Railways in Mindanao: Then and Now

Department of Transportation and Communications, 2010

 

News is that the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) has approved a Feasibility Study to proceed for the proposed Mindanao Railway Project. The map above gives an indication of the scope of the proposed railway system.It’s been a long time coming. An overview of railways in the past can be found in The Colonial Iron Horse: Railroads and Regional Development in the Philippines, 1875-1935 by Arturo G. Corpuz. The British, of course, were railway pioneers in the Philippines, and as this report on a US Congressional Hearing in 1904 shows, the Americans were wary of British commercial interests in this regard. See also a 1907 journal article by Frank McIntyre, Railroads in the Philippine Islands.

The Philippine Diary Project gives a glimpse into the first glimmerings of a railway scheme for Mindanao. These glimpses are through the diary of Francis Burton Harrison, former Governor-General, and who served as an adviser to the Commonwealth of the Philippines from 1935-36 and again from 1942-44 (and after independence, on foreign affairs). Aside from having been a chief executive, Harrison was a longtime resident of the United Kingdom and was thus attuned both to British psychology and their reliance on railways, in contrast to the American preference for highways. See Planes, trains, and automobiles from July 16, 2008 for some background:

Courtesy of Augusto de Viana is The railways in Philippine history which, however, so compresses the most interesting years, the 20s to the 50s, as to render that section meaningless. Oh well. Viviana overlooks the ambivalence and even hostility American officials felt towards railways, since it would affect the Philippine market for automobiles… When autonomy was achieved, railroad development accelerated. And the policy debate on highways versus railways also began, along with still-unrealized plans such as a railroad for Mindanao (the development of Maria Cristina Fall’s hydroelectric power was originally envisioned as primarily powering the Mindanao railways: there are interesting snippets on these debates in F.B. Harrison’s diary: as an Anglophile, he was pro-railways, pointing with envy to Britain’s not altogether altruistic promotion of its own steam engine industry in its colonies…

Harrison’s interest in railways can be seen in his entry for October 25-29, 1935, Harrison records an extended conversation with Alejandro Roces, the leading newspaper publisher at the time:

Roces, Sr. advocates a National Transportation Corporation to take over all the motor bus lines –capital required now is about three million pesos but they would take shares or installment payments; they can be run as feeders for the Railroad. Paez agrees with him. Roces advocates moving Bilibid prison out of town and making the site a central market and the hub of motor buses –thus cutting out the middleman. This has been tried in Spain –and is a success.

His interest is also shown by railways-related details he notices. Two days before the inauguration of the Commonwealth (November 13, 1935), Harrison visits Pasay and noticed,

Called at Pasay. Quezon was closeted with General MacIntyre, General Creed Cox (Chief of the Bureau of Insular Affairs), Osmeña, Roxas, Paez and Carmona –I believe they were discussing the subject of the bonds of the Manila Railroad.

Harrison quite early on (the idea was first broached in broad strokes on November 2, 1935, thirteen days before the inauguration of the Commonwealth) was engaged as an adviser on communications, and his first task was advising the Philippine government on how to handle the British owners of the Manila Railway Company. See his diary entry for November 26, 1935:

We then discussed my appointment as Adviser on Communications and he asked me also to help him in the reorganization of the government. He is to put me in touch with Quirino and Paez on the purchase of the Manila RR. bonds from the English.

Harrison seems to have immediately set about getting himself up to speed on the railway situation. See his diary entry for November 27, 1935:

Talk with [James J.] Rafferty and McCreery, who is auditor and acting manager of the Philippine Railway. He said that the Iloilo line, is practically self-sustaining. Cebu is not suited to a railway.

Two days later, he was actively taking up the task assigned him with the railways manager. See his diary entry for November 29, 1935:

Conference 9-10 a.m. with [Jose] Paez over the proposed purchase of the Manila RR. Southern 4’s from the Southern Syndicate. He is much in favor of accepting the British offer, and says that if the plan is carried thru’ the RR. can meet its indebtedness for interest even in bad times.

About a week later, he was being consulted by representatives of investors on what to do, see his entry for December 6, 1935:

[John H.] Pardee wants to know whether the Philippine Railway Co., should pay its Dutch bond holders on a gold basis, or whether the Manila RR. had decided that under American law they could pay only 4%. If so, the Philippine Railway Co., would pay only 4%, because the gold clause was not in their bonds and upon “instructions” from the Secretary of War in the time of Taft this had not been followed by a vote of their board. No written word of this exists in the War Department today.

Three days later, the government position was formally communicated to the new National Assembly. See Message of President Quezon to the First National Assembly on Railroad Bonds Redemption, December 9, 1935.

Politics being what it is, by December 15, 1935 Harrison was noticing political intrigue concerning his assignment on railways:

[A.D. Williams] reported that it is now rumoured that I came out here this time to advance the interests of the English in the Manila RR. bond redemption. (Exactly contrary to facts –as usual). Says Paez insisted on resigning if the bonds are not redeemed. I feel certain we could have made a better bargain with the English; that I could have done it; and that it is legally possible to avoid paying them receipts from the “gold clause” in the bonds, and that the English know it. (N.B. Quezon asked me to prepare “advise” on this subject and then never asked for my opinion.)

Five days after that, Harrison records his discussions with the president, and then with the British consul on December 20, 1935 (along the way it’s an interesting glimpse into the contending interests that come into play whenever any commercial interest is affected by government policies –press, politicians, governments local and foreign, get into the act):

Then I asked him [Quezon] what was the matter with the Manila RR. bond purchase? He said it has been held up to enquire of the United States Government as to whether they considered that the Philippine Government was resposible for the principal of these bonds; they had replied thru the High Commissioner in the affirmative –so Quezon said the bill would go through because this meant that the United States would act on the maturity of the bonds and seize the Customs House. He said that if the American Government had decided this Government was not responsible for the principal, he was going to say to the English that he had been in favour of purchase but the Legislature demands better terms. I told him that this Government was not responsible for principal of these bonds –that just as we had bought the railroad we could sell it. Then he said Confesor (Assemblyman) had told him of F. Theo Roger’s (of Free Press) story that I had come out here to get what I could for the English! He said that he had authorized Confesor to state the true facts in the Legislature –that this impugned his honor as well as my own– that he would put Rogers in prison if he printed such a gross libel. He asked me to bring him the memorandum on these bonds which I had prepared for him on December 6, which I did…

…I then went to home of A.P. Blunt, British Consul General –he did not get there until 8 o’clock, having been at work in his office, getting off in the mail all his reports on governmental development here… As I left, Blunt asked me in a casual voice what had happened about the purchase of the Manila RR. bonds –I said there had been “a hitch.” He eagerly enquired “what hitch?” I said it had been caused by Vicente Villamin’s speech –“ah!” he said “they fear the wily English bankers, whereas our fellows would rather get this agreement now than perhaps lose everything later.” I replied that there was much to be said on each side, but I really thought the deal would go through –(it passed the Legislature just about that time).

The story resumes some weeks later, on January 16, 1936:

I asked him [Quezon] whether he wanted me to talk public business at luncheon, and he replied that he enjoyed it with people he liked. Told him I had just been with Paez and had written for him (Quezon) an opinion on the Manila RR. I advised him to instruct the public utilities commission to stop for the present issuing any more “certificates” or licenses for the bus lines. Said he would do so. Told him it was fortunate he could put the railroad and the busses under one control –other countries could not now do so but he was catching the situation nearly as it began.

I also expressed the hope that he would be able to get the Legislature to agree to permit the Manila Railroad to abandon those branches which were (dead) unprofitable.

(a few days later, on January 20, 1936, Harrison would note that he submitted a memorandum on Manila Railroad plans “for the next few years”). A few months later, the situation seems to have been resolved, as recorded in his diary entry for March 19, 1936:

Quirino said to me that my silver purchase suggestion was “gaining ground.” He also remarked that I had helped in the purchase of the Manila Railroad bonds, because I knew the “psychological background” of the English bondholders.

But this entry is about the proposed Mindanao Railway. And here, Harrison gives insights into the thinking behind the Mindanao Railway –and the opposition to it.

The entries related to a Mindanao Railways plan start on February 18, 1936, when A.D. Williams, the American adviser of the government on public works, makes an inquiry with Harrison:

A. D. Williams came in to enquire whether there was any basis for Quezon’s newspaper statement that it was being considered whether to build main roads in Mindanao, or railroads, which would cost ten times as much and probably be a heavy loss. We agreed that roads were the modern solution, and that a railroad was only justified if leading to a mine or other heavy industry.

A month later, Harrison, on March 17, 1936 notes that Teofisto Guingona, Sr. (who would be Commissioner of Mindanao and Sulu) had a different point of view:

Guingona is in favour of constructing roads rather than railroads in Mindanao.

The clash between these points of views is discussed in his entry for March 25, 1936:

Busy morning at office. Miguel Unson has seen Quezon…

We talked over the issue of railway vs. roads in Mindanao: he says the plan is to take down there that useless railroad outfit in Cebu, and perhaps in Iloilo as well, and to build roads as feeders. I also saw Osmeña for a moment before the Cabinet meeting and he talked on the same subject: says the time has come to decide either for railroad or roads, and not to make the same mistake as in Luzon, where they run parallel.

It seems that the issue continued to remain unresolved –or that those opposed to railways were still lobbying to change the policy. See Harrison’s entry for April 28, 1936:

At Malacañan. A. D. Williams had just come from a conference with Quezon, Paez and Ramon Fernandez; says the President is set on building railways in Mindanao, and “A.D.” and Fernandez tried to convince him they would not pay. “A.D.” said he thought he had offended Quezon still more by replying to his (Quezon’s) complaints that the roads offered too unfair competition to the Manila Railroad, that the competition from trucks was unfair and when they had finally managed by January 1, 1936 to get the tax on trucks raised from one peso to two pesos per 100 kilos, the rate had at once been reduced again. This was Quezon’s own doing on the advice of Geo. Vargas, and they both looked pretty glum.

But the policy remained. See May 8, 1936:

This morning, Quezon gave a press interview to both “foreign” and “local” reporters. Evidently, he had important things to give out. The newspapers published:

(a)  A statement that Davao land “leases” would go to the courts.

(b)  The President contemplates the construction of a 150 kilometer (300!) electric railway between Davao and Cagayan de Misamis, and also would complete the Aloneros-Pasacao gap in the southern lines of the Manila Railroad. The Maria Cristina Falls in Lanao are to be used for part of the power for the first project.

(c)  That the Philippines would sooner ask for immediate independence than wait for the end of the ten years period if there are no prospects of improving the provisions of the economic clauses of the Tydings-McDuffie law.

Still, the opponents of the railways scheme hadn’t given up, as recorded in this entry for May 9, 1936:

[A.D. Williams] told me again of a talk with Quezon concerning transportation. It arose out of a project to build a wharf for the Cebu Portland Cement Co. Williams pointed out that this would reduce the revenues of the Cebu Railway. Quezon replied: “our guarantee of interest on the bonds expires next year. We will have to buy the road and move it.” Williams agreed and suggested moving it to Negros. Quezon remained silent. What he wants is to move it to Mindanao which Williams opposes since he believes that a railroad would be so much more expensive to maintain and operate than roads.

The policy, however, still remained. As the entry for May 18, 1936, the railways head was dispatched to Mindanao to conduct an inspection:

Quezon returned from Hong Kong and after a day at Malacañan left for Baguio. His office work is greatly in arrears and is in confusion. Vargas handed me a memorandum prepared by Quezon dated April 14 in Iloilo, addressed to me, (and unsigned) asking me to prepare papers to carry out the recommendations of the annual report of the Manila Railroad Co. This I received May 18!! Vargas says he found it “on the boat” (Arayat?). I hardly think it was meant for me, anyway, but probably for Paez who is away inspecting the line for the proposed railroad in Mindanao.

A month later, the lobbying of the National Assembly included a pitch for the Mindanao railways scheme, see June 6, 1936:

Before making wharf at Iligan, Quezon addressed the Assemblymen, asking for funds for the development of Mindanao. He used maps, and said that an electric railway was to be built from Misamis, via Bukidnon to Davao, the water power for this project coming from the falls in Lanao. Only four or five of the Assemblymen had ever been in Mindanao before. The gathering seemed to be willing to vote the money, but wanted to know how they were to get the colonists? Quezon replied “Open roads, and they will come of themselves.”

These behind-the-scenes stories in Harrison’s diaries, help provide context to the official declaration of policy in the Second State of the Nation Address, June 16, 1936 in which the railroad bonds, and future plans, including the expansion of the railways system, were discussed:

Manila Railroad Company –A very important measure approved by the National Assembly is Commonwealth Act No. 4 providing funds to be loaned to the Manila Railroad Company for the purchase, before maturity, of certain outstanding bonds of the said Company. In accordance with the provisions of this Act, I directed the Insular Treasurer to loan to the Manila Railroad Company P9,900,000, and authorized the Philippine National Bank to use P3,360,000 of its funds in the purchase of said bonds.

On January 29, 1936, upon payment to the Manila Railway Company (1906) Ltd., through the Chase National Bank, New York City, of the sum of $6,698,631.41 covering the principal, interest and exchange premium, all of the Souther Lines 4 per cent gold bonds maturing May 1, 1939, held by the English Company, with par value of P16,340,000, were delivered to the order of the Bureau of Insular Affairs, Washington, D.C., acting as representative of the Commonwealth Government and the Manila Railroad Company.

The successful culmination of this exceedingly important transaction resulted in great financial advantages to the direct benefit of the Manila Railroad Company and indirectly of the Commonwealth Government, which is the sole owner of the property. The following estimates indicate in round figures the savings that will be effected between now and the maturity of the bonds:

Total face value of the bonds held by the Manila Railway Company (1906), Ltd. …………….. P16,340,000.00
Cost at 80 per cent of face value …………….. 13,072,000.00
Savings in principal …………….. 3,268,000.00
Less –premium …………….. 165,500.00
Net saving in principal …………….. 3,102,500.00
Normal 4 per cent annual interest on English Company holdings P653,600.00
Normal interest for 1936, 1937, 1938 and half of 1939 2,287,600.00
Premium for 3-1/2 years at P441,180 each year 1,544,130.00—————— 3,831,730.00—————————–
Total …………….. P6,934,230.00
Less-
2% on P13,350,000 for 3-1/2 years 934,500.00—————————–
Total savings in principal and interest …………….. P5,999,730.00================

The above savings on the English Company holdings are based on the principal of the bonds being redeemed at maturity at their face value. However, both the principal and interest are subject, at the holders’ option, to payment in certain European currencies at the former gold equivalent, and if this option should be exercised covering the principal at the time of maturity, the amount necessary to redeem the bonds being held by the English Company would, on the present basis of exchange, represent a total sum of approximately P27,287,800. The purchase of these new bonds at this time for the sum of P13,072,000, therefore, means a saving in interest and principal of about P14,200,000 besides a savings in interest and premium amounting to about P2,900,000 after allowing for the two per cent interest on the loan from the Government, or a total saving of about P17,100,000.

