Quezon back from the big parade, said he had been so tired he wanted to back out. However he only had to shake hands with Mayor LaGuardia, King George of Greece, Governor Herbert Lehman and the foreign minister of Venezuela. He rode in an open car with Colonel Manuel Nieto, his aide-de-camp, and had never in his life had such an ovation –even in Manila.
He was greatly disturbed by the lodgement of the Japanese on the island of Attu, in the Aleutians, and remarked: “That’s no way to win a war –to lose all the battles.”
Attended and served Mass. Returned to Del Monte. 12:30 p.m. went with Vice-President Osmeña to Mr Crawford’s evacuation house for lunch. Returned to Del Monte. Packed my valise for the airplane trip.
The planes arrived at 8:45 p.m. We could hear the roar of the engines from our house at Del Monte. At 10 p.m. we were told to get into automobiles already assigned to each person and member of the President’s party. Those that were to ride in Plane N-1 rode in cars N-1 and N-2. We were the President and his family, Dr. Trepp, Colonel Nieto, Chaplain Ortiz and myself. We arrived at the airfield at 10:40 p.m.; we were assigned to various places thus; Colonel Nieto & Chaplain Ortiz in the gunners cockpit in front. Dr. Trepp in the rear and the President, his family and myself in the radio operators compartment in the center of the plane. There was absolutely no comfort amenities, but we were willing to sacrifice every thing for safety. We took off exactly at 11 p.m. The moon was bright. I heard the roar of the four engines, then I felt a few bumps and a few seconds later I realized we were in the air. The first part of the journey was pleasant although I felt cold. I was sitting on a box in the bomb compartment and there was a cold draft coming from a small opening in the floor of the compartment. A few minutes later the pilot Lieutenant Falkner came and asked me not to smoke as I was situated next to the two big tanks of gasoline. I assured him that there was no danger and I was not a smoker. I could notice we were climbing as it became colder and colder. My feet were almost frozen. Suddenly I felt a hand in the dark grabbing my left leg. I got up; it was the President. “Give me oxygen”, he said “I cannot breathe well”. I applied the oxygen apparatus to his nose. After a few minutes he said: “this does not function; I can not smell the oxygen.” I informed him that oxygen had no odor and consequently could not be smelled. The he said: “Tell the pilot not to climb too high as I cannot stand it.” I took his pulse; it was a little fast due to his fear but otherwise was alright. I spoke to the pilot who assured me that he would not go higher than 9,000 feet and as soon as the enemy bases had been passed he would come down to 6,000 ft.
I watched the moon playing hide and seek behind the clouds. I took my rosary and prayed fervently. I thought of my family, of my little Nucay (Charito) of those dear to me. What would become of them if the trip should end in a disaster? As the moon disappeared behind the horizon, I looked at my watch; it was 2 a.m. Then I looked at the stars, but these also disappeared as we entered clouds. The clouds become darker and thicker. Then I could hear the rain pounding on the plane. The President asked for oxygen again. Then as we entered a heavy rain squall the plane was lifted and dropped a few times by the strong winds. I did not like it. The President was quite worried. He asked me if there was any danger. I assured him that there was none. Suddenly I noticed that the pilot banked the plane and the flying became smoother, later he told us that he had gone around the squall. At 6 a.m. the pilot came to inform us that we had passed already the Japanese bases and were practically safe. I saw the sky become clearer and then the sun came out. Then I saw land and a little later Port Darwin. We landed at Batchelor’s Field at 7:45 a.m.
We arrived at Oroquieta, Misamis at 6:30 a.m. and were docked by 7 a.m. The people of the town thinking we were Japanese ran into the interior, and did not return until they saw the American flag. The Vice-President, Major Cruz and I had breakfast in an Army Officer’s house and then proceeded to Jimenez where the President and family are resting in the house of Senator Ozamis. I am feeling pain in my appendix region and so I went to bed placing an ice cap on the painful region. I am staying in Mr. Borja’s house with Colonel Nieto.
We left Panubigan at 8:30 a.m. Arrived at Bais Sugar Central at 12:30 p.m., tired and sleepy. Slept a good siesta until 3 p.m. When the President sent for me.
Worked decoding some telegrams. At 10:30 p.m. Left Bais Central for Dumaguete arriving at about 11:30 a.m. We waited for Soriano who had gone to Zamboanguita to meet the U.S. Navy torpedo boats. We boarded the torpedo boats at 3:30 a.m. On board were the President and his family, Vice-President Osmeña, Major Soriano, Colonel Nieto, Major Cruz, Captain Ortiz and Miss Labrador. In the hurried embarkation because the Captain of the boat was in a hurry, many members of the party left their suitcases on the dock. We started at 22 knots an hour and soon we were making 30. As we entered the open sea it became rougher and the boat at times hit the water with tremendous force. Suddenly we heard a small explosion followed by a noise of exhaust vapor and the interior of the torpedo boat became impregnated with the smell of burning gun powder. There was a commotion among the crew. Suddenly, the Captain rushed to the place where the noise came from and in a few minutes he had the trouble under control. During the commotion Soriano told the President to come out and breathe fresh air and he refused saying: “No, I want to die next to my wife and children.” When the captain came up to the command tower he told us that the connection to the torpedo had been detached due to the rough sea and it had set the torpedo for explosion. What he did was to shoot the torpedo out, loose, at a cost of $10,000.00. That was a narrow escape. Had the torpedo exploded we would have been blown to pieces.
