Today is Graduation Day at BCA and all that passed the course were announced and given commissions as police officers with ranks from 5th Class Inspectors (Lts), 4th Cl. Insp. (Capts.), 3rd Cl. Insp. (Majs.) & 2nd Cl. Insp. (LCols). Majority are 5th Cl. Insp. and I am one of them. Those that failed and expected to be dismissed are given appointment as NCOs, thus to Sgts are Maj. Romulo Villaflor, Lt. J. Artillaga ’41, Lt. A. Astete ’42, Virgilio Danao ’42, to Cpls Lt. Nicolas Camello, Lt. Jose Fernandez and Lt. Marcos Simpao. They failed intentionally thinking that BCA will be like PMA, dismissal.
Our orders of assignments also came out and to my dismay, I am assigned to the province of Lanao with Insp. Tomas Domaoal as my Sr. Insp. with Insp. Francisco Bautista, a lawyer. I was expecting assignment in the Tagalog provinces but never in this land of juramentados. I was very upset and my blood was boiling but kept it all to myself. My classmate Joe Javier is assigned to Jolo and seems not bothered about it. I have to think deliberately and wisely on how I can avoid going to Lanao. Maj. E. Batongmalaque is assigned to Davao and happy about it. My classmates Cabangbang and Piccio are looking forward to their new assignment in Cebu.
BCA Academics are progressing smoothly. However, every passing day I come to know my classmates individually that today I can say I know all of them. It can be recalled this group started with that 1,400 “not sick” survivor POWs from Capas released and transferred to Camp Dau for Rejuvination Trng. last Jul 17. I knew more than half of them as my former associates and underclassmen at PMA. From this group 300 of us were sent to BCA and since our class started, I came to know those I did not know before, mostly senior PCA grads.
Among the Sr. PCA grads are Cols Lizardo ’15 Regmtl. Comdr. 41st Div, much decorated in Bataan; Col. Tomas Domaol ’17 C/S 41st Div of Gen. Lim; Cols Turingan ’17, Javalera ’17; Magsino & Diano ’19 Front Line Bn. Comdrs.; Majs Fidel Cruz ’27, Francisco Luna ’28, Leoncio Tan ’28 brilliant Div. Staff Os. Then we have Maj. Batongmalaque ’31 a Bn. Comdr. under Gen. Capinpin with his tales about his former CO, the legendary Capt. Canuto, better known as King “Canute.” Then we also have two bright combat lawyers, Lts. Amado Aleta and Francisco Bautista who earned decorations in Bataan for gallantry in action. Lt. Bautista was also the Captain Ball of the Phil. Olympic Basketball Team of 1936 that won 2nd place for our country next to the US. We also have my former PMA mentors Capts Alfredo Santos, D. Ojeda, S. Villa and E. Duque. Of course my classmates, Cabangbang, Tirona, Piccio, Escobar, Javier and Rodriguez. Then my underclassmen from ’41, ’42, & ’43.
In the battlefields, the group earned more than 300 DSC, SS, BS, Purple Hearts with many having multiple awards. This is an awesome group that fascinates me no end. I am privileged to be a member of this group, indeed.
Yesterday PM, Lt. Gomez & I were given special instructions on Japanese drill commands preparatory to our close order drill sked this PM. By this time we have been exposed to the Japanese anthem “Kimigayo” every morning and many Japanese common terms like “Ohayo”, “Ikaga desu ka” and “katakana”. Aside from Cabangbang and Tirona mentioned earlier, my other PMA classmates in this present class are Escobar, Javier, Piccio & Rodriguez and together with our underclassmen of ’41, ’42 & ’43 in this class, are elated in my being Sec. Marcher. However, there are skeptics that have negative comments and I told Gomez not to comment, to let the gossips run its course.
At 1430 today, our class was transported to Luneta Park for Close Order Drill. After the Section are assembled to start drill, I walked to where our Tac. O., Lt. Fukushima is and addressed the class: “Comrades, I would like to let everyone know my admiration on Lt. Fukushima. He was responsible for the capture of my OSP crew in Manila Bay after the Fall of Bataan. He treated us well and made us Malolos POWs”.
