Baguio, November 6, 1944

I decided to come up to Baguio, partly for reasons of health, and partly to lessen the burden of the Seminary community. Food shortage in Manila has reached alarming proportions, and as I am unemployed by force of circumstances, I am more of a burden than a help. (I have to confess, however, in foro interno, that the nervousness caused by the bombings has a lot to do with my decision.) I accepted the invitation of two families—that of Tomás Morató and that of Mr. Pratts, who, with their whole families, organized a caravan of 60 persons in three cars and six wagons loaded with utensils and supplies. The trip, even in these tempestuous times, was a pleasant one, full of exciting adventures.

We left with the group of Mr. Pratts on October 31, composed of three wagons and a car. Not knowing that the Philippine Constabulary outpost in Balintawak has been reinforced with Japanese police, we passed without stopping. The first three vehicles were able to go through in spite of the pointed guns of the sentry, but the last one had to stop when the Japanese sentry was about to fire at it. The outpost officer shouted and threatened the passengers, slapped the driver three times on the face and ordered the examination of the luggages and the search of the owners, who were ordered to line up to be slapped on their faces. Mr. Pratts, on learning what had happened, turned back and showed the papers authorizing the trip, thus saving the passengers, including Father Sádaba and the famous Spanish comedian, González Anguita, from the slaps.

After two hours of delay, the convoy proceeded without further incidents. Activities went on as usual in Bulacan, we noted. Pampanga was desolate, with abandoned fields and empty towns. There were very few people in the street aside from the military, and the houses were uninhabited, except those occupied by the Japanese. Families who were able to evacuate had gone to Manila, Baguio or to towns far from the main thoroughfares. First they were driven away by the Communists, then by the marooned troops, and now by the bombings. During this three-day journey we observed that Pampanga has remained the most desolate among the town of Luzon.

We arrived at the Bamban River on the boundary of Tarlac. We found that the bridge had been swept away by the strong current. As the night was fast approaching and we did not dare encamp at night in the ghost town by the road, we decided to spend the night in Minalin, a town eight kilometers from San Fernando where a friend and a countryman of mine, Fr. Daniel Castrillo, was the parish priest. We were thinking that we could take the Nueva Ecija Road on the following day, and since we made a complete turn, we would be hitting the Baguio road in Tarlac. We did not consider the hosts, namely the guerrillas.

Fleeing from Scylla (the Japanese), we ended up on Charybdis. Hardly had we set forth on the soil of the open neighborhood which was awed by such an usual caravan and had not seen a motor vehicle in many months, when a guerrilla contingent came to the convent to investigate what kind of guest we were.

Satisfied with our innocuous characters, they guaranteed our safe stay among them. Everyone, including the guerrillas, respected Fr. Daniel, who had given away almost all of his belongings and provisions to help those who are in need.

They asked us for paper and a typewriter ribbon for use in transcribing the orders, notices and communications they received by radio. They told us that in one of the last air raids, an American pilot bailed out of his damaged plane, landed near this town and was harbored by the guerrillas. The first thing they salvaged was the radio transmitter and receiver.

After the first group of guerrillas, a second group from another town came. Then another, and still another, until almost all groups from the different parts of the whole province had paid a visit during the whole night. The first groups were courteous, the others were rather aggressive. We were surprised at how fast the news of our arrival had spread. Fr. Daniel explained to us that the guerrillas had a well-organized system of espionage, runners and network. They are now unified and better-disciplined after the purge of radical and undesirable elements who, in the past, had been committing atrocities. Such atrocities are no longer being committed now, or if ever, very infrequently. They collect the harvests, either from the farms or from the warehouse, leaving the owners with two or five sacks of rice for planting anew. In a place near Minalin, several thousands of young men equipped with rifles, have assembled for training. The Japanese are masters of the principal roads, but the towns and barrios far from the roads are controlled by the USAFFE. As of now, each group respects the others in armed peace. Officials of the national government, the mayors and the constabulary are acting like the three proverbial monkeys. They see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil.

