Sunday, August 14, 1898

Admiral Dewey informs the foreign battleships that they can anchor in their original positions in Manila Bay. The naval officers hastily go on land but the overly cautious Germans, heedless of the dispatches concerning the treaty, go ashore fully armed. On land or at sea, Admiral von Diederich’s presence reaffirms the dominance of a formidable Germany.

It is said the Spaniards lost 400 men in yesterday’s fighting. Even if it were 40 or a hundred, the toll would still be too high since these men, dispersed everywhere on the ramparts, awaited the enemy without fighting and were ordered not to fire a single shot. The Spanish soldiers within the walls hae already relinquished their guns unloaded and discharged, before they are allowed entry. Within the walls, an American officer piles up the confiscated guns in the guardhouse. I have also seen an infantry regiment and a battalion of soldiers disarmed before the city gates.

The Spanish soldiers keep their sabers and clench their teeth, perhaps out of rage or out of sheer humiliation. They undoubtedly harbor these feelings of betrayal in varying degrees, fully aware that there was no battle and that the troops present could have kept the Americans at bay.

Admiral Montojo has bluntly stated that the siege of Manila was a farce played by General Merritt. But he seems to forget that he also played a role similar to that of General Jaudenes and the Spaniards.

Now, Manila definitely looks like a conquered city. There is hardly any Spaniard on the street and all shops are closed. Panic is rising out of fear that the Tagals might pillage this city tonight or possible plan a massacre. Meanwhile, the Americans continue to exercise very strict surveillance.

Within the Walled City, the inhabitants and soldiers move around, and one can see the Spanish military men carrying on friendly conversations with the soldiers of the Union. Some are even drinking together in the cafes. What an encouraging sight! The streets are full of disarmed soldiers, but in the churches and convents, where the entire Spanish garrison is confined, the air is permeated by unbearable stench and dirt.

General Merritt has had a manifesto posted in English, Spanish and Tagalog declaring that Manila is now under American military government. There is no mention whatsoever of the insurgents. The American military is speaking on behalf of the United States in the same way that the Spaniards were speaking yesterday in the name of Spain, the repetition of this twist of fate clearly indicating the stranglehold of another foreign power on Manila.

A considerable number of American troops seen at close range show no signs of order, or discipline. It is obvious why the Germans look down disdainfully on them. They look like an army organized for manhunts, while the English marines remind me of a flotilla of yachtsmen. The Americans involved everywhere, just like their counterparts, the English, remain different from them, like the contrast between the rustic and aristocratic or between the workhand and the lord of the manor. The American army has always been regarded as a school for athletics, a notion that should be expanded to moral gymnastics or a virtual seminary for democracy.

The American soldiers are hefty and tall but appear narrow in the chest in relation to their height. It seems that tuberculosis is their Achilles heel. These men who exude self-confidence are more comfortable wearing cowboy outfits than the military uniform. Their huge felt hats resemble the plumed hats of musketeers in operettas. The color of their sporty brown uniform is very similar to that worn by our marine infantry. Some wear dark-blue tunics, which look too warm for the tropics. They all wear gaiters and belts of cartridges. During the day they are on their best behavior and pay for all their purchases. At night, they rid themselves of their inhibitions, drink excessively and, when quite drunk on whisky, become unbearable savages, killing at the slightest provocation. They do not unleash their brutish behavior on each other but rather on the natives. As soon as they see one, the manhunt begins. This sport enjoyed by these champions of humanity has been inherited from their forefathers, who pursued the Redskins and Negroes. This war has certainly given the Americans the opportunity for magnificent manhunts in the Philippines and Cuba at very little cost.

Rumors about the impropriety of this siege is spreading fast. It is said tha when General Jaudenes stated, On the presumption that Manila cannot defend itself, no cannons should be fired, only one general defiantly protested and said, When the hostilities start, we should fight to the bitter end!” Strong words spoken by a man who dared speak his mind at a time like this.

