Tokyo radio, in announcing the landings in Leyte, added that the Filipino and Japanese defenses furiously counter-attacked the invaders. This reports, however, were not repeated in the Philippines for lack of any semblance of truth. What appear credible to us, however, are the rumors that the Constabulary strongholds are passing over to the invaders. We were told that the insular police of different towns, with their rifles and baggages, have taken to the mountains to join the guerillas. In Calamba, the Constables have gone into hiding in the mountain thickness, a pattern which we had observed at other times. The guerillas are becoming active, mobilizing ex-USAFFE officers and chaplains.
With the first attack, whole towns have moved to the mountains. In some districts and provinces, the guerillas are in command. They cannot do so, however, in Manila, where it is risky for them to come out in the open.
The worries, distress and school problems, aggravated by lack of food, have drained my strength, and I had to go to Laguna to recover some vigor from the fresh breeze and nourishment offered by this province. These towns northeast of Makiling are the most peaceful in the archipelago. The guerrillas had already taken refuge in the mountains several months ago, or had returned to their homes, reconciled but not appeased, waiting for further developments. The more zealous groups have settled in the mountains at the opposite coast of Makiling, from where they descend and prey upon the lowland towns, though infrequently, ambushing trucks and destroying army trains.
The bandits of Cavite are the only ones showing signs of happenings all throughout the country. They steal domestic animals, crops, farm equipment, rails and rail ties, electric wires, laundry clothes and even the clothes on persons’ backs.
The Commander of the Constabulary of Calamba called up the El Real Plantation where I was vacationing asking for a truck to transport a contingent to the nearby town of Santa Rosa where the bandits were attacking an outpost. When the driver returned, he was pale and frightened, recounting the fierce battle he witnessed. We did not know what happened and what the casualties were.
I have noted two things in the south. First, that laborers do not want to work in the fields or in factories. They say that their wages would not suffice even if it were doubled, what with rice costing ₱12.00 a ganta and sugar about that much per kilo. Unless they are given these commodities, they will not work.
The Army was expecting this year’s sugar cane yield to be high, but the harvest did not reach even a tenth of the past year’s harvests. After a serious dissappoinment in the failure of the cotton experiment, the military authorities launched a feverish campaign in favor of sugar cane as they are fast running short of alcohol for fuel. The Sugar Association which was commissioned by the military to produce and distribute sugar announced that it would pay ₱16.00 a picul of actual harvests, and that the planters could buy their sugar equivalent to 10% of their production from the Association at ₱35.00 a picul at the black market. How would you expect them to be interested in the Association’s offer?
Another noteworthy development is the intensity of preparations for defense which the Japanese are making around Manila. From Muntinlupa to Caloocan are being constructed a chain of airfields and a small Maginot line from north to south through the towns surrounding the city. It is evident that they are taking the invasion threat very seriously.
The so-called guerrillas in this pacified region of Luzon are growing in number and militancy. They have formed a semi-secret organization which, in addition to its active members, is enlisting many young Filipinos who are under instructions to be prepared for active duty. They do not interfere either with the Japanese or the general public, but they are liquidating collaborators both in Manila and the suburbs. In some cases, some well-known active and talkative collaborators have been kidnapped and later released after strong admonitions. Others were sent letters warning them to be careful in what they do or say. These threats are usually effective.
In Cavite, an upsurge of robberies in bands is victimizing defenseless barrios, extending such activities to nearby provinces and causing panic among the helpless townspeople. A band of some seventy bandits armed with rifles swooped down on a barrio in Calamba a couple of days ago, divesting its inhabitants of their clothings, money, work animals, etc. One of the gang leaders was seen the other day hanging dead on a pole, killed by guerrillas who did not want to be held responsible for the despoliation.
