The sinking of the S.S. Corregidor, December 16-17, 1941

The S.S. Corregidor of the Compañia Maritima, which sank on December 16, 1941. Photo from Chad Hill.
The S.S. Corregidor of the Compañia Maritima, which sank on December 16, 1941. Photo from Chad Hill.

On December 16-17, 1941 (around midnight, hence the event straddling two dates), the S.S. Corregidor, an inter-island steamship of the Compañia Maritima, hit a mine off Corregidor Island and sank, resulting in a tremendous loss of life.

Here is a map of the area (click on this link for the original scan).

Detail of sketch of minefields around Corregidor island, provided by Peter Parsons.
Detail of sketch of minefields around Corregidor island, provided by Peter Parsons.

There is a very interesting discussion on the disaster, and the question of whether negligence was involved, and if so, who should be assigned blame, in the The Loss of the S.S. Corregidor thread of Corregidor Then and Now Proboards. Within the thread can be found recollections by George Steiger (an officer in Corregidor), Charles Balaza (serving in an artillery detachment on Corregidor) and others.

Here is a dramatic account by one of the survivors of the sinking of the ship, in the memoirs of Jose E. Romero (Not So Long Ago: A Chronicle of My Life, Times, and Contemporaries, Alemar-Phoenix, Quezon City, 1997 reprint):

The S.S. Corregidor Disaster

WAR HAVING BEEN DECLARED, the next day the National Assembly met at the house of Speaker Yulo to pass legislation giving the President powers to be able to cope with emergency. After that the members of Assembly were concerned with the problem of returning home to their provinces and their families. I was very much chagrined that close friends of mine had been able to take passage on the S.S. Legaspi that was making trips to my hometown, Dumaguete, via Cebu, a trip that took two days, without having difficulty from Japanese boats and planes. I was also chagrined to learn that my good friend, the District Engineer of my province who had come to Manila with me a few days previously, had been able to get out of Manila by way of the Bicol provinces and then made it to Samar and Leyte and back to our home province. A few days later, another boat was scheduled to depart for the South, including my hometown of Dumaguete. Passengers, including myself, were aboard when an hour later we were told to disembark by order of the U.S. Army, probably for fear of enemy action.

Inasmuch as the Japanese had already bombed Clark Field, Camp Nichols, Cavite, and Manila itself, particularly the Intendencia building and the Herald building and Santo Domingo Church, I thought it would be safer, being alone in Manila with my houseboys, for me to live in my office in the Legislative building. (The basement at the Legislative building had been sandbagged and was converted into an air-raid shelter.) I immediately arranged with the late Ramon Fernandez, whose boats were making trips to the Visayas, to advise me whenever any of his boats made a trip for the South, but this he never did. I had also arranged with my good friend, Salvador Araneta, who was then one of the principal owners of the FEATI (Far East Aviation Transport Co., Inc.), which owned the planes making trips between Manila, Iloilo, and Bacolod, to advise me whenever there was a chance to get on one of those planes. I was very much worried because, as already stated, I had come to Manila immediately after the election, and being very confident that in case of emergency I could easily return to my province either by a FEATI plane or by boat, I had not made sufficient provision for the maintenance of my family during my absence. In any event we had used up practically all of our financial resources during the political campaign and I had precisely come to Manila, among other things, to make arrangements to meet my immediate financial problems.

Although Mr. Araneta did his best to try to get an accommodation for me on the plane to the South, the man actually running the affairs of the FEATI was so swamped with demands for passage on his planes that even Mr. Araneta’s recommendation could not help me. One night I received a message from Mr. Araneta advising me that if I would go to Batangas that night, I might be able to get a passage on a plane. (The Manila airfield at Nichols had been bombed and was not safe for takeoff and landing of planes.) This was very difficult because the country was then under blackout orders, it was not safe to travel at night, and there was no certainty that I would get on the plane. It was the last trip that the plane made, so I missed this chance.

One day the member of the Assembly were advised that a special train was being reserved for us to go to Sorsogon. From there we could get launches or sailboats for Samar, Leyte, and our respective provinces in the Visayas. At the appointed day and hour many of us gathered at the Paco Station and we were hardly seated in the car when we were asked to come down because the Japanese had landed in Legaspi. A couple of days later, I saw my colleagues who like me had been living in the Legislative building rushing toward the Compañia Maritima office. One of them shouted to me that the S.S. Corregidor was leaving for the South. I immediately packed up the few things that I had and, together with a cousin of mine and his daughter who were living with me in the Legislative building, hied myself to the Compañia Maritima building. It was chaos there, with hundreds of people trying to get into the building to buy a ticket for the trip. A security guard, gun in hand, was at the door trying to prevent people from going into the building. I explained to him that I had an arrangement with Don Ramon Fernandez to get on the first boat going to the south, but he said that he knew nothing about the arrangement and would not let me in. My cousin, his daughter, and I left the building very disappointed when a little farther on we met Don Ramon’s nephew, Carlos, who today is still active with the shipping company. I explained my situation to him and he asked me whether I was really anxious to go on that trip. When I answered in the affirmative, he personally took me inside the office and helped me get a ticket for myself, my cousin, and his daughter. I also bought a ticket for a fellow townsman who wanted to return home but was without funds. But the danger of the trip was made manifest by our being asked to sign a waiver of any responsibility on the part of the shipping company in case a mishap occurred during the trip.

From the Compañia Maritima office and the Muelle de la Industria, we went to the South Harbor where the S.S. Corregidor was docked. There were hundreds of people and it seemed that there were many who got aboard even without tickets. I was delighted to find aboard Senator Villanueva, his recently married son and daughter, and their household help. He told me that he had been trying to contact me repeatedly the last few days, because he was anxious that we should go home together. In times of emergency like this, personal animosities among relatives are forgotten and the old family ties reassert themselves. I also met Captain Calvo of the boat, who had been a longtime friend of mine, with his pretty young wife that he had just married. He told me that I must be anxious to get back home under such conditions of danger. I told him that if he and his wife, my relatives and other people were willing to take the chance, there was no reason why I should not do the same. The boat was being located with ammunition and other military equipment for the South. I was quite nervous and I was told later that he had not wanted to make that trip. This probably partly explains why he was taking his wife along with him. I was also told later that on previous occasions, while passing the mined sections around Corregidor he had been warned that he was passing too close to the mines.

Probably the trip would not have been as risky as it was surmised. The plan was to land at the first port in the South at daybreak and from there the passengers would take sailboats or other means of transportation to the provinces which were still unoccupied by the Japanese. There were many times more passengers than should ordinarily have been allowed aboard. We stayed aboard for several hours and strict blackout was observed. Senator Villanueva and his family and I and my cousin with his daughter seated ourselves directly in front of a lifeboat as we thought we could quickly get on it in case of emergency. We were all furnished life belts and hundreds of other life belts were strewn around the deck. About midnight the boat started to leave in pitch darkness. I was half-asleep but noticed that light signals were being flashed from what I think was Corregidor Island. I was to learn afterward that the signals were to warn the captain of the boat that he was not on the right track. (The passage between Corregidor and the mainland in Manila Bay had been mined.) All of a sudden there was a dull thud and then an explosion. We had hit a mine. The boat shuddered as if mortally wounded. It did not sink immediately and the group already referred to who were seated near a lifeboat got aboard it.

Before the boat left, as already stated, we had been supplied with life belts. My companions were very prudent in having attached the life belts to their bodies, but I only held mine in my hands. A husky Spaniard had been saying that this was a bad joke we were playing with the life belts, but I told him that it was customary, even in peacetime, to have drill aboard the ships and practice the use of life belts. When we hit the mine this husky man grabbed my life belt, since he had not taken the precaution to provide one for himself. I insisted that the life belt was mine, but he claimed that it was his and proposed that we throw the life belt into the water, confident that later on, if we had to struggle for that life belt, as a much huskier man he would have the advantage. But the man from my province, whom I had helped to get a ticket on that trip and for which ticket I had paid, handed me another life belt. Again it was grabbed by another person. This faithful protege of mine handed me another one and still another one, but each time somebody would grab the life belt away from me. Remembering that I was the only one without a life belt and recalling that hundreds of life belts had been scattered on the deck in the early evening, I went down to the deck to see if I could find another life belt. At this moment, there was a second and more terrible explosion. It seemed that it was the boiler that exploded and the boat immediately sank headlong into the water. We were all drawn by the suction and had the water in those parts been deeper, we could not have returned to the surface.

When the boat reached the bottom and there was no more force of suction, I instinctively swam with all my force toward the surface, and when I reached the surface after what seemed an endless effort to reach it, it seemed this was a second life for me. Right in front of me was a life belt and a piece of board just enough for me to lie down on. If ever there are or were miracles, this certainly was one. I had gone into the water without a life belt and here right in front of me was the board of salvation and a life belt. I did not realize it then, but I had ugly cut in the head which must have been caused when the boat touched the bottom and my head hit something hard. I was too weak to tie on my life belt and it was really the board that saved me. I was too weak from loss of blood, so I only hung on to the board which, as I said, was just sufficient to keep my body afloat. Fortunately, it was as long as my body so that my body covered it almost entirely, otherwise other people who were floating around without support might have tried to grab it from me. I just lay over that board semi-conscious for several hours. Fortunately, the sharks that infest these waters must have been kept away by the explosion and by the oil from the sunken ship. About four hours later. I felt as if there were some bright lights. It was one of the P.T. or so-called mosquito boats that had been sent to rescue the survivors. I looked up and one of the American crewmen threw me a life belt which was tied to a rope that he held. I took hold of the life belt and he pulled me toward the boat. I must have looked like a real mess, covered all over with oil from the boat that sank and with the blood of my head over my face. I just lay there on that boat while we were being taken to Corregidor. It was just beginning to dawn when we docked at the harbor of Corregidor. I will never forget, especially after seeing the callousness and cruelty of the Japanese later, seeing one of the American soldiers who had come to the dock to meet the survivors take particular notice of me, saying, “This man is badly hurt.” He immediately ran up the gangplank, took me in his arms, loaded me into the car that he was driving, and then rushed me like mad to the hospital in Malinta Tunnel. The others who were not so badly hurt were taken to Manila. Only about one-third of some one thousand people that were in the S.S. Corregidor were saved. Senator Villanueva and his son, my cousin and his daughter, as well as two of my colleagues, Representatives Ampig and Reyes of Iloilo and Capiz, respectively, perished in the disaster, as did the wife and children of Representative Dominador Tan. Representative Zaldivar, later Justice of the Supreme Court, survived.

