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.)


Wednesday, April 3, 1940

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Meeting at Malacanang w Pres Q. Mac, Sutherland, Sec Sison and Gen. Staff re site Mil. Acad.

Meeting opens up with Pres Q & MacA talking informally as if we were not present. We were being used as background only. MacA proposes site to be Quezon City. They discuss advantages of Quezon City. Lim talks and says there is a board charged with the location and that the board has started its work. More discussion of Quezon City. I open up and tell them of our board work. I open up a map and show them where we are working. I explain the requirements of a Mil. Acad. site. MacA says something in rebuttal. P. Quezon mentions about cost of water & sewer system if we go to the mountains, and the cost of the road. Pres Q. talks about going Ipo. We will reconnoiter this place too.

Comments: Pres Q. wants the Acad. to be in Quezon City and he uses MacA to be tool for the proposition.  Mil. expert style. The plan is this. The three million pesos must go to Quezon City by hook or by crook. To justify reduction of Mil. budget

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it must appear that no such reduction is being made as the supposed reduction is going to the building of a Mil. Acad. But that academy must be built in Q.C. Thus two purposes are accomplished. After this money is already spent in Q.C. it will be found without doubt that the selection was poor so that the Mil. Acad. will be moved somewhere again but the Quezon City shall have been built up. MacA is surely acting as a tool and nothing else.


Friday, Jan. 26, 1940

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Went to Malacanang for PAAF Ex. Council meeting.

Went to McA and wished him many happy returns. Picture in Herald omits my name as usual due to that SOB Amado Araneta.

Went to San Lazaro and measured horses. Had quite a time in Dr Lorenzo Reyes re his horse.

Tony Araneta came to see the house in Paranaque —

Worked on rules & rep. re admission of cadets to W.P.

To Malacanang tonight for reception Admiral Hart.


Tuesday, Jan. 23, 1940

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Had several conferences w Carag, Cunanan, [illegible] Richards.

Had hot words w Col Garcia whom I accused w high handedness re report of board. He submitted report without my signature, Valdes approved report without seeing my minority report. Garcia is determined to railroad selection of Laconico who is son in law Mrs. Alano, who is wife Rep. Alano, who is husband of Mrs. Alano who is the cousin to Sec Vargas, who is husband of Mrs. Vargas who is supposed to be aunt of Mrs. Garcia who is the wife of Col Garcia.

After these hot words I went to see Lim who went with me to Valdes. Valdes too is in this deal. No reason why V can not change his approval.

The way Garcia handles this business make him unfit for any position of responsibility in this army.

Reception at Mal. for Consular Corps. A very beautiful park across Mal. Why should [illegible] be a guest at Mal.


Saturday, Jan. 6, 1940

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Conference at Malacanang — 11:00 to 1:15

Present — Sec Sison, Valdes, Francisco, Lim, Garcia, Segundo, [illegible], De Jesus

Subject — Justification of proposed cut of budget. Loss of confidence in MacArthur expressed by the Pres. He expects MacArthur to pull out when budget is reduced.

McA failures — He failed to tell Pres. that 16 million is only for training purposes. He failed to explain Mindanao defense. He places too much confidence on contingencies that may not happen.

Trend of the President’s thoughts —

1. Country can not defend itself under present plan

2. Money could be better used by altering present plans.

3. Peoples that have interest in the govt must be the ones to be prepared as then they shall defend the govt.

4. Interest of American armament — to be able to dictate terms of peace at end of war.

5. Japanese interest — to share in wealth of country, to be master of the Orient. Pres. Q does not believe Japan will come to the Phil and risk a war with America as America is one of her best trade customers.

Pres. Q. requests the General Staff to exert its utmost to provide the countrys defense after McA. leaves.

Pres. Q. argues with Gen. Staff memo on reduction of budget. The Army needs as presented are considered vital by him.

 

 

 

Played Polo today —


November 15, 1939

The typewriter is too intricate for me.

