February 21, 1970 Saturday

21Feb1970

PAGE 90

Office of the President

of the Philippines

Malacañang

 

 

 

February 21, 1970

Saturday

 

 

2:00 AM

 

Signed the Monetary Board Resolution for the new monetary stabilization measures.

Interview by Nick Joaquin of the Free Press, with Teddy Boy Locsin. Then by Kalb of CBS of the U.S.. Met with Raschid Lucman and Princess Tarhata who were brought by Cong. Bert Sabido with Ricardo de la Fuente.

The rally in the U.S. Embassy was quiet – there were more security men in the rally (in civilian clothes) than demonstrators. The demonstrators are losing their steam.

Nori Pobaldor says the people are now in sympathy with me. Even Ex-Justice Alex Reyes says I have been making the right decisions – and that a little more destruction and vandalism and I can do anything.

The same thing is said by the ambassadors of the Latin American countries. They are all for a dictator coming out of this confusion, though.

Father Calle and his like!

We must await the Feb. 28th demonstration.

There was hysteria, crying and anguish among the women in Ermita when the rumor was spread that the demonstrators were out to burn the district.


August 31, 1945, Friday

I have been asked many times how the Japanese financed themselves during their regime.

They came here bringing with them Japanese military notes. It can be assumed for certain that those notes are not backed by reserves. There is nothing behind it except the backing of the Japanese government. As a matter of fact, they are not currency or money. They are in reality requisition slips. Instead of forcing the Filipinos to give them food, equipment and materials, they found this indirect and less painful way of attaining their wishes. At the beginning the circulation of the currency of the Commonwealth was allowed. Following the economic law that bad money drives away good money, the latter soon disappeared in the market. Later, the Japanese made the circulation of the currency of the Commonwealth illegal. Those caught exchanging military notes for Commonwealth notes were taken to Ft. Santiago and punished for committing a hostile act.

The Japanese government then established the Southern Development Bank. They did not use the two Japanese banks, the Yokohama Specie Bank and the Taiwan Bank, except that the Taiwan Bank was used to liquidate the American and other foreign banks. As a matter of fact, the Southern Development Bank was not a bank but acted as a branch here of the Japanese Government Treasury. It was given the sole power of note issue. All the military notes were distributed through it. I had numerous discussions with the Japanese as to the nature of these notes. They have always insisted that they were Southern Development Bank notes, whereas I always maintained that they were Japanese Government notes. I did not feel it proper for the Philippine Government to deal with a private bank.

The Japanese, unlike the Americans, practically made the countries occupied by them defray all the expenses of their Army. They did this by means of the issuance of military notes. I also have no doubt about this as I happened to see the Japanese Government budget. In the statement of income, there was included what was called Contribution of the Southern Islands. (I was not sure what they called it, but I am sure that there were billions — 17 billion as I remember — provided as income from the Southern Islands.) As there was no direct request for funds, necessarily they must come from the proceeds of the military notes. They cannot ask for direct contribution because nobody or very few would give. This was shown when subscriptions were opened for the Philippines to buy and donate an airplane to Japan. Very little was collected and the project was stopped. It would not have been possible to collect a sufficient amount to buy even a small airplane unless force was used, as was done in many cases. As a matter of fact, those military notes were no more, no less than requisition slips. The whole financing of the Japanese, including the expenses of the Army and Navy and what they called war development companies, was exclusively handled by the Southern Development Bank.

This bank made every effort to exercise all the powers of a Central Bank and of a clearinghouse. It insisted that all the other banks deposit their funds with it, especially the reserves of the banks. I opposed this very strongly. I was willing to stake even my life to uphold my view. All the bank managers naturally were afraid to have any sort of issue with the Japanese. I told them that they need not assume any responsibility. I gave them orders not to deposit with the Southern Development Bank without my express authority and order. At that time, there were already on deposit in the Southern Development Bank funds of the different banks amounting to about 1000,000,000 pesos. About three-fourth or four-fifth of the funds belonged to the Philippine National Bank.

It must be stated in this connection that at the beginning I had no supervision over the Philippine National Bank. Supervision was being exercised by Malacañan. The reason was that the P.N.B. was a government corporation and Malacañan was in charge of all national companies. Later, I found out that it was Executive Secretary Pedro Sabido who was handling P.N.B matters. Even after his appointment as Minister of the new Department of Economic Affairs, he attempted to continue exercising the powers; as a matter of fact, after his appointment, he became even more insistent. He contented that the supervision of the Philippine National Bank properly belonged to his department since the bank was a government corporation and his department was in charge of all government corporations. He further contended that the Department of Economic Affairs should control the Philippine National Bank to enable it to realize the purpose for which it was established and also to facilitate the financing of the national companies.