In Corregidor Hospital

At the hospital in Malinta Tunnel, which I revisited later, the wound in my scalp was sewn up by a kind American doctor. Fortunately, the wound was only skin-deep and did not fracture my skull. When a Filipino nurse found out who I was, she made a lot of fuss about it and many people were soon coming to see me. (Much later when I was Secretary of Education, on a visit to Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija, I was fortunate to see her again with her husband.) Two of the young officers who visited me in Corregidor were from my town and province. A medic or medical assistant, an American, took very kind interest in me. (To anticipate my story, when I left Corregidor Hospital ten days after I entered it, I was to wear his civilian clothes as I had none of my own. I gave him my address and after the war when the House of Representatives, of which I was a member, was reconvened, one day an American came to my office and greeted me joyously. When I could not quite remember him, he said, “I was the one who sewed up your head in Corregidor.” It was a happy reunion. He gave me his address in the U.S. to which he was returning and when I was Ambassador to London, I unfailingly sent him a Christmas card. I did not receive any reply from him, but after the third or fourth time I sent him a card, I got a reply explaining that the reason he did not acknowledge my previous cards was that he did not know the address of the Philippine Embassy in London, not realizing that it would have been sufficient for him just to put the Philippine Embassy as address. He told me that he was working somewhere in the Middle East and was doing pretty well financially.)

I developed a slight case of pneumonia, but thanks to the sulfa drugs that had just recently been discovered, this danger to my health was averted.

To return to my story, next to my bed at the hospital was that of Captain Kelly of the United States Navy, a man made famous by a book written in the United States by American escapee during the War, entitled They Were Expendable—a bestseller. Like many Americans in Corregidor, they were still confident that military aid would come from the United State and that the Philippines would be retaken. But this was not to be for more than three years.

During my ten-day stay in Corregidor, from December 17, the day of the sinking of the Corregidor, until December 27 when we were ordered to evacuate to Manila, many prominent officials went to Corregidor. Among those who visited me were the Commanding General of Corregidor and the U.S. High Commissioner, Francis B. Sayre, Vice-President Osmeña and his family, ex-Speaker Roxas, and Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos. President Quezon and his family, however, who also arrived at Corregidor on Christmas Eve, did not visit me. When casually one night I saw him and Mrs. Quezon, he did not even talk to me. I think he was ill and depressed when he saw me with my bandaged head and, perhaps thinking that I was more badly hurt than I really was, he simply was too depressed to talk to me. However, Mrs. Quezon who was seated next to me while we were seeing a movie just outside the entrance to Manila Tunnel during a lull in the bombing by the Japanese, held my hand and gave me words of comfort. From Vice-President Osmeña, I learned for the first time that my relatives by affinity, ex-Senator Villanueva and his son, had not survived the sinking of S.S. Corregidor, although the ex-Senator’s daughter-in-law, who was expecting a baby (and who is still very much alive), and two maids survived.

Christmas Eve was celebrated in Corregidor, and in my condition, away from my family, it was indeed a sad Christmas Eve for me. The singing of Christmas carols by the American and Filipino nurses and other personnel only added poignancy to my depressed spirit. On December 27 an order was received from General Douglas MacArthur for the evacuation of all civilians in Corregidor to Manila, as the Japanese were fast approaching Manila. The medic who took such interest in me suggested that I ask President Quezon to contact General MacArthur and get him to make an exception in my case by allowing me to stay in Corregidor. I contacted Mr. Roxas, who immediately got in touch with President Quezon and who in turn tried to get in touch with General MacArthur. However, General MacArthur was busy directing the withdrawal of USAFFE troops to Bataan and could not be contacted. Mr. Roxas urged me, however, to go to Manila. He said that I could get better medical treatment there and, besides, the boat leaving for Manila might be the last one that could make the trip as, with the arrival of the Japanese, Manila would be isolated from Corregidor. So I decided to leave.

We left again in pitch darkness, as complete blackout was ordered everywhere. I shall not forget another American soldier who took me in his car to the waiting ship and then removed his overcoat and placed it over me. After my experience on the S.S. Corregidor, to travel again in complete darkness could not but inspire fear in me, but we made the trip uneventfully. Upon arrival in the South Harbor, we were placed in a covered truck where it was also very dark. The driver had to stop at every street corner to find his way, and finally I was deposited at the Philippine General Hospital which was then under the direction of my good friend, the late Dr. Augusto Villalon. I was placed under the direct care of Dr. Santos Cuyugan, who was a specialist in wounds and burns. Because of the infection of my wound, it took about three months to heal, although it was only a superficial one

The Philippine Diary Project contains several points of view discussing the S.S. Corregidor disaster. The earliest one appears in an entry in the diary of Teodoro M. Locsin, December 16, 1941:

Today the inter-island vessel Corregidor struck a mine near the mouth of Manila Bay and sank in a few minutes. The ship was packed to the gunwales with passengers leaving the city for the southern islands, thus reintroducing the “Samarra” theme.

The number of people on board was estimated at from 600 to 1,000. The exact number may never be known. Government officials used their influence to make the ship’s agents issue them and their friends tickets. Many went up the gangplanks just before the boat sailed, thinking to get their tickets from the purser afterward, when the boat was out at sea. Each, in one way or another, properly sealed his fate.

Later in the day, I was shown a wire from a man in Iloilo asking a friend in the city to secure a ticket for his mistress on the Corregidor. The war caught the woman in Manila and the man wanted her with him. The friend, I need not say, got the ticket.

Locsin, then a young newsman in the Philippines Free Press, would have been among the first to receive important news. Others got the day after. Fr. Juan Labrador OP, December 17, 1941 mentions how most other people got the news, and details that shocked the public:

At noontime, an “extra” of the dailies announced the great catastrophe of the vessel “Corregidor”. This was the heaviest and fastest of the boats anchored at the river. It set sail the night before without previous notice. Nevertheless, it was teeming with passengers destined for the Visayas. Around midnight, it hit a mine near the island of Corregidor and in three to five minutes it was swallowed up by the black waters of Manila Bay. It cannot be ascertained how many lives were lost. The Compañía Marítima does not have a list of the passengers. Many had filtered in without paying the fare, or mounted aboard with the idea of paying later on. Only 200 passengers were rescued, and the number of those drowned is estimated at 600 to 800.

Among the passengers were assemblymen, students from the South, and well-known families, including the brothers of the Archbishop of Cebu, one of whom was a professor and secretary of the Faculty of Law of the University of Santo Tomas; the other was a member of the Assembly. The assemblyman drowned, but the faculty member of UST was saved after swimming and floating for six hours. Those who were trapped in the cabins—women and children, for the most part—are forever buried in the bosom of the sea. Even among those who were on deck and had time to jump overboard, many were drowned for lack of lifesavers or for their inabiity to resist the current of the waves.

It was the first great tragedy of the war, and God permit that it be the last.

A young officer in the Philippine Coastal Patrol (the fledgling Philippine Navy) wrote about the tragedy as he received the news from colleagues in the US Navy. See Ramon Alcaraz, December 17, 1941:

By night time, the tragedy was compounded by the sinking of S.S. Corregidor in our own defensive minefields guarding the entrance to Manila Bay west of Corregidor Fortress.  S.S. Corregidor is one of the best among our inter-island commercial vessels with civilian and military personnel aboard bound for Visayas and Mindanao.

Loaded also are Artillery pieces, equipment and supplies of the 101st FA, and other Vis-Min Units.  From initial scant report I got from my Mistah Alano, ExO of Q-111 that participated in the rescue, he said the ship hit a mine and sunk so fast virtually all passengers went down with the ship including her Captain.  There were very few survivors.  The mined area is under the responsibility of the Harbor Defense and PT RON 3.  I should know more details about this tragedy after I talk with some of my comrades on duty then at PT RON 3.

Five days later, Alcaraz had more information about the tragedy. See Ramon Alcaraz, December 22, 1941:

I also talked with Ens. George Cox, CO PT 41 on duty when S.S. Corregidor sunk five days ago.  He said PT 41 was leading the ill fated ship at the channel but suddenly, all at once, the S.S. Corregidor veered course towards the minefields and his efforts to stop her were to no avail.  There was a loud explosion after hitting a mine, the ship sank so fast virtually all aboard went with her including the ship captain. There were very few survivors.

Events would rapidly overtake the S.S. Corregidor disaster. See December 24-25, 1941 in diaries; The Great Escape of the S.S. Mactan: December 31, 1941Evacuation of the Gold Reserves of the Commonwealth, February 3, 1942The debate on taking the Philippines out of the war: February 6-12, 1942Bataan, 1942: views of a father and his son; Life, death, decisions, during the Japanese Occupation; Diary entries on the Leyte Landing: October, 1944; and The Battle of Manila, Feb. 3-March 3, 1945 for more features on entries in the Philippine Diary Project.

