Bataan, 1942: views of a father and his son

Victor Buencamino (second from left, second row), with his family in the Pines Hotel, Baguio, 1932. Rightmost on second row is his eldest son, Felipe Buencamino III.
Victor Buencamino (second from left, second row), with his family in the Pines Hotel, Baguio, 1932. Rightmost on second row is his eldest son, Felipe Buencamino III.

 

(Revised, April 8, 2017) The Philippine Diary Project includes the diaries of a father and his son: Victor Buencamino, and Felipe Buencamino III. At the outbreak of the war, Victor Buencamino was head of the National Rice and Corn Corporation, precursor of today’s National Food Authority. His published diary covers the period from the arrival of the Japanese in Manila, and the first half of the Japanese Occupation.His diary provides an in-depth look into the dilemma facing government officials who stuck to their posts despite the withdrawal of the Commonwealth Government and the occupation of the Philippines by the Japanese. At certain points, particularly from January-April, 1942, he gets intermittent news about his son (who was, on the other hand, participating in clandestine military intelligence missions, even in Manila).

Particularly gripping are his entries for April, 1942, when on one hand, he is wrestling with increasing Japanese interference and intimidation –including his being summoned to the dreaded Fort Santiago, where other members of his staff had already been summoned and in at least once instance, tortured– and on the other, frantic for news about his son, particularly after the Fall of Bataan, when on the same day he received condolence messages and news his son was alive. Then, he recounted the grief of parents and his own search of the concentration camps.

As for Victor Buencamino’s son, Lt. Felipe Buencamino III, known to his friends as Philip, was a young journalist who became a junior officer in Bataan, assigned to General Simeon de Jesus headed military intelligence. He kept a diary from the time of the retreat of USAFFE forces from the outskirts of Manila to Bataan, and conditions there as well as in Corregidor, which he periodically visited, looming defeat, the eve of surrender,  and then the Death March and then wrote a kind of diary-memoir of the ordeal of his fellow prisoners in the Capas Concentration Campas well as his classmates. At times, his diary intersects with other diaries, such as the diary of Gen. Basilio J. Valdes, since Philip accompanied the General during one of his visits to the frontlines in Bataan. He resumed his diary, briefly, in September to December, 1944.
Felipe Buencamino III (topmost, leaning on windshield of jeep), photo taken in Bataan, 1942.
Felipe Buencamino III (topmost, leaning on windshield of jeep), photo taken in Bataan, 1942

His Bataan diary prominently features two close friends: the writer and future diplomat Leon Ma. Guerrero (who would later keep a Tokyo diary covering the last months of World War II in Japan and the first months of the Allied Occupation), and Fred Ruiz Castro, future Judge Advocate General of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and who ended his career as Chief Justice of the Philippines.

After the Death March and imprisonment in Camp O’Donnell, Lt. Buencamino would go home and convalesce. His diary resumed in September, 1944, and covers the start of Allied air raids on Manila, and the preparations of Japanese forces for what would be the Battle for Manila.

During Liberation, he became did a stint in the newspaper published by the Allied forces and then joined friends in setting an early post-Liberation paper. He also became a broadcaster.

He left journalism to begin a career in the new Philippine foreign service.

On April 28, 1949, Felipe Buencamino III, together with his mother-in-law, Aurora A. Quezon, sister-in-law, Maria Aurora Quezon, and Ponciano Bernardo (mayor of Quezon City) and others, were killed in an ambush perpetrated by the Hukbalahap

Leon Ma. Guerrero, in writing about Mrs. Quezon and the ambush in which she was killed, in 1951, also wrote about his friend, Philip:

In Bataan I shared the same tent with Philip Buencamino, who was later to marry Nini Quezon. He was the aide of General de Jesus, the chief of military intelligence, to which I had been assigned. I remember distinctly that one of the first things Philip and I ever did was to ride out in the general’s command car along the east coast out of pure curiosity. The enemy’s January offensive was turning the USAFFE flank and all along the highway we met retreating units. Then there was nothing: only the open road, the dry and brittle stubble of the abandoned fields, and in the distance the smoke of a burning town. We turned back hurriedly; we had gone too far. I am afraid we never got any closer to the front lines. Our duties were behind the lines. We were quite close during the entire campaign until I was evacuated to the Corregidor hospital, and I developed a sincere admiration for Philip. He was a passionate nationalist who could not stomach racial discrimination, and I remember him best in a violent quarrel with an American non-commissioned officer whom he considered insolent toward his Filipino superiors.

The late Fr. James Reuter, SJ, wrote about it in 2005:

On April 28, 1949 – 56 years ago, Doña Aurora Aragon Quezon was on her way to Baler. With her eldest daughter, Maria Aurora, whom everyone called “Baby”. And with her son-in-law, Philip Buencamino, who was married to her younger daughter, Zeneida, whom everyone called “Nini”. Nini was at home with their first baby, Felipe IV, whom everyone called “Boom”. And she was pregnant with their second baby “Noni”.

On a rough mountain road, in Bongabong, Nueva Ecija, they were ambushed by gunmen hiding behind the trees on the mountainside. The cars were riddled with bullets. All three of them were killed. Along with several others, among them Mayor Ponciano Bernardo of Quezon City.

Adiong, the Quezon family driver, was spared. Running to the first car, Adiong found Philip lying on the front seat, his side dripping blood. Philip smiled at Adiong and said: “Malakas pa ako. Tingnan mo” — “I am still strong. Look!” And dipping his finger in his own blood, Philip wrote on the backrest of the front seat: “Hope in God”.

When they placed him in another vehicle for Cabanatuan, his bloody hands were fingering his rosary, and his lips were moving in prayer. This was consistent with his whole life. His rosary was always in his pocket. And on his 29th birthday, exactly one month before, on March 28, 1949, at dinner in his father’s home, he said to Raul Manglapus: “Raul, the Blessed Virgin has appeared at Lipa, and has a message for all of us. What are we going to do, to welcome her, and to spread her message?”

He was echoing the thoughts of Doña Aurora, who wanted a national period of prayer to welcome the Virgin and to spread her message of Peace. Years later, the Concerned Women of the Philippines established the Doña Aurora Aragon Quezon Peace Awards, choosing the name in honor of this good, quiet, peaceful woman.

The blood stained rosary was brought to Nini, after Philip’s death. Many years later, she wrote down the thoughts that came to her when they gave her the bloody beads:

“We had joined my mother in Baguio for Holy Week, 1949. As we drove down the zigzag, after attending all the Holy Week services, Phil turned to me and said, ‘Nini, if we were to have an accident now, wouldn’t it be the perfect time for us to go?’ I said to him, ‘You may be ready, Phil, but I still have a child to give life to, so I can’t go just yet.’ And not long after this, his life was taken, and mine was spared.”

Her life was spared, but she felt the agony of those three deaths more intensely than anyone else. In that ambush she lost her husband, her mother, and her only sister. The gunmen riddled their bodies with bullets, on that rough mountain road. But miles away, with her one year old baby in her arms, and another baby in her womb, the gunmen left her with a broken heart. The ones she loved went home to God. But she had to carry on.

