The cavalry and their last charge, December 1941-January 1942

Caption in the Polish-American Journal: “Polish cavalry during maneuvers before World War II. In addition to the lances chosen by some of these mounted cavalrymen, all of them were issued sabers and carried rifles slung on their backs.”

One of the great romantic stories of World War II, is of Polish lancers bravely –and desperately– charging German tanks in the opening days of World War II. Shades of the famed charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava during the Crimean War, which led a French general, Pierre Bosquet, observing the brave but pointless charge, to remark, C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre: c’est de la folie (“It is magnificent, but it is not war: it is madness”).

Apparently, romantic as the tale was, the story wasn’t true: it was a myth created by the panzer commander Gen. Guderian, and spread by the famed war correspondent William J. Shirer; see the Polish-American Journal and The Guardian for details.

What is important about the story of the Polish lancers was that it represented the gallantry of a country and a people outgunned and doomed by the relentless assault of an invader. What is romantic, and true, however, is how Radio Poland played Chopin’s Polonaise in A major, Op. 40, No. 1 (“Militaire”) every day, from the start of the German invasion on September 1, 1939, until the city fell on September 27, when “The first eleven notes of Chopin’s (†89) Military Polonaise, the signature of Warsaw State Radio, are sounded for the last time.” Go listen to Arthur Rubinstein’s performance of it.

President Quezon broadcasts from the air raid shelter in his Marikina residence on December 20, 1941. With him are Executive Secretary Jorge B. Vargas and Joe Stevenot, head of PLDT.

Radio would play a role in the Philippine resistance, too: when the Commonwealth inaugural for the second term of the president and vice-president was held on December 30, 1941, it turned out there was no way to broadcast the proceedings to unoccupied areas. Radio equipment from Manila were retrieved and transferred to Corregidor, becoming part of the apparatus for the Voice of Freedom which broadcast until Corregidor fell on May May 6, 1942.

But even as radio played a role, it is the legend of the Polish cavalry that concerns us here –and a parallel story of heroism on horseback from the early months of the war in the Philippines.

To place things in context, here is an overview published in Corregidor Then and Now:

Delaying actions were fought to permit withdrawal to Bataan, the bloodiest of which was fought by the 11th and 21st Divisions on the Porac-Guagua line. The 26th Cavalry Regiment protected the west flank of the 21st Division. As the entire USAFFE struggled from south and north toward the Layac junction, the only approach to Bataan, the delaying forces held their line on open and unprepared ground. From 1 January to 5 January they stood fast against massive enemy aerial and artillery bombardment, concentrated tank attacks and banzai charges. Casualties on both sides were heavy. The first defensive in Bataan was the Hermosa-Dinalupihan line, where on 6 January 1942 the 71st Division, the American 31st Infantry Regiment and the 26th Cavalry Regiment fought off the pursuing enemy.

Official US Army photo, 26th Cavalry in Pozzo Rubio.
Official US Army photo, 26th Cavalry in Pozzorubio.

The aim of War Plan Orange-3 was to delay the invading enemy forces until the US Navy could gather together it’s Pacific Fleet and sail to the Philippines, on the way dealing with the Japanese Fleet. But there was no US Navy fleet to gather together, for it now rested on the bottom of Pearl Harbor.

The main battle position of the USAFFE, the Abucay-Morong line, was attacked along its eastern flank on 9 January, but the 5th Regimental Combat Team, reinforced by the 57th Infantry of the 21st Division repulsed the attack. On 14 January the Japanese attacked the boundary of the 41st and 51st Divisions. The 43rd Infantry, holding the left lank of the 41st Division, which was reinforced by the 23rd Infantry, 21st Division sharply refused its flank. The 51st Infantry, holding the right flank of the 51st Division, withdrew creating a gap through which the enemy advanced to the Salian River. But a patrol of the 21st division discovered the enemy, and elements of the Division rushed to the Salian River valley where after a savage fight, they repulsed the enemy. Farther to the west the enemy surprised and routed the 53rd Infantry. Penetrating deep behind the main battle position along the Abo-Abo River valley, the enemy advance was held up by combined elements of the 21st Division of the II reserve, the 31st and the 51st Division of the Bani-Guirol forest area.

The American 31st Infantry and the 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, succeeded in partially restoring the abandoned line of the 51st Division.

img_3158On 15 January the Morong sector, defended by the 1st Regular Division, reinforced, came under heavy bombardment. But the line held.

A few days later, the enemy penetrated through a huge gap in the Silangan-Natib area and established a roadblock on the Mauban ridge, thus cutting off the 1st Regular Division from the rear area. Gravely threatened, elements of the 71st and 91st Divisions and the 2nd Regiment repeatedly attacked the roadblock but failed to dislodge the enemy.

