officers and officials and Japanese civilians to understand and appreciate the Filipino customs and idiosyncracies and also to understand and effectuate the principles and aims of Japan as regards the Philippines, created problems which admitted no solution satisfactory to the Filipinos. With so many serious difficulties, the government of the Republic was nevertheless able to forge ahead. It is a wonder how it could count with so many achievements and accomplishments under the circumstances.

I purposely mentioned Japanese subordinate officers and officials. This is because the high officers, like Gen. Kuroda, Gen. Wachi, and Gen. Utsonomiya deserve the respect, admiration and gratitude of the Filipino people.

* * * * *

            Thus for the second time, I am out of the public service. It certainly afforded genuine pleasure and relief. Notwithstanding the fact that I was in the service of the government from 1909 to 1939, and from 1942 to March, 1945, I harbor only dislike for the public service. The reason is not because I have experienced disappointment in public service. I know of no other person who has been treated with as much justice. In fact, my promotions were even faster than they should have been.

But I have seen countless cases of irregularities in the public service. I have seen men promoted who did not in the least deserve it. I have seen flagrant cases of nepotism. I have seen vengeance wreaked on brilliant employees. I have seen bribery and serious irregularities in the service go unpunished because of the influence and “pull” enjoyed by the culprit. I have seen promising young men unjustly dismissed or laid off just to give way to relatives or favorites of the appointing officers. I have seen lazy and inefficient employees retained in the service to the prejudice of the interest of the people. All these so disgusted me that I longed to leave the public service and enter private business where I felt I belonged.

My first opportunity came in 1938 and I immediately seized it. The then President did his best to persuade me to remain in the service, offering all kinds of inducements, including the managership of either the Philippine National Bank or the Manila Railroad Co. But I insisted in resigning. I was not mistaken. In April of 1939, I joined Marsman & Co. I left the government with an indebtedness up to my neck.

On this day, Wednesday, August 1,1945 we read that at Potsdam, Germany, Truman, Stalin and Attlee (the new Premier of Great Britain), and with the concurrence of Chiang Kai Shek, sent an ultimatum to Japan demanding surrender. The conditions imposed were that Japan is to have only her four original islands. All lands taken by force must be returned.

August first has always been considered as an unlucky day. We were therefore glad that we went to bed at 10 o’clock without any unfortunate incident. But at about 11:30 that night we were awakened by a loud cry. We did not pay any attention. A few minutes later, we heard a heavy thing drop. We jumped out of bed and turned the lights on. We saw Dr. Julio Luz lying on the floor. We thought he was merely dreaming. We put him back on his cot. He woke up and began to sing. It was then we realized that he had lost his mind. He stood up on his bed and fell on the floor again. It was lucky for him that he did not get hurt. His brother, Arsenio, called for the doctor. The guard also notified Lt. Hagonberg. They came immediately. Julio called for Sanvictores. He took hold of the left hand of Sanvictores and pulled him in. Julio pulled Sanvictores so strongly that if he were not a strong man, being our physical director, he would have fallen. Luz saw Lt. Hagonberg and he asked, “How is Hagonberg?” “Well, thank you,” answered the Lieutenant. “How is Gilfilan? How is your shit?” The Lieutenant did not answer.

Luz crawled to the ballustrade and tried to jump. Three strong men, for in the meanwhile a big crowd had gathered around, pulled him back. His brother Arsenio became so nervous that he did not know what to do. He ran back and forth. Somebody remarked that it was the effect of Atabrine. Doctor Bunye said that it was the effect of the malaria itself as the type he contracted attacks the brain. But we who knew Luz before he came to Iwahig, and who had observed his conduct since his arrival believe that he is a lunatic.

Bocobo is also showing signs of eccentricity. He seems to think that he is seriously sick and would soon die. We believe that it is just the result of depression caused by our unjust imprisonment. We are all doing our best to help him. The Colonel and the Lieutenant are also doing their best to help. They have authorized him to go out of the stockade any time he wished to take a walk accompanied by another internee to Class A. We still hope to save him.

As a joke, we printed out the different hobbies of each of us, which showed that something is also the matter with our heads.


July 17, 1945 Tuesday

It was reported that there was a plan to launch a team composed of Osmeña for President and Romulo for Vice President. It is also said that Romulo had declined. It is too bad. We wish Romulo were a candidate so that the people can show that they do not consider Romulo the hero he seems to think he is.

I cannot complain now of not receiving letters. After more than two months, I began to receive letters and they are coming quite frequently. It seems that mail facilities are improving. How I suffered for not hearing from my family. Now I can be happy. I know that my family lives in the house of Paddy, my son-in-law; that Lily, Paddy and Monching are taking care of them; that they are in good health (although my wife had been sick with malaria, now she is well and fast improving in health); that many friends of ours are remembering us, giving my family money, food and clothing; that they are amply provided for with everything. I am especially pleased because my son, Tony, is fully aware of our situation and he has been acting as a good father does. He tried to find work so he could earn money with which to support his mother, brother and sisters, but failing in this, he engaged in business, devoting his whole time and energy and ability to it. He is meeting with quite a success, earning more than enough to support my family. My wife and Tony are so optimistic that they think that by the time I return, they will have some money saved.

The only discordant note is that I heard the very sad news that among the victims of the Japanese are my brother-in-law Jose Lualhati (husband of my sister Conchita), their youngest child, and Nicanor Castillo, my nephew. What a cruel world! I doubly hate the Japanese for murders committed upon my family. Is it not a paradox that I am being imprisoned for being a pro-Japanese?

The papers report an interview with Pres. Laurel on January 22, 1944 by a prominent person whose identity is not disclosed. According to that interview, Laurel stated that he had no illusions about the reality of the independence granted by the Japanese; that he stayed in the Philippines because Pres. Quezon decided at the last hour to leave him here, believing that in view of his relations with the Japanese, he would be in a better position to protect our people; that he did not want to be president and the position was thrust upon him; that he did not blindly follow the Japanese as he protested what he thought constituted a violation of our rights as a supposed independent nation; and that he was very frank and outspoken in his dealings with the Japanese. Once he told Gen. Kuroda, the then Commander-in-Chief, that all the Japanese in the NARIC (later BIBA) were crooks. He admitted that the independence granted was a sham as there were the Japanese Army, Navy and the Japanese Ambassador to block his policies and his every move.

