14 planes took off at approx 0700. Bombed Appari [Aparri] airfield. Second strike launched at 1300. Bombed Clark Field area. Set several big fires.
A very rainy day. The shelter’s full of water and no bombs. Several Japanese planes were flying but none of ours. A lot of people are disappointed. They expected them again today.
The Japanese have spread their ammunition dumps all over the city. In front of Hicky’s and Gabaldon’s and the street leading to the house and beyond there are a lot of boxes under the trees. Taft Avenue is exclusively for Army cars and trucks. Streetcars are also for Army and Navy men only. There’s a rumor that cars, dokars and bicycles will be commandeered. That’ll leave us with practically nothing. They’ve taken our food, our shelter and now –transportation.
The Japanese claim they sunk 12 aircraft carriers. “We’ve driven them off,” they boast. “No,” added another, “we sunk them all.” That’s why I’m disappointed. I wanted them to come to make these fellows eat their words.
Tio Phil thinks this was just a diversionary raid. Their main objective is Formosa, he said. They sent a couple of carriers here to mislead the Japs, he opined.
America is still silent about yesterday’s raid. Some say Aparri was terribly bombed. That’s what I think. In my opinion, the air raid over Manila was just a feint. They were after some big game up north.
Most of the casualties were due to AA fire. A child sleeping in a nipa hut near the cook’s house was hit by a shrapnel that entered through the roof. A cochero harnessing his horse had a narrow escape when a shrapnel hit the horse.
I have a feeling they’ll come tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed.
There is much animated activity in the air. For the last three months, that is, since the fall of Corregidor, hardly have we seen a plane. These days, however, they are all over like hawks looking for prey. We do not know why. Neither do we know what is happening outside this little world of ours, aside from what we could glean between the lines of, and beyond, the smoked glasses of the local press. The people are making their own conclusions and speculations of the situation, which, if all written down, would form volumes equal to those of Jules Verne. There are rumors that the Americans bombed Baguio, that a landing was made in Negros, in Aparri or in Mindanao, that the American convoy had been sighted over Palawan and American submarines had sunk Japanese warships off Corregidor.
These rumors were accepted as articles of faith even by learned and responsible persons. There were even rumors that the Americans were coming in time for November 15, the anniversary of the establishment of the Commonwealth, or at the latest, on Christmas. This was also accepted as true.
When I got to the field, Sgt. King, the line chief, told me that all his crew had left the field. He could not get them to stay to do maintenance work. It wasn’t my job to take charge of maintenance but but it wasn’t being done, and it had to be done if the planes were to fly, so I spent most of the morning rounding up the crews and getting them back to work. I found that to keep them at work and get something done, I had to be right there with them. They were scared, and I was, too, because we knew Nichols was in for a big raid, but we stayed there all morning trying to get all the ships into flying condition. A litle after noon I decided to go to the bank and draw some money. I rode into Manila with some other officers who were going to lunch. From the bank I went home to eat lunch and just after I finished, I heard the drone of airplanes. “It’s our bombers,” I told Dorothy, as we walked out to watch them.
“No, they don’t sound like ours,” Dorothy said. When we got out where we could see them, I changed my mind. There they were, fifty-four of them. Two engine bombers were flying at 20,000 feet. The anti-aircraft in Manila began to shoot at them, but their range was so bad that the shells burst only about half as high as the planes were flying. They flew over Nichols several times and dropped bombs each time; then they flew west and dropped the rest of their bombs on Cavite. The dive bombers then came and strafed the field. A few of our P-40s were up, but they were greatly out numbered. They and the dive bombers were so low that I couldn’t see any of the fights. Dorothy and I had been huddled up against a concrete wall all during the raid, but as soon as it was over and traffic started on the streets, I went on out to Nichols. A gasoline truck had been set on fire, several planes had been destroyed, and a few men had been killed or wounded but from all appearances, no large amount of damage had been done. Then some bad news came in. Lt. Hobrecht had been shot down, and when he jumped, his parachute didn’t open. Lt. Phillips had been after a Jap dive bomber over Cavite and had shot him down but then was show down by our anti-aircraft who were shooting at the Japs. He jumped and got out all right. Both were 17th pilots.