Finally, he contended that, under the law, the Secretary of Finance is already the head of the bank, and it is not proper nor advisable for the Secretary of Finance to be also the Supervisor; otherwise; the Secretary of Finance would be supervising himself. I refused to devote much time and words to the discussion which was academic. So far as I was concerned, the argument I emphasized was that I found it impossible to supervise the banking and financing business unless all the banks were under me. Supervision over the P.N.B. was especially necessary since at least 70% of banking transactions in Manila was handled by the Philippine National Bank. I concluded in a memorandum to Pres. Laurel that if he decided to deny my request, I would strongly recommend that the supervision over all banks be transferred to the Ministry of Economic Affairs. After due consideration, the President told me that he fully agreed with me and he would immediately issue an order accordingly.

Days and weeks passed, the order did not come. I found out that the Minister of Economic Affairs was very insistent. So the President decided to submit it to the Council of State composed of Chief Justice Ramon Avanceña as President, and Don Miguel Unson, Don Pedro Aunario, Don Rafael Corpus, Don Ramon Fernandez and Don Jose Paez. The Council considered the matter very thoroughly and even heard the arguments of Minister Sabido. The President, and this was confirmed later by Don Miguel Unson and Don Rafael Corpus, advised that the Council upon preposition of Don Miguel Unson, decided unanimously in my favor. He assured me that he would issue the order forthwith.

Days passed; weeks passed, no order came. I decided to prepare the order myself and give it personally to the President. It was not signed and issued. I prepared another and left it with the President. After a few days, I asked him about it. He was surprised that I had not received it yet. I prepared another and this time I did not leave Malacañan without the President’s signature.

After the President signed the order, I immediately called Mr. Carmona, President of the P.N.B.. I must first state that under the order, I had all the powers of the Board of Directors of the Bank. I asked him about the deposits. He told me that he had submitted the matter to Malacañan and that no objection had been expressed on the part of Malacañan to the existing arrangement. When I asked for a written authority, he advised that he had not received any and that his experience was that he got no action from Malacañan on matters taken up by him, or at least action was delayed for weeks and even months.

I asked him to explain how he happened to have such a large deposit in the Southern Development Bank. He answered that from the very beginning the military people as well as the Manager of the Southern Development Bank requested him and even ordered him to deposit all excess funds of P.N.B., or funds not needed for ordinary daily transactions, with the Southern Development Bank. Pressure was used so that he had to make some deposit, but he assured me that it was far from what he could have deposited.

The Japanese reorganized the clearing house. Under the new system, all clearing balances were kept by the Southern Development Bank. There was no liquidation and the funds could be withdrawn only when the corresponding bank needed funds. So the deposit of P.N.B. in the Southern Development Bank increased everyday. This was also true as regards the other banks, Bank of the Philippine Islands and Bank of Commerce. They were also being required to make deposits. They said that they had to conform unless they wished their banks closed and their officers accused of a hostile act. I ordered them not to deposit. When they expressed fear, I told them that they should tell the Japanese that, per my order, they had to secure my approval. I also told them to withdraw their balances in the clearing house from the Southern Development Bank.

Mr. Hariguti Takahashi and the Manager of the Southern Development Bank came to me to request me to authorize the deposits. I flatly refused. This is one of many similar incidents I had with the Japanese. One instance was when a large Japanese sugar concern wanted to acquire the Philippine Refining Co., which was owned by the government and practically had the monopoly of sugar refining in the Philippines. An official of the company was told that an unfavorable recommendation from him would be interpreted as a hostile act. I told him to tell the Japanese to talk to me. The Japanese never came to see me. Another instance was when the Japanese Army proposed that the Textile Department of the National Development Company be constituted into a separate company and recapitalized with equal participation of the Philippine and Japanese governments. The participation was later changed to 40% for the Japanese and 60% for the Filipinos. I was made to understand that the plan had already been agreed upon by somebody in Malacañan. I prepared a memorandum strongly opposing the plan. The reason I gave was that the National Development Company, as any other national companies, was formed not for profit but rather to carry out national economic policies. Another time was when Colonel Utsonomiya, later promoted to General, approached me to ask me to allow the importation of opium. I told him that the laws prohibited the importation of opium and penalized its sale. Twice the Colonel approached me. I maintained my position. When it came to protecting our people and their rights, I ignored consequences absolutely.

