August 10, 1942

Today is Graduation Day for all POWs that underwent the Rejuvenation Training. After a brief but impressive ceremony at the Camp Dau FA Auditorium, each of us “graduating POWs” were given our “Graduation Papers.” Our Grad. Speaker said we are expected to help the new Phil Gov’t.to be granted her independence by Japan later, in any manner we can, to make her a worthy member of Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. The most ranking Filipino official present is former Defense Sec. Teofilo Sison.

Among my “Grad Papers” is one saying I am paroled to the Bureau of Constabulary where I am “ordered” to report at Torres High School, Gagalangin, Manila to commence Police Training on August 30,1942. It turned out this is our day of liberation, we are now free to go home and see our family. I have my release papers with conditions.

In my Malolos Group, I and M. Gomez ’41, my ExO are both to report for police training but the others (Lts. E. Baltazar, C. Oanes & R. Corbilla) all artillery officers are paroled to the AA Command. My Malolos Group bade goodspeed. I do not know how our assignments are determined but those assigned to police work are former constabulary Os like Cols. Lizardo, Domaoal, Javalera, Diano, etc and they all welcomed it. They claimed we are lucky not to be with the AA Command.

Another vital insight I got of our training is that if the Philippines wants to be great as an indepedent maritime nation, it is to follow the example of Japan by fully developing her maritime and sea power potentials.

After the ceremony, most of us proceeded to Mabalacat railway station where I boarded the noon train for Manila, debarking from Malolos station at 2:00 PM, then proceeding home to Plaridel to the pleasant surprise of my family. I found my wife, Lucy, so beautiful, happily waiting with our lovely first born daughter, Cecilia (born Aug 3rd) in her arms. It was a most happy coming home to my beloved mother, brothers and sisters all taking care of my new family. All my sufferings and heartaches as a POW suddenly disappeared.


August 5, 1942

When the 1,400 POW names were posted in the Camp O’Donnell BB last Jul. 16, it was announced that they are comparatively the healthy survivors remaining in Capas. The sick started being released last June 30. This healthy group are now about to complete Rejuvenation Training in Camp Dau. Let me talk about this group as every passing day I came to know many of them for the first time…

When we first assembled at Capas Main Gate to leave for Camp Dau last Jul. 17, everyone was on his feet marching with their bags but did not look as strong as our Malolos POW Group. As the facilities and food at Dau was better than Capas, we all improved physically. There were no deaths in Dau.

Our group represented a cross section of surviving USAFEE soldiery, all ages, cultures, military education, experiences, etc. From among senior PCA grads are Cols. Claro Lizardo ’15; Tomas Domaoal ’17; Manuel Turingan ’17; Lamberto Javalera ’18: Leoncio Tan ’28; Jesus Vargas ’29 to contemporaries like Pelagio Cruz, Done Ojeda, P. Q. Molina. Early pioneers of ROSS like Alfredo Santos, S. Villa, C. Barbero, L. Villareal; Friedlander; fellow alumni of PMA Cl ’40; 41; 42 & 43; and the unforgettable young group of Ateneo ROTC volunteers like Sgts Fred X. Burgos, Ramon Pamintuan and Bagatsing under Capt. E. G. Lara of Angono, Rizal. From Baban of the Ibaloi tribe to Sulu’s Pulong Arpa. Then we have this Maj. E. Batongmalaque ’31 whose tales of experiences in Mindanao seem endless specially about his weirdo CO, the legendary Lt. Canuto better known as King Canuto.

I was also able to have an idea of the intellectual capabilities of each group. Early PCA grads had the equivalent of high school education with knowledge of criminal procedures and law to bring cases before the court. They were basically police officers but are very proficient in verbal and written communication. Those with baccalaureate degrees like from PMA or ROSS have better intellectual capacities to analyze problem situations. It is here I understood what Gen. Vicente Lim once said, “I will only be happy when the Chief of Staff is a PMA graduate.”

Nevertheless, I am very proud to be a part of this roll of USAFFE officers’ — all tough survivors from the crucible of Bataan, Death March and POW Camp O’Donnell.