I went to Calamba for a week of rest, taking advantage of the trips which the administrator of Hacienda Real had to make with his car back and forth to Manila. On our way to Calamba, we were behind a luxurious car displaying a Philippine flag. It was the car of General Artemio Ricarte, self-exile in Japan during these past year, in protest to American sovereignty. The newspapers made no mention of his arrival. A number of persons informed me that the Japanese brought him back to make a pro-Japanese campaign. From the news I gathered from various sources, the regions between Manila and Calamba about 56 km. from the capital are the least damaged by the looting and destructive forces of the invaders. Calamba was bombed for being a center of communications but the damage negligible. About five or six bridges on the way to Calamba were blown up by the USAFFE in its retreat, as well as the bridges to Batangas and Tayabas. Meanwhile, the price of sugar has soared due to heavy demand. One could see a long procession of caretelas going to the Central to purchase sugar. Within a few days the stock was sold out. The Real of Calamba is presently the most fortunate of all sugar centrals in Luzon. It stores more than 11,000 sacks. Moreover, it has resumed milling activities. The other centrals were either damaged by the war, looted, or sealed by the Army. If ever they could mill, they cannot sell their sugar since the Japanese Army takes it all, paying what they could pay. American and British-owned centrals, on the other hand, have been confiscated. Don Benito Razón, former president of the Letran Alumni Association, and who had been managing the Canlubang Sugar Central since half a year ago, invited me to dinner. As in other places, the people in this town have fled to the mountains, even if no significant destructions have occurred here. Now that the “milling” season has started, the workers are returning to their work, although milling operations are only at half capacity. The bridges are destroyed and transport to have sugar cane is lacking. Besides, all the sugar produced goes to the Japanese. Due to the good relationships existing between the plantation administrator and the military commander of Calamba, the administrator was able to secure all the permits he needed for the use of cars and wagons to operate the central and sell sugar without restrictions. He was even allowed to reconstruct a broken wooden bridge needed for the hauling of sugar cane and for public use. He is being assisted by an old Japanese employee who has remained faithful to him, preferring to return to the hacienda after being released by the Army rather than taking advantage of the New Order to further his own interests.
Some boys came to school, not knowing that classes had been suspended. The Fathers and the workers went to the seashore in the school bus to get sand with which to barricade the vestibule entrance with sandbags. A van came from Calamba with sacks and more sand from Pasay. It will take us more than a week to cover the windows and doors with about a thousand sacks of sand. We took off our habits and started to work. We were helped by some students and cadets.
By midmorning, we were taken aback by American soldiers installing a big anti-aircraft in front of Letran College. Two of the soldiers, soiled and emaciated, with their rifles hanging, approached me asking for confession. I invited them to the chapel. They knelt without putting down their rifles.
After hearing their confession and giving them communion, I asked them to take a cup of coffee. They said they came from Clark Air Base. The night before and early in the morning, the Japanese raid had caused enormous destruction. They could not tell how many American planes were burned or how many pilots, mechanics and officers were killed. Casualties were heavy on their side. They were scared, but they left Letran physically and spiritually relieved.
Other camps in the outskirts of Manila—Nichols, Murphy, McKinley—have suffered similar destructions. Fires can be seen from all over the city. From our roof, they look imposing. Witnesses inform us that many houses are burning in Baclaran.
In the afternoon, the anti-aircraft gun in front of Letran College was removed, to our great relief. The same thing is happening in other places where pieces of artillery had been installed. The military placed them, removed them. There seems to be widespread confusion in the military organization. Cars, trucks and buses ply about with a seeming lack of direction. The military have begun commandeering vehicles for the transport of military personnel. They pay well for their use or purchase.
The infernal barking of guns continued throughout the night. One could not tell whether they were firing at the planes, at people, at the lights, or at ghosts.
Heaps of bamboo poles were being burned during the night. They were arranged like fans and inverted cones. As they burned, they presented a pictureque and beautiful sight, if one was in the mood to enjoy the spectacle.
We were told that the youth would be called to active duty, especially those who had already been trained in college and those who had complied with military training in cadres. Many want to be reactivated, and they have volunteered. Most of them were told to wait. The country is in danger and the youth are anxious to defend her, but their services are not accepted. Here is an enigmatic irregularity that is hard to explain.
Left here with Company at 3.45 fording San Juan. Crossed bridge 4.30 a.m. Struck & surprised enemy little after five. Hot skirmish for hour and a half. Corp’l Elliott only man wounded in my Company. Had my hat shot off and bunch of hair taken out by Mauser. Returned to town 10 .a.m.
B, I (Rose’s) & D (Eltonhead’s) of 21st and 3 Cos of 37th. V. Inf. under Major Cheatam which arrived from Pasig today go on reconnaissance tomorrow, starting 4.30 a.m. Do not believe we will meet much opposition. One Gatling, one 3″2 & one Hotchkiss accompany us.
Rebels made strong attack on right of our line and feeble one on our left at 9.30 tonight. By 11.30 everything had quieted down and we returned to bed. Took “B” Co. around entire town but could not get in the scrap.
The Napidan hailed today near Santa Rosa by two Spanish Filipino officers who desired to know why troops had not been sent to receive surrender, upon being set on shore again they returned to S.R. but came running back in short time stating that all their brother officers, seven in number and all Spaniards had just been murdered by their troops for the attempted surrender of which they were now aware. No comment on the action or lack of action of our C.O. is necessary here.