In connection with the banks, a Japanese officer came to see me. He said that it had been reported to them that in the Ministry of Finance, there was somebody who was anti-Japanese and always worked against them. I knew it was merely a ruse. I answered that I assume responsibility for anything done in the Ministry of Finance.

Mr. Carmona wisely did his best to attain our purpose without unnecessary exposition. Carmona was so capable and prudent that he was able to withdraw a very good portion of the deposit and to maintain the deposit at a very low level.

My views and actions were fully reported to the President and he approved.

I had many other incidents. During a bombing raid, a boat loaded with military notes was blown up and all along Malate and Ermita, it rained notes. They were picked up by the people and spent. The Japanese who had the serial numbers of the notes prohibited the circulation. I protested on the grounds that the notes were already in the hands of innocent persons. For instance, there was Mrs. Mariquita de Ocampo who sold her furniture for 7,000 pesos as she needed the money. Afterwards, nobody would accept her money. What fault had she committed? Finally, the notes were accepted.

The Japanese wanted the administration to be self-supporting. They themselves prepared and imposed the approval of tax laws. From the beginning, my plan was not to change our tax laws; not to burden the people with more taxes than what they had to pay before the war. But how do we finance the government? Of course I had to make it look like I was trying to increase the income by means of assistance of our people. So I did not object to the increase in the income tax law, although I insisted that low incomes not be taxed and larger incomes not be taxed as heavily as in other counties. This is also the reason why I sold an amount of bonds instead from where I proposed to get the money.

Even during the time of the Commission, we borrowed money from the Army, It reached the amount of ₱23,000,000. During the Republic, I secured a credit of over ₱100,000,000 from the Bank of Japan, about ₱50,000,000 of which I got through the Southern Development Bank. When I submitted it to the Cabinet, there was some opposition. I did not argue, but after the meeting I explained to Minister Osias who was the one strongly opposed that my purpose was to charge to the Japanese as much of our expenses as possible. The Japanese Army after the establishment of the Philippine Republic tried to collect our previous indebtedness of ₱23,000,000. I declined on the ground that the Executive Commission was a mere instrumentality of the Japanese Administration. The amount was never paid.

Returning to inflation, I could do nothing as the Japanese did not want to give any power which would enable me to do something. I thought and thought about what to do until I came up with the idea of establishing a Central Bank if I could get the Japanese to approve my conditions. Some of them were: (1) That the Central Bank shall have the sole power of issue of notes. With this I meant to curb the unbridled issue of notes by the Japanese and the unlimited grant of credits to Japanese companies. (2) That the Ministry of Finance shall have jurisdiction and power of supervision over the Japanese banks. I demanded this most important power to control large credits given by the Japanese banks to Japanese companies and nationals. (3) That the Central Bank shall be the depository of the reserves of the other banks. And (4) That the Central Bank shall handle the clearing house balances.

The Japanese were opposed to my plan at the beginning, but in view of the fact that we were a Republic and they therefore could not openly deprive us of the right to exercise powers belonging to all independent states, they changed their tactics. They instead did their best to delay the establishment of the bank. They put up all kinds of objections and suggested many modifications. They wished preferential treatment or at least equal treatment for Japanese banks. I could not of course accept this. Mr. Haraguti, while I was speaking before the National Assembly about the establishment of a Central Bank, sent me a memorandum. I got the impression that he was opposed to it or wanted to delay it. I immediately suspended the proceedings and charged that Mr. Haraguti was out of line. He immediately saw me and tried to explain that such was not his intention. I know English well, I believe, and I had no doubt that my interpretation was correct.

The bill was approved by the Assembly but upon the request of Speaker Aquino a provision was inserted to it so that the establishment of a Central Bank would depend upon the promulgation order by the President. Aquino at the beginning was strongly opposed to the bank; later, he withdrew his objection but was evidently not interested in its establishment. However, the Japanese had not given up. We had no facilities here for the printing of notes and this had to be done in Japan. We prepared the necessary designs. We were told that all the printing presses were busy printing notes for other countries and that they could not begin making delivery until May, I believe of 1945. I went to Japan where I made every effort to expedite it but in vain. I was told that the delivery had to be periodic and the amounts for each period could not be very much. The matter remained in that state until hostilities in the Philippines began.

