The sinking of the S.S. Corregidor, December 16-17, 1941

The S.S. Corregidor of the Compañia Maritima, which sank on December 16, 1941. Photo from Chad Hill.
The S.S. Corregidor of the Compañia Maritima, which sank on December 16, 1941. Photo from Chad Hill.

On December 16-17, 1941 (around midnight, hence the event straddling two dates), the S.S. Corregidor, an inter-island steamship of the Compañia Maritima, hit a mine off Corregidor Island and sank, resulting in a tremendous loss of life.

Here is a map of the area (click on this link for the original scan).

Detail of sketch of minefields around Corregidor island, provided by Peter Parsons.
Detail of sketch of minefields around Corregidor island, provided by Peter Parsons.

There is a very interesting discussion on the disaster, and the question of whether negligence was involved, and if so, who should be assigned blame, in the The Loss of the S.S. Corregidor thread of Corregidor Then and Now Proboards. Within the thread can be found recollections by George Steiger (an officer in Corregidor), Charles Balaza (serving in an artillery detachment on Corregidor) and others.

Here is a dramatic account by one of the survivors of the sinking of the ship, in the memoirs of Jose E. Romero (Not So Long Ago: A Chronicle of My Life, Times, and Contemporaries, Alemar-Phoenix, Quezon City, 1997 reprint):

The S.S. Corregidor Disaster

WAR HAVING BEEN DECLARED, the next day the National Assembly met at the house of Speaker Yulo to pass legislation giving the President powers to be able to cope with emergency. After that the members of Assembly were concerned with the problem of returning home to their provinces and their families. I was very much chagrined that close friends of mine had been able to take passage on the S.S. Legaspi that was making trips to my hometown, Dumaguete, via Cebu, a trip that took two days, without having difficulty from Japanese boats and planes. I was also chagrined to learn that my good friend, the District Engineer of my province who had come to Manila with me a few days previously, had been able to get out of Manila by way of the Bicol provinces and then made it to Samar and Leyte and back to our home province. A few days later, another boat was scheduled to depart for the South, including my hometown of Dumaguete. Passengers, including myself, were aboard when an hour later we were told to disembark by order of the U.S. Army, probably for fear of enemy action.

Inasmuch as the Japanese had already bombed Clark Field, Camp Nichols, Cavite, and Manila itself, particularly the Intendencia building and the Herald building and Santo Domingo Church, I thought it would be safer, being alone in Manila with my houseboys, for me to live in my office in the Legislative building. (The basement at the Legislative building had been sandbagged and was converted into an air-raid shelter.) I immediately arranged with the late Ramon Fernandez, whose boats were making trips to the Visayas, to advise me whenever any of his boats made a trip for the South, but this he never did. I had also arranged with my good friend, Salvador Araneta, who was then one of the principal owners of the FEATI (Far East Aviation Transport Co., Inc.), which owned the planes making trips between Manila, Iloilo, and Bacolod, to advise me whenever there was a chance to get on one of those planes. I was very much worried because, as already stated, I had come to Manila immediately after the election, and being very confident that in case of emergency I could easily return to my province either by a FEATI plane or by boat, I had not made sufficient provision for the maintenance of my family during my absence. In any event we had used up practically all of our financial resources during the political campaign and I had precisely come to Manila, among other things, to make arrangements to meet my immediate financial problems.

Although Mr. Araneta did his best to try to get an accommodation for me on the plane to the South, the man actually running the affairs of the FEATI was so swamped with demands for passage on his planes that even Mr. Araneta’s recommendation could not help me. One night I received a message from Mr. Araneta advising me that if I would go to Batangas that night, I might be able to get a passage on a plane. (The Manila airfield at Nichols had been bombed and was not safe for takeoff and landing of planes.) This was very difficult because the country was then under blackout orders, it was not safe to travel at night, and there was no certainty that I would get on the plane. It was the last trip that the plane made, so I missed this chance.

One day the member of the Assembly were advised that a special train was being reserved for us to go to Sorsogon. From there we could get launches or sailboats for Samar, Leyte, and our respective provinces in the Visayas. At the appointed day and hour many of us gathered at the Paco Station and we were hardly seated in the car when we were asked to come down because the Japanese had landed in Legaspi. A couple of days later, I saw my colleagues who like me had been living in the Legislative building rushing toward the Compañia Maritima office. One of them shouted to me that the S.S. Corregidor was leaving for the South. I immediately packed up the few things that I had and, together with a cousin of mine and his daughter who were living with me in the Legislative building, hied myself to the Compañia Maritima building. It was chaos there, with hundreds of people trying to get into the building to buy a ticket for the trip. A security guard, gun in hand, was at the door trying to prevent people from going into the building. I explained to him that I had an arrangement with Don Ramon Fernandez to get on the first boat going to the south, but he said that he knew nothing about the arrangement and would not let me in. My cousin, his daughter, and I left the building very disappointed when a little farther on we met Don Ramon’s nephew, Carlos, who today is still active with the shipping company. I explained my situation to him and he asked me whether I was really anxious to go on that trip. When I answered in the affirmative, he personally took me inside the office and helped me get a ticket for myself, my cousin, and his daughter. I also bought a ticket for a fellow townsman who wanted to return home but was without funds. But the danger of the trip was made manifest by our being asked to sign a waiver of any responsibility on the part of the shipping company in case a mishap occurred during the trip.

From the Compañia Maritima office and the Muelle de la Industria, we went to the South Harbor where the S.S. Corregidor was docked. There were hundreds of people and it seemed that there were many who got aboard even without tickets. I was delighted to find aboard Senator Villanueva, his recently married son and daughter, and their household help. He told me that he had been trying to contact me repeatedly the last few days, because he was anxious that we should go home together. In times of emergency like this, personal animosities among relatives are forgotten and the old family ties reassert themselves. I also met Captain Calvo of the boat, who had been a longtime friend of mine, with his pretty young wife that he had just married. He told me that I must be anxious to get back home under such conditions of danger. I told him that if he and his wife, my relatives and other people were willing to take the chance, there was no reason why I should not do the same. The boat was being located with ammunition and other military equipment for the South. I was quite nervous and I was told later that he had not wanted to make that trip. This probably partly explains why he was taking his wife along with him. I was also told later that on previous occasions, while passing the mined sections around Corregidor he had been warned that he was passing too close to the mines.

Probably the trip would not have been as risky as it was surmised. The plan was to land at the first port in the South at daybreak and from there the passengers would take sailboats or other means of transportation to the provinces which were still unoccupied by the Japanese. There were many times more passengers than should ordinarily have been allowed aboard. We stayed aboard for several hours and strict blackout was observed. Senator Villanueva and his family and I and my cousin with his daughter seated ourselves directly in front of a lifeboat as we thought we could quickly get on it in case of emergency. We were all furnished life belts and hundreds of other life belts were strewn around the deck. About midnight the boat started to leave in pitch darkness. I was half-asleep but noticed that light signals were being flashed from what I think was Corregidor Island. I was to learn afterward that the signals were to warn the captain of the boat that he was not on the right track. (The passage between Corregidor and the mainland in Manila Bay had been mined.) All of a sudden there was a dull thud and then an explosion. We had hit a mine. The boat shuddered as if mortally wounded. It did not sink immediately and the group already referred to who were seated near a lifeboat got aboard it.

Before the boat left, as already stated, we had been supplied with life belts. My companions were very prudent in having attached the life belts to their bodies, but I only held mine in my hands. A husky Spaniard had been saying that this was a bad joke we were playing with the life belts, but I told him that it was customary, even in peacetime, to have drill aboard the ships and practice the use of life belts. When we hit the mine this husky man grabbed my life belt, since he had not taken the precaution to provide one for himself. I insisted that the life belt was mine, but he claimed that it was his and proposed that we throw the life belt into the water, confident that later on, if we had to struggle for that life belt, as a much huskier man he would have the advantage. But the man from my province, whom I had helped to get a ticket on that trip and for which ticket I had paid, handed me another life belt. Again it was grabbed by another person. This faithful protege of mine handed me another one and still another one, but each time somebody would grab the life belt away from me. Remembering that I was the only one without a life belt and recalling that hundreds of life belts had been scattered on the deck in the early evening, I went down to the deck to see if I could find another life belt. At this moment, there was a second and more terrible explosion. It seemed that it was the boiler that exploded and the boat immediately sank headlong into the water. We were all drawn by the suction and had the water in those parts been deeper, we could not have returned to the surface.

When the boat reached the bottom and there was no more force of suction, I instinctively swam with all my force toward the surface, and when I reached the surface after what seemed an endless effort to reach it, it seemed this was a second life for me. Right in front of me was a life belt and a piece of board just enough for me to lie down on. If ever there are or were miracles, this certainly was one. I had gone into the water without a life belt and here right in front of me was the board of salvation and a life belt. I did not realize it then, but I had ugly cut in the head which must have been caused when the boat touched the bottom and my head hit something hard. I was too weak to tie on my life belt and it was really the board that saved me. I was too weak from loss of blood, so I only hung on to the board which, as I said, was just sufficient to keep my body afloat. Fortunately, it was as long as my body so that my body covered it almost entirely, otherwise other people who were floating around without support might have tried to grab it from me. I just lay over that board semi-conscious for several hours. Fortunately, the sharks that infest these waters must have been kept away by the explosion and by the oil from the sunken ship. About four hours later. I felt as if there were some bright lights. It was one of the P.T. or so-called mosquito boats that had been sent to rescue the survivors. I looked up and one of the American crewmen threw me a life belt which was tied to a rope that he held. I took hold of the life belt and he pulled me toward the boat. I must have looked like a real mess, covered all over with oil from the boat that sank and with the blood of my head over my face. I just lay there on that boat while we were being taken to Corregidor. It was just beginning to dawn when we docked at the harbor of Corregidor. I will never forget, especially after seeing the callousness and cruelty of the Japanese later, seeing one of the American soldiers who had come to the dock to meet the survivors take particular notice of me, saying, “This man is badly hurt.” He immediately ran up the gangplank, took me in his arms, loaded me into the car that he was driving, and then rushed me like mad to the hospital in Malinta Tunnel. The others who were not so badly hurt were taken to Manila. Only about one-third of some one thousand people that were in the S.S. Corregidor were saved. Senator Villanueva and his son, my cousin and his daughter, as well as two of my colleagues, Representatives Ampig and Reyes of Iloilo and Capiz, respectively, perished in the disaster, as did the wife and children of Representative Dominador Tan. Representative Zaldivar, later Justice of the Supreme Court, survived.

In Corregidor Hospital

At the hospital in Malinta Tunnel, which I revisited later, the wound in my scalp was sewn up by a kind American doctor. Fortunately, the wound was only skin-deep and did not fracture my skull. When a Filipino nurse found out who I was, she made a lot of fuss about it and many people were soon coming to see me. (Much later when I was Secretary of Education, on a visit to Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija, I was fortunate to see her again with her husband.) Two of the young officers who visited me in Corregidor were from my town and province. A medic or medical assistant, an American, took very kind interest in me. (To anticipate my story, when I left Corregidor Hospital ten days after I entered it, I was to wear his civilian clothes as I had none of my own. I gave him my address and after the war when the House of Representatives, of which I was a member, was reconvened, one day an American came to my office and greeted me joyously. When I could not quite remember him, he said, “I was the one who sewed up your head in Corregidor.” It was a happy reunion. He gave me his address in the U.S. to which he was returning and when I was Ambassador to London, I unfailingly sent him a Christmas card. I did not receive any reply from him, but after the third or fourth time I sent him a card, I got a reply explaining that the reason he did not acknowledge my previous cards was that he did not know the address of the Philippine Embassy in London, not realizing that it would have been sufficient for him just to put the Philippine Embassy as address. He told me that he was working somewhere in the Middle East and was doing pretty well financially.)

I developed a slight case of pneumonia, but thanks to the sulfa drugs that had just recently been discovered, this danger to my health was averted.

To return to my story, next to my bed at the hospital was that of Captain Kelly of the United States Navy, a man made famous by a book written in the United States by American escapee during the War, entitled They Were Expendable—a bestseller. Like many Americans in Corregidor, they were still confident that military aid would come from the United State and that the Philippines would be retaken. But this was not to be for more than three years.

During my ten-day stay in Corregidor, from December 17, the day of the sinking of the Corregidor, until December 27 when we were ordered to evacuate to Manila, many prominent officials went to Corregidor. Among those who visited me were the Commanding General of Corregidor and the U.S. High Commissioner, Francis B. Sayre, Vice-President Osmeña and his family, ex-Speaker Roxas, and Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos. President Quezon and his family, however, who also arrived at Corregidor on Christmas Eve, did not visit me. When casually one night I saw him and Mrs. Quezon, he did not even talk to me. I think he was ill and depressed when he saw me with my bandaged head and, perhaps thinking that I was more badly hurt than I really was, he simply was too depressed to talk to me. However, Mrs. Quezon who was seated next to me while we were seeing a movie just outside the entrance to Manila Tunnel during a lull in the bombing by the Japanese, held my hand and gave me words of comfort. From Vice-President Osmeña, I learned for the first time that my relatives by affinity, ex-Senator Villanueva and his son, had not survived the sinking of S.S. Corregidor, although the ex-Senator’s daughter-in-law, who was expecting a baby (and who is still very much alive), and two maids survived.

Christmas Eve was celebrated in Corregidor, and in my condition, away from my family, it was indeed a sad Christmas Eve for me. The singing of Christmas carols by the American and Filipino nurses and other personnel only added poignancy to my depressed spirit. On December 27 an order was received from General Douglas MacArthur for the evacuation of all civilians in Corregidor to Manila, as the Japanese were fast approaching Manila. The medic who took such interest in me suggested that I ask President Quezon to contact General MacArthur and get him to make an exception in my case by allowing me to stay in Corregidor. I contacted Mr. Roxas, who immediately got in touch with President Quezon and who in turn tried to get in touch with General MacArthur. However, General MacArthur was busy directing the withdrawal of USAFFE troops to Bataan and could not be contacted. Mr. Roxas urged me, however, to go to Manila. He said that I could get better medical treatment there and, besides, the boat leaving for Manila might be the last one that could make the trip as, with the arrival of the Japanese, Manila would be isolated from Corregidor. So I decided to leave.

