June 5, 1942

At night at the Shoreham Hotel.

Quezon told me the story of his visit to Corregidor in 1935 after he had been inaugurated as the first President of the Philippine Commonwealth. He was invited by General Kilbourne, the American officer then in command of the fortress, who was the man who had done so much to develop its defenses. Quezon said: “As I went ashore on Corregidor I saw there a whole regiment of Americans–not Philippine Scouts, drawn up as a guard of honor to salute me. I was quite overcome with emotion–just two miles away across the water was the little town of Mariveles, where thirty-four years earlier I had surrendered myself as an officer of Aguinaldo’s army to an American Lieutenant of artillery. If ever since that surrender I had felt any bitterness against America, it vanished when I looked upon that regiment of American soldiers drawn up to salute a Filipino President of the Commonwealth. This regiment seemed to me to epitomize the whole history of the United States in the Philippines. They had come there in the beginning with their soldiers to overcome us by force–and now the symbol of that force was drawn up to salute the Filipino head of a government of Filipinos which had been set up by the United States. The three most thrilling events of my life all occurred within a radius of two miles of that spot where I then stood:

(1)  My surrender at Mariveles to the American officer

(2)  An American regiment drawn up on Corregidor to do honor, and

(3)  Besieged in the fortress of Corregidor by the Japanese.”

April 8, 1942


Saw a big rat eating what looked like the arm of a soldier strewn near a stream in H.P.D.

Saw more troops –hollow-eyed, wasted, exhausted, lips parched with thirst, eyes wild with starvation.

Saw corpses of brave men, courageous men being buried by friends, comrades-in-arms.

All troops are moving to Mariveles, the southernmost tip of Bataan. After that is the sea –Beyond is Corregidor, still flying the flag.

Saw the staff car of Gen. Lim. He was riding fast to Mariveles. He looked thin, worried, and his hair was white.

Prayed, prayed, prayed. Prayed for victory. Prayed for myself. For the dying and DEAD.

Will pray some more. In the hour of defeat, there is only prayer.


Staff-meeting. Very sad, pathetic, gloomy, funeral-like. There were tears in all our eyes. “We are in the saddest moment in our nation’s history,” said the General.

All around us were fires, supply dumps burning, hospitals afire, cars, trucks hit by incendiaries. Great columns of smoke everywhere.

The telephone rang again. It was Oscar Arellano. He talked to me and he said: “Where shall I go with my troops?” He asked: “Are there any orders?” I said: “Go to Mariveles.”

The General said: “Our unit is disbanded. We cannot surrender as members of the Intelligence Service. Let us say that we belong to the 41st Division or any unit you please. The Japs will torture us if they know we have been engaged in espionage work. The general could speak no more.

Fred arrived. He said he went to the coast to look for bancas to row up to Corregidor but there were none.

Officers were conjecturing: “What will the Japs do to us? Will they shoot on sight? Will they torture us? Will they imprison us? Shall we die fighting? Shall we keep a bullet for ourselves? Shall we swim to Corregidor? What about the sharks? What shall we do? Oh Lord what shall we do?

More and more troops retreating to Mariveles. We are also packing up and moving to Mariveles. Took one last look in the direction of the front: it was one phantasmagoria of swirling clouds of red dust, roaring tanks moving men and dust-caked units, crawling on blood-red earth….

8 p.m.

Can feel earth shaking. Terrific explosions. The Americans are blowing up all ammunition dumps.

The General has ordered us to “Burn all papers.”

I don’t have the heart to burn this. I’ll tell my sergeant to do it for me.

(later — 10:10 p.m.)

Fred is crying. He said he saw troops carrying — white flags.

Tuesday, June 14, 1898

The Germans

The day before yesterday at noon, the German admiral was acknowledged in Corregidor. The Americans saluted him. The Kaiserin-Agusta dropped anchor at 13H30 after a 21-gun salute. Other ships are expected to follow her. Meanwhile, Prince Heinrich is landing in China where he can make his presence felt. During this time, neither the French nor the Russians are succesful in diverting the attention of the German vice-admiral from the China Sea, where a great rivalry exists. The Germans are sending their ships here. There is no clear order of hierarchy since anyone can give the necessary orders today or tomorrow, depending on the situation. And if the situation becomes increasingly complicated, someone else takes over as spokesman.

The weather is horrible. A typhoon must be brewing somewhere. Continuous hurricanes and incessant heavy rains. However, the atmospheric depression is supposed to be far away from Manila and there is no danger.