The interview created a good impression and, in so far as we are concerned, it gives a good idea of the difficult and perilous situation we found ourselves in.


July 5, 1945 Thursday

This is one of my happiest days. I finally received a letter from my wife. I also received letters from all my children Lily, Tony, Dely and Lina (twins), Tesy, Alfredo, Remedios, Pacita, and little Menchu and my sons-in-law, Padilla and Cojuangco. My whole family is well. Everybody is in perfect health, and well provided for. They have plenty to eat, and they have not borrowed money; on the contrary they have more than enough. Tony is engaged in business, and my sons-in-law are helping very much. Paddy is engaged also in business and he made my wife one of the partners although she does not work and she put up no capital. Many friends have brought food, clothing and all kinds of things to my family. My wife especially mentioned Dr. and Mrs. Victor Buencamino, and our relatives from Batangas who gave them rice, eggs, fruits and vegetables.

Such a situation is more than I expected.

Our house in San Andres was burned down. All our belongings, together with my priceless collection of historical documents including many originals, furnitures, and objects of importance like the cane used by Pres. Quezon during his campaign in America for the approval of the Tydings-McDuffie Law which he gave me as a gift of appreciation for my participation in securing approval of the law, were lost in the fire.


July 3, 1945 Tuesday

The papers report that Confesor and Cabili have been appointed as members of the Filipino Rehabilitation Commission in Washington. Both will have to go to Washington. Cabile has resigned as Secretary of National Defense. His appointment and that of Confesor as Secretary of the Interior were submitted to the Commission on Appointments of Congress. The papers said that in view of their new offices, the Commission on Appointments will no longer have to act.

I suspect that the appointments of Confesor and Cabili have been disapproved, or at least Pres. Osmeña had been told or was convinced that their appointments would be disapproved by the Commission. The attitude of the Commission was expected. Both had been attacking the “collaborationists” and it seems that public opinion in Manila is favorable to the “collaborationists”. Both talk a lot, but have accomplished very little, especially as regards the economy. Both have been using language improper for high government officials. Both have been very much criticized, and it is even reported that they have to go around with body guards as their lives are in danger. The attitude of the Commission is fully justified. Their appointment to the Rehabilitation Commission is a face-saving stunt.

On June 28th, Pres. Truman said that he hoped the meeting next month with Churchill and Stalin would result in a formula for a final treaty that “will insure peace for generations to come.”

We hope they will succeed. Such is the prayer of all the people in the world. War is so terrible that it must be avoided by all means. We do not know what the formula will be. Surely all the causes of war must be eliminated. To me colonization is one of the causes. It should be abolished as a thing of the past. All countries must be granted independence.

Jose Abad Santos was Secretary of Justice in Pres. Quezon’s Cabinet when the war broke out. Before his appointment to that office he had held many other important offices such as Justice of the Supreme Court. He was a great jurist. He accompanied Pres. Quezon in Corregidor, visited front lines in Bataan and traveled with Quezon to the South. When the presidential party left for Australia in 1942, Abad Santos remained with powers to represent the President in areas not under Japanese control. He was subsequently captured by the Japanese and reliable reports are to the effect that he had been killed by the Japanese. On June 27th, Pres. Osmeña said of him: “The late Secretary Abad Santos will go down in history as one of the most outstanding heroes of this war. Abad Santos is a real hero, a true patriot and should be held up before the youth as a model.”

According to the Free Philippines of June 29th, the President “emphasized Abad Santos chose to die rather than collaborate.”

The death of Abad Santos is still shrouded in mystery. Lt. Abad Santos, Jr. supposed to be a witness to his father’s death and, consequently, may be able to tell the whole story, was taken by the Japanese to Tokyo.

Abad Santos’ other son, Osmundo, entrusted to us in Baguio a sealed envelop containing confidential papers concerning Justice Abad Santos. They may reveal all the facts which we would like to know.

The tribute paid by Pres. Osmeña to Secretary Abad Santos is well deserved. He is truly a great man. I have already stated above what we did to try to save Secretary Abad Santos. We knew that he was an Orientalist and we thought this fact could save him so we told it to the Japanese authorities. But Abad Santos unluckily fell into the hands of a crazed and cruel man — Col. Kawakami. Col. Kawakami executed him before we could do anything for him.

The fact that Osmeña emphasized his statement that Abad Santos chose to die rather than collaborate with the Japanese is very significant. It is an attack on Roxas. Undoubtedly, it was a “hit back” on account of the bitter criticism launched by Roxas against Osmeña’s administration. It is a biting criticism of Roxas. Now the fight is on. No way to avoid it. Both Osmeña and Roxas will be candidates for President.

The statement of Osmeña, of course, also applies to us. We hope that it will not change or prejudice his attitude towards supposed collaborationists. After all, on account of our imprisonment in Iwahig we had nothing to do and could have nothing to do with the criticism of Roxas against him.

The question arose as to whether the fight between Osmeña and Roxas will favor or prejudice us. There is a difference of opinion. Recto believes it will favor us, as both would want to get our support. If not for this fight, we would be forgotten and left to rot here. In my opinion, it will prejudice us. Both may be too busy with the preparation of their respective platforms and with the campaign that we may be forgotten. At the present time, it is not known who among us are for Osmeña or Roxas. If the majority of us are in favor of Osmeña, Roxas may block our release through his friend. Gen. MacArthur, who before was not very friendly to Osmeña. If we are inclined towards Roxas, Osmeña may want us detained until after elections or after the war, and it is probably within his power as President to do so.

We had a meeting where we pledged to bind ourselves together as one. We will found a newspaper to be financed by Mr. Madrigal which shall be our organ for the propaganda of our platform, policies and aims. What these platform, policies and aims are, we have not determined. But we are agreed on two matters. First, we shall seek our exoneration and vindication from the charge of “collaborationists” with the implications of disloyalty and treason to our country and anti-Americanism. Second, we shall assist actively and wholeheartedly in the rehabilitation work of our country. As regards independence, there may be one or two dissenting voices, and the rest will be aggressively in favor. Needless to say, we will go after those who have been responsible for our imprisonment or who have been unjustly attacking us.