The date of our going has been definitely fixed as Dec. 13, sailing on the SS Pres. Cleveland. Our freight will go on the S.S. “Capillo”, direct to Seattle. We should reach Ft. Lewis about Jan. 7.

I have been trying to turn over all work to others in the office, especially since the arrival of two new assistants from the States; Lt. Col. Richard Marshall, Q.M.C., and Maj. Tom Dunckel, F.A. Both seem to be very able, and I believe that Dunckel is outstanding! My efforts to free myself of official tasks, in order that I can take care of personal affairs, have been futile. The Gen. seems to find more and more things he wants me to do personally. While at Malacañan there have been a hundred odd jobs to complete. General MacA. has been particularly pleasant. I’ve written several statements for him, including a 13-minute speech that was recorded for possible future use, by the NBC, and he’s been lavish in his praise of them. Actually they are the same old platitudes on Phil. defense, dressed up in only slightly new language. But so long as any sentence puts a good face on his “plan,” or uses resounding language in support of his views, it is perfect, so far as he is concerned. His consuming desire for favorable publicity is going to give him a hard bump  some day–or I miss my guess.

The President, and his Malacañan assistants appear to be genuinely sorry that I am going. I hope they are sincere, but the Malay mind is still a sealed book to me. They may be secretly delighted. However, I’m tempted to believe them, if for no other reason than the number of times my advice has been sought lately–often on subjects that are not connected with the Army.

Recently a Department of National Defense was established. There were certain ridiculous aspects, or at least amusing,  to this incident. I’m not sure I’ve ever entered in these sketchy notes anything at all on this subject so I’ll outline the development.

A couple of years ago the President first expressed an intention of establishing such a department. Upon hearing of this the Gen. was greatly disturbed, because he feared that a Sec. of Nat. Defense would tend to supplant him as the Chief Military Official in the govt. and so lessen his prestige and endanger his job. In fact, when the rumor first made its appearance the General flatly stated to the office gang, “If a Sec. of Nat. Def. is appointed, I will immediately resign.” He sought an interview with the President and, at that time, succeeded in having the matter dropped.

However, in the summer sessions of the Assembly in 1938 (I was in the States) (or possibly the actual passing of the law was in the fall of 1938) the President authorized the enactment of a law establishing two Departments–Public Health and Defense. It was provided that both should be set up before the end of the President’s term, in 1941. The General felt temporarily safe, since he said he had the promise of Malacañan that no action would be taken on the Defense Dept. until the summer of 1941.

When I returned from the States I heard immediately that the President’s mind was made up and that he was soon going to select a Secretary and appoint him. I reported this to the General and advised him that if he still felt so strongly about the matter he should exert himself without delay before further publicity was given to the matter, and especially before any individual was notified as to his impending selection. He pooh-poohed the accuracy of my information saying he had the situation under full control.

When I resumed my former duties at Malacañan, about May 1, 1939, I constantly ran into evidence that something was going to be done along this line. I brought it again and again to the Gen.’s attention, but for the first time he refused to show fright in the face of unpleasant news. He just didn’t believe it.

Suddenly the Pres. made a public announcement of what he had in mind, and the Gen. raged to us in the office. He said he’d dissolve the mission and didn’t like it at all when I reminded him there was no mission; that he was a retired officer working for Manuel Quezon, and the rest of us were officers to the Dept. Commander’s staff, and loaned by the U.S. Govt. to the Pres. of the Commonwealth. He then pointedly requested me (and later Sutherland) to go with him to the Pres. to protest against the announced intention. I told him that, of course, I’d go with him, but that my comments (if called upon) would be confined to expressing a conviction as to the usefulness of the office,  but that personally, I had nothing otherwise against it. Certainly, I told him, it doesn’t affect the work that I do for the Commonwealth,  one way or another. I further advised him that since his objections were personal, based upon his prestige, face and desires,  that he should seek a personal, confidential conference with the Pres., to have the matter out. This he decided to do.