 


September 3, 1945, Monday

General Yamashita, the Japanese Commander-in-Chief in the Philippines, surrendered with thousands of his men in Baguio in the presence of Lt. Gen. Wainright. He was immediately confined in New Bilibid in Manila and will be tried as a war criminal. Under him, thousands and thousands of Filipinos, including my own daughter and brother-in-law, were massacred. He should be made, to atone for it. He should commit harakiri.

While on the way to luncheon a discussion ensued as to the retaking of the Philippines by MacArthur. With the exception of Alunan, all those who expressed themselves were of the opinion that the loss of over a billion pesos and the death of probably 200,000 Filipinos might have been avoided if the Philippines had not been retaken; that it was absolutely unnecessary since with America’s control of air and sea, better equipment, and the atomic bomb, Japan could have been brought to her knees by direct attack on Japan. But MacArthur, according to them, was ambitious. He desired to erase the blot on his record caused by his defeat in Bataan and Corregidor, and his escape from Corregidor. He said that he would return. And he wished to make good his word. The trouble was that in his effort to recover the Philippines, millions worth of properties and thousands of Filipino lives were sacrificed. Recto remarked: “MacArthur has destroyed the Philippines.” (“MacArthur ha destruido Filipinas.”)

In the afternoon, the Provincial Treasurer, Arcilla, came with letters for us. He first asked us to sign the receipt for the letters. We were very excited; we thought that it was an order for our release. It was a resolution presented by Rep. Magalona petitioning MacArthur to release us under bail. We appreciated it as we know Magalona had the best of intentions. But we all agreed that it was a foolish resolution. How can MacArthur grant us bail? The petition should have been to immediately turn us over to the Commonwealth, especially since there was already a plan for the disposition of our cases.


August 15, 1945, Wednesday

Three orders of Gen. MacArthur have been brought to our attention.

The first, as reported to us by a Colonel who inspected our prison, was that MacArthur gave the Military Police an order while we were in Quezon City to take us to Palawan within 48 hours. This explains why they were in such a hurry to take us to the boat. We were notified at 11:00 a.m. to get ready and at 1 p.m. we were loaded in an open truck with heavy guard. In that truck we were not allowed to go down until we embarked at a landing barge at about 4 o’clock. So that we were literally dried in the sun for three hours. There should have been no hurry to load us in the hold of a ship as anyhow the boat laid anchor and did not depart until the day after. The trip to Iwahig has already been described.

The second was under date of July 17, 1945. Therein we were prohibited from writing to our relatives about our case or from giving instructions concerning our political plans or financial interests. Correspondence was confined to subjects of personal interest and not subjects connected with our detention or to carrying on political and business activities. The explanation given is that the intention of detaining us is to separate us temporarily from the political and economic life of the Commonwealth. We noted this order on August 9, 1945.

Because of this prohibition, all that could be communicated to us and all that we could communicate was the state of our health and our personal activities. Our letters soon became repetitious and monotonous so that now we do not write as frequently as before.

The third order was contained in the Daily Journal, International Falls, Minnesota, Dec. 30, 1944.

Gen. MacArthur’s Headquarters, Philippines, Dec. 30 — AP. Gen. MacArthur today ordered military interment of Filipinos who ‘have given aid, comfort and sustenance to the enemy’.

A proclamation issued by his headquarters said that military necessity requires that such persons be removed from any opportunity to threaten the security of our military forces of success of our military operations.

As Commander of the Southwest Pacific Areas, MacArthur declared his intent to ‘remove such persons when apprehended from any position of political and economic influence in the Philippines and hold them in restraint for the duration of the war whereafter I shall release them to the Philippine government for its judgment.’

A spokesman emphasized that this was not punitive action, but merely military interment similar to action taken against the Japanese in the United States early in the war. He said the proclamation was directed particularly at persons in positions where their actions could be of military consequence.

MacArthur said ‘evidence is before me of such activity’. He gave no details.

There should be no quarrel about the order itself. I do not agree with MacArthur that we can endanger military security. But let us give him the benefit of the doubt.

What I cannot understand is why we were deprived of our liberty without due trial or investigation — without giving us an opportunity to be heard. The charge against us must have been that we gave aid, comfort and sustenance to the Japanese. Why did MacArthur convict us of this charge based on the evidence before him — evidence submitted ex-parte? We do not know what it consists of. Why were we not given an opportunity to examine such evidence and to give our side of the case? If we were found guilty after a trial, we would at least have had the satisfaction of having been submitted to due trial or investigation.

Why did MacArthur do such a thing? Many versions have been given as to the motive of MacArthur. One said that he is not as Pro-Filipino as he is alleged to be. Another said that it was personal ambition, He has his eye on the presidency of the United States and he thinks this will help him. Another said that it is just sheer stupidity on the part of MacArthur. Yulo even thinks that MacArthur is anti-Filipino and he does not care what happens to us. Personally, I believe that MacArthur is ill-advised.

I am afraid I will have to modify the opinion I expressed earlier when I wrote on MacArthur.

In this connection, many of us believe that the Philippines should not have been invaded at all. The Americans should have gone direct to Japan. With the superfortresses, the absolute predominance in the air, the absolute control of the sea, and the atomic bomb, there was not the least doubt that the mainland of Japan could have been invaded and Japan conquered in a very short time. But MacArthur had stated that he would return to the Philippines and he wanted to make his promise good. He suffered humiliation when he fled from Corregidor and he wanted to recover his prestige by returning to the Filipinos. He wanted to satisfy his personal pride because of his political ambition. This decision on the part of MacArthur has been very costly to us. We lost hundreds of millions in material wealth. But this is nothing compared with the appalling loss of life. I estimate that about half a million Filipinos died because of the American invasion. History will have something to say about this.


July 14, 1945 Saturday

I am naturally very interested in the former employees of the government. It seems that the administration has considered all former employees as collaborators and as such they were all dropped from the service. Osmeña has somewhat qualified this policy and a few, like the teachers, have been reinstated. But the great majority are still out of public service. Many of them are now suffering, the victims of the injustices of politics. I say injustice because they have been replaced by henchmen of the government moguls. I hope they will be reinstated immediately. My reasons may be seen below.

When the Commission organized the government on Jan. 21, 1942, there was practically no government employee that wanted to reenter the service. But the government had to run and we did our best to persuage them to accept employment. They told us that they preferred to wait because the Americans would be back in less than a year. Anyhow, they said they had already received their three months’ salary. At the beginning, I was rather doubtful myself as rumors were very strong that an American Army and Navy Convoy were already on the way. But days passed, weeks and months passed, and no help was in sight, and in the meanwhile resistance in Corregidor and Bataan was weakening.

The fall of Corregidor and Bataan was imminent — there was no indication that the Americans were coming soon. The employees held out as long as they could. But after they had spent their three months’ salary, most of them could not longer continue without employment. They were now drawing from the little savings they had. As everybody knows, unless a government employee is dishonest, he cannot possibly provide for the morrow. This the reason why I am now convinced that the insurance system of protection for the employees must be converted into a regular pension system. The insurance is just a temporary help; the pension is permanent and provides for the employee when he loses his job, or for his family after his death. With the pension plan we can retire old employees, and the employees will do their best to maintain an efficient record during the period necessary to entitle them to receive the pension. They will be honest as they know that if they become incapacitated or die, they can rest assured that their families will not live in misery.

Going back to the government employees, a few of them engaged in business; but a great majority of them had to work and they were not fit to do anything else. They had to choose between employment or starvation. It is easy to say that for patriotic reasons, he should have preferred to starve and to suffer. But when his innocent little children began to clamor for food, they had to be fed — no explanation could sooth them. What was the poor father supposed to do? He could go around borrowing money or asking help from his friends. His friends may be very accommodating, but this could not continue for a long time because they also are not enjoying abundance. He looks for a job outside the government or any work which had nothing to do with the Japanese. The only pair of shoes that he still has wears out and he has spent his last money. What could he do? He could not go to the mountains leaving his family to starve under the mercy of the Japanese. He did not want to steal for he is a religious and perfectly honest man. What did he do? He went to the office where he had spent the best years of his life. He went there out of necessity; to live, to save his beloved wife and children. He served without the least intention of helping the Japanese since, having been reared in an atmosphere of justice and freedom, he could not possibly ally himself with men for whom such justice and freedom were a mockery. His whole thought, his sole aim was to save his family. Even then, there were many who resisted.

I remember vividly one case and fortunately he is here with us because if I am wrong, he could correct me. I am referring to Mr. Pimentel, our Secretary. I met him one day (during the war) and asked him what he was doing. He said he was not doing anything and, although he was already in dire straits, he would prefer not to work with or under the Japanese. His information was that in six months, the Americans would be back. He said that he had sons in the USAFFE and he did not care to be in any way connected with the Japanese. I knew Mr. Pimentel as a man who was as poor as myself and that he had to work all the time to support his big family. When we parted, I saw the determination in his eyes to continue fighting the Japanese in his own way.

But Bataan and Corregidor were crumbling; they fell shortly. He became convinced that the Americans could not come back in one year. He could not hold out that long so he decided to accept employment. Pimentel’s experience is the same as that of thousands and thousands of government employees — by necessity they accepted employment. In their hearts they did not for a moment waiver in their ardent desire to see the Americans back in the Philippines. They could not give any outward manifestation of their sentiments, as the offices were full of spies and the movements of officials and employees were watched closely. But inside their homes, among their immediate family, they prayed fervently for the victory of America. But many did not stop there. When the guerrillas became numerous and active, most of them joined the guerrillas in one form or another. I say in one form or another because, although there were many who were given official ranks, there were also many who did not want any appointment or sign anything for fear that they would be discovered. After all, they said, the important thing was to render service to the cause of America and the Philippines. No official papers or signatures could be more valuable than that. Like true heroes, real patriots, the material gain never entered their minds.