The investment of the Government in the Manila Railroad Company including bonded indebtedness of the Company all told amounts to approximately P28,000,000. This is a respectable sum for any Government and doubly so for a Government whose yearly revenue at present is around P78,000,000 and at its highest peak only reached the total of P92,783,173.70.

Bus and truck transportation due to improved roads in the northern and central provinces of Luzon have caused a large decline in the income of the Manila Railroad Company. We cannot afford to allow this situation to continue and permit the Government to suffer tremendous losses in railroad operation, for the time might come when the Government would either be compelled to suspend the operation of the Railway or carry a yearly financial burden that sooner or later would bankrupt the National Treasury.

The Manila Railroad was acquired by the Insular Government in 1917 in order partly to withdraw from foreign hands the control of our most important means of transportation at that time. Soon after the Government assumed the administration of this property, the railroad began paying interest on the bonds from its revenue, and even extended some of its lines with its own resources. Only during the last two or three years has the income of the railroad begun to decline due, as already stated, to bus and truck competition. If it should be found advisable, I am prepared to authorize the Manila Railroad Company to purchase some of these competing bus transportation companies or else to have the Government establish and operate its own bus and truck services. The Constitution expressly authorizes the Government to establish and operate means of transportation and communication, and, upon payment of just compensation, transfer to public ownership utilities held by private individuals to be operated by the Government.

Another step that must be taken at once is the completion of the railroad line to the Bicol provinces. This, I am informed, will make the southern lines a paying enterprise. In pursuance of the authority vested in me by law, I have directed the Secretary of Finance to purchase P3,000,000 worth of stocks of the Manila Railroad to finance the completion of the Aloneros-Ragay line. It is my understanding that to complete the road the Government will have to invest only P700,000 more in addition to the P3,000,000 referred to above.

But this amount will have to be greatly increased if the Manila Railroad Company is not given permission to abandon the Legaspi-Tabaco, Las Pinas-Naic, Rosario-Montalban and Batangas-Bauan lines which are absolutely unnecessary from the point of view of public convenience and which, consequently, are causing an annual loss of about P100,000 to the Railroad Company. Once these lines are abandoned their materials and equipment will be used in the construction of the Aloneros-Ragay line.

I, therefore, earnestly recommend that a law be enacted authorizing the Manila Railroad Company to abandon the lines above mentioned.

After this, there isn’t any discussion on the Mindanao railways scheme, as Harrison resigned as adviser in 1936. As a postscript, the last mention of railroad planning in Harrison’s Diary is on December 23, 1938 when, during a visit, he mentions the recently-completed Bicol Express:

Staying with the President alone at the Guest House across the Pasig River from Malacañan Palace.

At luncheon we had Don Alejandro Roces, proprietor of the T.V.T. newspapers and Paez, manager of the Manila Railroad Company. Paez told of the success of the new branch of the railroad in the Bicol Provinces –at last, they have through connection with Manila and it is no longer necessary to cross Ragay Gulf by steamer. Quezon mentioned that he had refused the request of residents of those provinces for a highway parallel with the railroad.

For the official record on this, see the Fifth State of the Nation Address, January 24, 1939:

The Manila Railroad Company has at long last completed its southern line. The gap which existed for many years between Tayabas and Camarines Sur was connected at a cost of about P2,000,000. This was one of my dreams that have come true. The significance of this achievement will be readily seen when we consider the fact that a daily, comfortable, fast and inexpensive communication service has been established between Manila and the Bicol provinces. At the same time the completion of this southern line means increased earnings for the railroad.

Some photos (click to enlarge):

 

The Hondagua reception committee consisted of the crew of a Manila railroad boat.
Railroad officials inspecting the construction of the Sinuknipan Bridge along the new railway line
Government officials and assemblyman welcomed Commissioner McNutt and President Quezon
Coming down
A big crowd cheered the gayly-decorated special trains bearing guests of the Manila Railroad Company as it reached Del Gallego
High Commissioner Paul V. McNutt, President Manuel L. Quezon and Speaker Gil Montilla at the historical stone marker
The historical stone marker unveiled by Commissioner McNutt
Another partial view of the unveiling of the stone marker at Del Gallego, Commissioner McNutt (left) and President Quezon are shown standing before the marker in the background
Manila-Legaspi Line Inauguration
Line to the South

We can catch glimpses of the continuing story, also in the official record for the next two years:

Sixth State of the Nation Address, January 22, 1940:

In addition to this public debt, however, the Manila Railroad Company has an outstanding obligation in the amount of P26,472,000 for which no sinking funds are being provided. In order to protect the credit of one of our most im­portant enterprises, the Government will have to as­sume the payment of this debt maturing in 1956. I recommend that the National Assembly consider a plan establishing a sinking fund for these obliga­tions from the proceeds of the excise tax in the event the Manila Railroad Company is unable to provide therefore.

Seventh State of the Nation Address, January 31, 1941:

With the completion of the Tayabas-Legaspi section of its main Southern Line, the Manila Railroad Company has been enabled to maintain through train operation between Manila and Albay…

The Manila Railroad Company has also outstanding bonds amounting to P28,718,000.00. We have taken steps to enable this company to redeem its outstanding bonds upon maturity. For this purpose the National Assembly last year appropriated P7,000,000 from the Coconut Oil Excise Tax Fund. The present program of the Government contemplates further yearly appropriations from this same Fund until the total bonded debt of the Manila Railroad Company is fully covered.

World War II would put an end to railway schemes. In the years that followed, the story would be destruction and trying to rehabilitate the railways system.

See the two-part series by in the Cebu Daily News: “What happened to the Philippine Railway Company?” on June 12, 2014 and June 19, 2014.

See Statement of the Presidential Spokesperson on the restoration of rail service between Manila and Bicol on June 29, 2011:

The Bicol Express commenced in 1938 when, half a kilometer from del Gallego town proper in Camarines Sur, a golden nail was driven into a railroad tie, marking the meeting point of the south and north railroad lines and so officially linking Manila and Legaspi City by rail. The devastating weather of the early 1970s devastated the South Railway, and only token efforts were made to restore rail services. The railway was only rehabilitated in 1985, but deteriorated again soon after that. Then rail service between Manila and Bicol ceased in 2006 due to typhoon damage.

See also The Railways and Industrial Heritage Society of the Philippines website.

 


August 31, 1945, Friday

I have been asked many times how the Japanese financed themselves during their regime.

They came here bringing with them Japanese military notes. It can be assumed for certain that those notes are not backed by reserves. There is nothing behind it except the backing of the Japanese government. As a matter of fact, they are not currency or money. They are in reality requisition slips. Instead of forcing the Filipinos to give them food, equipment and materials, they found this indirect and less painful way of attaining their wishes. At the beginning the circulation of the currency of the Commonwealth was allowed. Following the economic law that bad money drives away good money, the latter soon disappeared in the market. Later, the Japanese made the circulation of the currency of the Commonwealth illegal. Those caught exchanging military notes for Commonwealth notes were taken to Ft. Santiago and punished for committing a hostile act.

The Japanese government then established the Southern Development Bank. They did not use the two Japanese banks, the Yokohama Specie Bank and the Taiwan Bank, except that the Taiwan Bank was used to liquidate the American and other foreign banks. As a matter of fact, the Southern Development Bank was not a bank but acted as a branch here of the Japanese Government Treasury. It was given the sole power of note issue. All the military notes were distributed through it. I had numerous discussions with the Japanese as to the nature of these notes. They have always insisted that they were Southern Development Bank notes, whereas I always maintained that they were Japanese Government notes. I did not feel it proper for the Philippine Government to deal with a private bank.

The Japanese, unlike the Americans, practically made the countries occupied by them defray all the expenses of their Army. They did this by means of the issuance of military notes. I also have no doubt about this as I happened to see the Japanese Government budget. In the statement of income, there was included what was called Contribution of the Southern Islands. (I was not sure what they called it, but I am sure that there were billions — 17 billion as I remember — provided as income from the Southern Islands.) As there was no direct request for funds, necessarily they must come from the proceeds of the military notes. They cannot ask for direct contribution because nobody or very few would give. This was shown when subscriptions were opened for the Philippines to buy and donate an airplane to Japan. Very little was collected and the project was stopped. It would not have been possible to collect a sufficient amount to buy even a small airplane unless force was used, as was done in many cases. As a matter of fact, those military notes were no more, no less than requisition slips. The whole financing of the Japanese, including the expenses of the Army and Navy and what they called war development companies, was exclusively handled by the Southern Development Bank.

This bank made every effort to exercise all the powers of a Central Bank and of a clearinghouse. It insisted that all the other banks deposit their funds with it, especially the reserves of the banks. I opposed this very strongly. I was willing to stake even my life to uphold my view. All the bank managers naturally were afraid to have any sort of issue with the Japanese. I told them that they need not assume any responsibility. I gave them orders not to deposit with the Southern Development Bank without my express authority and order. At that time, there were already on deposit in the Southern Development Bank funds of the different banks amounting to about 1000,000,000 pesos. About three-fourth or four-fifth of the funds belonged to the Philippine National Bank.

It must be stated in this connection that at the beginning I had no supervision over the Philippine National Bank. Supervision was being exercised by Malacañan. The reason was that the P.N.B. was a government corporation and Malacañan was in charge of all national companies. Later, I found out that it was Executive Secretary Pedro Sabido who was handling P.N.B matters. Even after his appointment as Minister of the new Department of Economic Affairs, he attempted to continue exercising the powers; as a matter of fact, after his appointment, he became even more insistent. He contented that the supervision of the Philippine National Bank properly belonged to his department since the bank was a government corporation and his department was in charge of all government corporations. He further contended that the Department of Economic Affairs should control the Philippine National Bank to enable it to realize the purpose for which it was established and also to facilitate the financing of the national companies.

Finally, he contended that, under the law, the Secretary of Finance is already the head of the bank, and it is not proper nor advisable for the Secretary of Finance to be also the Supervisor; otherwise; the Secretary of Finance would be supervising himself. I refused to devote much time and words to the discussion which was academic. So far as I was concerned, the argument I emphasized was that I found it impossible to supervise the banking and financing business unless all the banks were under me. Supervision over the P.N.B. was especially necessary since at least 70% of banking transactions in Manila was handled by the Philippine National Bank. I concluded in a memorandum to Pres. Laurel that if he decided to deny my request, I would strongly recommend that the supervision over all banks be transferred to the Ministry of Economic Affairs. After due consideration, the President told me that he fully agreed with me and he would immediately issue an order accordingly.

Days and weeks passed, the order did not come. I found out that the Minister of Economic Affairs was very insistent. So the President decided to submit it to the Council of State composed of Chief Justice Ramon Avanceña as President, and Don Miguel Unson, Don Pedro Aunario, Don Rafael Corpus, Don Ramon Fernandez and Don Jose Paez. The Council considered the matter very thoroughly and even heard the arguments of Minister Sabido. The President, and this was confirmed later by Don Miguel Unson and Don Rafael Corpus, advised that the Council upon preposition of Don Miguel Unson, decided unanimously in my favor. He assured me that he would issue the order forthwith.

Days passed; weeks passed, no order came. I decided to prepare the order myself and give it personally to the President. It was not signed and issued. I prepared another and left it with the President. After a few days, I asked him about it. He was surprised that I had not received it yet. I prepared another and this time I did not leave Malacañan without the President’s signature.

After the President signed the order, I immediately called Mr. Carmona, President of the P.N.B.. I must first state that under the order, I had all the powers of the Board of Directors of the Bank. I asked him about the deposits. He told me that he had submitted the matter to Malacañan and that no objection had been expressed on the part of Malacañan to the existing arrangement. When I asked for a written authority, he advised that he had not received any and that his experience was that he got no action from Malacañan on matters taken up by him, or at least action was delayed for weeks and even months.

I asked him to explain how he happened to have such a large deposit in the Southern Development Bank. He answered that from the very beginning the military people as well as the Manager of the Southern Development Bank requested him and even ordered him to deposit all excess funds of P.N.B., or funds not needed for ordinary daily transactions, with the Southern Development Bank. Pressure was used so that he had to make some deposit, but he assured me that it was far from what he could have deposited.

The Japanese reorganized the clearing house. Under the new system, all clearing balances were kept by the Southern Development Bank. There was no liquidation and the funds could be withdrawn only when the corresponding bank needed funds. So the deposit of P.N.B. in the Southern Development Bank increased everyday. This was also true as regards the other banks, Bank of the Philippine Islands and Bank of Commerce. They were also being required to make deposits. They said that they had to conform unless they wished their banks closed and their officers accused of a hostile act. I ordered them not to deposit. When they expressed fear, I told them that they should tell the Japanese that, per my order, they had to secure my approval. I also told them to withdraw their balances in the clearing house from the Southern Development Bank.

Mr. Hariguti Takahashi and the Manager of the Southern Development Bank came to me to request me to authorize the deposits. I flatly refused. This is one of many similar incidents I had with the Japanese. One instance was when a large Japanese sugar concern wanted to acquire the Philippine Refining Co., which was owned by the government and practically had the monopoly of sugar refining in the Philippines. An official of the company was told that an unfavorable recommendation from him would be interpreted as a hostile act. I told him to tell the Japanese to talk to me. The Japanese never came to see me. Another instance was when the Japanese Army proposed that the Textile Department of the National Development Company be constituted into a separate company and recapitalized with equal participation of the Philippine and Japanese governments. The participation was later changed to 40% for the Japanese and 60% for the Filipinos. I was made to understand that the plan had already been agreed upon by somebody in Malacañan. I prepared a memorandum strongly opposing the plan. The reason I gave was that the National Development Company, as any other national companies, was formed not for profit but rather to carry out national economic policies. Another time was when Colonel Utsonomiya, later promoted to General, approached me to ask me to allow the importation of opium. I told him that the laws prohibited the importation of opium and penalized its sale. Twice the Colonel approached me. I maintained my position. When it came to protecting our people and their rights, I ignored consequences absolutely.

In connection with the banks, a Japanese officer came to see me. He said that it had been reported to them that in the Ministry of Finance, there was somebody who was anti-Japanese and always worked against them. I knew it was merely a ruse. I answered that I assume responsibility for anything done in the Ministry of Finance.

