From Bad-as, we are now hitting the trail to the sea below Sniogbuhan San Joaquin. We are here very early—thoroughly exhausted. Our presence attract the attention of people on the beach. We have eaten our breakfast hurriedly. Our sailboats have been waiting for us. We immediately board them and [?] sail with Point Siaton in Negros as our objective. We feel slightly nervous, for we have to pass through Japcontrolled waters between Panay & Guimaras. Thank God, no Jap motor boat pops up. The wind is intermittently blowing, and we drifted into the mouth of the strait for a while. An East wind blows now, late in the evening. We are now heading fast to Siaton. We feel safe now from the enemy.
The City has taken on a truly warlike aspect, an encampment surrounded by the enemy. But the enemy in this case is within the house: temporarily disbanded army men who post themselves at the foot of bridges, and at major street intersections, paralyzing and obstructing traffic and the entry into the city. It is clear to the public that the preparations of the army are being directed more against their brother Asians than against air attacks.
Undoubtedly, the enemy planes are not going to respect anything in Philippine skies or that the Pacific fleet will direct its attacks at the head of the Empire flanking these Magellanic islands. For the last 15 days, Davao has been under heavy bombings, and so has Northern Mindanao. It was announced today that some near the coast bombed Cebu, Negros and Leyte. Where was the Imperial Fleet hiding, that it could not go out and chase these pirates? The waves of aerial invasion are increasing and it will not be long before the enemy enters Manila, as the optimists on one side and the pessimists on the other are predicting.
What destruction had these raids caused? According to the prevaricating press which nobody believes in no damage was caused aside from the death of civilians and the destruction of their houses. Since the American planes dropped their bombs at random, they could not do any damage except to schools, churches, and hospitals visibly marked with the Red Cross and the humble homes of the Filipino workers, and they only aimed to kill women and children. It would seem that the bombs, before exploding examined the birth certificate of the unfortunate victims. The same thing happened at sea, where the American submarines allegedly sank only hospital ships and ships transporting prisoners who were their own countrymen. As a result of these atrocities, the Filipinos in Mindanao are boiling with indignation, to the point that they had gone to join the guerillas.
The Press announced that the Japanese Army will wage a war of extermination against the guerillas who are pillaging almost all the islands in the Visayas. This is the first time the Press uncovers the existence and extent of these disorders. Guerillas have gained the upper hand in Cebu, the three islands of Panay, Leyte and Negros, aside from the capitals and other important towns.
The number of towns razed by the Japanese and the armed bandits is great, and the populace has fled in terror to the mountains where many of them die of hunger, or sickness.
In Negros, people who have some holdings are helpless against the marauders. They are compelled to flee to safer places as the armed bandits are on the loose, burning towns and centrals and killing those who come in their way.
It seems that there are two distinct groups operating separately. One is composed of former USAFFE men who did not surrender but went into hiding in the deep recesses of the mountains and are contented with burning sugar centrals which manufacture alcohol. Although they rarely attack the few Japanese outposts, they have caused a lot of damage.
The other band is a confederation of free-lance groups composed of or led by communists or bandits, and these are the ones committing the atrocities. The people are indignant over the vandalism of these groups, the outcome of which is only hunger, death and destruction, without contributing any benefit to the cause of debilitating enemy forces.
Fugitives from Negros have horrifying accounts of arson in their regions. The accounts could be exaggerated in some respects, but there is reliable information about the burning of sugar centrals, and the hearsay that the island of Negros, seen from the sea, is like a huge bonfire, is not entirely unfounded.
The better-organized guerillas are those of Panay, under the leadership of Governor Confesor of Iloilo who, since the first day of the Japanese occupation, had already raised the banner of rebellion and refused to obey the surrender order issued by General Wainwright. With a sufficiently numerous and disciplined force, he is able to keep the Japanese garrisons in check. Almost the whole island of Panay is under his domination, as his forces practically encircle Iloilo. They descend from the mountains like an irrepressible avalanche upon the towns on the plains, and there are many new recruits eager to swell their ranks.
The Japanese, however, unhesitatingly and mercilessly avenged themselves on the poor inhabitants. They have burned a number of towns in the course of their retreat, or punished them in reprisal upon their return. Whenever a Japanese gets killed, the military would retort in kind, barricading the town with machine guns for hours, burning it to the ground and killing the “culprits”. Actually, the culprits would have already fled to the mountains before the return of the avengers.
A storm is coming up from the south. A low pressure area was plotted over the Visayas, particularly Negros and Panay. The prosperous island of Negros Occidental, one of the few spared from devastation, is being overrun by the apocalyptic horsemen of war, namely the bandits. Those who had fled from the storm related that, with the withdrawal of the Japanese troops from almost all the towns, armed groups are increasing in number, and pillaging is growing rampant. The armed bandits hold up and rob buses and vehicles. Because of this, communication have been cut off among towns. The bandits have burned a number of sugar centrals, houses of well-to-do residents and some towns which were not guarded, killing a number of people about whom no detailed information has yet been received.