I went on to the Nichols Headquarters, which had been moved to a concrete dugout just off the field. There I heard some other developments of the war. Del Carmen had also been bombed and strafed that day. No heavy damage was the report. Then I heard a report that made me wonder what the Jap Army meant to do. The report was that warships and transports had come to Aparri and Vigan on the north tip of Luzon and that troops were landing there. They couldn’t start a ground offensive from there because they would have to come over miles and miles of mountains before they could reach the part of Luzon that they would want. We found out later that they only wanted the use of the airfields located at these points. A few of our bombers had gone up to bomb their ships and several flights of pursuit ships had gone up to strafe the ships, but what could a pursuit plane do against a battle ship? We just didn’t have enough bombers left to do anything. One destroyer was sunk and the ammunition ship was blown up. Everybody was still cheerful though. We all thought we could hold the Nips for one or two weeks, and then our Navy would reach us, reinforcements from the States would start pouring in, and we would have done our job. That was the plan, we all thought, and we didn’t even dream otherwise.
I went home about dark that night. After supper Dorothy and I spent the next two or three hours trying to get a few things straightened out and my personal affairs in order. I made a will and a list of things for Dorothy to do or check on in case something should happen to me. I didn’t like to this because it seemed like I was saying, “I will probably get killed and I want you to do these things after I am dead,” but it was something that needed to be done, so I got it off my mind.
I have always said I am not the least bit superstitious, but I think I am. In flying school I started flying in a certain pair of shoes and from then on through primary I would never fly in any others. Subconsciously I was afraid I would wash-out or something bad would happen if I changed. I still have those shoes, an old pair of perforated brown oxfords, and I guess I will always keep them. I started flying the first day of the war with certain things in my pockets and ever since I always carry the same things. I seem to think something might happen if U get rid of these old safety pins, coins, key chain, and medals, so I make it a point to keep them. Yes, I guess I am superstitious.
Dorothy and I were both cheerful and optimistic that night. In a few weeks we would have Japan on the run and begging for mercy. What did we have to worry abou except maybe a few weeks separation at the most?
At office; visit from Becker from Aparri, who has always been a sort of confidential agent of the Government on affairs in the far north. Says he cannot persuade his two handsome mestizo sons to go to the Military Academy to become army officers. He came down to Manila to try to induce the President to visit the Northern Islands–as to which I talked later with Quezon and he agreed to go to see the Batanes, Camiguin etc “in between two typhoons,” tho he spoke rather ruefully of a typhoon getting him and me! Becker also asked to have one of Quezon’s confidential advisers sent up to Aparri for a while.
Becker says the Japanese are settling in isolated places on that coast, getting sea weed (for iodine)–they pay 5 centavos a kilo for the sea weed and sell it for 22. They also take camagon wood from the forests and load it in Japanese ships returning from the South. The island of Camiguin is heavily wooded with fine timber, and is people by those of Aguinaldo’s small force who escaped northwards when he was captured in Palanan by Funston. Becker says the Japanese fish these waters with ice-supplied boats which are periodically visited by a mother ship.
The country of the northern coast is a fine source of supply of rattan, and there are thousands of hectares lying idle in the interior. Ilocano emigrants are slowly trickling into Cagayan province. Many Negritos are in the cordillera east of Lake Cagayan, which, by the way, is not nearly so large as is shown on the maps. There was, he added, no danger of attack from the Negritos unless one goes armed. The Apayaos and Kalingas no longer disturb travelers from Ilocos immigrating via Abra across their country. The Aparri breakwater is not yet finished. Once a month a subsidized Tabacalera steamer calls at Batanes with supplies but gets practically no cargo there.
Later from 10:30 to 1:40 on the balcony at Malacañan Palace with Unson, Yulo and Marabut checking up on Quezon’s message on the budget–later we were joined by Quezon, Osmeña and Vargas–(Osmeña came on other business but took part in this discussion).
After having his office in Malacañan air-conditioned, Quezon turned the “conditioning” off and sits outside on the balcony to do his office work. (Those of whom I enquire here seem to be of two minds concerning the advantages of air-conditioning–a process new here, tho I first experienced it in Buenos Aires six or seven years ago!)
Visit from Ramon Diokno and Eulogio Benitez with the former’s draft of my landlord & tenant bill; he has amplified it by including amended portions of the Civil Code, rice tenancy law and sugar tenants law–a remarkable bit of legislative drafting. If this bill is adopted it will free the “serfs” on the land and provide in the Philippines an exit from the feudal system.
Talk with Unson concerning the plan to make the Governors of Provinces appointive instead of elective (qua France). It will have support in the Assembly since this measure would enhance the prestige of Assemblymen, who will then be the chief elective officials in the provinces. Even if he favours this centralization of power, Quezon will hardly come forward to advocate it, since it appears superficially to be a step back from democracy!