At 1:30 a.m. Colonel Nieto woke me up to show me a telegram informing us that five enemy ships accompanied by a submarine flashing a light were ashore in Gasan, Marinduque. I told him not to awake the President and hold it for this morning. Got up as usual at 6:30 a.m. More telegrams kept on coming informing us that two enemy destroyers were in the Tanon Strait, one holding the southern end and the other inspecting from North to South.
At 9:30 a.m. we left Panubigan for Buenos Aires as the President fears a possible landing. I had luncheon with Colonel Hilsman in his headquarters and we discussed the situation. He was quite alarmed at the apparent coolness of General Chynoweth when he presented to him the serious need for more ammunition and automatic weapons. I ask him where General Chynoweth was and I was informed that he had arrived at Bacolod yesterday and had left for Cebu last night. When I arrived at Buenos Aires the President asked me what information I could give him. I told him the gist of my conference with Colonel Hilsman.
At 5 p.m. I went by car with Colonel Nieto and the District Engineer to see the new road constructed in a few days uniting Buenos Aires to La Castellana without passing Maao and La Carlota.
At 9 a.m. the following message was received from General MacArthur. Quote: “Col. Hilsman, 318 Report desired on the Military Situation at San Carlos and Negros in General stop What steps do you suggest should be taken looking toward safety of Don stop Immediate reply desired MacArthur.”
When I returned from my conference with Hilsman he phoned me that our boat The Princess of Negros had been taken by the Japanese destroyer after shelling the town of San Carlos. The President was very angry and ordered the arrest of Captain Panopio for having deserted his ship.
I saw the District Engineer and I asked him to study another road below the mountain. In the afternoon he reported that he had found one which could be finished in one week.
At 4:45 p.m. The President and his family, Colonel Nieto, Chaplain Ortiz, Capt. Salazar and I left Buenos Aires for Hacienda Panubigan of Mr. Luis Perez Samarillo on the road to Vallehermoso. We arrived at 7:30 p.m. The rest of the party remained in Buenos Aires. Major Soriano who was on his way to Cebu accompanied us as far as Panubigan.
I attended to the trip of Manolin, Delgado and Abad Santos with Sergeant Villahermosa. I ordered Manolin to go to Dumaguete to ask Captain Macon U.S. Army for a truck to take our baggage to Bacolod. Fortunately, the car of Governor Lizares which the President used on this trip was returning home and Manolin, Delgado and Abad Santos were able to ride in it. They left after the luncheon.
The President and his family with Colonel Nieto and myself, Chaplain Ortiz, and Lieutenant Salazar left Bais Sugar Central at 5 p.m. for Negros Occidental. We had dinner on the mountain road (sandwiches). We met Colonel Hilsman and Captain Mason on the road and they accompanied us. We arrived at Buenos Aires, summer home of the late Don Jorge Araneta, at about 11 p.m. A nice place. The President and family occupy the second floor. We are lodged in the ground floor where there are 5 small rooms. I selected a small room for myself. It is very nice.
Left Mr. Enrique Montilla’s house at Isabela at 10 a.m. for San Carlos, Oriental Negros. Arrived at Panubigan at 12 noon, where luncheon had been prepared in the rest house. Colonel Hilsman, Captain Mason and Captain Jones were waiting for us. Left Panubigan at 1:15 p.m. Arrived at the house of Juanito Ledesma at The Hacienda Fortuna at 2:20 p.m. No one was in the house except a lady cousin.
The President and his family stayed to rest and I drove to San Carlos to look for General Villanueva as the President wanted to confer with him. On the road, I met Nieto and Soriano and I asked them to come with me. We found him with the Provincial Treasurer. Then we went to the Hacienda San Jose of the Tabacalera where I met the manager Mr. Miguel Aguirre and the Assistant Manager Mr. Buenaventura Duran. They agreed to prepare dinner for the party. Returned to The Hacienda Fortuna. Saw the race horses of Mr. Ledesma. While there the President changed all plans. Instead of taking the boat at San Carlos and proceeding to Cebu via Toledo, he decided to let Vice President Osmeña, the Chief Justice and the rest of the party proceed, while he and his family with Nieto, Salazar and I go to Bais Sugar Central at Tanjay. After dinner we left for Bais.