There is much animated activity in the air. For the last three months, that is, since the fall of Corregidor, hardly have we seen a plane. These days, however, they are all over like hawks looking for prey. We do not know why. Neither do we know what is happening outside this little world of ours, aside from what we could glean between the lines of, and beyond, the smoked glasses of the local press. The people are making their own conclusions and speculations of the situation, which, if all written down, would form volumes equal to those of Jules Verne. There are rumors that the Americans bombed Baguio, that a landing was made in Negros, in Aparri or in Mindanao, that the American convoy had been sighted over Palawan and American submarines had sunk Japanese warships off Corregidor.
These rumors were accepted as articles of faith even by learned and responsible persons. There were even rumors that the Americans were coming in time for November 15, the anniversary of the establishment of the Commonwealth, or at the latest, on Christmas. This was also accepted as true.
The newspaper reported that the island of Negros was occupied two weeks ago. On the twenty-first of the last month, Japanese forces landed at a point five kilometers away from Bacolod and marched towards the capital which they were able to occupy before the retreating forces could burn the houses. A provincial capital had thus been saved from the flames.
Although the papers confirmed that this sugar island has been conquered we believe that there must be remnants of armed groups in the mountains, which continue to molest both military installations and the civilian populace.
A few days ago, we learned from official dispatches that the USAFFE force in the Mountain Province surrendered, following instructions from General Wainwright. The troops in Mindanao did the same. Obviously, the American forces had formally given up the fight in the whole Philippines. We are at war, but the Archipelago has ceased to be a battlefield. How long will expectations last? Only some isolated bands of rebels persist in the fight as guerrillas, some of whom also fight as bandits.
A college bus is rented to carry passengers to Tayabas. Many provincial folks want to go to their provinces, but transportation is lacking, as well as gasoline and alcohol. Most of them are bound to Bicol, while others are hopping from island to island up to Cebu, Negros or Iloilo. Another route in this virtual tour is by way of Batangas, from where the travellers would hire a “parao”. After ten or twelve days at sea, and after escaping from the sharks and the steel birds of the air, they would finally arrive at some port in the South. It is a picturesque and exciting journey.
I know a number of persons who attempted this venture. Some arrived, others returned dead from hunger or fatigue. How many perish in the attempt, no one can tell.
Not only adventurous young ones and strong men but also women and seminarians from the University have embarked on such an odyssey, spurred by the desire to be reunited with their families and escape the threat of hunger in Manila. Blood is indeed strong in bringing about reunions during wartime.
Both the Japanese army in Luzon and the American forces in the Visayas give passage to these fugitives, letting them cross the lines without difficulty.
All day at sea. Quezon talked of the newspaper press, and said they had always (except of the Herald–“which was founded by me (Quezon) with the money of my friends”) attacked him and supported Osmeña. He added: “Murphy had daily press conferences and one a week for foreign correspondents, while I agreed to one general press conference a week, and only kept three of those”!
Quezon said of Davao that he intended to persuade ten rich families from Negros, Bulacan and Pangasinan to take up a thousand hectares each, and establish modern hemp haciendas there to show the Filipinos that they can cultivate better than the Japanese. The advantages of the latter in hemp had been in organization and modern science–qualities quite lacking in the hemp culture of the Bicol regions of the Philippines. The last “individual” method surviving there “insured the least profit at the most cost,” as contrasted with organized, “planned” industry.
Bridge the whole afternoon. At supper with Quezon, Roxas, and Sabido, the last named called attention to Assemblyman Rafols of Cebu who had Nile green embroidered pyjamas (at the next table)–like a woman’s beach pyjamas. Lots of laughter and chaff and Rafols was called “Cleopatra.”
Sabido then told of Assembly roll having been called to: “Datu Umbra” (husband of Princess Dayang-Dayang), and Rafols had objected to the use of the title saying: “why shouldn’t my name be called as ‘lawyer Rafols.'” Umbra happened to be absent, but at the next session he appeared and said he understood he had been “attacked” (some mischief maker probably an “anti,” said Quezon), and was prepared to “meet” the gentleman from Cebu anywhere outside the Chamber in a closed room or in the open. Rafols at once apologized and asked to have his previous remarks expunged from the record. (He had “heard of these Moros” said Quezon.)
Quezon tells me he is going to establish a general pension system for all government employees.
The President is provoked by the ruling of the State Department of the United States as to Americans being unable to divest themselves of their citizenship on becoming Philippine citizens; said that the law firm of Ross Lawrence and Selph had acted like damned fools in presenting the question as they did; that the State Department had taken this chance of serving the United States Treasury (income tax); that these opinions of Ross, Lawrence &c and of Clyde Dewitt had shown their imperialist frame of mind. Roxas said this left the situation as really ridiculous. Sabido asked Quezon what would be the position of Americans who had meanwhile become Philippine citizens, when the ten year period expired–Quezon replied very positively: “They will be Filipino citizens.”
The President said he would station 1000 soldiers at Parang. He has evidently been depressed over the situation for he remarked to me confidentially: “I am beginning to believe I shall make a success of this government but you have no idea how deep petty jealousies are.” (It is unusual, to say the least, to find so buoyant a character at all discouraged.)
N.B. At my conference on the Aparceros bill with Magalona yesterday, I was embarrassed by his bringing with him as “interpreter” a reporter of the Bulletin, the very paper which had savagely attacked Perfecto’s bill recently, and had denounced its proposal to put a progressive income tax on large landed estates–the policy I had suggested to Quezon in January.