He immediately called up for a date with the Pres. but received a very evasive reply from the aide. That afternoon he couldn’t stand it longer so he took poor old Hutter and went to Malacañan. He went at an hour when he could find no one on the job, but he sent Hutter, who is an habitué of the Palace, on a detailed search. Hutter found the Pres. asleep and when this invasion of his privacy was later reported to Q. by underlings he got furious.

However, the Gen. hung around until finally he got an appointment and, according to him, had a most satisfactory talk.

We heard no more about the matter for some little time, but suddenly, another definite, and public, announcement was made by Q. in which he even named the man he was going to make Sec. of Nat. Defense (Sison).

Seeing he was licked the General now executed another of his amazing “about faces.” He simply sat down and wrote a memo to the Pres., a long memo, urging the setting up of the Dept. of Nat. Defense. Soon the appointment was made, and on the surface, all was lovely. The moral is–they can’t make him give up that job, no matter what they do!!

Dozens of entertainments in the nature of despedidas have been arranged for Mamie and me. It’s all very gratifying but is likely to be hard on Mamie, who cannot stand much running around.

More gratifying is a message from Mr. Vargas, to the effect that, with the authority of the President, he is arranging a bonus for me upon departure, equal to two months pay (not including my hotel allowances). That is most pleasing, not only to the pocketbook, but as evidence that the govt. really regrets my departure. In this connection the Gen., in spite of our many dirty fights, has expressed the same views. But when I remember his parting conversation just before I went to the States in ’38, and what he tried to do to me while I was gone, I simply cannot believe him.

I’m leaving in a day or two for a last inspection trip to the south. And and I are going in the Beechcraft.


July 16, 1939

Have brought home a typewriter with the idea of using it hereafter in letter writing and in making these notes. Dictation to Filipino stenographers is not only frequently irritating and patience trying; it often prevents free expression of opinions because so many subjects seem to involve evaluation of racial characteristics. For a long time I’ve been trying to jot down an occasional note in longhand, but when I found the other day that in certain cases I could not decipher my own writing I decided the time had come to do something about it.

During May so many difficulties arose involving misunderstandings with, or at least, lack of effective contacts with Malacañan, that Secretary Vargas finally took the bull by the horns and insisted that I undertake my old liaison job. So now I go there every day.

While I doubt we can ever again get things running in their old time smoothness, we are at least spared many embarrassments and irritations that were habitual when our contacts with that office consisted only in seeing the papers that were sent to our office daily through a junior clerk.

A couple of weeks ago the General published a statement setting forth his views with respect to the “Jap” menace to the Philippines. So far as anyone could see there was no excuse for the outbreak except that Gov. McNutt had said, in support of his contention that the U.S. should hold on [to] the Islands, that upon independence they would immediately fall prey to the military might of the Japs. The General not only argued that the defenses of the islands would be effective; he rather pooh-poohed the possibility of a Japanese aggression in this region. TJ and I, as usual, recommended against breaking into print; as, as usual, to no effect. Locally, we have seen but one American newspaper comment on the statement. The N.Y. Tribune ridiculed it. When he was insisting that his statement HAD to be published the General discounted the idea that the possibility of antagonizing Mr. McNutt would have any effect on his acknowledged political ambitions because he had decided that the High Commissioner was not going anywhere, and, he concluded, the statement would be acclaimed locally among the politicians; renewing his own popularity and cementing his hold upon his job.

A week after the above incident the news came out that Gov. McNutt had accepted an important political job at home under the auspices of the New Deal. This act, in the General’s opinion, immeasurably strengthened the Gov’s political standing, so, post-haste he got off a flowery letter of congratulations, hoping desperately the Gov. would not read anything personal in his argumentative statement of a week earlier.

Two days ago the evening broadcast contained an item to the effect that Congressman Kennedy was recommending to Pres. Roosevelt the appointment of the Gen. as High Commissioner. Burning to secure some political job that would restore the power, prestige and face that he has lost during the past four years through ego, laziness and stupidity the Gen. immediately undertook, characteristically, some of the machinations that he conceives to be clever. He wired Steve Early, Congressman Van Zandt, and Simpson, a newspaper man, asking their support.

