March 6, 1942

HQ, MIS, Bataan

Could not see her today. Could not leave the HQ. Too much bombing.

Sgt. Sinculan thinks the bombs were dropped near the evacuee camp. She might have been hit. I hope not. Will go there early tomorrow.

Had carabao’s meat today with the rice. Lt. Tatco, mess officer, was able to shoot a carabao in one of the streams of Mt. Mariveles. We fried the meat and it was delicious.

Fred opened a bottle of rhum he received from an American officer. We drank during the bombardment and it calmed our nerves.

Felt so helpless as Japs flew very low strafing and bombing at will.

Many were wounded. Many trucks outside hospital. We are like rats. Worse.

Major Montserrat is very ill. The doc says he may die.

Listened to Voice of Freedom. Its words sounded hollow after terrific bombardment. When, when, when will the convoy arrive? Will it ever arrive? If it won’t, they why don’t they tell us? If it will, is it military secrecy that keeps them from telling us? Nope, it won’t arrive any more. They can’t pass thru the Jap blockade. They can’t go beyond Macassar strait. Roosevelt was not clear about helping us in his speech. Yes, it will arrive. America is such a great nation. Her factories have stopped building cars. Nothing but planes, planes, planes. They will darken the skies with their planes. The Japs will see. Hell, where are the planes? We are like rats here, running under the ground, living in dug-outs and fox-holes, bombed morning and afternoon and night and morning again. Where is the convoy? And what about the food? Sure, its easy to say “keep on fighting” but you can’t fight without food on your stomach. Wasn’t it Napoleon who said an army marches on its stomach? They boys in the front have been there for more than 60 days without replacement, without rest, without food, food, FOOD. Yes, Voice of Freedom why don’t you answer these questions? That’s what we’d like to know. Words can’t feed us. Words, words, words. Day by day, more and more die. Die of sickness. Die of hunger. Die of bombs. Die of shells. Die of bullets. Die, Die, Die. This can’t go on forever. We are human beings. Do you hear Voice of Freedom, “we are human beings”? You can’t keep matching flesh against steel? Oh hell, what am I thinking about. Sure, help’s coming. Roosevelt said so. America is not going to let us down. The eyes of the world are on us. The whole of humanity is watching us keep up the torch in this orient that’s fast getting enveloped by darkness. This is something worth dying for! Yes, I’m going to die. I am not going to see home anymore. Not going to see mama, papa and……, hell, hell, hell, what am I thinking about… O Lord!

Raid again.


February 2, 1942

HQ, Intelligence, Bataan

 

This place is getting to be a Post Office. Lorrie Tan wants a letter sent to his family. Manny Colayco wants his family contacted. “I left them with nothing,” he said, “I don’t even know where they are,” he wrote. Tony Perez has a letter for his sweetheart and one for his mother. All letters were censored. Received word from Fr. Hurley in Manila. He asks that news be given the Superior in America that “everything is o.k. with Jesuits.” Will refer this matter to Ortiz in Rock. Other men were here begging, pleading that we be kind enough to “send this little or just this two or three words to this and that person.” The General is very angry. He has ordered all agents and officers to stop bringing personal notes. He said: “This is an intelligence service not a Post Office.” Fred said the General has become very strict because he noticed that one of the letters which somebody wanted delivered was addressed to a German in the suspected list of the Philippine Army. We are having the American sergeant who wrote the suspicious note called to this HQ tomorrow.

Talked to Tony Perez this morning about penetration in Mt. Natib. He said they walked for two days and nights without stop, clambering cliffs, clinging to vines at times to keep their body steady, in a desperate effort to escape encirclement by the Japs. He said it was a pity some of the weak and wounded were left behind. There were men he said offering all their money to soldiers to “please carry me because I can no longer walk.” He said that he and a friend carried a fellow who had a bullet wound in the leg. “Some of the boys” he said “fell down the precipice because the path was very narrow, in some cases just enough for the toes.” He expressed the opinion that if Japs had followed their gains immediately and emplaced a machine gun near the cliff, they would all have been killed. “It was heart-breaking” he said. “There we were trying to run away from Japs and sometimes we had to stay in the same place for a long time because the cliffs were very irregular, at times flat, at times perpendicular.” He said that most of the men discarded their rifles and revolvers to reduce their load. Most of our artillery pieces were left, he stated. “We were happy,” he recounted, “when night came because it was dark and the Japs would have less chances of spotting us but then that made our climbing doubly difficult because it was hard to see where one was stepping especially when the moon hid behind the clouds.” He opined that the Japs probably never thought that one whole division would be able to escape through those precipices in the same way that we never thought that they would be able to pass through the steep cliffs of Mt. Natib. Fred said he will write a poem entitled “The Cliffs of Bagao” in honor of the Dunkirk-like retreat of the 1st regular division.