Although the II Corps Sector had prevented a similar envelopment in the Salian River battle, the I Corps position was now untenable. The Abucay-Morong tine was abandoned on 24 January. The Orion-Bagac line was established two days later. Again in a desperate attempt to outflank the I Corps, the enemy landed crack units on the west coast of southern Bataan. The aim was to outflank and to isolate the frontline units from headquarters and supplies.

There were three ferocious battles in the I.apiay-Longoskawayan Points area, fought from 23 to 29 January; in Quinawan-Aglaloma Points area, fought from 23 January to 8 February; and Silaiim-Anyasan Points, fought from 27 January to 13 February. Of the 2,000 enemy troops committed to these battles, only 34 wounded soldiers returned to their lines.

On 27 January enemy troops were discovered in the rear of the Orion-Bagac line, the Tuol River valley behind the 11th Regular Division and in the Gogo-Cotar River valley behind the 1st Regular Division. The series of engagements to eliminate these enemy salients became known as the Battle of the Pockets, fought from 27 January through 17 February. Of the 2,000 Japanese troops committed to this battle, only 377 were reported to have escaped.

After the battles of the points, pockets and Trail 2, which were brilliant triumphs of the USAFFE, the enemy withdrew to regroup their forces and to wait for reinforcements.

It’s in these encounters that the image of dashing, daring, but doomed cavalrymen seems to have captured the imagination of soldiers and civilians alike.

Captain John Wheeler leading the Machine Gun Troop of the 26th Cavalry Regiment(PS)(Horse) just prior to the Japanese invasion. From the cover of the March/April, 1943 issue of "The Cavalry Journal," published online in the Philippine Scouts Heritage Society website.
Captain John Wheeler leading the Machine Gun Troop of the 26th Cavalry Regiment(PS)(Horse) just prior to the Japanese invasion. From the cover of the March/April, 1943 issue of “The Cavalry Journal,” published online in the Philippine Scouts Heritage Society website.

On December 30, 1941, a young lieutenant in the intelligence unit of USAFFE, Felipe Buencamino III, wrote in his diary,

Heard the 26th cavalry was annihilated in Pozzorubio. They charged against tanks and artillery. An eye witness claims he saw “headless riders charging onward.” Another said that some members of said unit “jumped at tanks, pried open their turrets and hurled grenades.” MacArthur awarded DSC’s to members of this brave unit. Most decorations were posthumous.

Buencamino III at the time he wrote his diary entry was in Fort McKinley (today’s Fort Bonifacio) and not in touch with his family; he would soon join the USAFFE withdrawal to Bataan.

An American, Captain Dr. Albert Brown, wrote in his diary (the excerpt can be found in this interesting page in the Tragedy of Bataan site) on December 30, 1941:

December 30, 1941 23rd Day of War.
The 26th Cavalry of the Philippine Scouts really distinguished themselves. A Lieutenant made the mistake of lighting a cigarette early one morning. An ambushed machine gunner yelled that was the wrong thing to do and they were riddled by the Japanese, losing about 500 hundred mounts, eight officers, and many unlisted men. They were covering the flank. The Philippine Army retreated and left them cut off. They had to take to the mountains around Lingayen and get reorganized.

News, apparently, traveled fast if Buencamino III and Brown in the field, and Felipe Buencamino III’s father, Victor Buencamino,in already-Japanese-occuppied Manila, also heard the story. writing in his diary on January 9, 1942, something similar:

Talked to an officer whose troops were cut off from the main body of the USAFFE retreating to Bataan. He said the MacArthur strategy in the north was to delay the Japanese advance as much as possible. He recounted the charge of the 26th cavalry. “I saw those Filipino scouts charging armored units, riding on, on, on, matching flesh with tanks. I saw headless riders. . .” I did not make him go on.

The pressure on Filipino and American troops proved to be tremendous. There is January 16, 1942 when, in the vicinity of Morong, 27 members of G Troop of the U.S. Army’s 26th Cavalry Regiment (Philippine Scouts) surprised and charged a Japanese infantry unit– the last cavalry charge of the US Army.

You can detect in the official and personal accounts of the military above, that there was resentment on the part of the Americans towards the Filipinos. Filipinos for their part, were aware of this and both puzzled and indignant about what seemed to be a slur on national valor.

img_3156

There is a story told by General Basilio Valdes to Francis Burton Harrison on June 12, 1942, about this battle in Morong, Bataan:

Valdes: “After the battle of Morong (in Bataan), General Segundo said, we had to withdraw and with us were cavalry from Stotsenburg who had lost their horses in the battle. The next day we retook Morong; so we searched the forest for those horses. We met a man in Filipino uniform who spoke perfect English; he said he knew where the horses were and led us up a trail. But he led our two officers, a major and a lieutenant up to a machine gun nest–thereupon the guide (Jap) threw himself on the ground. Our lieut. was killed, the officer in command of the machine gun, and the others fled. Then the major killed the false guide. The Japanese were always after Filipino uniforms.”

