May 31, 1942

KGEI admitted the sinking of an Allied warship in the port of Sydney by the attack of a special Japanese submarine flotilla.

Rode in a calesa. Asked the cochero: “Who do you think will win the war?” I was curious to know the sentiments of the masses.

“The Americans!” he answered unequivocally.

“Why? “I asked to provoke him.

“Because MacArthur will get plenty of planes and then . . .”

“And then what?”

“Aba, señor, maybe you are from Fort Santiago and then you will report.”

“No, No. You can trust me. My son is in the Army. He is now in Capaz.”

“Ah, I wish I was also fighting in Bataan.”

“But why do you think the Americans will win?” I brought the subject back.

“How can these people win? Look at their trucks, cars, tanks, uniforms. Not so good. It looks breakable like Japanese toys.”

“Well, then, why did the USAFFE lose?”

He thought for a while. And then he said: “Because they were surprised. Even Jack Dempsey, I can knock out if I just hit him suddenly. But when MacArthur comes back with the flying fortress and the bombers and tanks, well, well…”

“What do you mean—well, well . . .”

“I mean it will be just very well, heh, heh, heh!”

“Well, stop out there at Tom’s, on that corner.”

I entered Tom’s. The place had a different atmosphere. The floors were wet and sticky. The people were not as well dressed as in the pre-war days. And the customers were different. There was a pianist playing “My Baby Don’t Care” and a fat lady was singing in a high falsetto.

“Coffee!” I told the waiter.

While waiting for the coffee, a hostess with gold teeth sat on my table. “Please,” she said in a state of semi-intoxication, “protect me from that brute.” She was pointing to a Japanese officer. I did not know what to say. “The Japanese…“ and she started giving a speech against Japan. “Don’t speak loudly,” I said. She spoke louder and louder. “Stop it!” I said. “This man here,” she said, “agrees with me!” “Stop it!” I said. “STOP IT! STOP!”

“Wake up, Vic,” said my wife.


Baguio, May 11, 1942

Since Manila is the only place enjoying the media of press and correspondence, our only source of information in this wide and mountainous habitat is the radio. There is a heated contest of broadcasts between the warring radio stations as to whether the defense of Bataan and Corregidor by the USAFFE forces had been heroic or cowardly. The Allied radio claimed that the resistance offered by these fortresses was as epic as it was desperate, and that it yielded only because of the heavy avalanche of men and armaments which Japan rained on them, as well as the lack of supplies and ammunition on the part of the defending forces.

Tokyo however retorted—and this was relayed to Berlin and Rome—that the American claim was an empty yarn. It further asserted that Bataan and Corregidor collapsed like cardboard castles without putting up any significant resistance.

One who listens to only one side of the contesting broadcasts would get incomplete—not to say incorrect—information. But by listening to both sides, neither could one tell which one to believe.

The same heated contest of broadcasts occurred over the battle of the Coral Seas. Radio San Francisco claimed that the Allied forces sunk fifteen enemy ships and that they themselves suffered light casualties. Radio Tokyo replied that the Japanese forces sunk twenty Anglo-American warships and challenged Washington to publish the Allied losses and the extent of their naval disasters. If we believe the broadcasts from Tokyo and Berlin, it would appear that the American naval forces in the Pacific have been annihilated. The broadcasts from San Francisco and London give the impression that the American naval victory in the Coral Seas had decisively smothered Japanese attempt to invade Australia.

Regarding the defense of the two fortresses, some combatants related many incidents attesting to the courage and bravery of the defense line. As far as I see it, the defense was characterized more by the prudence rather than the heroism of the defenders. The desire to prevent further suffering and save human lives prevailed over the desire to inflict the maximum damage on the enemy and write a brilliant military history.

Some of the soldiers claim that very few of their men died in combat and that they did not suffer from hunger although provisions were a little difficult. They were therefore surprised when their superiors ordered the surrender because they were convinced that they had enough power to continue fighting.

Of course, the one who spoke were the combatants on reserve who hardly saw battle. Those in the frontline and in fields of encounter were already exhausted. Sick with malaria and dysentery and debilitated by lack of food, many were hardly on their feet.

The High Command must have been fairly convinced that, without hope of an early reinforcement, prolonged resistance would have been suicidal.

But had the defenders utilized the natural and artificial defenses available, they could have caused considerably more damage to the enemy.