How did they serve the cause of America and the Philippines? They served by furnishing valuable information, helping in every way those active in the guerrilla warfare, bolstering up the morale of our people, creating difficulties for the Japanese Army and Navy and the Japanese in general. These employees were the anonymous forces that helped. Their services were equally meritorious.

To cite an instance of how they served. Ironically, this involved Mr. Confesor who seems to have had something to do with the formation of the present government’s policy involving former employees. Sometime in 1943, evidently as an answer to the appeal of Gov. Caram of Iloilo, Mr. Confesor wrote him a letter giving his reasons why he did not care to come down from the mountains and surrender to the Japanese. I was able to get a copy of the letter. It was a well written letter and his arguments were very weighty. It impressed me very deeply so much so that as I had always considered him a close friend of mine, I wanted to discuss the matter with him. Unfortunately I was not able to see him. I said that it was a good letter, but it contained an insinuation against which I must protest. I lost my two copies during the fire in my house and in my office. But I distinctly remember that there was a paragraph or some sentences referring to some speeches we delivered in Iloilo (in March or April of 1943), which in substance say the following: “You better prepare new speeches which you can deliver next July when the Americans will be here.” The insinuations were that (a) we were mere job-seekers; and (b) we were so insincere that we only say what would be pleasing to the ears of our hearers. This is not the proper place to answer such scurrilous accusations. For the present, I must make it of record that I have never been a job-seeker, and that I have always considered insincerity as one of the worst traits a man can possess.

Well, I brought Mr. Confesor’s letter to Manila and placed it in my desk drawer at the office, together with many other important documents. Many employees had heard about the famous letter announcing the coming of the Americans and they were all anxious to get a copy. One day, a clerk of mine entered my office gasping. “What’s the matter,” I asked him. “Sir, they are distributing copies of Mr. Confesor’s letter,” he stammered. I was alarmed; everybody knew what was coming if the Japanese ever found out that a prescripted document like that letter was being copied and distributed in our office. It would have meant Fort Santiago for all of us and at that time the mere mention of that historic fort made everybody shudder. I investigated the matter and I discovered that, as I had just come from Iloilo and suspecting that I had a copy of the letter, my employees went through my drawers and found the copy. They made numerous copies using the typewriter in our office. Each and every one of them became a distributor of the letter and a propagandist of the coming of the Americans. I had to take unusual precautions to cover up that happening in my office. I understand similar incidents occurred in the other offices.

Another evidence of the employees’ pro-American feelings. About 20 employees of an important bureau of the government were arrested by the “Kempetai” (Japanese Military Police). They were charged with being guerrillas and according to the Kempetai, the evidence consisted of a list of “guerrilleros” which they found. The matter was brought up to Malacañan. Naturally a promise was made to the Japanese that the matter would be investigated and proper criminal and administrative action would be taken against the guilty parties. All except the three supposed leaders, were released. I do not know what happened to those leaders, but they were probably released after the usual torture meted out to almost all those arrested.

During the investigation it was discovered that if the guerrilla elements in all the bureaus were to be eliminated, there would have been almost complete paralization of the government. The whole matter was hushed and covered up. I do not recall anyone prosecuted or dismissed from the service for guerrilla activities or connections.

More evidence of the attitude of the employees. Everytime there was a meeting or a parade, attendance had to be obligatory under heavy administrative penalty, otherwise very few attended. The employees offered all kinds of excuses to avoid going to the parade or meeting.

In this connection, I would like to say something about the ex-officers and servicemen of the USAFFE. At the beginning, we were not sure what the attitude of the Japanese to their employment would be. Already we could observe that a good many of them were suffering for lack of means. We were able to convince the Japanese to allow us to employ these men. The argument we used, which we knew could never be true, was that these men sincerely wanted to be with the Japanese because they were beginning to understand that Orientals ought to be together. We devoted much attention to them. We issued orders reinstating them to their old positions and, as to the others who were not former government employees, we ordered that preference in hiring be given to them. I can certify that inspite of all the hardships these men were going through, very few took advantage of our orders. Only those who would otherwise starve unless they earned something accepted positions in the government.

Another fact that should be considered. In the last months of the Japanese regime, in view of the dangers in Manila, the food shortage, the financial condition of the government and the paralization of government activities, orders were issued for the release of the employees with payment of a certain amount of bonus. Everybody wanted to take advantage of it. If we had not rescinded our orders there would have been practically nobody left.

There are the men that are now being punished. They are patriots in their own way. Perhaps their services were even more effective than those who now wish to monopolize patriotism. The only thing they were guilty of was that they wished to live, and managed to live. And because they survived the war, they are now branded as traitors; because they were unable and could not possibly go to the mountains, they are being placed on a worst ration than bread and water.

It is said that something is being done — but the process is entirely wrong. A board of inquiry has been appointed to determine whether those seeking reinstatement could be allowed to return. My opinion is that they should all be reinstated and then the Board can determine whether they could or should continue or not. The difference is that in the first case, the employees are being presumed guilty and the burden of proving the contrary is thrown upon them. In the latter case, they are presumed innocent and they could remain in the service as long as nothing has been proven against them.

Justice is all that I demand for them.


June 30, 1945 Saturday

The Post of June 23, reports that a congressional investigation of the acts of the Secretary of the Interior, Tomas Confesor, as Governor of Panay and Romblon during the occupation, is proposed in a resolution introduced by Representative Ceferino de los Santos of Iloilo. A joint committee of Congress is to look into the “state of terrorism, criminality and maladministration” and to investigate the issuance, use and disposition of emergency currencies. He made as basis for the resolution the recent speeches in Congress, reports on alleged arrests and executions and property confiscation in the islands during the occupation, as well as reports on the fight between Confesor and Col. Macario Peralta, head of the Panay guerrillas. Peralta is reported to possess affidavits which he intends to use against Confesor.

In an interview with the Associated Press reported in the Post of June 23. Kalaw said: “We need free trade with the United States over a period of 20 years or not at all.” I do not understand it. Supposing we are offered a 10-year or a 15-year period, are we going to refuse? To refuse will constitute an unpardonable blunder, a knife thrust at the very heart of our mother country.

It must be mentioned that after the surrender, many Bataan and Corregidor Filipino veterans were in a miserable state. Those who were previously in government claimed their former positions. Some who were not, applied for government employment. They were compelled to do this so that their dear ones may live. We Ministers and former Commissioners tried to help them as much as we could. All those with suitable qualifications were employed. Even those without civil service qualifications were accommodated. Instructions were passed around to give preference to these veterans. We were able to help many this way.

Editorial, Manila Post, June 23. Vindication. “When we first announced our stand on the collaboration issue we strongly advocated a liberal, dispassionate and realistic view conformable to the Pronouncement of President Osmeña in his ‘Government of Laws’ speech, in which he defined a policy poles apart from the view of the guerrillas and certain Cabinet members who uncompromisingly held the strict view that all those who served in the Vargas and Laurel governments and in Japanese-controlled entities are collaborators. We were then labelled in some unthinking quarters as collaborationist with the malicious intent of discrediting us.

“But knowing that the popular sentiment was on our side and that our stand rested four-square on principles, we steadfastly and courageously adhered to it and reiterated it time and again…

“For our part, we held ourselves fortunate to find that the principles for which we have long been fighting alone, and because of which we have been spitefully branded a collaborationist periodical, finds a champion in Senate Pres. Roxas, whose patriotism no one can now question.”

Following is a continuation of Roxas’ speech reported earlier: “On February 20 (1942), President Quezon was leaving Corregidor upon the request of the President of the United States and of Gen. MacArthur. President Quezon did not want to leave… I think it is my duty to say that Pres. Quezon not only left Corregidor with reluctance because he said he wanted to suffer and die with his people if need be, but he was very reluctant to leave Manila for Corregidor because he said, ‘I believe it is my duty to remain with my people in time of great need and trial.’ But he was prevailed upon. The United States government believed that it would be very unwise to risk Pres. Quezon’s life because he was the symbol, not only the leader, but the symbol of Filipino resistance and Filipino patriotism and Filipino idealism. He was not only the leader of his country, he was the father of Philippine liberty, and he was the man that built up in this country all the love and affection and loyalty that we have borne out in the battlefields… With tears in his eyes he left because he thought that it was his duty to his country, but he left with a broken heart and left only because he believed that his presence in the United States would accelerate the sending of reinforcement here…

“He left Corregidor and asked me to go with him. (He declined because he was afraid that the soldiers that were fighting in Bataan would suffer a dislocation and their morale would be weakened or shakened if they learned that he had left the country leaving them to fight alone.) He left leaving me all the responsibilities of government.”

Pres. Quezon issued an executive order providing that if anything should happen to him and to Vice President Osmeña during the duration of the war, that Manuel Roxas would be officially recognized as the legitimate successor to the presidency of the Commonwealth. One month later, Quezon wanted Roxas to come with him to Australia. “After the war, the safety and the future of our country can only be saved in his (Roxas) hands.” Roxas declined giving his reasons. Quezon answered, “Under those circumstances, I believe you should stay.”

Roxas’ speech continued, “I remained here because I wanted to continue fighting. I wanted to organize the resistance movement in the Philippines and, with the help of God, I think I did my share, poor as it is.”

According to reports from sources close to Pres. Osmeña, he did not know that Representative Lopez of Cebu was going to attack Senate Pres. Roxas; otherwise, he would have asked Lopez to refrain from delivering his speech, as he did when he found out that another solon from Cebu intended to attack certain members of Congress for activities during the Japanese regime. This was to preserve unity and avoid any discussion among the people. The controversy in our midst as to whether the Senate should have determined by lot the terms of office of the Senators, seems to have been started by the following amendment which seems to have already been approved by Congress:

Sec. 9 of Act 666, as amended, will read: “Sec. 9. The Senate shall within ten days after approval of this act, determine by lot which shall serve for a term of six years, which of the group shall serve for a term of four years, and which of the group shall serve for a term of 2 years; Provided that the Senators whose term of office shall cease as a result of the lot, shall hold over until their successors shall have been elected. Provided, further, that Senators whose term of office would have expired under the old rule shall continue in office without compensation until their successors are elected.”

