April 30, 1942

Submitted to Mrs. Escoda the following list embodying the urgent needs of war prisoners in accordance with wishes expressed by officers and men now in Capaz.

I. FOOD

A. Organization: N.F.W.C., Girl’s Scouts, etc.

B. Necessary items: 1, rice; 2. mongo; 3. salt; 4. sugar, panocha; 5. camote, cassava, gabi; 6. lime, calamansi; 7. galletas, biscuits; 8. bananas, papaya, mangoes, guavas—any kind of fruit in season; 9. coffee, tea, ginger; 10. milk; 11. salted eggs.

II. MEDICAL SUPPLIES

A. Organization: Department of Health

B. Necessary items: 1. quinine, iodine, mercurochrome; 4. disinfectants (kreso, lysol, bichloride); 5. alcohol; 6. muslin for bandages; 7. tape; 8. cotton or kapok; 9. sulfathiazol.

III. CLOTHING

A. Organization: Women’s Committee

B. Necessary items; 1. undershirts, shirts, shorts, sweaters, socks; 2. blankets; 3. shoes, slippers; 4. towels.

IV. FINANCE

1. Personal solicitation. 2. Contribution in kind.

V. TRANSPORTATION

A men’s committee to take charge of arrangements for trucks, jitneys, etc., to transport personnel and supplies.

VI. UTENSILS

1. Cooking; 2. forks, knives, spoons, pans, bottles; 3. pitchers, basins; 4. rake, shovel, pick, brooms; 5. empty cans for glasses; 6. tissue paper; 7. empty gasoline cans for water and water wagons.

VII. DISTRIBUTION

1. Bureau of Health; 2. Women’s committee. 

VIII. FIELD WORKERS

Field workers operating under groups in charge of distribution are to be limited to Bureau of Health doctors, nurses, social workers There must be a strong, aggressive, efficient leader.

IX. GENERAL SUPPLIES

1. fuel; 2. cigarettes; 3. matches

The chief consideration is time. Relief must reach the camps with as little loss of time possible if more deaths are to be averted. Average deaths per day according to more accurate reports are over five hundred.

The Japanese are still very strict. They do not permit visitors. They prohibit relatives from sending food and medicine to the captives.

There is a rumor that one of the staff officers of the Japanese Army called Gen. Homma’s attention to the inhuman treatment accorded Filipino and American war prisoners. Gen. Homma was said to have answered: “Let them die, to atone for the thousands among us that also died.”

Today’s Tribune shows pictures of Recto, Yulo and Paredes drinking a toast with Japanese staff officers in a Malacañan reception.

Teofilo Yldefonso, world-famous breaststroker, several years Far Eastern Olympics’ record holder, died in Capaz. He was wounded in Bataan. In the concentration camp, gangrene developed in his wounds. No medicine could get to him. He died in a lonely nipa shed.

Today’s Tribune carriers a front-page item in bold type entitled “Correction” which gives an idea of Japanese mentality. The story follows:

“In yesterday’s editorial we made a mistake using the words ‘His Imperial Highness’ instead of ‘His Imperial Majestry.’ We hereby express our sincere regret about the matter.”

The Japanese soldier is not merely fired with patriotism. He is also inspired by a religious motive. The Emperor is his god.

Philip’s intimate friend, Johnnie Ladaw, was reported killed in Bataan, two hours after surrender. He was machine-gunned by a tank. Johnnie was No. 3 national ranking [tennis] player. He defeated Frank Kovacs of the U.S. at the Rizal court several months before the war.

When I look at our tennis court, I seem to see him. He was always smiling. Maybe he died smiling…


April 29, 1942

Emperor’s birthday. All houses were required to display the Japanese flag. Gen. Homma, Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Army, declared that Japan has succeeded in driving out the power of the United States and Britain in the Orient. Chairman Vargas expressed his gratitude “for the many acts of benevolence of the Imperial forces.”

In Camp O’Donnell, a nephew of mine, Tirso, died because no medicine could be given him. The Japanese Army prohibits the sending of medicines to the sick in Bataan.

Attended a party in Malacañan in honor of the Emperor’s birthday. There was plenty of food. I could not eat. I was thinking of the men starving in Capaz.


February 19, 1942

Everybody in the office is in a state of high nervous tension. Unson was taken to Fort Santiago. Why was he taken? What will they do to him? Nobody knows. Nobody dares ask. Who will be next? Many are planning to leave the office. They will hide. I may be taken any time. They may hold me responsible for my men. Reign of terror. Sullenly Noya said: “Sympathizers should beware. They too will be investigated.” In Fort Santiago, torture is part of the investigation. Shall I help Unson? Shall I appeal for him? What can I do, anyway? I might even be suspected. Life under the Rising Sun is not sunny but dark. Very dark.

