April 8, 1942 (April 8-9)

Morning

After the general heard my report, I took the field telephone and asked for Bat 108 –Manny’s code name in Corregidor. “What’s up, Primo?” he asked. I said: “the line in the east sector won’t hold. By tonight, the Japs will be here. Tell Leonie to stay there.” Manny didn’t believe me, but I was in no mood to argue… so I said: “So long, Primo… If I get home first… I’ll tell the folks you’re O.K.” Ten minutes later, the field phone rang again. I thought it was Leonie… but I was wrong. It was Oscar. “Say, Phil,” he said… “this is the end. I’m in Kilometer 165.5 with all my troops. Where shall I go?” Oscar sounded serious… in fact, nervous. I knew what had happened. The Japs had already broken through and there was general disorganization. The reserve lines had also probably been captured. It was as Oscar said “the end.” I told Oscar to retreat to kilometer 182.2 near Mariveles… because all Filipino troops were going there. “We better stick together,” I explained, “because the Japs might give us better treatment.” Oscar didn’t answer immediately… then he said, “O.K. kid… I’ll bring my men there. Good luck… and if you see Ramon… tell the old fellow not to be nervous.” That was just like Oscar… joking at a serious moment. For all his carefree, devil-may-care attitude… we needed more men like him in Bataan. To begin with… he had no business volunteering. But he did. General Valdes told him he would be a fool to leave his wife and two-day-old baby. But he did… and he told me one evening: “Phil… if I don’t ever get home… tell my kid why I fought. Tell him… I wanted him to be able to tell the other boys… ‘My father fought for his country.'”

At 6 p.m. –sunset– the phone rang again. “It’s me… Oscar… waiting for you in 182.2.” His retreat was a success.

That night, I burned all my papers, all records… including my diary. It pained me to see that diary go. It helped me a lot. Sometimes when I was very depressed… I wrote all my feelings on its pages…. and I felt better afterwards. But orders were orders. “Burn everything” said the General (De Jesus) nervously… and so everything was burnt.

I slept at Kilometer 182.2 that night, besides Ramon Pamintuan. Gatas Santos was also there. We didn’t know that later in the evening we would have a reunion. Ramon was pale and yellow… shivering with malaria. Gatas was looking fine but he was worried about his white skin. “They might take me for an American,” he said. Later in the evening, Johnny arrived. He was thin, exhausted… but not to exhausted to tell us all about his narrow escapes and the way his car ceased to be a car because of a bomb. Then Godofredo Reyes showed up. I didn’t recognize him in the dark, because I had not seen him for a long time and he had a beard. Then came Hector Unson, who I thought was isolated by Jap patrols in Batangas on Dec. 29. He said he heard I died in Corregidor. It turned out we were praying for each other’s soul. At about eleven o’clock Ernie Es. popped in. He had come from guard duty and he was cursing because it was not his turn to guard. Then Tony Nieva arrived. He was fagged out, sunburnt, and very thin. We gave him the little food we had, because he said he had not eaten for two days. He explained that his men were almost surrounded by the advance patrols of the Japanese, because the Americans ran away without notifying him. It was a reunion alright… but a sad one. We thought we would meet each other in Manila in some victory banquet… not on the night of defeat. But as things turned out… there we were… gathering on the dry bed of a stream… not knowing what the morning had in store for us. Would the Japanese kill us? Would they imprison us? Would they free us? We were discussing those questions throughout the night, I was thinking of escaping, thru the mountains of Bagac via Zambales. But they said… ‘Let’s stick together… till the end.’ We talked of our happy days in Manila… the way we used to run around town… Jai Alai… Casa Mañana… Manila Hotel… drinking, dancing, feasting…I also thought of Nini. It was her birthday –April 9.

I guess we were all changed men… and we all agreed that we didn’t regret our experience. I don’t think any of us were the worse for the hardships we endured. They had made men out of us… and above all… it put our country on the map. It was not all in vain. That’s what I was thinking of… when the ground began to shake and the stones in the stream started to roll. It was an earthquake. Was God going to rescue us in the final hour? My heart beat fast… I was sure something would happen… to turn the tide of defeat… but nothing did…and I waited and waited till I fell asleep.


April 6, 1942

HQ, Bataan

 

 

More men retreating, more stragglers, the rear area has become the front. Japs keep on following their gains, bombing, shelling, blasting, burning, shooting, bayoneting. They have been waiting for this hour. Blood is flowing freely…

Evacuee area is a most pitiful sight. Saw women and children gathered around the cinders of their former dwellings, begging for food, bewildered by the terrific advance of the Japanese.

From morning to sunset, the hillsides and shell-burnt roads have been brown with bleeding men –the remnants of the Filipino-American forces. These are the men who have electrified the world with their glorious stand.

Saw troops of the 41st lying on the ground near Mariveles. Most of them were thin, emaciated, yellow with malaria. Many were dying. Others were blind to due to vitamin deficiencies. Some did not have even strength to drive the flies crawling on their bodies. When planes hovered above, they did not move, they did not care to move. Death would be a welcome respite.

Japs advancing fiercely, killing mercilessly, bayoneting with unleashed fury.

Already the flies, the hawks and the pariah dogs have found the dying & dead. Saw a big rat bite off a dead man’s eye.

Still no order to surrender. Fight must continue. Bleeding must continue. Dying must continue. Can hear roar of machine-guns. More & more boys dying, by the minute.

 

(later)

 

Received a phone-call from Manny de Leon from Corregidor. He said “Leonie is very ill.” I gave him my regards and farewell. I told him the lines had broken. After that our telephone went dead.