Another reason why I wanted the Central Bank was that I did not want to have a shortage of notes. We had a terrible crisis about the first months of 1944 because the ships used for transporting the notes were probably sunk or blown. The Japanese banks had no more available notes and the Southern Development Bank had only about ₱10,000,000 in notes of 10, 20 and 50 centavos. The Japanese banks suspended payment, and there was a run in all the banks as the public feared that the banks had no more funds. The Japanese banks, including the Southern Development Bank, wanted to get the notes of the Filipino banks. I refused to authorize the Filipino banks to loan their funds to the Japanese banks. I also instructed the Manager of the Philippine National Bank to withdraw a part of its deposit from the Southern Development Bank. We were all very much worried. Stoppage of payment of banks would paralyze business. All demands for withdrawal in Filipino banks were met. The Philippine National Bank, however, had to offer notes in small denominations. Generally, those wishing to withdraw big amounts desisted as the package of the money would be quite bulky. After a few days, shipment of notes came and the crisis passed. Because of this, I inquired about machines and materials in the Philippines that could be used in case of shortage of notes. We could print here but in limited quantities.

* * * * *

We heard on the radio that Truman had said that the Philippines might have her independence in 4 or 5 months. This means that we may have our independence by next January. I welcome it; I want to have it right now. We would have been spared the loss of billions of pesos and thousands of lives if only people ceased to be mentors of other people.

This means the election will have to be held soon. We may not even be able to take part in the elections. Until we are cleared, we cannot be of much service.

According to the radio, Ambassador Vargas was found in Tokyo and he is a very worried man. He was generally criticized for having been very weak with the Japanese. We were aware of it and we thought him a useless man and an incapable executive. But after we reflected, it may well be that under the circumstances, he did what would be of the greatest benefit to the people. Supposing that instead of getting the confidence of the known murderers, the Japanese, he had fought and defied them. He becomes a hero. But he sacrificed his country for w would have meant direct or almost direct rule by the Japanese. Instead of 200,000 dead, we probably would have had to mourn the loss of millions of our countrymen. Vargas has done much for our country.


February 20, 1945

Let us shift our view for a while from this scenario of horrors, and take a look at the Manila of the liberators, as it was narrated to me.

The American High Command has not failed to notice the vandalistic scheme of the Japanese in the attempt to save themselves with the City and with the residents of the Capital, of converting the city into a heap of rubble and killing all the inhabitants, starting with the internees in Santo Tomas.

This was confirmed by some well-meaning Japanese. The program of destruction, murder and suicide, which is being launched in the southern zone is also being planned for the northern section. Written orders to this effect had been found and brought by the guerillas to the headquarters of General MacArthur.

The Japanese did not expect the American advance forces at the approach to Manila until about the 6th or 7th of February, so that on the 3rd, it was supposed that the front line was about fifty kilometers from Balintawak. On the eve of this day, at about 8:00 o’clock, the priests and internees of Santo Tomas heard tanks penetrating through España street. They posted themselves in front of the gate of the University campus. Lights went on and illuminated the buildings. Jubilant shouts and outbursts of joy were heard from the detainees who barely perceived that their liberation was forthcoming. In a few moments, volleys sounded from within and without the campus. The tanks and machine-guns replied. A number of soldiers and guerillas who served as guides fell, among them Manuel Colayco and the young Kierulf who died later. Absolute silence. Total darkness. Then the lead tank barged in through the fence into the campus, followed by seven others and by twenty trucks loaded with troops, the first with lights on, the others without lights. They reached the front of the Main building. Another shout and welcome from the prisoners. A new discharge of fire from the Japanese defenders, and then another sepulchral silence. The monstrous caterpillars kept advancing along the sides of the building until they were positioned one at each alley. Some internees started fraternizing with the liberators and received their first cigarettes, biscuits and canned goods. Other tanks positioned themselves towards the gymnasium and the Education building.

So passed the night.

At daybreak, the capture of the Gymnasium. There were Japanese soldiers there guarding the prisoners. But they fled into the darkness. The Americans scoured the place fearing that the Japanese had hidden themselves in a nearby grassy area. But they could not be found.

Later, the conquest of the Education building. There were some seventy Japanese soldiers dispersed behind the detainees. The Americans appealed to the Japanese to surrender. No response. They were promised to be let free out of the campus. Negative. They were promised to be transported with their arms up to the Japanese lines. The Japanese conceded, and in two trucks they were transported up to the Rotonda.

That was how the campus which had imprisoned some four thousand internees, and, incidentally, occupants of the seminary, was recaptured. But they were so far the only liberated buildings together with those near Malacañang. The rest of the city, during the night of the 3rd and the whole day of the 4th, were still not re-occupied, except in the sense that the liberators were almost in the middle of the capital. But there was only a handful of American troops who had entered the enemy territory. It was a blow which was as bold as it was daring.

