October 14, 1972

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11:20 PM

Oct. 14, 1972

Saturday

Malacañan Palace

Manila

I have finally decided that in the Land Reform Program we should keep the government out of the transaction for the transfer of ownership of the land to the tenant. It would be a direct transaction between landowner and tenant choosing one of two schemes:

1. Payment in 14 years of 25% of the decided rent. This would be guaranteed by the cooperative that would have to be organized before ownership can be transferred to the tenant.

2. The organization of a corporation 25% of which shall belong to the landowner.

And there will be 0-retention by the landowner –except where the landowner tills the land himself– so he retains 6 hectares for each member of the family.

I attach the notes on our conference.

The use of bonds I rejected as this involves ₱7.5 billion at ₱5,000 per hectare.

Met Amb. Byroade at 9:45 AM who congratulated me. I asked him to inform his government I am asking for help in Land Reform. He feels that he can obtain such help from the U.S. Congress.

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Oct. 14th (Con’t)

Malacañan Palace

Manila

But the doctors in Clark Air Force Base have discovered a quarter size whitish spot inside his mouth under his tongue due to his smoking. So he is supposed to stop smoking as the spot is pre-malignant.

Was at Fort Bonifacio 10:30-11:45 PM inspecting the troops beyond the target range in training for attack. NBC took shots of me on the radio and the heliborne troops taking a hill.

Then worked on new schools to be opened, the amendments to the orders on suspension and dismissal of policemen, the take over of IISMI and Elirol, the exclusion of clearance requirements for certain groups of persons.

Tonight I viewed the media presentations of two groups –the APAA and the Tony Cantero groups.

I met Eraño Manalo of the Iglesia ni Cristo. He is worried that he may be picked up. And the BIR just notified him his books of accounts would be examined. Of course I accepted the resignation of Judge Herminio Moreno, married to his sister.

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Oct. 14th (Con’t)

Malacañan Palace

Manila

And in the early morning of Saturday, Sept. 22nd, shooting erupted in the Central Building of the Iglesia in Quezon City, beside the U.P. resulting in the death of one Iglesia guard and the wounding of three more while on the government side three marines were wounded. And he claims it was due to the fact that the Metrocom team head who was asked what they wanted by an Iglesia man, Ka Esguerra (a Lt. Ilagan who was apparently nervous) did not show his written orders nor did he explain his mission. Only the call of Sec. Ponce Enrile stopped the shooting.

He claims that the NPA would be trying to win their men to their side. But that they could not join a Godless organization.

I believe he is scared of being picked up.

 


January 18, 1945

One day the American troops were delayed in arriving at Manaoag in recapturing the fifteen kilometers which separated it from San Fabian. It took them one week to advance eleven kilometers to Pozorrubio. The cause was the Pugaros. The troops that landed in Lingayen went directly to Manila in forced marches which were not really forced. They could have advanced and come within a few days in an unprecedented blitzkrieg. But the Japanese had retreated to the eastern and western mountain ranges, and the liberators feared flank attacks which would isolate their vanguard from the main body of the Army. In spite of having slowed down their march, their provisions hardly caught up with them. The High Command had estimated that they could enter Manila by the end of March. Now they expected to make it on the first week of February.

There was another surprise for us since we sang hossana in praise of those who came in the name of the Lord. We feared that the Japanese air force would not give a moment of respite to the fleet and the landed troops, with successive bombings by suicide squads. At least this was what the Japanese radio and press reported every time a landing was made. The Americans just laughed off the reports of Radio Tokyo about the damage suffered by the American convoys and forces, with hundreds of ships sunk and entire divisions annihilated.

Almost every night, the air raid signal rang out, but it was seldom that a Japanese plane penetrated through, coming in a suicide attempt as it was caught between anti-aircraft fire and the clutches of some night fighters which patrolled the occupied areas. It was seldom that a desperate Japanese plane succeeded in dropping a bomb among the innumerable ships anchored on the Gulf. What happened to the zero fighters and the Wild Eagles whose exploits were so much praised by the Tokyo radio? In Lingayen, the Japanese left behind more than fifty planes, and more than 300 in Clark Field.


December 18, 1944

The alarm sounded yesterday, but the skies of Manila were clear of planes. The raids were made over Clark Field and Legazpi. However, we were kept alert by the raid today from 8:00 in the morning to 5:30 in the afternoon. In the morning a plane was shot down and the pilot parachuted down. A short raid was made in the afternoon over Manila Bay. Official sources said that Clark Field was raided anew, simultaneously with Aparri, Cebu and Leyte, although the press reported very light damage.