Leonie is also thinking of writing a book on Bataan. He says it will be fiction. It’s much easier that way, he stated.

Fred and Leonie keep on making notes of every incident and story they see and hear. Fred will write a non-fiction book.

I wish I could write a book myself but I don’t think I can. Maybe I’ll just write a couple of article for Free Press or Bulletin.

Received a letter from Baby Quezon. She wants to send a note to Miss Mary Angara. The General said we shall make an exception for the President’s daughter.

Life here is getting harder and harder. I noticed everybody is getting more and more irritable. Nerves, I think. Food is terribly short. Just two handfuls of rice in the morning and the same amount at night with a dash of sardines. Nine out of ten men have malaria. When you get the shivers, you geel like you have ice in your blood. Bombing has become more intensified and more frequent. The General is always hot-headed. Fred and Leonie are often arguing heatedly. Montserrat and Javallera are sore at each other. And I… well, I wanna go home.

 


January 31, 1942

HQ, MIS, Bataan

Good news. Troops of Segundo have reentered our new lines. They escaped Jap encirclement by clambering precipices on Western coast for two days and nights. The men looked thin, haggard, half-dead. They all have a new life. Segundo arrived with troops dressed in a private’s uniform. Japs were slow following initial successes. Some boys, unfortunately, fell while clambering through very steep precipices. In some cases, men were stepping in ledge only half-foot wide. Some of the wounded were left to mercy of Japs. Others were carried by companions. I will try to see either Feling Torres or Manny Colayco. They belong to the 1st Regular –if they are still alive.

There seems to be a move to change Gen. Segundo. Col. Berry will replace him, I understand. I don’t think Segundo is at fault. His troops have been fighting since December in Camarines. His men are recruits, volunteers, mostly untrained civilians. His division has not had a bit of rest since campaign in Southern front and when Japs first attacked Bataan front, they chose his sector.

Plans are being laid to send ships to Visayas to get food supply. Some officers may be sent on trip.

Two boys from Manila are now under investigation. They are Norman Reyes and Luis Albert. Norman claims he came to Bataan because he wants to broadcast over Voice of Freedom. He is a radio announcer. Major Montserrat is now questioning him. Leonie says Norman is O.K. They may send him to Corregidor but the General does not want to take chances. Japs have many spies. Leonie vouches for Norman. Luis Albert says he came here to get money for wives of soldiers left in city. He says he was sent by Red Cross. Major Javallera doubts Albert’s story. He will be sent to HPA. The General is very cautious.

No raid today. Funny, but I never pray for no raid.


January 25, 1942

HQ, Intelligence Service, Bataan

 

Talked to some of the boys of the 21st at the front yesterday. Japs have tried to penetrate their lines during last few days but to no avail. Boys are complaining about very little food ration. Many were very anxious to get a smoke.

Japs have dropped a lot of “surrender” leaflets in front lines. Leaflets are about the size of the palm. Front sheet reads: “Ticket to Armistice”. Lower caption states: “You and any number of your friends can walk with these leaflets to our lines. We shall bring you back to your homes.” Back cover of “ticket to armistice” carries picture of some home in Manila or picture of Jap soldiers playing with Manila kids. Almost everybody in front line keeps these tickets as souvenir. There are no cases of desertion. The men know that this is a dirty Jap trick and that they will shoot any of us on sight.

Boys in 41st division are raring to attack Japs. Some of their patrols found the dead body of a young girl. She was evidently abused. Her hair was recently curled. Her dress was smeared with blood. Her finger nails still had manicure. She was a pretty Filipina. Her handkerchief was partly torn. On one side of the handkerchief was the name Erlinda. Troops under Lim have adopted as fighting motto: “Remember Erlinda!” Leonie is now writing a radio script for Voice of Freedom on Erlinda.