All these plans may lead to the formation of a party which will put up candidates for all positions, including those of president and vice president. With the men now with us who have repeatedly enjoyed the trust and confidence of our people, and who still retain this hold on their constituents, together with the thousands of persons also arrested, humiliated and imprisoned like us, the new party will be a formidable one. If we continue to be united and we all work vigorously, we may even win in the elections and thus be in power.

Pres. Osmeña has two sons imprisoned in Bilibid and later in Muntinglupa. They are being charged with being collaborationists for having engaged in the “buy and sell business” with the Japanese Army and Navy as the biggest purchasers in so far as war materials are concerned. Really, Serging Osmeña was one of the big “buy and sell” men and he made a lot of money. It is reported that he was able to pay the big indebtedness of his father. He established a company called “ESSO” and my son, Tony, was Treasurer and trusted official of the Company. Apparently, the young Osmeñas were expecting help from their father. It seems that such help was not extended. The father was indifferent. Furthermore, he made a statement to the press praising a son who worked against the Japanese and stating that he could not intervene in the cases of Serging and Nicasio. This peaked the anger of Serging. He immediately wrote a letter to his father stating among other things: “We have lost our mother, now we lose our father.” Serging complained that they had never been attended to by the father; he left them nothing. It was a very bitter and at the same time pathetic denunciation of his own father.

I do not know whether I would have done what Serging, Jr. did even if placed under the same circumstances. I do not believe I could do it. A father is a father; the children owe their existence to him. No matter how bad he may be, he must never be denounced by the children. This is especially so in the case of Pres. Osmeña. He is the President of the Republic. It is very embarrassing for him to have sons imprisoned for collaboration. Rather, Serging and Nick should have begged their father’s forgiveness for having placed him in such a situation. Furthermore, there are thousands imprisoned for the same reasons; Osmeña as President could not favor his own sons and not do the same for the others, unless he wants to be accused of favoritism and injustice.

Later reports are to the effect that Serging had retracted and he was awfully sorry for what he did. I am happy to hear this.

It is reported that President Osmeña had sent word to Serging and Nick that he will order the release of persons personally known to him with he himself as guarantor. This may be what induced Serging to change. If true, it will benefit not only his sons but many of us here who are not only known to Osmeña but are also his personal friends. This is especially so in my case. This has revived the hope of many.

Romulo is reported to have said that Roxas is no longer liked by MacArthur. If this is so, the interest that Roxas is taking in us may be prejudicial. But I seriously doubt the truth of the report of Romulo. If it is true, Roxas would not have been returned to active service as General and he probably would have been imprisoned just like us.

In turns out that the Dr. Sison reported here earlier who was snubbed by Romulo is not Agerico but Antonio. Dr. Antonio Sison is the family doctor of the Romulos and has never collected any fee from them. He saved the life of Romulo twice. When the incident happened it is reliably reported that Dr. Sison was indignant. This is the same Romulo that had been attacking the supposed “collaborationists.”


June 26, 1945, Tuesday

It may be asked: If the conduct of the Japanese is as reported above why did we serve in the Japanese regime and later in the Philippine Republic?

I had good reasons for not accepting any position in the Japanese regime. Aside from my past relations with America and the Americans, and the position I had held with the Philippine government which would make my acceptance of any position under the Japanese regime improper, I had plans which I could carry out only as a private citizen. I was Director of Marsman & Co. and President and Vice President of various Marsman enterprises, like the Coco Grove Mining Co., Marsman Trading, Insular Drug, Cardinal Insurance, Marsman Lumber, etc. Immediately before the war, Marsman & Co. further expanded its enterprises, by buying American Hardware and the Food and other departments of Pacific Commercial Co. There were also many new industries and businesses planned. Such was the condition of Marsman & Co. when the war broke out.

The offices of the Marsman enterprises were in the Marsman Building at the Port Area. It was right next to military objectives. From the second day of the war, Manila Bay was bombed including the Port Area. A favorite target was Pier 7, considered the longest in the world, located probably less than 100 meters from our building. Bombing continued almost everyday until the day before the entry into Manila of the Japanese Army on January 2, 1942.

I used to go to the office regularly although I did not have to. Employees were dismissed after 11:00 a.m. as it was noted that air raids commenced after that hour; nevertheless, I and other executives would remain in our offices and continue working as if nothing was happening. The bombs fell around the building. It might have been a military target as Admiral Hart, the Head of the American Asiatic Fleet, and the Navy General Staff had their headquarters in the Marsman Building. We had somebody in the building watch for Japanese planes and sound the alarm. We would all run down to the air raid shelters whenever he gives the signal; and when the planes were overhead, we would all lie down, cover our ears and open our mouths. I used to sit next to Admiral Hart in the air raid shelter located in the first story under the stairs. The building was also surrounded by layers of sandbags. Luckily, the building was never hit. There was only one bomb that fell behind the building about five yards away. All the windows of the building were shattered. I found several shrapnels inside my office which was on the 4th floor from which I got a good view of the pier.

In my house, we built no shelter at all. We used to hide on the first floor on both sides of the stairs which was located at the very center of the house. We lined the walls with sandbags and placed boards and many other things on the second floor directly above us. No bombs fell near us but we could hear the detonation very well so that at times, they sounded like they fell just next door to us. We save planes dive down and drop bombs on Nichols Field.