Worked till nine p.m. Closed contracts on sacks at thirty centavos. Tried to buy everything possible. Established policy as to purchases of palay. Buy palay at ₱2.50, if without sack and freight. Purchase rice at ₱5.10, if without sack and freight. Secure truck permits for Syquia, Loewinsohn, Zarragoza, Quisumbing. Trucks are very needed to transport palay and rice. There are plans to commandeer more trucks. Ask Mr. Mori, owner of Mizuno Athletic Supply, for my car, Buick-250. He was the one who commandeered it.

Personnel of the National Trading Corporation must be reduced to minimum, according to the Japanese. The corporation must be closed and liquidated.

The Civilian Emergency Administration has been dissolved. Will ask for the retention of useful men. The rest will be dismissed. Talked to Mr. Noya before leaving the office for home, regarding my resignation. His exact words: “Please, some other time, doctor. Just now you have to lead your boys.”

Had better sleep now. Am very tired. I wonder how Unson is. I hope he is not being manhandled. Today is Mrs. Quezon’s birthday. Can still recall the parties at Malacañan. When will those days return? The past has vanished like a dream.


January 31, 1942

There is too much wishful thinking. There are too many pseudo-generals. Too many opinions on what the USAFFE will do next and when the next bombs will be dropped.

I have adopted an attitude of resignation. I take what comes. There is no use trying to reform the world. We are mere specks in the vast universe. Our personal wishes are like dust on a wide field.

My mind is in my work. If everybody just sticks to his own work, the world might run better. There is too much minding of the other fellow’s business.

Lim Ki Chao, 704 Uaya, has 50 bales of Hessian cloth for about 75,000 standard rice sacks. Price: ₱32.00 per 100, ex-store. May be sewed in 12 days. Fernando Sy Cip, 85 Valenzuela, has 50,000 empty rice sacks. Price: ₱65.00 per 100, ex-bodega. San Jose Rice Mill, corner Rents, and Juan Luna—no stocks. Sacks are a major problem.

Rice sellers must be placed on salary basis. What salary? That will be determined later. Each stall may engage two helpers each with a wage of ₱1.00 a day.

It was decided that Japanese supervisors will be paid on a salary basis.

It was also decided to place in our hands all cash proceeds from sales in the market.

The NARIC will handle the distribution of flour. Initial supply will be 5,000 bags.

Salaries of the NARIC, CEA and National Trading Corporation, personnel have been approved. The boys will be glad.

Mr. Mori called me to Malacañan. He inquired about the National Development subsidiaries.

Well, it has been another busy day—and month.


January 28, 1942

No bombs today.

All Manila is talking about last night’s bombing. Some think the reinforcements have arrived in Corregidor. Others claim it was just a nuisance raid. A friend of mine said he hears somebody say that the USAFFE is now in Pampanga. Some of the boys in the office celebrated.

I prefer to keep quiet and to reserve my own opinions. One cannot be too careful these days. Those who show that they are overjoyed may get into trouble. Discretion is the better part of valor.

Meeting of the directors of the Philippine National Bank held at Malacañan. Chairman Vargas presided. Present were: Alunan, Sison, Carmona, Vargas and myself.

The Yokohama Specie Bank will lend ₱5,000,000 to the Philippine National Bank at 2% interest. ₱4,000,000 will go to the P.N.B. and the remaining ₱1,000,000 will go to the Bank of the P.I. The Bank of Commerce has ₱500,000 of its own. These three banks will open.

It was decided that withdrawals would be limited to ₱500 per month. Withdrawals for industrial investments would have to be done by permits.

Discouraging reports in the provinces given by Gallego, de los Reyes, Santos and Cojuangco. Reign of terror in the provinces. Organized banditry. Acting Governor Ysip of Nueva Ecija killed. Relucio beheaded. Maeyama, Japanese pacification campaign leader, wounded in Caranglan. Same condition exists in Bulacan. Death stalks in every corner.

Lt. Takeda, through Mr. Noya, approved the payment of salaries of the personnel of the National Trading Company. Payday is a great day.

I wonder what’s afoot. Mr. Ishiwata has requested the office address of Tommy Confessor. He also wants to know Tommy’s home address. That’s right, where is Tommy? He has not shown up lately. He must be up to something.

I wonder if they’ll bomb Manila tomorrow. Hell. I’m always wondering about many things.


January 20, 1942

No news in the Tribune about Bataan. I wonder why. As a matter of fact, there has been nothing on Bataan for the last few days. Are things going bad? Somebody told me that I should not worry, because no news is good news. Man is forever grasping at straws.