The First Cavalry, dismounted but motorized, had left Cabanatuan two days before. As it was left behind forty kilometers from the main body of the advance forces, it opened up a road through Novaliches and Balintawak, Rizal Avenue and Quezon Boulevard, spitting machinegun shells against Japanese troops and trucks they encountered along the way, and penetrating almost into the heart of the city. They were about a thousand men surrounded by Japanese forces bent on defending the city. Their audacity rattle the enemy. If the Japanese had a foreknowledge of the small number of the infiltrating forces, and had they organized a rapid and decisive attack on the Americans, the liberating forces would have been annihilated. They had thirty-six hours to do it and they faltered. Thus were saved the First Cavalry, the American prisoners and the north of Manila.

In the morning of the 5th, when the Japanese initiated a disorganized attack from España street, from Far Eastern University and from Bilibid, the 37th Division had already penetrated the City from the north and from the east, joining the liberators of Santo Tomas, and jointly re-occupying Quezon City and the sector of Manila north of Azcarraga. Malacañan and Bilibid, where some one thousand two hundred seventy war and civil prisoners were detained including those who came from Baguio, were also liberated.

The Japanese began their program of destruction. They placed cans of gasoline and mines in big buildings of the Escolta, and surrounding streets, and destroyed fire engines and equipments. They blew up and burned buildings, and the uncontrollable fires razed the whole of the commercial district from Azcarraga to the Pasig.

On the 6th, the Americans positioned themselves along the Pasig River. The whole northern region was thus liberated, although small groups of Japanese continued burning clusters of houses and forcing the Filipinos under their control to do the same. On the 7th, the battle of the Philippine General Hospital shelled the north of the city, especially the University of Santo Tomas which suffered fifty to sixty hits, mostly on the construction of P. Ruaño, the principal target of the Japanese guns. There was a lamentable number of casualties, some forty dead and three hundred wounded among the recently liberated. In the Education building, five were wounded. In the Seminary, there were only two slight casualties, a priest and a househelp. The attack lasted forty-eight hours.

The Japanese blew up the four bridges across the Pasig. On the 7th, further beyond Malacañan, five battalions of the 37th Division crossed the river in tanks and amphibian trucks and, after fierce fighting, they opened up a path through the cleared areas of Paco and the Gas factory. The Japanese defenders started converting each house and building into a fortress, burning them and killing their occupants when they had to abandon their posts.

In the meantime, the 11th Airborne Division, after a successful landing in Tagaytay, advanced until they joined the first wave at the southern approaches to the capital through Baclaran and Nichols Field. They mopped up these areas, destroying one hundred Japanese fighter planes and capturing seventy-five pieces of artillery and one hundred and twelve machineguns. They then proceeded towards Pasay. The cavalry made a second crossing of the Pasig through Sta. Ana. After a bitter house-to-house fighting, they drove back the Japanese from the hippodrome and from Makati. They then joined the 37th Division near the Paco Railroad station, and the 11th Airborne at the north of the Polo Club.

With these reunited forces, the Japanese defenses in Manila have been isolated and pushed back in Singalong, Malate, Ermita, Paco, Intramuros and the Port Area. American advance is slow. They are not employing the air force and they use the artillery with moderation for the sake of the civilians. The soulless defenders entrench themselves behind houses and concrete buildings, devoting their time more to arson and murder rather than in fighting the liberators. The Americans, in a rapid execution of strategy, were able to save some seven thousand refugees at the General Hospital before the vandals could effect their diabolic plans.


February 18, 1945

The evenings are a nightmare. They bring a rosary of shocks produced by powerful guns which, from New Manila and Grace Park, strike at Ermita and Intramuros, shaking the air, the earth, the doors and the nerves. Projectiles fly over our heads, whistling their funereal song of destruction. We cannot look at them: we can only follow their trajectory with our ears. Mortars from the Far Eastern University and the Osmeña Park batter the eardrums with metallic poundings. Machine guns, crackling like coffee grinders –Tac, Tac, Tac, Tac, Tac! rattle in, from behind, at the sides, in search of Japanese snipers. The fires from the Japanese side which reach our vicinity add to the confusion. A mortar hit the tower of the main building where the Americans had set up an observation post, and from which General MacArthur observed enemy lines this morning. Others fell on the Education building and on the intern’s garden. However, there were no casualties.