I never go out during an air raid. But I was caught in the streets twice when this occured. The first time I was luckily in front of the Bay View Hotel, a nine story reinforced concrete building. It seemed to be a safe place. The bombs fell in the bay near the hotel. The second time, I was in real danger. A special meeting of the Chamber of Mines was called and generally, either Vice President Ohnick or myself attended. We had agreec that Mr. Ohnick would attend that morning. The meeting was a special one called to discuss a very important matter concerning the mining industry. At the last hour, Mr. Ohnick decided not to attend and I had to rush to the meeting at the Pacific Building. This was the 27th of December, 1941. The meeting was hurriedly held and adjourned. I had sent my chauffeur to the bank to get some money and when after the meeting my automobile was not back, I had to borrow the automobile of the attorney of the company, Mr. Amando Velilla. I forgot to give directions to Mr. Velilla’s chauffeur not to pass through Intramuros (the Walled City) to go to Escolta but to go on to Padre Burgos St. outside Port Area. He drove through Intramuros, across the Malecon Drive and the air raid sirens sounded. Following instructions, we had to leave the car and seek shelter in the Myer’s Building. I entered a small compartment which had been converted into a very poorly built shelter. There were other people there, but they did not know me. Bombs fell all around. I heard the sound of an airplane which seemed to be flying very low. The moment I heard the sound I hit the floor, closed my eyes, covered my ears, and opened my mouth. Forthwith, I heard something heavy drop; then the building shook as the bomb exploded. The building was hit and shrapnel flew all around. When I dove, those around me laughed; they thought it was funny. I came through unscathed while many of the people around me were hurt. It was indeed a very narrow escape, but my satisfaction was that it happened while performing a duty for the company which had extricated me from financial difficulties. The Myer’s Building caught fire and burned down. The experience made me very cautious.

The City of Manila had already been declared an open city; nevertheless, the Japanese planes continued dropping bombs. To protect people residing in the nearby municipalities, like Pasay, San Juan, Caloocan, these were also included in the open city.

It was on December 28, 1941 when Japanese planes bombed the Treasury Building and the Philippines Herald offices located in a building on the other side of the former moat and wall around Intramuros, about opposite the Legislative Building. We were then having caucuses of both the members of the Senate and House to agree on the organization. When the siren sounded we ran to the shelter in the cellar. We were in the shelter until after three o’clock without anything to eat. It was very hot and crowded inside. The Herald had just written a strong editorial against the Japanese. It was also the time that the Church of Sto. Domingo and the Letran College were destroyed.

In connection with the advance of the Japanese and the occupation of Manila, it was in the morning of the 8th of December that the war began. I remember the date very well as that is the feast day of my hometown, Taal, Batangas, and we were about to leave that morning for Taal when we heard the news in the radio about the attack on Pearl Harbor. A few minutes afterwards we heard the bombing of Baguio. At 12:30 p.m. the bombing of Clark Field was reported and at 3 o’clock that same afternoon Nichols Field was attacked. Nichols Field was only a few kilometers from my house at Malate so that the war was brought next door to us. As I said, although there was bombing almost everyday I continued going to work especially since I noticed that the other executives were always present at the office. Very few of the Filipino personnel came. We continued holding meetings of the Boards of Directors of the Marsman companies as usual, but many times they had to be suspended to go to the shelter on account of air raids. I remember that one of my last acts was to sign dividend checks declared by the Coco Grove, of which I was the President. Before the coming of the Japanese we took steps to have our gold bullion taken to Corregidor where the USAFFE was going to make its last stand. We also endeavored to send all the moneys of the Marsman companies to the United States. I remember that our last meeting was at the University Club and we left some of our papers there. While there, I telephoned to arrange the sending of money to the United States.

Before going to the office, I would generally inquire from General Francisco about the situation of the advancing Japanese Army.He told me confidentially that the situation was very bad; that the Japanese were advancing very fast. I also informed my American friends and I advised them to withdraw as much of their deposits as they could. They refused on account of the official communique from the General Headquarters to the effect that “Enemies repulsed; no change in front.” About the 27th of December, I told them the Japanese had already passed San Pablo, Laguna, almost 100 kilometers away. It was then too late for the Americans to withdraw their money and they became very angry.

Since the attack on Pearl Harbor, there was absolute blackout throughout Manila. We passed terrible nights. Oftentimes, we heard revolver or gun shots. We understand that it was to enforce the blackout. The guards also shot at persons moving suspiciously or signaling, or at the places where the signaling was coming from. We actually saw many such signals, evidencing the presence of spies and fifth columnists.

The nights were dark and gloomy. I remember that we passed Christmas without the usual celebration. Some in our neighborhood tried to sing the Christmas carols, but they seemed in our ears like songs sang in necrological services. The thieves were also active. I remember that while we were downstairs on account of the air raids, a thief entered the second floor of our house. We heard the bathroom window creaking and we immediately ran upstairs and turned on the light in the room next to the bathroom. We found the door of the bathroom closed and we suspected the thief was still inside. In the meanwhile, the air raid wardens with an American Army officer were yelling from the street ordering us to put the light out, otherwise they would shoot. I quickly ran down to explain to the officer that there was a thief inside the bathroom. The officer went upstairs. Standing behind the closed bathroom door, he yelled to the thief to come out. He then broke in the door with his revolver. He found nobody: evidently, the thief had jumped out the window. There were practically no people going around at night. The cinematograph were open, but we never went.

In the day time, there were many people in the streets. During air raids, the air raid wardens were kept very busy. These are paid employees and they were very strict in the performance of their duties. The warden in front of our house, a man by the name of Emilio, was especially efficient. We noticed that the white people were reluctant to obey him. I remember an incident which I witnessed. The warden ordered a white couple to stop because there was an air raid; but they continued on their way. The warden ran after them to stop them. An American officer happened to be around and he drew his revolver and threatened to shoot the warden if he insisted. The warden, fearing for his life, let the couple go. When the officer drew his revolver, I immediately ran to my house to get my revolver. My intention was to shoot the officer if he shot at the warden since the latter was merely performing his official duty.

People were very careful about letting in anybody into their houses, even those caught in the streets during an air raid. Doors were always kept closed and locked. The reason for this was that there had been cases where bad elements took advantage of air raids to rob the houses.

On or about December 28, 1941, Pres. Quezon, Vice Pres. Osmeña with Secretary Santos, Col. Roxas and Gen. Valdes fled to Corregidor. For several days before and after their departure, there was a heavy movement of American and Filipino troops fleeing Manila as it had been declared an open city. They went north to Bataan where they were to make their last stand. It was about this time when I received an order from the U.S. Navy to turn over the Marsman yacht anchored in front of the Yacht Club to the Navy, and another order from the Army to blow up all our dynamite cache in Camarines Norte, and all our oil. We had just received a consignment of over 4000 cases of dynamite and in preparation for the war our two oil tanks, one of which was the biggest in the Philippines, were filled up.