The Spaniards have convinced themselves that they had no other alternative, a convenient excuse for a well deserved defeat. Colonel ___________ now insists that the situation was inevitable, but vehemently denies that the Spanish artillerymen were inferior to their mediocre American counterparts. “In fact, most people are unaware that we used armor-piercing shells to destroy bridges and watchtowers. Let it not be said that our shells were useless. But when asked why the other types of missiles were not used, he had to admit that the Spanish officers had not been instructed on the use of the various projectiles.


Sunday, August 14, 1898

Surrender

The American and Spanish officers have signed the treaty of surrender. When the Americans took over the government of Manila, they accorded the Spanish prisoners the honors of war.

The terms of the surrender worth noting are as follows:

  1. Only the City of Manila and its environs are included in the terms of surrender.
  2. The sovereignty of the United States is merely provisional with the possible withdrawal of the American army.
  3. This convention is dated August 13.

This last observation is important because Admiral Dewey apparently overlooked his dates, the peace treaty between Spain and the United States having been signed on August 12, the eve of the siege of Manila, while the Spanish flag was still flying.

 


Monday, August 8, 1898

Deception

Yesterday, Governor Jaudenes convened a meeting of the consuls of France, England, Belgium, and Germany. He naturally appealed to their sentiments in the hope of obtaining their support to delay the Americans. He dwelt on the fate of the women, the children, and the wounded. The consuls pretended to convey the request to Admiral Dewey. At 7 o’clock this morning, they boarded ship and headed toward the Olympia.

Instead of going as far as the admiral’s ship, these consuls turned midway. They only pretended to carry out their mission, realizing that it would lay themselves open to ridicule. The governor should realize that the Americans cannot assume responsibility for the 50,000 civilians in Manila, which include 3,000 sick. This is an absurd request to demand from an enemy wanting to take possession of a city at the earliest opportunity. The consuls could not have been in a position to negotiate more than an armistice. This has been the situation for the last three months. A bombardment would settle the matter. The Spaniards have had enough time. Even if granted a reprieve of three years, they would not be in a position to act decisively. A tacit agreement had, in fact, been made between Dewey and the governor general after Cavite. It is even possible there was a formal accord. The Americans seem to say: “Neither of us is in a position to attack the other. We do not intend to bombard the city, so there is no need for you to leave.” Dewey was not ready for an attack in May, and even if he carried out his plans in June, he would not have been successful, either. Only the insurgents would have benefitted from it, a situation which neither the Americans nor the Spaniards wished. Everyone seems perplexed by all of this.

Manila is reduced to defending itself with the 24 guns at Luneta, which is certainly insufficient to repulse the American squadron from its shores. We see vehicles carrying shells for 15cm cannons, which are being mounted on the sea front. The two that are visible from the outside must be a recent model, and one of them seems to be a mortar.

At the gun placement in Luneta, repairs are being done over the damage caused by bad weather these past few days. The Spanish artillery is not that interior after all; it is the poor training of their artillery men which is evident. Even compared to the Yankees, who are not at all accomplished, they are pitiful. Indeed, their gunpowder is of poor quality, due either to faulty manufacturing or bad storage. “All is rotten in Spain!” What an unfortunate country to be so criticized! Everything is in a very bad state. The cannons are exploding, the gunpowder does not fire, and the men are pathetic. During the battle fought on the first of May, the projectiles fired by this artillery (type 24) were falling short of the target, although there was enough time to correct the shortage.

Meanwhile, Manila was so well armed that it could not be penetrated by less than a thousand men. Marshal Primo de Rivera was convinced of this. He also knew it was important to control the sea with soldiers, cannons and, above all, an effective commander at the helm.

Manila still maintains its everyday routine. Vehicles loaded with furniture and belongings are everywhere. The foreigners have started their exodus. Since this morning, they have been seeking refuge for their families aboard the ships in the harbor. An air of sadness surrounds their plight. The Spanish officers are leaving their families for what could be a final separation. Some officers have difficulty holding back their tears. The farewell between Admiral Montojo and his family is heartrending. One of the young girls is sobbing, and two young officers (fiances or brothers) appear to take this parting very badly.

General Jaudenes’s orders with regard to the bombardment have been made public. It states the Spaniards’ intention to resist. Shelters for civilians have been designated in the different sections of the city. The Walled City has been divided into a number of zones, with the churches serving as places of refuge. From tomorrow morning, no vehicle will be allowed on the streets.