Our morale remains high and our Camaraderie is much stronger. We can only hope and pray for happy future.


April 1, 1942

HQ, MIS, BATAAN

 

Awakened by “Photo Joe”. Name given to Jap observation plane by Bataan boys is “Photo Joe”. Leonie said: “That means bombing around ‘brunch’ time.” Fred, usually more grim, said: “That also means deaths.”

Major Javallera who was O.D. said that there was continous artillery firing the whole night. “It must be hell at the front,” he remarked.

After brunch, I prepared to go to the eastern sector. While crossing the stream to the Motor Pool, Jap planes commenced bombardment.

Japs were throwing small bombs, a lot of them. At first, I thought they were leaflets. But when I heard the swishing sounds and the detonations, I ran to a ditch near the traffic officer at the foot of the bridge in Base Camp.

Several bombs dropped near the trucks parked under the trees at the curve of the stream. One exploded a few meters away from the Igorot chauffeur. I saw him shaking and pouring water over his head. Men have funny reactions to a bombardment.

I rode on one of the jeeps. Had to stop three times because of strafing planes. Around Limay, I did not notice a low-flying Jap plane until I saw a truck full of Americans put on the brakes and stop dead in its tracks and all the soldiers jumped out and took cover under the brushes along the road. My chauffeur jammed the brakes and I dove into a bush. The U.S. truck was hit by five .mg bullets but it was able to run because the meter was not hit at all.

Saw the Limay schoolhouse burning, it was hit by incendiaries. An officer stopped our jeep and he asked for a ride till the next intersection. He said the Japs have a system of rotating cannons so that they do not stop pounding our lines. They are sending wave after wave of fresh troops and it was a question of time for the lines to break. I remember the General’s statement about the limit of human endurance. The officer said: “We kill and kill but more and more came…”

Scouts have been placed on the eastern sector. The Philippine Scouts have a fine record. One officer of high rank said that if all troops in Bataan were as well-trained as the Scouts, the Japs would have a very much harder time.

Bulk of troops in main-line however are mostly ROTC boys, cadre-trainees and volunteers. They are not professional soldiers like the scouts. But after all these months of fighting, they have gained valuable experience and according to an American officer from West Point “they are behaving like seasoned troops, like veterans.”

Saw several stragglers. They can’t find their units. Some said they belonged to the 41st, others to the 51st, others to the 31st. My driver said “those are running away from the fighting.”

The sight of those five or six stragglers reminded me of the retreat from the northern front in Pangasinan. When the fighting there was getting very hot, the divisions who were still new, started to get disorganized and many of the troops were lost. “Bad sign,” I said to myself.

On the way to one of the trails leading to the front, our jeep ran out of gas. I stayed on the roadside till dark waiting for someone who would be kind enough to share a bit of fuel. Slept an hour and when I woke up I was covered with dust.

There is no doubt by now that the Japanese are putting their “main effort” on the center of the front line, between the divisions of Gens. Capinpin and Lim. They are trying to drive a wedge where the two divisions meet. Here the maximum amount of fire power is being concentrated and although I have not noticed any sign of the lines folding in this region, when it does break it will be sudden and rapid, like a dam that suddenly cracks, and there will be a stream of blood.


March 11, 1942

HQ, MIS, Bataan

Japs attempting to penetrate western sector by putting pressure on 1st regular division. Continuous artillery bombardment in eastern front. Three raids this morning in rear areas. Rodriguez Park and Cabcaben dock subjected to intense bombing.

Saw many planes flying in direction of the Rock. On their return, they strafed Mariveles airfield.

Laborers still levelling Mariveles Field. Giant derricks rearing in eastern side of field all day. Do they still expect planes?

Boys fired at a low-flying plane near HPD. The plane turned out to be one of our fighters. We still have four.

Saw several tanks and anti-tanks moving towards eastern front. What does that mean?

(later)

Major Javallera is a dull fellow.