Mr. Carmona wisely did his best to attain our purpose without unnecessary exposition. Carmona was so capable and prudent that he was able to withdraw a very good portion of the deposit and to maintain the deposit at a very low level.

My views and actions were fully reported to the President and he approved.

I had many other incidents. During a bombing raid, a boat loaded with military notes was blown up and all along Malate and Ermita, it rained notes. They were picked up by the people and spent. The Japanese who had the serial numbers of the notes prohibited the circulation. I protested on the grounds that the notes were already in the hands of innocent persons. For instance, there was Mrs. Mariquita de Ocampo who sold her furniture for 7,000 pesos as she needed the money. Afterwards, nobody would accept her money. What fault had she committed? Finally, the notes were accepted.

The Japanese wanted the administration to be self-supporting. They themselves prepared and imposed the approval of tax laws. From the beginning, my plan was not to change our tax laws; not to burden the people with more taxes than what they had to pay before the war. But how do we finance the government? Of course I had to make it look like I was trying to increase the income by means of assistance of our people. So I did not object to the increase in the income tax law, although I insisted that low incomes not be taxed and larger incomes not be taxed as heavily as in other counties. This is also the reason why I sold an amount of bonds instead from where I proposed to get the money.

Even during the time of the Commission, we borrowed money from the Army, It reached the amount of ₱23,000,000. During the Republic, I secured a credit of over ₱100,000,000 from the Bank of Japan, about ₱50,000,000 of which I got through the Southern Development Bank. When I submitted it to the Cabinet, there was some opposition. I did not argue, but after the meeting I explained to Minister Osias who was the one strongly opposed that my purpose was to charge to the Japanese as much of our expenses as possible. The Japanese Army after the establishment of the Philippine Republic tried to collect our previous indebtedness of ₱23,000,000. I declined on the ground that the Executive Commission was a mere instrumentality of the Japanese Administration. The amount was never paid.

Returning to inflation, I could do nothing as the Japanese did not want to give any power which would enable me to do something. I thought and thought about what to do until I came up with the idea of establishing a Central Bank if I could get the Japanese to approve my conditions. Some of them were: (1) That the Central Bank shall have the sole power of issue of notes. With this I meant to curb the unbridled issue of notes by the Japanese and the unlimited grant of credits to Japanese companies. (2) That the Ministry of Finance shall have jurisdiction and power of supervision over the Japanese banks. I demanded this most important power to control large credits given by the Japanese banks to Japanese companies and nationals. (3) That the Central Bank shall be the depository of the reserves of the other banks. And (4) That the Central Bank shall handle the clearing house balances.

The Japanese were opposed to my plan at the beginning, but in view of the fact that we were a Republic and they therefore could not openly deprive us of the right to exercise powers belonging to all independent states, they changed their tactics. They instead did their best to delay the establishment of the bank. They put up all kinds of objections and suggested many modifications. They wished preferential treatment or at least equal treatment for Japanese banks. I could not of course accept this. Mr. Haraguti, while I was speaking before the National Assembly about the establishment of a Central Bank, sent me a memorandum. I got the impression that he was opposed to it or wanted to delay it. I immediately suspended the proceedings and charged that Mr. Haraguti was out of line. He immediately saw me and tried to explain that such was not his intention. I know English well, I believe, and I had no doubt that my interpretation was correct.

The bill was approved by the Assembly but upon the request of Speaker Aquino a provision was inserted to it so that the establishment of a Central Bank would depend upon the promulgation order by the President. Aquino at the beginning was strongly opposed to the bank; later, he withdrew his objection but was evidently not interested in its establishment. However, the Japanese had not given up. We had no facilities here for the printing of notes and this had to be done in Japan. We prepared the necessary designs. We were told that all the printing presses were busy printing notes for other countries and that they could not begin making delivery until May, I believe of 1945. I went to Japan where I made every effort to expedite it but in vain. I was told that the delivery had to be periodic and the amounts for each period could not be very much. The matter remained in that state until hostilities in the Philippines began.

Another reason why I wanted the Central Bank was that I did not want to have a shortage of notes. We had a terrible crisis about the first months of 1944 because the ships used for transporting the notes were probably sunk or blown. The Japanese banks had no more available notes and the Southern Development Bank had only about ₱10,000,000 in notes of 10, 20 and 50 centavos. The Japanese banks suspended payment, and there was a run in all the banks as the public feared that the banks had no more funds. The Japanese banks, including the Southern Development Bank, wanted to get the notes of the Filipino banks. I refused to authorize the Filipino banks to loan their funds to the Japanese banks. I also instructed the Manager of the Philippine National Bank to withdraw a part of its deposit from the Southern Development Bank. We were all very much worried. Stoppage of payment of banks would paralyze business. All demands for withdrawal in Filipino banks were met. The Philippine National Bank, however, had to offer notes in small denominations. Generally, those wishing to withdraw big amounts desisted as the package of the money would be quite bulky. After a few days, shipment of notes came and the crisis passed. Because of this, I inquired about machines and materials in the Philippines that could be used in case of shortage of notes. We could print here but in limited quantities.

* * * * *

We heard on the radio that Truman had said that the Philippines might have her independence in 4 or 5 months. This means that we may have our independence by next January. I welcome it; I want to have it right now. We would have been spared the loss of billions of pesos and thousands of lives if only people ceased to be mentors of other people.

This means the election will have to be held soon. We may not even be able to take part in the elections. Until we are cleared, we cannot be of much service.

According to the radio, Ambassador Vargas was found in Tokyo and he is a very worried man. He was generally criticized for having been very weak with the Japanese. We were aware of it and we thought him a useless man and an incapable executive. But after we reflected, it may well be that under the circumstances, he did what would be of the greatest benefit to the people. Supposing that instead of getting the confidence of the known murderers, the Japanese, he had fought and defied them. He becomes a hero. But he sacrificed his country for w would have meant direct or almost direct rule by the Japanese. Instead of 200,000 dead, we probably would have had to mourn the loss of millions of our countrymen. Vargas has done much for our country.


August 1, 1945 Wednesday

Today has been declared a legal holiday to commemorate the death anniversary of Pres. Quezon. This is a very fitting tribute, Pres. Quezon will pass in history as the greatest man we have ever produced. Correctly, he can be called the father of the Philippines. He it was who was able to insure the independence of our country. He was the one that did most to implant democracy in this country. His love for the masses, for the laboring class is proverbial. It is to be deeply regretted that he died precisely when we were at the threshold of our goal — the independence of our country.

The Iwahig people, upon the invitation of the teachers, is holding an appropriate program. They have selected Mr. Quintin Paredes as the main speaker. The Colonel-Superintendent approved. But it was disapproved in Manila. And yet we are not to be called “prisoners”. It smacks of intolerance.

At times I ponder on who suffered more — those who went to the mountains or those who stayed in the towns and cities. It is true that those in the mountains experienced untold sufferings. They had to move from place to place to avoid being hunted by the Japanese. Many times they had no food and this is the reason why they sometimes had to resort to forced commandeering of foodstuffs whenever the owners are unwilling to give. Many of them became sick, some very seriously, and died for lack of doctor or medicine. But so did those who stayed in the cities and towns. Their lives too were in danger at all times. They had to watch their conduct, their day-to-day acts for fear that they might displease the Japanese or Japanese sympathizers. The mere sound of heavy boots made them tremble with fear. Their pulse beats faster when somebody knocks at their door at night. Their fears were not without proof; the fact is that thousands in the cities and towns met their death at the hands of the Japanese or their agents, or suffered the most cruel torture at Fort Santiago and other prisons. The victims were both private citizens and officials and employees of the government. Those in the cities and towns perhaps had even less food than those in the mountains because there was very little food — food being transported to the cities and towns were confiscated by the Japanese or by crooks or false agents of the law, or could only be bought at prohibitive prices. As to medicine, the stock was very limited and mostly in the hands of soulless profiteers.

I state all the above not to minimize the patriotic services rendered by the guerrillas in the mountains as the truth is that I have nothing but respect and admiration for them. I envy them for their sacrifice and readiness to give their lives for the sake of the country. What I regret very much is that I, as many thousand others, was not in a condition to follow them for obvious reasons — my family is big and composed mostly of girls who cannot possibly escape capture. What happened to the family of unknown patriot, Col. Emmanuel Borja, is a good example. He was able to flee outside the city, but then the Japanese arrested his wife and, I understand, other members of the family. He had to come back. Many of us just did not know where to go. Many of us could not be a guerrilla at all because of physical defects. I still remember many years ago when I was still young. I applied for enlistment in the National Guard which was to have been sent to Europe. I was rejected for very defective eyesight.

I can cite very many other incidents which show that our lives, those who stayed in the cities and towns, were all but rosy. There was a proclamation providing for mass responsibility and death if any Japanese was harmed or killed. In the streetcars, many were slapped for just jostling a Japanese. I remember an incident in front of my house. A “carromata” (horse rig), probably unintentionally on the part of the “cochero” (rig driver), blocked the way of another “carromata”. The passenger in the other “carromata”, a Japanese, attacked the “cochero” and almost killed him. The people gathered around wanted to lynch the Japanese. But someone in the crowd with presence of mind told them to desist as it would have meant the arrest and death of many persons in the neighborhood. We resorted to cowardice to avoid any trouble with the Japanese.

I would like to relate what our life in Baguio was like and our trek down down the mountains from Agusan, Baguio to Tubao, La Union.

Since the landing of the Americans on the Lingayen Gulf on January 9, 1945, there were daily flights of American planes to Baguio to bomb and strafe the different parts of the city. By the middle of March, bombings had become very intense. The central part of the city was almost all destroyed. Hospitals, convents, one Protestant church and the surroundings of two Catholic churches were destroyed. Many died or were wounded, especially in the bombed hospitals. The people expressed deep resentment for what we thought was indiscriminate bombing. My own experience with American planes was on January 5, when the market was strafed. I was then holding office at the Philippine National Bank, just around the corner from the strafing.

The Cabinet Hill was surrounded by military objectives. In the east were the South Road and the Teachers’ Camp (converted into a Japanese military camp); in the north, Elizalde’s compound and various private houses occupied by the Japanese; in the west was Hogan’s Alley occupied by the Japanese Marines; in the south, Baguio Auto Line (BAL), Engineer’s Hill, the Government Center and the Justice Hill. Hardly a day passed without bombings of these places. The first heavy bombing was staged by various B24’s and I actually saw the first bombs being released as they were discharged right above our house. We ran to the shelter under our house. The shelter withstood the ordeal but when nearby houses caught fire, we moved to the tunnel-shelter of Minister Sanvictores. Later, we used the shelter of Minister Jose Paez. Luckily enough, not a single bomb fell within the Cabinet Hill compound, although all the houses were full of shrapnel and bullet holes.

Since my family was very big, I decided to build our own shelter-dormitory on the eastern side of Cabinet Hill where we transferred on the 18th of March. The dormitory, built by the male members of my household including my two sons, was 2 by 3 meters with passage of 2 meters. The height was 5 feet 10 inches to the beams. The posts were of fair-sized pine trees. The sides and ceiling were of burnt galvanized iron. Near the passage we built a shaft for ventilation, but principally for an exit in case of necessity. We braced the shelter with two iron pipes so it would not collapse. We covered the shelter with about a meter and a half of earth. It was quite comfortable for sleeping.

The bombings continued. The Mansion House where the President and his family were staying, as well as Speaker Benigno Aquino, Sr. and other officials, was hit and badly damaged. When the American airmen staged carpet bombings, a bomb which would have hit squarely my air raid shelter and the adjoining shelters of Ministers Recto and Paez, exploded in the tree tops. If it had exploded on the ground, all three families would have been wiped out completely. Mr. Recto’s chauffeur was killed and my cook seriously wounded.

We got scared. We decided to walk everyday to the Catholic Cathedral to seek shelter during the daytime. But bombs fell all around the Cathedral and one of the bombs hit the road near the church. We decided that it was too dangerous for us to stay in the city and so we evacuated to a place called Irisan, in the outskirts of Baguio about 6 kilometers away. All the other Ministers also fled the city.

In Irisan, my two sons Tony and Alfredo, and my Filipino bodyguard, Venancio Llagas, built shelters in a narrow gap between two mountains — the shelters were actually caves. It would not be possible, therefore, for the bombs to hit us. My Japanese bodyguard, Mr. Ishikawa, did not accompany us to Irisan.

By this time, a big contingent of the American Armed Forces was proceeding to Manila while other forces prepared to go to Baguio and other places in the Mountain Province.

On the afternoon of the 12th of April, 1945 at about one o’clock, I decided to evacuate from Baguio because for weeks a continuous stream of people fleeing Baguio passed in front or near our shelter. In conversations with them, I came to know that they were leaving to save their lives either as a result of American air and land bombardments, or of massacres being perpetrated by the Japanese. They were all very anxious to go to the American occupied territory. Among them were men and women from all walks of life, from the poorest laborer to the richest tycoons, from a humble messenger to a very high government official. There were doctors, lawyers, engineers, nuns, priests — in fact all human activities were represented. There were newly born babies as well as persons who were visibly sick or over seventy years old who could hardly walk. I could not see how the old and the sick could make it, but I learned later that they all reached their destination after crossing steep and apparently insurmountable mountains, deep ravines, crystal-like rapid streams, thick forests. They arrived at the safety zone more dead than alive, however.

This stream of people so impressed us that we decided to take the long journey ourselves, although we had my child of 6 years, Menchu, who had been sick, and my mother-in-law, Maria de Lontoc, who was old, sickly and could hardly walk.

All our friends in the neighboring shelters, Dr. Jose de la Rosa and family, the Suntays and others, had already left and we regretted not to have gone with them. We received news that they arrived safely at their destination behind the American lines. Mr. and Mrs. Salvador Araneta, Compadre Lacson and family, Atty. Feria and many others stopped for a while at our shelter on their way to Agusan. We became more anxious to go. Two days before our departure, a massacre of about 32 occupants of 2 Igorot houses was perpetrated by the Japanese soldiers. The next day we found the places all around us deserted. I sent my son, Alfredo, to the shelter of Eugenio Lopez and they had just left without notifying us although we had agreed to go together. We inquired about Mayor Mitra and he had also fled. In the meanwhile, we noticed that fighting was getting nearer and nearer judging from the sound of cannons and machine guns. Shelling was becoming intense. Shells were falling all around our shelter. We could distinctly hear the whistling of shells passing overhead. At one o’clock, I sent my bodyguard to Minister Sison to tell them that we better leave right away. The answer came that they could not go as Mrs. Sison was sick and they were waiting for Major Leocadio de Asis who they had sent ahead to explore the way. I immediately went to their shelter which must be about 200 yards distance from my shelter. Shelling was very intense that afternoon and the shells were falling near our shelter and along the way. I had to dive to the ground many times. After almost running the whole way, I arrived on top of the hill where the shelter of Minister Sison was. Up there the explosions were louder; it seemed that the shells were falling just a few yards from us.