Witnesses whom I interviewed were unanimous on the Filipino soldiers’ manifestation of gallantry and courage during the whole period of fighting. In Bataan, the Philippine Constabulary and the Philippine Scouts fought on the frontline of defense, sometimes assisted by the American Thirty-First Regiment.

Most of them were new recruits, untrained in the art of battle. Their superiors, convinced of the futility of sacrifice, did not require them to fight with the utmost degree of heroism. This speaks highly of the humanitarian rather than military sense of the High Command.

A marked contrast is noticeable between the strategies of the Americans and the Japanese. It has never been a part of the Americans’ military program to fight to the last man. If they cannot fight with advantage or the hope of success, they would either abandon the battlefield or surrender. As soon as the Japanese had landed in the north and south of Luzon and destroyed the first line of defense in Pangasinan and Tayabas, the Americans abandoned all ideas of organizing a vigorous resistance against the invaders. Their strategy consisted in delaying the enemy’s advance by blowing up all bridges in order to give their troops ample time to retreat to Bataan. They declared Manila an open city and left all towns open without any official declaration.

They attempted, with such moves, to spare these places from destruction and save the lives of their soldiers so that they might fight instead in Bataan. However, they were not able to spare the cities and towns from destruction, for what was spared by war was not spared by vandals and looters.

Neither in Bataan nor in Corregidor did the defenders fight to the peak of heroism. They were neither cowards nor were they remiss in their military responsibilities. They fought until Bataan was technically taken but not until death. In Corregidor, they fought with bravery while they could keep the enemy at a distance, but they surrendered as soon as the enemy crashed the gates. Many if not all of the combatants wanted to fight to the finish. The North American war plan, however, was not a useless sacrifice of soldiers for the heroic defense of just one or two fortresses.

We do not know the Japanese mettle in resisting, since none of their towns or properties had ever been subjected to the test of a serious attack. But if we are to judge them by their aggressiveness in assault, then their tenacity and constancy cannot be gainsaid.

We cannot say whether this indifference to death and this daring ferocity are due more to the soldiers’ bravery, valor, or to the strict requirements of the army. The Japanese are very patriotic and disciplined. Their patriotism is for them almost a religion. They are accustomed to deprivation, hardships, the most trying strifes, and the most rigorous military discipline.

It should be noted that the Imperial Army employs a good number of the suicide squads—exalted patriots who would offer their lives to inflict the greatest damage and destruction on the enemy. The Japanese themselves attributed the debacle caused on the American Contingent at Pearl Harbor, and the sinking of the Prince of Wales, to a certain number of volunteers who offered to guide the torpedoes which destroyed both targets, with the Japanese guiding the torpedoes.

If the Japanese would someday find themselves in a situation similar to Bataan, they would suffer more casualties than the USAFFE, and they would resist more violently before surrendering, if they would surrender at all.

The Japanese Army is more mechanized in the moral and spiritual rather than in the material sense. Its war machine is more tempered in discipline and organization than in its steel artifacts. To be defeated, they must be annihilated. And this can be done only by a force superior in quantity and quality in terms of planes, tanks and naval equipment. They will not run away in the face of more numerical superiority as did the British in Malaya and the Americans in the Philippines.

And before thinking of surrender, they would rather commit group or mass suicide.

A few days ago, a Japanese officer told me, “A Japanese soldier will not surrender. He will fight to the end, willing to die for his Emperor. If captured alive, he would rather cut his tongue with his teeth than tell the whereabouts of his troops”. In fact, there were instances when this was literally done.

May 10,1942

I learned today that even if Gen. Jonathan Wainwright attempted to surrender only Corregidor and the surrounding Fortresses at Caballo, Carabao and El Fraile Island, (Forts Mills, Frank, Drum & James) he was forced by victorious Gen. Masaharu Homma to surrender USFIP all over the Phil.  Accordingly, the hapless vanquished commander issued surrender orders to key USFIP Commanders with the following officers directed to serve said “Surrender Orders,” Lt. Col. Kalakuka USA to Lt. Col. Guillermo Nakar ’32, Comdr. 14th Inf, in Cagayan Valley; Col. Jesse T. Trayvick, Jr. USA to Maj. Gen. W. F. Sharp, CG Vis-Min Forces; and Brig. Gen. Guillermo B. Francisco ’08 to Southern Luzon & Bicol Regions.  These representatives of Gen. Wainwright are accompanied by ranking Japanese officers and provided adequate land and air transportation.