The changes thereby introduced is that instead of holding the determination by lot within ten days from the beginning of the session which should have been held last January, 1942, it will be held within ten days after the approval of the amendment. Another change is that the Senators whose term of office had expired could continue in office until their successors are elected but without compensation. The purpose undoubtedly is to insure a quorum in the Senate.

Hope for our early release was again revived. It is said that the selection by lot will have to be done in our presence and that it seems that we are needed in the Senate to insure a quorum.

Secretary of the Interior Tomas Confesor on June 24 hurled back at Senate Pres. Manuel Roxas the charge of Fascism with which the latter has accused those who “want (the country) to be governed by the Chief Executive alone.”

Evidently referring to the attack of Roxas against the administration, Confesor declared: “I understand that someone made the state­ment that our present economic ills are administrative rather than a legislative responsibility… That statement shifting the responsibility of solons to these problems to the executive branch of the government alone is a Fascistic theory — an abdication of legislative power or authority; and anyone who advocates the abdication of legislative authority, is advocating a dictatorial form of government.”

Roxas is right. The economic problems are primarily for the executive to handle. The Legislative only intervenes whenever legislation is necessary. Even then, after the approval of the legislation the rest will have to be performed by the Executive. The theory of Confesor is impractical. The Legislative body moves slowly being composed of many persons and its acts will have to be sanctioned by the majority. The Executive, on the other hand, can move most expeditiously. Economic problems have many ramifications and if everytime each ramification will have to be submitted to the legislative body and will have to await the approval of this body, the measures or remedy required will come too late — at a time when damage or “prejudice had already been caused or the condition no longer admits of any remedy.

In the same speech of Roxas, he said, “While it is true the only ways to determine political questions in a democracy is by allowing the people to decide those questions, I invite the Senator from Bohol to file a bill in the Senate setting a date for the next election and I promise him I will see it through at the earliest date possible.”

According to Confesor, the United States Army is spending from 70 to 80 million pesos a month in the Philippines today. It means that within a year they may spend up to one billion.

My comment: If the information is correct, there will be inflation for I am sure that much circulation cannot at present be absorbed by the production which covers industry, agriculture and commerce. I am surprised that the necessary hedges against inflation are not being set up.


June 29, 1945 Friday

Yesterday some more “collaborationists” arrived from Manila. Among them were Justice Jorge Bocobo, Dean of the College of Law of the University of the Philippines; Mr. Arsenio Luz, Chairman of the Board of Information and Spokesman of Malacañan with the rank of Minister; Mr. Francisco Lavides, a Representative and lately Military Governor for the district comprising Laguna, Tayabas, Batangas and Mindoro; and Dr. Julio Luz.

They brought much news and many newspapers. Some of the news are sensational.

Wer were surprised to see Justice Bocobol he had never been a pro-Japanese, although he admires some of their virtues. He has always been sympathetic towards the Americans. He attributes his detention to the fact he was one of the signers of the first Manifesto and was a member of the first Council of State.

The news about a resolution in the Senate referred to earlier has been cleared up. Sen. Ramon Torres presented a resolution providing for the immediate investigation of Senators Recto, Yulo, Paredes, Tirona, Madrigal, Sebastian and myself who are now under detention. He demanded the investigation to vindicate the good name of the Senate and in order to avoid difficulties that hamper the regular functioning of the Senate. He said that he is convinced that our detention is just the result of a misunderstanding, rather than to a real and just cause. He said that his purpose was to determine he qualification of the detained Senators to be members of the Senate. (Philippine Press, June 26, 1945). The Senators are being prevented from complying with their official duties for causes of which the Senate has no official cognizance. Torres asked: “Who of us who are free and fully enjoy our rights as Senators can say that we have a better right, rathen than better luck, than some of those presently detained?” The resolution gives authority to the Senate President to appoint a special committee of five senators. The Senate President is to make the necessary arrangements with the corresponding authorities so that the committee may be given the necessary facilities for the poper discharge of its functions.

Editorial of Philippines Press, June 26, 1945. Present administration “has fumbled, in the opinion of even those who wish it well, the collaboration issue.”

Post, June 24. The nature of the late President Quezon’s “last instructions” to ranking Filipino officials and members of his war cabinet –the crux of the collaborationist problem– was further clarified by Senate President Roxas. At a meeting held in Marikina, before Quezon went to Corregidor, Roxas recalled, the late President instructed those who were to remain behind to “remain at their posts and do their utmost to protect the people” while the nation waited for the arrival of the American forces that would redeem the Philippines’ freedom. Among present: Gen. Roxas, Secretary of Justice Jose Abad Santos, Secretary of National Defense Teofilo Sison, Secretary of Agriculture Rafael Alunan, Secretary of Finance Serafin Marabut, Exec. Sec. Jorge B. Vargas, Philippine Army Chief of Staff Basilio Valdes, and Dr. Jose P. Laurel, then Justice of the Supreme Court.

Laurel, who had been originally scheduled to accompany Quezon to America but who was requested by the late President at the last moment to stay, reportedly asked Quezon, “To what extent should be cooperate with the Japanese?”

To which Quezon was said to have replied, “You may cooperate short of taking the oath of allegiance to Japan.”

Laurel then asked, “Suppose we are forced to?”

For a while Quezon was silent. Before he could answer, Laurel said, “I shall flee and hide in the mountains.”

Quezon: “No, not all of you should do that. Avoid it as much as you can.”

News items on June 24, 1945: Senator Carlos P. Garcia yesterday (June 23, 1945) challenged his colleagues that they resign from the Senate and submit to a national election as early as feasible so that the voters will have a chance to render their verdict on “collaboration” and other issues that now threaten to split the Nacionalista ranks. Garcia took the floor to hit back at Senate Pres. Roxas who on Wednesday attacked him and Rep. Pedro Lopez of Cebu as well as the administration. All elective officials particularly those who held posts under the Japanese, should return their positions to the people because it is the latter who can decide who are the Filipino officials who did such acts as signing the Pact of Alliance, declaring war against the United States, and sending Constabulary with Japanese soldiers to mopping out operations in some provinces. They would wish to know whether Filipino leaders were really impotent to prevent these and other crimes, and if so wh they continued at their posts. He said those serving during Japanese occupation lost the confidence and trust of the people who have remained loyal to the Commonwealth and the United States. Pres. Osmeña is included in the request for resignation.

Senator Garcia accepted Roxas’ challenge that he introduce a bill calling for an early election, but the date will have to be determined after complete order is restored. He said he is willing to have elections held as early as circumstances will permit.

The above apparently is a rejoinder on the part of Senator Garcia. It was an answer to the speech of Roxas of June 21, 1945.

My comment: I do not see that an election is necessary to find out the things Garcia said the people would like to know. We have been elected for a certain term under the Constitution and the people’s will should be respected. But under the circumstances, I cannot possibly refuse to resign. It may be interpreted as meaning that I want to hide something. I especially want the people to know that I have never been disloyal to my country. However, it occurs to me that the truth can very well be ascertained by following the constitutional processes. In the case of the senators, they cannot be not allowed to sit while an investigation is being held by a committee of the Senate and until their cases are decided by that body. Such measure as is proposed by Sen. Torres should be adopted immediately. We are entitled to perform the functions entrusted to us by the people if we are not guilty.

Post, June 25, 1945. Roxas accepted the challenge made by Sen. Carlos Garcia, that the questions on which he (Roxas) and the administration differed be decided at an election.


June 4, 1945 Monday

Again rumors are circulating about the coming of Osmeña and MacArthur. We refuse to believe in order not to suffer another disappointment. We concede, however, the possibility of the coming of MacArthur. It has been reported that military and naval bases have been granted by the Philippines to America for a period of 20 years. We have no definite information, nor do we know the details. It is reported that the agreement was signed by Pres. Quezon. It is difficult for us to believe this as this was precisely one of the main objections to the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Law which provoked the greatest political crisis in the Philippines in 1933-1935. It was argued that independence with such bases could not be real—the proper status would be more that of a protectorate. Before a definite long term agreement is entered into it will be good to consult the Filipino people’s reaction. The Filipino people’s attitude then had the concurrence of the Americans at that time. When the appropriation for bases and fortifications was submitted to Congress, it was voted down in the House of Representatives. Of course now I do not know the American people’s attitude. I have been informed that it has suffered a radical change.

The above has nothing to do with the present situation. America is now using the whole Philippines as military, naval and air bases. I am sure there is no objection to that on the part of any Filipino. They know the necessity for it. They believe that such an arrangement is beneficial, not only to America, but to the Philippines as well. The Filipinos know that this war involved the problem of the Filipinos and the territorial integrity of the country. I am sure then that there will be absolutely no objection to the present arrangement. But let no formal arrangement be entered into yet. At present, it is not possible to consider the merits of the different phases of the question. There is no hurry since the Americans are using our territory anyhow, and during the next 20 or maybe 100 years, no menace of any kind may be expected.

Marshal MacArthur, with naval and air ranking officers, may come to investigate the possibility of using part of Palawan as military, naval and air bases. Some persons claiming to know, assure me that Palawan is strategically located and consequently has to be seriously considered. It is wishful thinking to believe that his coming has anything to do with us. He is engaged in a work that concerns world affairs and our affair is too insignificant to merit attention. But it is possible that in his spare moments, he may inquire about us, as he has some very intimate friends among us. In my case, I was in charge of preparing the appropriation for the Philippine Army which he planned and organized, with the aid of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower and Col. Ord.

