Air raid alert went at 5:58 a.m. At 7:20 a.m. our planes came over and started bombing before alarm went. Saw eight planes come out of the clouds. Dropped heavy bombs. Air raid over at 9:10 a.m. Air raid alarm again at 10:15 a.m. Bombing around Cavite. No planes over Manila. Raid off at 10:50 a.m.
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 was told today about an incident which revealed that Japan has prepared well to occupy these islands. The incident was recounted by a Spanish priest, the parish priest of Cavite, who, a few days after the entry of the Japanese in the neighboring city, was notified that he was to report to the new Commander at the plaza. He appeared personally at the office of the Commander who, at that time, was occupied and whose head was inclined forward. The priest could only see the face partially, but he knew that it was a familiar face. As the priest entered the Japanese lieutenant colonel raised his head and on seeing the parish priest, said in perfect Spanish, “Hello, Fr. Pedro, how are you? You don’t know me anymore?” He was the priest’s former barber for several years and was likewise the barber of many American officers. Shortly before the war he disappeared.
It was clear that the barber was not promoted to colonel overnight as the Reds had done in Spain, but that he disguised himself as a barber to study and to spy on the naval base. It was an open secret that the Japanese maintained an army of spies in the Philippines. We have heard of cases of Japanese officers going about in the Islands working as drivers, mechanics, agents of commercial firms, and even as tailors and carpenters. They knew every geographical detail of the country better than the American officers did, and possessed complete maps, not only of the details of the terrain and coasts, but also of all fortifications, and they were posted on the movement of troops and armaments, their number and quality. They even knew the plans of the American High Command. All Japanese officers came provided with maps marked in Japanese with all details, streets and houses, roads, rivers, bridges, barrios, hills, factories, etc. well marked. When they came to a place, they could immediately identify it through their maps.
Two raids about noon, hit Cavite. Don’t think much damage done. Getting tired of this doing nothing.
Yesterday, American High Commissioner Francis B. Sayre radioed a message to his homeland. It sounded like a drowning man’s desperate call for help. It was worded thus:
The message which I send you, people of the United States, is this: We in the frontline are fighting to death because we have a firm faith in our cause and our leader. We know that you, at home, will send us help, and that you will not allow differences of opinion or the dispute between labor and capital, or red tape, or any other matter hinder you from obtaining the effective help for us before it is too late. The war forces us to action, action, action. Time is essential. Onward Americans! (El Debate, December 31, 1941).
Cavite has been burning these last few days. The naval base where the big Trans-Pacific clippers were sheltered and which constituted the greater part of the town is destroyed, causing the death of several hundred, if not thousands of people. Eye-witnesses who escaped from the scene of the catastrophe recount horrible experiences. What would it be with Manila and its unprotected populace, without anti-aircraft defenses, lacking in all kinds of shelters, and mostly built with flammable materials?
The Press is very sparing in details about the fighting inside and outside the Philippines. The officials of the High Command are very laconic, so that if one reads between the lines, he would still get nothing clear. Everybody is waiting for the promised reinforcements. On the other hand, the cause is given up as hopeless.
When I got to the field, Sgt. King, the line chief, told me that all his crew had left the field. He could not get them to stay to do maintenance work. It wasn’t my job to take charge of maintenance but but it wasn’t being done, and it had to be done if the planes were to fly, so I spent most of the morning rounding up the crews and getting them back to work. I found that to keep them at work and get something done, I had to be right there with them. They were scared, and I was, too, because we knew Nichols was in for a big raid, but we stayed there all morning trying to get all the ships into flying condition. A litle after noon I decided to go to the bank and draw some money. I rode into Manila with some other officers who were going to lunch. From the bank I went home to eat lunch and just after I finished, I heard the drone of airplanes. “It’s our bombers,” I told Dorothy, as we walked out to watch them.