For the past week, the most positive fact is the presence in the bay of ships bearing the insurgents’ flag — blue, red and stars in one corner. These ships continue to and fro between the bay and Cavite to the north of the bay. These small steamships carry Filipino soldiers. If one is to believe an eyewitness, one of these ships accosted the Immortality on Friday. I can swear that none of our helmsmen saw the encounter, but who am I to doubt its credibility? If this is so, and if the insurgents are in touch with both the English and the Americans, how can Spain remain neutral? In the final analysis, I regret the fact that France does not want to initiate the recognition of the flag of the Republic of the Philippines, which the other countries refuse to acknowledge.

The Kaiser dropped anchor in the bay on the 18th. The Cormoran is on a reconnaisance mission in Mariveles and will enter the bay tonight. The Kaiser  is using its floodlights to exchange signals with Kaiserin-Agusta. These maneuvers, like most other German ventures, are being carried out with great precision. Evidently they know what they want and are doing what they want.

Saturday, May 7, 1898

We were standing in a circle around the most notable Frenchman in Manila. After he has lived there for many years, nothing shocks him. He is also a Frenchman revolted by injustice to the very core of his being. He strongly believes in the need for precise ideas and detests anything illogical. A lively and educated man, he studies one idea and detests anything illogical. A lively and educated man, he studies one idea and one aspect of his subject at a time, with an objective viewpoint and fair judgment. He reminded me right away of a commander from Malta whose portrait haunted me in my youth, so I shall designate him by this title. His country house is between Cavite and Manila. He has followed the battle, preferring not to take sides.

–So, Mr. Commander, since you live so near the place where the battle took place, how did it go?

–I shall relate it to you simply, the way it was. . .Around 5 o’clock in the morning. I was in bed and I heard a long deafening sound. What could that be? Undoubtedly it was just a signal to announce a French or an English ship. I say to myself, let them amuse themselves. . . My wife pulls the sheet over her head. “What is happening?” — “Nothing. It’s a signal.” . . . Two minutes after, another cannon is fired. Well, could it be more serious? It cannot be a mere signal. . . I get dressed and I look. There is nothing but a thin veil of cloud, a bit of smoke. . . Then, to frighten my wife, I cry out in a loud voice: “An American battleship. . .!” I look again. The fog begins to lift and I count. . . two. . . three. . . up to seven American ships all in a row, moving calmly, slowly. I return to my wife: “Well, you know what I said as a joke is actually the truth — the Americans are here.” She becomes frightened and loses her composure. “Oh no, not that.” “If you wish, hide your head under the sheet, and put cotton in your ears, but be calm.” As I look again, the fleet is moving towards Cavite where all the Spanish ships are tied up, as if some mousetrap. The Americans are soon upon them. A volley of cannon shots, monstrous flames, and thick smoke. The ships take up their positions once more and fire three times. Finally, they rearrange themselves in pairs, the two biggest ships at the back, the two others on the right, and the other two on the left and right in front of the Spanish ships. . . And at 7:30 there was not a single Spanish ship on the water, all had sunk to the bottom of the sea in flames. There! . . . Oh, but you know, the American shots were excellent! Remarkable! Each shot hit its mark. I saw the smoke and the cloud of dust when the missile hit the ground. . . A pretty exercise in target practice! . . .

–And the field battery, Monsieur le Commandant?

–Oh, yes! Those in Cavite fired some shots, but they were very quickly demolished by the American’s high explosive shells. They were completely reduced to ashes. I admire their accuracy. Each shot was a direct hit …

–To sum it up, what was the extent of the Spanish loss?

–This is it. One hears 50 percent of 1,200 soldiers were either dead or wounded. That means 600 men out of action.

–And on the American side?

–Not one dead, so they say. I think, not even one wounded! I understood that the Concorde’s belly was hit, but the bottom plates were merely dented. After a few minutes, the Spanish ships were aflame. The admiral’s son who was on board the Cristina recounted to me that all of a sudden, only about 30 square meters was habitable. All the rest was on fire. It took them almost 15 minutes to prepare their first cannon! You must understand that the guns were manned by whoever was available.

–Mister Commander, what are these protests by the consular officials, especially the German consul, about promises that were not kept?