Another friend of Philip’s, Teodoro M. Locsin, whose wartime diary is also featured in the Philippine Diary Project, wrote about the murder of his friend, in the Philippines Free Press: see One Must Die, May 7, 1949:

I knew Philip slightly before the war. We were together when the Americans entered Manila in February, 1945. We were given a job by Frederic S. Marquardt, chief of the Office of War Information, Southwest Pacific Area, and formerly associate editor of the Free Press. Afterward, Philip would say that he owed his first postwar job to me: I had introduced him to Marquardt.

Philip and I helped put out the first issues of the Free Philippines. We worked together and wrote our stories while shells were going overhead. Philip was never happier; he was in his element. He was at last a newspaperman. He had done some newspaper work before the war, but this was big time. We were covering a city at war. Afterward, we resigned from the OWI, or were fired. Anyway, we went out together.

Meanwhile, we had, with Jose Diokno, the son of Senator Diokno, put out a new paper, the Philippines Press. Diokno was at the desk and more or less kept the paper from going to pieces as it threatened to do every day. I thundered and shrilled; that is, I wrote the editorials. Philip was the objective reporter, the impartial journalist, who gave the paper many a scoop. That was Philip’s particular pride: to give every man, even the devil, his due. While I jumped on a man, Philip would patiently listen to his side…

…As for Philip, he was eager to work, willing to listen, and devoted to the ideals of his craft. He was always smiling—perhaps because he was quite young. He had no enemy in the world—he thought.

After the paper closed up, Philip went to the Manila Post, which suffered a similar fate. Philip went on the radio, as a news commentator. He had a good radio voice; he spoke clearly, forcefully, well. He married the daughter of the late President Manuel L. Quezon, later joined the foreign service. But he never stopped wanting to be again a newspaperman. He would have dropped his work in the government at any time had there been an opening in the press for him.

Philip never spoke ill of Taruc. He saw the movement, of which Taruc was the head, as something he must cover, if given the assignment, and nothing more. Belonging to the landlord class though he did, he did not rave and rant against the Huks.

He had all the advantages, and he had, within the framework of the existing social order, what is called a great future. He was married to a fine girl and all the newspapermen were his friends. They kidded him; they called him Philip Buencamino the Tired, but they all liked him. He wanted so much to be everybody’s friend. he got along with everyone—including myself and Arsenio H. Lacson.

When he returned from Europe to which he had been sent in the foreign service of the Philippines, he was happy, he said, to be home again, and he still wanted to be a newspaperman. His wife was expecting a second child and life was wonderful. Now he is dead, murdered, shot down in cold blood by Taruc’s men.

He was, in the Communist view and in Communist terminology, a representative of feudal landlordism, a bourgeois reactionary, etc. I remember him as a decent young man who tried to be and was a good newspaperman, who used to walk home with me in the afternoon in the early days of Liberation, munching roasted corn and hating no one at all in the world.

Felipe Buencamino III married Zeneida Quezon. Behind the couple can be seen: Victor Buencamino, the groom’s father; groom’s friends newsman Doroy Valencia and broadcaster Arsenio Lacson; bride’s brother, Manuel L. Quezon Jr., and the groom’s other great friend, Raul Manglapus.

A few days earlier, the other friend mentioned by Locsin —Arsenio H. Lacson on May 3, 1949— had also paid tribute to his friend, Philip:

Until now, I can’t quite get over Philip’s tragic death. He was first of all, a very close friend of mine. I saw him married, and was one of the best men at his wedding. I also saw him buried, and it is not a pleasant thing to remember.

Philip was such a nice, clean boy, friendly, warm-hearted and generous, so full of life, and laughter, that I learned to love him. Of course he had his faults, but you take your friends as they are, not as you want them to be. And Philip, for all his faults, was quite a man. In all the years that we kept close together, I never knew him to deliberately do a mean thing.

Because he was by nature easy-going and amiable, he exasperated me at time by failing to take things more seriously and using his considerable talents to point out the many evils with which our government is cursed. Actually, he was not wholly indifferent to them. He could on occasions become quite angry over certain injustices, but he had no capacity for sustained indignation, and it was not in him, to fret and worry over the distraceful and scandalous way this country is being run. Life to him was one swell adventure, to be lived and savored to the full, with very little time left for crusades. The world cannot be changed or saved in a day.

And because he was Philip, he would gaily twit me about being afflicted with a messianic itch. Relax, he would say. Take it easy. Things are not as bad as they look. In time, everything would be alright. Perhaps, he had the right answer. I wouldn’t know. But I shudder to think what would happen if all of us adopted a carely and carefree attitude and paraphrasing archie, Don Marquis’ cockroach reporter, say:

no trick nor kick of fate
can raise me from a yell,
serene I sit and wait
for the Philippines to go to hell.

The last time I saw Philip was two days before his death. Linking his arm to mine with a gay laugh, he dragged me to Astoria for a cup of coffee. We joined a boisterous group of newsmen who flung good-natured jibes at Philip when he announced that he was quitting the government foreign service to settle down to a life of a country farmer. Somebody brought up the subject of a certain Malacañan reporter who always made it a point to take a malicious crack at Philip and his influential family connections, and Philip agreed the guy was nasty. It was typical of Philip, however, that when I curtly suggested that he punch the offensive reporter on the nose, he smilingly shook his head saying: “How can I? Every time I get sore, the fellow embraces me and tells me with that silly laugh of his ‘Sport lang, Chief.’ I can’t get mad at him.”

That was Philip. He couldn’t get mad at anyone for long. He liked everybody, even those who, regarding him with envious eyes as a darling Child of Fortune, spoke harshly of him. He was essentially a nice, friendly guy. It was not in him to harm anybody, including those who tried to harm him.

And now he is dead, along with that fine and noble lady who was his mother-in-law, and that vivid, great-hearted, spirited girl who was so much like her great and illustrious father, foully murdered by hunted and persecuted men turned into wild, insensate beasts by grave injustices –men who, in laying ambush for Mr. Quirino and other government officials, brutally and mercilessly struck down innocent victims instead.

Philip Buencamino III had so much to live for: a charming, gracious wife who adored him, a chubby little son who will one day grow up into sturdy manhood with only a dim memory of his father, and another child on the way whom Philip now will never see. Handsome and talented, Philip had his whole future before him. His was a life so full of brilliant promise, and it is a great tragedy that it should have ended soon. He had been a top reporter before he entered the foreign service. With his charm and affability, his personal gifts and family prestige, there was no height he could not have scaled as a diplomat. The pity of it, the futile pitiful waste of it! A nice, clean, promising youngster sacrificed to the warring passions of men who have turned Central Luzon into a charnel house.

On a final note, you can listen to Felipe Buencamino III: He was the emcee for the Malacañan Press Corps, in the first radio press conference of President Roxas broadcast from Malacañan Palace in 1947.

First radio press conference of Manuel Roxas. Felipe Buencamino III was the emcee.

The Great Escape of the S.S. Mactan: December 31, 1941

BJE-446-BS_F

Photo above: recently offered for sale on eBay, a Baltimore Sun wirephoto of wounded soldiers aboard the S.S. Mactan.

Late at night, on December 31, 1941, an old ship prepared to weigh anchor to escape Manila. Its destination was Sydney, Australia. On board, were 224 wounded USAFFE soldiers (134 of them Americans and 90 of whom were Filipinos); 67 crew members, all Filipino, and 25 medical and Red Cross personnel, all Filipino except for one American nurse, and some others.