Corregidor censored part of our SYIM stuff for tomorrow. Fred had an article describing hard life in Rock, the damp air of tunnel as I described to him and the boxes of ammunition inside the main tunnel. Corregidor claims this gives out information to enemy. Fred explained to the General who in turn called up Corregidor that the intention of SYIM editors was to make boys in the front feel that men in Corregidor are sharing hardships with them; that SYIM editors merely want to paint Corregidor officers in better light, because boys in front think that fellows in Corregidor are having an easy life while boys in Bataan fight and starve. The article remains censored.

During broadcast this evening, I slipped into Montserrat’s tent and got some of Javallera’s canned goods. Now Javallera suspects Montserrat took it. The two majors have decided to separate tents. Major Javallera will put up another tent. He says “It’s better to be alone.” Major Montserrat feels the same way. The general is already aware of the canned stuff mystery. He told me he suspects it is Major Panopio taking the canned goods. Meanwhile Fred, Leonie and I are having the time of our lives laughing at the old fogies. Leonie suspects the doctor knows we three have something to do with the canned goods of Montserrat and Javallera because he has seen us eating in private and laughing to ourselves. Fred said “Let us plant the empty cans in the doctor’s tent.” Leonie suggested: “Let Philip put it under the general’s cot.” The plot thickens…

 

(later)

 

Heard that a certain Capt. Wermuth, an American, will be given a third or fourth decoration for distinguished service…


January 23, 1942

HQ, Bataan

(Noon)

 

Cabcaben docks bombed while our courier boat was unloading. Nobody hurt. Japs are squint-eyed.

Everybody in C.P. asking me questions about Corregidor. “How does the Rock look?” or “What do they say about the convoy?” or “They have a better life out there, don’t you think so?”

To pep boys up I told them that Romulo whispered (it’s better to say ‘whispered’ than said) that he had inside dope the convoy would be around in a week’s time, more or less.

This cheered officers up. Fred looked skeptical, though. He asked: “How does he know?” I said: “Ask him that. I just said what he said.”

Leonie told me that in Manila Japs have formed a civil administration. Vargas is head of Executive Commission. Yulo is chief justice. Aquino, interior head; Laurel, justice; Paredes, public works; Alas, finance; Recto, education. Japs have also promised independence to P.I. “as long as she collaborates with co-prosperity sphere.” Aquino and Vargas have urged full collaboration in radio broadcasts.

In staff meeting general revealed that Japs are bringing long-range artillery guns in Ternate, Cavite.

This provoked interesting discussion. Some officers opined Japs might try to take Corregidor by attacking from Cavite side. And then once they have taken Corregidor, they can turn Corregidor guns on Bataan and pulverize every inch of ground. “In that way, USAFFE troops in Bataan will be sandwiched,” it was maintained.

Other officers pointed out difficulty of this move due to Fort Frank which can shell any Jap concentrations in Cavite coast.

Discussion regarding motive behind Jap emplacement of artillery in Ternate still going on now.

Personally I think Japs merely want to ‘surprise’ Corregidor, ‘soften them up’ and incidentally “feel their defenses on Cavite side.”

I do not believe they intend to launch any “landing parties” from Cavite otherwise operatives would have reported concentration of troops in that area.

Ate Romulo’s tuna fish. Shared it with Fred and Leonie. We were careful not to show it to the other officers as there was not enough to divide among everybody. Charity begins at home.

The doctor I think noticed we were eating something privately and he said “How about it, boys?” I am sorry we did not share it with him because I am sure he really saw us eating something and he might have been hurt.

 

(night)

 

A lot of mysterious things have occurred during my stay in Rock. When I opened my bag, I saw several cans of sardines. When I started asking, “Who owns these sardines?” Fred and Leonie jumped and told me to keep quiet.

It seems the two fellows raided the tent of Major Montserrat. Leonie acted as look-out whilst Fred slipped in tent “under cover of darkness” while the major was listening to the Voice of Freedom. Fred claims the major is in combination with some of the sergeants of the QM dump and he has extra supply.

When the major noticed that his private supply was lacking, they hid the cans in my bag. Right now, the major is still trying to remember where he placed his sardine cans.

At this very moment, Major Montserrat is questioning his tent-mate, Major Javallera, chief of Manila’s secret service. Leonie says he thinks Major Montserrat suspects Major Javallera.

Food is really getting short here. The stuff we get twice a day is not enough and if things continue as they are, we will all lose at least thirty pounds each. I am now 135; pre-war I was 150.

Fred and Leonie think we should let a couple of days pass. The three of us always stick together because we are the lowest ranking officers in this outfit.

Raid again. Must go to dug-out.