January 8, 1942

Corregidor

Malinta Tunnel

I don’t like this place. Yes, it’s safer and bombproof but the air is damp and stuffy. Give me the cool mountain breezes and the starlit skies of Bataan anytime.

The general has been relieved of his command. He has been assigned to a more important, delicate and interesting job. He will be made head of the Military Intelligence Service.

His main mission will be to secure information regarding the enemy in the occupied regions of Luzon. The service will be under the G-2 section of MacArthur’s staff.

Corregidor is a wreck. The docks have been bombed and rebombed. The chapel is partially destroyed and nothing remains but the cross and the altar. The area around the Post Exchange has been leveled by fires due to incendiary bombs and the cinema house has been razed to the ground.

In the little harbor, I saw the Casiana lying quietly under the water with only the insignia of the Commonwealth Government afloat. Had many happy hours in the good old days in the presidential luxury [yacht]. That’s where I first met Morita when she arrived from the States.

First person I saw this morning was Vice President Sergio Osmeña. He wore a white “cerrada” and he had black shoes. He looked thin, bored and worried. When he saw me he asked: “When did you arrive?” I said “Just now, sir with Gen. de Jesus and Major Lamberto Javallera.”

The Vice President asked: “How is it in Bataan? Is it safe? I am thinking of going there. When is the best time?”

I told the Vice President that the best time to cross the Bay would be either early in the morning or late at night to avoid enemy raiders.

General Basilio Valdes then arrived. He was carrying a towel and a piece of soap. The general had just taken a bath. He said: “To take a bath here, you have to go out of the tunnel.” Toilets in Corregidor are out in the open.

The general was anxious to hear news about the boys in Bataan and he told me to give his regards to several of his friends in the front.

“Who are you with?” he asked.

“With Gen. de Jesus, sir.”

“Where is he now?”

“Conferring with Col. Willoughby, sir.”

“Tell him to see me before he leaves.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Have you taken your breakfast?”

“I had coffee, sir in the gunboat. When we were crossing the Bay, a Navy gunboat stopped us, sir. The Captain said it was not safe to approach Corregidor very early because the coast artillery might fire at our launch. So he invited us to take coffee with him and that was perfectly all right with the general and I because we were not able to take our dinner last night.”

In the breakfast table, I saw Major Carlos Romulo and Lt. Col. Manuel Nieto, aide to President Quezon. Romulo was growing a small moustache, a poor imitation of Adolf’s. He was slightly thinner and his eyes showed lack of sleep.

He told me to find out if his eldest son, Carlos Jr., was in Bataan. “If he is there,” he pointed out, “he is probably with Gregg Anonas.”

I assured Mr. Romulo that I would do my best to look for Baby although I don’t think he is with Gregg’s bunch because I would have seen him.

Romulo said that he was sick and tired of the canned stuff in Corregidor and that he misses the “pesa” and “adobo” he used to eat at our home and with the Vasquez family.

He also told me that before he left for Corregidor he called up my dad and told him to take care of his family. “I wonder how they all are in Manila,” he said.

He said he heard that my general was going to head the Military Intelligence Service. “In that case,” he said, “you are going to have operatives in Manila. Could you arrange to have a man find out how my family is?”

I promised Mr. Romulo that I would attend to that matter personally if the general takes me along with him. “If I remain with the 51st, I won’t be able to find out for you.”

Mr. Romulo was in the press section of MacArthur’s staff under Col. Diller. I think he should be made chief of that section because he has the most experience in propaganda.

He told me he was busy censoring the news reports of the foreign correspondents in Bataan and Corregidor and writing the scripts for the Voice of Freedom everyday.

After breakfast, Col. Nieto brought me to the President’s lateral. In one corner, I saw Mrs. Quezon seated on a bench between Dr. Cruz and Fr. Pacifico Ortiz S.J. Mrs. Quezon embraced me and she’d wanted to know how I was and if life in Bataan was very hard because of the bombings. Fr. Ortiz who was my logic professor in the Ateneo said: “I’m glad to see you, Phil.”

Mrs. Quezon brought me to President Quezon. The President was wearing a white shirt and white riding pants, a striking contrast to the khaki of the soldiers in the Rock. He was carrying a short whip. He looked thin but smart and snappy. The President said that he was glad to see me fighting for my country. He said: “I was in Bataan too during the revolution as an aide to Gen. Mascardo. I know every nook and corner of that place. I got malaria there too.”

Fr. Ortiz then brought me to a small altar in the President’s lateral. “Better pray first and give thanks,” he said. While I was praying, Nonong Quezon came from behind and he slipped a couple of chewing gum packages in my pocket. Then Nonong obliged me with a comb, soap and towel, “to look decent,” he said. And then he cracked: “Sorry, I can’t lend you my toothbrush.” I retorted: “I didn’t know you had one.”