But more shattering than the dissonant harmony of war engines is the news about the tragedies suffered by survivors who escaped from the southern part of the city. The accounts are so terrifying and so macabre that my spirit was filled with infinite bitterness, and I wept with tears of pain and indignation. From the sadness and sympathy arose an impotent anger against the infernal forces which vented its desperation and hate among the civilian populace. So many families of acquaintances and friends exterminated. So many mutilated. So many who escaped the Japanese hell lost everything but their lives. The hospitals –the few old ones which still remain, and a number of improvised ones– are filled with the wounded, whose hands or feet or body are perforated with bullets or shrapnels. Many are searching desperately for their lost loved ones. Manila is a picture of sadness impossible to describe.

The Japanese plan of attack against the defenseless Manilans is as diabolic as it is organized. Its defense strategy consists in positioning themselves behind the civilian residents, and as the conquerors advance within a dangerous distance, they flee or burn the buildings and retreat a few blocks backwards. They machinegun the residents who attempt to put out the fire or run for their lives. The only way to save themselves is to jump into a ditch and stay there. Anyone who raises his head is fired at. They stay for four to eight days without eating or drinking, tortured by a rabid thirst. I was told of cases where persons, dying of thirst, drank human blood mixed with mud.

In many cases, the soldiers would approach the ditches and kill the occupants with bayonets. That was how they killed the De La Salle Brothers –Irish and Germans–, the Padres Paules of San Marcelino among whom were Fr. Visitator Tejada and Fr. José Fernández, and Irish Fathers of Malate, together with the evacuees in their buildings. The same fate fell on fifty others, almost all of whom were Spanish, who took shelter in the Spanish consulate. Aside from being attacked with bayonets, they were also attacked with hand grenades. Only a little girl escaped alive.

Another way of liquidating the people is by herding them into a house and setting fire to it, at the same time hurling hand grenades inside. Anyone who attempts to escape is shot.

There were frequent cases where soldiers threw hand grenades into the ditches or air raid shelters, and those who attempted to escape were hunted like animals. In order to economize on bullets, the assassins usually would tie entire families to post or pillars and kill them with bayonets. It was not rare that a hundred or more persons were lined up and machinegunned.

In the shelter at the German Club, some four hundred persons of different nationalities were attacked and massacred by drunken soldiers. Only about half a dozen escaped. The young Enrique Miranda, son of Telesforo Miranda Sampedro, told me that his mother and five brothers were taken by the Japanese. He did not know what happened to them. We learned later that their bodies were found mangled –those of his two brothers, in the street. Enrique said that he was made to kneel down and they hit him on his neck. He lost consciousness. He came to his senses when a soldier was prickling him with the point of his bayonet to find out if he was already dead. He tried to bear the pain and feigned death. The soldier covered him with earth. He was able to bore a hole through which he breathed. Later, he squeezed himself out and, bleeding all over, he hid among the stones until he was found by the Americans.

In Singalong, the Japanese marines gathered the men to send them on forced labor. The men were made to line up and were herded on groups of ten into houses where their heads were cut off. As those who were in the streets could not hear anything, they entered the houses confidently, believing they were only to register their names. A son of Mr. Ynchausti, among others, escaped, but was badly wounded.

It was providential that in almost all cases, someone among the victims was able to escape and was able to relate the fate of his companions.

The Japanese installed machineguns on the towers of the Paco and Singalong churches, not to counterattack the approaching Americans but to mow down the residents –men, women and children– who might attempt to flee. The Remedios Hospital and the San Andres agricultural school, where thousands of escapees had taken shelter, were shelled with mortars and even Japanese anti- aircraft guns. Many, however, were also killed by American bombs.

Very few persons escaped unscathed from the southern xone. There were countless wounded and it was almost impossible to attend to them all in spite of the fact that the doctors and nurses, both Americans and Filipinos, worked beyond their limits. The suicidal and homicidal plan of the Japanese, according to superior orders, was to exterminate the whole population and annihilate themselves. Survivors attributed their survival to a miracle and to a special favor of Providence. Many promises and vows were made and each escapee had his heartrending tragedy to tell.

The savagery displayed by the Imperial Army is as brutal as it was unexpected or, better still, it is doubly brutal for being unexpected. There were fears, and it was expected, that the Japanese would not hand over the city on a silver platter, but we could not believe that their ferocity would reach such a point of diabolic savagery.