Marshal MacArthur is really the father of the Philippine Army. He got everything he wanted from me because his explanations were so clear and convincing that I felt it an honor, no matter how insignificant, to have a role in his plan. My connection with MacArthur was a result of the positions I successively held: Chairman, Appropriations Committee of the House which at that time was also the Ways and Means Committee, Speaker Protempore, Secretary of Public Works and Communications, and Secretary of Finance. I have the highest respect for Marshall MacArthur. As a friend, he is always true; as an orator and literary man, he is not behind many known men in that field; as an organizer, he is superb; and as a military man, he richly deserves the reputation he gained of being among the greatest. Certainly he is a most worthy son of his great father to whom the Philippines is also deeply indebted. The Philippines, through our greatest hero, Pres. Quezon, conferred upon him the rank of Marshal. I have attended all public and official functions in Manila since 1919 and I have never been as thrilled as in the ceremony conferring the rank of Marshal on MacArthur. Everybody was thrilled. We gave him one of the biggest banquets in Malacañan. He delivered a speech which was a masterpiece in substance as well as in literary style. His oratory was perfect. That was not the first time he was thus honored by the Filipinos. One occasion was when he became the Commanding General of the Philippine Department of the U.S. Army. I am not certain, but I believe it was after his tour of duty ended and he was to return to the United States that we tendered a banquet in his honor at the Manila Hotel. He delivered a speech for which he received a standing ovation. The speech won for the Marshal, in addition to being an orator and literary man, a reputation as a statesman and profound thinker. The banquet was attended by all the high officials of the government, prominent persons, and people from all classes ans walks of life. As I remember it now, Gen. Manuel Roxas was one of the orators on that occasion.

Marshal MacArthur is not without enemies. He has many enemies—almost all of them his countrymen. He has very bitter enemies in Washington. It was rather a paradox that I, a Filipino, was defending him to the Americans who were conspicuously assailing him, calling him a coward, a false friend, disloyal, ignorant, ambitious and a propagandist of the first order. They say that his reputation has been built on propaganda which was generally self-serving. They will tell you that the Filipinos hate him, but a few—a very few only—carefully planned the building up of the reputation that he was admired by the Filipinos. They told me that all he did in America was to charge, on horseback with bayonet drawn, on a crowd who had travelled thousands of miles to present in petition of grievances to the Washington officials. They said that when MacArthur left Corregidor, this was desertion. They put Gen. Wainright far above Gen. MacArthur.

Such accusations do not detract anything from the Marshal, as far as Filipinos are concerned; it probably made him greater. No one can be great if along the way there were no thorns to tread.

I do not mean to defend the Marshal. He can take care of himself. He also has many loyal friends behind him. I will touch on some incidents that endeared him to us which I happened to have witnessed personally. Is he really loved by the Filipinos? I answer yes, not as a result of propaganda, but because he richly deserved it.

Since the American occupation up to as recent as 1918, the relationship between the U.S. Army and the Filipinos was anything but cordial. I remember conflicts with the Rizal provincial officials because the American officers at Fort McKinley considered the reservation as an independent nation where no Filipino could enter without the required passport. The Filipinos, including even the Philippine Scouts, were considered foreigners in their own country. At Ft. McKinley, Ft. Santiago and Sta. Lucia, the American officers of all ranks were very anti-Filipino. They showed their disdain for us by refusing to sit with the Filipino officials during official functions. We Filipinos did likewise; we showed our disdain and hatred of them just as clearly as they showed their hatred towards us. The cleavage went so deep that there were many incidents.

When MacArthur came, one of his first acts was to pay his respects to Pres. Quezon and other Filipino officials. The President immediately returned the courtesy, paying a call to Gen. MacArthur accompanied by about 20 high Filipino officials. I was one of them. Right then and there MacArthur invited us to a review of the troops which would be staged in our honor. During the review, the General was there with his Staff. The officers looked fiercely at us when the General was not looking. We also made it rather painful for the officers; we talked directly to the General with our backs turned on them.

After the first year of MacArthur’s arrival, we began to mix with the Americans, and in that way we came to know one another better. The review in honor of the Philippine Legislature (then only the legislative branch was in our hands) became an annual feature and continued to be staged even after the departure of the General. At one time, the program in our honor included equestrian feats performed by the Philippine Scouts. They performed acrobatic stunts on galloping horses. Another number was a race (I do not remember what they call it) of the best Army horses, over walls, hedges, ditches and other obstacles. One of the participants was a Filipino who later became Colonel, a brother of Justice Moran. It is reported that he was one of those killed by the Japanese. Thereafter, there were U.S. Army and Navy high officials in all Filipino public functions. The officers of the lower ranks also became very chummy with us. So were their ladies. They invited us to play bowling with them and we organized a men’s and a ladies’ bowling team. After each game, they would invite us for refreshments in their club. For the first time Filipinos were seen eating and drinking in that club. Even the exclusive Army and Navy Club opened its doors to Filipinos.

General MacArthur left, but he returned on his second tour and this time his office or residence was in the western part of the historic walls surrounding Intramuros. I think they call it Sta. Lucia. We went to see him in his quarters to pay our respects. We intended to stay just a few minutes but he and Mrs. MacArthur insisted on our staying longer. We stayed for over two hours enjoying the hospitality of General and Mrs. MacArthur. This was also the first time that Filipino officials were honored in the military barracks. I believe it was at this time that he did another act which convinced us that he had reposed upon us his full confidence.

The well known Island of Corregidor then was as foreign to us as the famous Island of Sta. Catalina on the beautiful California coast. Filipinos were not allowed to roam around that portion of their country, with the exception of the landing. The only other portion of the Island ever treaded by a Filipino official was the cave where our Treasury deposited and kept its funds, especially the silver coins. We were thrilled when Gen. MacArthur invited us to inspect the Island. Was it possible? Will we be allowed to see that portion of our own country where America had built at an enormous cost fortifications containing all their military secrets? We thought that they would probably just take us to the Island for lunch at their military club there, and then return to Manila.

But early the next morning, the Commanding General at Corregidor himself, I think his name is General Hutch (I lost all my personal memoirs when my house was burned by the Japanese upon the entry of the Americans), received us at the Admiral Landing where we boarded a good-sized Army launch. At the pier on the landing place in Corregidor, we were received by the high officers at Corregidor. We were immediately given a complete tour of the Island. We saw every section of it. We saw cannons in deep trenches and we wondered how they could be fired to hit the target. They explained to us how it could be done. We saw the gun implacements. But the most interesting part of the tour was a large hall deep in the interior of a big tunnel where we saw all kinds of apparatus to find the ranges and give orders to the different emplacements. Afterwards we were treated to a sumptuous luncheon at their club located at a summit in the middle of a golf course. The Filipino waiters who were allowed only in the club, gaped at us with their mouths wide open since it was the first time that Filipino civilians accompanied by the General himself were served by them.

The General returned to the United States, I understand to occupy the highest position within the realm of a military man in the U.S.—Chief of Staff. We expressed real joy as it was the triumph of a friend. After his term of office he retired.

But the Philippines needed him. Dark clouds were already hovering over the Orient. Everyone knew that there was going to be war with Japan, but nobody thought it would come so soon. In the meanwhile full military preparation in the Philippines was being made. It was no surprise that the U.S. immediately thought of Gen. MacArthur. He came back to the Philippines. He lost no time in organizing the Philippine Army which was later made a part of the United States Army. When the war broke out, it was logical that General MacArthur became the Commander-in-Chief in the Southern Pacific.

He is now one of the four or five Five-Star full fledged Generals. There is talk of his appointment as the first American Ambassador to the coming Philippine Republic. I believe such an appointment will be received with approval by the Filipino people.

I want this portion of my memoirs kept strictly confidential, at least for the present. It may be misinterpreted in view of my present status. I purposely do not want anybody to intervene in my case. My relationship with Pres. Osmeña was close and very intimate. But I do not want to make use of that relationship. I need no influence; I want no favor. This writing may be misunderstood as an effort to win the goodwill of Gen. MacArthur. I have absolute confidence in the justice of my case.

I am charged with being a collaborationist. If it means that I am anti-American, and I favor Japan, I emphatically deny this. How can I be anti-American and pro-Japanese? I saw an American for the first time at age 11 in about 1901, while hiding from the American invading forces in the barrio of Cubamba, Taal. I still remember that my sister, Consolacion, and my cousin, Carmen Castillo, painted their faces with charcoal because it was rumored that Americans capture pretty Filipino girls. The soldiers passed by and saw us, but they merely smiled. Our impression of Americans changed immediately.

We went out of hiding into town and were horrified to see that our house had burned down. It was because the Philippine revolutionary army took refuge in the town and when they departed, the Americans burned a good portion of the town.

I studied in the barrio under cousin Ramon Castillo, and in town after our arrival under Maestrong Goyo (Gregorio Castillo) and later under Mr. Juan Medina. Later, I enrolled in the public school, established by the Americans, under Mr. H. H. Buck, Mr. Kempthorne and Mr. Dennis. How good they were! Mr. Buck treated us just like his own children. He remained in the Philippines and married a Filipina girl. I studied in the public school of Taal from 1903 until 1905, finishing grade school in three years. I was one of top students in class. The only one who could beat me was Mr. Agapito Gaa (during the Japanese occupation, he received my protection). I was good in debating and was captain of the spelling team that competed with other schools. The year after finishing grade school, I was appointed teacher in the barrio school of Mojon. That same year, after a few weeks of teaching, Mr. Trace, the American District Supervisor of Schools, came to the school to tell me that I must quit teaching. I thought it was because I was not making good so I went home very disappointed. I was receiving ₱15.00 a month, and I was happy since I was able to give almost all of it to my parents. They bought a “calesa” (horse rig) and a horse for my use in going to school in the barrio of Mojon about 7 kilometers from the town. Mr. Trace told me that I was young, bright and with a good future and he wanted me to continue my studies. I answered, “How can I? You know my family is poor. My brother, Vicente is studying medicine in Manila, and my parents can hardly support him.” Mr. Trace said that he would take care of the matter. He said that an examination for government pensionados to the United States was going to be held soon in Batangas and he would like me to take it.

