Since my release as a POW last Aug 10, I’ve appreciated my freedom and Jap benevolence, the only tangible among numerous rhetorics. Our people can not forget the plunder and atrocities as slappings of civilians by Jap soldiers continue. Filipinos remain loyal to USA. My thoughts are with our American comrades still POWs in Cabanatuan and elsewhere for a long duration. To date, the Japs have occupied virtually all the western Pacific area up to the approaches of Australia.
I doubt that even with the vaunted industrial might of America if we can be liberated in a year from now — meaning, by Aug. ’43. However, our people are hopeful with all their fate in MacArthur’s promise to return.
Two days ago, the Mayor of Plaridel gave a testimonial lunch for all her USAFFE sons that survived Capas. Gov. Rustia, Judge Roldan, Mrs. Cuenca and the Flor Cruz sisters all from Malolos were there that added sentimentality to the gathering. I cited them for their invaluable assistance when we were POWs in Malolos.
The subjects discussed during the Rejuvenation Training Seminar type of lectures were varied, relevant, interesting to me although dismissed by most as “brain washers.” I wish I was able to keep records but the Japanese are so logistically poor to provide us even bare pencils and paper. So far, so many prominent Japanese and Phil officials had spoken to us, among them were Claro M. Recto and Jose P. Laurel. Hilario Moncado and wife, Diana Toy also came to entertain us. I noted Japanese speakers were careful not to offend the POWs even referring to us as excellent examples of Malayan soldiery the manner we fought in Bataan. One Jap Gen. said, “Being orientals, we should not have been at war. The Americans used you as pawns. Look at the comparatively few American POWs compared to Filipinos. Most Americans escaped to Australia.” And one Japanese official brought the subject of discrimination, how Filipinos are only paid half what their American counterparts are getting yet they belong to same unit. Why the Phil was only using obsolete P-26 planes while the Americans are using the new P-40. The harshest words I heard was from a Jap General whose unit was apparently wiped out during the battle of the Points in Bataan. He said, “Why forbear what was difficult to forbear. It would have been easier for us to subject you to wholesale extermination instead of being magnanimous now. This, I leave to you who understand the basics of humanity.”
The “Bamboo Mail” of Malolos operated by Judge Roldan is still operational with Mrs. Cuenca as chief courier. Today I received a letter dated last Jul 25 from my mother via the Bamboo Mail delivered by Ms Lulu Reyes from Mrs.Cuenca. The good news is Plaridel is back to normal with my uncle Jose Mariano, the elected mayor assuming leadership again. My mother also said that she took my wife Lucy to live with her in our ancestral home in Plaridel as she is due to deliver our first child anytime now.
This is my 62nd day as POW in Malolos Camp. Today, for the second time since last month, Judge Roldan shared with me for a few minutes, contents of a secret one page underground news tabloid “Free Philippines” with short wave radio foreign news summary. The first one he shared with me in the confines of his quarters last month was about what I considered a fantasy story I did not believe. It tells about the alleged bombing of Tokyo by a group of bombers led by a certain Gen. James Doolittle that came from Shangrila, according to Pres. Roosevelt. I thought that was a cruel story as the enemy have superiority of the air and sea at Western Pacific area where there is no Shangrila. I thought its purpose was to boost the very low morale of the US public after our Bataan humiliation.
This time, the news from the Judge seems believeable. It mentions about a supposedly great air and sea battle in the Midway Island area between US and Japanese naval forces that started June 3 and lasted four continuous days and nights resulting finally in the withdrawal from engagements of the Japanese Naval Forces after three of their Aircraft Carriers were sunk, three battleships badly damaged and a dozen others damaged. The US admitted the loss of one Carrier USS Yorktown, and destroyer USS Hammon. If this news is even half true, it will be very bad ultimately for Japan whose ability to replace their losses is very inferior compared to the industrial capabilities of USA.
It is reported that the transfer of the about 6,000 surviving American Bataan Death Marchers from the POW Camp O’Donnell to Cabanatuan is about completed. The new POW Camp in Cabanatuan was the former mobilization and training center of the USAFFE 91st Div. before the war and have better facilities. Judge Roldan informed me the Corregidor POWs that were transported by ship to Manila were paraded and marched to their destinations. Filipino POWs marched to Tutuban Railroad Station, loaded in the train for Capas. The about 3,000 American POWs marched from the Pier to Bilibid Prison in Azcarraga where they are temporarily detained but gradually transferred to Cabanatuan. Judge Roldan speculated that the Americans were transferred from O’Donnell to prevent them further seeing the distressing 500 Filipino POWs dying daily adjacent to their Camp. American POWs death rate in O’Donnell is reportedly much lower at 60 per day.