I proposed to Mr. Sison that we leave that same afternoon. He refused saying that his wife was sick and that he would prefer to wait for Major de Asis. I pleaded and pleaded, but he would not budge an inch. I then told him that we were leaving anyhow as I was afraid that the next day would be too late. I also told him that we had no guide but that I was sure that we would find other people fleeing on the way. Probably because shelling was becoming more intense and the shells were falling nearer and nearer, Mr. and Mrs. Sison decided to come.

I returned to our shelter and announced that we were leaving right then and there. Everybody was ready; everything we could carry had already been packed. Each of us, especially the body guard and the servants, practiced carrying our packs. All gave assurance that they could carry their respective loads. Even small Menchu had a small package. Needless to say, we were able to take very little. We left several sacks of rice, plenty of canned goods and other food provisions. We left almost all our clothing and several valises full of miscellaneous things. They were scattered in and outside the shelter as if a typhoon had just passed. We hid a little food in one of the caves and sealed the entrance, in case we should be compelled to return. We carried food only for one day as we could not carry more. We knew we had to travel at least 3 days but we were expecting to dig camotes along the way and, at any rate, we were ready to suffer hunger. We felt that all we would need was water and we had been assured that there was plenty of water along the way.

We climbed the first hill which was already steep although it was nothing compared with other mountains we had to climb later. We had a great deal of difficulty going up. When we reached the top, we realized that our packs were too heavy to carry all the way. We threw most of our load. The guard and the laundry woman, without even consulting us, left behind a greater portion of their load. It so happened that my clothes were in one of the packs. I had other clothes being carried by a small young servant girl, but they were all woolen clothes. I gave up hope of saving them because I did not believe the little girl could carry her load which was quite heavy. But to the surprise of everybody, she reached our destination without throwing any part of her load.

We went by the shelter of Minister Sison where the family joined our party, and proceeded on our way. Crossing the Naguilian Road, the trail was downhill and it was quite good. After walking about four kilometers we were stopped. On the way we were stopped by two Japanese soldiers. One of them, an officer, asked us where we were going. We told him that we wanted to escape from shells and bombs. We indicated that we were going to Amasi. He was very nice. He allowed us to proceed but warned us not to go straight ahead or turn to the right as there was fighting. He said we should take the left trail as it would be safe.

The place where we stopped and passed the night was near a Japanese patrol station. From there we could see the flash of cannons, hear the whistling of shells overhead and afterwards the sound of bursting shells. On the hillside some of our companions, mostly girls, danced and sang. We had a good sleep and the next morning, we had enough strength to proceed.

Starting our journey early in the morning at about 5 o’clock, we passed through rough trails dotted with big stones, indicating that we were walking on a river bed where a rapid stream runs through during the rainy season. Eight kilometers further, we reached the Asin road. We walked for another eight kilometers along this road where we arrived at a spot where heavy fighting had taken place. It seemed to be a dead trail. Trying to pick up the trail, we explored the area for a while and right up the road about a hundred yards from where we were, we found another trail. There could be no mistake about it; clothes were strewn all along the path. As a matter of fact, from this point on there were clothes thrown all along the trail to Pitugon. We could not possibly lose our way. We contributed our own clothes to the litter, including my terry cloth coat which had covered me for years after playing tennis.

We crossed a big river, went up a steep mountain where we saw some Japanese picking “camotes”, and reached a narrow plateau where at about 9 o’clock we stopped as airplanes passed overhead and began fierce bombardment. I was surprised to learn, especially since shell explosions had been taking place around her shelter, that during a bombing, Mrs. Sison is unable to walk. We could see the target distinctly. It was the place where we used to live and had just left only the previous day. There could be no mistake about it as we could see bombs exploding on and around the lime factory. (Lime is “apog” in Tagalog; this is the reason why the place is called Apugan. Irisan is the next barrio, the boundary of which is very near my shelter). Our shelters are just a few yards below the factory. We were sure that our shelters had been bombed and this was confirmed by reliable information we received later. We probably would have been killed if we had remained until the next Saturday as proposed by Sison. I do not know whether I had already said that I insisted in leaving that afternoon and did not wish to leave the next day as this day was Friday the 13th. Later we also learned that the only places in Baguio where hand-to-hand combat between Americans and Japanese took place were Irisan and vicinity. In other words, fighting was right there where we lived. What would have happened if we had not left?

After aerial bombardment at about 11:30, we moved ahead. We decided not to eat lunch until we were a little further. We crossed the narrow open plateau and again went up through a narrow trail well shadowed by trees. It was quite a winding trail. We seemed to be going around and around. Finally, we reached a ridge which was quite open. We went along this ridge. Ahead of us we could see shells bursting. Before we reached the place where the shells were falling, we turned left. We reached a place where very large rocks nestled several Igorots houses, all deserted. I forgot to state that after crossing the first river after the Asin road, we were stopped by a Japanese civilian. He asked us many questions and ordered us to give all our revolvers if we had any. We carried 6 revolvers. He took them all, but later returned them except one that belonged to Col. Desiderio which was really a very goodlooking revolver. Afterwards, he asked for cigarettes. We were convinced that he was not connected with the Army but was one of the Japanese civilians who went around robbing people. I should also state that from the time we left our shelter, an American observation plane had been flying overhead. It flew very low and we could see the pilot distinctly. He evidently knew that we were evacuees as he waved at us. We waved back whenever we were sure there was no Japanese around. We had to be careful. My son, Tony, was almost killed because a Japanese sentry saw him waving while an American plane flew overhead. He was lucky that the Japanese believed his explanation that he was waving at a girl friend in a house up the road, which was the truth.

We considered the Igorot village as unsafe as it could be the target of shelling. So after two hours of rest, although we were still very tired, we moved. We wished to reach the other side of the valley which we thought was only about two kilometers away. We walked and walked but it took us hours to reach the river bank bordering the village. This was a trail which descends very abruptly. The hill to the river bank was almost perpendicular. We looked down and we were perplexed as to how we could do it. Finally we decided to slide down. It was a most dangerous feat. It was raining hard and this made the trail very slippery. We feared that my mother-in-law might have to remain behind since she could not continue walking anymore. But she was brave and determined. She said she could make it also. She did, and we attributed it to a miracle. She could hardly walk but by sheer strength of will and perseverance she always could go farther and farther.

But there was a time when the way seemed impossible for her and to make things worse, she had fever. She did not wish to go any further; she could not. It rained and she had to lie down on the wet ground. But my son, Tony, true to my instructions to him to take care of Lola (grandmother), stuck to her. Tony and my Filipino bodyguard, Llagas, carried her down to the river bank. This took several hours. Could she continue? It looked impossible. We prayed and prayed. God must have heeded us as the next day, she found enough strength to proceed. She was able to go several kilometers when it started to rain again. Still suffering from a high fever, she had to take a long rest. Then, although practically dragging her feet, she continued on her way and was able to walk almost all the way to the border of the safety zone. All along the way since the start of our trek, I tried to find carriers, but I could not get any. I asked an Igorot guide to furnish me men to carry my mother-in-law but he said it would have to be after Ambosi as runners thought it dangerous to approach Baguio. A man was willing to do it for ₱3,000 worth of treasury notes. I did not have the money; I carried over ₱3,000 but half of them were PNB notes. He lowered his rate to ₱2,000, but I still could not pay. But the Igorot leader assured me that he would have some men carry Mama (my mother-in-law) after Ambosi. Finally, when we were almost at the end of our journey, a man agreed to carry her. How she was able to walk about 25 kilometers of trail crossing high mountains and deep valleys can only be attributed to God’s mercy.

Going back to the river bank, there was a lone house near the bank. As it was raining we went under it where we slept on the dirty ground with our wet clothes on. We slept soundly probably because we were tired. We did not mind the mosquitoes. It is possible that my wife was bitten here by a malaria transmitting mosquito since after her arrival in Manila, she had bouts of malaria. The house must have sheltered numerous evacuees; on the floor and all around were clothes and human refuse. It was upon our arrival in this place that an Igorot leader with several companions passed by and told us they were on their way to Baguio on behalf of the American Army to rescue General Roxas. I told them to be careful since Roxas was being closely watched. The leader said that he expected to be back next morning with Roxas. I thought he was just boasting.

The next morning we could not leave because my mother-in-law had not arrived. We worried about her and feared for her safety, and the two men with her (Tony and Llagas). We were embarrassed because we were delaying everybody in our party. Fortunately or unfortunately, an air bombardment staged by many airplanes began, so we could not leave anyway. The planes started diving just above us, and we could see the bombs being released. The target to be Japanese positions at the end of the Asin road. Finally, my mother-in-law arrived at about 10 o’clock. Shortly thereafter, we continued on our journey. While crossing the river I took a bath in the rapid crystalline current. When my mother-in-law saw my body which was more of a skeleton than anything else, she cried.

On the river we were advised that Gen. Roxas and Chief Justice Yulo and their families had arrived. The Igorot leader had made good his promise. It seems that he went directly to the shelter of Roxas, and upon his insistence the Roxases and the Yulos left at once. Mrs. Roxas, Mrs. Yulo and Miss Roxas were carried by the Igorots in hammocks. Sison and I decided to leave at once and go a little faster as we did not want Roxas and Yulo to leave ahead of us; we feared that the Japanese would pursue them. They were not pursued, however. I doubt whether the Japanese could have followed them because all along the way American airplanes flew above them as if patrolling to protect them from attacks by the Japanese.

We climbed one steep mountain and another steep mountain. We stopped to rest and shortly afterwards, to our surprise, my mother-in-law came walking. But she was very weak and again with fever. A very kindly mestizo gave her medicine. It started to rain hard again, and again she had to stay in the rain with fever.

We continued our way and after about 3 or 4 kilometers walk over a comparatively good road, we arrived soaking wet at a place which was apparently a rest house. As it continued to rain, we huddled like sardines in the one room house. In size, it must have been four by four meters. It had a front porch that sagged. At about 5 o’clock in the afternoon, we were startled by our Igorot guide suddenly jumping out the window. A Japanese soldier appeared with a loaded sub-machinegun pointed at us. Another armed Japanese soldier with a big scar on his face stood just outside the door. We could not tell whether there were others outside. The one inside the hut, with Capt. Desiderio who studied in Japan and spoke Japanese acting as interpreter, told us not to move. He told us to surrender all firearms. We showed him our five revolvers. He got them all, but then returned my revolver and that of Minister Sison. But almost immediately, he took mine back. He ordered us to open our baggage, which we did. He examined each of them. He got all the foodstuff. One of our companions, Mr. Gatchalian, remained seated on his bundle. The Japanese pulled it from under him and opened it. To our consternation, it contained a revolver with many rounds of ammunition. The Japanese became very angry. He pointed a revolver at Mr. Gatchalian. We thought the Japanese was going to shoot him, but fortunately he merely got the revolver. The tension eased. He asked us for our watches which we gave him. He returned some but retained the expensive ones, including my gold watch. I did not expect him to like my watch as I had been told that the Japanese preferred wrist watches and the watch of Mr. Sison was a gold wristwatch of the best kind. I prized my watch very much; it was a gift to me of Don Antonio Roxas. My other watch which had been presented to me by the employees of the Executive Bureau when I resigned from this office and which I therefore also prized very highly, had been accidentally included in the bag containing our very valuable medicines left along the way. I could not blame my wife for this as like others she was not herself. It was plain robbery, a regular daytime hold-up. As it turned out, the Igorots jumped out of the window to warn Roxas that there were Japanese and not to proceed. Roxas and Yulo did not arrive until after the Igorot had assured them that the Japanese were no longer in the vicinity.

Roxas and party arrived in the hut that night. He told us that they decided to leave Baguio after they found out that Sison and I had already left. They feared that the Japanese would take action against the Ministers who were left in Baguio. They walked very fast even during the night because they feared that they were being pursued. Fortunately, they met no Japanese. We had a long talk about many things that night. We agreed to leave early the next morning, April the 15th, 1945. He proposed that we go in groups instead of together, each group to leave at half hour intervals.

We learned that we were within the jurisdiction of Ambosi; that we were not yet in the safety zone. Although we were very tired, we did not sleep well that night. The Roxases and the Yulos slept in a nearby house, but we were still too crowded. We slept in a sitting position. The mestizo who gave medicine to my mother-in-law suffered a deep cut on his foot when he stepped on a can which had been thrown out the window by the young son of Mr. and Mrs. Villegas. He was bleeding profusely.

Mr. and Mrs. Villegas had a small baby and they kept lighting matches throughout the night. We could not understand why. We all grumbled and protested but they paid no attention. Because of them, I do not believe anybody was able to sleep.

We had no more food. The men went to search for food and they came back with a load of “camote”. This is what we ate for breakfast the next morning. We received information that the Japanese were pursuing us, so although according to Roxas’ plan they were to leave before us, Sison and I decided to go ahead. At about 5 o’clock, we continued our journey. I left my son Tony, my bodyguard and our laundrywoman to take care of my mother-in-law. I told my son that we would be waiting for them when we reached the safety zone. To make sure that they would not lose their way, I told them I would mark the turns or crossings with toilet paper, which I did. They could not lose their way as there was only one trail and the whole way as littered with clothes and other things thrown by the evacuees. My mother-in-law was growing weaker and weaker. I knew that, her strong will notwithstanding, there would come a time when it would just be impossible for her to continue.

The trails continued to be perilous — in fact they were even worse. Almost perpendicular mountains had to be traversed. After ascending and descending a mountain, another one loomed ahead. We counted nine high mountains before reaching Tubao. Many times we just had to slide down on our backs. There was one portion of about 100 yards on the side of a steep mountain with the trail no more than a foot wide and very slippery. In parts, avalanches had occurred and the trail disappeared down the mountain. We passed these portions by holding tightly on tree roots and vines which fortunately were quite abundant. We had to do some Tarzan stunts. To fall meant certain death as the ravine was very deep. Fortunately, no accident happened to any of us. It was the Almighty protecting us.