Some churches are now filled with people, mostly women. These buildings, in the worst Jesuit style, with parquet floors and wooden wall panelings, closely resemble the holds of giant steamers filled with immigrants. Everyone feels at home, with some laughing, and others beginning to quarrel. Some women are making coffee while others are cooking rice for the next meal. They exchange an abundance of inaccurate information, which sometimes results in violent verbal attacks. But the young people are strumming at their guitars at the entrance or singing beneath the porch. Mandolins playing a seguidilla can be heard. Behind the pillars, somewhere in the shadow, cockfighting is going on and bets are being placed.

I visualize a shell suddenly whistling through and falling in the midst of these joyful people, exploding in a tumult of screams and turning the carnival into a sea of blood…

 


Sunday, August 7, 1898

Finally, this farce is reaching its conclusion. I am convinced that up to the last minute, each one will do his utmost to mislead the other. General Merritt and Admiral Dewey have released the United States’ ultimatum for Manila’s surrender. The Spaniards have been given 48 hours to reply.

Admiral Dewey has informed the foreign squadrons of a likely American attack on Manila at the stroke of noon on Tuesday. The captain general’s immediate reply to the possible bombardment on Tuesday if he refused to surrender was that the Spanish flag would not be lowered.

Neither side is willing to compromise. Admiral Dewey pretends that his only option is to attempt a sea operation due to the numerous losses supposedly sustained by the land troops in the course of various attacks launched over the past days. In fact, the Americans have not yet attacked Manila, and during the fighting on July 1 and August 1, losses were few. It is a known fact that even the Spaniards sustained only six wounded in the fight that took place on the 2nd and 4th of August. If the Americans did attempt an intensive land attack, their high-powered weapons would have completely destroyed Manila. The Americans are fully aware of their uncontested strength, and feel no need to attack. On the contrary, they need to capture Manila and take possession of the city before a peace agreement is concluded. Obviously imminent is that Admiral Dewey plans to offer the Philippines as a gift to his country. According to the English, a certain number of civil servants will come after the arrival of the expedition troops, and the United States government will then take over the administration of Manila. It now seems evident that the United States has been considering the annexation of the Philippines since June.

The Americans, on the one hand, know that there is no need to bombard Manila, and the Spaniards, on the other, want to give the impression that they are going to attack. The truth of the matter is that the Americans never had the slightest intention of destroying the city, and the Spaniards did not for a single moment wish to be bombarded.

On August 4, when General Jaudenes announced the length of time he needed to consult his government, the Americans, out of absolute compassion, could not grant his request. And why not? Unless it was for the reason that their main interest was to use a conquered Manila as leverage in their peace treaty.

In short, the Americans were determined to capture Manila before making peace. What could Spain hope for at this point? Hold Manila at all costs for as long as possible? But the Spaniards made so many erroneous moves which, in the end, cost them dearly. In fact, we know today they lost everything in the name of peace.

Same day, Afternoon

Manila and its Surroundings

I shall go on land as soon as possible. The news of the ultimatum which has been spreading for the last three months has no great impact in this country that has been smelling of gunpowder and resounding of gunshots for the past three years. Manila is built almost entirely of wood to make it less vulnerable to earthquakes, but as a consequence, it has had frequent fires caused by constant bombardments. However, the Tagals are not demoralized by this situation.

In the Philippines, I met some Spanish officials who have no illusions. All they demand is the opportunity to fight. As the colonel of the light artillery stated:

–What will they accomplish by bombarding? They will merely kill women and children. These are the sordid details of war, but we are not going to be stopped.

What is the point in all this discussion when they refuse to take up arms? I suppose that the officer wished to explain that the death of civilians would not prevent them from fighting. If such were the case, the Americans would be a long way from Manila.

Some Spanish officers have expressed their disappointment over the way the war is being conducted and the policies of their ministers. They deplore the lack of change and the abuse of civil servants and the court systems. They feel that the only difference is that the newcomers have empty stomachs and are therefore three times more greedy than their predecessors.