Since the wires went through the department (by no chance would he spend the money for commercial dispatch) every officer of the Dept. Staff will immediately know that he is in the position of importuning for a job. Assuming that he will not get it, although it is perfectly true that four years ago the Pres. announced to him an intention of making the appointment at that time, there will be an additional number of people here who will feel entitled to sneer at his connivings, and will read, between the lines, that he is getting fearful and discontented in his present job. It’s his business, exclusively, but I get exceedingly tired of defending him in front of personal critics for words and deeds that I consider as stupid as they do. Ho-hum.

One reason that the Military Adviser’s post has lost for him some of its former attractiveness is continued proof that he is losing influence and prestige, that no longer may he announce an arbitrary decision and see it accepted as the law of the Medes and Persians by the President and the Army. Almost four years ago poor old Jim and I tried to make him see that the price of staying at the top of the heap was eternal watchfulness and, above all, so conducting himself and his job as to inspire confidence and a dependence upon him for important information and decisions. We begged him to arrange a weekly meeting with the President, so that there would not grow up a tendency on the part of the President to depend upon others. He ridiculed us. He was then riding so high that his favorite description of himself was the “Elder Statesman”. He informed us that it was not in keeping with the dignity of his position for him to report once a week to Malacañan.

While I was home last summer the Scout question came to the fore once more, and the General’s decisions and attitude were so unsatisfactory to the Scouts that many of them left us and went back to the American Army. At that time he succeeded in working up the President to the point where the latter believed in a “scout cabal seeking the eventual seizure of the government a la Cuba!” So–with a supposedly decisive victory, one that clearly re-established his power and prestige, the General felt that all was clear on his horizon. But the Scouts did not quit… As time went on they kept dinning away until the Pres. got another slant on the whole affair. Finally in a public speech, that is, it was public so far as the officers of the Army were concerned, the Pres. announced that he was misinformed as to the fact at the time he expressed a desire to get rid of the Scouts, that he had acted hastily, that he regretted his statements and decisions of that time and he would seek to correct them. The General was present when all this was said, and I think it was really the first time that he clearly realized how far we had come from the days when the merest expression of his “professional opinion” served to enlist enthusiastic and universal support for any and all of his schemes.

Of course, to those of us that were close to events, and not concerned with our own future fortunes, nor blinded by illusions of glittering grandeur the trend had been plainly visible for months. But such indications as had come to the Gen. previously had, in his opinion, been discernable to no one else, consequently he had, he thought, lost no FACE. For a man of his type, the answer was to ignore them. This he did… but now, under the lash of practically public repudiation on a particular incident, he writhes. Just as, in his own mind, he was formerly higher in public prestige and official position than he was in reality (although lord knows he was high enough) so now he really believes himself to be closer to disaster than he is. Mr. Q. is not going to let him go… he cannot afford to except as a voluntary act on the part of the Gen. or as a result of almost open insubordination. He, the Pres., has too often tied his administration and his govt. to the PLANS and ADVICE of the Gen., and done this publicly and emphatically, to cut him suddenly adrift.

And that is enough of all that.

A few weeks ago I received WD orders to go to Ft. Lewis upon expiration of my tour. The question of the official terminating date was taken directly to the CoS by the AG, according to personal advices from Jim Ulio,  and it was decided to shorten my tour to November at the latest. I was further authorized, if I could arrange with local officials, to come home in August. All this came about as a result of letters I wrote to Jim Ulio, because for many reasons Mamie and I were looking with longing eyes to our return date. It turned out to be impracticable to get away in August, but we are going in November.

John’s schooling presented a problem, but we finally agreed to keep him right here and bring him home with us in the fall.

We are delighted with the Ft. Lewis prospect. We believe we’ll like the place thoroughly. Be a little tough to give up 500 dollars a month… but that had to end soon anyway.