–No! No! It is nothing like that. No disagreement at all! The Spaniards questioned the French consul the day of the battle. They arrived in his office. ….I was there, …and they were shouting emotionally, “Mr. Consul, Mr. Consul, they fired explosive shells!” — “Ah!”, I replied to them, “explosive shells? Did you complain in 1870 when Strasbourg, Belfort, and Paris were bombarded with the same type of shells?. . . Only two months ago, when you massacred the insurgents, it was with the same high explosives. . .! The only difference is that the insurgents beat you and made fun of you.” Well, do you know what occurred? The natives planted small flags in the lake to make the Spaniards think that they were there. The latter riddles these poles with ammunition, and the next day, the insurgents went to gather the gunpowder! Although the Spaniards are proud, brave, and obstinate, they are men of the 1550’s, or let’s say, of 1610. They have not changed. Charles V, Cortez, Legaspi –these are the only names you hear them utter. They do not realize that other events have occurred since, such as the cannon, gunpowder, machines, electricity, etc. They are not aware of anything. They are controlled by their parish priests and the clergy. Here, the master is the archbishop.

–And what do they do, all these priests?

They make babies, sir! One day, in the countryside, I asked a street urchin: “Niño, quien es tu padre?” — “Mi padre es el señor cura.” (Child, who is your father? — My father is the parish priest.) And thus, in this manner, children are produced. Do you know how Spain can put an end to the insurrection in the Philippines? Send all these priests away on a chartered ship and spare the country.

–Mister Commander, do you think that with a more intelligent administration by a farsighted, cultivated country, the Philippines could become very profitable?

–Marvelous country, sir, marvelous! Of unparalleled wealth in a unique situation. Here you have an abundance of everything — sugar, abaca, rice, forests, coffee, tobacco, mines of incalculable wealth which have not been exploited. . . What can I say?

–Anyway, have these people really suffered under the Spaniards?

–Yes, a great deal. Undeniably so. Remember, the Spaniards did nothing for them. If I told you that here in Mariveles –at the bay’s entry, there are still cannibals? Yes, gentlemen, cannibals! They are quite pleasant, and do not make any noise. I rather like that. But they have this particular taste, and we just leave them alone. Perhaps they pretend to go to church. That’s as far as they go.

–While waiting, do they have a good infantry?

–Yes, 15,000 to 20,000 men, I think, spread out around Manila, but there are more Filipinos than Spaniards. One cannot be too sure of them.

–Then why don’t the Spaniards do something before it is too late, before the United States sends a small army? Why doesn’t the governor make an effort to recapture Cavite and the arsenal?

–With what? They cannot do anything. They are within firing range of the fleet. If they are seen passing by they will be bombarded. . .

–But they have sophisticated artillery. And I would have you know that these American ships make easy targets. No big cannons are needed to penetrate them. . .

–The Spaniards have poor weapons. In fact, they have nothing. There is disorder everywhere. The insurgents have surrounded the city and are just waiting for the opportune time. The Spaniards are threatened by everyone, inside and outside the city. However, officially, all is quiet in the city. There is peace, so they say. La paz, the famous paz prevails! Just about a month ago, in the midst of this so-called  la paz, insurgents were massacred. They were rebels, I agree, who committed some murders and killed some people. So be it. But when the Spaniards descended upon them, they massacred everyone: women, children, foreigners — everyone was put to the sword.

–Do you realize that the European powers will be endangered if the Americans take possession of the Philippines and keep it. . .?

The commander replied to what he thought was an unreasonable assumption:

–That’s impossible! No, that will never be so. We will never permit it. I firmly believe that the Philippines is destined to rot under the Spaniards …

29th of September, 1762

On the twenty-ninth,^^ at six in the morning, the flagship and another vessel commenced to cannonade the bastion of the foundry, and made a desperate fire, which continued until eight o’clock with the same activity. From that time until ten it was moderated.

In the afternoon of that same day, two craft entered by way of the great strait (of Mariveles). Immediately two of the enemy’s squadron were detached, which having joined the two which were coming, anchored with them near Manila. It was learned afterward that those craft were two English frigates, which had become separated from the body of the squadron in a great storm ; as was also the case with the “Namur,” which had lost its masts and had been forced to put in at Canton. Hence their total squadron numbered sixteen sail.


^^ The Marquis de Ayerbe (Sitio y conquista, p. 48) says that 500 Indians left the plaza de armas in command of the archbishop, ministers of the Audiencia, and some of the citizens, on the twenty-ninth, but that they were quickly put to flight by the English fire.