Spent morning and afternoon in the same place. At 5 p.m. we left for Isabela where we arrived at about 7 p.m. We were met by Mrs. Jesusa Lacson vda. de Arroyo, and Mr. & Mrs. Enrique Montilla, in whose house we were lodged. Major Soriano, Colonel Nieto and myself were given a comfortable room downstairs near the swimming pool. The President invited Colonel Hilsman & Captain Mason for dinner.
I awoke at 5 a.m. I had 4 hours of fairly good rest although I woke up several times because my hip bones were protesting at the hardness of my improvised bed. I washed and received Holy Communion.
At 6 a.m. Captain Smith (Commander) of the Submarine came to inform us that 6:20 a.m. (daylight saving time) the hour of sun risem, he would submerge the submarine. At the announced time we noticed the maneuver. The tower of the submarine was 38 ft. below the surface, the keel 64 ft. We did not notice any untoward symptom until about 2 hours later when it began to get quite warm. The temperature kept on rising until it reached 94 degrees Fahrenheit by noon, but what made it so uncomfortable was the tremendous, humidity of 92%. I had a small towel to wipe my continuous perspiration. The officers and crew wore short pants and went naked from waist up. The President and Mrs. Quezon kept on sponging themselves with ice water. At 1 p.m. there was no more ice, and the refrigerator was working at full blast. Commander Smith informed us that at 6:20 p.m. he would come to the surface. From that time, I kept on looking at my watch. The hours seemed centuries, and the minutes exceedingly long. Finally the long awaited moment arrived. What a relief! It was wonderful to feel again the caress of fresh air on our faces. Unfortunately, however our happiness was short lived, because the wind became strong, the sea rough and the submarine danced and rolled. Mrs. Quezon, the girls, Nonong, the Chief Justice, Colonel Nieto and Father Ortiz were extremely sea sick. I would also have been sea sick had I not rushed to the command tower and there stood under the stairway where a strong gust of fresh wind blew continuously. At 8 p.m. they called me for dinner. I went, but it was useless. I had taken two spoons of soup then I rushed out for some fresh air. At 10 p.m. we had reached the coast of Panay and the sea was calmer. I was able to have something to eat. I tried to have some sleep on the command tower but impossible. It had to sit on the floor and lean on the wall as the place was very small. All lights were out and as a result I was stepped on three times and I decided to go down to the cabins.
We arrived at San Jose de Buenavista, Antique at 2:30 a.m. Fifteen minutes later we were advised that the launch that was supposed to meet us was approaching. We stopped one mile from the coast.
In the launch were General J. C. Quimbo and Colonel Powell. We left the submarine after bidding good-bye to the Commander and the other officers and left on the launch for the dock. Cars were waiting for us and we proceeded to Iloilo city. The SS Don Esteban arrived a little later and proceeded to a hiding place during the day.
Finally, a composite unit from the PC, 26th Cavalry, 71st Div, PAAC and even Ateneo ROTC Volunteers annihilated the remaining enemy forces at Silaim-Anyasan Pts. thus ending the so-called Battle of the Points in West Bataan two days ago. And so, Alas and Alackay, I can now say “All’s Quiet in All Bataan Fronts.” Have not seen any enemy plane whole day.
At Malinta Tunnel where I saw Maj. Huff, he informed me that Pres. Quezon and party left last night aboard submarine USS Swordfish headed presumably to Australia. He also told me cooler heads (Osmeña, Roxas, Abad Santos) convinced him to leave Corregidor. He did not like the idea of leaving which he felt was abandoning his loyal people. Among those I presumed with that party aside from the Quezon family, are VP Osmeña, CJ Abad Santos, Maj. Manuel Nieto, Maj. Jaime Velasquez and Virginia Bewley.
At Major Romulo’s Lateral Office, I learned from Lt. F. Isidoro that the M/V Don Isidro under Capt. Rafael Cisneros OSP (Res) that left Manila last Dec. 15, broke through the enemy blockade, managed to reach Brisbane, Australia mid January. Capt. Cisneros volunteered to return with his ship to the Philippines. She was fully loaded with supplies for the starving USAFFE troops and left Brisbane Feb. 15 headed for the Philippines. Four days later, enemy planes found and attacked her near Weasel Island where she was sunk Feb. 19. Nothing is reported about casualties but I hope Capt. Cisneros is safe.
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.
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.
I spoke with the President and asked him for permissions to go to Bataan. At 1 p.m. Major Velasquez and I, on the launch of the Apo, went to San Jose, Mariveles. Captain Lee Stevens and Mr. Boquer took advantage of our boat to return to Bataan. We arrived at San Jose. Lee, Boquer and Major Velasquez proceeded North. I waited for General de Jesus. In the meanwhile, I inspected Captain Bautista and Major Turingan’s coast defenses. I saw the Bautista family of Malolos who were near Captain Bautista’s place.