February 26, 1942

Corregidor

Malinta

 

Had a nice luncheon with Mr. Roxas, Romulo, Razon, Baby Vargas, and Manny de Leon. We “swiped” some of the chickens in Mac’s house and fried it. We ate at the chalet beside Mac’s bungalow which is being used by Mr. Roxas and Romulo as sleeping quarters.

It was so warm and there is very little shade in the Rock that we took off our unifoms and ate with undershirts.

Everybody was happy as Manny who is quite a good cook made culinary wonders with Mac’s chicken.

Romulo and Roxas were talking about the fighting in Bataan and Roxas said that after the war, a big national shrine should be constructed in Mt. Samat to honor all the heroes that have died and are now dying in this battle.

Roxas was talking about the shipping of supplies from the Visayas to Corregidor to improve the rations of the boys. Romulo cracked that it was hard to fight on an empty stomach.

I told Mr. Romulo that one of our operatives had contacted his secretary and that he should stop worrying about his family because they are all right and hiding in Pagsanjan.

Roxas asked me to bring a bottle of whiskey for Jake Zobel who was in Lim’s division and some cigarettes for him.

Romulo said that the President was now in the Visayas and that the weather there would be much healthier for him than the damp air of the tunnel.

After the fried chicken, Manny surprised us with ice cream made out of dri-mix and the ice he was able to get from the Chinese boys in Malinta.

I had myself insured and Baby Vargas who is in the Finance Division fixed up my papers.

Roxas and Romulo then talked of a broadcast over Voice of Freedom which was very hard on “Quislings collaborating with Japs while their sons were fighting in Bataan.” Romulo said that this broadcast was written by Gen. MacArthur. Roxas regretted that it was written because he stated those in Manila. “We don’t know,” he said, “how much pressure of torture was being exerted by the Japs.”

Our happy luncheon was interrupted during the ice cream because of the air raid alarm. We were too full to run to the tunnel so we decided to stick it out in our shack. Fortunately the bombers dropped their bombs on the Cavite side. When we returned to the table, our ice cream had melted.

 

(later)

 

Barracks is top-hill bombed. Oil dumps hit. Damage slight, according to Vic Osias.

Talked with Norman Reyes and Vic Osias. Both fellows were full of wisecracks. Norman is one of the announcers of the Voice of Freedom. Osias is attached to air corps unit in Corregidor.

Discussion on prostitution popped up again. Some officers think it is a bad necessity. Two U.S. marines joined discussion. They claim the French are the best prostitutes.

Played Ping Pong with Manny de Leon before taking dinner.

Norman Reyes had a fight with an American soldier. “I don’t like guys with racial prejudices,” he said.

 


January 28, 1942

HQ, MIS

Bataan

 

Gap in western sector widening. Japs penetrating Segundo’s line in force. 1st regular division in wild retreat. Hell has broken loose in this area. Many dying, dead.

No reinforcements can be sent to bridge gap. No more reserves. 1st regular given up for lost. Japs following successes slowly, surely, cautiously.

USAFFE line will be shortened to stabilize and consolidate front. All divisions packing up to make last stand on Pilar-Bagac road. If this line, if this last front line breaks, our days are numbered.

Went to eastern front to see conditions there. Everybody is moving, retreating, to avoid being outflanked.

Saw Jesse Hocson of Ateneo pep band. He is a lieutenant. He said they were told to retreat. He was looking for Juan Fernandez, Capinpin’s aide. Jesse looked very tired.

Leonie who was with me was looking for Manny de Leon but the 201st engineering corps had changed area. We saw Fr. Karasig S.J. who offered us some coffee which we gladly received. Karasig asked me about Morita. He said “Let’s not talk of the fighting.” The father was in a good mood.

Saw Jaime Mercado walking ahead of his troops. Jaime had the same familiar stride but he was very black, sunburnt, unkempt. He looked very much older. His troops were retreating.

Saw Toto Cruz towering over all around him. Leonie talked to him.

Everything down the road troops were groaning under their packs, hastily moving back to the new line. The boys looked weak, thirsty, hungry, dirty, and very, very tired. Some were sleeping in the roadsides to get some rest.


January 14, 1942

HPA (HQ, Philippine Army)

Bataan, Mariveles.

 

Will sleep here tonight as it is too dark to return to our command post. This is a nice place, like a picnic ground. No fighting here, practically no work, except hiding in dug-outs when bombers fly above and waiting for assignment to other units as need for more men arises. HPA unit is a sort of reserve pool for manpower. Other divisions call it HPA –Happy People’s Army. (Corregidor soldiers are jibed with DTS-award, i.e. Distinguished Tunnel Service.)

Manny de Leon was just talking to me a few minutes ago and he said that he has received orders to go to the front tomorrow. He has been assigned to the 201st Engineering Corps. “The trouble,” he said, “is that I am not an engineer.”

Had a long talk with Assemblyman Benito Soliven who is a major. He asked me about conditions in the front lines and he gave me dried meat. The Assemblyman was lying down at the time because he was suffering from malaria.

HPA people got a scare the other night. According to Assemblyman Soliven, marines in Mariveles coast started shouting “Japs! Japs!”. Somehow rumor spread Japs had landed in rear area. As men not organized for defense in HPA, boys started to run and hide in pajamas, for they were in midst of sleep then. When morning came, the boys started returning to their tents and everybody laughed at each other because they found out it was just a false alarm. People in HPA are not armed except with .45’s.

Somebody spread rumor here that Russians have bombed Tokyo without even declaring war. I wonder if this is true. This is one war in which the entire world wishes. Everybody will cheer for both sides to lose.

 

(later)

 

Saw Edwin at Gen. Francisco’s C.P. He said “still no planes for us aviators. We don’t do anything but wait in our dug-outs. We should be given the DDS: Distinguished Dug-Out Service.”