On that same day, my son Tony who had finished training in the Cavalry Camp at Parañaque, and who was a Sergeant-Major in the Philippine Army Reserve received an order to join his regiment. He had been waiting for it; all his other classmates had received theirs. He prepared to comply with the order. I noticed that he was very, very anxious to do so. He envied his classmates, especially Apostol who only the day before left without him when his order did not come. Apostol never came back. Tony’s instructions were to report to the military headquarters in Pampanga. But when he arrived at the train station, the last train for the North had left and so had the last police bus that took reservists to their destination. Upon Tony’s insistence, I went to Malacañan to inquire and there I met Maj. Gen. Guillermo Francisco. I inquired from him as to how Tony could report for duty. He answered that the orders given to Tony and others which were issued on about December 9, 1941 had already been cancelled.

Before the Japanese entered Manila, I as a Senator-elect and as such a high government official, discussed with Speaker Yulo, Mr. Vargas and other officials what we should do. Should we hide from or present ourselves to the Japanese military authorities? After due discussion, and following instructions allegedly given by Pres. Quezon, we decided to stay. However, I expected that we would immediately be called by the Japanese and as I did not want to be one of the first to be called, and as I wished to know first what the Japanese would do to the Filipino officials, I decided to go into hiding. I went to New Manila and hid in the house of Doña Narcisa de Leon on Broadway Avenue. I changed my name and everybody was instructed to call me by that name and not divulge my identity. I went there in the afternoon of the 29th of December. I was very well treated Mrs. de Leon who is our “comadre” and in fact by the whole family. They certainly took good care of me. Rizal Day, December 30, passed and for the first time since that day was made an official holiday, there was no celebration. The Japanese were expected to arrive and enter Manila on December 31, but they did not come.

For the first time, I was not with my family when the New Year was ushered in. Like Christmas, there was no celebration of any kind. The usual fanfare and family reunions were conspicuously absent. There was a lot of speculation as to when the Japanese would enter Manila and what they were going to do.

By the second of January, 1942, when the Japanese had not shown up, we learned that the Japanese contingent coming from the North was somewhat delayed and that coming from the South was waiting. I called up Mr. Ohnick and told him I was hiding and asked his advice as to whether I should stay in hiding. He answered that I better just stay home. So in the afternoon, I went home. I left my revolver in Broadway as I was afraid that if I were to encounter the Japanese I would be searched, and if found with a revolver, I would be shot. It was a memorable short ride home. At any time, I was expecting to meet the Japanese and I wondered what I would do. I passed through España St., Quezon Avenue, Quezon Bridge, Arroceros St., Plaza Lawton, Taft Avenue and San Andres St. I met no Japanese, but I saw spectacles which gave me a glimpse of the moral fiber of the Filipinos. It foreshadowed what was to come later -the shameful conduct of many of our countrymen of robbery consisting in illegal confiscation of goods, soulless profiteering on goods, including foodstuff, and rampant bribery of the police and other agents of the law who were charged with the prevention of illegal traffic of commodities and sale at prices in excess of those fixed by law. I saw big crowds all along the streets and at first I did not know what it was all about. On España St. I met people carrying all kinds of commodities, clothing, canned goods, etc. On Rizal Avenue, I saw persons forcing open the Chinese stores and carrying out everything, including furniture. It was rampant looting. People rushed into the stores like mad dogs. I reached the other side of Quezon Bridge and there I saw a big crowd snatching everything they could get from the old Ice Plant. I could see them carrying frozen meat and fish.

On Lawton Square, on Taft Avenue, San Andres St., I saw the same thing. Some people used automobiles, “calesas” and “carretelas” to haul their loot. Many of them sold their wares right there on the street for very low prices; one could buy everything: clothing, foodstuff, furniture. I learned later that the goods came from the Port Area. Some bodegas were opened to the public. Other bodegas, however, were forced open. This was not to be regretted after all as the goods would have fallen into the hands of the Japanese. My chauffeur insisted in going to the Port Area with our automobiles. I refused to allow him to go. I prohibited all the members of my family and all those who worked for me to take any part in the looting or even to buy the looted goods. I consider it dishonest to acquire them. In fact, there was looting all over Manila. Right in front of my house they forced a Chinese store open and stole everything inside. The policemen who witnessed this looting were powerless. Some of the policemen were even seen to take part in the looting. It was a shame.

I forgot to mention that during the bombing, every time there was an air raid alarm, American soldiers were stationed in various parts of Manila to watch for parachutists. Five American soldiers were stationed just outside my house. Whenever they came, we offered them coffee.

It was in the afternoon of the 2nd of January between 5 and 6 o’clock p.m. when the Japanese entered the city. They marched down various streets, two of which were Taft Avenue and Mabini St. From Taft Avenue we could hear yells of “Banzai.” Those passing Mabini rode in trucks. We could see them very well from our house. For a victorious army, it was surprising that there was no show of pride.

The next day, the people went out expecting excellent treatment as many of them sincerely believed that the Japanese would treat us as equals and brothers. That same day we were awakened to the reality that the Japanese were not as we expected. That very first day, there were incidents due to the fact that the Filipinos were being compelled to salute the Japanese sentries. Everybody was searched for arms, which was to be expected. But the Japanese civilians were very abusive. Sometimes, although the Japanese soldier had already searched the man and found nothing, the Japanese civilian who acted as interpreter would get his watch or other things. All automobiles were confiscated without ceremony. Even civilians confiscated automobiles. I was just about to leave my house in my automobiles when my friend, Mr. Schultz, stopped me to tell me the Japanese were confiscating automobiles and his automobile had just been taken. So I went walking along the boulevard to go to the Marsman building at the Port Area. However, at the Luneta, I was stopped by a Japanese sentry. Evidently, entry into the Port Area had been prohibited.