When General de Jesus arrived I went to visit Mrs. Segundo, and Mrs. P. Martelino and Mrs. A. Martelino who are camped near the U.S. Cavalry camp inside of the forest Km 167. From there I went to the Philippine Army Ordinance Depot to inspect. Neat, well kept. Men doing good work, however, I am worried about all the Enfield rifles that are stored there, in case the enemy brakes through our lines.
Then I went to the Command Post of General McBride where we discussed the situation of the civilian population and the morale of the troops. He is very understanding of the Filipino psychology and our needs.
At 4:15 p.m. I returned to San Jose. I wanted to return early to be in Corregidor for dinner. We celebrated Mrs. Quezon’s birthday we ordered a cake.
When I arrived I found that all the baggage was ready to leave. I rushed home to get my things ready, packed rapidly and saw that my things were sent to the dock. Then I went to the dock with Colonel Nieto.
As we were leaving the tunnel, the truck that was to carry important boxes arrived with the guards. The officer in charge told me that the enemy was shelling the dock. We waited l/2 hour and then we proceeded. We supervised the loading of all baggage, rice and other cargo on the barge which pulled out at 11 p.m. for the SS Don Esteban. All the members and personnel of the Presidential party with the exception of President, his family, his war cabinet & Colonel Nieto left at midnight, en route for an undisclosed destination. The captain was given sealed orders.
On February 19, the birthday of Mrs. Quezon, the President ordered me to have champagne for the evening. Colonel Nieto also came to inform me of my departure from Corregidor. I was to go to the south entrance of the tunnel at night. I gave several bottles of champagne to the Officers so that they could have a toast when victory came. I kissed Mrs. Quezon and the children goodbye. On my way out, some boys saw me with my gas-mask. They called out good-bye and asked me to pray for them.
The President had a long conference with General MacArthur. Afterwards he sent for me. He asked me: “If I should decide to leave Corregidor what do you want to do?” “I want to remain with my troops at the front that is my duty” I replied. He stretched his hand and shook my hand “That is a manly decision; I am proud of you” he added and I could see tear in his eyes. “Call General MacArthur” he ordered “I want to inform him of your decision.” I called General MacArthur. While they conferred, I went to USAFFE Headquarters tunnel to confer with General Sutherland. When General MacArthur returned he stretched his hand and shook hands with me and said “I am proud of you Basilio, that is a soldier’s decision.”
When I returned to the room of the President, he was with Mrs. Quezon. She stood up and kissed me, and then cried. The affection shown to me by the President & Mrs. Quezon touched me deeply. Then he sent for Manolo Nieto and in our presence, the President told Mrs. Quezon with reference to Manolo, “I am deciding it; I am not leaving it to him. I need him. He has been with me in my most critical moments. When I needed someone to accompany my family to the States, I asked him to do it. When I had to be operated I took him with me; now that need him more then ever, I am a sick man. I made him an officer to make him my aide. He is not like Basilio, a military man by career. Basilio is different, I forced him to accept the position he now had; his duty is with his troops”. Then he asked for Whisky and Gin and asked us to drink. Colonel Roxas and Lieutenant Clemente came in. We drank to his health. He made a toast: “To the Filipino Soldier the pride of our country”, and he could not continue as he began to cry.
In the afternoon, I had my blood typed. I am type “O”.
I awoke at 7:20 a.m. It was too late to attend Mass, so I continued to sleep. I got up at 9 a.m., and found Manolo in the house arranging the food supplies received from the S.S. Legaspi. He told me that Captain Andres Soriano was in the tunnel. I saw Andres and we invited him to have an improvised luncheon with us. He ate voraciously. We again had supper together and he will spend the night with us at the house. He will go to Bataan tomorrow with me. After the dinner the President sent word that he wanted to converse with Soriano. They went to the tent while I went to USAFFE Headquarters to phone General Francisco regarding our trip tomorrow.
I returned home at 10 p.m.
Nothing unusual during the day. At 10 p.m. I was already in bed when the phone rang. It was the Chief Justice telling me to get dressed as we had to go to the vault, to perform a secret and delicate mission. I dressed hurriedly met them at the entrance of the Malinta tunnel and we proceeded by car for the vault. The guards were surprised at our unannounced visit. A few minutes after we arrived, Commander Parker U.S. Navy and some men with two station wagons arrived followed closely to the Staff of the U.S. High Commissioner. We worked incessantly all night. The work was performed with military proficiency, no noise, no conversations. We finished our mission at 4:30 a.m. What a relief! I returned home very tired and exhausted. I forgot to mention that at 7 p.m. Colonel Roxas, Colonel Nieto, Colonel Marron, Major Romulo, General Drake and myself went to the S.S. Legaspi for dinner — and what a dinner. We ate like wolves.
I was happy to receive a letter from Tito and one from Colonel Quimbo. Tito sent me 5 boxes of good tonic.