The first group of guerrillas who came to visit us wore medals and crucifixes around their necks. Other waves that followed had their guns strapped on their shoulders. Some were aggressive and rude, who wanted to have the whole caravan in hostage, together with the vehicles and baggages to bring them to the mountains. Fortunately, the rest of the guerrillas objected, especially those from the town, and so we were spared an unpleasant and unfortunate fate.

Someone smelled that Mr. Pratts had some arms. And because he could not deny it, Mr. Pratts proposed to enter into a gentlemen’s agreement with them: that he would place the two pistols on the table and they would choose the one they liked. And so they did. One of the commanders—that was how the guerrilla chiefs were called—placed his hand over one pistol and another commander placed his hand on the other pistol. When Mr. Pratts objected, they replied, “Guerrilla tactics, sir.”

After spending a sleepless night due to the continuous visits, we decided to leave at dawn before the guerrillas could notice our departure. But the town guerrillas came and cautioned us against taking the Nueva Ecija road. Their comrades from Mexico and Arayat would be waiting for us and could hold us in bondage. We asked them to accompany us, but they said that they did not have authority to impose themselves on other guerrilla groups who they described to be savages.

They insisted that we return to Manila. The town Mayor, fearful like a Nicodemus, approached us and made the same suggestion. We decided it unwise to proceed considering the danger to which we would be exposing the women, and we returned to Manila restless, hungry and besieged by the military police and by the air raids.

The search at Balintawak was a meticulous as it was vexatious, but we were spared the caresses on the face.

Three days later, armed with passes from Minister Recto and the Chief of the Military Police of Quezon City, we embarked on our second trip, this time in a processional of ten cars and trucks. Our arrangement was that once we had passed the Japanese line, we would proceed, each on his own. The passes, however, proved to be powerful talismans in appeasing the fury of the watchdogs who guarded the approaches to the city.

We arrived, unobstructed, at the Bamban River, whose bridge has not yet been repaired. The current had subsided and we could cross it. But only after waiting for two hours in the middle of the river, to give way to the interminable processions of army trucks. I could not tell if the sun scorched as much in the Sahara.

On making the ascent to the river bank, we hit upon a rock with a bang. The engine broke down. We were stranded at the edge of the compound of the Bamban Sugar Central, in company with a Japanese sentry who, with a sullen and grimacing face, ordered us to keep our

 

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We were resigned to wait the whole night for any of our companions whom we had left behind, some of them limping, others with their engines jetting out and being operated on by mechanics.

A soldier who was occupying a nearby house approached us, more out of curiosity than charity. We showed him our pass which he read and brought to his officer. The latter hurriedly came and reproached us for not having shown it to him earlier. He said he would take us to the hotel and organize a feast, with a banquet and dancing. We had no way of refusing his invitation, in spite of the fact that we did not feel like being treated to a feast by Japanese within sight of the guerrillas, who were surely in town. In a last-ditch attempt, Mr. Pratts tinkered with an unexpected piece in the engine, and it suddenly started. We left doubly glad.

A kilometer before Camp One at the entrance to the Baguio Road, we had to pass five check point. Soldiers with bayonets awaited us at each outpost. They accosted us, looked at the magic pass, and allowed us to go through. However, we were told at Camp One that the road was closed, and so we passed the sleepless night there. Three of us priests in the car of Mr. Pratts got into one of the trucks which had just arrived, leaving the car of the Pratts family. There, the full moon above us failed to evoke poetic fantasies; rather it brought back thoughts of the bombings and landings.

Unable to distract our hearing or deviate our imagination from the chirping of crickets, the croaking of frogs, the monotonous murmur of the streams, the whisper of the breeze, we went through a sleepless night.

Decidedly, I did not count either as poet or as a guerrilla fighter. Hardly had the Japanese sentry shouted “Take it away”, and we were on our way on Kennon Road. At each corner and on every bridge, we were stopped by sentries who poked their guns at us, asking for cigarettes when they found that we brought nothing worth confiscating. They seemed more like highway robbers than guardians of security. Our short odyssey ended at mid-morning on the Dominican Hill in Baguio, where we intended to stay around until the final reconquest of Luzon, if the actual lords are going to permit us.