That was the first time I looked in a mirror since Silang. I guess I must have been very dirty because Ah Dong, the President’s valet, asked me if I wanted to take a bath. The people in Corregidor are all very neatly dressed and their uniforms are well pressed. There is no dust, no fighting here in Corregidor. Chinese servants serve the officers during meal time. There are electric lights, fans and even refrigerators. Each and every officer has a decent bed with cushions and mattresses. I even noticed that the shoes of the officers here were shiny. In the main entrance of the tunnel, they even have a barber shop and near the hospital lateral is a library. In some of the empty tables, I saw several officers and nurses playing cards. Outside the tunnel, on the benches overlooking Manila Bay, I noticed several lovebirds talking in whispers. There is no war here in Corregidor except for occasional bombardments at noontime. Japs are at present concentrating forces in Bataan. I suppose they’ll attack this place afterwards.

Next person I saw was Baby Quezon. She was wearing blue slacks and it made her look sleek. “I thought you remained in Manila,” she said. Then came Nini. She was neatly fixed up, the usual pigtails and an ugly looking pimple on her nose. She said Miss Labrador, the nurse, woke her up and said that I was around but that she thought it was just a joke. Both girls asked me to join them for breakfast and so I had a second breakfast. During the breakfast, Agatona, Mrs. Quezon’s maid came along and she asked me to give a letter to her cousin in Bataan and she pinned a miraculous medal on me. Nini then gave me a crucifix and Fr. Ortiz blessed it.

At about noontime, I walked with Nini to the hospital lateral. Then suddenly the lights went out. The tunnel walls began to shake. Japs were dropping 1000 pounders. Air inside tunnel was pressing against the lungs. More bombs dropped. Detonation reverberates louder in tunnel than outside. Nurses started mumbling prayers. Salvos of AA guns shook cement under our feet. Then I saw a flashlight. It was Mrs. Quezon. She was looking for her children. Nini said: “We are here mama.” Mrs. Quezon was afraid Nini and Baby were out in the open and felt relieved. There we were —Mrs. Quezon, Nini and I— cramped between soldiers and laborers who rushed inside the tunnel when the raid started. It was the equality of war. Then came the parade of the wounded. Filipino soldiers were rushed in on stretchers. There were cries of pain. Many were unconscious. I saw Fr. Ortiz giving blessings, hearing last minute confessions. He was here, there, everywhere. I saw an American whose leg was covered with blood being rushed to the medical department. Gen. Valdes who is an expert surgeon was busy assisting the wounded. The raid continued. I tried to remain cool even as the tunnel shook with the detonation of bombs and the firing of AA guns, but inside I was getting afraid. I kept telling myself it is safer in the tunnel, not like in Bataan. But I guess fear is contagious and there something about the tunnel that makes one feel asphyxiated.

After the raid, everybody started talking about the convoy. Officers were asking: “When will it arrive?” Some said” “By the end of the month.” But Mr. Romulo whispered authoritatively that he had inside information “the convoy is very near and may be here in a week’s time but keep that under your hat, pssst.”

It’s ten o’clock now. I guess it’s time to sleep. I can see Justice Abad Santos putting on his pajamas right now and Vice President Sergio Osmeña is fixing his bed. I’m writing this on the upper deck and Fr. Ortiz is praying below me. He says its time to go to bed.

We are leaving for Bataan early tomorrow.


January 7, 1942

Woke up early this morning. Inspected our bodegas. One warehouseman was not there. The bodega could not be opened.

The Japanese Military Administration authorized at last the sale of 327 bags of rice to different institutions, such as government and private hospitals, orphanages, as their allowance for the week beginning tomorrow, January 8. Rice ration for each institution was based on 200 to 300 grams per person.

Must not forget to make a supplementary report on the problems of food administration tomorrow.

Must remember to make a plan for the gathering of the harvest. Tanco or Silayan can do this.

It is work, work, work, from morning to afternoon and evening, and morning again. And all for what?

A government official is a slave.

(night)

Still awake and it’s almost 12 midnight. Thinking of the headline in this morning’s Tribune: BATAAN IS BOMBED. The story says that Limay, Balanga, Subic have been bombed. Assembled troops, ships, automobiles and trucks have been attacked.

Where Is the U.S. convoy? It is one month since Pearl Harbor and still no convoy.

My second boy is dreaming. He is talking in his sleep. Two more years and the military age would have gotten him too.

My Japanese neighbors are singing. They have a drinking party.

There is no sunshine without shadow. Now I am in the shadow.

More work today. Problems on the people’s food keep on mounting. Our high officials are not very much concerned about economic matters. My insistence that more attention be paid to the food question is like a voice in the wilderness. I feel alone.