We left again in pitch darkness, as complete blackout was ordered everywhere. I shall not forget another American soldier who took me in his car to the waiting ship and then removed his overcoat and placed it over me. After my experience on the S.S. Corregidor, to travel again in complete darkness could not but inspire fear in me, but we made the trip uneventfully. Upon arrival in the South Harbor, we were placed in a covered truck where it was also very dark. The driver had to stop at every street corner to find his way, and finally I was deposited at the Philippine General Hospital which was then under the direction of my good friend, the late Dr. Augusto Villalon. I was placed under the direct care of Dr. Santos Cuyugan, who was a specialist in wounds and burns. Because of the infection of my wound, it took about three months to heal, although it was only a superficial one

The Philippine Diary Project contains several points of view discussing the S.S. Corregidor disaster. The earliest one appears in an entry in the diary of Teodoro M. Locsin, December 16, 1941:

Today the inter-island vessel Corregidor struck a mine near the mouth of Manila Bay and sank in a few minutes. The ship was packed to the gunwales with passengers leaving the city for the southern islands, thus reintroducing the “Samarra” theme.

The number of people on board was estimated at from 600 to 1,000. The exact number may never be known. Government officials used their influence to make the ship’s agents issue them and their friends tickets. Many went up the gangplanks just before the boat sailed, thinking to get their tickets from the purser afterward, when the boat was out at sea. Each, in one way or another, properly sealed his fate.

Later in the day, I was shown a wire from a man in Iloilo asking a friend in the city to secure a ticket for his mistress on the Corregidor. The war caught the woman in Manila and the man wanted her with him. The friend, I need not say, got the ticket.

Locsin, then a young newsman in the Philippines Free Press, would have been among the first to receive important news. Others got the day after. Fr. Juan Labrador OP, December 17, 1941 mentions how most other people got the news, and details that shocked the public:

At noontime, an “extra” of the dailies announced the great catastrophe of the vessel “Corregidor”. This was the heaviest and fastest of the boats anchored at the river. It set sail the night before without previous notice. Nevertheless, it was teeming with passengers destined for the Visayas. Around midnight, it hit a mine near the island of Corregidor and in three to five minutes it was swallowed up by the black waters of Manila Bay. It cannot be ascertained how many lives were lost. The Compañía Marítima does not have a list of the passengers. Many had filtered in without paying the fare, or mounted aboard with the idea of paying later on. Only 200 passengers were rescued, and the number of those drowned is estimated at 600 to 800.

Among the passengers were assemblymen, students from the South, and well-known families, including the brothers of the Archbishop of Cebu, one of whom was a professor and secretary of the Faculty of Law of the University of Santo Tomas; the other was a member of the Assembly. The assemblyman drowned, but the faculty member of UST was saved after swimming and floating for six hours. Those who were trapped in the cabins—women and children, for the most part—are forever buried in the bosom of the sea. Even among those who were on deck and had time to jump overboard, many were drowned for lack of lifesavers or for their inabiity to resist the current of the waves.

It was the first great tragedy of the war, and God permit that it be the last.

A young officer in the Philippine Coastal Patrol (the fledgling Philippine Navy) wrote about the tragedy as he received the news from colleagues in the US Navy. See Ramon Alcaraz, December 17, 1941:

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.

Five days later, Alcaraz had more information about the tragedy. See Ramon Alcaraz, December 22, 1941:

I also talked with Ens. George Cox, CO PT 41 on duty when S.S. Corregidor sunk five days ago.  He said PT 41 was leading the ill fated ship at the channel but suddenly, all at once, the S.S. Corregidor veered course towards the minefields and his efforts to stop her were to no avail.  There was a loud explosion after hitting a mine, the ship sank so fast virtually all aboard went with her including the ship captain. There were very few survivors.

Events would rapidly overtake the S.S. Corregidor disaster. See December 24-25, 1941 in diaries; The Great Escape of the S.S. Mactan: December 31, 1941Evacuation of the Gold Reserves of the Commonwealth, February 3, 1942The debate on taking the Philippines out of the war: February 6-12, 1942Bataan, 1942: views of a father and his son; Life, death, decisions, during the Japanese Occupation; Diary entries on the Leyte Landing: October, 1944; and The Battle of Manila, Feb. 3-March 3, 1945 for more features on entries in the Philippine Diary Project.

 


Monday, November 27, 1972

The headline of the Daily Express today was “Second Reading Vote Today on Draft of Proposed Constitution.” The subheading is “Charter Reflect Spirit of New Society.”

I had a brief chat with Johnny Remulla and Jun Davide.

“There is no more oppposition in Cavite,” Johnny declared triumphantly. “Governor Bocalan is in the stockade while Senator (Tatang) Montano is out of the country. Tatang Montano was one of those to be arrested on the first day of martial law for smuggling and/or gunrunning.”

That left Johnny, indeed, the virtual ruler of Cavite.

I had thought that today we could start with our interpellations. I was about one of the few more interpellators who could not be accommodated yesterday because we adjourned early. However, when the session started in the morning, Roy Montejo moved that all other interpellations on the draft Constitution be submitted in writing to the Secretariat no later than 5:00 p.m. on November 28 for insertion in the journal.

I whispered to Sed Ordoñez, who was sitting beside me, “They have just killed my interpellation.”

I then dictated my interpellation to my secretary, Olive:

“We have divided the provisions of the new Constitution into those that are meant to be transitory in character and those permanent and enduring. I understand that the transitory provisions are meant to be merely provisional—that is to say, in the interim; that because of extraordinary circumstances certain powers are vested in certain officials. Is this the rationale for the concentration of executive powers which, ordinarily, we would not write among the permanent provisions during normal times?

“The members of the committee have been instrumental in convincing the majority of delegates that a parliamentary system of government is desirable for this country. The transitory provision, according to the draft Constitution, shall effect priority measures for the orderly transition from the presidential to parliamentary system of government. Does this mean that after the transition period, we shall then revert to the parliamentary system?

“If so, why the grant of extraordinary powers to the prime minister after the transition? Should these powers not be effective during the transition period only? Why should all the powers of the presidency be vested in the prime minister during normal times? Why not limit this grant of extraordinary powers during states of emergency? Again, why should veto powers be given the prime minister during normal times?

“As a corollary, there has been a diminution of the powers and responsibilities of the National Assembly under the draft being presented to us. I grant that during periods of emergency the power of Congress or of the Assembly may be greatly weakened, the reason being that these are abnormal times. But why, after normalcy shall have returned, should the National Assembly be allowed to pass only bills of local application? And what can be the justification for the deletion of the traditional immunity from arrest of its members during normal times?

“In the same manner, let us talk about civil rights. In the long history of constitutionalism, the most fundamental problem is that of striking a balance between national security and individual liberty. During normal times, however, democratic politics have tended to give greater weight to the fundamental liberties of citizens—not only of freedom of thought and speech, press, and worship but with all those freedoms that make human life human—the freedom to work and play, the freedom to laugh, the freedom not to be afraid. I find the predilection for being obsessed with national security understandable during abnormal times—during states of emergencies. But should we institutionalize the doctrine of national security and correspondingly diminish our vigorous support of civil liberties in the permanent provisions of the Constitution—after the national emergency shall have been over?

“Finally, we have a thick draft of the Constitution consisting of 92 pages. I find no more than eight pages given to the provisions on the national economy. And yet all of us agree that problems of national economy are among the most compelling problems of our people, and that indeed, the mediocre performance of the economy may put at risk the survival of our fragile democracy.

“What is our grand design for development? Is it not necessary to work for a fundamental restructuring of the world economy and a radical restructuring of social, political and economic institutions internally if we have to achieve development?

“And most important, is not social justice the overarching goal of development with which economic growth and self-reliance must be integrated to enable our people to attain a higher quality of life? Make their lives more human under the stresses and opportunities of growth? In other words, how do we effect radical changes in social structures so as to liberate the poor and the weak in Philippine society from their age-old bondage? What plan do we have for social reconstruction?”

Consummatum est,” I said as we filed out of the session hall at 9:40 p.m. today.

“Consummatum est,” echoed several delegates behind me, among them, Jess Matias and Erning Amatong. “We have just put the last nail in the coffin,” Erning said.

The elevator was getting to be full and I was the last one to enter. I asked quite innocently, “Where are we going?” A voice from behind said, “Very appropriate question—’Where are we going?’—Where else but down?” And still another delegate spoke: “Caesar, why do you ask such a question? Of course we are all bound to go down.”

The delegates were taking in stride the tragedy that has just struck. Filipinos are adept at double talk and the use of humor to hide their wounded feelings. Yet the note of fatalism cannot be hidden from their remarks.

The draft Constitution for the Republic of the Philippines was approved on second reading by a show of hands. Several of us—many from our Independent-Progressive group—abstained or voted “No.” But naturally, it was approved just the same.

But let us review the events of this day of infamy.

The day started with Delegate Yuzon proposing to change the first sentence in the Declaration of Principles to “The Philippines is a social and democratic Republic.” He made a very eloquent plea for acceptance of the amendment, arguing that the present wording, “The Philippines is a republican state,” was too tame to suit the progressive orientation of the new Constitution.

Of course, even the German Basic Law speaks of Germany as a social democratic state.

But responding on behalf of the committee, Ikeng Corpuz contended that the amendment would lead to confusion. The Yuzon amendment was lost, but I went over to Yuzon, anyway, to congratulate him for his progressive views.

The amendment of Naning Kalaw, which expresses the sentiment that those who have less in life should have more in law, was inserted into the records. Actually, President Magsaysay had made this as his slogan in the 1950s, the centerpiece of his social amelioration program. The poor guy did not realize that his legal adviser, Prof. Enrique M. Fernando, had taken the idea from Prof. Thomas Reed Powell of Harvard Law School. Insofar as our countrymen are concerned, this slogan is inextricably linked to Ramon Magsaysay; didn’t I see it inscribed at the Magsaysay Center at Roxas Boulevard?

At about 11:13, while we were still in the midst of amendments, Vic Guzman moved for the previous question on the entire draft of the Constitution.

That was not only foolish; it was sordid. Many delegates were furious.

I do not know what was in the mind of Vic. Of course, none of the amendments would be accepted. Nevertheless, he—along with the majority that completely overwhelmed us—could have manifested a spirit of moderation, of fair play, let alone generosity.

“Worse than the executioner is his valet,” Mirabeau had said during the French Revolution. How appropriately exhibited in our Con-Con!

When we started discussing the Bill of Rights, Sed Ordoñez rose on interpellation. He asked if the Bill of Rights was supposed to be operative. The answer of Tony Tupaz was “Yes.”

But was it not in conflict with the transitory provision?

“No, the Bill of Rights would be effective, subject to the transitory provision,” was the deceptive reply.

Double-talk!

“This is a fundamental matter—that of the civil liberties of citizens,” Sed warned. “We should not gloss this over.”

Tony Tupaz reiterated that the transitory provision would not nullify our civil rights; rather our civil rights would be subject to the transitory provision. Tony did not bat an eyelash as he solemnly affirmed his devotion to individual freedom.

In effect, our rights are guaranteed so long as they are not in conflict with the transitory provision, that is to say, with the decrees of the President. In other words, the President may suspend all our rights because we gave him that power in the transitory provision. Das ist klar (that is clear), my German friends would say.

Ramon Diaz has been around since yesterday. Presumably, he is only here to vote “No.” He had abandoned the Convention more than two months ago, right after we lost on the resolution providing for no reelection for the President. In fact, when I saw him, I said, “Ramoning, it is good to see you around; I mean, it is good to see you personally although it would have been better if I were seeing you elsewhere….”

“Yes,” he said, “it is tragic.”

Lolo Baradi and I exchanged some pleasantries in the hallway. Baradi, until the end, professed loyalty to Marcos. Yet…

“I tell you partner,” he said, “this New Society will fall unless the economy is able to pick up. What about the unemployment situation? I was talking with some of my clients and their attitude is not to move. The President has told the businessmen to cooperate, not just to wait and see—but why will the businessmen move when all they hear from the President are decrees: ‘Do this!’ ‘Do that!’ ‘Don’t do this!’ ‘Don’t do that!'”

I looked at this kindly old man quizzically. Here is a good friend of President Marcos disagreeing with what is happening and yet not being able to express openly his true feelings.

During the meeting with the businessmen, he commented, the President should have taken the opportunity to have some dialogue with them. What the Apo did was a monologue.

“Yes,” Lolo Baradi continued in a whisper, “the country will not prosper until we stop these decrees—’Do this!’ ‘do that!’ ‘don’t do this!’ ‘don’t do that!’ business.”

What a pity that men can have good thoughts but have their lips sealed, I thought.

I kept on waiting to pursue my amendments. I wanted to put on record my amendments on the Bill of Rights. Of course, Naning Kalaw has already presented so many amendments which have been recorded. I wanted to read my amendments on the Bill of Rights into the journal.

At 4:30 p.m., Vic Guzman stood up again and presented his motion to vote on the previous question.

What a terrible pest! Why the mad rush? Why not give everyone a chance to present amendments? Of course, these would all be voted down but nevertheless that was the very least that should be accorded the minority—the vanquished minority—us. The sporting idea of fair play, if not the generosity of the victor, is absent.

I thought of a strategy. I went to Edmundo (Munding) Cea and President Macapagal. I suggested that if we should run out of time, the floor leader, Roy Montejo, should move that all the amendments properly filed and not discussed on the floor should become part of the journal records. They agreed.