“No, they don’t sound like ours,” Dorothy said. When we got out where we could see them, I changed my mind. There they were, fifty-four of them. Two engine bombers were flying at 20,000 feet. The anti-aircraft in Manila began to shoot at them, but their range was so bad that the shells burst only about half as high as the planes were flying. They flew over Nichols several times and dropped bombs each time; then they flew west and dropped the rest of their bombs on Cavite. The dive bombers then came and strafed the field. A few of our P-40s were up, but they were greatly out numbered. They and the dive bombers were so low that I couldn’t see any of the fights. Dorothy and I had been huddled up against a concrete wall all during the raid, but as soon as it was over and traffic started on the streets, I went on out to Nichols. A gasoline truck had been set on fire, several planes had been destroyed, and a few men had been killed or wounded but from all appearances, no large amount of damage had been done. Then some bad news came in. Lt. Hobrecht had been shot down, and when he jumped, his parachute didn’t open. Lt. Phillips had been after a Jap dive bomber over Cavite and had shot him down but then was show down by our anti-aircraft who were shooting at the Japs. He jumped and got out all right. Both were 17th pilots.
I went on to the Nichols Headquarters, which had been moved to a concrete dugout just off the field. There I heard some other developments of the war. Del Carmen had also been bombed and strafed that day. No heavy damage was the report. Then I heard a report that made me wonder what the Jap Army meant to do. The report was that warships and transports had come to Aparri and Vigan on the north tip of Luzon and that troops were landing there. They couldn’t start a ground offensive from there because they would have to come over miles and miles of mountains before they could reach the part of Luzon that they would want. We found out later that they only wanted the use of the airfields located at these points. A few of our bombers had gone up to bomb their ships and several flights of pursuit ships had gone up to strafe the ships, but what could a pursuit plane do against a battle ship? We just didn’t have enough bombers left to do anything. One destroyer was sunk and the ammunition ship was blown up. Everybody was still cheerful though. We all thought we could hold the Nips for one or two weeks, and then our Navy would reach us, reinforcements from the States would start pouring in, and we would have done our job. That was the plan, we all thought, and we didn’t even dream otherwise.
I went home about dark that night. After supper Dorothy and I spent the next two or three hours trying to get a few things straightened out and my personal affairs in order. I made a will and a list of things for Dorothy to do or check on in case something should happen to me. I didn’t like to this because it seemed like I was saying, “I will probably get killed and I want you to do these things after I am dead,” but it was something that needed to be done, so I got it off my mind.
I have always said I am not the least bit superstitious, but I think I am. In flying school I started flying in a certain pair of shoes and from then on through primary I would never fly in any others. Subconsciously I was afraid I would wash-out or something bad would happen if I changed. I still have those shoes, an old pair of perforated brown oxfords, and I guess I will always keep them. I started flying the first day of the war with certain things in my pockets and ever since I always carry the same things. I seem to think something might happen if U get rid of these old safety pins, coins, key chain, and medals, so I make it a point to keep them. Yes, I guess I am superstitious.
Dorothy and I were both cheerful and optimistic that night. In a few weeks we would have Japan on the run and begging for mercy. What did we have to worry abou except maybe a few weeks separation at the most?