Several urgent points:

(1) Our gasoline supply for rice-delivery trucks to 12 markets is sufficient for only 10 days. To continue this service, about 100 tins a week is needed.

(2) Our rice and pal” in warehouses in Baliuag, San Miguel, Muñoz, Cuyapo, Rizal, Sto. Domingo, Sta. Rosa, San Jose, Cabanatuan, and San Quintin must be immediately surveyed. These stocks should be milled and the rice brought to Manila.

(3) Must survey palay in fields and prepare it for milling to increase the city’s supply. Farmers must be made to know that we are ready to buy this palay.

(4) Secure passes for the men and the cars to make the provincial surveys. If possible, Japanese representatives should accompany Filipino officials to facilitate passage through Japanese sentries, in Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan and Rizal.

The newspapers say that the Japanese Army will

(1) recognize the status and authority of officials;

(2) protect life and property;

(3) recognize free worship of religion;

(4) recognize existing laws and orders as well as customs and usages, excepting those incompatible with the new situation.

People in the street do not believe all these news announcements. News boys selling the Tribune shout: “Balitang Kochero! Kuentong Kochero!” Facts are easier to believe than what appears in paper and ink. Slapping, bayonetting,—all these sink deeper into one’s being than words.

Fortunately, I have not yet been the subject of abuse. Still no slaps, no insults. I wonder what I will do if I were slapped. It is not good to talk of what one will do. Only politicians say what they will do. They are used to breaking their word.

The Imperial Headquarters have issued a communiqué, stating that Corregidor has been intensively bombed. I’ve seen the tunnel years ago. I think it will hold. I wonder how Rommy Romulo is. He always maintained that Japan had designs on the Philippines.

At the office, a man called me up. Said he was looking for my son, Philip, “He is in Bataan,” I said. “I was with him in the mountains,” he recounted. But I kept silent.

There are many spies. Men are not all the same under the skin. Judas had many children.


January 2, 1942

(Noon)

Looting.

Met a man carrying a leg of ham on one hand and a roll of khaki on the other. Saw a truck full of cigarette packages and boxes of sardines and Carnation milk. Three men were running with typewriters and adding machines. A boy smashed display window and a mob entered the store.

The police cannot stop the looting. A police jitney with a loudspeaker went around the city urging the people to return to their homes, but nobody paid any attention. Saw a policeman carrying belts and hats.

Law and order have vanished. Looting reigns.

(Night)

Rice riots in three of our warehouses this afternoon. Looters and boarders demanded that the bodegas be opened. I asked for police protection, but only a few policemen arrived and they were without arms.

A big mob tried to force open the NARIC gate, demanding “Rice!“ I ordered the bodega closed. Whatever rice we have will be rationed to the people. I always keep in mind what President Quezon told me a few days before the war: “Whatever happens,” he said, “everybody must eat, rich and poor, alike. There must be no discrimination.” But the profiteers, the mob of looters were insistent. They banged the gates, waved their hands and clubs and demanded, “Rice! Rice! “ My two policemen were unarmed. The door was being forced open. So I drew my .45 and told the crowd that I’d shoot the first man that crosses the line. I waited for five tense minutes. Nobody stirred. Nobody took a step forward, but neither did anybody leave. My heart began to beat fast. I have placed my life in peril, but that was the only step to take under the desperate circumstance. If I gave in to the unreasonable clamor of that mob of looters, Manilans would have no rice. Fortunately, no one in the crowd protested. I gave my gun to the policeman and I gave him orders loud enough for all to hear: “Shoot anybody that passes that line, officer!“ and to emphasize my point, I squeezed the trigger and there was a faint “click.” The bullet was a dud.

I can hear the roar of many planes. They are probably going to bomb Bataan. I think I will pray. Brandy is not such a good palliative.

Midnight

Can’t sleep. Worried about my son, worried about the rice rioting, and the looting that has gripped the people. Worried about the Japanese. Yes, they entered quite peacefully and in an orderly manner, but you never can tell what they are up to. Man can be the most brutal animal. Females will be females and males will be males. History and biology repeat themselves.

I can hear the tramp of marching feet. It must be a battalion. The Japs prefer to move at night. What is that they are singing? It is a strange, weird, hymn.

Only last night, it was boogiewoogie.


January 1, 1942

Bataan

41st division, C.P.