Munding was happy enough. But I suggested to him that it would be good to wait until the last moment to say this. In the meantime, we should still continue with our amendments.

President Macapagal was somewhat vigorously suggesting the same thing to Munding. “We should give everyone a chance to present his amendments,” he said.

“The amendments would be refused hut at least everyone should be given a chance,” I added.

Even President Macapagal was finding the proceedings repulsive. “Yes,” Macapagal echoed. “At least give them a chance so that people would not say we have railroaded everything…. Let us be somewhat democratic about this.”

We went through the whole ritual of having one amendment after another presented to the body refused by the committee, and overwhelmingly disapproved or withdrawn by the proponents. Whenever it was an amendment which would be quite difficult, a recess would be called by the committee members—Tony Tupaz, Tony de Guzman, Peps Bengzon, etc.—and then they would talk to the proponents. It was almost unbelievable—the way this would be followed by withdrawals of amendments by the proponents.

I started swapping jokes with my neighbors, “Madali palang magpa-withdraw.”

“How?”

“Two words are uttered by the committee people: ‘Isusumbong kita.'”

“Maybe it is not only ‘isusumbong kita,’ maybe it is ‘ipapa-stockade kita.'”

We laughed. Our laughter was tinged with sadness.

How come everybody, no matter how vehement about his amendment in the beginning, later on acceded to the request for withdrawal after a little conference?

“We are in a bullet train—five hours to Osaka,” I said in a loud voice.

“Yeah, make it three hours so we can go home,” echoed another voice.

We shook our heads in disbelief. Out of so many proposed amendments falling by the wayside, only one amendment was passed. This was a proposal by Sensing Suarez on search warrants and warrants of arrest. Under the committee draft, a search warrant and warrant of arrest shall be issued only upon probable cause to be determined by the judge or such other responsible officials as may be authorized by law after examination, etc. The amendment was to delete “or such other responsible officers as may be authorized by law.” In other words, only a judge may issue a search warrant or warrant of arrest under the Suarez amendment. Of course. Surely, not police officers!

The amendment was unexpectedly approved on a vote of 96 to 87.

We were jubilant. How grateful we are even for little blessings. The first amendment approved in two days! I was one of the many who congratulated Sensing for this.

Sensing told us the reason he stood up to thank the members of the committee after the voting was that the committee members also voted in favor although it was formally refused for the committee by Tony Tupaz.

Later, I joined Joe Feria, Bobbit Sanchez, Naning Kalaw, Lilia Delima and Cefi Padua at the terrace.

“What is your stand now?” Jose asked me.

“As of now, if the voting were nominal, I would abstain. If it is by a show of hands, I would abstain or vote ‘No.'”

Lilia then said, “Please reconsider. It is important for us to vote ‘Yes.’ The majority would only be too glad to have us out of the Assembly. They would only be too glad to see us taken to the stockade. Do you know that during the voting on the transitory provision, they were urging me to vote ‘No’ so that I would not be in the Assembly? Why should we play into their hands?”

Most of us decided to abstain or vote “No” if it is going to be a show of hands—with the exception of Fr. Ortiz, Justice Barrera and Nene Pimentel who, we know, are already firm in deciding to vote “No,” in any case.

Our little group was hoping that the voting would be by a show of hands.

Bebet Duavit was at the next table. He agreed with us. Nominal voting should only be on third voting.

We wanted it this way so that our little group could at least abstain if we may not be able to vote “No.”

As we were talking, Raul Roco strolled towards us with an air of nonchalance. He was whistling.

“Are you having any problem?” he asked laughingly. “Why do you have problems? I have no problems.”

“Sit down.” We put Raul on the chair.

He then told us that he had spent many hours of discussion with two “moral counsellors” and both of them had advised him to vote “Yes.” It was meaningless to vote “No” anyway. The important question was what possible harm could there be in voting “Yes?”

“Obviously, we have different loyalties. We have loyalties to our families, our committees, our country, but what harm does it do to vote ‘Yes?’ There could be harm in voting ‘No.'”

I related to this group—the remnants of our once proud Independent-Progressive bloc—the interview with Sakharov which I had read the other night. When asked finally whether they thought that their efforts—which have been putting him, his wife and his family in very great danger—would produce any significant change in Russian politics, Sakharov answered that he did not expect any such changes at all. Then why continue exposing himself and his family to danger? Because for them this is not a political struggle. It is a moral struggle: “We are dissenting, because we have to be true to ourselves.”

Raul Roco straightened up and looked straight into our eyes.

“The time to be true to ourselves has passed—that was during the voting on the transitory provision.”

There was a deafening silence.

Raul confided to us that one of the priests—with a foreign name which I cannot recall—told him it was like the question of Laurel and Abad Santos during the war. But then, Raul said, the analogy is not very accurate. The enemy was clear and specific during the Japanese time. The lines are quite vague this time. Who are we to say that this or that is the enemy?

We asked whether as a condition for the removal of his name and that of Romy Capulong’s from the wanted “list,” he was supposed to vote “Yes.”

“No,” Raul answered. “There was no discussion, there was no such condition. But it was assumed…. it was assumed.”

He laughed. Nervously.

We were all downcast, depressed.

Soon we were voting on the entire Constitution.

Sed Ordoñez stood up to move for nominal voting. As was to be expected, his motion was lost. The majority insisted on voting by a show of hands or by standing up.

Should I vote “No” or should I abstain? I could not possibly vote “Yes.” But what might I expect if, indeed, I voted “No?”

Before I could think through my dilemma or banish my fears, voting was called. Those who were voting “No” were asked to stand up.

I found myself instinctively standing up—to join the “No” voters. In half a second, Joe Feria joined me. But before we could fully straighten up, a sudden loud roar of approval burst out. The overwhelming majority of the delegates had obviously voted for the ap­proval of the Constitution!

We now have a brand new Constitution. A Marcos Constitution. Authoritarianism has been institutionalized. The lapdogs of the dictator were delirious with joy.

I remember that the British Prime Minister Gladstone had called the American Constitution “the most wonderful work struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.” Our brand new Constitution is the opposite; it is the most despicable work struck off at a given time by the warped brain and purpose of man, to his lasting disgrace.

What is really this new Constitution that we have approved? It was not the draft Constitution approved by the Convention as such, a couple of months earlier. For all purposes, this is a new Constitution that has been framed by a Convention that has changed its stripes. The watershed was reached during the proclamation of martial law. From then on the Convention has been a transformed Convention. Several delegates have even turned against their own provisions—willingly or under duress.

Of course, the most “scandalous provision,” to use the phrase of (Senator) Jovito Salonga, is that of the transitory provision. It is objectionable on several points: (1) we have constitutionalized a dictatorship; (2) we have affirmed all the proclamations, decrees, general orders and letters of instructions of the President; (3) we have made ourselves, as delegates, beneficiaries of this Constitution by making ourselves assemblymen.

We shall become assemblymen—just like that!

The second feature—the legalization of the decrees of the President, was just somewhat improved upon by the amendment of Ikeng Belo to delete “are hereby confirmed, ratified as valid and binding,” etc., etc.

Part of the objections are contained in my interpellation which will be submitted tomorrow—because we are given until tomorrow to submit our written interpellations. Our oral interpellations have been cut off.

Bobbit Sanchez represents the same 2nd district of Rizal that Bebet Duavit represents. Bobbit informed us that it is now official knowledge in the Convention that Duavit is the high priest of Malacañang in the Convention. He receives instructions from Malacañang and transmits these during the proceedings.

Bobbit Sanchez confirmed that Duavit is presently thinking that only those who would vote for the Constitution on second and third readings should be allowed to be members of the Assembly. And we have just now not voted in favor. We have voted against. We are not going to disgrace ourselves. Whatever else life would bring or deny, one thing is absolutely certain: that we should not break faith with ourselves; that in our own eyes, our honor remains bright.

Duavit spoke. We should bear in mind, he said, that the rules of the Convention have been suspended.

What is the import of the rules being suspended? It is that the majority can do whatever it pleases, precisely because there are no rules.

But this is a perversion of democratic politics. Majority rule demands that the majority should prevail, it is true, but there are two conditions attached to these: that minority rights are not suppressed in the meantime, and that some day the minority might be the majority. In fact, the rationale for a written Bill of Rights in a democratic polity is to ensure that certain basic principles are insulated from the passing whims and caprices of majorities and officials.

Bobbit Sanchez, who seems to be able to gather much intelligence, gave the information that the other thing that Duavit is trying to accomplish is to undo the Suarez amendment, which restricts the issuance of warrants of arrest and search warrants to judges.

It was 9:18 p.m.—quite late in the night—when Duavit quietly, almost innocently asked Vice Pres. Abe Sarmiento, who was presiding, whether the rules have been suspended. He received an affirmative answer. He then quickly proposed to amend Section 16, Article 9, by adding on line 6, the words “unless the National Assembly shall provide otherwise.”

On behalf of the committee, Tony de Guzman accepted the amendment. Three seconds later, Abe banged the gavel to signify that the amendment was approved.

It was 9:19 p.m. No one was paying attention. Many delegates were still coming in.

Duavit then murmured some words. Was he uttering some magical incantations? He seemed to be proposing something… to amend Section 3, Article 4, by inserting the words that were deleted by the Suarez amendment on who may issue a warrant of arrest, “or such other responsible officers as may be authorized by law.”

Tony de Guzman accepted the amendment—which only a few people heard—in five seconds flat.

Chairman Abe Sarmiento asked if there were no opposition. A small, little figure swiftly darted towards the microphone and cried, “Objection!”

It was Bobbit Sanchez. Bobbit of course. Our gallant knight.

“We vote,” said an unruffled Abe. “Those in favor, raise your right hands. Those opposed…. Approved!” He banged his gavel.

It was 9:20 o’clock.

Ano ba ang pinag-uusapan?” one delegate innocently asked. He could have come from Mars.

Joe Feria was shaking his head in disbelief.

Ano, ano?… ito ‘yong amendment ni Suarez? Maganda ‘yon a. Hindi ba inapprove na natin?” Eli Johnson asked likewise in innocence. She could have also come from another planet. Creatures from another planet could have already conquered Earth, and she did not know it.

“This is terrible, terrible!” Rebeck exploded.

Yan ang sinasabi ko,” Bobbit threw his arms sidewards in a gesture of despair. He was grim. What can one really say to this? Like the dancing bear in Heinrich Heine’s Atta Troll, we are a people who love making speeches about freedom but secretly enjoy being in chains!

Many delegates started asking what had happened. All in one minute. But Abe was already far away on another item in the agenda. The railroad team had worked so efficiently. There was no discussion, no explanation.

Our Independent-Progressive coalition likes Abe but many delegates get exasperated when at times he becomes too cooperative with the establishment.

What is the meaning of the latest action? The clear meaning is that now it is not only the judge who may issue a warrant of arrest as provided for in the present Bill of Rights. It may be such other responsible officers as may be authorized by law. And law may be a decree. Which means, by a decree the President can ask any colonel or major or any other government officer, say, a chief-of-police, to arrest anyone.

It was not until some 15 minutes later that the full impact of the most recent action of the Convention was realized by most delegates. But by then everything was finished.

Cicero Calderon said that Duavit had phoned Malacañang about the earlier deletion of the phrase and that President Marcos was very angry over the deletion.

The Convention is really finished.

Two centuries ago, Vauvenargues said that the greatest evil which fortune can inflict on men is to endow them with small talents and great ambitions.


July 3, 1945 Tuesday

The papers report that Confesor and Cabili have been appointed as members of the Filipino Rehabilitation Commission in Washington. Both will have to go to Washington. Cabile has resigned as Secretary of National Defense. His appointment and that of Confesor as Secretary of the Interior were submitted to the Commission on Appointments of Congress. The papers said that in view of their new offices, the Commission on Appointments will no longer have to act.

I suspect that the appointments of Confesor and Cabili have been disapproved, or at least Pres. Osmeña had been told or was convinced that their appointments would be disapproved by the Commission. The attitude of the Commission was expected. Both had been attacking the “collaborationists” and it seems that public opinion in Manila is favorable to the “collaborationists”. Both talk a lot, but have accomplished very little, especially as regards the economy. Both have been using language improper for high government officials. Both have been very much criticized, and it is even reported that they have to go around with body guards as their lives are in danger. The attitude of the Commission is fully justified. Their appointment to the Rehabilitation Commission is a face-saving stunt.

On June 28th, Pres. Truman said that he hoped the meeting next month with Churchill and Stalin would result in a formula for a final treaty that “will insure peace for generations to come.”

We hope they will succeed. Such is the prayer of all the people in the world. War is so terrible that it must be avoided by all means. We do not know what the formula will be. Surely all the causes of war must be eliminated. To me colonization is one of the causes. It should be abolished as a thing of the past. All countries must be granted independence.

Jose Abad Santos was Secretary of Justice in Pres. Quezon’s Cabinet when the war broke out. Before his appointment to that office he had held many other important offices such as Justice of the Supreme Court. He was a great jurist. He accompanied Pres. Quezon in Corregidor, visited front lines in Bataan and traveled with Quezon to the South. When the presidential party left for Australia in 1942, Abad Santos remained with powers to represent the President in areas not under Japanese control. He was subsequently captured by the Japanese and reliable reports are to the effect that he had been killed by the Japanese. On June 27th, Pres. Osmeña said of him: “The late Secretary Abad Santos will go down in history as one of the most outstanding heroes of this war. Abad Santos is a real hero, a true patriot and should be held up before the youth as a model.”

According to the Free Philippines of June 29th, the President “emphasized Abad Santos chose to die rather than collaborate.”

The death of Abad Santos is still shrouded in mystery. Lt. Abad Santos, Jr. supposed to be a witness to his father’s death and, consequently, may be able to tell the whole story, was taken by the Japanese to Tokyo.

