February 21-23, 1943

Shoreham Hotel.

Summary of events here during my two weeks of absence:

The letter Quezon was drafting when I left, in which he asked the President’s support for a joint resolution of Congress declaring the Philippines “are and of right ought to be free and independent” was never sent. Instead he saw the President just back from his trip to the Casablanca Conference. Result was that the State Department sent him a memorandum that the appointment of Quezon to the Pacific War Council and his being asked to sign the United Nations Declaration was the equivalent of recognition by the American President of the Philippines as an independent nation. Obviously, they decided that the proposed Congressional joint resolution would be ridiculed by the Japanese when they were in occupation of the Islands. Legally the President has no power to free the Islands while they are still–nominally, at least,–a possession of the United States. But Quezon seems to be satisfied with the decision. (At least, it is a suspension of the constitution of the Commonwealth, and as such, leaves Quezon in command as head of that State until further constitutional action is taken, and thus averts the succession of Osmena to the Presidency of the Commonwealth on November 15th next. This, I believe, the President of the United States has a legal right to do).

Quezon’s radio address given out by the Office of War Information on February 20th, dealing with the announcement of this decision, was really excellent.

In part he said:

“Assuming that tomorrow Japan was to declare the Philippines an independent nation, what would that mean? It would merely mean that the Philippines would be another ‘Manchukuo’–a government without rights, without powers, without authority. A government charged only with the duty to obey the dictates of the Japanese rulers. After the tragic end of Korea’s independence, in utter disregard of a solemn pledge to respect it, it would be worse than folly to rely on any promise by the Japanese Government. . . . President Roosevelt has, in effect, already given the Philippines recognition as an independent nation. On my arrival in Washington, he rendered me honours due only to the heads of independent governments. . . . He has recognized our right to take part in the Pacific War Council, with Great Britain, China, the Netherlands and the self-governing Dominions of Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The President of the United States himself presides over the Council table. . . . In the name of the Philippines, I am a signatory to the Atlantic Charter. We are one of the United Nations. Our independence is already a reality. . . .”

This was broadcast using short wave facilities of the Office of War Information for the Philippines and other parts of the world.

Quezon asked me to read over the papers in the proposed contract to film his book, which Warner Bros’ offer–Morgan Shuster advises him to get a “radio lawyer” to protect his interests, and points out that the form of contract only guarantees that the “basic story” shall be under his control; that it would thus be possible for the movie company to present Quezon’s personality and his life story in a manner derogatory to his dignity. Probably Shuster’s anxiety is well founded; no doubt he welcomes a prospect of getting Quezon to finish his book, but his first concern is to protect him.

Quezon’s comment to me was: “How could I sign the contract when I haven’t finished my book?” I told him Shuster could finish the small remaining part for him. He said: “No–I’ll do it myself.”

Quezon had accepted an invitation to speak on March 19th before the National Republican Club of New York. Now he proposes to go away to “California” for the purpose of “protecting his health”–he would thus break the engagement. I try to persuade him at all costs to keep this date–in view of the growing power of the Republican party, he could not afford for the sake of his country and of himself to break it. He should go there and try to capture the good will of those important men as he did that of the Maryland Bar Association. He seems firmly of the opinion that he can go away on a vacation–is this a result of, or possibly influenced by, his recent conversation with President Roosevelt?

Quezon showed me a letter he was drafting to MacArthur about the management of the guerrilla campaign in the Philippines which is charge of Lt. Col. Peralta. Quezon resented the General’s trying to appoint civilian, as well as military officials–such as Confesor as Governor of Iloilo. Tells MacArthur that the young flying hero Villamor is on his way out there, and should be entrusted with such affairs. That we must be careful not to treat those Filipinos who are co-operating with the Japanese as if they were traitors–that attitude might really make them so. Says that some of those who had entered the enemy’s service helped these two young American officers to get through the Japanese lines and escape in August. The guerrilla depredations on Filipinos living in the towns in the north must be stopped. Many of those who have accepted military service with the Japanese will later use the rifles given them now against the Japanese when we return. Laments the fate of Manuel Roxas in falling into the hands of the Japanese. If they have murdered him for refusal to accept free the Presidency (he refused three times) he adds “I do not know how many generations it will take for our race to produce another Manuel Roxas.” Recommends that Roxas be made a Major General by MacArthur. Says that “Chick” Parsons is the best man to keep the Filipinos in line–he is now on his way back there.