I protested, “You know that I am not prepared for it. I only finished grade school and there are subjects that I had not studied.” He promised to prepare me for the examination. For three months he instructed me day and night. He was sure I would make it. His only fear was that I was too thin and that I was not strong enough to pass the physical examination.

The examination for government pensionados was given by examiners under my former grade school teacher, Mr. Buck, who was then Superintendent of Schools. Knowing that I had no high school education, he was surprised that I got an average of about 84%.

While waiting for the result of the examination, I enrolled in the first year class of the High School of Batangas then located just behind the municipal building. My teachers were Americans also. (The high school was later transferred to a new site near the market. When I was Speaker Protempore, one of the buildings burned down. I secured a large appropriation for a new school building.)

Accompanied by my father, I went to Manila for my physical examination. I failed. I remember the examiner was Dr. del Rosario, I asked for reconsideration through Dr. Gervasio Ocampo. The examination was reconsidered and this time I passed.

While waiting for the boat to take the government pensionados to the United States, we noticed big parties being held. We found out that they were parties in honor of William H. Taft, then Governor General of the Philippines. One of the parties was held in the old premises of the Army and Navy Club in Intramuros, located just in front of the house where I lived in Cabildo St. One day, we were taken to the Philippine Normal School on Padre Faura St. (later made a part of Philippine General Hospital grounds) to hear the speech of Mr. Taft. It was in that occasion where Mr. Taft said the famous words which made him popular among the Filipinos: “The Philippines for the Filipinos.”

My companions and I left Manila on August 15, 1905 in a boat called “Toan”, only about 4,000 tons. We were about 40, accompanied by Prof. Townsend of the University of the Philippines, a very kindly old man. We suffered terribly in the trip to Hongkong because the weather was rough and our boat was small. I was able to stand the trip better than the others. In Hongkong, we transferred to the S. S. Manchuria, a four-masted 28,000 ton American steamer. It was then the second largest boat on the Pacific, the first being the Mongolia of about 32,000 tons. We proceeded to San Francisco passing through Japan.

After a full month, we finally reached San Francisco. We had a very nice time across the Pacific, playing games on board. Upon our arrival, we were impressed with the greatness of America. We were met by the Superintendent of Filipino Students in America, Mr. Sutherland. He certainly was a father to us. He gave us advice on what we should study, suggesting teaching, medicine, engineering or agriculture. He insinuated that law was discouraged. I chose law and insisted on it. Why I did is not quite clear in my mind. I was probably influenced by the belief prevailing during the Spanish regime that the most honorable professions are law and medicine, and that farming or any work that may require physical efforts is shameful. Because I selected law, I was sent to Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.

In San Francisco, we lived in the Palace Hotel which was later destroyed by the great earthquake. We bought new clothes in a store called the Emporium. I got acquainted with a girl from Iowa. While at the hotel, a near tragedy occurred. Two of my companions, instead of turning the key to put out the gas lamp, blew out the light. Gas came out and almost asphixiated them. A timely discovery prevented a tragedy.

It took us 6 days to reach Indiana, staying a few hours in Chicago. We were also delayed in the Rocky Mountains because of snow. We got off the train and had a good look at the Rockies. I found Bloomington a very nice place. It is a town of only about 10,000 inhabitants. The people were very nice to us. We lived with American families who treated us like real members of the family. We would never forget the Reeds and the Thompsons. The university itself was small, having only 3,000 students, but a very good one. For undergraduates, it is advisable to enter small universities like Indiana. The dean of the law school was Dr. Rainhard and I had many outstanding professors like Dr. Hepburn. The Filipino students were Francisco Delgado, Jorge Bocobo, Mariano H. de Joya, Proceso Sanchez, Pedro Sandico and myself.

A problem arose as to how I could be admitted. I was only in the first year of high school when I left for the U.S. However, being a government student, a special arrangement was entered into. I would be admitted in the first year but had to get a good grade in the first examination. Only then could I be considered a regular student. I received one of the highest grades in the first examination. I took as much academic courses as I could possibly study—philosophy, economics, history, literature, etc. College life was certainly a very enjoyable one. The American students, especially the girls, were very good to us. I also took oratory under Professor Clapp. I do not know why but I seem to have a penchant towards oratory.

Our pension was very small, about $25.00 a month, exclusive of books and clothing. We paid $5 for room and $4 for board a week. We had very little money for extra expenses, especially since we never neglected our Sunday mass contribution. To make extra money, I worked as an ordinary laborer in one of the stone quarries which abound around Bloomington. As I remember, I was given about 15 cents an hour. I walked to the quarry which was about 6 miles away, and for luncheon I took a can of pork and beans with a piece or two of bread with butter. It was sufficient for me. All the other laborers were American whites. They were honest and hardworking. The work did not only provide me with some money to make up the deficiency in my pensions, but it also built up my body and gave me a correct appreciation of labor which in my public life influenced me to favor all legislation and measures calculated to better the conditions of the laboring class.

I got acquainted with many girls there, among whom were Agnes and Marie Peale, Edith Skinner, May Berry and Helen Burnett. We spent our time dancing and playing tennis. We also joined a debating club to practice oratory. I received my Ll.B. degree in June of 1909. Among those in the platform when we graduated were Gov. Folk of Missouri and poet Reilly. Pres. William Lowe Bryan of the University spoke. I was one of the highest in class.

I went to New Haven, Connecticut, to take post graduate courses in Yale University. I arrived there in September of 1909.

Yale is located right in the heart of the City of New Haven which had about 200,000 people then. The city itself had the old look but it counts with modern, beautiful parks. The only thing noteworthy then in the city was the University of Yale. It had some of the very best professors in the United States. It could afford the best because it was amply provided with donations. For President, it had Dr. Twidling Hadley; Dean of Law School, Mr. Rogers who afterwards became a Federal Judge. I enrolled in the post graduate school for my Ll. M. degree. In June, I finished with the honor of Cum Laude. There was no higher honor conferred.

* * * * *

My reminiscences of my boyhood days are not very clear. All that I remember was that my father had to hide many times because the Spanish “guardia civil”, noted for cruelties and brutalities, were looking for him. At one time, he had to jump through the back window of the kitchen into a deep precipice behind our house to elude them. I also recollect that our house was at one time occupied by Spanish officers. One of the sights which impressed me very much and which I shall never forget was when I saw from our window three “careton” loads of dead bodies—persons killed by the Civil Guards. Because of the persecutions and injustices committed by the Spaniards, the revolution was embraced by all the Filipinos and spread like wild fire all over the Philippines.

During this period, I already had enough discretion to remember events distinctly. Preparations for the war against Spain went on feverishly right under the very noses of the Spaniards. All the brave sons of our town enlisted in the Army. I remember Gen. Diokno, Col. Martin Cabrera, Col. Filomeno Encarnacion, and Col. Tacio Marasigan. I am sorry I do not remember the names of many others. They immediately proceeded to take the town. But the Spaniards were not willing to fight in the town of Taal. They decided to proceed to Batangas, Batangas. As soon as the Spaniards left Taal, the Filipino revolutionary army entered the town. There were thousands of them, most of them carrying only “bolos.” They lined up in the spacious town plaza where they were welcomed cordially by the townspeople. I was one of the many boys who took part in the wild celebration. In the midst of the celebration, the people began to run in all directions. The soldiers promptly assumed battle positions planting themselves in strategic locations. Nobody knew what was going on. Finally, we heard an officer remark, “The Spaniards are coming back!”

My brother Vicente and I ran home to the house of our aunt, Felipa de las Alas, married to Aguado Orlina. After the death of our mother and when our father Cornelio married again, our aunt took care of us in her house located near the town plaza. We immediately packed essential clothing and started for the house of Mamay Ukay, located at the extreme western end of our street where we had a good view of Balayan Bay. I still remember that on the way, one of our maid servants stepped on a big snake. We did not sleep that night, expecting to hear plenty of shooting. We heard no shots and the next day we learned that the news about the return of the Spaniards was false. This must have been around 1898, when I was nine years of age.

The next several months were very peaceful and quiet. Everybody was happy as there was no longer the threat of civil guards; the intrigue, injustices and mismanagement of the government by the friars (at that time the friars were really the ones governing the towns; they selected the “capitanes”), and the stupidity and haughtiness of the Spaniards. Many Spaniards were captured and they were distributed in the different towns where they served as servants to prominent Filipinos. There were many social functions, the most notable one was held in the palatial house of Capitan Flaviano Agoncillo, father of Don Gregorio Agoncillo. The guest of honor was the famous Filipino General, Miguel Malvar, the last to surrender to the Americans. He was accompanied by almost all the prominent people of Batangas, including the ladies from Lipa all brought in by “carruajes” pulled by the finest Batangas horses. As boys, we maneuvered for the best position to see everything. What impressed me most was the beautiful well-dressed young ladies from Lipa who were adorned with sparkling diamonds of unimaginable sizes all over their bodies, including their shoe tops. This was the period of the bonanza in Lipa brought about by the famous coffee of Lipa.