Wainwright’s surrender orders became a favorite topic of private discussions among officers at Malolos POW Camp.  To the question, if you were Col. Nakar, and you received the written order, will you surrender?  I am happy to note that after heated private discussions, all Philippine Military Academy graduates were unanimous in disobeying the order.  Two reserve officers have strong reservations that if they disobey the “lawful order of their superior” they can be liable for court martial later.  It will be interesting to find out how those concerned actually reacted later.

As a lasting tribute to the courageous gunners who manned those big guns at Corregidor and also to immortalize the names of the twenty batteries that fought valiantly against the enemy for 26 continuous days and nights since the Fall of Bataan, here they are in alphabetical order:  Batteries Chenny; Crockett; Cushing; Geary; Gruggs; Hamilton; Hanna; Hearn; James; Kysor; Monja; Maxwell; Morrison;  Ramsay; Rock Point; Smith; Stockade; Sunset; Way; and Wheeler.  My everlasting Salute to both Comrade Gunners and Batteries!

May 8, 1942

Heard Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright’s voice over KZRH. It was a lonely voice—the voice of defeat. He ordered all USAFFE forces to lay down their arms. He agreed to an unconditional surrender to save the lives of the soldiers in Corregidor. At times, the General’s voice faltered. He had to clear his throat and several times he seemed out of breath. This is America’s saddest hour. Several doughboys were reported killed in a final desperate effort to raise the Stars and Stripes in Top Hill.

May 3, 1942

Civilian evacuees from Bataan report that the Japanese are hastily building large bamboo stairs to scale the cliffs of Corregidor. Barges are also being constructed rapidly, probably for landing operations. Artillery has also been emplaced on strategic points of Mt. Mariveles overlooking the surrounded fortress.

No news as to when Filipino war prisoners will be released. Some say “they’ll be freed at the end of the war.” Others think it will be when Corregidor surrenders. Meanwhile deaths in camp are progressively mounting. “Almost a thousand a day,” according to a Red Cross doctor.

Landings by Japanese forces in Cagayan, Mindanao. Manuel Roxas is there. I understand he is now a general.

Japanese cigarettes make me dizzy. But I’ve got to get used to it. Chesterfields are too costly.

This is my impression of the Japanese in my office after five months with them. They are hard-working, slow, patriotic, serious, without humor, arrogant at times if you don’t stop them, excessively courteous sometimes, speak too long over the phone, not concerned with the way they dress, slaves to plans, follow orders strictly, automatically, but not so very well versed with the rice industry. I believe they will learn more from the Filipinos regarding the rice industry than we will from them. I’ve told this to our Supervisor-de-Facto in one of our conversations. I told him: “We want men that will teach us; not men that we have to teach.”

In the final analysis, this war has been a great lesson for the Filipino people. Our nation will come out the better for it. The blood of our youths has not been shed in vain.


April 21, 1942

Capas, Tarlac

F.C. Camp

Joined the grave-detail. We buried those that died this morning. Some of the graves yesterday were not dug deep enough. The bodies buried yesterday have been unearthed. The sand here is clayish because the cemetery is too near the river.

One of the boys we buried had a little piece of paper in his pocket. We opened it. It was the copy of a citation awarding him for exceptional bravery in an attack in Bataan.


Most of the boys in the camp are very depressed. They feel that “it will be a long time before we are released.”

Many are disappointed with our leaders in Manila. “All they know is to give speeches and make promises!” “Why don’t they resign from their posts if the Japs do not want to release us?”

Personally, I don’t think we will be released until all resistance in the islands has ceased. The Japs are afraid that when we are strong enough, we might start trouble again. Besides, they want to make up for the thousands of Japs who died in Bataan. The more among us that die here, the better for them.


Collecting impressions of everyone here about Bataan. It will make a book someday. Am also listening to everybody’s experience during the long walk from Bataan to this prison camp.

Apparently, the Japs gave every barch more or less the same kind of treatment, although some groups got very much worse treatment.

Consensus is that at least 15,000 died during that bloody march. Japs bayoneted men who could not keep up with the pace. Very little rest was given. Some were shot for trying to escape.

For example, there was an old soldier who took off his shoes because of blisters. Suddenly, one of the Japs clubbed him on the head. A relative of the clubbed man charged at the Jap. Both fellows were tied to a tree and slowly tortured. Their shouts could be heard by all those around, but no one was allowed to look.