The phantom of hunger not only hovers over the people. It holds the people captive in their claws. There is nothing to buy in stores and marketplaces. And where there are goods, there is no money with which to buy them. The occupation money has been reduced to what it is –scratch paper. The new Victory bills which the U.S. Army brought along, are still hardly in circulation. Those fortunate ones who live in the liberated zone have exhausted the supplies of rice and mongo. Parents and friends of escapees from the Japanese hell who were given refuge by those in the north are creating problems of food supply.

The American Red Cross, the PCAU and the soldiers themselves try to assist the hungry people, but there are so many of them and here is just not enough supply for all. I met a number of friends whom I hardly remembered, especially those who escaped from the claws of the Japanese and who had been reduced to skin and bones. There were also those who had been wounded or mutilated. The liberating troops, as they advance step by step, house by house, perform the dual function of combatants and Samaritan, gathering the survivors, assisting them with their own rations and transporting them to the rearguard. The wounded are transported by the Red Cross, the officers of the chaplains to improvised hospitals at the north of the Pasig. The able bodied travel in the way they could, searching for the members of their families who were separated in fleeing from Japanese fire and vandalism. Hungry and thirsty, they roam the streets as souls in agony, broken and ragged, pale and sweating under the heat of the sun, looking for people they know, and recounting their own horrors and those of others.


September 22, 1944

Didn’t know we still had baloney these days until I read the Tribune. It was crying out loud about Filipinos being angry due to the inhuman acts of American aviators.

More baloney: Laurel declares the Philippines under martial law. The problem with our puppet president is that he doesn’t leave his room in Malacañang. If he only took the trouble of going downtown, he’ll know who’s running this country. You can’t walk around without showing some piece of paper with Japanese scrawl to hundreds of Japanese soldiers posted in every street corner. If that isn’t martial law then what is!

The Americans came back this morning again with more bombs, hooray. They dove at all the ships in the Bay area and they destroyed Piers 3, 5 and 7. The tower of the Customs Building has disappeared and the warehouses at Malecon Drive were wiped out by incendiaries.

U.S. planes flew very low over the heart of Manila. Two planes circled below the dome of Binondo Church. People waved handkerchiefs at them and the aviators coolly waved back. Japanese sentries looked on sullenly. The happy incident was marred by Philippine Constabulary soldiers at the Oriente Building who machinegunned the low-flying planes under orders from Japanese soldiers. The bombers circled around the Oriente Building, headquarters of the Constabulary, dropped two incendiary bombs and flew off.

Far Easter University and San Beda College which are being used as garrisons by the Japanese troops were also strafed. Several civilians were hit by stray bullets but more deaths were caused by the anti-aircraft guns of the Japanese.

Joe Meily said a ship near the Boulevard was hit by a bomb and a lot of hundred-peso bills were blown to the shore. Some of the bills reached Ermita and Malate and the people scrambled for them.

The Japanese are taking their supplies out of the piers because they expect more bombings. They’re quite sad about the fact that their planes don’t even go up to challenge the Americans.

There were no bombs dropped this afternoon. Maybe they’re resting. Joe was disappointed.

This is bad news. We’re going to leave our house. The Japs are taking it. They said “So sorry” to Dad’s appeal. Mama is crying. I told her to stop. “Anyway ma,” I explained, “We will get the house back in a few months. They’ll be here soon.”

Am very tired. Perhaps due to the excitement of the last two days. But it doesn’t matter. My heart is happy.


October 15, 1943

Officially the Philippines is independent. But is she? Yesterday, during and after the ceremonies, many young people were asking us: “Do you believe that we will have a true independence?” To all of them, we gave the same reply, “Let us wait for the facts to speak for themselves.”

Even the most optimistic does not have to wait long to realize that this form of independence is nothing more than another form of dependence. Neither the army nor the navy have shown any indication of returning the buildings they occupied, nor had the number of Japanese military forces invading our streets and plazas diminished, nor were we aware of any government or private enterprises confiscated during the war which were returned to their owners.

A very significant coincidence: yesterday, hardly had the birth of the Independence been poclaimed when a number of house owners in Ermita received orders from the Imperial Army to vacate their properties within forty eight hours.

Officially, the military administration, or the invisible national government, had been dissolved. But we could not ascertain whether another one, more invisible and more mysterious, had taken its place. It was clear that in matter pertaining to international relations, the sovereignty of the new government was almost nil not only because it was recognized solely within the Sphere, but also because all the other members of the Sphere were dancing to the tune that Tokyo was playing. An emasculated internal sovereignty which did not reach the level of a complete autonomy; a nonexistant or impotent external sovereignty: such seemed to be the independence doled out by Japanese magnanimity.