He was insisting that the Pampangueña he visits is nicer than the one I visit because “she is better built, curvier, you know…”

I said that the Pampangueña I visit is more intelligent and entertaining and her features are finer and proportionate.

He said: “Ah, I like a curvy body, with lots of dynamite”. “Like that!” he gestured with his hands, indicating the hips.

I said: “The trouble with you Major is that you have no esthetic sense.”

He answered: ” Of course not, I’m not a radio. What you mean –static?”

Those listening laughed.

The Major laughed too but he did not know why.

Gatas Santos is here. Will bring him to rock.


March 10, 1942

HQ, MIS, Bataan

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

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

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

Bombing has been intensified. Raids are more frequent. Rest periods between raids are shorter and shorter.

More men stricken with malaria and dystentery. Many shell-shocked cases. Several dozen cases of appendicitis and many tuberculosis patients.

Morale visibly on the downgrade. Officers greet fellow officers with remark: “What, is there any hope yet of the convoy?”

Reports from front indicate that the boys there are suffering from blindness especially at night due to lack of vitamins.

Men are weary, exhausted. They work all day and they also act as sentries at night. Men have only several hours of sleep. Sometimes two or three only.

We officers do double, triple work. Many officers are sick, others have died.

Gasoline shortage. Use of trucks and cars are limited. Horses that are not eaten will be used to help out in the transportation problem.

No more quinine. Medicine bottles in hospital are empty. Doctors are working day and night. Wounded have increased.

Paper for SYIM publication very limited. Practically no more stencils. Food for evacuees cut down. One civilian in evacuee camp committed suicide.

Japs continue dropping surrender-leaflets. They have changed technique. Behind surrender-leaflets, they print the picture of a naked ‘mestiza’. Still no cases of desertion.

Fred thinks “It’ll take a long time for the convoy to arrive”. “There is no use deluding ourselves,” he says.

Some of the officers believe Hart’s fleet was beaten in naval battle around Macassar strait.

Others think convoy will be diverted to Australia.

Still others cling to distant hope of war between Japan and Russia.

Very few believe the convoy will be here in a few weeks.

Some think –very few of them– that “we will all die here.”

Japs have given ultimatum urging immediate, unconditional surrender –or else.

We have chosen the: or else.

(later)

Visited her again. She helps one forget this blasted war.

We sat again under the cenniguela tree but I couldn’t stay there for more than an hour.

Fred and Leonie visited the other girl. They will rival each other. They had better make an agreement: one day Leonie, one day Fred.

When Major Javallera found out, he complained. Told Fred: “That’s my territory.”

“That’s all right, sir,” said Fred. “Don’t you believe in Communism? What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine?”

“Stand for private property,” said the Major.

“Abuse of authority, sir,” ventured Fred jokingly.

The Major replied: “All’s fair in love and war.”


March 7, 1942

HQ, MIS, Bataan

Went to her after sunset. Major Javallera said it was o.k. “Spend your furlough as you please but after that back to work,” he said. “How is your thigh?” he asked. I said the wound was healing fast as it was only superficial.

Sat on the grass under the cenniguela tree under the moonlight. Plenty of stars and the sky was blue and the night was beautiful.

I recited some of the poems I learned in school and she recited “Sonnets from the Portuguese.”

She was still wearing the same shorts and I was still wearing my dirty uniform but we both did not mind because we both knew this was war and we had very few clothes.

She said that two big pieces of shrapnel fell inside their shack after hitting a tree. She also showed me a piece of a machinegun bullet.

She looked beautiful in the moonlight with the wind blowing against her hair.

Again I told her that she was very nice to me and that she has made me forget a lot of the hardships of this war.

Again she asked if that was all.

Again I was silent because I really did not know if that was all.

Then I don’t know how it happened but as we lay there on the grass I turned around and kissed her on the lips and she kissed me back and then she said I must not do that again because she….

I said “Because why?”

“Because,” she hesitated but I think it was the truth “I am married to that fellow from San Beda who is now in America.”