On January 4th, an automobile with Japanese Navy officers stopped at our house. My family was scared. The civilian interpreter told me to get dressed and go with them. I was taken to the Marsman Building. I was made to wait at the anteroom of what used to be Mr. Jan Marsman’s office on the fourth floor. After about half an hour, I was ushered in. I saw a uniformed man who turned out to be the General and Chief of Staff of the Japanese Army in the Philippines. The General asked me many questions. He asked where Mr. Marsman was and whether the company was really owned by Britishers and Americans. He also told me he knew that Admiral Hart, the head of the American Navy in the Philippines had quarters in the building. He then asked where the telephone or secret communication to Corregidor was located in the building. Then the Japanese asked me for the keys to all the Marsman buildings and warehouses. I told them that I was Vice President of the Marsman Building Corporation and as such I was quite familiar with the plans of the building, and that I was not aware of any telephone communication with Corregidor. We went back to the Marsman Building where they took me all around the building to search for the communications equipment, but we did not find any. They thanked me and I prepared to leave. But before doing so I asked that I be allowed to go into my office to get a few things. They asked me for specifications and I especially mentioned the English Dictionary. My intention was that if I were allowed to get the dictionary I would then ask for other things. I had many valuable things in my office, such as important documents, parts of my diary, my collection of rare stamps, my photographs with Pres. Quezon and Mrs. Marsman, and other personal belongings. A Navy Captain escorted me to my office. But at the door, he stopped me and went inside. When he came out, he told me they would look for my things and deliver them to me at my house. On the way out of the building, I was looking all around, especially at the safes in which the companies had at least P60,000.

The next day the Japanese came for me again. We went to the Marsman bodegas near the North bank of the Pasig River. I do not know why they brought me there as I was not allowed to go inside the bodegas. I saw various trucks parked in front of the bodegas. The caretaker told me that trucks had been coming frequently and that the Japanese loaded them to the limit with things taken from the bodegas.

The next morning after the entry of the Japanese, I went to the Admiral Apartments on Dewey Boulevard. Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Ohnick were expecting to be arrested by the Japanese at any time and that same morning at about noon, somebody had telephoned me that Mr. and Mrs. Ohnick were leaving with Japanese officers. When I arrived at the Admiral Apartments, they were gone. I just missed them by a few minutes. I saw their automobile being taken by the Japanese. I tried to stop the soldiers but they did not pay any attention to me. I lingered around the hotel. I met and talked with ex-Representative Pedro Sabido and Dr. Salvador Araneta. I found that Mr. Sabido decidedly in favor of a close relationship with Japan and membership to the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. This is the reason why in the sub-committee on Economic Planning of the Preparatory Committee for Philippine Independence, I made him Chairman of the Committee on the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Araneta, on the other hand, was decidedly against any relationship with the Japanese. It should be remembered that he was one of the most active for permanent political relationship with the United States.

The only high officials of the Marsman enterprises who regularly attended the Board meetings after the Japanese came were Mr. Welhaven, Mr. Ottiger, Mr. Velilla and myself. Von Ahren called a few times. Mr. Ohnick attended once at the San Luis office he was out of the the concentration camp for a few hours. The Japanese came once to inquire what we were doing. We announced that we were discussing our affairs. They asked whether we were licensed. We explained that we were not operating. There was an understanding in the company that we were to take care of the interests of the Marsman enterprises during this period. We held many meetings in my house on Calle San Andres where we discussed various affairs of the companies to do all we could to protect them. We decided to prepare an inventory of all the stock we had for such claims as we may later wish to make. Very little could be done as regards these two matters as it was most difficult to deal with the Japanese and they would not allow us to have access to the premises of the Marsman buildings and bodegas. I was to continue with any work that could be done for the companies as Messrs. Welhaven and Ottiger are whites and the Japanese are prejudiced against whites. Furthermore, Mr. Welhaven was a semi-belligerent as he was from Norway, the refugee government which had declared war against Germany and Japan.

I did my best to get Mr. and Mrs. Ohnick released from the concentration camp in Sto. Tomas University. I used to send a few things to them and to other Marsman men at the camp. I generally went with Mr. Velilla and Mr. Ottiger. I shall never forget those visits. Those Japanese guards were very hard to deal with. I carried a pass from Colonel Watanabe. We had to go through all kinds of difficulties to get in. My papers were scrutinized. We were usually made to wait at the gate for a long time. There we saw many Filipinos slapped and treated like dogs. We feared that our turn would come. Many times we could talk only in the presence of the Japanese. I often went to see the Superintendent since it was easier to talk to him to ask him to be allowed to talk to internees without any guard present. When leaving I generally would loiter around the grounds to talk to different people. I knew I was exposing myself to danger in doing so. One of the internees, Mr. Kelly, a high official of Marsman Company who was one of my best friends in the organization, was suffering from something which required him to go to Dr. Gonzales on Legarda St. Every time he went, he called me up. I always took him back to Sto. Tomas in my automobile where we would have a good chat along the way.

I continued my efforts to get Mr. and Mrs. Ohnick out of the concentration camp. Mrs. Ohnick was released because she was sick most of the time. Mr. Ohnick was able to get permission once in a while to be out of the camp for a few hours.  I went to talk to the Superintendent about Mr. Ohnick. I told him that I would like to have Mr. Ohnick released in view of the fact that his wife was sick. I explained to him my relationship with Mr. & Mrs. Ohnick. I said that Mr. Ohnick was the Vice President of Marsman & Company, and that I was a member of the Board of Directors. Mr. Ohnick, when interviewed by the Superintendent, mentioned that his father was a pure blooded Japanese. I knew this, and I also knew that his father’s name was Oniki, but I never mentioned it. The Superintendent decided to release Mr. Ohnick to me. Of course I had to guarantee his good conduct. Mr. & Mrs. Ohnick moved to a house near the Rizal Memorial Stadium where I visited them quite frequently. Mrs. Ohnick was in very poor health.

Mr. & Mrs. Francisco were also released as Mrs. Francisco was very sick. They occupied a house in New Manila where I visited them. I noticed that their house was being watched by the Japanese police. I pitied them very much as they complained that they could not get some essential things like laundry soap. Mr. Francisco attended a few of the meetings of Marsman & Co.