A new reporter wrote: “Our first impulse upon learning about the destructive attacks of the immense enemy forces was to be thankful we are spared from the air attack. At least for this year.” But we knew that the American Fleet was still afloat and continues to inch in, entering by the Lingayen Gulf from where it pounds on the coastal defenses.


September 23, 1944

Manila’s agog. Everybody’s talking and whispering and laughing and dreaming about the raid. Everybody feels the Americans will be here before Christmas. Somebody opined “around New Year” and he was branded a low-down defeatist. A thousand pseudo-generals have sprung with theories on how easily the Americans will retake Luzon.

Despite the very tense situation, Manoling’s wedding went on. Very few guests were able to attend the wedding, according to Vic. The Casino Español was unable to serve the breakfast because the servants didn’t show up. Vic Fernandez had to improvise on the organ because the organist was not able to go to church. The bride arrived late and the priest didn’t say Mass anymore. When my brother congratulated Manoling, the lovesick Romeo closed his eyes and sighed: “Ah, I made it!”.

Biked downtown with Joe Meily to see people. Most of the stores were closed. There were many people carrying bundles, perhaps evacuating. Saw many sailors lying on the grass under the trees in the Sunken Gardens. The poor fellows looked haggard and shell-shocked. A cochero said those sailors swam to shore.

Visited Ateta. She was beautiful, as usual. She was dressed in blue and I’ve got to admit my heart skipped a couple of beats. She’s not the type of girl that makes you feel like whistling when you see her. Her beauty inspires respect, the kind of adoration you’d give to an angel.

Sentries wouldn’t let me pass through Ayala Bridge. Joe had a permit but the insolent sentry wouldn’t even look at the pass. He just shouted “Kora!” and pointed his bayonet at us.

Still no water. The servants took three cans of water from a nearby well and I took a bath with that. The telephone has been dead the whole day. So far nothing has happened to the electric service.

Several AA shrapnel fell near Tio Phil’s house, killing a horse and a cat. One servant of Tio Charlie was wounded in the arm by AA shell-bursts and Tantoco’s milk-boy was killed by a stray bullet.

Provincial reports reveal that more than 120 Japanese planes were destroyed in Clark Field, Pampanga. About 80, were downed in dogfights. Our Japanese neighbor boasts that four U.S. aircraft carriers have been sunk off the eastern coast of Tayabas.

Two air-raid alarms this morning but no bombing. Saw four U.S. observation planes flying very high. There were still fires in the direction of the Bay area but I couldn’t ascertain what was burning. A Japanese soldier said it was oil.

Two Japanese soldiers went to the house today. They asked for water because they were thirsty. Supplies from the Piers are being transferred in residential districts. One of the soldiers said that he came from New Guinea; the other from Singapore. I asked “How many soldiers are going to defend Luzon.” One of them said “More than a million.”

President Laurel declared war on the U.S. and Britain. Somebody said “What’s the difference?” Everybody knows, that Laurel is just a puppet, making a strong effort to show that he isn’t.

Papa has been busy the whole day asking the Japanese authorities to give us a few days to transfer our furniture. They agreed very reluctantly. They need private houses very badly because they are afraid to live in barracks. They’re hiding under the skirts, so to speak, of the civilian population.

Will try to tune in on KGEI. Am very anxious to know what America has to say about the raids on Manila. The Americans in the concentration camp in Santo Tomas must be excited these days. I’m sure they saw the planes and felt the ground shaking. Must stop writing. Somebody is ringing the doorbell.


December 16, 1941

Lts. Brownwell, Crosby, Stone, and myself, all from the 17th Pursuit Squadron, were told to go back to Nichols, take over the 17th and reorganize it, and take charge of maintenance work at both Nichols and Nielson airfields. From all reports everything was pretty much of a mess at these places. Lt. Brownwell was the officer in charge. This was a break for me because I wanted to be in Manila, and I was determined to do my best.

Even though we had been apart for only a week, it was a happy reunion that Dorothy and I had when I reached Manila that evening. Also, it was quite treat to sleep in a warm bed after spending a week sleeping on a cot in the open at Clark. It rained nearly every morning before daylight where we were, and everyone would be soaked.


December 12, 1941

The next morning Dorothy drove me to the Army and Navy Club where I was to meet the truck. Then came our first parting. Dorothy was trying not to cry, and I, with a lump in my throat and trying to keep my voice from quivering, was trying to cheer her up. That was a sad, blue ride to Clark. It was raining and I swallowed hard, wondering if I would ever get back to Manila. Every barrio we passed through on the road we met crowds of Filipinos, and they would all hold up two fingers and shout “V for victory”. Nearly all the men were carrying clubs or large bolos and had on medals designating them as Volunteer guards. The Japs will really have a fight on their handsif they try to take these people. They all seemed to be eager and ready to fight. I still think that if the Army could have or would have put up a longer and better fight as the Japs came down the Valley from the north, the civilians would have played a large part in harrassing and maybe holding the Japs. That is to come later though and maybe someday I will find out just how the civilian population did act when the Japs came. The Army certainly didn’t set a good example for them, so you couldn’t expect them to do much.