At luncheon Quezon told us he had just received a call from M. Willoquet, French Consul to Manila, who left there last June. He said the Japanese were trying to marry George Vargas’ daughter to one of their army officers.

More about Manuel Roxas. Quezon forbids Bernstein to make public the fact that Roxas is in the hands of the Japanese. If still alive he is being pressed by the Japanese to accept the presidency. To stir up news about him might only result in his death. If he had accepted their invitation to become President of an “independent” Philippines (under the Japanese) this might even now be an accomplished fact. If he persists in his refusal, “he has only done what I wanted him to do–show the Japanese we would have none of them.” Roxas was taken out in an airplane from Mindanao in November; nobody knows where he is now–probably in Fort Santiago. The Japanese have been rounding up schoolteachers who were not conforme and putting them in Fort Santiago, just as the Spanish did–they probably shoot them there.

Quezon announced that Isauro Gabaldon has just died, 74 years of age, and “ten years older than he ever let Sergio and me know–we never understood how his wife (a Tinio) could be so much older than he was.” Upon the death of Tinio, Gabaldon became the “boss” of Nueva Ecija–he ruled by popularity, but Tinio had governed by fear. “He (Gabaldon) split with me on making further terms with the Americans, short of independence, which he thought was guaranteed by the Jones Bill. I had to defeat him first for the Senate and then for the Assembly, but I never attacked him personally, and when I became President of the Commonwealth I went to him and made friends again. The Japanese broadcast his obituary as “one of the most distinguished of the Filipinos.”

Consul Willoquet, who was French Consul at Manila, and was put in prison by the Japanese for being a Gaulliste, was released on threats by de Gaulle of reprisals on the 4,000 Japanese, who are prisoners in North Africa. He says that whereas Vargas could get no favours from the Japanese such as release of a prisoner, it is evident that Aguinaldo is really “sold” to them.

Vargas’ recent speech of February, advising all guerrillas to surrender and come into camp, since they were only delaying the granting of independence, reminds Quezon and Osmeña of similar appeals made by Pardo de Tavera to the insurrectos in 1900, “when I was one of them.”

Willoquet, who saw de Gaulle in London, says the Free French are planning independence for Indo-China.

Office of War Information reports a Japanese broadcast from Manila calling a convention there of all provincial and municipal officials to be addressed first by Vargas and next by the Japanese spokesman. A three point programme: (1) Independence at earliest possible moment. (2) Economic rehabilitation. (3) “Cultural Questions”–such as cutting off completely from the previous regime.

Long discussion on India with Quezon, (Osmeña and Bernstein present). Quezon is considered an authority on this subject. P.M. says he is the man to send there to settle it all. Quezon thinks the Cripps Mission brought about some sort of an agreement with the Indian nationalists, but the Viceroy (Linlithgow) and General Wavell took no part in the discussions. “If Gandhi dies, we may expect a wide-scale revolt.” Quezon thinks the loss of India would finish off for good the whites in the Far East and destroy hope of restitution of the Philippines. That China will then be forces to submit to Japan, since she will be shut off for good. The question is: will the Indian army stand by the English?

It is understood that Roosevelt reads only the New York Times in the morning and P.M. in the afternoon.


