Halleluyah, we are spending our first Christmas in two years quietly and frugally as dictated by the time. Last night we heard midnight mass by Belgian Fr. Lambrecht at Bayombong Church overflowing. Today, with the economy going from bad to worst, at least we have a semblance of Xmas minus the usual gifts. Even prime commodities are getting scarcer and expensive as the Japanese occupation forces are living on the land, none coming from Japan or abroad. They get priority on supply of foodstuff and other prime commodities.
As I looked back, Christmas 1941 did not exist for us USAFFE members who were on the run then. The alert orders for the Q-Boats to proceed to Lingayen was changed Dec 24,1941 to escort SS Mayon in evacuating the seat of government led by Pres. M. Quezon and High Commissioner F. Sayre from Manila to Corregidor. Gen. MacArthur declared Manila an Open City with USAFFE HQ and USN 16th Naval District also transferring to Corregidor. The Japanese forces had landed in Lingayen Gulf and Lamon Bay three days ago and War Plan Orange was ordered, that all troops retreat to Bataan. The US Asiatic Fleet abandoned us leaving our naval defense to nine Motor Torpedo Boats (3 Phil Q-Boats and 6 US PT Boats). Our Q-Boats were occupied with the transfer of seat of gov’t for a week. Christmas 1941 went unnoticed. At least we have Christmas 1942 and hope we will celebrate a better Christmas 1943. We can only hope and pray for better days to come.
Today I checked out from Bayombong Hotel and transferred as a boarder with Mrs. Maria Reyes who operates a Restaurant adjacent to BC Compound. The Reyes Bldg. is a large two storey one with the Restaurant on the first floor and the second floor a Clubhouse with three rooms for rent. Mrs. Reyes hails from N. Ecija, I love her Tagalog food and her place is very near my office. The Clubhouse serves as the HQ of the Lions Club and rentable for social affairs.
Last night, I was invited by Belgian Fr. Lambrecht for dinner at his Parish residence.. As mentioned before, after he learned I am a USAFFE O. who saw action in Bataan, he manifested his hatred on the Japanese due to their cruelty. After dinner, he showed me his hidden short wave radio and listened to a news broadcast from a station in San Francisco that narrated gains of the Marines and the US Navy in Solomons area. The Allies are also reported gaining in the African Front. At one point, Gen. MacArthur’s HQ adviced the Guerrillas in the Phil. to lay low and just concentrate on training and on gathering of intelligence info. This is no time for combat due to lack of firearms and ammo which can not be supplied yet, it added. Possession of short wave radios are prohibited by the Japanese as they do not want the people to know foreign news. Those with short wave radios are risking their lives.
This morning, I made a courtesy call on the N. Vizcaya Kempei-tai Chief, Lt. Kumatsusaki at his office. I was warmly received knowing we are expected to work together on peace and order. When I asked him if he knew Maj. Suguiyama and Lt. Fukushima, he said he worked with both of them before specially Fukushima. Our rapport became better after I said Lt. Fukushima is my friend. I then asked him what problems we have on peace and order and he said since the capture of Col. Nakar ’32 in Isabela, head of the Grla. Gp. operating in Cagayan Valley, and the death of Capt. Agustin Prudenciado ’33, peace and order have improved as the Grlas. have disbanded. However, he mentioned remnants under certain Lts. Quines, Dumlao, Dela Cruz, and Navarro probably under Major Enriquez in his list. He also mentioned three American officers namely Cols. Moses & Noble as well as Capt. Ralph Praeger with another group in his wanted list. I said I am new in the area and don’t know anything but appreciated all the info he gave me. I assured him of my cooperation for the sake of peace and order for our people, with the hope that we can work together closely by exchanging information. Finally, when I asked Lt. Kumatsusaki who is the overall boss of the Kempei-tai to whom he reports, he said he is Col. Akiro Nagahama whose HQ is in Manila.
I noted that the Kempei-tai office in Bayombong has only three uniformed military and the five others I met were civilian Japanese men who probably lived in the Phil. before as they can speak Ilocano and Tagalog. They were all formally introduced to me by Lt. Kumatsusaki.
Nov. 7 is a Saturday and I formally took command of 1st N. Vizcaya BC Co. from 5″ Cl. Insp. M. Alvarez. I conducted Saturday Inspection of the Co. and took my lunch at the Company Mess with the EM. After lunch, I gave a few remarks regarding services for our people during our present trying time. Our BC Company occupies the former St. Mary’s High School with spacious buildings and parade grounds.
I am still staying in Bayombong Hotel but am looking for a house to rent. Today, being a Sunday, I went to Church to thank my Divinor for All His Blessings and Guidance in being safe here. After Mass, I met the Parish Priest Fr. Lambrecht, a Belgian who is outspokenly pro-American after learning I am a USAFFE Officer who saw action in Bataan and was a POW.