War between the United States and the Philippines started and feverish preparations were made. Enlistments were started. A military organization was formed call the “Guardias de Honor” (Guards of Honor). What I recall about this organization is that there were as many officers as there were privates. In appearance, it was as good as any military organization—martial discipline was one of its characteristics. The town was also prepared. Trenches were dug, some bridges destroyed. At the bottom of the destroyed spans were well camouflaged bamboo spears projecting from the ground. A machinegun was placed in the church roof. Cannons were placed just behind the house of Ka Ukay where the approach from Lemery, through the only bridge spanning the Pansipit River and connecting the towns of Taal and Lemery, could be well defended.

One day Filipino soldiers, all well equipped, entered the town. They immediately occupied the Church of Caysasay at Labak on the northern portion of the town near the bank of the Pansipit River. They made the town authorities believe that they were soldiers of Aguinaldo sent to reinforce the defense of Batangas. They turned out to be Macabebe soldiers (from Macabebe, Pampanga) sent by the Americans. The discovery came too late as they had already spread and occupied strategic places in Taal and Lemery. Before the Filipino Army could prepare to oust the impostors, the Americans came. The Filipino Army withdrew to the mountains to engage in guerrilla warfare. In this, they were not totally unsuccessful. At one time, they were able to attack the town of Taal, but had to withdraw because of American reinforcements. The Americans burned the town.

The guerrilla warfare of Gen. Malvar worried the Americans very much. They took drastic action and adopted what was called “zoning” (zona). The people were ordered to move to a certain place, generally the “poblacion” of a town, with all their food and belongings. They were warned that anybody stepping outside the boundary would be shot or dealt with as an enemy. The zonification order was made by Gen. Bell and executed by Col. Baker. The people suffered very much because of this concentration. The backbone of the resistance was broken; Gen. Aguinaldo was captured; and resistance all over the Philippines ceased. Gen. Malvar and his men surrendered.

While we were fighting the Spaniards and Americans, the spirit of Rizal was invoked. His teachings had spread all over the Philippines. There were all kinds of legends and stories built around Rizal. One was that he was riding on the moon to watch over us. The other was that, like Christ, he would rise again from his grave to lead us in our fight for liberty and independence.

After the surrender of Malvar and as late as 1905, there were remnants of the revolutionary army roaming around Batangas under Montalan, Sakay and Igat (Jose Solis). They were, however, regarded as bandits and hunted down by the government. In 1903, they entered the town of Taal and ransacked the municipal building. Thousands of Mexican silver pesos were taken. My brother Vicente and I were out that night. We saw Solis’ men enter the building. I was then visiting a girl near the municipal building. I left her house and hid in the house of Dr. Hermenegildo Castillo. It was on this occasion when almost all the prominent people of Taal were arrested and lodged in the municipal jail suspected of conniving with the bandits. My father, who was Municipal Treasurer, expected to be arrested. The Provincial Treasurer, Mr. Blanchard, had a very high regard for him and he was not molested. Don Vicente Ilustre, one of our most prominent lawyers who had been educated in Europe, tried to see the prisoners. Lt. McLean refused. Don Vicente brushed the Lieutenant aside and went inside. Luckily, the Lieutenant did not take action. The prisoners were being forced to confess their connection with the bandits. They refused. Later that night, they were all taken out of jail and shoved into a hold of a boat. For days they saw nothing. They did not know where they were; all they knew was that the boat was moving. They feared that they would be taken to Guam where Mabini was exiled. After a few days the boat returned. Most of the prisoners were released. This reminded me of what happened to us—placed in a hold of a freighter, not knowing our destination. It was when we were approaching Palawan after a few days at sea that we discovered that we were headed for Iwahig Penal Colony.

Later I shall continue my biography in so far as America and the Americans are concerned. I shall also prove that my connection with the Japanese regime was motivated solely by my love for my country, my desire to serve my people.


February 25, 1945

Corregidor and Bataan of historic memories were taken with relative ease. History did not repeat itself. The small but epic peninsula was cleaned of Japanese by an American division which two weeks earlier had landed in Subic. Troops also landed on Corregidor from the air and from the sea in a simultaneous landing screened by squadron fire. The air drop operation was very difficult as the small island did not have sufficient landing areas. Never had there been such a big casualty in so small an operation. The invaders had to finish off the seven thousand defenders, with only some twenty prisoners taken.

What end did the Japanese High Command want to achieve with their plan of suicidal extermination of the troops, either by their own hands or by the hands of the invaders? If a handful of valiant soldiers would take after Leonidas and his three hundred Spartans, that was understandable. But that hundreds of thousands or that the whole Army would be sacrificed for a national objective, only fanaticism or desperation could explain. What would the military leaders achieve through the extinction of almost the whole masculine population and great part of the feminine population of the country? To kill a number of thousand enemies at the expense of millions of their own soldiers, sacrificed to the Imperial idol! In many occasions, groups of soldiers wanted to surrender, but their officer prevented them at gunpoint. The few who had been captured, yielded to force or against their will or their officers were powerless to intervene.

The civilians who escaped the murderous claws of the Japanese were able to save themselves either fortuitously or through the intervention of some good-hearted Japanese — we have to do justice to some of them who saved others at the risk of their own lives — and always by a providential act of the divine mercy which knows how to counteract the most notorious plans. Both the annihilation of the civilian population and the mass suicide of the Japanese army and people had been premeditatedly planned by order of the Imperial government which wanted to drown national defeat and humiliation in blood. After my disaster, the deluge, but a deluge in which even the saving arc of civilization would perish — that is, if the arc would be capable of saving anything. Such was the plan of these Oriental fanatics. War is hell. Men are transformed into demons converting the earth into an infernal fire.

What faith can we have in science, in civilization, in humanitarianism? Or in other deities of modern paganism which have despised the true God in its search for its messiah among self-manufactured idols? Someone started believing that all is futile, all: men, ideas, culture… even religion. Could it not be pride, concupiscence, effeminacy that had unleashed this deluge of passions, afflictions and punishment over prevaricating humanity? Would that the Lord leave the triumphal arc of salvation soon, and that he would not turn away from men!

In all the battlefronts, the bloody scenes witnessed in Manila were reproduced. The Army of Yamashita was divided into five sectors, each one isolated from the others, thrusting back and forth with impotent strokes like the dying quivers of a severed reptile’s tail. The main body of the Japanese Army was bottled up in the mountains of the north by the American divisions which were operating from the Balete Pass and the P. Villaverde road up to Aringay, passing through the hills between Rosario and Baguio. This body was separated from the rest of the Japanese troops when the American 6th and 25th divisions cut through the north of Nueva Ecija until they reached the opposite coast near Baler. There was no other way left for the invincible Army of Yamashita but a desperate annihilation, shielding themselves behind the mountains and the populace. From cave to cave, they were hunted and exterminated like dangerous animals. Many were dying of hunger, sickness or misery. Others were found emaciated, naked and so weak they could not even lift their arms.


November 12, 1944

Typhoon is over, the sun is up again and the sky has brightened to a clear blue. The bird that perches on the tree near my window is there again, fluttering its wings and in a while I’m sure it’ll begin to twitter.

No planes this morning. Everybody was expecting them today because they’ve visited us every Sunday morning for the last three weeks. We woke up early this morning because we thought the planes were sure to come. There were many people in Church and everybody hurried home because “they’ll come around breakfast time”.

Instead of the planes came bad news. Ramon Araneta who was brought to Fort Santiago two nights ago died in one of the dungeons. The Japs called up his daughter and said that she could take her father’s corpse. Mrs. Araneta does not know that her husband has died. All Manila knows about this “sudden” death. Everybody thinks that Ramon was tortured. The Japs went up to his house at midnight, searched every nook and corner, every drawer, behind portraits and tapped the panels and floors, questioned his wife, daughters and servants. They they told Ramon to dress up and they took him with them. I was in their house yesterday and three Japs investigated one of Ramon’s maids and they brought her to Fort Santiago also.

This death has shocked Manilans and if the Japs think this will intimidate the people, they are very mistaken. The reaction has been the contrary. More young men want to go to hills. Vengeance is in every heart. His burial will probably look like a demonstration as Ramon is very well known. His death is the fourth in a row. First, Teddy Fernando; then Almazan; recently Preysler, whose wrists and ribs were smashed; and now –Ramon Araneta. Conversation now-a-days is nothing but of Jap atrocities. The greatest propaganda agency for America is not the Voice of Freedom or KGEI or Free Philippines but Fort Santiago.

General impression downtown is that the Leyte invasion has bogged down because of the typhoon and mud and arrival of Jap reinforcements. Some think Luzon liberation will begin only after Leyte has been completely liberated. Others insist that Mac will “pocket” Japs in Ormoc and then “hop” on to Manila.

Meanwhile, Japs are getting stricter, more brutal and desperate. Filipinos have to submit to the indignity of being searched by Jap sentries in almost every street corner. Fort Santiago has arrested many Bataan and Corregidor veterans. They are alarmed at reports of enthusiastic collaboration of Filipino populace in Leyte and Samar and great activities of guerrilla units. It is not an uncommon sight to see dead bodies thrown in public highways. Four days ago, a naked corpse with ten bayonet stabs was sprawled in the small plaza between the Legislative Building and City Hall.

Food situation is getting more acute. Yesterday, a man entered the house and he was thin, haggard, skeletal, with a wound on his feet. He asked for “a little rice or soup or anything”. More such walking-corpses can be seen all over Manila as Jap trucks speed through streets loaded with sacks of rice and vegetables.

Many Jap soldiers in Manila now, probably getting ready to move to battle areas. Some reinforcements to Leyte are being sent to Sorsogon where they go on small launches to Ormoc or Carigara. Very few Jap trucks in City. Soldiers walk. Army men now wear their battle uniforms, steel helmets and camouflage-nets. They stop cars, rigs, bicycles. They confiscate all forms of transportation. The Jap Army is desperate. It has its back against the wall. But before they go hungry, the civilian population will have to suffer first. Hope lies in Mac. Come on America!