December 18, 1941

It was another raidless night –the fifth in a row.

This morning Escolta was full of people again. Some were even buying. A few picked up the pretty Christmas cards and looked at them in a tentative way. Some put them down but others, pocketing caution, bought. In the street I heard children singing.

In writing during war, a man attaches perhaps undue significance to little acts. He discovers nobility in deeds he would otherwise dismiss, in times of peace, as the work of stale custom or habit. The ordinary run of men acquires a certain splendor in the midst of pain. Suffering may not ennoble, it does magnify. A man calmly eating his lunch during an air raid challenges Roland.

The alarm finally came, at 1:50 in the afternoon. It was almost welcome. The false lull created uncertainty –the unbearable state. A man was divided between hope and knowledge that the enemy might and could come at any time. Now the enemy had come again and a man knew where he stood. After the first bad moment, a man knew there was only danger, which is better than the expectation of it.

There is, when an alarm is sounded, a half-ashamed desire to burrow into the earth. One need not be ashamed, really. The fear of death is a legitimate emotion, like jealousy or love, and it is only what you let it do to you that is important, that is good or bad.

Fear, as an occurence merely, is an act of God. None’s to blame.

We are all afraid.

The alarm caught my friend and myself on Escolta. We entered a big department store and went down into its basement where we used to go buy records. There were several floors of reassuring concrete above us and the place was air-conditioned. Somebody played a record of “Intermezzo”, and the soft, thin plaint of the violin added further to the illusion of safety and complete insulation from what was going on outside. You’d never know what hit you.

While we waited, my friend looked about him. While we waited for the thing to be over, my friend said in a hopeless voice:

“From the cave, man has progressed to the basement, which is only another name for a cave. There is air-conditioning but the principle is the same. We are still cave-bound. There has been no change. Thousands of years have passed, millions and millions of men have come and gone, every day the world is older, man is older, and there has been no improvement. You can kill more at a time now, that is all. That is the only progress.”

He was in the Manila Hotel the first time the Japanese planes came over the city, the first time we had the enemy directly over us. There was absolutely nothing to tell us that we would not get it then. The people in the hotel –Filipinos, Americans, Britishers, Spaniards– if they thought of death at all, they did not show it. They went on talking, laughing, eating, drinking while the planes roared overhead. And certainly the lean figure of death must have seemed to these people, in the midst of so much wealth and abundance, but a frail legend, true for the poor, inapplicable to them.

It was not a matter of courage, it was a matter of unbelief.

“In a corner, I saw a girl saying the rosary.”

The girl believed in it.

In the afternoon, while we were having a drink in a bar, my friend saw someone he knew and asked him to sit with us. The man had just come in from Nichols which had been bombed and he had a dark bruise on the forehead. And a story.

“I work for the quartermaster corps and I was on my way to pick up a car at Nichols Field. I was almost there when the bombings began. I saw two soldiers and I asked, ‘Is there a raid?’ a foolish question. ‘Is there a a raid!’ they said, so I got out of the car and ran to a house by the road that had been bombed before and flung myself on the ground close to a wall that was left standing. I had on my best pair of pants, too. Then the bombs came nearer and one really near and a bit of flying debris hit me on the forehead, here, and all I could think of was: Yah, you sons of bitches, I’ve paid the last premium on my insurance!”

When the raid was over and the bombers were gone, he went on to Nichols Field, and, he said, after picking his way carefully around the bomb-craters, found that the car he was supposed to pick up was not there –thus making a nice well-rounded tale.

The official communique said that “in the afternoon of Monday, December 15, a USAFFE patrol met and engaged a Japanese patrol somewhere south of Vigan. Excellent morale was shown by our men, who succeeded in pushing the enemy patrol many miles northward. Darkness stopped the fighting. There was a number of enemy casualties.”

Japanese planes on the ground at Vigan were also reportedly attacked by our air-force. Twenty-seven planes were caught on the ground and 25 of them said to be destroyed. One plane was shot down in the air. This brought to 70 the number of enemy planes officially claimed destroyed in the Philippines since the war began.

Today, Japanese motorboats, estimated at more than 100, tried to land troops in Lingayen Gulf. The first attempt was beaten off entirely, most of the boats being sunk by artillery fire from a a Philippine division. The same division also mopped up all Japanese troops which managed, in later attempts, to land.

Today the Japanese bombed the city of Iloilo.

Going through Ermita in the dusk, I saw an American soldier talking very earnestly to a pretty mestiza in a yellow dress. Man lives simultaneously on several levels: military, economic, political, erotic.