The first man we met along this trail told us that he had seen Japanese soldiers on the way. We became very nervous. Although we were already dead tired we accelerated our pace. Mr. and Mrs. Sison and our other companions were far ahead of us. My whole family with the exception of Tony, who was with his grandmother, were walking together. My wife was visibly very tired and weak. But the others, including little Menchu, seemed to be still strong. At one time, we stopped to take a little rest. My three young ladies, Dely, Tesy and Ming, who were a little ahead of us entered a dilapidated shack to take a rest. They came running and very excited. They saw a horrible sight — the body of an old person which they could not distinguish to be that of a man or a woman, already in an advanced state of decomposition. We left the place hurriedly.

We again climbed up a mountain so thickly forested that we could not see the sky. The trail was also very bad, but because it was very shady, we considered it the best portion of our trip. We crossed other streams with crystalline water, but although we wished to wash ourselves, we did not stop. We finally reached a group of houses. There were four or five persons in the village. They said that the day before they had been visited by Japanese soldiers which information scared us awfully. After eating some bananas which we picked along the way, we left. We were again caught by heavy rain. We stopped at an abandoned shack with a roof that hardly protected us. It was here that the Roxases and Yulos overtook us. The ladies looked fresh as they were carried in hammocks. As soon as the rains subsided, we proceeded. We had hardly walked 2 kilometers when it began to rain again. The trail was already very slippery and impassable. We had to stop under a structure which seemed to be an old stone bridge. When the sky cleared, we beheld a mountain on the other side of the river. Behind the mountain was already the safety zone. We burst in jubilation. Roxas signalled us to be quiet as there were Japanese. Sure enough; to our right we saw some Japanese soldiers going in a direction parallel to us. Are we going to meet misfortune at the last lap of our trip? We proceeded quietly and fortunately the Japanese did not see us or pretended not to see us.

As if to complete our suffering and martyrdom, the last lap to safety was a steep mountain which was very slippery from the rain. I fell down many times and at one time I almost rolled down into a deep ravine. I would have met instant death. It was impossible for my wife and daughters to go down the mountain. Roxas approached me and told me that runners and carriers would come for them. I still wonder how these Igorots can go down a steep mountain trail so easily just as if it were a perfectly level road. We arrived at the river bank safely and easily. For the first time since the war, we laid eyes on an American soldier. Our emotions were indescribable.

I related earlier our jubilation at seeing the U.S. Captain and his men. We were carried across the river and then we had to ascend another very steep, very difficult, slippery mountain. We did not allow ourselves to be carried any more. But we noticed that we climbed better and faster. Besides we were no longer suffering from nervousness caused by well-founded fears. We reached the top where we stopped to rest. We tarried as we were already in the safety zone. There were many soldiers and guerrillas. Shortly after we had sat down, my younger son, Alfredo, told me that my mother-in-law was coming. We thought he was joking, but then we saw her carried on the back of a man who was rather small. He was carrying my mother-in-law on his back as if she were a small child. We waited for her and there was a happy reunion of three generations of my family.

Before dusk we had to climb again, but it was not a difficult ascent compared with the others. At the top, a place called Pitugan, were three houses, one just a hut. The big one was occupied by Roxas and family and their friends. The small hut was assigned to my family and to Mr. and Mrs. Padilla. Others wanted to join as but we objected because there was no more room. I am glad the Padilla family was the one assigned to us since Mrs. Padilla is a sister of Don Jacobo Zobel, one of my very good friends whose family always supported me in my election bids in Calatagan and Nasugbu. Here for the first time we ate right; we had a good meal. Here we passed the night without hardly any sleep not only because we were almost all in semi-sitting positions, but also because we were too excited for being already in the safety zone. Even then the necessary precautions were taken by the American Captain. There were soldiers with submachine guns posted throughout the night around our houses. The order was to shoot anybody loitering around. Frequently, they searched the whole neighborhood with lighted torches and flashlights. We were cautioned not to go out by ourselves as we might be mistaken for Japanese snipers. We did not go out all night even though we felt the necessity to relieve ourselves. The precautions were well taken as the place where we saw the Japanese soldiers was just on the other side of the river, and once in a while they cross the river and shoot at anyone they see. Fortunately, no untoward incident happened that night.

The next morning, April 16th we left already rather late — about 7 o’clock. We walked not hurriedly on trails all going down. They reminded me of the trails of Batangas. I admired my wife; she had walked practically the whole way and she seemed to be still strong. She was very thin and I feared she would collapse, but she was no more tired than I was. We were, carrying nothing as we were able to hire carriers for this part of the trip. Mama and Menchu were being carried. All along the way, we met hundreds of people, many were runners and carriers. They brought canned goods and candies which they were selling at high prices to the thousands of evacuees coming from Baguio. At about half past eleven, we reached the plains. I think the place is called Rizal. There we stopped a while to eat young coconuts and sugar cane.

Gen. Roxas and Mr. Yulo walked with us. When we were half way to Rizal, a horse was brought for Gen. Roxas. We walked on the plains and after crossing two rivers we sighted a military truck. It was intended for us. The Engineer son of Minister Paredes was in it. The American driver was very nice. My wife and I boarded the truck. I wanted to bring my young ladies but I was told the truck was going back for them. We passed new roads which I understand were built by the American Army. On the way, we picked up Mama and Menchu. We reached Tubao after twelve. The truck returned to Rizal, and after less than an hour it returned with my other children.

We all went to church to give thanks to God for our safe arrival, our successful escape from the clutches of the Japanese. After we left the church, we stayed at the church plaza to wait for assignment of our quarters as we were told. It was there that we received the sad news that my daughter Neny had died. Our sorrow was indescribable. We wept like children. She had been a good and dutiful daughter. She married Ramon Cojuangco in September, 1944 a little more than six months ago. My wife and I were very happy when Neny married a man we heartily approved of. The news of her death was totally unexpected. We had always feared for Lily and her family because they lived in San Miguel near Malacañan and the San Miguel Brewery, and it was here that heavy fighting was reported. It was true that heavy bombardment was reported at Taft Avenue, but it was the Taft Avenue proper up to a little beyond Vito Cruz. This is still far from the house of the Cojuangcos which was on the southern end of Taft Avenue extension. But it turned out that the whole Conjuangco family left their house to seek shelter in the Chapel of De La Salle College near the intersection of Taft Avenue and Vito Cruz. It was a surprise to me to learn that they had gone to that place since, when I learned that the family of Judge Carlos had moved to that place, I expressed to them my belief that it was not a safe place. De La Salle College itself was occupied by the Japanese Army and it had to be bombarded from the air or shelled from the ground. I told them that they should either join the Aquino family who lived in a concrete house near Malacañan or they should just stay in their house on Taft Avenue which was a three storey cement house with a very strong air raid shelter. The reason for this instruction was that I feared the Japanese more than the American bombs and shells. It got into my head that upon retreat they would kill all the Filipinos they could find as by then they would have discovered that the Filipinos were not only guerrilleros but that they hated the Japanese. I based my belief on the record of the Japanese in China. I thought that the only house the Japanese would respect was that of Speaker Aquino for his vocal Japanese leanings. If they chose to remain in their own house in Taft Ave., my instructions to them were to secure the gates, and close tightly and securely all the doors and windows of the house. Evidently, they moved to La Salle upon the persuasion of the Carlos family, Mrs. Carlos being the sister of Mrs. Cojuangco.

I was called to the Municipal building where the office of the C.I.C. was. Engineer Paredes accompanied me. I met there Justice Yulo, Mr. Sison, Mr. Paredes, an American and a priest. There I cried again. The priest was trying to console me by saying that the news about Neny could not be true. This gave me a ray of hope. I was given a little brandy to drink probably to bolster up my spirit. I left the building without having been questioned at all. I think they just wanted to know my personal circumstances and these were provided by Engineer Paredes. I had just returned to the church yard when I was called again. We — Roxas, Yulo, Sison and Paredes and myself — were loaded in two jeeps and taken to Agoo which was the headquarters of the 6th Army operating toward Baguio. There we were introduced to the Commander of the Division, Gen. Carlson. We were invited to a luncheon which was a typical American meal. For the first time in a long time, we ate good bread with butter, nice sweets, ice cream, etc. We had a hearty meal. All the members of the staff of Gen. Carlson were there. After the meal group pictures were taken of us.

Gen. Roxas and Mr. Paredes were closeted with Gen. Carlson probably to learn from them some facts of military value in connection with the operations to take Baguio. We were taken to the office of Col. Arvey whose position we did not know. He might have been the Judge-Advocate. He seemed to have complete files on us and other Filipino high officials. He had a good many personnel and the office seemed to be a busy one. We were asked many questions, but the one that struck us the most was when he asked us what we thought of the postponement of independence. Yulo, our spokesman, answered immediately and without the least hesitation. He answered that our independence should not be postponed at all. The Colonel argued that what we need now is the country’s rehabilitation and this would require the assistance of America. Yulo answered that there was no incompatibility between independence and American assistance to our rehabilitation. I could not help making my sentiments also known by nodding approval to the statements of Mr. Yulo.

The Colonel immediately retorted, “I am surprised with your attitude. I have talked to very many Filipinos and 98% of them were for postponement.” I do not doubt that the Colonel was telling the truth. This reveals the inherent weakness of the Filipinos. I am sure that a great majority of them are for immediate independence. But we generally do not want to displease our hearers especially if they are Americans. We readily agree to insinuations. Or we are apt to presume that all the Americans are against our independence and so whenever we talked to them we give them to understand that we are not enthusiastic for independence. This trait, this weakness in our character must be remedied.

Before leaving another Colonel talked to me. He said that a mob near Baguio had unearthed about 800,000 of silver pesos, and he asked me whether I knew something about it. I told him that I was reliably informed by the Japanese that they were able to recover in the waters around Corregidor several boxes of silver pesos. These were turned over to the Taiwan Bank. This bank had a branch in Baguio and it is possible that the bank had buried the silver pesos in the place where the Americans found them. The Colonel after some recollecting exclaimed, “Oh yes, there was a piece of board with ‘Taiwan’ written on it.”

We returned to Tubao and rejoined our families. We were taken to the school building where two families were assigned to a classroom for living quarters. We, with the Sison family, occupied the classroom on the right end of the building, and the Roxas and Yulo families, the room on the other end of the building. We were given rations of canned goods at nominal prices; We had everything we needed, including butter. We had more than enough. What a contrast! Whereas the Japanese stole our food, the Americans gave us food. Our only problem in that building was sanitation. The authorities were doing their best to keep the surroundings sanitary. There were many toilets behind the building. But just the same human refuse was found abundant all around the building.

I forget to recount that before we reached Ambosi, there was continuous shelling directed by slow flying planes hovering above — the target of the shells was a mountain top just above us. In that place we heard sounds that were most terrifying. The sound travelled through the ravine where we were. I believe it was the whistling of shells falling above us, but instead of the whistling sound, it sounded like the zooming of many airplanes on account of the ravine. Or it might have been the sound of the cannonading at Galleno, the place below Asin where heavy fighting was taking place and as cannonading was on the ravine we were in the sound path.

The 17th and 18th, we spent resting, recovering from our ordeal. Each one of us had lost at least ten pounds on the way. We inquired about when we were to be brought to Manila. The military people promised to provide transportation to Manila just as soon as the quarantine of Manila was lifted and they could secure special passes for us. In the morning of the 19th, we were loaded in a closed small truck, and the rest of the story has already been told. Little did we imagine that it was the beginning of a long incarceration. We were ignorant of what they intended to do to us and we brought nothing. We were originally told that we were only going to San Fabian. I had nothing but the clothes on my back and my toothbrush and shaving kit.

I want to record the departure of President Jose P. Laurel.

On Sunday, March 18, we were called to a special meeting of the Cabinet at the Mansion House. All the Ministers, with the exception of Yulo, Sison and Roxas, were present. It was a very solemn meeting. The President spoke for more than one hour beginning at about half past five. We consider it one of the best speeches that he had ever delivered.

He explained that Ambassador Morata had seen him to transmit the wish of the Japanese Supreme Council to have the President, the members of his Cabinet, the Speaker and the Chief Justice brought to Japan. Laurel asked that he be given until that evening to give his answer. His purpose was to be able to consult his collaborators in the government. He showed us a letter which he had dictated when he was told in Manila that he and the members of his Cabinet might be taken to Japan.

In the letter he declined to go to Japan, giving his reasons. He accepted the Presidency on the conviction that he would be able to serve his country and people. He can only do so if he stays in the Philippines. He was determined to stay and serve his people even if it would cost him his life. His leaving the Philippines at this time would be a desertion and he cannot betray his people by such a cowardly act. Besides, Pres. Quezon was criticized by the Japanese themselves for having abandoned his people when they needed him. He considered the criticism well founded and he should, therefore, not commit a similar dereliction of duty. But if circumstances prevail on him to leave, he would like to request as a counter proposal that he go alone. Just as when the “state of war” with the United States and Great Britain was declared, he was desirous of assuming alone and exclusively the full responsibility, he was now willing to make another sacrifice by going alone so that the others would not have to undertake a dangerous trip to Japan.

Everybody was so affected that no one could speak after the peroration of the President. The President himself had to ask our opinion. The consensus of opinion was that, if possible at all, the President and his Cabinet and other high officials should not go. But if he had to go, each and everyone were willing to accompany him. The President reiterated his determination to go alone. He promised to go to the Cabinet Hill the next day to tell us the result of his negotiation with the Japanese.

The next day, Monday, March 19, he did not go to the Cabinet Hill. Tuesday, at 5:00 p.m., we went to the Mansion House. This time Yulo, Sison and Roxas were there. The President informed us that he had to go, and that his proposal to go alone was partly accepted in the sense that he would only be accompanied by some Ministers and a General. He announced that those accompanying him were Speaker Aquino, Min. Teofilo Sison of Home Affairs, Min. Camilo Osias of Education and Mrs. Osias, and Gen. Capinpin. This announcement was a great relief to me because I feared that on account of my position in the government, I had to go. I was worried as I brought my whole family to Baguio, except my two married daughters. I also brought my mother-in-law. My wife was not in good health. Besides, almost all the families in Baguio were having serious problems with the food shortage. Under the circumstances, I could not leave my family. The announcement was also a surprise as regards Manuel Roxas because it was taken for granted that he would have to go. The President concluded that the departure of the party would be announced soon. We promised to come in the afternoon of the next day.