“No one has ever wanted to look the situation in the face,” commented someone. “We have always postponed making decisions. We have arrived at the present disastrous situation because there has been no remedy for the ills which we suffer.”

Camara’s recall was the last blow for these courageous people. They realized that the pathetic politicians in Madrid did not suspect how serious the Philippine war was between the Americans and the Spaniards until Dewey’s squadron entered the bay. If cruisers like the Pelayo and the Charles-Quint with their torpedoes were in Manila, they could have put Dewey’s fleet in a precarious situation.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to secure provisions. The troops have no more bread and are living on b biscuits.

The liveliness of the streets has not diminished. Although we id not know Manila at the prime of its prosperity, we still feel something feverish in the air, with the people no longer interested in their affairs for several weeks now, the rich Chinese leaving, and the Tagals deserting their jobs. Only the coachmen are seen driving their emaciated little horses. Everyone seems to be waiting for some spectacular event to take place. Nothing can be more tiring than waiting, like spectators in a theater, for the sound of gunfire, a calamity, or the murder which would bring down the curtain. The Spaniards have always lived with the vague fear of a massacre. The Americans pretend to share the same apprehension and take advantage of the situation to impose their will on all without any accountability to anyone.

Before retiring on board ship we stopped at the Luneta. There were numerous vehicles on the promenade and the weather was pleasantly cool.

Looking at all these people, we could not believe that in 48 hours, there would be a bombardment. Everyone was strolling quietly and appeared to be enjoying the beautiful day. Admiral Montojo, in the company of one of his daughters, passed by in his vehicle. We noticed that he looked well and had such an untroubled expression that it was hard to believe Admiral Dewey sank his entire fleet three months ago. He gambled and lost, and has called it quits. But what about the fatherland?


Friday, August 5, 1898

It is said that the Monterey has brought formal orders to attack. But perhaps the victor and the vanquished would eventually end the fighting and maybe even settle their problem without combat.

There is threat of a typhoon. The strong winds from the west have worsened the situation at sea. We are forced to close all portsides and doors to keep the water from coming in. The defense mounted by the junk boats at the mouth of the Pasig River has failed. We have been enduring these torrential tropical rains for a month now. The Tagals, however, are indifferent to the weather, and continue surrounding Manila and the countryside. What would the Americans do here without them? Sinking a fleet at anchor is certainly only the first step towards the conquest of a country that is bigger than Hongkong or Ireland.

The shots heard on the evening of August 1 and 2 came from the attacks attempted by General Agustin and is units against the Americans in their trenches. Insignificant losses with no decisive results.

Tonight, a dramatic turn of events. We have learned from the consulate that the governor general of the Philippines, General Agustin, has been removed from office. Nothing could be more ridiculous; for the past four days, he has been working secretly at his desk. But what is more revolting is the example set by Madrid, whose policies are an incredible mixture of stupidity, incoherence, inertia and hysterical indecisions.

General Jaudenes y Jaudenes has been appointed governor, with Francisco Rizzo his deputy. This is nothing compared to General Monet’s appointment as chief of defense after deserting his post and his men, a constant subject of severe criticism. Together with his 2,800 men and General Agustin’s family, he found himself surrounded by insurgents since June. Under the pretext of escorting Mrs. Agustin and her five children across the Tagal lines, General Monet and his aide-de-camp abandoned their men. Some say that the true version of the story is that Monet abandoned his troops because he was aware of the implacable hatred of the Tagals. Of all the Spaniards, he is the most hated by the Tagals, having allegedly exerted heavy-handed authority by putting to death thousands of natives, women and children included, during the last repression of the uprising.

In order to promote more confusion, the same newspapers which carried news items regarding Agustin’s downfall have also reprinted an article published in Spain, dated the 21st of July, in which the new governor sings high praises to “the heroism of the Philippine army, its illustrious chief, and the nation.” The appointment orders dated the 24th were evidently pre-empted by the newspaper article.

All these insincere half-truths disgust us. Have people really reached this level? One could almost say that the empty pride of the vanquished found glory in their defeat. There is nothing else left for this nation but to face death.