The ship was the S.S. Mactan. Its journey represents one of the great escapes of World War 2.

In the book At His Side: The Story of the American Red Cross Overseas in World War 2, by George Korson, chronicles the story of the S.S. Mactan.

Page 22 of the book contains this scene:

On the morning of December 24, some twenty Red Cross volunteer women were in the official residence of Francis B. Sayre, High Commissioner to the Philippines, packing Christmas gifts for soldiers and sailors in hospitals in and around Manila. Mrs. Sayre was in charge of the group.

Suddenly, at eleven o’clock, Mrs. Sayre looked up from her task at the tables to see her husband standing in the patio doorway beck- oning to her. She slipped quietly out of the room and stood in the patio. “I have an urgent message from General MacArthur,” said Mr. Sayre in a low voice. “The city may fall, and we must be ready to leave for Corregidor at one-thirty!”

Mrs. Sayre was stunned. “But we must finish these bags. They’re the only Christmas our boys will have.”

“Pack as quickly as you can,” he said and left hurriedly. Mrs. Sayre went back to the tables. The women worked quickly,  and in silence, to complete their task before the daily noon Japanese air raid over Manila.

The treasure bags, as they were called, made hundreds of American and Filipino soldiers and sailors happier in their hospital wards that dark Christmas Day. Irving Williams helped Gray Ladies make the distribution in the Sternberg General Hospital. The work was under the direction of Miss Catherine L. Nau, of Pittsburgh assistant field director at the hospital, who later was to distinguish herself for her work among the troops on Bataan and Corregidor, before the Japanese interned her.

Of the gift distribution at Sternberg General Hospital, Irving Williams said, “I shall never forget the boys’ beaming faces and delighted eyes as we went from ward to ward. The simple comfort articles meant so much to these boys, who had lost all of their possessions on the field of battle.”

The Philippine Diary Project contains General Basilio J. Valdes’ diary entry for December 24, 1941, giving the Filipino side of that day’s hectic events.

The Red Cross book continues with Gen. Valdes returning to Manila to contact the Red Cross:

Not until three days later December 28 did Williams know that these same boys would be entrusted to his care on one of the most hazardous missions of the war. Major General Basilio Valdes, then commanding general of the Filipino Army, came straight from MacArthur’s headquarters on Corregidor with the urgent request that the American Red Cross undertake to transport all serious casualties from the Sternberg General Hospital to Australia. President Manuel Quezon of the Philippine Commonwealth helped the Red Cross locate the Mactan.

The Commonwealth Government had, of course, by this time, withdrawn to Corregidor, and Manila had been declared an Open City. Sending Gen. Valdes to Manila was therefore rather risky.

The Philippine Diary Project contains Gen. Valdes’ entries about this mission, which began on December 28, 1941:

We left Corregidor on a Q Boat. It took us 45 minutes to negotiate the distance. The picture of Manila Bay with all the ships either sunk or in flames was one of horror and desolation. We landed at the Army and Navy Club.

I rushed immediately to Red Cross Headquarters. I informed Mr. Forster, Manager Philippine Red Cross, and Mr. Wolff, Chairman of the Executive Board of my mission. I then called the Collector of Customs Mr. de Leon and I asked him what ships were still available for my purpose. He offered the government cutter Apo. I accepted. He told me that it was hiding somewhere in Bataan and that he expected to hear from the Captain at 6 p.m.

From his house, I rushed to Sternberg General Hospital where I conferred with Colonel Carroll regarding my plans. Then I returned to the Red Cross Headquarters and arranged for 100 painters and sufficient paint to change its present color to white, with a huge Red Cross in the center of the sides and on the funnel.

At 3 p.m. I again called Collector de Leon and inquired if he would try to contact the Apo. He assured me that he would endeavor to contact the Captain (Panopio). At 11 p.m. Mr. De Leon phoned me that he had not yet received any reply to his radio call. I could not sleep. I was worried.

There’s an extensive chronicle in his diary entries for December 29, 1941:

At 6:30 a.m. I called up Mr. Jose (Peping) Fernandez one of the managers of Compania Maritima and told him that I had to see him with an important problem. I rushed to his house. He realized my predicament. “I can offer you ships, but they are not here,” he said. After studying my needs from all angles we decided that the best thing to do would be to ask the U.S. Army to release the SS Mactan.

We contacted Colonel George, in charge of water transportation, and asked him to meet us at USAFFE Headquarters so that we could discuss the matter with General Marshall. We met at 8 a.m. and it was decided that the U.S. Army would release the Mactan to me to convert it into a hospital ship. I was told the SS Mactan, was in Corregidor and it would not be in Manila until after dark. I rushed to the Red Cross Headquarters and asked Mr. Forster to have the painters in readiness to start the painting without delay, as soon as the ship docked at Pier N-1.

Last night Mr. Forster sent a telegram to the American Red Cross in Washington informing them of our plan.

At 11 a.m. Collector de Leon phoned me that the Apo was sailing for Manila that evening. I thanked him and informed him that it was too late.

At 5 p.m. Mr. Wolff phoned me that they have received an important radiogram from the Secretary of State, Hull, and that my presence in the Red Cross was urgent to discuss the contents of this radiogram. I rushed there. Mr. Wolff, Mr. Forster, Judge Dewitt and Dr. Buss of the High Commissioner’s Office were already busy studying the contents of Mr. Hull’s radiogram. It was specified in it that the sending out of Red Cross hospital Ship was approved; that the Japanese government had been advised of its sailing through the Swiss Ambassador and that it was necessary that we radio rush the name of the ship and the route that would be followed. Moreover, we were told to comply strictly with the articles of the Hague convention of 1907. These articles define what is meant by Red Cross Hospital Ship, how it must be painted and what personnel it must carry. It clearly specifies that no civilian can be on the boat.

I left Red Cross Headquarters at 6:30 p.m. No news of the SS Mactan had been received. At 9 p.m. I called Dr. Canuto of the Red Cross, and I was advised that the ship had not yet arrived.

At 11 p.m. I went to Pier N-1 to inquire. No one could give me any information about the Mactan

And December 30, 1941:

At 5 a.m. Mr. Williams of the Red Cross phoned me that the ship had arrived but that he was not willing to put the painters on because there was still some cargo of rifles and ammunition left. He informed me that the Captain (Tamayo) and the Chief Officers were in his office. I asked him to hold them. I dressed hurriedly and rushed to the Red Cross Headquarters. They repeated the information given to Mr. Williams. Believing that this cargo belonged to the U.S. Army I asked them to come with me to the USAFFE Headquarters. I had to awake General Marshall. Pressing our inquiry we found out that this cargo consisted only of 3 or 4 boxes of rifles (Enfield) and 2 boxes of 30 caliber ammunition belonging to Philippine Army. It had been left as they were forced to leave Corregidor before everything had been unloaded. We explained to them that there was no danger and with my assurance that these boxes would be unloaded early in the morning, they returned to the ship, took on the painters and left for Malabon for the painting job.

From the USAFFE Headquarters, I rushed to the house of Colonel Miguel Aguilar, Chief of Finance. I found him in bed. He got up, and I asked him to see that the remaining cargo there be removed without delay. He assured me that he would contact the Chief of Quartermaster Service and direct him accordingly. My order was complied with during the course of the day.