About 2:00 A.M. was awakened by distant explosions & shaking of the building. Jumped from bed & ran outside. Explosions & gun fire from Nichols field accompanied by a myriad of red flares. Staid up discussing the situation with some apprehension. At 4:00 A.M. all hands called to Sternberg as casualties started arriving from Iba & Clark Field. These continued to come in all day keeping the O.R. constantly busy. Very difficult to keep admissions straight & impossible to keep locator cards accurate due to the large number of transfers. Patients were brought in in trucks, ambulances, etc. The trucks having several layers of patients most of whom had gruesome wounds. Many had shrapnel wounds of the buttock. During the morning all the patients from the Naval hospital at Canacao were brought into Sternberg. Most were put in estate Mayor annex. About 12:30 we sighted 54 two motored bombers flying high. No clouds & was difficult to watch them because of sun. Was a beautiful sight paradoxically. They flew from the north almost directly over head and it was laughable the way our A.A. went to work. The bursts were seen at all points of the campass & those that were in the general direction of the planes were several thousand feet short. No pursuits went to intercept them for as we learned later, practically all our air force had been wiped out by the previous days bombing at Iba, Clark, & Nichols Fields. For some unexplained reason our B-17’s & pursuits were held on the ground all lined up nicely so that a minimum amount of bombs were required. (This is hearsay about the plane destruction). The bombers dropped a few on Nichols completing their devastation there & went out to Cavite & after a dry run came back over the Navy yard & really unloaded. They skipped the hospital & then hit the radio towers. It was an accurate sample of bombing completely putting the place out of commission. There were several thousand workers in the yard at the time and the amount of casualties were untold. About 4:00 P.M. casualties were brought by boat to the A & N Club landing and to the navy pier between pier 1 & pier 3. These continued to come by boatload thruout the nite. The injuries were terrific –Many compound fractures & barge loads of dismembered corpses were brought over & stacked in vehicles to be carted away to the morgue for identification & burial. I was at Port Area evacuating a boat loaf of about 100 patients at midnite when the sirens came on. I sent the loaded ambulances on to Sternberg & after some consultation, the skipper decided to push out into the bay until the raid was over & then return & unload the remainder. I took the remaining ambulances up to the Luneta to wait as we figured port area was due & it is hard to stay hitched in a place like that.
Visit to office of the usual series of men wanting me to get them jobs. Great relief when Rafferty arrived–he has forced his partners in the Manganese Mine, to “do him right.” Told me Sy Cip’s brother took a Chinese “dumb head” to the United States to campaign against our attempt to make the Chinese keep their books in English, Spanish or Tagalog so that the Government could collect taxes. The Chinese won.
We discussed the “customary law” of the Philippines which underlies the laws imposed by the Spanish and by ourselves. This explains many apparently incomprehensible events here. I told of the magnificent lands in the Cavite foot hills which were unoccupied because of the bandidos. He said he was the first of the Americans in Cebu to move out to a section on the outskirts of the City–no Filipinos would then live there because of the Pulijanes. Said Osmeña told him apropos of the recent surrender of Encallado, that this was the customary method of putting an end to brigandage: inviting the leader to one’s house and treating with him. “I was afraid” said Osmeña “when the criticism was running so high here over the princely way Encallado was treated by Quezon, that the papers would recall that this was the method I used myself when Provincial Governor to put an end to the Pulijan movement in Cebu.”
Long talk with Rafferty about Pershing and the “Moro question”; he was collector of customs in Cebu and Zamboanga at the time General Pershing was military governor there. Rafferty believes there was no Moro question there; only a “question” created by the United States Army! Said the reason why Pershing did not oppose my plan to remove the Army from Moroland and install Civil Government under Carpenter was that Pershing wished the credit, for having made this possible. (As a matter of fact we would never have had peace down there unless we had withdrawn the United States Army!) Rafferty says Pershing was utterly selfish and extremely unpopular in Zamboanga. His “illness” when he left for home as the last military governor of Mindanao was only an excuse.
Golf in p.m. at McKinley with Doria.
Memo: Beyer said yesterday that Governor General Murphy had been so afraid of provoking “labor” hostility in the United States that he had declined to take action against two or three labour leaders here when they deserved it. (That seems to have seen his fault as an administrator: every question to be decided here was considered with one eye on his political future at home.)
Quezon is making speeches in the Cagayan valley denouncing people who will not pay their (cedula) taxes, and those governments in the provinces which fail to collect it. (Perhaps the land tax is involved.) It seems probable that the situation is due both to “hard times” and to a general relaxation of government in recent years.
Quezon has announced that the June drawing in the Charity Sweepstakes will be the last; no doubt the affair has given rise to some scandal but I think it wiser for an aministration to regularize and make use of gambling rather than vainly trying to eliminate it.