The next day, Exec. Sec. Emilio Abello sent us a note that the President would like us to go to the Mansion House early. We went at two o’clock that afternoon. We had our picture taken with the President. In the picture was the Filipino flag which the President had been using and which was almost completely torn from the bombing of the Mansion House. Those present were Claro M. Recto, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Jose Paez, Minister of Public Works and Communications; Camilo Osias, Minister of Public Instruction; Pedro Sabido, Minister of Economic Affairs; Emiliano Tria Tirona, Minister of Public Health and Welfare; Arsenio Luz, Chairman of the Board of Information; Jose Sanvictores, Head of the Food Production Activities; Emilio Abello, Executive Secretary; Ramon Macasaet, Vice Minister of Health and Welfare and private physician to the President, Maj. Gen. Guillermo Francisco, Mayor Ramon Mitra of Baguio, Jose Laurel, Jr., Assemblyman from Batangas, and myself, Minister of Finance. Speaker Benigno Aquino, Sr. was also present. Chief Justice Jose Yulo and Brig. Gen. Manuel Roxas came after the meeting, conferred with the President, and left before the President’s departure. Ministers Quintin Paredes of Justice and Rafael Alunan of Agriculture were absent as they could not be notified.

The President spoke again for several minutes. He said that he had devoted the greater portion of his life to his country. It would be a pleasure and it is his determination to dedicate the rest of his life to the service of his country. Undoubtedly, he said, he would be criticized and bitterly attacked. But he hopes that some day his people will understand. His ideals and principles are very clear, having been repeatedly expounded by him. He wants to establish a Philippine nation, truly independent and free. He will combat with all his might any intervention or interference on the part of the Americans, or Japanese, or any other foreigner. He wants his people to be happy and prosperous. He believes that we should not depend upon foreigners as no one could love a Filipino better than a brother Filipino. He would like the Philippine Republic to befriend all nations, but we should always remember that we are Oriental and our country is located in the midst of Oriental nations. It is but natural that we should establish the most friendly relationships with other Oriental nations.

Afterwards, the President sent for his crucifix. He stated that since his childhood he had knelt and prayed before this crucifix. He is leaving it with us under the care of the ranking member, Minister Recto. Before it, he would like us to pledge unity and perfect understanding. He concluded by asking us to forgive whatever offense or wrong he had committed.

It was a very touching and pathetic scene. The President was crying and so were all of us. I could not bear it — I was the most affected as I am the most intimate friend of the President — I had to leave the room for a while. Nobody could speak. In everybody’s eyes we could see the love and trust for our President. The scene was at the Guest House, amidst the ruins and debris.

We left the President and went to the Mansion House. The President spent his time bidding goodbye to the Presidential Guards and the household.

At 7:00 o’clock in the evening, the President and those accompanying him to Japan went by automobile to Ambassador Murata’s residence. We followed on foot as the residence was just outside the Mansion House compound.

Members of the party to Japan were President and Mrs. Laurel, and all the members of his family including his in-laws, Speaker Aquino, Minister and Mrs. Osias, and General Capinpin.

Those who saw the President and party off were Ministers Recto, Paez, Sabido, Tirona, Luz, Sanvictores, Abello, and myself; Gen. Francisco; and Vice Min. Ramon Macasaet.

The Japanese present were Lt. Gen. Muto, Chief of Staff; Maj. Gen. Utsonomiya; Mr. Hamamoto; and many other Japanese.

As a last wish, the President asked Gen. Muto to extend assistance and protection to the Ministers and the General whom he left behind. Gen. Muto promised to do so and, addressing us, he stated that we should not hesitate to communicate to him anything in which the Army could be of help.

The party left by automobile at 9 o’clock. Ambassador Murata accompanied the party to Japan. Japanese soldiers in two trucks convoyed the party. They were supposed to go by automobile for about 15 kilometers; walk for about 60 kilometers, and then by automobile again up to the point the party could board an airplane. A few days later, Mr. Hamamoto told us that the President and party had to walk only about 30 kilometers and that they had arrived safely in Formosa. They could not proceed to Japan probably because of the invasion of Okinawa Island, part of Japan proper.

Before leaving, the President signed an order reorganizing the government by relieving all the Ministers and other officials who remained in the Philippines. Chief Justice Yulo resigned. The purpose was to be able to organize a complete government in Japan.

Thus ended the first government of the Second Republic of the Philippines. No doubt it had been a success under the able and courageous leadership of Pres. Laurel. The government was established under the most difficult circumstances. The war reached its acute stage and it was natural that there would be conflicts between the government and the Filipinos on the one hand, and the Japanese Military authorities on the other. The Japanese naturally wanted to win the war, and at times the requirements of the Army and Navy affected vitally the interest and welfare of Filipino citizens. The difficulty of subordinate Japanese officers and officials and Japanese civilians to understand and appreciate the Filipino customs and idiosyncracies and also to understand and effectuate the principles and aims of Japan as regards the Philippines, created problems which admitted no solution satisfactory to the Filipinos. With so many serious difficulties, the government of the Republic was nevertheless able to forge ahead. It is a wonder how it could count with so many achievements and accomplishments under the circumstances.

I purposely mentioned Japanese subordinate officers and officials. This is because the high officers, like Gen. Kuroda, Gen. Wachi, and Gen. Utsonomiya deserve the respect, admiration and gratitude of the Filipino people.

* * * * *

            Thus for the second time, I am out of the public service. It certainly afforded genuine pleasure and relief. Notwithstanding the fact that I was in the service of the government from 1909 to 1939, and from 1942 to March, 1945, I harbor only dislike for the public service. The reason is not because I have experienced disappointment in public service. I know of no other person who has been treated with as much justice. In fact, my promotions were even faster than they should have been.

But I have seen countless cases of irregularities in the public service. I have seen men promoted who did not in the least deserve it. I have seen flagrant cases of nepotism. I have seen vengeance wreaked on brilliant employees. I have seen bribery and serious irregularities in the service go unpunished because of the influence and “pull” enjoyed by the culprit. I have seen promising young men unjustly dismissed or laid off just to give way to relatives or favorites of the appointing officers. I have seen lazy and inefficient employees retained in the service to the prejudice of the interest of the people. All these so disgusted me that I longed to leave the public service and enter private business where I felt I belonged.

My first opportunity came in 1938 and I immediately seized it. The then President did his best to persuade me to remain in the service, offering all kinds of inducements, including the managership of either the Philippine National Bank or the Manila Railroad Co. But I insisted in resigning. I was not mistaken. In April of 1939, I joined Marsman & Co. I left the government with an indebtedness up to my neck.

On this day, Wednesday, August 1,1945 we read that at Potsdam, Germany, Truman, Stalin and Attlee (the new Premier of Great Britain), and with the concurrence of Chiang Kai Shek, sent an ultimatum to Japan demanding surrender. The conditions imposed were that Japan is to have only her four original islands. All lands taken by force must be returned.

August first has always been considered as an unlucky day. We were therefore glad that we went to bed at 10 o’clock without any unfortunate incident. But at about 11:30 that night we were awakened by a loud cry. We did not pay any attention. A few minutes later, we heard a heavy thing drop. We jumped out of bed and turned the lights on. We saw Dr. Julio Luz lying on the floor. We thought he was merely dreaming. We put him back on his cot. He woke up and began to sing. It was then we realized that he had lost his mind. He stood up on his bed and fell on the floor again. It was lucky for him that he did not get hurt. His brother, Arsenio, called for the doctor. The guard also notified Lt. Hagonberg. They came immediately. Julio called for Sanvictores. He took hold of the left hand of Sanvictores and pulled him in. Julio pulled Sanvictores so strongly that if he were not a strong man, being our physical director, he would have fallen. Luz saw Lt. Hagonberg and he asked, “How is Hagonberg?” “Well, thank you,” answered the Lieutenant. “How is Gilfilan? How is your shit?” The Lieutenant did not answer.

Luz crawled to the ballustrade and tried to jump. Three strong men, for in the meanwhile a big crowd had gathered around, pulled him back. His brother Arsenio became so nervous that he did not know what to do. He ran back and forth. Somebody remarked that it was the effect of Atabrine. Doctor Bunye said that it was the effect of the malaria itself as the type he contracted attacks the brain. But we who knew Luz before he came to Iwahig, and who had observed his conduct since his arrival believe that he is a lunatic.

Bocobo is also showing signs of eccentricity. He seems to think that he is seriously sick and would soon die. We believe that it is just the result of depression caused by our unjust imprisonment. We are all doing our best to help him. The Colonel and the Lieutenant are also doing their best to help. They have authorized him to go out of the stockade any time he wished to take a walk accompanied by another internee to Class A. We still hope to save him.

As a joke, we printed out the different hobbies of each of us, which showed that something is also the matter with our heads.


July 21, 1945 Saturday

This is inspection day. We prepared our bed, baggage, everything. My family will be surprised at how well I can arrange my things. This is one of the many good things we have learned here. The bed cover is neatly folded, the mosquito net properly placed. Our mess kit and toilet articles, all very shiny, are meticulously arranged on our bed. It is a pleasure to see them.

After the inspection, Col. Gilfilan suddenly appeared in our quarters and engaged Minister Paredes in conversation. As usual, whenever he comes we get jitterly expecting that he was going to give us hell. After the appropriate preliminaries, they proceeded to discuss our case. Evidently, the Colonel had already submitted our letter to General MacArthur. He added that he had other papers about us but he had not seen our memorandum submitted to Mr. Stanford of the C.I.C. As reported by Mr. Paredes the conversation is substantially as follows:

The Colonel came prejudiced against us. Like others, he thought we had willingly collaborated with the Japanese, committed acts constituting treason to our country, and harbored anti-American feelings.

Paredes related how we happened to be in the service during the Japanese regime. He said that under the circumstances, we could not possibly do otherwise unless we wanted to endanger the lives of our people. We need not wait for guns to be pointed at us. The Japanese did not hesitate to arrest, punish and even kill. The people were unprotected. Furthermore, there was the danger of the administration falling into the hands of real pro-Japanese men like Ricarte, or of irresponsible rascals, like Benigno Ramos. These men had acted before and during the Japanese occupation as spies. They had not only baited the Japanese to commit atrocities but had no hesitation themselves to rob, abuse and even kill. This was the situation. We had to choose between inaction or action, hiding in the mountains or acceptance of the office which placed us in a position to protect or serve our people as best we could. We harbored no illusions about it but we preferred to take our chances to see what we could do for our people. We feel we did a satisfactory job. So many were killed; more than 500,000 people died because of Japanese brutality. But what would have happened if we did not accept? Knowing now what the Japanese are capable of, it will not be an exaggeration to say that at least one fourth of our population would have perished.

The Colonel nodded with approval. But evidently there were many doubts lingering in his mind. He asked why the Republic declared war against the United States. Paredes explained. He said that even before the inauguration of the Republic, Pres. Laurel was called to Tokyo where Premier Tojo himself expressed their desire for the Philippines to declare war against the United States and Great Britain. The Japanese Premier was very insistent. Laurel boldly refused. He spoke with frankness. He reasoned out that it would not be decent for us to declare war against the United States. The reasoning of Laurel was so sound that the Filipinos present, Aquino and Vargas, were astounded. No publication was ever made of the incident, but rumors about the incident rapidly spread and the people admired his courage. Tojo did not compel Laurel, but the Japanese never gave up on the idea. Every time there was a propitious occasion, the Commander-in-Chief and other generals spoke to the President about the declaration of war.

But the most serious request was when U.S. air attacks on Davao began. It should be remembered that there was a Pact of Alliance between the Philippines and Japan. The Japanese invoked the provisions of the Treaty.

A word about this treaty must be said. It was a treaty of Amity and Alliance. It was given wide publicity by the Japanese; they presented it as an outright alliance. The full document was never published. It was really a unilateral agreement. Whereas Japan had to fight for us, we were not under any obligation to help or fight with them. But of course, lest our true colors be discovered, we accepted that if the Philippines were attacked, we would defend our territory. In the case of Davao, Laurel did not consider it a threat to our territorial integrity, so he did not declare war. He promulgated, however, a proclamation declaring martial law. He thought this would satisfy the Japanese, but it did not — they kept requesting that formal declaration of war be made. American air bombardment of Manila took place on the 21st of September 1944. The Commanding General and the Ambassador saw the President and insisted on a declaration of war. We had special meetings of the Cabinet and secretly we planned what to do. It was evident that the members of the Cabinet were against it, and almost all the assemblymen. So were the members of the Council of State composed of Chief Justice Avanceña as Chairman, and Messrs. Miguel Unson, Pedro Aunario, Ramon Fernandez and Jose Paez. Even the President himself was not in favor. But above all, the people were decidedly against it.

But Roxas had a vision. He could see what could happen if something was not done. So he advised the President to issue some kind of a proclamation about the war. The Constitution provides that war can only be declared by the President with the concurrence of the National Assembly. The Japanese offered to facilitate plans to bring the assemblymen to Manila. But we made every effort to prevent a quorum in the Assembly. It was unanimously approved that no declaration of war be made; that a mere state of war be declared. There is of course a big difference between the two. The declaration of a state of war merely recognizes the state then existing which was the armed conflict prevailing in the Philippines. Every effort was made to eliminate as much as possible statements concerning America without the Japanese noticing it. As part of the plan, the President, a day or two before the declaration was issued, stated that there would be no conscription of the Filipino youth. Pres. Laurel somehow learned that the Japanese would order the conscription of the Filipino youth. The young people would be trained to fight Filipino and American forces. The proclamation contained no provision for conscription. In making the assurance, his intention was to be able to answer the Japanese in case they asked for such conscription, that his prestige would be adversely affected if he did not stand by his word. What good is a declaration of war without conscription? These are the facts. But of course the Japanese announced to the world that it was an outright declaration of war.

Colonel Gilfilan also asked about the labor conscription. It was also explained that this is one of those things that just could not be avoided. But let us examine the wording of the proclamation. It will be seen that it is a useless proclamation. It provides that labor conscription may be ordered by the Military Governor when deemed necessary.

The Colonel expressed surprise, “Did Laurel do all that?” He made Paredes to understand that he did not consider us guilty of any punishable act. He stated, though it is not known whether it was said jokingly, that a jury better be created and he be made a member of it.

He is confident that we will be detained only during the duration of the war. He said that his tour of duty is already over but he decided to stay until we were released. This is interpreted by us to mean that the war may end soon. As the Colonel started to leave, he stated that he would help us.

There is a lot of speculation as to why he came. Some believe that he knows something more definite about our early release, and so he wanted to have closer relations with us. Others say that he is authorized to investigate our case and was investigating our case. The rest believe that something involving us is going on in Manila and that the Colonel had been called for a conference. He is preparing himself.

Needless to say, our hopes are again quite high.