His ego titilated, Fukushima asked the class to form a circle around him, then started drawing diagrams on the ground describing how his two patrol boats tracked Q-112’s escape towards Hagonoy coast till it disappeared after scuttling and later finding our group of 20 to be captured by him. It took him about half an hour to tell his story that shortened our drill which was just to familiarize everyone of the Japanese commands like Kiotsky (Attention); Wakare-Atsumare (Fall Out and Reform; etc. And for the first time, our classmates realized how Lt. Gomez and I were made Section Marchers and the malicious gossips about us disappeared.
Today being a Friday, we are all looking forward for this weekend to be with our families.
In compliance with my POW Release Paper, I reported at 1400 today at Torres High School, Gagalangin, Manila. I found this old Manila HS is now designated by the Jap Adm. as the Bureau of Constabulary Academy (BCA). A week ago they have graduated 150 to start the BC idea to help in the peace and order situation. They recruited from among civilian volunteer college graduates with aptitude on security. I understand our group of POWs coming from Camp Dau number 300 and most of them are former Consbulary Os. I know many among those already here. As a matter of fact I already met several PMA classmates like Cabangbang and Tirona. I expect our police Training will be interesting in many respects.
We were processed, issued IDs, Training Schedules and assignment of Quarters. Classes will be from Mon to Fri; weekends we are free and can be with our families. Our Training will last for one month.
I moved my wife, Lucy, and our baby, Cecilia, from our Bulacan home to her parents Calle Tennessee house in Malate, Manila yesterday to enable me to be with them as often as possible. My mom sent along my younger sister, Effie, to help care for Cecilia. Lucy’s Dad (Mr. Richard Johnson) and sister, Helen, both US citizens are interned at UST and only step-mother, Maura, is living alone in Tennessee. Tomorrow will be my 27th anniversary so Lucy prepared a sumptuous lunch to celebrate my birthday before I reported for training today at BCA.
Today is a happy-sad day for me. After going around Camp O’Donnell the past three days, I finally found PMA classmates Bart Cabangbang, Tom Tirona I used to chat with in Corregidor and Dodong Caballero, Joe and Rey Mendoza of the Bataan group that made me happy. However, I learned from them that my dear friend and former roommate (and soulmate), Washington Sagun had died last May 16. This made me so sad as we bonded like brothers when we were roommates and I want the whole world to know the great legacies he left at PMA. A talented artist, during the early days of our plebe year, he was tasked into designing the original PMA cadet uniforms, insignias, diplomas, class rings, and other graphics like that of the “Corps” and “Sword”. He was one of the two starmen of our class for four straight years and graduated No. 2 but I still believe he should have been No 1. He left his belongings (class ring, cash, effects) to our classmate, H. B. Tuazon after he died.
As CO of a unit of the 31st Engineers, he dynamited Calumpit bridge after the last USAFFE unit from the south had crossed it last Jan 1. He saw gallant action in Bataan front lines with the 31st Div. Our nation lost an outstanding officer with great potential when he died. I consider it a great privilege to have been his roommate at PMA for two years.
According to Cavs Tirona and Cabangbang, it was also reported two other classmates, Alberto Aranzaso and Damian Pavon have died even earlier than Sagun. Before the surrender of Corregidor, Aranzaso and Pavon tried to convince them to escape from Corregidor to Cavite by small boat. They took separate boats that later capsized and sunk. Cav Aranzaso was a heroic P-26 pilot that challenged the Jap Zeros with Capt. Jesus Villamor last Dec. 10 and together, were the first recipients of Silver Stars personally awarded by Gen. MacArthur. Cav. Pavon was a 3-year starman qualified to be with the CE but chose to be with PAAC. He is another officer with great potential lost at a very young age 26. Aranzaso was 25 and Sagun 27 when they passed away. A sad day for me, indeed.