At 9 a.m. I contacted Mr. Forster. He informed me that the painters were on the job and that in accordance with my instructions, two launches were tied close to the ship to transport the painters to the river of Malabon in case of a raid. I then went to Colonel Aguilar’s office at the Far Eastern University to discuss with him some matters regarding finance of the Army. From there I went to Malacañan to see Sec. Vargas, and from there to the office of the Sec. of National Defense, to inquire for correspondence for me.

At noon, I called Mr. Jose (Peping) Fernandez to inquire where the ship was. He asked me to have luncheon with him and to go afterwards to Malabon. After lunch we went by car to Malabon. I saw the ship being painted white. It already had a large Red Cross on the sides and on the funnel.

I returned to the Red Cross Headquarters to ascertain if all plans had been properly carried out. Mr. Forster was worried as he did not know whether the provisions and food supplies carried by his personnel would be sufficient. I then contacted Colonel Ward by phone, and later Colonel Carroll. Both assured me that there would be enough food and medical supplies for the trip.

With that assurance, and the promise of Mr. Forster that his doctors and nurses were all ready to go and of Colonel Carroll that as soon as the boat docked at Pier 1, he would begin to load his equipment, beds, etc. and transport his patients, I felt that my mission had been successfully accomplished.

Here, the Red Cross book continues the story on page 16:

Late in the afternoon of December 31, 1941, Army ambulances came clanging down Manila’s Pier 1 and halted alongside the American Red Cross hospital ship Mactan moored there.

They were followed by others, and for three hours an unending line of stretchers bearing seriously wounded American and Filipino soldiers streamed up the Mactan’s gangplank. Men with bandaged heads, with legs in casts, with arms in slings, and with hidden shrapnel wounds were borne aloft by Filipino doctors, nurses, and crew.

Their faces pallid and eyes expressionless, they had no idea where they were being taken. They did not seem to care, except that the large red crosses on the ship’s sides were a reassuring sign that they were in friendly hands.

There were 224 officers and enlisted men in the group of wounded young boys of the new Philippine Army, youthful American airmen, grizzled veterans of the Philippine Scouts (an arm of the United States Army), and gray-haired American soldiers with many years’ service in the Far East. All had been wounded fighting the Japanese invaders during the bloody weeks preceding the historic stand on Bataan.

These casualties had been left behind in the Sternberg General Hospital when General Douglas MacArthur withdrew his forces to Bataan. Anxious, however, to save them from the rapidly advancing Japanese armies, he had requested the American Red Cross to transport them to Darwin, Australia, in a ship chartered, controlled, staffed, and fully equipped by the Red Cross. The only military personnel aboard, apart from the patients, would be an Army surgeon, Colonel Percy J. Carroll, of St. Louis, Missouri, and an Army nurse, Lieutenant Floramund Ann Fellmeth, of Chicago.

Aboard the Mactan, berthed at Manila’s only pier to survive constant Japanese air attacks, Irving Williams, of Patchogue, Long Island, lanky Red Cross field director, observed the three-hour procession of wounded up the gangplank. From now on until the ship reached Australia an estimated ten-day passage if things went well responsibility for them was in his hands.

The book on page 16 continues by explaining how the Mactan ended up the chosen ship for this mission:

Only forty-eight hours had elapsed since the Mactan had been brought from Corregidor where she was unloading military stores for the United States Army. A 2,000-ton, decrepit old Philippine inter-island steamer, she was the only ship available at the time when everything in Manila Bay had been sunk or scuttled or had scampered off to sea.

Working under threat of Manila’s imminent occupation by Japanese troops, Williams and his Red Cross associates, and the crews under them, performed a miracle of speed in outfitting the Mactan as a hospital ship. Simultaneously, steps were taken to fulfill the obligations of international law governing hospital ships: The Mactan was painted white with a red band around the vessel and large red crosses on her sides and top decks; a charter agreement was made between the American Red Cross and the ship’s owners; the ship was commissioned in the name of the President of the United States; in accordance with cabled instructions from Chairman Norman H. Davis in the name of the American Red Cross, the Japanese Government was apprized of the ship’s description and course; all contraband was dumped overboard; and the Swiss Consul, after a diligent inspection as the representative of United States interests, gave his official blessings.

The Mactan, lacking charts to navigate the mine-infested waters of Manila Bay, set steam late in the evening of December 31, 1941. The Philippine Diary Project has Gen. Basilio J. Valdes solving the problem of the charts (involving the charts of the presidential yacht, Casiana, recently sunk off Corregidor), in his entry for December 31, 1941:

At 5 p.m. while I was at Cottage 605, the telephone rang. It was a long distance from Manila. I rushed to answer. It was my aide Lieutenant Gonzalez informing that the ship would be ready to sail, but the Captain refused to leave unless he had the charts for trip, and same could not be had in Manila. I told Lieutenant Gonzalez to hold the line and I asked Colonel Huff who was at General MacArthur’s Quarters next door, and he told me that the charts of the Casiana could be given. I informed Lieutenant Gonzalez. Half an hour later Lieutenant Gonzales again called me and told me that the boat would leave at 6:30 p.m.

I was tired. After dinner I retired. At 10:30 p.m. a U.S. Army Colonel woke me up to inform me that the ship was still in Pier N-1 and that the Captain refused to sail unless he had the charts. We contacted USAFFE Headquarters. We were informed that the Don Esteban was within the breakwater. We gave instructions that the charts of the Don Esteban be given to the Captain of the SS Mactan and that those of the Casiana would be given to the SS Don Esteban.

I then called Collector of Customs Mr. de Leon, and asked him to see that the ship sails even if he had to put soldiers on board and place the Captain under arrest.

At 11:40 p.m. we were advised by phone that the SS Mactan, the hospital ship had left the Pier at 11:30 p.m. We all gave a sigh of relief.

The Red Cross book describes the ship’s departure as follows om p. 19:

Off the breakwater, the Mactan dropped anchor to await the Don Esteban.

As the hours passed, a little group joined Julian C. Tamayo, the Mactan’s skipper, on the bridge for a last look at Manila’s skyline. Besides Williams, there were Father Shanahan, Colonel Carroll, and Chief Nurse Ann Fellmeth.

Having been declared an open city, Manila once again was ablaze. The incandescent lights, however, were dimmed by the curtains of bright flame hanging over the city. The Army was dynamiting gasoline storage tanks at its base in Pandacan and its installations on Engineer Island to prevent their use by the enemy. The docks were burning, and over smoldering Cavite Navy Yard, devastated by heavy Japanese air attacks, intermittent flashes of fire reddened the sky.

As if by design, promptly at midnight the last of the Pandacen gasoline tanks blew up with a terrific explosion, throwing up masses of flame which seemed to envelop the whole city. A new year was ushered in, but the little group on the Mactan’s bridge was in no mood for celebration.

The charts brought by the Don Estebarfs master were not the ones Captain Tamayo had asked for. They were too general.

“Do you think you can sail without detailed charts?” askedWilliams.

“I think so,” replied the swarthy, pug-nosed little skipper with characteristic confidence.Once again, the Mactan weighed anchor. The moon was high in the sky as the ship approached Corregidor for a last-minute rendezvous with a United States naval vessel. From the shadow of The Rock sped a corvette, a gray wraith floodlighted by the moon, to lead the Mactan through the maze of mine fields. The corvette led the lumbering Mactan a merry chase; highly maneuverable, the former made the various turns at sharp angles, while the latter would reach the apex of a triangle and extend beyond it before making a turn.