Just before we got to Clark Field the Japs made a bombing raid on it but dropped their bombs from such a low altitude that many of them failed to go off. When we got there the place was rocked every few minutes by duds being exploded by demolition crews. I saw Clark Field for the first time since I had left it the first day of the war. What a change I saw! Clark was just a mass of pitted and charred ruins. I think it was the most desolate sight that I have ever seen. Lady Luck must have been with me when I decided to try that second and successful attempt to take-off the first day of the war. If I had stayed at Clark Field ten minutes longer, I would have been caught in the raid.

All the personnel from Clark Field had moved back into the mountains to escape further raids. We went there, too. The pilots were all back together now, but what was the plan for the future? No one seemed to have any idea. The camp was back in an old volcano crater and very well concealed. Everything seemed quiet. I spent the next week there doing nothing. A reconnaissance plane was sent out each day over the northern part of the island, but no further enemy activity as to landings was reported. Lt. Walt Cass from the 17th went out on one of these and failed to return. We all gave him up for lost.

Lts. Wagner and Church went on one mission to Vigan to dive bomb and strafe the Japs on the airport there. Lt. Wagner had made a similar raid on Aparri a few days before and had destroyed a number of enemy planes, so we all had high hopes for this second mission. On this raid Church was hit by antiaircraft fire on the dive toward the field and his plane began to burn. Instead of jumping, he went on over the field, dropped his bombs, and crashed. Both the Japanese and Americans paid tribute to his brave act, and it was reported later that the Japanese buried him with high military honors.

Clark Field was bombed daily during that week, but no further damage was done. Since the Officers Club at Fort Stotsenberg was still open and was near our camp, most of the officers spent a part of the day there. One day I was there getting a haircut when the bombers flew over.The barber took off for cover, and there I was for about the next two hours with half a haircut looking for the barber so that I could get him to finish the job. Long after the bombers had gone, he came crawling out of a sewer manhole and finished my haircut.

Rumors ran riot at the camp. First we heard that new troops and planes had come in and that more were on the way. According to reliable reports, planes were being assembled in Manila and were flying off Dewey Boulevard. This seemed a bit fantastic, but we believed it because we just knew that we should have reinforcements by this time. Also, during this week one of our bombers picked up a number of our pursuit pilots and took them south to Australia. The story was that they going down to lead flights of new planes up to the Philippines, and we believed that, too. They didn’t come back, and they still haven’t come back. This war has been one of waiting for reinforcements that just don’t come. At first we worried about it, but now I don’t think we even expect them and would probably be a surprised bunch if we did get some.

A few days after my arrival at Clark Lt. Shepherd, one of the 17th pilots who had been missing since the second day of the war, came into camp. He had seen a flight of bombers going north, had chased them to the northern part of the island and finally caught them. After shooting one down, he had been show down by the others and had bailed out in the mountains. He had spent over a week walking out to civilization and when we saw him, about all that was left of him was his bushy growth of flaming red hair.

While I was at Clark Field, more fifth column activity was brought to light. From the first day of the war the Japanese seemed to know more about our army and our operations than we did ourselves. Every night we could see signal flares going up, and it wasn’t the Japanese that were sending them. It was Filipinos. Most of this work was done by some ignorant Filipino worker who probably got a few pesos for being a traitor. This could easily be understood because he had always lived in poverty and would always live in poverty. A few pesos was probably worth more than life itself to him. The fifth column activity of some of the rich, high-class Filipinos was what was hard to understand, and their activities did the most damage. In one case, a radio that was giving the Japs information about our activity around Clark Field was trailed to the house of a well-to-do doctor in a village within sight of the field itself. There were several cases such as this, and all of these fifth columnists had everything to lose and nothing to gain by such activity.


December 9, 1941

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.