I told her why she did not tell me before and she said that she wanted to tell me but she did not get to tell me and that she just did not know why she did not tell me.

I was silent for a long time because I had so many thoughts in mind and I could not decide whether to apologize or to get angry so I just kept quiet.

She was silent too and U could hear her breathing but she did not move from where she was lying in the grass beside me and I could feel her arm against my arm.

The sky was very beautiful above and the clouds would cover the stars and the wind made noise as it moved the leaves of the cenniguela tree. The leaves that were fried by the sun fell on the ground beside us whenever the wind blew the higher branches of the tree.

When I was going to stand up to return to the HQ because it was getting dark and besides I did not think it was proper to stay there anymore, she told me to stay where I was and she said that she was sorry.

I told her that there was nothing to be sorry about and I told her that I had a girl friend in Manila too and I hope she…

She stopped me and she said for me not to say what I was going to say because she knew it already and it would not make her feel well.

Before leaving I shook hands with her and it was quite long and then I told her I would not be able to see her any more because my leave would be over and there would be many things to do.

When I said goodbye, she opened her arms and pulled me and kissed me and she said goodbye, and she smiled.

She said: “When boys try to kiss me, I don’t slap them. I tell them I am married and that stops them.”

She smiled again.

I’ve got to admit that when she smiled and said what she said I felt like a child but I guess it was all due to the moonlight and the stars and the wind and the cenniguela tree and the sound of artillery in the front and of course her tempting way and that lovely smile and smooth complexion.

Or maybe its because I’m a dumb-cluck.


March 4, 1942

HQ, MIS, Bataan

 

Back from patrol. Reconnoitered in Balanga. Met  several Jap patrols. Japs not there in force.

We were very careful. Kept away from beach. Balanga church was destroyed by our artillery. Did not enter church. There might have been Japs inside.

General refuses to believe there are no Japs in Balanga. I told him there are only Jap patrols, nothing more. He shook his head. Felt like telling him: “If you don’t believe me, why the hell don’t you go there yourself.”

Encountered a squad of Japs who were lying near a nipa shack when we were returning to our lines. It was late afternoon and we had not yet eaten the whole day and we were going to eat in the nipa shack.

Sgt. Sinculan noticed that they were aiming at us. We fired first. They had rifles only. We had a Browning automatic. We were better armed but they outnumbered us.

I emplaced my men behind a fallen log with a thick trunk. I could hear the officer shouting loudly and the soldiers were also shouting. We remained silent.

Suddenly, they all shouted and advanced. Told men not to fire until they passed the other fallen tree before the log where we were emplaced. When they climbed over it, Sgt. Sinculan opened up with the Browning. Two fell. The others kept firing. Meanwhile six crept to our flank. I noticed it and I moved three men to our left. Sgt. Sinculan said that we had better retreat because they were more than thirty and we were only ten. Besides one of our privates was being attacked by malaria, making our effectives only nine.

I told the men to retreat slowly to the cogon but I shouted loudly to mislead the Japs “Attack men!” and everybody shouted with me and we fired and retreated. Then I felt something warm pierce my thigh but I did not feel much pain. Sinculan and I were wounded.

When we retreated, the Japs left us alone. Thought I would be nervous face-t0-face with Japs but now I know one has no time to be nervous during combat.

Will write about this patrol work someday.

 

(later)

 

Major Javallera opined the Japs will probably put their main effort on the western sector. He also could not believe that there were hardly any Japs in Balanga. “Japs are probably up to something,” he opined.

“Are you sure of what you are reporting?” he asked again.

“We walked through the plaza and the school house and then near the broken bridge and we entered the town and there were no Japs in force, only occasional patrols,” I said emphatically.

He said “You can have a week’s rest, even if your wound is very small.” He gave me three cans of guava jelly, hooray. He is quite a good guy.

Will visit my Pampangueña friend. Fred and Leonie were not allowed to go out during last few days because there was too much work.

The general said I am careless that is why I was hit. He always scolds me, but I know he likes me inside.

All in all, he is also O.K.