July 18, 1945 Wednesday

Life here is very monotonous. We see the same things and do the same things over and over again. We try to occupy our time, to entertain ourselves. We go to church every Sunday and pray the Rosary in a body in the evening. We have learned to do manual work such as sweeping and cleaning our premises. We have learned to sew, to wash clothes, to make our bed and to do other household odd jobs. We exercise regularly, and in my case, on Sundays when we are allowed to go to the town plaza for recreation, I play baseball. Every Monday, we are allowed to see moving picture shows, and in our quarters we hold programs to entertain ourselves composed of singing, boxing, poetry recitation, magic, etc.

Each of us has his special activity. Chief Yulo likes to meditate and brood over our situation. Speaker Paredes spends his time taking up matters with the prison officials as our spokesman, talking to the enlisted class, playing solitaire, reading, writing and entertaining himself with local girls who pity us so much that they try their best to console us. Recto has returned to his old love — writing poetry. He also reads extensively. He furnishes us with a lot of entertainment with his orations and amusing jokes. He also plays card games. Alunan takes it easy and spends his time reading and taking care of his health. Paez reads and plays “a holoy”. Zulueta has a carpentry shop and a kitchen. He spends a good portion of his time preparing a meal and eating it with gusto. Sabido enjoys making predictions which, unfortunately for us, never come true, ponders on economic problems, reads and plays a little card. Justice Bocobo reads and writes much and prays. Madrigal takes a lot of reducing exercises and is continually planning for the future development of our country. Sanvictores is the exercise booster and reads considerably. Luz entertains us with his jokes and interesting conversations. Gen. Francisco is suffering because of the injustice done to him and to forget, he reads constantly. Sebastian has the most diversified activities; he reads, writes, sings, exercises and plays cards. He has also been the most helpful to his companions. Abello reads much, and, as an experienced secretary and being the Benjamin, he is the jack-of-all-trades in the party, helping in everything. Sison keeps himself very busy by taking care of the beautification of our premises. He is also our spiritual head, conducting all our prayers. Bayan takes care of all engineering work and plays chess. His teeth are giving him a lot of worry. Lavides has no specific hobby; he likes to do whatever could be of help. Aquino watches over the games played by others, sometimes taking part himself and pondering on what this is all about. Urquico is pitied by all of us as he is always sick. The most interesting activity is that Paredes. Some young girls, in their eagerness to cheer us up, have been sending food and letters. Don Quintin takes pains answering their letters which are very entertaining, although devoid of all romantic expressions. We could see in them their deep sympathy for our unfortunate situation. They ask us to write in their autograph books. I wrote the following: “July 15, 1945. Unknown to you, but deep in his heart is engraved a sincere feeling of gratitude for the sympathy bestowed upon us who suffer terribly for having served our motherland.”

I recall those days during the luncheon meetings of the Ministers. Instead of discussing the specific tasks assigned by the Japanese, we would while away the time by sending notes to one another across the table. These notes expressed the nationalistic sentiments of each one of us. They were written in Spanish, Tagalog and English. I wish now that I had conserved these notes which could help very much in our defense. I liked the notes written by Claro M. Recto best. Recto would scribble a nationalistic poem in a matter of minutes, revealing what was in his heart and mind. I too scribbled a lot of notes and poems.

Inside the stockade there are now very few incidents. All are doing their best not to mar our reputation. There are some exceptions. Someone was placed in the isolation cell for one day for having stolen some clothes. Two men were placed in isolation for a week for having foolishly tried to escape. Another was almost similarly punished for defying an order to work. He was excused, however, as he showed that he really had hurt himself while working the previous day. He yelled at the Lieutenant, but one good trait of an American is that he does not hesitate to admit that he is wrong.


June 8, 1945 Friday

To our surprise, MacArthur came. When rumors were circulating that Gen. MacArthur was coming, I did not pay attention as I thought it was one of the many jokes daily being dished out to us by fun makers. But when the rumor persisted, I thought that perhaps MacArthur would come since the Americans were looking for naval, military and air bases, and it may be that MacArthur would like to see the place himself. I still believed, however, that he was not coming to our prison.

Last Tuesday, June 5, a Captain from Manila arrived. He went all around our compound. Yesterday, he made us line up in front of our barracks. He said that he wanted the premises and our quarters to be thoroughly cleaned. He divided the men in the enlisted class in groups, each group to be under the personal direction and supervision of each member of the officer class. Like others in the officer class, I was placed in charge of a group. Each group was assigned a section of the prison camp. It was just my bad luck to be assigned to the area from the main entrance to the grounds in front of the quarters. It is a very conspicuous place and I suppose they would like to see it properly cleaned. I had 5 persons under me, but actually only 3 worked as one was later assigned to some other work and the other got sick. We worked the whole day. The next day, June 7, we woke up early, ate our breakfast and again worked the whole day. I was very much satisfied with the result. The place is completely transformed. From a dingy place and a sore spot, it is now a clean, attractive place. So were the other sections. The whole camp is clean and beautiful.

Much of the credit should be given to the Captain. He certainly is a hustler. He gave us no rest. The first day he told us nothing about making us work. He evidently remembered the provisions of the Geneva Convention, as he called all the Class A together and explained that we were not compelled to work, but that he would like us to volunteer. When we agreed, he asked us to sign a letter voluntarily agreeing to assist.

Now I am convinced that some big man was coming, otherwise why all the preparation if only secondary high officials are coming? I believe now that MacArthur is coming.

Yesterday afternoon, the 7th, an incident happened. After lunch, we took a break and returned to our quarters. We had just reached our quarters when we were asked to line up immediately to receive instructions. We were not ready and it took us several minutes before we could fall in line. The Captain got very angry and remarked in a loud voice that when we are called for work, we are very slow, but when it is for meals, we lose no time. We all felt insulted. We resented the remark. It was agreed that a formal protest be filed.

Our present conduct, however, is most reprehensible. The Captain came about 6 o’clock bringing clothes and belts. Many of my companions, who were very angry just moments ago, received him with a smile. They were meek and humble. I could not believe that just a few minutes before, when I wanted to ask for bats for our indoor ball games, they reproached me, remarking that we must not ask for anything. I cannot understand this; these men were the first ones to approach when the Captain came. Not only that. They accepted the clothes and belts brought by the Captain. Their demeanor was conspicuously humble. It was disgusting! Are we sincere in our indignation? If so, we should show it. This is precisely why foreigners think poorly of us because our conduct and countenance are not that of men who had been unjustly treated and insulted. How can we command respect if we do not show dignity?

Later that evening, many of us who were still indignant over today’s incident, drafted a strong protest. There were some differences of opinion as to the form, but no disagreement as to the substance of the protest. As it was already late, we decided to make the final draft the next morning.

This morning, we evidently had pondered on the matter during the night. We were no longer so vehement. We heard Mass and when we returned to our quarters we had apparently cooled off. Perhaps this is something to remember: when passions run high, we should take our time; then we are able to consider the matter on its merits. We finally decided not to protest. I am glad such was the decision. I do not feel the incident was important enough to justify such drastic action. Furthermore, any protest now is too late. We should have protested and even staged a hunger strike when we were first detained. We should have protested when we were brought like cattle in a freight boat. We tolerated insult after insult more serious than the present incident. If we base our protest on this incident alone, they will consider us childish.

Based on experience, I generally do not want to join movements of protest. I have in the past joined protests where a group of men seemed ready to sacrifice and go to the limit if not heard. The person against whom the protest is filed, makes an explanation, at times flimsy and meaningless. At the end, the protestors decide to forget the incident entirely. I would therefore advise everyone to be slow in protesting or complaining, unless one intends to follow it through to the end. For my part, once I enter into the fight, I will not withdraw; I am ready to go to the extreme, unless I later become convinced that I am wrong. It is not a shame to withdraw from a fight but only if reason and facts justify such change.

Later in the morning, it was clear that something was going to happen. Big shots were evidently coming. Early this morning our guards arrived in full regalia uniform. The Captain and the Lieutenant came to give instructions to them. At 10 o’clock, the Superintendent, Col. Forbes, conducted a ground inspection. As a matter of fact, for the last two days there were three inspections daily. Many remarked that it was “vajacion injusta”. We were told to get ready to fall in line at 11 o’clock. I forgot to mention that earlier, we saw our friend Johnny and other guards all dolled up. They were given special instructions on how to salute.

At exactly 11 o’clock, there was a great commotion. As we looked towards the gate we saw a very long line of jeeps and automobiles. Those in the first automobile alighted, and I immediately recognized Gen. MacArthur. He was accompanied by many high officials, by newspapermen and photographers. I did not recognize anybody else, but afterwards I learned that my friend, Don Andres Soriano, was the third man behind the General when the General entered our barracks.

The General lost no time. He immediately proceeded to the quarters accompanied by the officer class. I noticed that the General is much heavier than when I last saw him about four years ago. The General walked through our barracks quite fast, as if in a hurry. On one side of the corridor were lined up Messrs. Yulo, F. Zulueta, Alunan, Abello, Recto, Madrigal, Sabido, Sebastian, and Sanvictores; on the other side, Messrs. Paredes, de la Rama, Sison, Alas, Gen. Francisco, Bayan, Paez, Urquico, and Gov. Aquino. I saw the General glance around briefly and then look ahead. He has many friends among us, some very intimate. Evidently, the General avoided being face to face with his friends. It really would have been embarrassing for him and for us. Under the circumstances, he could not possibly show any familiarity. If he had looked at us and did not show cordiality, we would undoubtedly have resented it. On the other hand, under the circumstances, we too could not show any indication of friendship with him. We learned afterwards that he said that he did not want to see much of us as it would have pained him.

When he walked just passed Recto and Francisco, he abruptly stopped and somewhat hesitated. He looked towards the bed of Francisco and immediately asked Col. Forbes whether we had mattresses. The answer was ambiguous, insinuating that some of us had. The truth is that none of us have a mattress. The General instructed the Colonel to provide us with mattresses. The General asked whether we receive mail. The Colonel answered yes, but not regularly. Only two of us have received letters. The rest of us have not heard from our family since we left Manila. This has caused us to shed copious tears. I am sure my wife had sent me many letters. While I was in the United States I used to receive a letter from her once a week. Something is the matter with our mail. It is torture to us—a cruelty. I hope the authorities concerned would be more understanding and human. We suffer enough and our suffering is aggravated by not knowing the fate of our dear ones. The General gave the Colonel instructions to facilitate the delivery of our mail. He inquired about some more details. Before moving on, he instructed the Colonel to do everything so that we would be comfortable. We deeply appreciate the concern for us shown by the General.

When the General saw Don Vicente Madrigal, one of his many friends, he stopped and told Mr. Madrigal that he saw Don Vicente’s son just the day before, that he is sending his father his love. The scene was touching. Don Vicente bowed many times and could hardly mutter the words of thanks. Tears began to stream down Don Vicente’s face. When the General left, he wept and wept. I approached him to ask for more news, but I could not speak because I also started shedding tears. Don Vicente remarked that he would have preferred not to have received the news. No words can adequately describe the feelings of a man separated from his loved ones.

The General proceeded with his inspection and left immediately after going through all the quarters.

There were varied comments and speculations after the departure of the General. All were agreed that contrary to previous beliefs, his trip had nothing to do with us. He evidently came to look over certain military matters. But there were a few who insisted that the trip to Iwahig had something to do with us. It will be remembered that we sent him a petition sometime ago. It is said that he came to know more about our case; that by his visit, he wished to placate somewhat the bitter feelings he heard we harbored against Americans; and that he wished to show his interest and deep concern for us. We hoped that MacArthur will immediately consider our case, and that his action would be favorable. Gen. MacArthur undoubtedly would do justice. He knows many of us intimately. He knows the instructions given us by President Quezon before he left us, on what our attitude should be towards the Japanese. And above all, he has the welfare of the Filipino people at heart and he knows that we who are here can help greatly in that connection.


May 24, 1945 Thursday

Last night, we received the memorandum order of May 15, 1945, providing for the classification of detainees. Therein we are called “limited assimilated prisoners of war”. The order is issued in accordance with the Geneva Convention. We were detained probably pursuant to (g) paragraph 76 of the Rules of Land Warfare adopted to Geneva. According to this provision, “Persons whose services are of particular use to the hostile army or its government, such as the higher civil officials x x x, may be made prisoners of war.” I doubt the applicability of this provision to us. The Philippine Republic during the Japanese occupation not being recognized by America, its declaration of the state of war was illegal and null and void. If so, the Philippines was not only not an enemy, but an ally. This was evidenced by the fact that Filipino soldiers fought side by side with the American soldiers.

The order classifies those in this community into two: those with “Officer Status” and those with “Enlisted Status”. Those belonging to the former are Emilio Abello, Rafael R. Alunan, Sergio L. Aquino, Sergio Bayan, Antonio de las Alas, Francisco C. de la Rama, Guillermo B. Francisco, Vicente Madrigal, Jose Paez, Quintin Paredes, Claro M. Recto, Pedro A. Sabido, Jose G. Sanvictores, Proceso E. Sebastian, Teofilo Sison, Jose Urquico, Jose Yulo and Francisco Zulueta. To the Enlisted Status belong all other detainees in this camp. I repeat that we did not ask for classification to foment class distinction and because we do not want to mix with the other people in the compound some of whom are very poor or very ignorant. We of course would prefer to be in quarters separate from the present compound for the sake of more comfort and sanitation. But if classification does not result in separate quarters, we would have preferred to let things stay as they are. Our companions have been true friends to us. I also admire their spirit of helpfulness. There are many of them who whenever they see us working insist on doing the work. Their attitude is very encouraging. It shows that complete union of the Filipinos can be realized.

One of the main differences between the two classes is that the officer class will not be required to work. The enlisted class may be so required.

I forgot to state that the officer class were former governors, chiefs of bureaus, cabinet members, as well as heads of the military establishment under the Japanese.

In the memoradum order, there is an expressed prohibition for an officer to have a personal servant, and those in the enlisted class are not permitted to act as personal servants to any other individuals confined in the camp. Undoubtedly, this prohibition has been purposely prescribed. We so-called big shots are being charged with using the others as servants or as orderlies. This is of course far from the truth. We have never required anybody to work for us, nor have we requested them to do so. Any service rendered by them has been entirely voluntary and upon their own initiative. They know that we are not used to doing manual labor, and following the Filipino custom and tradition, they insist on doing the work for us. In the provinces, if you have been good to your neighbors they would not allow you to do manual work. I believe this is also the case in the United States and everywhere else. The leaders are supposed to do the intellectual work, the manual labor being performed by those not prepared for the intellectual and technical work. Nevertheless, we insisted in doing manual work. Even Chief Justice Yulo and the millionaire Vicente Madrigal had to take a broom and sweep.