December 9, 1941

Dorothy got home early the next morning. After an early breakfast she drove me out to Nichols so that she would have the car instead of it being left on Nichols. When we got to the field, we saw the result of the night’s air-raid. It was our first surprise of many. One hanger had been hit, and there were a few bomb craters on the flying field, but practically no damage had been done. Just after we had gotten on the field, the air-raid siren began to moan, and we were both pretty scared. We started to run out across the rice paddies to get away from Nichols. We ran until we were exhausted and then dropped down in a hole to wait for the bombers. They didn’t come that time. After a while we went back to the car, and I sent Dody home in a hurry before she did get caught in a bombing raid. Then I went on back to the operations hanger, and there I was told that a flight had just taken off to patrol over Nichols, and that there was another plane if I wanted to join them. Some of the pilots from th 3rd Pursuit that had been flying when Iba was bombed had come to Nichols during the night and two of them had cracked up on landing. Their planes were laying just off the runways. I got in the P-40 that was left on the field and took off hoping to find the flight that was already over Nichols. I climbed to about 17,000 feet, and, not seeing the flight, circled there until my gasoline was nearly out. I don’t know what I would have done if I had seen enemy ships coming, probably gotten show down not knowing any more than I did. A little before noon I went down and landed on Nichols. All personnel seemed to have vanished except for one enlisted man that came running up and said that bombers were on the way and that some major said for me to get the plane off the field before it was bombed. I told him to get the gas truck so that I could refuel, but he said the driver was gone and that he couldn’t drive it, so I jumped out, ran across the field, and got in the truck. I started toward my plane expecting to be bombed any minute and cussing the inefficiency of the entire army all the way.

By the time I got back to the plane, a few mechanics had come out of the bushes and holes and they they helped me service the plane. I took off as soon as I could and spent the next 3 1/2 hours circling the field at 15,000 feet. At one time during the flight I got so tired sitting there doing nothing and seeing no planes, I decided to do some acrobatics. I did a series of loops, slow rolls, Immelmans, and so forth. I was going around on a big barrel roll when I happened to glance back and see four planes bearing down on me. I practically passed out with fright. They looked like P-40’s but from the way there were coming after me, I didn’t know what to think. I shouted over the radio, Don’t shoot! It’s Obert!” At that they pulled off and I fell in with them, swearing right then and there that this was serious business and although it was impossible to see everywhere at the same time I was going to try to do just that. I stayed with the other shops and landed when they did. When we landed, my electric gun sight was out so I rounded up some mechanics to work on it. By this time pilots had come in from some of the other squadrons. By talking with them I got a good idea of what had happened. Iba, Baguio, Tarlac, Clark and Nichols had been bombed and strafed the first days and nights of the war. No damage was done at Baguio and Tarlac except for a few civilian casualties. Iba had been completely wiped out. Most of our planes stationed there had been destroyed on the ground, and a large number of the men had been killed or wounded. George Elstrom, one of my classmates, had attacked the dive bombers over Iba. After shooting down two, his plane was shot up so bad that he had to jump. The Japanese planes shot at him all the way down, and he died soon after landing. Two other U.S. pilots were shot down at Iba. At Clark the story was worse. The Japs had hit just as the 20th Pursuit was taking off and had shot down four pilots on the take-off and destroyed most of the other P-40s on the ground. Several B-17shad also been caught and destroyed on the ground. My Squadron, the 17th, after leaving Nichols the evening before had landed at Del Carmen and stayed most of the night. Early in the morning before daylight they were ordered to take off and intercept the bombers that were heading for Nichols. Lt. Lodin was the third plane to take off. When it came his turn, the air was so dusty that he couldn’t see the lights ahead of him, but he tried it anyway. He started in the wrong direction, hit two planes that were awaiting for take-off, and nosed over. The plane exploded, and he was burned alive. He was one of my best friends in the squadron. Having flown with him a lot, I considered him one of the best fliers in the squadron.

So far the Japs hadn’t been seen anywhere on the island on the second day of the war. That was Tuesday, and we learned later that they never were active on Tuesdays. It must have been their day of rest. About dark we were told to get off Nichols in case the Japs made another raid so I caught a ride and went home. There I found Dorothy had already moved most of our things to her uncle’s house so we slept there that night. We both knew that I would be called away from Manila any minute and were both dreading the time when we would have to part. Dorothy took me out to the field the next morning and then went to Fort Santiago, where she worked. She was only working during the day now.


December 8, 1941

I will not forget this day as long as I live.  Although my Q-Boat was on “war footing” condition since last Nov. 27, the seriousness of its implications did not hit me till early today when I first heard the radio announcement of the Japanese surprise attack against the US naval and military facilities at Pearl Harbor.  From my calculations, the attack started about 0800 Dec. 7 Hawaii time which was about 0300 Dec. 8, Manila time.  I can not believe Japan will do this as I have great faith in the US military strength.

Before noon, a large number of high flying Japanese planes bombed Camp John Hay, Clark Field and Iba air facilities.  Late in the afternoon, I heard a radio news that a state of war with Japan was announced by US President Roosevelt.

From 1800 to 2200H, Q-112 patrolled Parañaque-Navotas coastline 2 miles offshore.