A 26 year old American nurse, Floramund Fellmeth Difford, who ended up on board after being given a daring assignment, has her own version of events:

While the other nurses stationed in Manila were evacuated to Bataan and Corregidor, Difford was chosen for a special assignment because of her surgical nurse experience. A plan was devised to evacuate as many of the hospitalized soldiers as possible to Australia aboard an inter-island coconut husk steamer called the Mactan, under the auspices of the International Red Cross. It would be the largest single humanitarian evacuation of military personnel to date. And it was a suicide mission.

Col. Percy J. Carroll, the commanding officer of the Manila Hospital Center, told Difford the secret assignment was voluntary and risky. There was no guarantee the ship, which was barely seaworthy, would make it to its destination, but for the wounded, staying in Manila meant certain death. “It never really entered my mind to refuse, as we were accustomed to following orders,” Difford related in her book.

While the Japanese were on the outskirts of Manila, Difford awaited word to board the Mactan. She carried with her a note that explained that she was a noncombatant, but with the Japanese closing in, she prepared herself to become a prisoner. On Dec. 31, 1941, the order finally came. The Mactan, newly painted white with red crosses on its sides and decks so planes would recognize it as a “mercy ship,” was loaded with 224 wounded soldiers (134 Americans and 90 Filipinos); 67 crew members, all Filipino; and 25 medical and Red Cross personnel, all Filipino except Difford, who was the chief nurse, Col. Carroll, and a Catholic priest from Connecticut, the Rev. Thomas Shanahan, the ship’s chaplain.

Although the Red Cross was given clearance for the ship to leave by a Japanese commander, this was the first hospital ship to transport wounded soldiers in a war that the United States had just entered. There was great concern that the ship would be attacked by air or torpedo. Those aboard the ship rang in New Year’s Day 1942 to the sight of Manila in flames as the Americans blew up gasoline storage tanks to keep the supplies out of enemy hands.

The journey was fraught with peril. The ship had to zigzag through a maze of mines just to leave Manila Bay, following a Navy ship for guidance, and had a close call when it made a wrong turn in the darkness. The ship was infested with cockroaches, red ants, and copra beetles. Violent storms tossed the ship and drenched the patients on their cots on the decks, sheltered only by canvas. There was a fire in the engine room, and for a time those aboard prepared to abandon ship. Two wounded soldiers died from their injuries during the crossing, and a depressed Filipino soldier committed suicide by jumping overboard.

On Jan. 27, 1942, the Mactan arrived in Sydney Harbor to much fanfare, especially after newspapers had falsely reported that the ship had been attacked multiple times. Despite the primitive conditions aboard the vessel, the wounded soldiers arrived in very good condition and were quickly taken to a hospital on land. The Mactan’s voyage made headlines in the United States. Difford was cited for bravery by Gen. Douglas MacArthur and was awarded the Legion of Merit in 1942, among other awards. She and other military nurses were belatedly awarded the Bronze Star Medal for their service in 1993.

On board the ship, Major William A. Fairfield, kept a diary –he called it a “log”– from January 1, 1942, when the S.S. Mactan left Manila, to January 27, 1942, when they entered Sydney Harbor. You can read his diary and his recollections of the opening weeks of the war in the Philippines.

At the end of the voyage, the soldiers who’d been saved, all signed the document:

S. S. Mactan, Red Cross Hospital Ship
At Sea, January 12, 1942

National Headquarters

American Red Cross

Washington, D. C.

We, the undersigned officers and enlisted men of the USAFFE, in grateful appreciation of the services rendered by the Philippine Chapter of the American Red Cross under the supervision of Mr. Irving Williams, Field Director, wish by this letter to express our gratitude.

The evacuation of the wounded soldiers from Manila by the Red Cross prior to its occupation by the enemy was instrumental in preserving the lives and health of the undersigned.

The document bore the signatures, rank, and home addresses of 210 of the Mactan’s patients all of them except those who had died or were too sick even to write their names. The addresses represented almost every state in the Union and every province in the Philippines.


December 24-25, 1941 in diaries

From Malacanan

December 24, 1941: Philippine Army Chief of Staff and Secretary of National Defense, Secretary of Public Works and Communications and Secretary of Labor Basilio J. Valdes, and Executive Secretary Jorge B. Vargas, watch as President Manuel L. Quezon administers the oath of office to Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos, who also became Acting Secretary of Justice & Acting Secretary of Finance; witnessed by Jose P. Laurel and Benigno S. Aquino, in the Social Hall of Malacañan Palace. A few hours later the government evacuated to Corregidor, where the seat of government was transferred. Behind Quezon can be seen the Rest House (now Bahay Pangarap) across the river in Malacañang Park.

The Philippine Diary Project has several entries for this and the next day, covering different facets of life:

Basilio J. Valdes: December 24, 1941 begins his day at 8 am with a Cabinet meeting; on December 25, 1941, he recounts midnight Mass in Corregidor.

Ramon A. Alcaraz: does escort duties as a Q-Boat captain, on December 24, 1941.

Fr. Juan Labrador, OP, a Spanish Dominican, tries to piece together the information he has in UST for December 24, 1941. He is better informed than most.

Teodoro M. Locsin: as a civilian, December 24, 1941 was, for him, about the effects of air-raids in Manila. With nothing to do on December 25, 1941, Locsin observes life around him, and the isolation war brings.

Felipe Buencamino III: writing as a young lieutenant in Tagaytay, rounds off December 24, 1941 among the diarists.


June 29, 1945 Friday

Yesterday some more “collaborationists” arrived from Manila. Among them were Justice Jorge Bocobo, Dean of the College of Law of the University of the Philippines; Mr. Arsenio Luz, Chairman of the Board of Information and Spokesman of Malacañan with the rank of Minister; Mr. Francisco Lavides, a Representative and lately Military Governor for the district comprising Laguna, Tayabas, Batangas and Mindoro; and Dr. Julio Luz.

They brought much news and many newspapers. Some of the news are sensational.

Wer were surprised to see Justice Bocobol he had never been a pro-Japanese, although he admires some of their virtues. He has always been sympathetic towards the Americans. He attributes his detention to the fact he was one of the signers of the first Manifesto and was a member of the first Council of State.

The news about a resolution in the Senate referred to earlier has been cleared up. Sen. Ramon Torres presented a resolution providing for the immediate investigation of Senators Recto, Yulo, Paredes, Tirona, Madrigal, Sebastian and myself who are now under detention. He demanded the investigation to vindicate the good name of the Senate and in order to avoid difficulties that hamper the regular functioning of the Senate. He said that he is convinced that our detention is just the result of a misunderstanding, rather than to a real and just cause. He said that his purpose was to determine he qualification of the detained Senators to be members of the Senate. (Philippine Press, June 26, 1945). The Senators are being prevented from complying with their official duties for causes of which the Senate has no official cognizance. Torres asked: “Who of us who are free and fully enjoy our rights as Senators can say that we have a better right, rathen than better luck, than some of those presently detained?” The resolution gives authority to the Senate President to appoint a special committee of five senators. The Senate President is to make the necessary arrangements with the corresponding authorities so that the committee may be given the necessary facilities for the poper discharge of its functions.