February 15, 1943

It is a pleasant surprise for Col. Alfredo Ramirez ’14, Spanish Aviator Capt. Juan Calvo and Don Juan Elizalde to visit me this morning at my BC office in Bayombong and when my Sr. Inspector, Sergio Laurente ’21, saw Col. Ramirez, he was doubly surprised because I learned Laurente was once a junior officer of Ramirez. My visitors are my associates in the 14th Inf. Grlas. under Col. M. P. Enriquez ’34 but Insp. Laurente was unaware of it. I only told him they are my old friends.

Capt. Calvo briefed us on the latest scuttlebutts –prime commodities like rice getting scarser and expensive in Manila because the enemy is living on the fat of the land, the good news in the European, African and Southwest Pacific Fronts. On the African Front, Allied Forces under LtGen. Eisenhower, have established firmly there with Gen. Rommel on the run. Even the Germans that occupied Stalingrad had surrendered to the Russians. And the Japanese had quit on the Solomons. The best news is about the arrival of Major Jesus Villamor via Submarine in Negros from SWPA HQ Australia to contact guerilla units in the Visayas. It seems the tide is now turning in our favor.


July 11, 1942

Today is a happy-sad day for me. After going around Camp O’Donnell the past three days, I finally found PMA classmates Bart Cabangbang, Tom Tirona I used to chat with in Corregidor and Dodong Caballero, Joe and Rey Mendoza of the Bataan group that made me happy. However, I learned from them that my dear friend and former roommate (and soulmate), Washington Sagun had died last May 16. This made me so sad as we bonded like brothers when we were roommates and I want the whole world to know the great legacies he left at PMA. A talented artist, during the early days of our plebe year, he was tasked into designing the original PMA cadet uniforms, insignias, diplomas, class rings, and other graphics like that of the “Corps” and “Sword”. He was one of the two starmen of our class for four straight years and graduated No. 2 but I still believe he should have been No 1. He left his belongings (class ring, cash, effects) to our classmate, H. B. Tuazon after he died.

As CO of a unit of the 31st Engineers, he dynamited Calumpit bridge after the last USAFFE unit from the south had crossed it last Jan 1. He saw gallant action in Bataan front lines with the 31st Div. Our nation lost an outstanding officer with great potential when he died. I consider it a great privilege to have been his roommate at PMA for two years.

According to Cavs Tirona and Cabangbang, it was also reported two other classmates, Alberto Aranzaso and Damian Pavon have died even earlier than Sagun. Before the surrender of Corregidor, Aranzaso and Pavon tried to convince them to escape from Corregidor to Cavite by small boat. They took separate boats that later capsized and sunk. Cav Aranzaso was a heroic P-26 pilot that challenged the Jap Zeros with Capt. Jesus Villamor last Dec. 10 and together, were the first recipients of Silver Stars personally awarded by Gen. MacArthur. Cav. Pavon was a 3-year starman qualified to be with the CE but chose to be with PAAC. He is another officer with great potential lost at a very young age 26. Aranzaso was 25 and Sagun 27 when they passed away. A sad day for me, indeed.