Same old office routine. Rice, rice, rice—from morning to evening. I am weary with work. I have lost about forty pounds. My only relief is that rice is the only commodity that has not gone up in price.

I remember one of my last meetings with President Quezon. We were taking breakfast together in Malacañang, at about seven o’clock, and we were talking about what might happen in this country, if war broke out. We agreed that the food situation would be acute, especially if the islands were blockaded. “But Vic,” he said, “as long as the people have rice, they won’t starve. I lived for six months on rice and salt!”

Well, the people still have rice and at a fairly low price. But I’m not over-happy. This is the time to prepare. Each year will be harder. The earlier the government pays attention to the rice problem the better. The trouble is that things are not as they seem until they are right before us. Men learn after they have been burnt. Our high officials are politically minded. I think more importance should be placed on the economic. Rice may yet be our downfall. People should read the story of Nero, who fiddled while Rome burned. I hear that someday Japan might give us independence. I hope that we don’t get to have a fiddling Nero for a President.


December 30, 1941 – Tuesday

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At 5 a.m. Mr. Williams of the Red Cross phoned me that the ship had arrived but that he was not willing to put the painters on because there was still some cargo of rifles and ammunition left. He informed me that the Captain (Tamayo) and the Chief Officers were in his office. I asked him to hold them. I dressed hurriedly and rushed to the Red Cross Headquarters. They repeated the information given to Mr. Williams. Believing that this cargo belonged to the U.S. Army I asked them to come with me to the USAFFE Headquarters. I had to awake General Marshall. Pressing our inquiry we found out that this cargo consisted only of 3 or 4 boxes of rifles (Enfield) and 2 boxes of 30 caliber ammunition belonging to Philippine Army. It had been left as they were forced to leave Corregidor before everything had been unloaded. We explained to them that there was no danger and with my assurance that these boxes would be unloaded early in the morning, they returned to the ship, took on the painters and left for Malabon for the painting job.

From the USAFFE Headquarters, I rushed to the house of Colonel Miguel Aguilar, Chief of Finance. I found him in bed. He got up, and I asked him to see that the remaining cargo there be removed without delay. He assured me that he would contact the Chief of Quartermaster Service and direct him accordingly. My order was complied with during the course of the day.

At 9 a.m. I contacted Mr. Forster. He informed me that the painters were on the job and that in accordance with my instructions, two launches were tied close to the ship to transport the painters to the river of Malabon in case of a raid. I then went to Colonel Aguilar’s office at the Far Eastern University to discuss with him some matters regarding finance of the Army. From there I went to Malacañan to see Sec. Vargas, and from there to the office of the Sec. of National Defense, to inquire for correspondence for me.

At noon, I called Mr. Jose (Peping) Fernandez to inquire where the ship was. He asked me to have luncheon with him and to go afterwards to Malabon. After lunch we went by car to Malabon. I saw the ship being painted white. It already had a large Red Cross on the sides and on the funnel.

I returned to the Red Cross Headquarters to ascertain if all plans had been properly carried out. Mr. Forster was worried as he did not know whether the provisions and food supplies carried by his personnel would be sufficient. I then contacted Colonel Ward by phone, and later Colonel Carroll. Both assured me that there would be enough food and medical supplies for the trip.

With that assurance, and the promise of Mr. Forster that his doctors and nurses were all ready to go and of Colonel Carroll that as soon as the boat docked at Pier 1, he would begin to load his equipment, beds, etc. and transport his patients, I felt that my mission had been successfully accomplished.

I spent the evening fixing financial matters and giving instructions to my brother Ramon, regarding payment of certain obligations (Premium Fire Policies, Land Taxes, etc.)


December 10, 1941

We received a hard hitting as the planes seared the sky. On one of my way trips to the Palace, I stayed to arrange the schedule of cooks and boys, many of whom had already left Manila. I do not know why I bothered with these details.

Even at Marikina, in the days of harrowing hideout, the family maintained its high spirits. At one time Aurora, the oldest child in the family, had childishly expressed the desire to see the boyfriend of her childhood nurse. The day of the young man’s visit coincided with one of the many crucial meetings of the President with the members of the Cabinet. Attracted by the girlish commotion, he stepped out to investigate the source of the excitement. When told that “Laby’s boyfriend was on a visit,” he too peeked into the room to take a look at the visiting swain. Soon, all the members of the Cabinet had done the same.


December 8, 1941

I was busy preparing my schedule for the boys whom I was going to send to Baguio where the Family was to spend the Christmas holidays. I was writing orders for other equipment and supplies when the sound of Mitsubitzis came roaring through the sky. The explosions told us that enemy planes had already begun bombing our airfields.