 

Dead tired. Streets jammed from Bulacan to Bataan. Absolutely no traffic order. Roads filled with dust that covered entire body, entered ears, nose, eyes, lungs. Tanks were rattling up and down the road like lost monsters. Trucks loaded with food and ammunition were moving on, not knowing where to go. Haggard, weary troops retreating from southern front straggled on, looking for their officers. Men were shouting at one another to move out of the way so that their cars could pass. Trucks that stalled were dumped on the roadside. Gasoline cans were littered on the road for everybody’s use. American MP’s assigned to direct traffic lay drunk on the fields beside the main road singing “God Bless America.” The general told me as our car wormed its way to San Fernando: “If the Japs spot this convoy we are all goners.” Neither the general nor I could find our division in the assembly area. The night was very dark but I kept shouting for the names of the company commanders but there was no answer. Men of other divisions were in our area. Troops came to me asking where to go. Some belonged to the 71st, others to the 91st, others with the 1st regular. It was a chaotic retreat but the Japs were apparently asleep. The general then decided to leave me in San Fernando while he looked for the troops in Bacolor.

I stood under the monument at the plaza in front of San Fernando’s church, at the foot of the bridge. From afar there was a red glare that filled the skies in the direction of Manila that gave me the impression that the entire city was afire. Troops, tanks, cars, jeeps, trucks, cannons, trawlers passed by me. Some were asking where to go and I said I didn’t know and that I was also looking for my unit. Hours passed and there were no more tanks, no more troops, no more traffic. San Fernando was like a ghost city. I was all alone except for several Americans who were trying to fix their motorcycle under the starlight. In a deserted store, I could hear several drunk soldiers singing “Happy days are here again.” From the direction of Arayat came the distinct, metallic boom-boom-boom of Jap artillery. One of the Americans fixing the motorcycle asked: “Is that Porac or Arayat?” Another said: “Don’t worry bud, that’s our artillery.” They finally got their motor fixed and they asked me to join them. “We can squeeze you between us,” they said. I thanked them and explained I had to wait for the general. I was really tempted to join them but I was afraid the general might look for me. I must admit that I was getting very worried, if not afraid. I looked around for a hiding place and I kept fingering my .45 and six bullets. I must have cursed the general a thousand times and I kept telling myself: “What a way of spending New Year.” Then from a distance, I saw the hooded light of a car. It was the general and he said he almost forgot me. “We are going to Bataan,” he said. “Everybody is going there,” he explained. I was very tired and I fell asleep in the car and when I woke up, we were in Bataan and it was morning and there we were parked between two huge U.S. trucks in a dusty road, because there was another traffic jam and two tough-looking American drivers were arguing about who had the right of way.

Right now I’m here in Gen. Vicente Lim’s command post. My general and Lim are good pals. This C.P. is well-hidden on the side of a dried stream. The men have dug themselves inside the banks so that they are relatively safe from bombs and shells.

Gen. Lim is in good spirits. His belly is considerably thinner and his face is tanned. When we arrived, he said: “Don’t worry, in a week the convoy will be here.” He compared war to boxing. “They’ve won the first round,” he said, “but the war’s not over yet.” He gave us quite a good breakfast: coffee and carabao meat. Ernesto Santos and Vidal Tan, both friends of mine, are his aides.

From the conversation during breakfast, I gathered that all troops from the North and South fronts have been ordered to retreat to Bataan. This hilly spot of land, this bottle-neck will be USAFFE’s “last stand.” The principle of retreating to a favorable terrain and there engaging the enemy is going to be the strategy. The other half of the grand game will be up to the United States. Out here in Bataan, we will hold to the last ditch; the U.S. Navy on the other hand will rush the reinforcements.

Just a few minutes ago, the air was filled with the roar of many planes. Gen. Lim looked up and said “They’re ours.” Gatas Santos, his senior aide, was skeptical and his doubts were soon confirmed by the barking of AA guns. In a few seconds, the beautiful formation was broken up. More AA fire. Smoke oozed out of one plane, its wings wavered, it fell out of line and a silvery veil trailed its earthward descent. That is the first real action picture I’ve seen of a plane going down. I hope I see more.

Nice bunch out here in the 41st. Lorrie Tan said Teddy Arvisu is here too as staff sergeant. Montemayor and Henry Powers are also with this unit. Powers is in “No Man’s Land” as head of a scouting patrol. Estanislao Feria is assistant G-2 in Lim’s staff and Rufino is chief quartermaster.

The view is beautiful. Very many talls trees that give a lot of shelter. Beyond are grassy plains and little hillocks. Behind are old wooden barracks and a small training camp but Lim’s troops are not using the garrisons, In front is a flat terrain with call cogon and many clumps of bamboo and tall trees here and there. To the left of the 41st is Gen. Capinpin’s 21st which has behaved very well in the face of strong enemy thrusts in Lingayen. Johnny Fernandez, my classmate, is Capinpin’s aide. Johnny has always loved military life. Now I guess he is going to get a full dose of it.

Nice weather here. Cool January breeze. Can hear many birds chirping on the treetops. Must stop writing now. Now I think the general is going to our sector.

 

Later

 

Bataan

51st div. C.P.

 

Arranged division maps. Acquainted myself with operational plans. Noted down all field orders of General.