March 27, 1942 – Friday

When we landed in Batchelor’s Field some Australian Air Force officers met us and took us in two dilapidated cars to their camp where we were given facilities to wash and then they served breakfast, not very good but it was welcome. Before breakfast we all prayed and thanked God for the safe trip and then we received Holy Communion from Father Ortiz. An American officer who introduced himself as Captain Godman told us that he had been a classmate of Captain Villamor at Kelly Field said he had been sent by General MacArthur to coordinate the trip in Australia. The President did not want to fly anymore, but when he was made to understand that there was no other way of transportation except a five day trip by truck he consented to continue. At 9:15 a.m. we took off, on a Douglas ten seater — a regular passenger plane –for Alice Springs an oasis in the middle of the Australian desert. The President asked me to sit next to him. After half an hour he said: “I believe we are too high because I feel I need oxygen.” “No Sir”, I answered, “we must be only at five thousand feet because I can easily count the trees on the ground.” He did not like my answer. Shortly after he told me to go to another seat so that I could sleep. Sometime later he sent Dr. Trepp to see the pilot and I noticed that we were then flying at a much lower altitude. As I expected it soon became very bumpy due to the heat from the desert. The President did not like it and sent Dr. Trepp back to the pilot to ask him to fly higher. The trip was very monotonous as we flew five hours over the desert. What desolation. As we flew over that immense territory I thought of how valuable that land could be if it had a system of irrigation. The water however would have to be brought from at least one thousand five hundred miles away. We landed at Alice Springs a town in the middle of the desert at 2:30 p.m. Before we landed we were already warned that the problem of flies there was a serious one, but we could not realize it until we landed. The soldiers on duty there use green fly nets over their hats and tied around the necks. As we came out of the plane our face and garments were full of flies small but sticky. We left that horrible landing field and proceeded to the town ten miles away where we spent the night in a small dirty hotel. As time passed we began to worry because the plane in which the Vice President & Major Soriano had flown had not arrived. We did not know what to do, and hoped that they were safe. The President transferred to the house of the priest and his family to a girls convent.


February 7, 1942

I was at Corregidor Wharf to welcome M/S Kolambugan that arrived 0730 today from another “smuggling trip to Looc Cove” similar to what we did a week ago. This time Q-111 is the escort with Capt. Navarette CO & Sqdn. Comdr. and Capt. Panopio with the Kolambugan, a confident veteran now.  After our successful “smuggling opn” a week ago, USAFFE Hq adopted the SOP I established specially the coastal zigzag route. The indefatigable Maj. Rueda was able to procure another 3,000 tons of rice and 200 heads of cattle for USAFFE Hq to risk another attempt. I briefed Capt. Navarette and Cap Panopio on the SOP and the trip is successful. There is another “garapon” of pancit molo for the President from Rueda so I accompanied Navarrete to deliver it as he did not know the Quezon Lateral.

I was surprised to see the president very sick, constantly coughing still upset no reinforcements are coming. However, his eyes brightened when I gave him the flag of his sunken “Casiana” retrieved by my Gunner Sgt. Figuracion. Considering the 100,000 people in Bataan we have to feed which includes 20,000 civilian evacuees, the foodstuff smuggled by Kolambugan twice is just a drop in the bucket but it helps postpone the half rationing schedule being planned. Meanwhile, fighting continuous in the Battle of the Points behind the II Corps of Gen Wainwright with the enemy slowly being decimated every passing day.

On my way back to Q-112 at the wharf, I encountered my classmates Lts. Bartolome Cabangbang, Tomas Tirona, Damian Pavon and Alberto Aranzaso all PAAC pilots now without planes assigned to the AA Batteries in Corregidor. Aranzaso is one of our early heroes with Capt. Villamor shooting down enemy planes. It was a happy brief mini-reunion.  I felicitated them for their accomplishments as well as their comrades with the PAAC Inf Bn under Capt. Pelagio Cruz, my provincemate, that fought and defeated the enemy that landed behind our MLR  in the battle of Aglaloma Pt. The Voice of Freedom announced the heroism of this Bn as a Unit and cited the following officers awarded the Silver Stars (SS) for gallantry in action at Aglaloma: Capts. Pelagio Cruz; Eustacio Orobia; Pedro Q. Molina (Quezon’s nephew); and my Mistah Lt. Victor Osias. With the 5 SS earned by PAAC last Dec, they now have a total of 9 SS according to my book.

Amazing planeless PAAC, they still manage to earn SS as foot soldiers to show the world how versatile the USAFFE men are fighting in the jungles of Bataan that included young boys of a tender age like those Ateneo ROTC Volunteers very loyal to their Commandant, Capt. Eugenio G. Lara ’38. News report states that the Japanese are poised to land in Singapore which is supposed to be impregnable and defended by the British Forces.


January 7, 1942

51st division C.P.

Bataan

 

Japs are in Manila now, according to KZRH. I wonder how the family is. Seat of government has been transferred to Corregidor.