Our situation at Malolos POW Camp is comparably better than Capas. We were originally 20 POWs last April 10, and increased by 3 to 23 later. Although there were few malaria and dysentery cases, the provincial health officers took good care of us –no death so far. Our camaraderie is stronger and morale good. Our hope for ultimate redemption springs eternal.
Lt. Col. Nakar’s unsurrendered USFIP Unit in NL were remnants of 11th & 71st Div. cut off from Bataan, reorganized per Gen. MacArthur’s order as 14th Inf. under Lt. Col. Everett Warner USA last Jan 24 to operate as guerrillas in Cagayan Valley. When Bataan surrendered, Warner and fellow USA O’s gave up so Gen. Wainwright appointed Nakar ’32 as new CO, with Maj. Manuel Enriquez ’34, my Tac. O. at PMA, as ExO. Other O’s with him are Lts. Ed Navarro ’40; Melito Bulan ’41; Tanabe, Nery & Quines all ’42.
Today, I learned from Judge Roldan that Lt. Col. Kalakuka USA travelling under a flag of truce accompanied by a ranking Jap O. located Nakar in Cagayan Valley and tried to serve the surrender orders from Gen Wainwright. Nakar directed my classmate, now Capt. Ed Navarro to meet Kalakuka in Bayombong. Instead of following Nakar’s orders, Navarro went to Enriquez and together saw Nakar in Jones, Isabela. Navarro convinced Nakar and Enriquez that after Gen. Wainwright surrendered, he lost his authority completely. And so Nakar agreed with Navarro, his Unit did not surrender and managed to report accordingly by radio to MacArthur in Australia.
Judge Roldan also informed me that the former mobilization center facilities of the 91st Div. in Cabanatuan is being prepared for the transfer there of the American prisoners in Camp O’Donnell thereby leaving only Filipino POWs in Capas. With the kind of info I am getting from the Judge, I am convinced he has underground connect — a brave and patriotic Judge.
Since the Fall of Bataan, several small group of guerrilla units started organizing in Central Luzon led by escaped Bataan USAFFE officers according to Judge Roldan. It is an indication of the people’s resentment against the invaders and unshakeable faith on MacArthur’s promise to return. The most active and best organized at present strangely, according to him, is that pre-war socialist peasant group under Pedro Abad Santos, reorganized under the leadership of one, Luis Taruc, renamed Hukbo Ng Bayan Laban Sa Hapon, known as HUKBALAHAP with HQ at Mt. Arayat. At the start of the war, they took advantage of the confusion and increased their firearms and ammo supplies from those thrown away or discarded by retreating USAFFE units to Bataan. They are active in selective ambuscades. However, their Socialist philosophy have changed to Communism.
I remember the Commando Unit smuggled into Zambales on the night of March 11, by Q-113 of Lt. Santiago C. Nuval with instructions from USAFFE HQ to start guerrilla organization and operation that early. When I told this to the Judge, he said that is perhaps the guerrilla unit under a certain Col. Thorpe operating from Mt. Pinatubo and some of his officers are former Cavalry Officers from Ft. Stotsenberg that managed to escape from Bataan Death March such as Lts. Ed Ramsey and Joe Barker. They were joined by Filipino volunteers from Zambales willing to continue fighting the Japanese.
The Judge also mentioned a small guerrilla group somewhere in Rizal led by former PMA Cadets Mike Ver and Terry Adevoso. I remember Adevoso, a member of Class ’44 disbanded with Class ’45 at Santo Tomas University last Dec and told to go home while Classes ’42 & 43 were commissioned and became a part of the 1st. Reg. Div. of Gen. Fidel Segundo that saw gallant action in Bataan. I saw Adevoso in tears disappointed when told to go home and unable to join us to Bataan. Judge Roldan surprised me when he got from his pocket a clandestine one page mimeographed anti-Japanese Newsgram circulated from Manila. Now I know the Judge has underground connect.
In Bulacan, an unidentified USAFFE Captain that managed to escape the Death March from Betis, Pampanga is reportedly organizing a guerrilla unit at the foot of Sierra Madre Mountains. This is perhaps the unit my younger brother, Narcy, joined.