Abad Santos’ other son, Osmundo, entrusted to us in Baguio a sealed envelop containing confidential papers concerning Justice Abad Santos. They may reveal all the facts which we would like to know.

The tribute paid by Pres. Osmeña to Secretary Abad Santos is well deserved. He is truly a great man. I have already stated above what we did to try to save Secretary Abad Santos. We knew that he was an Orientalist and we thought this fact could save him so we told it to the Japanese authorities. But Abad Santos unluckily fell into the hands of a crazed and cruel man — Col. Kawakami. Col. Kawakami executed him before we could do anything for him.

The fact that Osmeña emphasized his statement that Abad Santos chose to die rather than collaborate with the Japanese is very significant. It is an attack on Roxas. Undoubtedly, it was a “hit back” on account of the bitter criticism launched by Roxas against Osmeña’s administration. It is a biting criticism of Roxas. Now the fight is on. No way to avoid it. Both Osmeña and Roxas will be candidates for President.

The statement of Osmeña, of course, also applies to us. We hope that it will not change or prejudice his attitude towards supposed collaborationists. After all, on account of our imprisonment in Iwahig we had nothing to do and could have nothing to do with the criticism of Roxas against him.

The question arose as to whether the fight between Osmeña and Roxas will favor or prejudice us. There is a difference of opinion. Recto believes it will favor us, as both would want to get our support. If not for this fight, we would be forgotten and left to rot here. In my opinion, it will prejudice us. Both may be too busy with the preparation of their respective platforms and with the campaign that we may be forgotten. At the present time, it is not known who among us are for Osmeña or Roxas. If the majority of us are in favor of Osmeña, Roxas may block our release through his friend. Gen. MacArthur, who before was not very friendly to Osmeña. If we are inclined towards Roxas, Osmeña may want us detained until after elections or after the war, and it is probably within his power as President to do so.

We had a meeting where we pledged to bind ourselves together as one. We will found a newspaper to be financed by Mr. Madrigal which shall be our organ for the propaganda of our platform, policies and aims. What these platform, policies and aims are, we have not determined. But we are agreed on two matters. First, we shall seek our exoneration and vindication from the charge of “collaborationists” with the implications of disloyalty and treason to our country and anti-Americanism. Second, we shall assist actively and wholeheartedly in the rehabilitation work of our country. As regards independence, there may be one or two dissenting voices, and the rest will be aggressively in favor. Needless to say, we will go after those who have been responsible for our imprisonment or who have been unjustly attacking us.

All these plans may lead to the formation of a party which will put up candidates for all positions, including those of president and vice president. With the men now with us who have repeatedly enjoyed the trust and confidence of our people, and who still retain this hold on their constituents, together with the thousands of persons also arrested, humiliated and imprisoned like us, the new party will be a formidable one. If we continue to be united and we all work vigorously, we may even win in the elections and thus be in power.

Pres. Osmeña has two sons imprisoned in Bilibid and later in Muntinglupa. They are being charged with being collaborationists for having engaged in the “buy and sell business” with the Japanese Army and Navy as the biggest purchasers in so far as war materials are concerned. Really, Serging Osmeña was one of the big “buy and sell” men and he made a lot of money. It is reported that he was able to pay the big indebtedness of his father. He established a company called “ESSO” and my son, Tony, was Treasurer and trusted official of the Company. Apparently, the young Osmeñas were expecting help from their father. It seems that such help was not extended. The father was indifferent. Furthermore, he made a statement to the press praising a son who worked against the Japanese and stating that he could not intervene in the cases of Serging and Nicasio. This peaked the anger of Serging. He immediately wrote a letter to his father stating among other things: “We have lost our mother, now we lose our father.” Serging complained that they had never been attended to by the father; he left them nothing. It was a very bitter and at the same time pathetic denunciation of his own father.

I do not know whether I would have done what Serging, Jr. did even if placed under the same circumstances. I do not believe I could do it. A father is a father; the children owe their existence to him. No matter how bad he may be, he must never be denounced by the children. This is especially so in the case of Pres. Osmeña. He is the President of the Republic. It is very embarrassing for him to have sons imprisoned for collaboration. Rather, Serging and Nick should have begged their father’s forgiveness for having placed him in such a situation. Furthermore, there are thousands imprisoned for the same reasons; Osmeña as President could not favor his own sons and not do the same for the others, unless he wants to be accused of favoritism and injustice.

Later reports are to the effect that Serging had retracted and he was awfully sorry for what he did. I am happy to hear this.

It is reported that President Osmeña had sent word to Serging and Nick that he will order the release of persons personally known to him with he himself as guarantor. This may be what induced Serging to change. If true, it will benefit not only his sons but many of us here who are not only known to Osmeña but are also his personal friends. This is especially so in my case. This has revived the hope of many.

Romulo is reported to have said that Roxas is no longer liked by MacArthur. If this is so, the interest that Roxas is taking in us may be prejudicial. But I seriously doubt the truth of the report of Romulo. If it is true, Roxas would not have been returned to active service as General and he probably would have been imprisoned just like us.

In turns out that the Dr. Sison reported here earlier who was snubbed by Romulo is not Agerico but Antonio. Dr. Antonio Sison is the family doctor of the Romulos and has never collected any fee from them. He saved the life of Romulo twice. When the incident happened it is reliably reported that Dr. Sison was indignant. This is the same Romulo that had been attacking the supposed “collaborationists.”


June 29, 1945 Friday

Yesterday some more “collaborationists” arrived from Manila. Among them were Justice Jorge Bocobo, Dean of the College of Law of the University of the Philippines; Mr. Arsenio Luz, Chairman of the Board of Information and Spokesman of Malacañan with the rank of Minister; Mr. Francisco Lavides, a Representative and lately Military Governor for the district comprising Laguna, Tayabas, Batangas and Mindoro; and Dr. Julio Luz.

They brought much news and many newspapers. Some of the news are sensational.

Wer were surprised to see Justice Bocobol he had never been a pro-Japanese, although he admires some of their virtues. He has always been sympathetic towards the Americans. He attributes his detention to the fact he was one of the signers of the first Manifesto and was a member of the first Council of State.

The news about a resolution in the Senate referred to earlier has been cleared up. Sen. Ramon Torres presented a resolution providing for the immediate investigation of Senators Recto, Yulo, Paredes, Tirona, Madrigal, Sebastian and myself who are now under detention. He demanded the investigation to vindicate the good name of the Senate and in order to avoid difficulties that hamper the regular functioning of the Senate. He said that he is convinced that our detention is just the result of a misunderstanding, rather than to a real and just cause. He said that his purpose was to determine he qualification of the detained Senators to be members of the Senate. (Philippine Press, June 26, 1945). The Senators are being prevented from complying with their official duties for causes of which the Senate has no official cognizance. Torres asked: “Who of us who are free and fully enjoy our rights as Senators can say that we have a better right, rathen than better luck, than some of those presently detained?” The resolution gives authority to the Senate President to appoint a special committee of five senators. The Senate President is to make the necessary arrangements with the corresponding authorities so that the committee may be given the necessary facilities for the poper discharge of its functions.

Editorial of Philippines Press, June 26, 1945. Present administration “has fumbled, in the opinion of even those who wish it well, the collaboration issue.”

Post, June 24. The nature of the late President Quezon’s “last instructions” to ranking Filipino officials and members of his war cabinet –the crux of the collaborationist problem– was further clarified by Senate President Roxas. At a meeting held in Marikina, before Quezon went to Corregidor, Roxas recalled, the late President instructed those who were to remain behind to “remain at their posts and do their utmost to protect the people” while the nation waited for the arrival of the American forces that would redeem the Philippines’ freedom. Among present: Gen. Roxas, Secretary of Justice Jose Abad Santos, Secretary of National Defense Teofilo Sison, Secretary of Agriculture Rafael Alunan, Secretary of Finance Serafin Marabut, Exec. Sec. Jorge B. Vargas, Philippine Army Chief of Staff Basilio Valdes, and Dr. Jose P. Laurel, then Justice of the Supreme Court.

Laurel, who had been originally scheduled to accompany Quezon to America but who was requested by the late President at the last moment to stay, reportedly asked Quezon, “To what extent should be cooperate with the Japanese?”

To which Quezon was said to have replied, “You may cooperate short of taking the oath of allegiance to Japan.”

Laurel then asked, “Suppose we are forced to?”

For a while Quezon was silent. Before he could answer, Laurel said, “I shall flee and hide in the mountains.”

Quezon: “No, not all of you should do that. Avoid it as much as you can.”

News items on June 24, 1945: Senator Carlos P. Garcia yesterday (June 23, 1945) challenged his colleagues that they resign from the Senate and submit to a national election as early as feasible so that the voters will have a chance to render their verdict on “collaboration” and other issues that now threaten to split the Nacionalista ranks. Garcia took the floor to hit back at Senate Pres. Roxas who on Wednesday attacked him and Rep. Pedro Lopez of Cebu as well as the administration. All elective officials particularly those who held posts under the Japanese, should return their positions to the people because it is the latter who can decide who are the Filipino officials who did such acts as signing the Pact of Alliance, declaring war against the United States, and sending Constabulary with Japanese soldiers to mopping out operations in some provinces. They would wish to know whether Filipino leaders were really impotent to prevent these and other crimes, and if so wh they continued at their posts. He said those serving during Japanese occupation lost the confidence and trust of the people who have remained loyal to the Commonwealth and the United States. Pres. Osmeña is included in the request for resignation.

Senator Garcia accepted Roxas’ challenge that he introduce a bill calling for an early election, but the date will have to be determined after complete order is restored. He said he is willing to have elections held as early as circumstances will permit.

The above apparently is a rejoinder on the part of Senator Garcia. It was an answer to the speech of Roxas of June 21, 1945.

My comment: I do not see that an election is necessary to find out the things Garcia said the people would like to know. We have been elected for a certain term under the Constitution and the people’s will should be respected. But under the circumstances, I cannot possibly refuse to resign. It may be interpreted as meaning that I want to hide something. I especially want the people to know that I have never been disloyal to my country. However, it occurs to me that the truth can very well be ascertained by following the constitutional processes. In the case of the senators, they cannot be not allowed to sit while an investigation is being held by a committee of the Senate and until their cases are decided by that body. Such measure as is proposed by Sen. Torres should be adopted immediately. We are entitled to perform the functions entrusted to us by the people if we are not guilty.

Post, June 25, 1945. Roxas accepted the challenge made by Sen. Carlos Garcia, that the questions on which he (Roxas) and the administration differed be decided at an election.


June 26, 1945, Tuesday

It may be asked: If the conduct of the Japanese is as reported above why did we serve in the Japanese regime and later in the Philippine Republic?

I had good reasons for not accepting any position in the Japanese regime. Aside from my past relations with America and the Americans, and the position I had held with the Philippine government which would make my acceptance of any position under the Japanese regime improper, I had plans which I could carry out only as a private citizen. I was Director of Marsman & Co. and President and Vice President of various Marsman enterprises, like the Coco Grove Mining Co., Marsman Trading, Insular Drug, Cardinal Insurance, Marsman Lumber, etc. Immediately before the war, Marsman & Co. further expanded its enterprises, by buying American Hardware and the Food and other departments of Pacific Commercial Co. There were also many new industries and businesses planned. Such was the condition of Marsman & Co. when the war broke out.

The offices of the Marsman enterprises were in the Marsman Building at the Port Area. It was right next to military objectives. From the second day of the war, Manila Bay was bombed including the Port Area. A favorite target was Pier 7, considered the longest in the world, located probably less than 100 meters from our building. Bombing continued almost everyday until the day before the entry into Manila of the Japanese Army on January 2, 1942.

I used to go to the office regularly although I did not have to. Employees were dismissed after 11:00 a.m. as it was noted that air raids commenced after that hour; nevertheless, I and other executives would remain in our offices and continue working as if nothing was happening. The bombs fell around the building. It might have been a military target as Admiral Hart, the Head of the American Asiatic Fleet, and the Navy General Staff had their headquarters in the Marsman Building. We had somebody in the building watch for Japanese planes and sound the alarm. We would all run down to the air raid shelters whenever he gives the signal; and when the planes were overhead, we would all lie down, cover our ears and open our mouths. I used to sit next to Admiral Hart in the air raid shelter located in the first story under the stairs. The building was also surrounded by layers of sandbags. Luckily, the building was never hit. There was only one bomb that fell behind the building about five yards away. All the windows of the building were shattered. I found several shrapnels inside my office which was on the 4th floor from which I got a good view of the pier.

In my house, we built no shelter at all. We used to hide on the first floor on both sides of the stairs which was located at the very center of the house. We lined the walls with sandbags and placed boards and many other things on the second floor directly above us. No bombs fell near us but we could hear the detonation very well so that at times, they sounded like they fell just next door to us. We save planes dive down and drop bombs on Nichols Field.

I never go out during an air raid. But I was caught in the streets twice when this occured. The first time I was luckily in front of the Bay View Hotel, a nine story reinforced concrete building. It seemed to be a safe place. The bombs fell in the bay near the hotel. The second time, I was in real danger. A special meeting of the Chamber of Mines was called and generally, either Vice President Ohnick or myself attended. We had agreec that Mr. Ohnick would attend that morning. The meeting was a special one called to discuss a very important matter concerning the mining industry. At the last hour, Mr. Ohnick decided not to attend and I had to rush to the meeting at the Pacific Building. This was the 27th of December, 1941. The meeting was hurriedly held and adjourned. I had sent my chauffeur to the bank to get some money and when after the meeting my automobile was not back, I had to borrow the automobile of the attorney of the company, Mr. Amando Velilla. I forgot to give directions to Mr. Velilla’s chauffeur not to pass through Intramuros (the Walled City) to go to Escolta but to go on to Padre Burgos St. outside Port Area. He drove through Intramuros, across the Malecon Drive and the air raid sirens sounded. Following instructions, we had to leave the car and seek shelter in the Myer’s Building. I entered a small compartment which had been converted into a very poorly built shelter. There were other people there, but they did not know me. Bombs fell all around. I heard the sound of an airplane which seemed to be flying very low. The moment I heard the sound I hit the floor, closed my eyes, covered my ears, and opened my mouth. Forthwith, I heard something heavy drop; then the building shook as the bomb exploded. The building was hit and shrapnel flew all around. When I dove, those around me laughed; they thought it was funny. I came through unscathed while many of the people around me were hurt. It was indeed a very narrow escape, but my satisfaction was that it happened while performing a duty for the company which had extricated me from financial difficulties. The Myer’s Building caught fire and burned down. The experience made me very cautious.