March 1, 1942

Bataan, MIS, HQ

Col. Torralba said the general stated that my resignation is not accepted and that I’d better attend to his papers more diligently.

Raids morning and afternoon. One incendiary bomb dropped a few feet away from the doctor’s tent. Nobody injured.

Sergeant Buenaventura and Sergeant Sulao quarreled with each other. I thought they were good friends. I guess friendship ends where a can of Carnation begins.

The doctor wants to shoot Major Javallera. He claims the major spoke ill about him before Lts. Palo and Maceda.

The boys are rather gloomy. Tired of waiting for the convoy. I still have hopes but everybody’s nerves are jumpy.

Will go on patrol duty in front tomorrow. Will find out if there are Japs in Balanga. Conflicting reports.

Went to evacuee camp near Hospital II with Major Javallera. The major wanted to introduce me to two nice girls. Only one was there and she was very shapely. Made me feel like whistling. Surely a sight for sore eyes. She was wearing khaki shorts, woo, woo.

We sat in their nipa shack on the floor. She showed me some of her pictures. She is from Pampanga. Pampangueñas have nice skin.

We played an old record in an old phonograph. I think the name of the piece was “On the telephone” or “All alone”.

She had a nice accent when speaking Tagalog. I told her how to teaxh me to say “I think you are beautiful” in Pampango.

I also asked her to translate: “Will you please hold hands with a tired soldier.”

She asked me to button the back of her shirt. The Major saw me and he said jokingly “Mabilis ka naman”. I was embarrassed but she was more embarrassed. I tried to explain that she asked me to button the back of her shirt because she could not reach it. But the major insisted on joking. Then he said: “Never mind, enjoy yourself. Anyway tomorrow you are going to No Man’s Land.”

When she heard this she became nicer to me but I lost all my interest because I was worried about tomorrow’s assignment.

Fred and Leonie will visit her tomorrow.

Will talk to men that will go to front with me. I am happy that Sgt. Sinculan will go too because he is a sharp shooter.

Javallera told me not to worry because my mission is reconnaissance, not combat. I told him “Who’s worried anyway?”

Told Leonie and Fred that the Pampangueña is very beautiful, like Dorothy Lamour. They can’t wait for tomorrow. I said her shorts were very short. Fred started to yell. Leonie said: “Shut up, this is not the U.P. campus.” Fred got sore. “I’m the ranking officer around here.” We all kept quiet. He was angry.

Forgot to ask the Pampangueña her name.


February 20, 1942

Bataan HQ, MIS

 

President Quezon and family, Gen. Valdes, Vice-President Osmeña and Col. Nieto have left for Visayas. The General said “not to tell anyone.” Not even Leonie and Fred know but I shall tell Leonie to get his opinion.

The General disagrees with my report on Group in northern road. He thinks they give good messages. I told him I am convinced they are either guessing or bluffing. The general is hard headed. Anyway he will have group-leader recalled.

The General said I have a letter from Mrs. Quezon.

 

(later)

 

Accompanied General to Mariveles. Was present in his conference with Col. Roxas. Javallera also attended meeting.

Roxas although colonel was easily the dominant personality of the meeting. He is a fluent, interesting and brilliant speaker.

Roxas explained military situation in Bataan. He said the convoy cannot be expected these days. He pointed out that Jap Navy controls Pacific waters. He stated that very few planes can be placed in Mariveles and Cabcaben airfields, certainly not enough to gain aerial superiority. “And,” he pointed out, “we don’t have fuel here, no ground crews, no spare parts!”

Roxas said Bataan troops must hold out as long as possible to give America, time to recover from initial gains of Japs who will attack Australia after Bataan.

Roxas said that Corregidor questions a lot of our reports.

Roxas said that evacuees are a big problem. They are thousands and they must be fed and they are in a miserable pitiful condition. He is thinking of sending them to Mindoro by boat that wil bring food here from Visayas.

Roxas revealed that thousands of sacks of rice good for a couple of days were brought to Corregidor by Legaspi  from Cavite.