Those feelings are more fully described in the entry The debate on taking the Philippines out of the war: January 28 to February 12, 1942 on developments at the front, particularly the Japanese offensive in late January, 1942, and how Filipino officers and leaders felt about what was taking place.

But there remains this postscript to the last engagements and charge of the cavalry. Old, decimated, units were recombined, as Ramon Alcaraz reports in his diary on February 21, 1942:

Finally, a composite unit from the PC, 26th Cavalry, 71st Div, PAAC and even Ateneo ROTC Volunteers annihilated the remaining enemy forces at Silaim-Anyasan Pts. thus ending the so-called Battle of the Points in West Bataan two days ago. And so, Alas and Alackay, I can now say “All’s Quiet in All Bataan Fronts.” Have not seen any enemy plane whole day.

And as for the cavalry’s horses, on March 10, 1942, Felipe Buencamino III would write in his diary,

Life is getting harder and harder. Morning ration reduced to one handful of ‘lugao’.

Sometimes carabao meat is given. It is made into ‘tapa’ so that the rest can be preserved for some other day.

The mess officer told me that very soon we will have horse-meat for viand. The QM will slaughter the remaining horses of the 26th cavalry. I don’t think I can eat those brave horses.

Still, the fight would go on. Even after General Wainwright, under duress, ordered the surrender of all USFIP forces in the Philippines, there were officers and men, Filipinos and Americans alike, who continued to resist.

Writing on May 15, 1942, Ramon Alcaraz mentions Ramsey:

Ramsey, in a photo from his official website, visiting the memorial marker to the 26th Cavalry in Clark Field, Pampanga.
Ramsey, in a photo from his official website, visiting the memorial marker to the 26th Cavalry in Clark Field, Pampanga.

I remember the Commando Unit smuggled into Zambales on the night of March 11, by Q-113 of Lt. Santiago C. Nuval with instructions from USAFFE HQ to start guerrilla organization and operation that early. When I told this to the Judge, he said that is perhaps the guerrilla unit under a certain Col. Thorpe operating from Mt. Pinatubo and some of his officers are former Cavalry Officers from Ft. Stotsenberg that managed to escape from Bataan Death March such as Lts. Ed Ramsey and Joe Barker. They were joined by Filipino volunteers from Zambales willing to continue fighting the Japanese.

But the era of the cavalry had come to an end. A simple marker stands as its monument.


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.


Jan. 10, 1945

Rather quiet day with moderate air activity – thus all personnel in and out of buildings due to frequent ringing of bell. Conference with Col. Vanderboget and Col. J.S. Craig concerning Franz Weisblatt, supposedly a U.P. correspondent. He is a trouble maker talks too much, is always taking down information and witnesses names etc. However, he has caused no great trouble here since I took over before he went to Ft. McKinley or since returning. He did cause trouble out there and Capt Shaw wishes him committed for mental observation. I am having him transferred to another ward for another chance as I do not believe he is psychopatic but simply ordinary. He does have paranoia trends in that he thinks someone has it in for him. Talked with Sgt. friend tonight.


Jan. 9, 1945

There have been stealing, thieving etc. since the return of McKinley group – something we had almost forgotten about. Capt. Jack Comstock M.C. appointed investigating officer has handled several. A tobacco issue of 1/6
of a pack per man was held up on several, the same with a salt issue.

Death this morning of Miller, Lawrence F. Cpl. 60 C.A. due to beri-beri with cardiac – complications – proved by autopsy.

This case and the one yesterday were not hurried at Del Norte. We received permission to bury them here and have started a new cemetery at the north end of the inner compound just west of the gate.

A. R. slight this A.M. Mr. Kuhoda came in and okayed the burials. This afternoon I gave him five new books from the personal packages for censorship.

Deaths this afternoon of Longbecker, Norbert E. Pvt. U.S.A., of bacillary dysentery, beriberi, malnutrition proved by autopsy and interned in Bilibid [Had to issue an order to keep patients from strafing garbage from Japanese mess designated for pigs. We lose much face.]


December 16, 1944

I went biking yesterday to see the effect of the bombing yesterday and to hear the comments of the people.

Streets were empty. Traffic was paralyzed. Army trucks and cars moved around with camouflage nets. Many sentries posted in street corners.

42 civilians were wounded in Parañaque. Saw them in corridors of the P.G. Hospital. Most of them were hit by Jap A.A. shells which fell short.