The City of Manila had already been declared an open city; nevertheless, the Japanese planes continued dropping bombs. To protect people residing in the nearby municipalities, like Pasay, San Juan, Caloocan, these were also included in the open city.

It was on December 28, 1941 when Japanese planes bombed the Treasury Building and the Philippines Herald offices located in a building on the other side of the former moat and wall around Intramuros, about opposite the Legislative Building. We were then having caucuses of both the members of the Senate and House to agree on the organization. When the siren sounded we ran to the shelter in the cellar. We were in the shelter until after three o’clock without anything to eat. It was very hot and crowded inside. The Herald had just written a strong editorial against the Japanese. It was also the time that the Church of Sto. Domingo and the Letran College were destroyed.

In connection with the advance of the Japanese and the occupation of Manila, it was in the morning of the 8th of December that the war began. I remember the date very well as that is the feast day of my hometown, Taal, Batangas, and we were about to leave that morning for Taal when we heard the news in the radio about the attack on Pearl Harbor. A few minutes afterwards we heard the bombing of Baguio. At 12:30 p.m. the bombing of Clark Field was reported and at 3 o’clock that same afternoon Nichols Field was attacked. Nichols Field was only a few kilometers from my house at Malate so that the war was brought next door to us. As I said, although there was bombing almost everyday I continued going to work especially since I noticed that the other executives were always present at the office. Very few of the Filipino personnel came. We continued holding meetings of the Boards of Directors of the Marsman companies as usual, but many times they had to be suspended to go to the shelter on account of air raids. I remember that one of my last acts was to sign dividend checks declared by the Coco Grove, of which I was the President. Before the coming of the Japanese we took steps to have our gold bullion taken to Corregidor where the USAFFE was going to make its last stand. We also endeavored to send all the moneys of the Marsman companies to the United States. I remember that our last meeting was at the University Club and we left some of our papers there. While there, I telephoned to arrange the sending of money to the United States.

Before going to the office, I would generally inquire from General Francisco about the situation of the advancing Japanese Army.He told me confidentially that the situation was very bad; that the Japanese were advancing very fast. I also informed my American friends and I advised them to withdraw as much of their deposits as they could. They refused on account of the official communique from the General Headquarters to the effect that “Enemies repulsed; no change in front.” About the 27th of December, I told them the Japanese had already passed San Pablo, Laguna, almost 100 kilometers away. It was then too late for the Americans to withdraw their money and they became very angry.

Since the attack on Pearl Harbor, there was absolute blackout throughout Manila. We passed terrible nights. Oftentimes, we heard revolver or gun shots. We understand that it was to enforce the blackout. The guards also shot at persons moving suspiciously or signaling, or at the places where the signaling was coming from. We actually saw many such signals, evidencing the presence of spies and fifth columnists.

The nights were dark and gloomy. I remember that we passed Christmas without the usual celebration. Some in our neighborhood tried to sing the Christmas carols, but they seemed in our ears like songs sang in necrological services. The thieves were also active. I remember that while we were downstairs on account of the air raids, a thief entered the second floor of our house. We heard the bathroom window creaking and we immediately ran upstairs and turned on the light in the room next to the bathroom. We found the door of the bathroom closed and we suspected the thief was still inside. In the meanwhile, the air raid wardens with an American Army officer were yelling from the street ordering us to put the light out, otherwise they would shoot. I quickly ran down to explain to the officer that there was a thief inside the bathroom. The officer went upstairs. Standing behind the closed bathroom door, he yelled to the thief to come out. He then broke in the door with his revolver. He found nobody: evidently, the thief had jumped out the window. There were practically no people going around at night. The cinematograph were open, but we never went.

In the day time, there were many people in the streets. During air raids, the air raid wardens were kept very busy. These are paid employees and they were very strict in the performance of their duties. The warden in front of our house, a man by the name of Emilio, was especially efficient. We noticed that the white people were reluctant to obey him. I remember an incident which I witnessed. The warden ordered a white couple to stop because there was an air raid; but they continued on their way. The warden ran after them to stop them. An American officer happened to be around and he drew his revolver and threatened to shoot the warden if he insisted. The warden, fearing for his life, let the couple go. When the officer drew his revolver, I immediately ran to my house to get my revolver. My intention was to shoot the officer if he shot at the warden since the latter was merely performing his official duty.

People were very careful about letting in anybody into their houses, even those caught in the streets during an air raid. Doors were always kept closed and locked. The reason for this was that there had been cases where bad elements took advantage of air raids to rob the houses.

On or about December 28, 1941, Pres. Quezon, Vice Pres. Osmeña with Secretary Santos, Col. Roxas and Gen. Valdes fled to Corregidor. For several days before and after their departure, there was a heavy movement of American and Filipino troops fleeing Manila as it had been declared an open city. They went north to Bataan where they were to make their last stand. It was about this time when I received an order from the U.S. Navy to turn over the Marsman yacht anchored in front of the Yacht Club to the Navy, and another order from the Army to blow up all our dynamite cache in Camarines Norte, and all our oil. We had just received a consignment of over 4000 cases of dynamite and in preparation for the war our two oil tanks, one of which was the biggest in the Philippines, were filled up.

On that same day, my son Tony who had finished training in the Cavalry Camp at Parañaque, and who was a Sergeant-Major in the Philippine Army Reserve received an order to join his regiment. He had been waiting for it; all his other classmates had received theirs. He prepared to comply with the order. I noticed that he was very, very anxious to do so. He envied his classmates, especially Apostol who only the day before left without him when his order did not come. Apostol never came back. Tony’s instructions were to report to the military headquarters in Pampanga. But when he arrived at the train station, the last train for the North had left and so had the last police bus that took reservists to their destination. Upon Tony’s insistence, I went to Malacañan to inquire and there I met Maj. Gen. Guillermo Francisco. I inquired from him as to how Tony could report for duty. He answered that the orders given to Tony and others which were issued on about December 9, 1941 had already been cancelled.

Before the Japanese entered Manila, I as a Senator-elect and as such a high government official, discussed with Speaker Yulo, Mr. Vargas and other officials what we should do. Should we hide from or present ourselves to the Japanese military authorities? After due discussion, and following instructions allegedly given by Pres. Quezon, we decided to stay. However, I expected that we would immediately be called by the Japanese and as I did not want to be one of the first to be called, and as I wished to know first what the Japanese would do to the Filipino officials, I decided to go into hiding. I went to New Manila and hid in the house of Doña Narcisa de Leon on Broadway Avenue. I changed my name and everybody was instructed to call me by that name and not divulge my identity. I went there in the afternoon of the 29th of December. I was very well treated Mrs. de Leon who is our “comadre” and in fact by the whole family. They certainly took good care of me. Rizal Day, December 30, passed and for the first time since that day was made an official holiday, there was no celebration. The Japanese were expected to arrive and enter Manila on December 31, but they did not come.

For the first time, I was not with my family when the New Year was ushered in. Like Christmas, there was no celebration of any kind. The usual fanfare and family reunions were conspicuously absent. There was a lot of speculation as to when the Japanese would enter Manila and what they were going to do.

By the second of January, 1942, when the Japanese had not shown up, we learned that the Japanese contingent coming from the North was somewhat delayed and that coming from the South was waiting. I called up Mr. Ohnick and told him I was hiding and asked his advice as to whether I should stay in hiding. He answered that I better just stay home. So in the afternoon, I went home. I left my revolver in Broadway as I was afraid that if I were to encounter the Japanese I would be searched, and if found with a revolver, I would be shot. It was a memorable short ride home. At any time, I was expecting to meet the Japanese and I wondered what I would do. I passed through España St., Quezon Avenue, Quezon Bridge, Arroceros St., Plaza Lawton, Taft Avenue and San Andres St. I met no Japanese, but I saw spectacles which gave me a glimpse of the moral fiber of the Filipinos. It foreshadowed what was to come later -the shameful conduct of many of our countrymen of robbery consisting in illegal confiscation of goods, soulless profiteering on goods, including foodstuff, and rampant bribery of the police and other agents of the law who were charged with the prevention of illegal traffic of commodities and sale at prices in excess of those fixed by law. I saw big crowds all along the streets and at first I did not know what it was all about. On España St. I met people carrying all kinds of commodities, clothing, canned goods, etc. On Rizal Avenue, I saw persons forcing open the Chinese stores and carrying out everything, including furniture. It was rampant looting. People rushed into the stores like mad dogs. I reached the other side of Quezon Bridge and there I saw a big crowd snatching everything they could get from the old Ice Plant. I could see them carrying frozen meat and fish.

On Lawton Square, on Taft Avenue, San Andres St., I saw the same thing. Some people used automobiles, “calesas” and “carretelas” to haul their loot. Many of them sold their wares right there on the street for very low prices; one could buy everything: clothing, foodstuff, furniture. I learned later that the goods came from the Port Area. Some bodegas were opened to the public. Other bodegas, however, were forced open. This was not to be regretted after all as the goods would have fallen into the hands of the Japanese. My chauffeur insisted in going to the Port Area with our automobiles. I refused to allow him to go. I prohibited all the members of my family and all those who worked for me to take any part in the looting or even to buy the looted goods. I consider it dishonest to acquire them. In fact, there was looting all over Manila. Right in front of my house they forced a Chinese store open and stole everything inside. The policemen who witnessed this looting were powerless. Some of the policemen were even seen to take part in the looting. It was a shame.

I forgot to mention that during the bombing, every time there was an air raid alarm, American soldiers were stationed in various parts of Manila to watch for parachutists. Five American soldiers were stationed just outside my house. Whenever they came, we offered them coffee.

It was in the afternoon of the 2nd of January between 5 and 6 o’clock p.m. when the Japanese entered the city. They marched down various streets, two of which were Taft Avenue and Mabini St. From Taft Avenue we could hear yells of “Banzai.” Those passing Mabini rode in trucks. We could see them very well from our house. For a victorious army, it was surprising that there was no show of pride.

The next day, the people went out expecting excellent treatment as many of them sincerely believed that the Japanese would treat us as equals and brothers. That same day we were awakened to the reality that the Japanese were not as we expected. That very first day, there were incidents due to the fact that the Filipinos were being compelled to salute the Japanese sentries. Everybody was searched for arms, which was to be expected. But the Japanese civilians were very abusive. Sometimes, although the Japanese soldier had already searched the man and found nothing, the Japanese civilian who acted as interpreter would get his watch or other things. All automobiles were confiscated without ceremony. Even civilians confiscated automobiles. I was just about to leave my house in my automobiles when my friend, Mr. Schultz, stopped me to tell me the Japanese were confiscating automobiles and his automobile had just been taken. So I went walking along the boulevard to go to the Marsman building at the Port Area. However, at the Luneta, I was stopped by a Japanese sentry. Evidently, entry into the Port Area had been prohibited.

On January 4th, an automobile with Japanese Navy officers stopped at our house. My family was scared. The civilian interpreter told me to get dressed and go with them. I was taken to the Marsman Building. I was made to wait at the anteroom of what used to be Mr. Jan Marsman’s office on the fourth floor. After about half an hour, I was ushered in. I saw a uniformed man who turned out to be the General and Chief of Staff of the Japanese Army in the Philippines. The General asked me many questions. He asked where Mr. Marsman was and whether the company was really owned by Britishers and Americans. He also told me he knew that Admiral Hart, the head of the American Navy in the Philippines had quarters in the building. He then asked where the telephone or secret communication to Corregidor was located in the building. Then the Japanese asked me for the keys to all the Marsman buildings and warehouses. I told them that I was Vice President of the Marsman Building Corporation and as such I was quite familiar with the plans of the building, and that I was not aware of any telephone communication with Corregidor. We went back to the Marsman Building where they took me all around the building to search for the communications equipment, but we did not find any. They thanked me and I prepared to leave. But before doing so I asked that I be allowed to go into my office to get a few things. They asked me for specifications and I especially mentioned the English Dictionary. My intention was that if I were allowed to get the dictionary I would then ask for other things. I had many valuable things in my office, such as important documents, parts of my diary, my collection of rare stamps, my photographs with Pres. Quezon and Mrs. Marsman, and other personal belongings. A Navy Captain escorted me to my office. But at the door, he stopped me and went inside. When he came out, he told me they would look for my things and deliver them to me at my house. On the way out of the building, I was looking all around, especially at the safes in which the companies had at least P60,000.

The next day the Japanese came for me again. We went to the Marsman bodegas near the North bank of the Pasig River. I do not know why they brought me there as I was not allowed to go inside the bodegas. I saw various trucks parked in front of the bodegas. The caretaker told me that trucks had been coming frequently and that the Japanese loaded them to the limit with things taken from the bodegas.

The next morning after the entry of the Japanese, I went to the Admiral Apartments on Dewey Boulevard. Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Ohnick were expecting to be arrested by the Japanese at any time and that same morning at about noon, somebody had telephoned me that Mr. and Mrs. Ohnick were leaving with Japanese officers. When I arrived at the Admiral Apartments, they were gone. I just missed them by a few minutes. I saw their automobile being taken by the Japanese. I tried to stop the soldiers but they did not pay any attention to me. I lingered around the hotel. I met and talked with ex-Representative Pedro Sabido and Dr. Salvador Araneta. I found that Mr. Sabido decidedly in favor of a close relationship with Japan and membership to the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. This is the reason why in the sub-committee on Economic Planning of the Preparatory Committee for Philippine Independence, I made him Chairman of the Committee on the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Araneta, on the other hand, was decidedly against any relationship with the Japanese. It should be remembered that he was one of the most active for permanent political relationship with the United States.