In accordance with the memorandum order, all detainess had to elect a spokesman. He is to act, not only as liaison officer, but as the representative of the detainees in presenting their grievances and complaints. We elected for the position Speaker Quintin Paredes, a very able and worthy man for the position. We virtually have constituted him the leader of the officer class.

The enlisted detainees also had to elect one group leader for every 250 men. For this position, they elected Dr. Hilario Camino Moncado. Both elections will have to be approved by the commanding officer of the camp. Unfortunately, the men belonging to the enlisted class have not been taking the matter very seriously. They joke a lot about it, and I am afraid this time they’ve gone too far. They held an election for assistant leader, although the memorandum order did not provide for such position. The joke was that they put up as candidate a man called Tony, who had been acting as a sort of leader or boss, to run against a man by the name of Cuaresma, who is mentally retarded and physically deformed. Tony had been a good and strict leader, but he lost to Cuaresma who obviously could not be a leader. Naturally, this action irked and angered Tony and now there are division quarrels among them and complete disorganization. Dr. Moncado could not control them; he has resigned.

* * * * *

I must preface the following discussion by stating that we have reached very definite opinions on certain points: that because of the improper, brutal and even uncivilized conduct of the Japanese in the Philippines, the Filipinos cannot be for the Japanese and will hate them for generations to come; that there is no comparison between the Americans and the Japanese, and if we had to choose between the two, we certainly would vote for the Americans 100%.

But although comparison is odious, we would like to compare the treatment accorded by the Japanese to government officials, and the treatment now being accorded us by the Americans. When the Japanese came they did not arrest nor even molest the Filipino officials. On the contrary, the Japanese offered them the government. The Filipinos were of course reluctant to even consider it. But when they saw that the people were suffering because of abuses on the part of the Japanese soldiers, they accepted believing that they would then be in a position to help and save their countrymen. They discovered later that they could do little.

Worthy of mention also in this connection is that, after a very short detention during which they were given what the Japanese called “rejuvenation course”, our officers and enlisted men in the USAFFE were released.

Whenever we compare this treatment with that being shown to us now, we cannot help but express indignation. We are very bitter. We have been arrested, deported and imprisoned. According to announcements it will be for the duration of the war. What makes it very painful is that we had all been staunch supporters of America before the war; that from the beginning we had prayed fervently for the return of the Americans and for the victory of the United Nations who, we were told, were fighting for individual liberty, for democracy and the right of small nations to continue their independent existence. Being a liberty loving people, the Filipinos wholeheartedly supported America to the extent of sacrificing the flower of our youth. (About 100,000 young men died in Bataan and other places).

What makes it very painful is that we did not have the least intention of serving the Japanese; our sole purpose was to serve our people. At the very first opportunity, we travelled over steep and almost impassable mountains, rivers and ravines to reach the American lines, and we had never experienced such happiness, forgetting our fatigue and sacrifices, as when for the first time in over three years we saw an American soldier. Now these same people that we have waited for so long have arrested and placed us in a penitentiary. What a disappointment! What a paradox!

Today, a Colonel from Manila came for inspection. He went through the premises and left apparently satisfied. But he said something in a very emphatic way which indicates the belief they entertain about us. He said that we must not attempt to communicate anything by any means, such as codes, marks, figures, etc. Their censors are experts and our attempt will be discovered. We are afraid they take as all for spies and traitors.

There was blackout tonight. But no enemy planes appeared. The blackout lasted for only a few minutes so it might have been just an air raid practice. Japanese planes have almost all been destroyed and it is just unthinkable that any of them could reach Palawan especially in view of the fact that they seem to need all their planes somewhere else.


May 20, 1945 Sunday

The memorandum was put it final form. As we had no typewriter Minister Paez wrote it with his very fine handwriting. Those who signed the memorandum are the original fourteen, Don Vicente Madrigal and Governors Aquino and Urquico. Instead of giving the contents of the memorandum, I shall attach hereto a copy of it. In this connection, it should be stated that Justice Yulo believed that the document should have been stronger. For instance, the use of the phrase, “which should not be overlooked.” Yulo did not insist on his suggested changes because, as it will be remembered, there was a dissenting opinion (Minister Sison) on the question of whether we should submit a memorandum or not. I was strongly in favor of presenting such a memorandum to both President Osmeña and General MacArthur. I argued that our silence might be interpreted as an admission of guilt and later they may allege that they took no definite action because they thought that we had willingly acquiesced and seemed to be resigned to our situation.

All of us in the community have to work. We were divided into groups and each group takes care of the cleaning of the whole premises for the day. This day is a very significant one. The cleaning was being done by a group of five persons among whom were Capitalist Madrigal and Communist Taruc. I wish we had been able to take a picture when the two were working side by side—Madrigal with a broom sweeping and Taruc following him around with the waste receptacle to put the trash in. It is symbolic of an ideal situation. It is not utopian to believe that capital and labor can be together. This confinement might yet result in a solution of the serious problem of relationship between capital and labor. Capitalists can continue but they must give an equitable participation to laborers, participation which will enable the workers to own land, build a small but cozy house, and have enough money to buy sufficient food, educate their children, and have a little amusement such as seeing moving pictures. With such an arrangement there, can be no labor troubles. Radicalism of the pernicious type cannot develop.

I am probably the most athletic among the group. I do not mind manual labor. In fact, when I learned that one of the work to be done was the grounds along the fence of the stockade, even before we were ordered to do so, I started moving the stones by hurling stones over the fence in the manner of a shot put. In that way, I got my work done and got my exercise. I run daily around the stockade grounds for an hour and shadow box for a few minutes.

This day is the beginning of poetical activity in the community. Don Claro M. Recto, a known poet, wrote a poem concerning each of the members of the original party of fourteen with the addition of Don Vicente Madrigal. The poem is so good and interesting that instead of describing it, I prefer to attach hereto a copy of the poem.


May 17, 1945 Thursday

It is rumored that Gen. MacArthur is coming on the 20th. We do not know the purpose of the visit. But we shall see.

I had considered Minister Jose Paez as one of those absolutely content with his lot. Being a quiet man, he has never been heard to complain. In my conversation with him today, I found that he is resentful of the treatment accorded to us. He believes that there was deceit in that we were not told at all that we were going to be arrested, detained and deported. The Americans ignored the idiosyncracies and customs of the Filipinos; we were not given any opportunity to see our families or, as in his case, to see whether they had left Tubao for Manila, and if so, where they lived in Manila. The Americans do not know the attachment of a Filipino to his family.

Chief Justice Yulo has been sick during the last few days. He has not been going to the mess hall. We all believe that the only thing the matter with him is he worries too much and broods constantly. He just cannot understand why he should be detained and deported after his attitude of defiance against the Japanese which almost cost him is life and after he had served the cause of America.

I do not mean to make this a “Who’s Who”. But there are other personalities, characters and persons in this community of which special mention must be made.

The first is Don Vicente Madrigal, reputed to be the richest man in the Philippines. He was a schoolmate and one of the most intimate friends of Quezon and Osmeña. In fact, they used to confide in him their innermost secrets. From a humble beginning as a coal dealer, he became the coal king of the Philippines, controlling the greater portion of the coal business. He later expanded his business to almost every branch of business endeavor. He became a shipping magnate, a large scale merchant, a manufacturer (cement and sugar), an agriculturist, etc. His name was connected with almost all the big businesses in Manila. In recognition of his rise in the business world, he was elected president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce many times. He became a real tycoon. Pres. Quezon recognized his ability, and although he knew that Don Vicente loathed politics, he compelled him to be a candidate for Senator in 1941. He was elected, but the war came and he was not able to occupy his seat. During the Japanese regime, he was a member of the Organization Committee of the First Council of State, the preparatory committee for Philippine Independence which drafted the Constitution of the Philippine Republic and the Planning Board. Probably more will be heard of Don Vicente when the rehabilitation period comes. It will be a crime not to make full use of his experience and unquestioned ability.

There is another person of an entirely different type. He is a notorious character. He is Francisco C. de la Rama, alias Francisco Concepcion, alias Francisco Angeles, and now F.C. or Frank. His admirers call him “Don Paco”. I tried to avoid mentioning him as I do not care to talk about the bad side of anybody, especially those who, like De la Rama, are with us and who do their best to comfort and help us. But today he himself told us his whole story. He misappropriated funds belonging to Bachrach & Co. while he worked for them as a sales agent in the Bicol region. His picture was at one time posted throughout the Philippines for having been accused of “estafa” by the Gonzaga’s of Negros. A prize of ₱500 was offered for his arrest. He fled to Singapore and to other foreign countries. But he became homesick and returned to the Philippines. He was in hiding in Jolo, in La Union, and in the Ilocos region. Unfortunately for him, he was discovered and arrested everywhere he went. However, he always managed to keep out of jail by bribing the arresting officers. At one time, the very Constabulary officer who arrested him helped him escape to Baguio. It was then the time of the mining boom. He bought over 40 mining claims for ₱200 each and sold them at ₱5,000 each. With this large sum, he was able to settle all claims against him. He then assumed the surname of De la Rama pretending to be the nephew of the big millionaire, Don Esteban de la Rama of Iloilo. Because of his name, he was made Director of a mining company. He was later accused of “estafa” with more than 50 counts against him by the stockholders of the company. He was convicted only on one count and sentenced to one year and eight months, but as he was a recidivist he was given an additional sentence of 10 years. He probably was pardoned because when the Japanese came, he became the foremost “buy and sell” man. He made millions easily in his business with the Japanese Army and Navy. He also became one of the biggest men in the real estate business. His name was heard everywhere. He overshadowed famous names like Madrigal, De Leon and Fernandez. He especially became famous because of his published donations to charity of thousands of pesos. He gave money to the Government for scientific research. He donated a big sum to the “Timbolan” to feed the needy. He made large donations not only to institutions, but also to individuals. It is said that upon his arrest, a big demonstration of laborers was staged demanding his release. He is now with us. He has been very helpful to everybody. He seems to have been able, by his usual means, to elicit the good side of the guards and, for this reason, we are now able to receive things from the outside and to send out anything. He is still young and if hereafter he becomes careful with his conduct, he may still be a real power in the business world, being an intelligent and able man.

There is a real personality in our group. I am referring to Major Gen. Guillermo B. Francisco. This is the highest rank that has ever been attained by a Filipino in the U.S. Army. In 1908, he was one of the first graduates of the Philippine Military Academy in Baguio. He rose from the ranks. In each province where he was assigned, he left a record for efficiency and wise and impartial enforcement of the law. He could not be bribed nor influenced by politicians. For this reason, politicians in some provinces molested him by presenting unfounded and absurd complaints. He was Chief of Staff of the Constabulary for many years. In 1936, he received his just and well merited promotion to Brigadier General. From 1938 to 1941, he was Chief of the Philippine Constabulary. Just at the beginning of the war in Dec. 1941, he was promoted to Major General and continued as Chief of Constabulary, which afterwards became a division of the Philippine Army. Upon the induction of the Philippine Army into the U.S. Army, he naturally became a Major General in the U.S. Army. As such he also had to retreat to Bataan where he was placed in charge of a very important and strategic sector. He acquitted himself very creditably. While there he was ordered by Gen. Wainright to go to different places for pacification. Believing that it was for the interest of his country to maintain peace and order, he did his best to comply with the instruction of Gen. Wainright. When Bataan surrendered, the Japanese placed him in the concentration camp at Camp O’Donnell. He was later transferred to Camp Stotsenberg where he with hundreds of other captured USAFFE officers were required to finish a rejuvenation course prescribed by the Japanese. He was returned to Camp O’Donnell where the Japanese requested him to organize the Government Employees Training Institute for the rejuvenation of public employees. And so he was released.

His stint with the training institution was cut short by his appointment as Chief of Constabulary with the rank of Major General. But this too did not last long because the Japanese did not trust him. He was relieved as Chief of Constabulary. The Japanese were right as his sympathies were with the guerrillas; as a matter of fact, he did not take action against Constabulary men who deserted and joined the guerrillas. He had even formulated plans to convert all the Constabulary to guerrillas when the proper time came.

After his relief, Pres. Laurel made him Chairman of the Advisory Board for Peace and Order. The President in doing so only wanted to save the General as he knew that the Japanese would otherwise arrest him and kill him. Together with Generals Manuel Roxas and Capinpin, he was forced to go to Baguio and there subjected to a very close surveillance. They assigned a Japanese Military Police to watch him. He was very anxious to rejoin the U.S. Army so that at the very first opportunity, he escaped from Baguio to go to the territory occupied by the Americans and present himself to them. He reached the American lines in April. Almost immediately after his arrival he was taken to Manila and there detained. He was subjected to the humiliation of photographing and fingerprinting. He was so indignant that he wept. He was later deported to Iwahig Penal Colony and is still with us. He is terribly bitter. He said he cannot understand why when the Japanese got him, he was put in a concentration camp and now that the Americans are here he is also imprisoned. Gen. Francisco is only 60 years and much more will be heard of him.

There is another person I would like to mention. He is Mr. Esteban Marcelo, an old man probably in his seventies. He is the biggest fisherman or fish dealer in Tondo. He is a friend of many big and influential public officials, especially Minister Paredes. Before the war, he frequently inivited high officials for a fish dinner at his house. During the Japanese regime, Japanese Military Police were seen quite a number of times eating dinner at his house. Such an act is now being considered as cooperation and for this reason he is now with us.

We have one military governor of a district and that is Hon. Sergio Aquino. We have also one provincial governor, Mr. Jose Urquico. Aquino is the Military Governor for the Third District and Urquico the Governor and later the Deputy Military Governor of Tarlac. They were accompanied by a young man by the name of Rafael Aquino. Why were these Military Governor and Provincial Governor singled out when there were so many military and provincial governors? And why was Rafael detained since his arrival in the Philippines from Japan, when he is only a boy without any record of service to the Japanese? Probably, there are other governors who have cooperated more actively and effectively than Aquino and Urquico. The only explanation that could be found is that Sergio Aquino is a relative and brother-in-law of Benigno Aquino, Sr.; Jose Urquico is also a brother-in-law of Benigno. Benigno Aquino was Speaker of the National Assembly and as such he was the second man in the Philippine Government officialdom. He is known to be the most rabid pro-Japanese. He had made many virulent speeches against America and the Americans. He is considered even more Japanese than Pres. Laurel himself. He went to Japan with Pres. Laurel and we can now almost surmise what would have happened to him if he had stayed in the Philippines.