Editorial of Philippines Press, June 26, 1945. Present administration “has fumbled, in the opinion of even those who wish it well, the collaboration issue.”

Post, June 24. The nature of the late President Quezon’s “last instructions” to ranking Filipino officials and members of his war cabinet –the crux of the collaborationist problem– was further clarified by Senate President Roxas. At a meeting held in Marikina, before Quezon went to Corregidor, Roxas recalled, the late President instructed those who were to remain behind to “remain at their posts and do their utmost to protect the people” while the nation waited for the arrival of the American forces that would redeem the Philippines’ freedom. Among present: Gen. Roxas, Secretary of Justice Jose Abad Santos, Secretary of National Defense Teofilo Sison, Secretary of Agriculture Rafael Alunan, Secretary of Finance Serafin Marabut, Exec. Sec. Jorge B. Vargas, Philippine Army Chief of Staff Basilio Valdes, and Dr. Jose P. Laurel, then Justice of the Supreme Court.

Laurel, who had been originally scheduled to accompany Quezon to America but who was requested by the late President at the last moment to stay, reportedly asked Quezon, “To what extent should be cooperate with the Japanese?”

To which Quezon was said to have replied, “You may cooperate short of taking the oath of allegiance to Japan.”

Laurel then asked, “Suppose we are forced to?”

For a while Quezon was silent. Before he could answer, Laurel said, “I shall flee and hide in the mountains.”

Quezon: “No, not all of you should do that. Avoid it as much as you can.”

News items on June 24, 1945: Senator Carlos P. Garcia yesterday (June 23, 1945) challenged his colleagues that they resign from the Senate and submit to a national election as early as feasible so that the voters will have a chance to render their verdict on “collaboration” and other issues that now threaten to split the Nacionalista ranks. Garcia took the floor to hit back at Senate Pres. Roxas who on Wednesday attacked him and Rep. Pedro Lopez of Cebu as well as the administration. All elective officials particularly those who held posts under the Japanese, should return their positions to the people because it is the latter who can decide who are the Filipino officials who did such acts as signing the Pact of Alliance, declaring war against the United States, and sending Constabulary with Japanese soldiers to mopping out operations in some provinces. They would wish to know whether Filipino leaders were really impotent to prevent these and other crimes, and if so wh they continued at their posts. He said those serving during Japanese occupation lost the confidence and trust of the people who have remained loyal to the Commonwealth and the United States. Pres. Osmeña is included in the request for resignation.

Senator Garcia accepted Roxas’ challenge that he introduce a bill calling for an early election, but the date will have to be determined after complete order is restored. He said he is willing to have elections held as early as circumstances will permit.

The above apparently is a rejoinder on the part of Senator Garcia. It was an answer to the speech of Roxas of June 21, 1945.

My comment: I do not see that an election is necessary to find out the things Garcia said the people would like to know. We have been elected for a certain term under the Constitution and the people’s will should be respected. But under the circumstances, I cannot possibly refuse to resign. It may be interpreted as meaning that I want to hide something. I especially want the people to know that I have never been disloyal to my country. However, it occurs to me that the truth can very well be ascertained by following the constitutional processes. In the case of the senators, they cannot be not allowed to sit while an investigation is being held by a committee of the Senate and until their cases are decided by that body. Such measure as is proposed by Sen. Torres should be adopted immediately. We are entitled to perform the functions entrusted to us by the people if we are not guilty.

Post, June 25, 1945. Roxas accepted the challenge made by Sen. Carlos Garcia, that the questions on which he (Roxas) and the administration differed be decided at an election.


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 12, 1942

At Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York. I saw Quezon and Osmeña at 9 a.m.

They both seemed depressed, and the latter was absent-minded. I learned the reason for this depression while Morgan Shuster and I were questioning Quezon about his war book. He said he had had one of the most discouraging interviews of his life last night with two owners of publishing businesses–not merely editors, (Henry Luce and Roy Howard). And he was not satisfied that the future relations between the United States and the Philippines were not even yet settled, in spite of President Roosevelt’s cable to him on Corregidor that the islands were to be “taken back, independence granted and secured and protected”–a promise upon which he had staked so very much. Now, he began to believe that all the United States would do for them would be to “put them back in the same place they were in the beginning.” When I asked him exactly what he meant, he did not clarify the situation, but Shuster and I afterwards presumed these words to mean a sort of “phony” independence was to be theirs, and without being “secured and protected,” and, even possibly under the hegemony of Japan.

Shuster then remarked that there was a large number of persons in the United States today who were at heart pacifists and would be ready for an arranged peace.

When we were alone together once more, I asked Quezon why, when he was on Corregidor and refused the Japanese offer of “independence with honor,” he had been so sure in staking the whole future on confidence in a positive victory over Japan. He replied: “It is the intelligence of the average American and the limitless resources of your country which decided me. The Americans are, of course, good soldiers, as they showed in Europe during the last war, but as for courage, all men are equally courageous if equally well led. Merely brave men certainly know how to die–but the world is not run by dead men.” He cited the case of the Spartans and the Athenians. “What became of the Spartans?” And then he added that in making on Corregidor that momentous decision, he “wasn’t sure.”

It later appeared that one of Luce’s publications–Fortune in its August number was to publish an excellent analysis of Far Eastern affairs by Buell. They sent Quezon a preview copy of this article which however carried an absurg suggestion that independence be postponed in the Philippines until 1960, the islands to be garrisoned meanwhile by the United Nations. “What” cried Quezon, “they propose to garrison us with Chinese and Russian soldiers? The moment that article comes out, the Japanese radio will use it. The people of my country will turn at once to the Japanese side, and I shall be completely discredited. You propose to return Formosa to China? How foolish. Better garrison Formosa by the United Nations armies, and thereby protect the Philippines and insure peace in the Far East.”

Quezon says he finally converted Luce and Howard to this view, and Luce is going to advocate Philippine independence immediately after the war. Quezon is quite worn out by the strain of these arguments, conducted until 1:30 last night and for an hour this morning. He remains still greatly depressed by the views of Howard and Luce on the Philippines’ status after this war is over. He now sees that the final success of his life’s work really depends upon Roosevelt’s party remaining in power in Washington.

While we were somewhat gloomily surveying this episode of the inside working of New York editorial minds, an American press agent came in and told Quezon that at two-thirty p.m. on Sunday, the Flag Day of the United Nations, President Roosevelt will announce the recognition of the Philippines as one of the United Nations. This is the prompt result of the negotiations conducted by Quezon through Hopkins, and is surely a swift remedy for the enervating doctrines of Luce and Howard.

Quezon, in the midst of serious distractions and worries about the future of his country, has been stirred up by Shuster to make another effort to concentrate on his book. He has just wired General MacArthur inviting him to write and cable a foreword to his proposed book. I reported to Quezon that Shuster expected to sell 25,000 copies of the book, if gotten out promptly, which figure at 15% royalty on a $3.00 book would net him (Quezon) $10,000. The President’s comment in reply was that he had an offer of that sum for ten lectures in the United States which would be much easier for him that writing a book. However he believes that with his experiences and observations of the Japanese attack on the Philippines, such a book by him would serve a useful purpose. He asked me to get from Colonel Andres Soriano and from General Valdes the facts for the period between the invasion of the Philippines and the entry, unopposed of the Japanese into Manila. This I am proceeding to do, since both officers are here in this hotel with us.