Mr. Ohnick was present in various meetings in my house and in a meeting at the Marsman store and shop at San Luis St., almost directly in front of the Agricultural Building. At one time. some Japanese came and asked whether we had license to operate the store. We answered that we had not opened the store and that we were merely having an informal meeting. This store was later seized by the Japanese. In these meetings attended by Mr. Ohnick the main question discussed was whether or not we should continue the business. The consensus of opinion among us was that we should suspend operations of the company. However, upon my suggestion, we filed a petition to operate. My reason was that if we did not apply for a license to operate, they might take this as an admission that it was an enemy company. We were contending that it was not enemy property inasmuch as the majority stockholders were Mr. and Mrs. Marsman who were naturalized Filipinos. I forgot to state that Mr. Francisco, another high official of Marsman, was also present in some of those meetings. The Japanese never took action on our petition, and in the meanwhile they continued taking everything in the store until nothing was left.

It was agreed that I was to take charge of protecting the properties and interests of Marsman enterprises and that I was to act on matters that may come involving the enterprises. I was also to study future plans for the activities of the company during the Japanese regime if we ever decide to reopen.

Upon the request of my friends in the concentration camp, I suspended sending food or even visiting them. I noticed that I was being watched very closely. I remember one incident. We had a party in the house of Mr. and Mrs. Ohnick. All of them, with the exception of myself and Velilla, were Americans, Englishmen, Norwegians and Swiss. It was to celebrate the birthday of Mr. Ohnick and I went there with that understanding. The next day there was a full report about the party by the Military Police. The report stated that it was to celebrate the birthday of Mr. Marsman. It turned out that it was the birthday of Mr. Marsman and that the party was intended for him also, but I did not know this.

Because of my close relations with the Americans, the Japanese became suspicious of me. They complained to Malacañan. Knowing that drastic action would be taken against me, I desisted from visiting and sending food to the camp. My friends well understood my situation.

The Japanese Army entered Manila on the 2nd of January, 1942. Before their entry, the government made all the necessary preparations. Vargas, the Secretary to the President, which position made him a ranking member of the Cabinet, was at the same time appointed by Pres. Quezon as Mayor of Manila. He was the one charged with the painful duty of surrendering Manila. This was called Greater Manila as the municipalities around Manila –Pasay, Parañaque, San Pedro Makati, San Juan, and Caloocan– were incorporated into Greater Manila. Quezon City was also made a part of it. The purpose in creating a Greater Manila was so the whole area comprising those cities and municipalities could be included in the declaration of open city. Vargas and Laurel, got in touch with Katsumi Nihro, then Japanese Consul General in Manila. In the meanwhile, all the policemen were disarmed to prevent any incident which might result in combat with the Japanese. They were merely provided with walking sticks. Big streamers were placed along Taft Avenue and P. Burgos St. by the City Hall, warning the Filipinos to keep the peace. Vargas surrendered the city without any incident. He was told by the Japanese to continue as Mayor. He as well as Laurel were approached by the Japanese about forming a Central Government. Kihara, former Japanese Vice-Consul in Manila, took part in the negotiations. General Hayashi, an old friend of Laurel, called him also about forming a government. Aquino and Recto were approached by their friend, Kanegae. Later, Mori talked with Paredes on the subject.

Laurel was the Secretary of Justice and Acting Chief Justice; Aquino was a member of the Cabinet before the last reorganization of the Cabinet by Pres. Quezon and was slated to be the Speaker of the next House of Representatives; Paredes, Floor Leader and Speaker-elect; Recto, Senator-elect. Aquino, Paredes and Recto talked to Yulo who was then Speaker of the House and slated to be the President of the Senate. Yulo decided to consult Chief Justice Avanceña, the grand old man of the Philippines, whose views are always sound and whose patriotism had already been tested. He then called the other members of the Cabinet before the last reorganization to a meeting –Teofilo Sison, Rafael Alunan, Jose Fabella, Serafin Marabut, Jorge Bocobo. Fabella could not attend as he was sick. Later, they called all the Senators in Manila. These were Ramon Fernandez, Vicente Madrigal, Melecio Arranz, Eulogio Rodriguez, Elpidio Quirino, Arnaiz and myself.

The House of Representatives in a caucus designated the following to attend the meetings: Jose Zulueta, Eugenio Perez, Jose Veloso, Tomas Oppus, Prospero Sanidad, Alfonso Mendoza. Finally, prominent people were called and those included Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, President of the first Philippine Republic; Ramon Avanceña, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; Miguel Unson, a businessman and civic leader; Alejandro Roces, another statesman, owner and publisher of the influential newspapers. Juan Sumulong, the president of the Democrata Party was included in the list. When he was approached by Secretary Bocobo, he answered that he would consult his men. He died before he could do this. There are others whose names I could not remember just now.

Many meetings were held in the covered glorietta by the swimming pool on the left side of the palatial house of Speaker Yulo. It was an ideal place for secret meetings. Almost all expressed their opinion very freely. Each had the courage to make his conviction known. The discussion was very thorough. Everybody was aware of the gravity of the situation and the momentous decision we necessarily had to make. Some were in favor of the establishment of some form of government; others were not. We were, however, agreed on one point. Under no circumstances would we accept any arrangement unless our independence was guaranteed. We made it very clear that we would not give up the freedom for which our forefathers had lavishly shed their blood.

Evidently, the Japanese negotiators transmitted this to Tokyo as Premier Tojo, on the 21st of January, in a speech before the Diet, promised independence for the Philippines if conditions of peace so warrant and if the Filipinos understood and cooperated with the aims and purposes of Japan, such s the establishment of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

After due deliberation, we decided not to form a government, but to have an organization which would merely cooperate with the Japanese civil administration in the Philippines. The Japanese, therefore, established their own civil administration in the Philippines which had all the departments and all the attributes of a government. On the other hand, the Filipinos organized a Commission with the Chairman as its chief executive.