Unson reports that the disappearance of fish from their former haunts in the Philippine waters is due chiefly to dynamiting. He said further that agents from the Department of Labour foment “safe” strikes in order to have the credit for settling them. His last bit of official gossip was that the Philippine Army is to buy old type Enfield rifles, and .45 caliber revolvers–a size Unson thinks unsuitable for Filipinos.
When Quezon joined our group, his budget was gone through, and he was particularly concerned to change the last paragraph which as originally drafted, sternly admonished the Assembly not to touch the surplus of the government–(thirty-one million pesos nominally–nine millions real unencumbered surplus)–Quezon asked us what we thought of appropriating the government’s surplus. Unson spoke up at once, pointing out that the system had been different here than elsewhere. In England and France they budgeted only for expected actual expenditures. Quezon and he agreed that the real riches of a nation were to be found in the pockets of the people and not in the Government vaults. I told of the first United States surplus under President Andrew Jackson, which was divided up by the government among the states. Quezon then modified his budget message so as to leave a door open to use the nine million surplus later if needed; said he wanted to get his tax laws through first, then take five millions of the surplus as a revolving fund for the development of Mindanao. He went on to say that the trouble in using a surplus would not be with the Assembly, but with the United States Government which under the Tydings-McDuffie law has powers to intervene here in financial matters–that the High Commissioner was always at him to keep a surplus and to balance the budget–principles which, however, Murphy did not himself observe when Mayor of Detroit, and which are certainly not followed by his chief, President Roosevelt. “I could manage Weldon Jones” he said, “but it is hardly worth while for he will not be Deputy High Commissioner for long; from what I read in this morning’s paper, Murphy will be back in a few months; in reference to a proposed nomination for Governor of Michigan, he now states that his work in the Philippines is not yet finished.”
The President then invited me to lunch with him after all the others left, and told me how he had left Manila dead beat on Friday but as soon as he got to Atimonan and had a swim he wanted my company and thought of wiring for me to join him on an excursion to Alabat Island where the sea bathing is so wonderful. He had talked to the school teacher at Alabat and found that in the schools practically no Filipino patriotism is taught. Said he had gone in swimming again at Sunset Beach, Cavite, “but if I had not been enough of a man to go through with it, I would have refused on account of the jelly-fish.”
I handed him the Landlord & Tenant bill. He said Secretary Torres had come to him a day or two after his message to the Assembly last Tuesday, and had told him that his passages referring to the land system had killed all danger of disturbances; especially now that he has reversed his former position and has come out against purchase by the government of the great estates. I asked him if the church was not disappointed. He said “Yes, for they expected to sell their lands to the government at a terribly high price.”
He had been reading a Spanish work of the early conquest of the Philippines and expressed regret that the high reputation of the Filipinos for commercial honesty in their early dealings with the foreigners was no longer maintained today. He also said he was sorry that the Spanish expeditions of long ago against the Moluccas and Borneo had failed–for by now they would be the center of a great empire. I remarked that this would come to pass anyway in the future. Quezon agreed.
I enquired whether he wished the Survey Board to proceed with their attempt to consolidate scientific laboratories or to wait, since, against the wish of his own expert adviser, Dr. Manuel Roxas, he had wired to ask for some export from the Mellon Institute, to come out here to help us to reorganize. He said: “Yes, go ahead.” The President is determined, if possible, to prevent “overlapping” and we dealt with the extreme difficulty of getting at the real facts from the bureaus concerned here!
I asked him to request Washington to prolong the service of Consul General Hoover at Hong Kong for one year (to the time of Hoover’s retirement). He at once drew up a cable to the High Commissioner to that effect, which was very complimentary to Hoover.
Told him that Doria and I wanted to go to Bali for a couple of weeks:–he replied that he did not understand the interest in Bali, adding: “We have plenty of Balis here.”
Quezon then said he was celebrating a great event today telling me that a month ago, spots had been discovered again on his lungs. He had been dreadfully worried, and told nobody, not even his wife, but today another examination had been made and he is now absolutely clean of tuberculosis. Meanwhile, he had taken exercise and had avoided the sun. This dread of tuberculosis hangs over all the truly brilliant prospects of his remarkable career.
Asked him for the pardon of Evangelista in San Ramon and he said he would attend to it.
He had asked Unson about amending the sales tax law so as to collect it at a higher percentage but with a single incidence, and thus to stop tax evasions. Unson said it was impossible to stop Chinese evasions, and that collection at the source would penalize manufacturers instead of falling on the merchants.
In the afternoon, tea dance at Bilibid for the birthday of General Santos. Quezon was there, but did not seem to enjoy himself much.