I was at Corregidor Wharf to welcome M/S Kolambugan that arrived 0730 today from another “smuggling trip to Looc Cove” similar to what we did a week ago. This time Q-111 is the escort with Capt. Navarette CO & Sqdn. Comdr. and Capt. Panopio with the Kolambugan, a confident veteran now. After our successful “smuggling opn” a week ago, USAFFE Hq adopted the SOP I established specially the coastal zigzag route. The indefatigable Maj. Rueda was able to procure another 3,000 tons of rice and 200 heads of cattle for USAFFE Hq to risk another attempt. I briefed Capt. Navarette and Cap Panopio on the SOP and the trip is successful. There is another “garapon” of pancit molo for the President from Rueda so I accompanied Navarrete to deliver it as he did not know the Quezon Lateral.
I was surprised to see the president very sick, constantly coughing still upset no reinforcements are coming. However, his eyes brightened when I gave him the flag of his sunken “Casiana” retrieved by my Gunner Sgt. Figuracion. Considering the 100,000 people in Bataan we have to feed which includes 20,000 civilian evacuees, the foodstuff smuggled by Kolambugan twice is just a drop in the bucket but it helps postpone the half rationing schedule being planned. Meanwhile, fighting continuous in the Battle of the Points behind the II Corps of Gen Wainwright with the enemy slowly being decimated every passing day.
On my way back to Q-112 at the wharf, I encountered my classmates Lts. Bartolome Cabangbang, Tomas Tirona, Damian Pavon and Alberto Aranzaso all PAAC pilots now without planes assigned to the AA Batteries in Corregidor. Aranzaso is one of our early heroes with Capt. Villamor shooting down enemy planes. It was a happy brief mini-reunion. I felicitated them for their accomplishments as well as their comrades with the PAAC Inf Bn under Capt. Pelagio Cruz, my provincemate, that fought and defeated the enemy that landed behind our MLR in the battle of Aglaloma Pt. The Voice of Freedom announced the heroism of this Bn as a Unit and cited the following officers awarded the Silver Stars (SS) for gallantry in action at Aglaloma: Capts. Pelagio Cruz; Eustacio Orobia; Pedro Q. Molina (Quezon’s nephew); and my Mistah Lt. Victor Osias. With the 5 SS earned by PAAC last Dec, they now have a total of 9 SS according to my book.
Amazing planeless PAAC, they still manage to earn SS as foot soldiers to show the world how versatile the USAFFE men are fighting in the jungles of Bataan that included young boys of a tender age like those Ateneo ROTC Volunteers very loyal to their Commandant, Capt. Eugenio G. Lara ’38. News report states that the Japanese are poised to land in Singapore which is supposed to be impregnable and defended by the British Forces.
I was privileged today, Rizal Day, to witness the oath-taking ceremony, for their 2nd term of Pres. Quezon and VP Osmeña before Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos outside the Corregidor Tunnel entrance. It was a solemn but brave ceremony for only yesterday, Corregidor was bombed by 54 enemy planes for an hour before noon and some of the craters are visible from where we sat. Quezon’s Yacht “Casiana” anchored off North Wharf was a direct hit and sunk but the Philippine flag still flies from her mast above water. I was caught halfway on my way to the Tunnel, jumped to a ditch, endured an hour of bombings with those scary hissing sounds. I was badly shaken by the experience with many killed or wounded in the area where I was.
Quezon made a stirring speech exhorting our people to fight the invaders.
Aside from the Quezon family, the MacArthurs and the Sayres, among those I saw in the ceremony were: Lt. Col. Andres Soriano, Majors Carlos Romulo & Sid Huff; Capts. Jess Villamor, S. P. Lopez & J. B. Magluyan; Lts. F. Isidoro, L. M. Guerrero, N. Reyes, B. Cabangbang, & A. Aranzaso.