As it turned out, the work of the Commission was of an auxiliary nature only. It could only decide routine or unimportant matters; all important matters, such as legislation and decision on policies had to be submitted to the Japanese Administration for approval.

Why did we accept such an arrangement? The following were our main reasons:

(1) To be assured of our independence whatever the result of the war might be.

(2) To be in a position to help the people. We knew the record of cruelty and brutality of the Japanese in China as many films had been shown in Manila depicting the atrocities of the Japanese. In our own country, slapping, unjustified arrests, illegal confiscation of private properties, and many other forms of abuses, had already become a common everyday happening. What could we do? We, who had repeatedly received the confidence of our people, could not forsake them precisely at a time when they had great need of us. Our personal interest should be of no account; no sacrifice is too great if dedicated to the cause of the people. We accepted, not necessarily because we were sure we could do much for our people, but in order to place ourselves in a position to help. Whether we succeeded or not only history will judge. Passion now runs high that even the most obvious might be overlooked.

(3) But our principal reason was that if we did not accept, the administration would fall into the hands of men like Artemio Ricarte, or an irresponsible person like Benigno Ramos. We are not sure that Ricarte is not a patriot. His record as a revolutionary figure points to his greatness and patriotism. But he was already over 75 years old. Somebody would have to govern for him, and history tells us that a government directed by another man behind the scene is dangerous as it generates the most iniquitous acts or acts of oppression by the government. His conduct in connecting himself with the Makapili has proven that our fear was well founded. Furthermore, Ricarte lived in Japan and was pro-Japanese and there was no one in our meeting that welcomed Japanese influence in the Philippines. Why did we think Ricarte might be head of the government? Because he came with the Japanese Expeditionary Forces and from the very beginning he was proclaiming that he was in favor of a dictatorship.

If not Ricarte, we were sure that the head of the government would have been Benigno Ramos, the head of the Makapili. He is so well known that it seems unecessary to describe him. Suffice it to say that he was an ambitious man and a degenerate. The only thing he thinks of is how to exploit other people. The many cases of “estafa” were the best proof of this assertion. He is a man without moral principles. He would not hesitate to kill to attain his purpose. The number of people killed by the Sakdals and the Makapilis is proof of this. In a government under Ramos, the people would be driven to start a revolution for they would not tolerate such indiscriminate killings,  Many of Ramos’ men –Sakdals– were killed by their own countrymen; in fact they had to concentrate themselves in places under the protective wings of the Japanese. The Filipino would have been the victim as Ramos would have been aided by the Japanese Army.

A government under Ricarte or Ramos would be used by the Japanese to commit cruelties and murders of the Filipinos.

(4) The last reason, which is no less important than the previous ones, is that we felt we were merely complying with the instructions of Pres. Quezon. These instructions are stated somewhere above. Whether we have complied faithfully or exceeded our authority, only history will decide. It should be remembered that the instructions contain no detail and all we could say for the present is that all our acts were done in good faith. If at times we apparently had exceeded our authority, it was exclusively for the purpose of avoiding a cataclysm, a great misfortune. In those instructions, Pres. Quezon foresaw the danger in leaving a government open to men like Ricarte or Ramos.

But I should reiterate that the Commission organized was not a real government. All its acts were merely delegated or had to be approved by the Japanese civil administration. We had hundreds of cases where we tried to do something or to do it in a different way, but the Japanese just did things or had them done in accordance with their whims and desires. The Office of the Director-General in the Japanese Administration was really the head of the government. It was occupied by Gen. Hayashi, and leter by Gen. Wachi.

When it was certain that a Commission was to be organized, somehow it got into my head that I may be appointed to the Commission. I wanted to avoid it by all means. As Vargas was the one dealing with the Japanese, I sked him not to have my name considered at all. Upon my insistence, he promised. He even showed me the proposed list wherein Yulo was suggested for Commissioner of Finance. When the list came out my name appeared. I became, to use a vulgar expression, groggy. My wife cried as she knew what that meant. She feared we would be in constant danger; she really hated public service as during my 29 years of service I got nothing but disappointments. I immediately went to Vargas to see whether I could decline. Vargas answered emphatically that I could not, unless I wanted to endanger my life. I consulted Mr. Ohnick. He understood the situation. He advised me to accept it, but to resign after three months. I consulted Vargas again and he said that he was aware of my situation, that he would help me get out after three months. I therefore asked for a three-month leave from Marsman & Co., which was granted. Such is the story of my acceptance.

After three months, I asked Mr. Vargas to allow me to resign. He said that it was not yet time. I asked and obtained another month’s leave of absence from Marsman & Co. At the end of the month, Mr. Vargas asked me to stay. He told me that it was for my own safety as he was sure the Japanese would consider my resignation a hostile act.

Mr. & Mrs. Ohnick were taken to Sto. Tomas again when the Japanese, for reasons I do not know, recalled all former internees, including the old and sick, to the Sto. Tomas concentration camp.


June 10, 1945 Sunday

Dr. Evangelista came with the information that Dr. Bunye had arrived from Manila with many letters and lots of news. Everyone of us became restless. We were dying for the arrival of Lieutenant Bunye. You cannot imagine how very anxious we all were. He greeted us with all smiles. He pulled many envelopes from his pockets. One by one my companions received letters. I could no longer hold back; I interrupted Dr. Bunye to ask him whether I had any. He said no. I broke into tears. Dr. Bunye, seeing my pain, immediately added that he saw my entire family and that he talked with my son-in-law Paddy who is his friend and old companion. He said my whole family is well. My wife is much heavier than when she had just arrived from Baguio. All my children are in good health. Tony and Menchu, who I especially asked about, were in perfect health. The family of Paddy was also in excellent condition. They all asked many questions about me: how my health is, whether I eat much and what I eat, whether I had sufficient clothes—all details concerning my health and welfare. Dr. Bunye explained that he left Manila suddenly and that was the reason why my family was not able to give him any letter for me. I was very much disappointed; I cried like a child. However, I felt relieved to know that they are in good health and that they are being adequately taken care of. I do not have to worry about them. But just the same, I cannot stop worrying until I hear from them. I am a family man. I enjoy being with my wife and children. This separation is very painful.