Someone said that in Orani, everybody was searched. One fellow was found with Jap money in his pocket. The Jap soldier said in broken English: “Why you have Jap money? So maybe you take that from dead Jap soldier! O.K… Now you die!” And he was bayoneted in the lungs. According to the one telling the story, the Jap money was given by a Japanese officer who bought the boy’s watch.

After such exchange of stories, everybody ends the conversation with the remark: “Someday we will get even, someday.”

Very few boys in camp think that Corregidor will be able to stand. Quite a number are disappointed at America. They ask: “Where is the convoy she promised?” The great majority believe, however, “in due time, when American factories get going, Japan will be beaten.”

Must stop writing. It’s getting dark. We have no lights here.

Two boys are humming a duet. Kundiman again. I like kundimans. They are soft, plaintive, full of feeling, lonely, very lonely.

They have stopped singing. Somebody in the group is weeping. I wonder why.


Just ate another camote. Superb.

[diary does not resume until September 21, 1944]

April 19, 1942

Four-page pictorial on this Sunday’s Tribune regarding the historic defeat of the Fil-American defenders of Bataan.

In the front page is a candid shot of Lieut. Gen. Masaharu Homma, Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Japanese Forces. Ironically, the background of the picture is Jose Rizal’s monument.

On the lower portion of the page is a picture of Major General Edward King, Jr., Commander of Bataan, with members of his staff. They are seated on wooden chairs. General King has his arms crossed and he looks aloof. The aide beside him looks thin, haggard, lonely.

The next page shows several shots of Japanese tanks breaking through jungle vines and dusty, winding roads. Also pictures of USAFFE troops marching towards Orani, some carrying white flags. In the center of the page is a heart-rending picture of troops closely hemmed in a small area with pieces of cloth tied on their heads to protect themselves from the sun. You can that see they all look gaunt, skeletal, weary, sick.

There is also a picture of two American doughboys, helmets tilted at an angle, with cigarettes dangling on their mouths and a smile on their faces.

April 16, 1942

Mauricio Cruz told my brother that a certain captain stated that he saw my son Philip 3rd embarking on a boat for Corregidor. On the other, Jorge de Leon, Jr. called me up and stated that together with his uncle, Luis Dizon, PASUDECO’s secretary, he was able to talk to my son, in San Fernando, Pampanga. He said Philip had fever and malaria.

Dr. Antonio Vasquez offered to accompany me to San Fernando. He gave me some quinine which is at present worth its weight in gold. But he said it is better not to give any medicine if it is malaria, because this causes a tendency to hide the disease due to the formation of spores. He stated that I should not worry because the Malarial cases from Bataan are of the mild type because it is still the dry season. Malaria becomes fulminant during the rainy season, he revealed.

Mr. Fukada said he was not able to secure a pass for me to San Fernando. He stated that the High Command does not want to give privileges to anybody. “If they give to one they must give to all,” he said.

Chairman Jorge B. Vargas offered me his car. He asked one of his Japanese aides if he would be willing to accompany me even if I did not have a permit. The Japanese was willing to take the chance.

Later in the evening, Mr. Fukada called me up in the house. He said: “Better postpone your trip, doctor. The prisoners now being sent to different concentration camps. Plenty confusion there. No names. Send to Capaz and everywhere. Better wait.”

Still later in the evening, Gregorio Nieva phoned: “My son Tony was seen entering Bilibid at about 6 p.m. Maybe your son is with him.”

Mary left for Cabanatuan. There is also a concentration camp there. She said she would see what she can do from there.

This is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

April 14, 1942

Received a phone call from Joe Escaler, Jr. He came from San Fernando, Pampanga. He said he saw my son Philip with several thousand captives. My Japanese supervisor, Mr. Fukada, was beside me when I received the news. He congratulated me and I thanked him. I asked him if he could secure a permit for me so that I can look for my son. He said he would take the matter up with the High Command.

Received a letter from an old friend, Augusto Gonzalez. It was a letter of condolence. He heard Philip died…

Tuned in on KGEI. The commentator paid tribute to the defenders of Bataan and extended sympathies to the parents of those who perished in the fight.

My barber was very lonely. His two sons were reported killed by machinegun fire in Aglaloma, Bataan. After my haircut, a Japanese wanted a shave. My barber refused. He told me: “I better not shave him. I might slit his throat.”