(Note by the writer. The following pages are now, seven years later, inserted in this diary upon its preparation for the press, because, although the information was obtained by President Quezon’s direction for his own use in his book, it was never so used by him, and it now seems worth while to preserve for future students testimony as to the effect of the Japanese invasion of the Philippines from two highly competent witnesses of the scenes described and especially as coming from key men in the situation.)

Having been in France myself during the German invasion of that country in 1940, I had in my mind a picture of the kind of observations by members of Quezon’s entourage which should, in my opinion be included in a description of the fall of the Philippines.

Beginning with a question to Don Sergio Osmeña, I asked him how the municipal officials of Luzon had stood up to the invasion, remarking that in France I had been told they all had run away except for one mayor in the north, who had stood his ground.

Osmeña replied that they all stood firm in the path of the Japanese invasion in Luzon, and mentioned one mayor in the Province of Albay, who, when the head of the Japanese column entered his town, climbed on the step of the leading automobile and emptied his revolver into it, then fell back dead. Further questions to Osmeña were not possible because he was off to Boston to speak there in substitution for Quezon, who had been invited to luncheon tomorrow in the White House by President Roosevelt.

Quezon himself contributed only the following brief statements: that one of the lessons they learned during the invasion was that the Philippines could be defended–with one thousand planes, one hundred submarines and one hundred mosquito boats. The mosquito boats which he himself had ordered in Great Britain for the defense of the Philippines had never been delivered to him; they had been diverted to help Finland in the first of her two recent wars with Russia. England promised to replace them but was prevented by the war from doing so. Anyway, he remarked, at the banquet given him today by the Chase National Bank, he had told them: “This is not our war.” He also added that General Aguinaldo had most certainly not been a Quisling during the invasion; indeed, he observed, in recent years the General had been in favour of immediate independence for the Philippines because he believed that his country was in deadly danger under the American flag. The next morning I secured from Basilio Valdes the following statements on the subject of the invasion. He had been Commanding General of the Philippine Army until it was mustered into the American service, then he became Quezon’s Chief of Staff for the Filipino units in the army, and Minister of National Defense in Quezon’s Cabinet.

The following are the statements from Valdes as I understood his account:

Valdes reports that Americans made up only 20% of the army of defense, but the American newspapers overstressed the American participation in the whole war; that it is very difficult indeed to make any exact figures for the casualties.

He said that in the organization of the Philippine Army, for the first two years, 1936 and 1937, they drafted the prescribed 40,000 men a year. For the succeeding years, having found the financial burden too great, they drafted but 25,000 men a year. (Get copy of Valdes’ last annual report as Chief of Staff to President Quezon; a copy must be in the War Dept.)

Valdes says that when the invasion occurred, there was some panic at first in Manila, but none in the provinces. They had studied the disaster in the downfall of France, and military maneuvers were not hampered by crowds on the roads; certain roads were immediately closed to the public. They held the enemy above San Fernando Pampanga until the troops which had been engaged on the Lucena front were moved around Manila to the Bataan lines–a brilliant military move.

Valdes states that Quezon was in a wheel chair all the time he was on Corregidor; that he discarded it on entering the submarine; 24 hours after reaching Panay, he was able to go up two flights of stairs.

Fifth Columnists and Trickery: Valdes: “After the battle of Morong (in Bataan), General Segundo said, we had to withdraw and with us were cavalry from Stotsenburg who had lost their horses in the battle. The next day we retook Morong; so we searched the forest for those horses. We met a man in Filipino uniform who spoke perfect English; he said he knew where the horses were and led us up a trail. But he led our two officers, a major and a lieutenant up to a machine gun nest–thereupon the guide (Jap) threw himself on the ground. Our lieut. was killed, the officer in command of the machine gun, and the others fled. Then the major killed the false guide. The Japanese were always after Filipino uniforms.”

When asked who the fifth columnists were, Valdes said: “First of all, those opposed to Quezon’s administration such as the Sakdalistas in Laguna and Bulacan and Tayabas, tho their leader Ramos, in prison for sedition, had been moved from the Philippines to an American prison. (For Ramos and Sakdalistas see Hayden’s book). The new name for Sakdalista is Ganap, which also means “I protest.” The Japanese had made much of Ramos and sent him back to the Philippines.

Second: The Japanese-Filipino mestizos, of whom there were not many in the Philippines.

Third: General Artemio Ricarte, el Vibora (Viper) of the old Filipino insurrectionary army. He is now riding around Manila with an a.d.c. and Japanese soldiers beside him. (He caused me a great deal of trouble when I was Governor General and I sent Clyde Dewitt to Shanghai on a small coast guard cutter to arrest him with a warrant from the American Judge there–Dewitt was sea sick for the eleven day trip by sea–Ricarte escaped with the aid of an English clergyman.) Shuster, who was with us in this New York hotel while General Valdes was talking, related an experience of his own with Ricarte about 1903, when Shuster was Collector of Customs in Manila: Ricarte came over from Hong Kong to Manila, and Shuster went out to meet the steamer personally, to hand the oath of allegiance to the United States for Ricarte to sign. Ricarte replied that he was insulted by being asked to take such an oath and that he had breathed enough of the air of his native land, now that it was so polluted. So back he went to Hong Kong, crying out that he would live to see the day when every American was driven out of the Islands. Now he comes back with Japanese to see his curse fulfilled!

Fourth: In Angeles, Pampanga, 8 kilometers from Fort Stotsenburg, a Filipino furniture maker named [Timio kept a shop, at the back of which he had a speakeasy.] When the officers from Stotsenburg used the W.C. by his speakeasy, they would sometimes talk together, and Timio had a stenographer in the adjoining room, and furnished news to the Japs. This man was awarded a contract for making dummy airplanes of bamboo and cloth for the army camouflage, and when the bombardment of Camp Clark air field took place, not a single dummy plane was hit.

Fifth: In the second week of the war, telephone messages went all over Manila saying the watersupply had been poisoned. Three sakdalistas in a car were caught driving around Manila and shouting this news. Valdes had them arrested; lots of people came to his office to know if the rumours were true and in order to convince them he had to draw a glass of water and drink it in their presence.

Sixth: Story of Claro M. Recto, former Justice of the Supreme Court. After the bombing of Baguio, there was a stream of cars which started south for Manila; when they arrived at the “Forks” in Pampanga, “a man in uniform” directed them off to the right in the direction of Stotsenburg, so the line of automobiles served as a “pointer” to aircraft above, and the bombing at Stotsenburg began just before the motors got there.

Seventh: Cutting of wires to detectors on Clark Field (see below).


Baguio, May 10, 1942

Last night, Radio San Francisco announced the arrival of President Quezon in that city. And to prove the veracity of such assertion, it also announced that the dead Quezon who was “killed” by Radio Tokyo was going on the air. True enough, Quezon spoke over Radio San Francisco. His voice and energetic diction were unmistakeable. He affirmed that he had established a government in exile in Washington, and that he and his government will work day and night to effect a return to Manila with the help of the American forces. Unfortunately, it was not to be as soon as we were hoping for.

Together with President Quezon were Vice-President Osmeña, General Valdes, Carlos P. Romulo, Don Andres Soriano, Major Nieto, and Doña Aurora Quezon and their three children.