After the ceremony, I ordered my crew to retrive the Phil. flag still flying on the mast of the sunken “Casiana” because Pres. Quezon expressed a desire to have it. While near the “Casiana” I noticed her auxiliary boat “Baler” under water. I decided to salvage the boat, towed it to Lamao and suggested to Capt. Magluyan who was with me to have it fixed to augment the “Danday.” Magluyan is one of the Lamao Beach Defenders in Bataan under Capt. Jurado, C.,OSP.
Late in the afternoon, I got a copy of directive saying “effective Jan. 1,1942,the Q-Boats will be under operational control of G-3, USAFFE HQ, Ft. Mills.”
C.,OSP conscripted a 40 ft boat, armed her with two .30 Cal. MGs christened “Danday”, Mrs. Jurado’s namesake, for use by the OSP Lamao Beach Defenders of Bataan. Today my ExO, Lt. Abraham ‘Abe’ Campo (USNA ’40) was rel’d. to be CO, “Danday” and to replace Lt. Campo, I selected Lt. Manuel Gomez ’41, my former classmate at MIT before we entered PMA. The bulk of OSP shore personnel transferred to Lamao, Bataan after Manila was declared Open City three days ago and so the beach defense of Lamao eastern Bataan becomes an OSP responsibility.
The 1st Q-Boat Squadron found a suitable place called Sisiman Cove east of Mariveles Bay that conceals our boats from the air. One mile up Sisiman River is our Support Gp. –Engineering under Lt. Jose Zulueta; Torpedoes, Depth Charges, Ordnance under Chief William Mooney, USNR; Adm., under Lt. Carlos J. Albert (USNA ’39). Since Christmas, our mission is primarily ferrying VIPs from Manila to Corregidor, the seat of government.
Today, all PAAC planes are gone. The planeless PAAC is organized as PAAC Provincial Regiment that is proceeding to Bataan. My province mates Capts. Pelagio Cruz and Eustacio Onrobia as well as my classmate Lt. Vic Osias are among with this Regiment. Also, the 700 PAAC Cadets were organized as an Infantry Battalion under Maj. Jose Francisco (USNA ’31) and proceeding to Corregidor. My classmates Lts. Bartolome Cabangbang and Alberto Aranzaso are among this Battalion.
The Jap invasion forces from Lingayen Gulf and Lamon Bay are slowly advancing towards Manila. They have to fight every inch of ground despite their air superiority. And if you think our situation is bad, Hongkong is worst. It was a sad christmas for the British in Hongkong. The British garrison retreated to Kowloon but after intense bombings for three days Gov. Sir Mark Young of Hongkong gave up easily and surrendered to Japanese Gen. Sakai on Christmas Day.
This is a significant day for our young 5-year old Phil. Army. In consonance with Pres. Roosevelt’s order last July 26, the Phil. Army Air Corps (PAAC) is the first unit of PA inducted to the USAFFE today. What is remarkable is the inducting officer is Gen. MacArthur himself who swore the PAAC under the command of Maj. Basilio Fernando with his 141 air pilots, 17 ground O’s, 1,200 EM’s and 64 planes. Aside from Maj. Fernando and my 17 Classmates led by Lts. Victor Osias, Tomas Tirona, Bartolome Cabangbang, Pedro Baban, Horacio Farolan etc, among the others I know personally inducted today are Capts. Pelagio Cruz, Eustacio Orobia; Lts Benito Ebuen, Bienvenido Ferrer, P. Q. Molina, Jonas Victoria, Renato Bareto, Godofredo Juliano, Augusto Jurado, Manecio Raventar, Juan Guevara, J B Ramos, Jose Basa and Jesus Villamor.
It may be pertinent to remark here that PAAC was given early priority among the PA branches of service. It was organized in 1936 with Major William L Lee, USAAC on detail with MacArthur’s Military Advisors Office as its first Comdg O until 1938. It was Maj Lee who trained our early Phil pioneer air pilots like Majors Zablan, Fernando, etc. It was also during his time that Major Eisenhower earned his wings with PAAC.