Raid yesterday was non-stop –from morning to afternoon. I saw fires burning in the direction of Grace Park and Nichols and Murphy and McKinley.

People from San Juan say that a low-flying plane strafed a Jap truck crossing the bridge killing 4 persons. Consensus of opinion is that much damage was done to military installation.

Last night, conversation was on probability of landings. Some believe Americans have landed already somewhere in Luzon.

Heard three big explosions last night –one at 2 o’clock also.

Raid again.

N.B.

Vic and Neneng wounded. A Jap shell landed near the house. Yesterday 3 exploded but no one was injured.


November 30, 1944

Last night about 8:15 three men were seen to crawl under Bldg. #13 by a corps man. Captain Wallace (OD), Captain Bruce and Nasr and myself, investigated and put guards on #13, held emergency tenko and Col Trapnell and Captain Wallace went under the Bldg. A civilian named Gray was missing on the count. Col Trapnell and Captain Wallace found a bucket and many duck feathers and duck heads under the Bldg. Six ducks from the Japanese duck pond have been missing the last two days.

Examination this morning forced a showdown with Gray and he admitted to taking three ducks on the 28th, and three more the 25th or 26th and “quaning” them an Wd #17. I admitted him to Wd #17 until disposition of
the case. The Japanese sentries permitted the search, and Mr. Kuboda came up last night, so I notified him this morning and am waiting for further instructions.

Conference with-Captain Nogi yesterday and he took up the “plan” which I had submitted as to how long the present supply of drugs would last the 761 patients at Bilibid, Cabanatuan and Ft McKinley. Also he wished to know total number of RC boxes necessary to box all medicines from all sources in Bilibid. This report is out this date.

Request for X’mas carols and mass preparatory to X’mas sent in today. 118 individual mosquito nets issued – 51 for wards, other “sabis”.

Had a staff meeting and party at 8:00 PM in honor of the day. Everyone well pleased with dinner. – lugao with corn, mongo beans stew, gabi and camote pudding flavored with eugenol.

Sgt Perkins and Pvt Laudin admitted from Ft Drum via Ft Mills with beri-beri and malnutrition.They report bay shows over 45 hulls but no active ships.

Working on duck case still. Monthly sanitary report is being framed.  Captain Brennon, SLQ, with dengue. Major Houghton and Lt Barrett, USN, to relieve him pro temp. on Wd #3. Late this afternoon called to Japanese office where S Sgt Sato stated that Lt Oyogi(QM) wanted 25 khaki shirts, 25 pistol belts, and 20 field caps immediately. After some dickering, he gave me 20 short sleeved P.A. shirts for bargaining and promised rice or
tobacco or other produce soon. All was procured by 6:00 PM. Had a talk in quarters in the evening by a Captain telling of all the gifts, citations. etc. which we are suppose to receive.


November 24, 1944

Over 4000 letters are being censored and 1000 were distributed today. I received one of June 16, 1944, indicating my uncle’s death.

Captain Nogi came in and wanted a microscope, 6 bed pans and 6 urinals for McKinley. He also wanted 5 scalpels but changed his mind on the latter. He agreed to allow superflous equipment for exchange between Bilibid and Cabanatuan.

Emergency tenko at 7:15 PM when alarm bell went off but apparently due to a cat on the wires.


November 23, 1944

Front of stoves caved in this morning. This was inevitable and have spoken to Japanese about 3 times. They report that they have no cement but will try to bring in a couple of truck-loads of clay with which we can rebuild stoves.

Death last night, Robert N. Null, S Sgt USMC, ante mortem diagnosis – lymphoblastoms (a biopsy of a node sent to Phil. Gen last week). Post-mortem diag-Questionable carc.-head of pancreas. Burial was at Del Monte Cemetery, Chaplain Taylor officiating. The body was taken out by push-cart.

No patients fran Cabanatuan altho the group on the 20th implied more would come today schedules for Ft. McKinley. I regret that they didn’t since they might have brought some more cassava. We have had the latter fried the last two days which is a substantial adjunct to a deficient diet but are now out again.


November 22, 1944

Still on alert. Bldg. #18 personnel moved to Bldg. #11 this morning by Japanese order as they are moving Japanese personnel in #18 and requested 70 wooden beds. Move consumated with minimum of disturbance.

Conference with Captain Nogi who wishes a plan showing how long present supply of medicine will last based on patient census of october 31/44 for all patients in Bilibid and at Cabanatuan, and McKinley with a break-down according to disease classification as of that date.

23 mattresses given to field officers in Bldg. #1. There are 52 Lt Cols there, and over a hundred total. All clear at 2:30 PM.