The only high officials of the Marsman enterprises who regularly attended the Board meetings after the Japanese came were Mr. Welhaven, Mr. Ottiger, Mr. Velilla and myself. Von Ahren called a few times. Mr. Ohnick attended once at the San Luis office he was out of the the concentration camp for a few hours. The Japanese came once to inquire what we were doing. We announced that we were discussing our affairs. They asked whether we were licensed. We explained that we were not operating. There was an understanding in the company that we were to take care of the interests of the Marsman enterprises during this period. We held many meetings in my house on Calle San Andres where we discussed various affairs of the companies to do all we could to protect them. We decided to prepare an inventory of all the stock we had for such claims as we may later wish to make. Very little could be done as regards these two matters as it was most difficult to deal with the Japanese and they would not allow us to have access to the premises of the Marsman buildings and bodegas. I was to continue with any work that could be done for the companies as Messrs. Welhaven and Ottiger are whites and the Japanese are prejudiced against whites. Furthermore, Mr. Welhaven was a semi-belligerent as he was from Norway, the refugee government which had declared war against Germany and Japan.

I did my best to get Mr. and Mrs. Ohnick released from the concentration camp in Sto. Tomas University. I used to send a few things to them and to other Marsman men at the camp. I generally went with Mr. Velilla and Mr. Ottiger. I shall never forget those visits. Those Japanese guards were very hard to deal with. I carried a pass from Colonel Watanabe. We had to go through all kinds of difficulties to get in. My papers were scrutinized. We were usually made to wait at the gate for a long time. There we saw many Filipinos slapped and treated like dogs. We feared that our turn would come. Many times we could talk only in the presence of the Japanese. I often went to see the Superintendent since it was easier to talk to him to ask him to be allowed to talk to internees without any guard present. When leaving I generally would loiter around the grounds to talk to different people. I knew I was exposing myself to danger in doing so. One of the internees, Mr. Kelly, a high official of Marsman Company who was one of my best friends in the organization, was suffering from something which required him to go to Dr. Gonzales on Legarda St. Every time he went, he called me up. I always took him back to Sto. Tomas in my automobile where we would have a good chat along the way.

I continued my efforts to get Mr. and Mrs. Ohnick out of the concentration camp. Mrs. Ohnick was released because she was sick most of the time. Mr. Ohnick was able to get permission once in a while to be out of the camp for a few hours.  I went to talk to the Superintendent about Mr. Ohnick. I told him that I would like to have Mr. Ohnick released in view of the fact that his wife was sick. I explained to him my relationship with Mr. & Mrs. Ohnick. I said that Mr. Ohnick was the Vice President of Marsman & Company, and that I was a member of the Board of Directors. Mr. Ohnick, when interviewed by the Superintendent, mentioned that his father was a pure blooded Japanese. I knew this, and I also knew that his father’s name was Oniki, but I never mentioned it. The Superintendent decided to release Mr. Ohnick to me. Of course I had to guarantee his good conduct. Mr. & Mrs. Ohnick moved to a house near the Rizal Memorial Stadium where I visited them quite frequently. Mrs. Ohnick was in very poor health.

Mr. & Mrs. Francisco were also released as Mrs. Francisco was very sick. They occupied a house in New Manila where I visited them. I noticed that their house was being watched by the Japanese police. I pitied them very much as they complained that they could not get some essential things like laundry soap. Mr. Francisco attended a few of the meetings of Marsman & Co.

Mr. Ohnick was present in various meetings in my house and in a meeting at the Marsman store and shop at San Luis St., almost directly in front of the Agricultural Building. At one time. some Japanese came and asked whether we had license to operate the store. We answered that we had not opened the store and that we were merely having an informal meeting. This store was later seized by the Japanese. In these meetings attended by Mr. Ohnick the main question discussed was whether or not we should continue the business. The consensus of opinion among us was that we should suspend operations of the company. However, upon my suggestion, we filed a petition to operate. My reason was that if we did not apply for a license to operate, they might take this as an admission that it was an enemy company. We were contending that it was not enemy property inasmuch as the majority stockholders were Mr. and Mrs. Marsman who were naturalized Filipinos. I forgot to state that Mr. Francisco, another high official of Marsman, was also present in some of those meetings. The Japanese never took action on our petition, and in the meanwhile they continued taking everything in the store until nothing was left.

It was agreed that I was to take charge of protecting the properties and interests of Marsman enterprises and that I was to act on matters that may come involving the enterprises. I was also to study future plans for the activities of the company during the Japanese regime if we ever decide to reopen.

Upon the request of my friends in the concentration camp, I suspended sending food or even visiting them. I noticed that I was being watched very closely. I remember one incident. We had a party in the house of Mr. and Mrs. Ohnick. All of them, with the exception of myself and Velilla, were Americans, Englishmen, Norwegians and Swiss. It was to celebrate the birthday of Mr. Ohnick and I went there with that understanding. The next day there was a full report about the party by the Military Police. The report stated that it was to celebrate the birthday of Mr. Marsman. It turned out that it was the birthday of Mr. Marsman and that the party was intended for him also, but I did not know this.

Because of my close relations with the Americans, the Japanese became suspicious of me. They complained to Malacañan. Knowing that drastic action would be taken against me, I desisted from visiting and sending food to the camp. My friends well understood my situation.

The Japanese Army entered Manila on the 2nd of January, 1942. Before their entry, the government made all the necessary preparations. Vargas, the Secretary to the President, which position made him a ranking member of the Cabinet, was at the same time appointed by Pres. Quezon as Mayor of Manila. He was the one charged with the painful duty of surrendering Manila. This was called Greater Manila as the municipalities around Manila –Pasay, Parañaque, San Pedro Makati, San Juan, and Caloocan– were incorporated into Greater Manila. Quezon City was also made a part of it. The purpose in creating a Greater Manila was so the whole area comprising those cities and municipalities could be included in the declaration of open city. Vargas and Laurel, got in touch with Katsumi Nihro, then Japanese Consul General in Manila. In the meanwhile, all the policemen were disarmed to prevent any incident which might result in combat with the Japanese. They were merely provided with walking sticks. Big streamers were placed along Taft Avenue and P. Burgos St. by the City Hall, warning the Filipinos to keep the peace. Vargas surrendered the city without any incident. He was told by the Japanese to continue as Mayor. He as well as Laurel were approached by the Japanese about forming a Central Government. Kihara, former Japanese Vice-Consul in Manila, took part in the negotiations. General Hayashi, an old friend of Laurel, called him also about forming a government. Aquino and Recto were approached by their friend, Kanegae. Later, Mori talked with Paredes on the subject.

Laurel was the Secretary of Justice and Acting Chief Justice; Aquino was a member of the Cabinet before the last reorganization of the Cabinet by Pres. Quezon and was slated to be the Speaker of the next House of Representatives; Paredes, Floor Leader and Speaker-elect; Recto, Senator-elect. Aquino, Paredes and Recto talked to Yulo who was then Speaker of the House and slated to be the President of the Senate. Yulo decided to consult Chief Justice Avanceña, the grand old man of the Philippines, whose views are always sound and whose patriotism had already been tested. He then called the other members of the Cabinet before the last reorganization to a meeting –Teofilo Sison, Rafael Alunan, Jose Fabella, Serafin Marabut, Jorge Bocobo. Fabella could not attend as he was sick. Later, they called all the Senators in Manila. These were Ramon Fernandez, Vicente Madrigal, Melecio Arranz, Eulogio Rodriguez, Elpidio Quirino, Arnaiz and myself.

The House of Representatives in a caucus designated the following to attend the meetings: Jose Zulueta, Eugenio Perez, Jose Veloso, Tomas Oppus, Prospero Sanidad, Alfonso Mendoza. Finally, prominent people were called and those included Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, President of the first Philippine Republic; Ramon Avanceña, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; Miguel Unson, a businessman and civic leader; Alejandro Roces, another statesman, owner and publisher of the influential newspapers. Juan Sumulong, the president of the Democrata Party was included in the list. When he was approached by Secretary Bocobo, he answered that he would consult his men. He died before he could do this. There are others whose names I could not remember just now.

Many meetings were held in the covered glorietta by the swimming pool on the left side of the palatial house of Speaker Yulo. It was an ideal place for secret meetings. Almost all expressed their opinion very freely. Each had the courage to make his conviction known. The discussion was very thorough. Everybody was aware of the gravity of the situation and the momentous decision we necessarily had to make. Some were in favor of the establishment of some form of government; others were not. We were, however, agreed on one point. Under no circumstances would we accept any arrangement unless our independence was guaranteed. We made it very clear that we would not give up the freedom for which our forefathers had lavishly shed their blood.

Evidently, the Japanese negotiators transmitted this to Tokyo as Premier Tojo, on the 21st of January, in a speech before the Diet, promised independence for the Philippines if conditions of peace so warrant and if the Filipinos understood and cooperated with the aims and purposes of Japan, such s the establishment of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

After due deliberation, we decided not to form a government, but to have an organization which would merely cooperate with the Japanese civil administration in the Philippines. The Japanese, therefore, established their own civil administration in the Philippines which had all the departments and all the attributes of a government. On the other hand, the Filipinos organized a Commission with the Chairman as its chief executive.

As it turned out, the work of the Commission was of an auxiliary nature only. It could only decide routine or unimportant matters; all important matters, such as legislation and decision on policies had to be submitted to the Japanese Administration for approval.

Why did we accept such an arrangement? The following were our main reasons:

(1) To be assured of our independence whatever the result of the war might be.

(2) To be in a position to help the people. We knew the record of cruelty and brutality of the Japanese in China as many films had been shown in Manila depicting the atrocities of the Japanese. In our own country, slapping, unjustified arrests, illegal confiscation of private properties, and many other forms of abuses, had already become a common everyday happening. What could we do? We, who had repeatedly received the confidence of our people, could not forsake them precisely at a time when they had great need of us. Our personal interest should be of no account; no sacrifice is too great if dedicated to the cause of the people. We accepted, not necessarily because we were sure we could do much for our people, but in order to place ourselves in a position to help. Whether we succeeded or not only history will judge. Passion now runs high that even the most obvious might be overlooked.

(3) But our principal reason was that if we did not accept, the administration would fall into the hands of men like Artemio Ricarte, or an irresponsible person like Benigno Ramos. We are not sure that Ricarte is not a patriot. His record as a revolutionary figure points to his greatness and patriotism. But he was already over 75 years old. Somebody would have to govern for him, and history tells us that a government directed by another man behind the scene is dangerous as it generates the most iniquitous acts or acts of oppression by the government. His conduct in connecting himself with the Makapili has proven that our fear was well founded. Furthermore, Ricarte lived in Japan and was pro-Japanese and there was no one in our meeting that welcomed Japanese influence in the Philippines. Why did we think Ricarte might be head of the government? Because he came with the Japanese Expeditionary Forces and from the very beginning he was proclaiming that he was in favor of a dictatorship.

If not Ricarte, we were sure that the head of the government would have been Benigno Ramos, the head of the Makapili. He is so well known that it seems unecessary to describe him. Suffice it to say that he was an ambitious man and a degenerate. The only thing he thinks of is how to exploit other people. The many cases of “estafa” were the best proof of this assertion. He is a man without moral principles. He would not hesitate to kill to attain his purpose. The number of people killed by the Sakdals and the Makapilis is proof of this. In a government under Ramos, the people would be driven to start a revolution for they would not tolerate such indiscriminate killings,  Many of Ramos’ men –Sakdals– were killed by their own countrymen; in fact they had to concentrate themselves in places under the protective wings of the Japanese. The Filipino would have been the victim as Ramos would have been aided by the Japanese Army.

A government under Ricarte or Ramos would be used by the Japanese to commit cruelties and murders of the Filipinos.

(4) The last reason, which is no less important than the previous ones, is that we felt we were merely complying with the instructions of Pres. Quezon. These instructions are stated somewhere above. Whether we have complied faithfully or exceeded our authority, only history will decide. It should be remembered that the instructions contain no detail and all we could say for the present is that all our acts were done in good faith. If at times we apparently had exceeded our authority, it was exclusively for the purpose of avoiding a cataclysm, a great misfortune. In those instructions, Pres. Quezon foresaw the danger in leaving a government open to men like Ricarte or Ramos.

But I should reiterate that the Commission organized was not a real government. All its acts were merely delegated or had to be approved by the Japanese civil administration. We had hundreds of cases where we tried to do something or to do it in a different way, but the Japanese just did things or had them done in accordance with their whims and desires. The Office of the Director-General in the Japanese Administration was really the head of the government. It was occupied by Gen. Hayashi, and leter by Gen. Wachi.

When it was certain that a Commission was to be organized, somehow it got into my head that I may be appointed to the Commission. I wanted to avoid it by all means. As Vargas was the one dealing with the Japanese, I sked him not to have my name considered at all. Upon my insistence, he promised. He even showed me the proposed list wherein Yulo was suggested for Commissioner of Finance. When the list came out my name appeared. I became, to use a vulgar expression, groggy. My wife cried as she knew what that meant. She feared we would be in constant danger; she really hated public service as during my 29 years of service I got nothing but disappointments. I immediately went to Vargas to see whether I could decline. Vargas answered emphatically that I could not, unless I wanted to endanger my life. I consulted Mr. Ohnick. He understood the situation. He advised me to accept it, but to resign after three months. I consulted Vargas again and he said that he was aware of my situation, that he would help me get out after three months. I therefore asked for a three-month leave from Marsman & Co., which was granted. Such is the story of my acceptance.