The same radio station announced that the number of officers, soldiers, and marines, who had surrendered in Corregidor amounted to eleven thousand, mostly Americans.


April 8, 1942 (April 8-9)

Morning

After the general heard my report, I took the field telephone and asked for Bat 108 –Manny’s code name in Corregidor. “What’s up, Primo?” he asked. I said: “the line in the east sector won’t hold. By tonight, the Japs will be here. Tell Leonie to stay there.” Manny didn’t believe me, but I was in no mood to argue… so I said: “So long, Primo… If I get home first… I’ll tell the folks you’re O.K.” Ten minutes later, the field phone rang again. I thought it was Leonie… but I was wrong. It was Oscar. “Say, Phil,” he said… “this is the end. I’m in Kilometer 165.5 with all my troops. Where shall I go?” Oscar sounded serious… in fact, nervous. I knew what had happened. The Japs had already broken through and there was general disorganization. The reserve lines had also probably been captured. It was as Oscar said “the end.” I told Oscar to retreat to kilometer 182.2 near Mariveles… because all Filipino troops were going there. “We better stick together,” I explained, “because the Japs might give us better treatment.” Oscar didn’t answer immediately… then he said, “O.K. kid… I’ll bring my men there. Good luck… and if you see Ramon… tell the old fellow not to be nervous.” That was just like Oscar… joking at a serious moment. For all his carefree, devil-may-care attitude… we needed more men like him in Bataan. To begin with… he had no business volunteering. But he did. General Valdes told him he would be a fool to leave his wife and two-day-old baby. But he did… and he told me one evening: “Phil… if I don’t ever get home… tell my kid why I fought. Tell him… I wanted him to be able to tell the other boys… ‘My father fought for his country.'”

At 6 p.m. –sunset– the phone rang again. “It’s me… Oscar… waiting for you in 182.2.” His retreat was a success.

That night, I burned all my papers, all records… including my diary. It pained me to see that diary go. It helped me a lot. Sometimes when I was very depressed… I wrote all my feelings on its pages…. and I felt better afterwards. But orders were orders. “Burn everything” said the General (De Jesus) nervously… and so everything was burnt.

I slept at Kilometer 182.2 that night, besides Ramon Pamintuan. Gatas Santos was also there. We didn’t know that later in the evening we would have a reunion. Ramon was pale and yellow… shivering with malaria. Gatas was looking fine but he was worried about his white skin. “They might take me for an American,” he said. Later in the evening, Johnny arrived. He was thin, exhausted… but not to exhausted to tell us all about his narrow escapes and the way his car ceased to be a car because of a bomb. Then Godofredo Reyes showed up. I didn’t recognize him in the dark, because I had not seen him for a long time and he had a beard. Then came Hector Unson, who I thought was isolated by Jap patrols in Batangas on Dec. 29. He said he heard I died in Corregidor. It turned out we were praying for each other’s soul. At about eleven o’clock Ernie Es. popped in. He had come from guard duty and he was cursing because it was not his turn to guard. Then Tony Nieva arrived. He was fagged out, sunburnt, and very thin. We gave him the little food we had, because he said he had not eaten for two days. He explained that his men were almost surrounded by the advance patrols of the Japanese, because the Americans ran away without notifying him. It was a reunion alright… but a sad one. We thought we would meet each other in Manila in some victory banquet… not on the night of defeat. But as things turned out… there we were… gathering on the dry bed of a stream… not knowing what the morning had in store for us. Would the Japanese kill us? Would they imprison us? Would they free us? We were discussing those questions throughout the night, I was thinking of escaping, thru the mountains of Bagac via Zambales. But they said… ‘Let’s stick together… till the end.’ We talked of our happy days in Manila… the way we used to run around town… Jai Alai… Casa Mañana… Manila Hotel… drinking, dancing, feasting…I also thought of Nini. It was her birthday –April 9.

I guess we were all changed men… and we all agreed that we didn’t regret our experience. I don’t think any of us were the worse for the hardships we endured. They had made men out of us… and above all… it put our country on the map. It was not all in vain. That’s what I was thinking of… when the ground began to shake and the stones in the stream started to roll. It was an earthquake. Was God going to rescue us in the final hour? My heart beat fast… I was sure something would happen… to turn the tide of defeat… but nothing did…and I waited and waited till I fell asleep.


March 26, 1942 – Thursday

Attended and served Mass. Returned to Del Monte. 12:30 p.m. went with Vice-President Osmeña to Mr Crawford’s evacuation house for lunch. Returned to Del Monte. Packed my valise for the airplane trip.

The planes arrived at 8:45 p.m. We could hear the roar of the engines from our house at Del Monte. At 10 p.m. we were told to get into automobiles already assigned to each person and member of the President’s party. Those that were to ride in Plane N-1 rode in cars N-1 and N-2. We were the President and his family, Dr. Trepp, Colonel Nieto, Chaplain Ortiz and myself. We arrived at the airfield at 10:40 p.m.; we were assigned to various places thus; Colonel Nieto & Chaplain Ortiz in the gunners cockpit in front. Dr. Trepp in the rear and the President, his family and myself in the radio operators compartment in the center of the plane. There was absolutely no comfort amenities, but we were willing to sacrifice every thing for safety. We took off exactly at 11 p.m. The moon was bright. I heard the roar of the four engines, then I felt a few bumps and a few seconds later I realized we were in the air. The first part of the journey was pleasant although I felt cold. I was sitting on a box in the bomb compartment and there was a cold draft coming from a small opening in the floor of the compartment. A few minutes later the pilot Lieutenant Falkner came and asked me not to smoke as I was situated next to the two big tanks of gasoline. I assured him that there was no danger and I was not a smoker. I could notice we were climbing as it became colder and colder. My feet were almost frozen. Suddenly I felt a hand in the dark grabbing my left leg. I got up; it was the President. “Give me oxygen”, he said “I cannot breathe well”. I applied the oxygen apparatus to his nose. After a few minutes he said: “this does not function; I can not smell the oxygen.” I informed him that oxygen had no odor and consequently could not be smelled. The he said: “Tell the pilot not to climb too high as I cannot stand it.” I took his pulse; it was a little fast due to his fear but otherwise was alright. I spoke to the pilot who assured me that he would not go higher than 9,000 feet and as soon as the enemy bases had been passed he would come down to 6,000 ft.

I watched the moon playing hide and seek behind the clouds. I took my rosary and prayed fervently. I thought of my family, of my little Nucay (Charito) of those dear to me. What would become of them if the trip should end in a disaster? As the moon disappeared behind the horizon, I looked at my watch; it was 2 a.m. Then I looked at the stars, but these also disappeared as we entered clouds. The clouds become darker and thicker. Then I could hear the rain pounding on the plane. The President asked for oxygen again. Then as we entered a heavy rain squall the plane was lifted and dropped a few times by the strong winds. I did not like it. The President was quite worried. He asked me if there was any danger. I assured him that there was none. Suddenly I noticed that the pilot banked the plane and the flying became smoother, later he told us that he had gone around the squall. At 6 a.m. the pilot came to inform us that we had passed already the Japanese bases and were practically safe. I saw the sky become clearer and then the sun came out. Then I saw land and a little later Port Darwin. We landed at Batchelor’s Field at 7:45 a.m.