Jap successes in Luzon theater have been made possible by crippling of our airforce in first raids on Clark, Nichols, and Zablan. Many bombers were grounded. Right now, there are only seven fighters here in Bataan. Gen. Brereton, chief of airforce, has left for Australia. New air chief is Gen. George.

Saw hundred of men working on airfields in Cabcaben and Mariveles. Tractors were leveling ground. Giant cranes were roaring whole day. Labor crews were hastily building caves in mountain sides to serve as hangars for planes.

Meanwhile Japs dropped dozens of bombs in Cabcaben and Mariveles aerodromes. Huge craters made in middle of fields. As soon as Japs disappeared, men hurriedly covered bomb-holes and leveled ground with rollers.

Saw Jess Villamor and G. Juliano in quartermaster dump near Lamao field. Both fellows have been awarded Distinguished Flying Crosses for dogfights with Japs. Villamor was requisitioning for some uniforms. He had only two. They said they had no more planes and were waiting for shipments from Australia. I think the quartermaster chief denied their requisition, poor fellows. Found out Juliano is a cousin of mine. He said his dad and mine are cousins.

On my way back to our C.P., I had my sergeant sit on the engine so he can watch the sky for planes. It was a good precaution because two or three times, Jap fighters strafed the road. A truck ahead of us was hit by three bullets but the driver was uninjured.

Went to Gen. MacBride’s headquarters to arrange for a launch to bring the general to Corregidor. Col. Willoughby, MacArthur’s G-2, said the general’s presence was required in the Rock on the 8th. While I was in MacBride’s command post, AA shrapnel started raining near the Signal Corps tent. Nobody was injured. Everybody remained calm. Had a little discussion with a nasty American lieutenant while I was waiting for Major Raymond, MacBride’s assistant G-2. The lieutenant told me to stand at attention when in his presence because I did not notice him when he passed. I told him “To go to He–l”. He said he was sorry and explained that he thought I was “the fresh Filipino sergeant who was here yesterday. You look alike. Sorry.” I replied: “Your apologies accepted. Go to a doctor to get your eyes straightened.” He said: “Tough guy, eh?” I said “Nope, just been around.” “So, smart guy?” “Nope,” I replied, “just my poisonality.” The guy gave me up for hopeless and Major Raymond and Col. A. Fisher arrived. Fisher shook my hand and said: “Here’s a good friend of mine” and he introduced me to everyone. When he was going to introduce me to the nasty mutt, I said: “We’ve met, colonel.”

Missed my dinner because I arrived too late and the stupid mess sergeant didn’t keep anything for me. “I thought,” he explained, “you ate somewhere else already, sir.” I told him that from now one he must always reserve my food when I am not around because people in other divisions don’t offer food for visitors and where does he expect me to eat. The sergeant looked genuinely sorry. I guess I’ve got to stay hungry till tomorrow morning, heck. Missed Mama’s cooking more than ever.

 

(later)

 

Just arrived from lines. Reports received in C.P. that Japs have opened infantry fire. Went to the line. The men were cool and raring to fight. The night was lovely. Plenty of stars. Jap firing was very ineffective. Men asked only one question: “Where is the convoy?” They themselves answered the question with “Oh well, maybe in a week.” Must sleep now. It’s midnight. I’m hungry.


December 30, 1941

I was privileged today, Rizal Day, to witness the oath-taking ceremony, for their 2nd term of Pres. Quezon and VP Osmeña before Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos outside the Corregidor Tunnel entrance. It was a solemn but brave ceremony for only yesterday, Corregidor was bombed by 54 enemy planes for an hour before noon and some of the craters are visible from where we sat. Quezon’s Yacht “Casiana” anchored off North Wharf was a direct hit and sunk but the Philippine flag still flies from her mast above water. I was caught halfway on my way to the Tunnel, jumped to a ditch, endured an hour of bombings with those scary hissing sounds. I was badly shaken by the experience with many killed or wounded in the area where I was.