After three months, I asked Mr. Vargas to allow me to resign. He said that it was not yet time. I asked and obtained another month’s leave of absence from Marsman & Co. At the end of the month, Mr. Vargas asked me to stay. He told me that it was for my own safety as he was sure the Japanese would consider my resignation a hostile act.

Mr. & Mrs. Ohnick were taken to Sto. Tomas again when the Japanese, for reasons I do not know, recalled all former internees, including the old and sick, to the Sto. Tomas concentration camp.


June 18, 1945 Monday

Discussions have been raging as to whether the policies and acts of America in the Philippines at the present time are correct. The almost unanimous opinion is that America is committing a blunder in the Philippines and, consequently, alienating a good portion of the Filipinos. They say the acts of the Americans in the Philippines after the reconquest, especially concerning the alleged “collaborationists” are uncalled for and unjustified.

The reason it out this way. America came to the Philippines under the most suspicious circumstances. She fought Spain to save the Cubans from the atrocities of Spain. As an incident of that war, Dewey entered Manila Bay, destroyed the Spanish fleet, and later with the American Army, set foot on Philippine soil. It is said that Dewey promised Aguinaldo that America would respect the independence of the Philippines which the Filipinos had won from Spain. Because of that promise the Filipinos helped the Americans. Later, when the Spaniards left, the Americans refused to leave the Philippine soil. Fighting between the Americans and the Filipinos began. As was to be expected we Filipinos were vanquished, America decided to occupy the Philippines.

The Filipinos were heartened when President McKinley announced America’s policy in the Philippines. He said that the Philippines would be prepared for self-government. America had been true to that policy. Little by little we were granted government powers. Filipinos were called to run the provincial and municipal governments. An elective assembly was created which, with the Philippine Commission, exercised the legislative powers. Later, the Senate was created. The Legislature, composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives, was created and to it was granted all legislative powers. This was in accordance with the Jones Law approved in 1916. Almost all the government positions were given to Filipinos. Naturally, we were all very grateful to America. In the same law there was a definite promise that independence would be granted upon the establishment of a stable government.

Some discontent arose when later independence did not come notwithstanding the promise contained in the Jones Law. However, the law had not been definite and clear as to when independence would be granted. All doubts were cleared up when in 1935, the Independence Law—Tydings-McDuffie Act—was approved. It provided for independence after ten years. This ten year period was thought to be necessary for economic readjustment since Philippine export trade was almost wholly with America. Notwithstanding our opposition, it established free trade and other economic policies that intertwined the Philippine economic system to that of the United States. In accordance with the Tydings-McDuffie Act, the Commonwealth of the Philippines was organized, to cover the 10 year period of readjustment. As the economic provisions of the Tydings-McDuffie Act intended to facilitate the readjustment were not satisfactory, we sent Missions to the United States to work for the necessary modification. I was a member of one of those Missions. We met very little success in this connection. When the war broke out in 1941, we had covered over one-half of the readjustment period.

Needless to say, the Filipinos were filled with gratitude towards the United States. The Americans could have enslaved us, but they preferred to treat us as free people. They could have exploited our country, reserving for themselves the abundant resources of the country, but they preferred to leave them for us to enjoy. They could have imposed terms which would reserve for them certain rights or which would grant them preferential advantages. Instead, however, they would allow us to have absolute freedom in our future relationship with America. America meant to give us the kind of independence we had worked for. The readjustment period will expire in 1946, so that in that year we shall have our independence.

How can we now work against the interest of America under these circumstances? It is unthinkable. The Japanese did not do anything in the Philippines, something they should have done, to get the sympathy and support of the Filipino people.

Before her occupation by the Japanese, there was a good portion of Filipinos in sympathy with Japan. This was because of race and geographical considerations. They sincerely believed that the destiny of our country was with Japan and that we will have to be a member of a League of Nations composed of the Far Eastern countries. In view of the announced policy of Japan of not considering us as enemies and of recognizing our independence very soon, naturally the Filipinos expected to be treated as equals.

But from the very beginning, the Japanese conducted themselves in such a fashion that they alienated the Filipinos. One of the acts was to require the Filipinos to bow to the Japanese sentries. Bowing is a practice in Japan which is good and can very well be obeyed. But the Filipinos were not accustomed to such a practice; they thought they were being made to salute the Japanese, to acknowledge them as superior and master of the Filipinos. This the Filipinos could not accept, as a consequence, many failed to salute and were immediately punished. The worst part of it was that, on occasions when the Filipinos obeyed, the Japanese sentries insisted in having the bow executed properly, although the correct form had never been communicated to the Filipinos. The usual punishment for not saluting is slapping. High government officials and prominent people did not escape punishment. Slapping, perhaps caused more people to hold themselves aloof from or even to hate the Japanese than any other act of the Japanese.

Those incidents showed that the Japanese did not respect our customs, did not know the psychology of the Filipino people. Even soldiers not on sentry duty and Japanese civilians indulged in this pastime. The ranking Japanese officers saw the effects of slapping and other abuses being committed by the Japanese soldiers and civilians and they endeavored to stop them, but they met with very little success. General Tanaka himself toured the whole country for the purpose, and it was in that trip that he contracted the sickness which kept him in bed for many months.

The Japanese civilians had a pretty good share in the commission of abuses. Their hands were into almost everything. They commandeered automobiles. They compelled house owners to rent their buildings or houses to them or to their Filipino friends at very low rents. They took over almost all Filipino businesses. In Batangas, one Japanese tried to acquire all the “batels” (sail boats) to have a monopoly of the water transportation business. At that time, Batangas ports were being extensively used for shipping to the Southern Islands on the “batels”. The Batangueños were so angry that, to show their oppositions to this form of robbery, it is said that a Japanese was tied to the mast of one of the “batels” and burned alive. Filipinos who refused to sell their business would be threatened; if this fails to scare them, the Japanese would get the business by force. They compelled the sale of the T.V.T. newspapers to them. If the intention was just to control the press they could have done so without compelling the sale to them. The Japanese civilians alleged that they had been appointed agents of the Japanese Army or Navy to take over businesses to bolster the war efforts. Some businesses are really necessary for war purposes, but it would take a wide stretch of the imagination to consider other businesses in connection with the war efforts.

This monopolization of Filipino business caused the Filipinos to doubt the much vaunted purposes of creating the “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.” They say it is not “co-prosperity” but “prosperity ko.” “Ko” is the Tagalog word for my or mine. It was obvious that even if political independence were granted, the Japanese meant to make slaves of us, economically speaking.

I did my best to curtail this activity of the Japanese. I did it under the guise of inflation prevention. I knew the Japanese businessmen were being lavishly financed by the Japanese banks (for they did not bring any capital from the outside) and I alleged that it was increasing circulation and consequently causing inflation. I was not very successful. Gen. Utsonomiya with whom I had various conferences seemed to be unwilling or unable to help. Only in very few cases was I able to succeed. Some of the businesses I remember having intervened in is the Puyat Furniture Co., and the Philippine Refining Co. which had the monopoly of sugar refinery in the Philippines. The only Filipino businesses that thrived during the Japanese regime were the “buy and sell” business and the real estate business. In the “buy and sell” business, only those who sold war materials to the Japanese Army and Navy got rich. As to the real estate business its boom was caused by the apparently high values of real estate (I say “apparently” because the fact was that the low value of the Japanese military notes, made the prices seem high).

Returning to the matter of the maltreatment of Filipinos at Japanese hands, the cruelty displayed was to say the least horrifying. Many Filipinos were subjected to severe beatings and other forms of corporal punishment. Many were killed. One of those subjected to torture was Dr. Antonio Sison, Director of the Philippine General Hospital, Dean of the College of Medicine and Surgery, and President of the University of the Philippines. Dr. Sison was very strict in the performance of his duties as Director of Philippine General Hospital. He treated everybody equally; gave no special privileges in the hospital no matter how rich and influential the patient may be. Unfortunately, some Filipinos resented this. One of those harboring a grudge against Dr. Sison denounced him to the Japanese military authorities as being the Chief Surgeon of the U.S. Army in the Philippines. The accusation of course turned out to be false. He was arrested, tied to a post blindfolded for more than ten days with practically no food. He was almost dead when released because of the intervention of Pres. Laurel and his brother, Minister Teofilo Sison of the Interior. In this connection, I should state that at the start of the war, Dr. Sison was a great admirer of the Germans and Japanese. He was one of the assiduous students learning Nippongo. His admiration for the Japanese did not last long, soon replaced by a feeling bordering on hate. He dropped the study of Nippongo.

In Batangas, at the beginning the majority of the inhabitants were very friendly towards the Japanese. But the appointment of a Captain Sakai as Chief of the Military Police (Kempetai) soon changed this. Many were arrested, interrogated, slapped and tortured. At one time, Capt. Sakai made a list of prominent people in Batangas and required them all to surrender their revolvers. Many complied; those who did not were punished. I remember my cousin, Luis Atienza of the barrio of Sambat, Taal, in this connection. He received one of those letters. He consulted me as to what he should do. He said that his friends advised him to buy a revolver and surrender it. I answered: “You should not consult me. You ought to know me well enough by this time. Since you say that you have no revolver, do not acquire one. Don’t allow your dignity to be trampled on, accept any punishment that may be meted out to you. It is not dishonorable to receive punishment when you stand up to what is right.” I later regretted that I gave such an advice as I was thereby assuming too much responsibility. Sakai had done much to propagate anti-Japanese feeling in Batangas. This is the reason why guerrillas multiplied in Batangas.

We naturally protested vehemently against such brutal treatment of the Filipinos. I went to see Gen. Utsonomiya many times to request the removal of Capt. Sakai from office. After a long delay, he was finally transferred to Laguna. I heard that in his new post he changed, became very friendly to all the Filipinos especially the “guerrilleros.” He was able to make many “guerrilleros” surrender. He used to go to the mountains alone. In one of those trips he was murdered. The story was that he agreed to meet an important leader of the “guerrilleros” who wanted to negotiate. The followers of the guerrilla leader discovered the plan and, in order to foil the surrender, murdered Sakai.

Another practice so much resented by the Filipinos was “zoning”. A barrio or town is surrounded; all the inhabitants are ordered to proceed to a small place, usually a school house or a church. There they are kept without food and any sanitation facilities. The men are ordered to line up. A Filipino who is hooded walks down the line, pointing out those he believed to be guerrillas or enemies of the Japanese. The accused are forthwith arrested and punished. In many cases, they are never seen again. I have witnessed “zoning” in my youth; the Americans under General Bell, practiced it in Batangas in 1901.

We in government did all we could to save the lives of Filipinos and to free them from imprisonment or detention by the Japanese. Hon. Jose Abad Santos was the Secretary of Justice and former Justice of the Supreme Court who, according to reliable information, was the one to whom President Quezon left all affairs of government when he departed for the United States. When we heard that he was being held by the Japanese in Cebu, we talked to General Wachi, Director General of the Japanese Military Administration, and other generals and asked them most insistently to free Mr. Abad Santos. We explained that he was an Orientalist. We also talked to Col. Kawakami who was the Commander of the Army and in whose hands was placed the fate of Mr. Abad Santos. We were told that our intervention came too late as Mr. Abad Santos had already been executed. Kawakami was extremely cruel to the Filipinos. He was reported to be mentally deranged.

When we heard that Gen. Manuel Roxas was being held by the Japanese in Mindanao, we also took the necessary steps to free him. We were also told that he had already been executed. It appeared that Roxas had really been sentenced to death, but the Colonel in charge refused to carry out the sentence. We later discovered that Gen. Roxas had been brought to Manila. We do not know whether our intervention had any influence at all in Gen. Roxas’ case.

We also intervened in behalf of many other Filipinos. I was always one of those who intervened.

One day my friend, Representative Feliciano Gomez, came to see me to ask me for help for the Mayor of his town as he was being sought by the Japanese. The Mayor, Mr. Alinsod, was accused of being the head of the guerrillas in the town. He assured me that he was not a guerrilla. I talked to General Kawazoe, Chief of Staff of the Army in Central Luzon, who promised to investigate. After a few days, the General came to me, bringing with him papers which proved that the Mayor was really the head of the guerrillas in Sta. Rosa and that he provided guns and food to the guerrillas. I called Mr. Alinsod and asked him to tell me the whole truth. The Mayor confessed. I saw Gen. Kawazoe again, told him the truth, but I strongly urged that the Mayor be given another chance and I would be willing to guarantee his future good conduct. The Mayor was not arrested. He later joined his companions in the mountains and continued his guerrilla activities until the landing of the Americans in Leyte.

Another case was that of Mr. Calingasan, Mayor of Tuy, Batangas. Calingasan had been one of my best leaders when I ran several times for Representative. I remember that in one of our political meetings in Tuy, a fight ensued. Calingasan drew his dagger and challenged the rioters. The disturbance stopped. Calingasan was arrested by the Japanese, charged with being a guerrillero and with having furnished food to American guerrillas. His family came to me to solicit my good offices. I talked to Gen. Kawazoe. The General showed me the papers of the Mayor, among which was an affidavit admitting his guilt. I insisted that the Mayor be released, promising good conduct on his part in the future. The general acceded and Mr. Calingasan was delivered to me in my house. He had various scars on his body as he was tortured during his imprisonment in Nasugbu.

I intervened in various cases of guerrilleros caught by the Japanese. I succeeded in very few cases. One of the patriots I tried to save was Mrs. Antonio Escoda, wife of the newspaperman whose underground activities were well-known and who was captured and put to death by the Japanese. Because of the capture of her husband, she sensed that she would be arrested too. I employed her in my department to show the Japanese that she was cooperating with the administration. All my efforts were in vain because she was arrested and executed.