Quezon made a stirring speech exhorting our people to fight the invaders.

Aside from the Quezon family, the MacArthurs and the Sayres, among those I saw in the ceremony were:  Lt. Col. Andres Soriano, Majors Carlos Romulo & Sid Huff; Capts. Jess Villamor, S. P. Lopez & J. B. Magluyan; Lts. F. Isidoro, L. M. Guerrero, N. Reyes, B. Cabangbang, & A. Aranzaso.

After the ceremony, I ordered my crew to retrive the Phil. flag still flying on the mast of the sunken “Casiana” because Pres. Quezon expressed a desire to have it.  While near the “Casiana” I noticed her auxiliary boat “Baler” under water.  I decided to salvage the boat,  towed it to Lamao and suggested to Capt. Magluyan who was with me to have it fixed to augment the “Danday.”  Magluyan is one of the Lamao Beach Defenders in Bataan under Capt. Jurado, C.,OSP.

Late in the afternoon, I got a copy of directive saying  “effective Jan. 1,1942,the Q-Boats will be under operational control of G-3, USAFFE HQ, Ft. Mills.”


December 17, 1941

The disaster in Pearl Harbor resulted in the silent quick relief of its top commanders. Today without ceremony in his office, Gen. Walter C. Short, USA Hawaiian Departmental Commander read his orders relinquishing command to Maj. Gen. Delos C. Emmons, USAAC.  Likewise, Adm. Husband E. Kimmel USN CinCPAC relinquished his command quietly to VAdm. William Pye USN, as temporary Commander .

In the Philippines, our military commanders knew immediately when Pearl Harbor was bombed and yet some ten hours later when a hundred Japanese bombers escorted by Zero fighters came over Clark Field, all of FEAC B-17 bombers except two, and 90% of its P-40s were destroyed.  It was a tragedy! The only saving grace is PAAC’s 6th Pursuit Squadron of P-26 under Capt. Jesus Villamor whose exploits are becoming legendary.  The remaining two B-17 were moved to Mindanao.

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

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


December 15, 1941

Our Manila Bay Q-Boat Patrols continue, nothing unusual to report –no hits, no runs, no errors, so to speak. Our general situation is “lumalaon bumubuti, sumasama sa dati” as we say in Bulacan.  The Japanese forces gained a foothold in Aparri, Vigan and are expanding them.  For as I see it, the enemy now have superiority in the air and at sea.  Enemy systematic bombings since Dec. 8 have decimated our planes.  Jap planes are virtually unchallenged.  The big ships of the Asatic Fleet are gone, only nine torpedo boats remain to support the USAFFE. However, morale of the people specially the military remain high due to Pres. Quezon and Gen. MacArthur as our leaders.  We have faith in them.  And in America.

Several Air Force personnel made up for our many setbacks. Aside from Capt. Kelley’s bombing a Jap battleship during the Northern Luzon landings that made him our first war hero, our PAAC pilots have their share of accomplishments to be proud of.  Captain Jesus Villamor PAAC Comdr., 6th Pursuit Squadron, is credited with shooting down two enemy planes todate and was cited by Gen. MacArthur.  Lt. Alberto Aranzaso PAAC, also a member of the 6th Pursuit Squadron of Villamor, is also credited with shooting down a Jap plane and was awarded the Silver Star.

Unfortunately, during the enemy strafings of Nichols Field, Lt. Cesar Basa who had just landed his plane and was running for cover was fatally hit in the head.  Lt. Victor Osias who was nearby came to the rescue to no avail.  Lt. Basa died in the arms of Osias. I know Lt. Basa personally during our O’s basketball league rivalry.  He was the star of the PAAC Team while I played for the OSP Team.  Another Atenista, Jose Syjuco played for the ROTC Team.  Lt. Cesar Basa was an Ateneo basketball star before he became a pilot.  He died a star, a hero.