Another person I tried to help was Gen. Vicente Lim. I was making arrangements to employ Gen. Lim in my department to camouflage his underground activities when he disappeared. I heard later that he tried to escape to Australia and was captured. He was executed.

Many persons representing themselves to be guerrillas came to my house to request for monetary aid. I was very careful in dealing with them because the Japanese Military Police had employed spies to catch Filipino officials who were in contact or cooperating with the guerrillas. However, whenever I was sure they were genuine guerrillas and could be trusted, I gave them valuable information and some monetary aid. I could not give as much money as I would have wanted because I did not have much to spare. Three Filipino guerrillas with whom I had constant contact were Colonels Baya and Jurado, and Lieutenant Jimenez. I personally knew they belonged to the USAFFE. Lt. Jimenez was in constant contact with Bataan and Corregidor and I was able to give him valuable information. I remember I gave some monetary aid to Lt. Lazaro Malabanan who came in behalf of a large guerrilla organization in Batangas, and Ramon Cabrera of the Ateneo de Manila.

One case I would specially like to mention is that of Roberto Vallejo, nicknamed Berto. He was our cook in Manila and we took him with us to Baguio when the government evacuated to that city. From the very beginning, I noticed that he was always out specially at night. During air raids, he would not enter our shelter but instead would stay in an open space. I asked my wife to dismiss him. It was then that he revealed to us that he was a Sergeant in the guerrilla forces. He showed me all his papers. He said he had to observe and report on the effects of the bombings. I immediately relieved him of his duties as our cook so he can concentrate on the performance of his patriotic duties.

Much of the difficulty in our effort to save lives was due to the rather unusual organization of the Japanese Army in the Philippines. Local commanders do not seem to be under any central authority as they paid no attention to orders or requests from Manila. The local commanders would arrest provincial and municipal officials and peaceful law abiding citizens notwithstanding orders, rules and regulations emanating from higher officers in Manila. We were repeatedly frustrated. Many times we were able to obtain the release orders of arrested persons from higher officials in Manila, but local commanders would disregard them.

The punishment inflicted by the Japanese were of the most cruel nature. They also enforced collective responsibility. For the death of a Japanese soldier, masses are massacred and towns burned. This happened in a town in Tayabas.

Another cause of discontent is the forcible eviction of Filipinos from their homes or the forcible taking of private buildings and houses. There were all kinds of abuses in this connection. They would notify the house owner to leave with a certain period and he has to comply. If the buildings and houses were to be used for military purposes, we Filipinos would have understood the necessity of giving up our homes, although we would have objected to the method employed. But in many cases, we just could not see how military necessity enters. The houses are not strategically located and sometimes only one or two officers live in them. In some cases, the houses were left unoccupied and as a result they were looted. Don Vicente Singson Encarnacion was forced to leave his house. The house, which was left vacant for a long period of time, was vandalized. To settle all conflicts, a House Committee was created in accordance with an understanding with the military authorities. However, from the very start, the Japanese officers paid no attention to the committee, and soon thereafter the membership of the committee had to be changed several times as nobody cared to serve in it.

An incident happened with reference to the house on Taft Avenue belonging to the in-laws of my daughter, Natividad. The Cojuangcos were notified by the Japanese officers that the house was to be occupied by the military. Naturally, the owners expressed their desire to have the matter submitted to the House Committee. They had good reasons not to give up their house. I took the matter up with Malacañan and with the House Committee. The Japanese officers returned and told the owner that they must leave within two days and upon failure to do so, they would be thrown out into the streets with all their furniture and belongings. When the Japanese were told that the matter was being investigated by the House Committee, they answered: “Never mind Committee. They are all crooks.” The owners had to leave, transferring to a very small house and moving almost all the furniture. A few days later, they found out that the occupants of the house were Filipino women who were mistresses of the officers. Barely a month passed when the owners found the house abandoned. They returned to the house.

When Gen. Homma announced that the Japanese came as friends of the Filipinos, and when General Tojo announced that the Philippines would be granted her independence immediately and later in October, 1943, actually granted our independence, there was general rejoicing and genuine expression of gratitude to Japan on the part of the Filipinos. There were many, however, who doubted the sincerity of Japan. They turned out to be right. After independence, the changes affected were only in names and expressions. The Japanese continued to intervene in public affairs especially in the provinces. They continued to arrest and abuse the Filipino; they even arrested public officials without notifying the President or the corresponding high authority. They still controlled businesses. Confiscation still continued.

Before the organization of the Republic, each ministry had Japanese advisers. After the Republic, all were withdrawn, with the exception of the Ministries of Finance and Agriculture. They refused to allow the Minister of Finance to supervise Japanese banks and to control Japanese investments and credit. The offices in the Japanese Administration corresponding to the different ministries remained, however, and continued to give suggestions to the Filipino officials which under the circumstances had to be followed. I must recognize, however, that my adviser, Dr. Haraguti, had been very good to me. He expressed approval or at least sympathy for my plans. But unfortunately, he seemed to be powerless and the military people continued to be the deciding factor. I should add that Japanese officials continued to intervene in private affairs.

To top it all, after the Americans landed, the retreating Japanese massacred everybody in sight, by guns, bayonets and hand grenades. Some of the victims were my own daughter, Natividad, married to Ramon Cojuangco, and my brother-in-law, Jose Lualhati, husband of Conchita.

Many Filipinos joined the American Army to avenge the deaths of their dear ones. It would be unthinkable that Filipinos would not turn pro-American, or that they would do anything to jeopardize America’s war efforts, even those who cooperated with the Japanese. But instead the Americans arrested many of them, including almost all the Filipino high officials during the Japanese regime who served only to help their own people. They arrested numerous persons for flimsy motives and for complaints which generally come from persons who harbor grudges against the accused or who try to make the Americans believe that they are the real “guerrilleros.” The Americans are sowing seeds for anti-American feelings. The Filipinos actively work for Philippine independence because, as they say, if we drive all the Japanese and Americans away, we could manage our affairs without any kind of interference. There will be opposition to any movement that might tie us up with America politically.


May 27, 1943

Lunch with Mrs. Luther Bewley, the wife of my old director of education in the Philippines, who is now a prisoner of the Japanese at Santo Tomas. She and her sweet daughter were the last to escape from Corregidor by plane.

She admires MacArthur and particularly so Wainwright and says the latter became very bitter against the Administration for breach of promise as to the relief of Bataan and Corregidor. She added that the Commander of the Philippine Department several years before the war went home and pleaded to have Corregidor supplied with sufficient food and ammunition to withstand a six years’ siege–actually they had only three months’ supply! Says Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos was present in the deliberations of the Cabinet with Quezon before they went to Corregidor: they framed four questions and cabled them to Roosevelt and got categoric and favourable replies as to help to be sent immediately, and how much and when! Then nothing was done. Santos became bitter and refused to leave the Philippines with Quezon, was caught by the Japanese and shot.

Mrs. Bewley said she saw Manuel Roxas at Dansalan in Mindanao. The Japanese were then only 20 miles away; Roxas refused to come with them, largely on Wainwright’s advice. Filipinos are exceedingly bitter against Quezon for leaving. Mrs. Bewley added that before Pearl Harbor, all Army and Navy officers in the Philippines thought war with Japan could be won in three weeks. Roosevelt knew perfectly of the ill-feeling between the Army and Navy commanders at Pearl Harbor, and did nothing about it.

Finally, Mrs. Bewley expressed the opinion that Quezon could win back his people upon his return to the Philippines.

This is the last entry in my diary for almost thirteen weeks. President Quezon nearly demonstrated the old saying that “a funeral breeds funerals.” He fell seriously ill a few days after going to the cemetery to attend the funeral of the late Mrs. Taft.


November 5, 1942

At Shoreham Hotel with Quezon whom I had not seen for at least two months–he looked pale and weaker. Told me he had been in bed for a long time, that for a while he could not walk, and I saw a wheel chair in Canceran’s office. As the conversation developed, he showed his usual animation and the colour came back to his cheeks.

I asked him again about the killing of Manuel Roxas and Jose Abad Santos by the Japanese. He said Manuel Roxas had not been killed but was still fighting in the mountains (of Mindanao?). Jose Abad Santos who had (deliberately) missed the last plane from Cebu had been caught there by the Japanese and had been shot. I asked him why? He could not explain but remarked “He left Corregidor in my party.” Said he would have been a really great Chief Justice, but could never have been President because he had no executive ability.

He said he doubted whether the Japanese would ever have been inclined to attack the Philippines if it had not been for the presence of the United States there. Doubts now whether the Japanese would even allow moderate self-government to the Filipinos. Thinks however that the war is already as good as won, since the crushing defeat which Rommel suffered in Africa this week. As soon as Germany cracks, England and the United States can defeat the Japanese. Then he said to me: “We shall be back in the Philippines in 1944.”

Meanwhile, he said, it would make no difference if the Japanese won the battle of the Solomons, occupied Australia–or even India. Added they will have to be completely knocked out–will never give up. I pointed out how prudent the Japanese Government had been in giving up their spoils after three previously successful wars, when called on to do so by the Concert of Powers. He stated that this was because of their long-range planning, and that now they had attained their real objective, they would never back down. They must be smashed.

He then launched into a half-hour’s panegyric of the English. He had always been very anti-English before, and had denounced them savagely on his arrival in Washington for their collapse in Singapore. He now says that when it comes to their own real interests, such as the defense of England or of Egypt, nobody can fight more stubbornly than the English–he praised particularly their stand in front of Alexandria when they had already lost all their new material to Rommel. Previously he had always hated Churchill as an “arrogant imperialist” but now admits that he is a typical John Bull and is the man of the day. Continued with a vivid tribute to Queen Elizabeth in overthrowing the Spanish and French powers.

Was not much inclined to discuss last week’s overwhelming Republic gain in the elections in the United States. Remarked that his friend Justice Frankfurter had been “very silly–he is so ardently pro-English”–but did not explain what he meant.

Afternoon game of bridge during which he coughed frequently. Was due to entertain Justice Frank Murphy alone at dinner–explaining to me that there were certain subjects he wished Murphy to discuss with President Roosevelt. But just as Murphy arrived, Quezon was taken by a very severe fit of asthma, and doctors scurried in to attend him. He went to bed after an injection. Murphy was much worried, as indeed we all were.

Murphy and I talked together for 3/4 hour. Extremely interesting conversation about the election, and causes thereof.


August 28, 1942

Quezon gave a luncheon in his rooms for “Chick” Parsons, the first person to leave the Philippines and return to the United States whom we have seen since the Quezon party arrived here in May. What confidential messages he brought to Quezon have not yet been told me.

All Quezon’s family and staff were clustered around Parsons, each one anxious for news of home and friends. General Kilbourne, Superintendent of V.M.I., who long ago used to command on Corregidor, was also present.

Parsons gave his news succinctly and had a ready response to all questions.

The general impression he gives is that Japanese rule in the Philippines is fairly lenient. All American men and women over military age are free from internment and living in their own homes. The chief difficulty is in lack of money, due to freezing of American and foreign banks. Jake Rosenthal is busy getting checks from Americans and selling them (without commission) for what they will bring–80% or even 50%. This, Parsons thought to be very kind because the checks are on the frozen banks “which will probably never be opened again.”

Americans of military age are interned in the new buildings of Santo Tomas University in Manila.

72,000 soldiers are interned, the Filipinos (including Scouts) at Stotsenburg, and the Americans at Fort McKinley.

Those Filipinos, such as Manuel Roxas, and Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos, who accompanied Quezon to Corregidor have been shot. (Quezon told me this in an aside–“not executed but shot”). Parsons said that there have been others “executed.” (N.B. Most fortunately, the news of the shooting of Manuel Roxas was false).

I asked Quezon what part Aguinaldo was playing, and he said “I don’t really care to talk about that.”

Bennet of the Bulletin and Dick of the Free Press are in prison in the dungeons of Fort Santiago.

The Quezon girls asked Parsons how the people felt about their leaving for Corregidor, and he replied that all were in favour of it because otherwise they would have been used as hostages to exert pressure on their father.

General Vicente Lim has not been released, as reported, and is not likely to be.

Quezon questioned Parsons as to the loyalty of the Filipinos–he replied that Quezon never had the people so united behind him as at present.

He next asked about Major Speth, the Vice Mayor of Baguio, an American of German descent and one of his closest friends. Parsons said “he is practically governor of the (Mountain) Province now.” Then Quezon told the experiences of Speth during the invasion. He was having coffee with Quezon when Camp John Hay was bombed. On leaving that night for the south, Quezon took Speth with him, but sent him back to see the Commander of the Japanese troops in the north, to ask that Baguio not be damaged, since it was undefended. This Speth tried to do but was arrested by the American general in command there and thrown into prison as a fifth columnist. On learning of this Quezon telephoned the general asking that Speth be released, but the general replied: “He talked himself into this, let him talk himself out.” So Quezon telephoned MacArthur, saying that Speth had merely done for Baguio what MacArthur had done for Manila, in declaring it an open city–so Speth was released.

I asked Parsons if any Filipino troops were still resisting, and he replied: “I hope not.”

Cebu has been burned as far up as tho church by the Filipinos.

Inter-island traffic is by vinta; there are no steamers.

The Calumpit bridge has not yet been repaired; the Manila Railroad Co. is still being run by Paez.

Imported food is no longer available; plenty of native food.

Japanese are keen about iron mines; are not interested in gold mines, of which only the lower levels have been flooded; the mills are intact. They want chromium, but the mine at Acoje cannot be used because the wharf has been destroyed.

Quezon was thrilled to learn that his radio addresses are heard in the Philippines. Parsons says the Japanese did not seize radios–only took antennae–so the Filipinos have installed new antennae buried in the ground.

Public schools are open, but the use of English is abolished; teaching is in Tagalog; at least one year of Japanese is required. Universities are closed.

Parsons told us no atrocity stories at luncheon; I had no means of seeing him alone.