January 15, 1944

The situation is getting more and more alarming. For a month now, we haven’t received our ration of rice which the NARIC had been distributing in small quantities. It is either because there is no rice or because of certain reasons enumerated by Pres. Laurel in a recent speech, namely:

  1. The anomalies of the NARIC. The President himself expressed his intention of dissolving the NARIC. It is common knowledge that thousands of sacks of rice have been disappearing from the bodegas through clandestine operations of Filipino and Japanese officials who are presently detained by the Military Police at Fort Santiago.
  2. The subversive and recalcitrant elements who are called by the generic term “guerrillas.” Some of them refuse to plant, while others prevent the harvest of rice. Others attack transport trucks loaded with rice, claiming that they are destined for Japanese provisions. In Nueva Ecija, where rice abounds, the guerrillas are encamped, to their greater advantage.
  3. The lack of transportation. Vehicles are either rotting or breaking down. A small spare part costs more than the price of a new car before the war. The Army has commandeered all the supply of alcohol which is already running out due to reduced plantation activities, and is not selling the scarce supply to private individuals. The experiment of using charcoal which had caused so much furor in the beginning is now unpopular because of its damaging effects on the engine. There are no boats or barges available since all of them have been commandeered by the Navy. The railroad is unable to cope with the transportation needed. Thousands of daily commuters wait to buy tickets at the Tutuban station, and after waiting for three days and nights, they end up not being able to buy them unless they are willing to pay five or ten times the price from scalpers. Passengers are inside and outside the trains, on the roof-top, hanging by the windows or piled up on the engines, almost covering the whole train.
  4. The buy-and-sell of controlled commodities—rice, sugar, soap, oil, clothes, cigarettes, matches—is prohibited. The government is supposed to take over it. But since this is very seldom done and if ever, only in small quantities, people have to buy the commodities from the The SIBA, which has replaced the NARIC, has started distributing daily rations of 120 grams of rice per person, which is what a beggar would eat for breakfast. And this comes after a month of fasting, since it is not given on a daily basis. The PRMICO, a sister organization, is not doing any better in distributing other prime commodities. In three months’ time, it has distributed only once.

The New Order publicly condemns the blackmarket, but if people cannot procure these commodities elsewhere, would they rather die of hunger?

  1. There are general complaints on the venalities committed by the Constabulary and other agencies of the government. They are being accused of extorting goods or money from businessmen, or of impeding the transport of goods into the city. The President issued a decree imposing the death penalty or the life sentence on extorting government agents. Public morale is dwindling below zero. Robbery is the order of the day, and business malpractice has become acceptable.

The degenerating morale cannot but contaminate even the responsible and honorable people.


November 12, 1942

Today I checked out from Bayombong Hotel and transferred as a boarder with Mrs. Maria Reyes who operates a Restaurant adjacent to BC Compound.  The Reyes Bldg. is a large two storey one with the Restaurant on the first floor and the second floor a Clubhouse with three rooms for rent. Mrs. Reyes hails from N. Ecija, I love her Tagalog food and her place is very near my office. The Clubhouse serves as the HQ of the Lions Club and rentable for social affairs.

Last night, I was invited by Belgian Fr. Lambrecht for dinner at his Parish residence.. As mentioned before, after he learned I am a USAFFE  O. who saw action in Bataan, he manifested his hatred on the Japanese due to their cruelty. After dinner, he showed me his hidden short wave radio and listened to a news broadcast from a station in San Francisco that narrated gains of the Marines and the US Navy in Solomons area. The Allies are also reported gaining in the African Front. At one point, Gen. MacArthur’s HQ adviced the Guerrillas in the Phil. to lay low and just concentrate on training and on gathering of intelligence info. This is no time for combat due to lack of firearms and ammo which can not be supplied yet, it added. Possession of short wave radios are prohibited by the Japanese as they do not want the people to know foreign news. Those with short wave radios are risking their lives.


4 June 1942

Moved on M’s Birthday to a camp near Cabanatuan Nueva Ecija. Roofs better than those at O’D. sidings better. Same sort of rice paddies. (Areas which will probably be pretty wet.)


April 4, 1942

Commencement of NARIC purchasing operations in Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac and Pangasinan.

Said Col. Uzaki on this occasion: “I wish to impress upon you the heavy responsibility that rests on your shoulders as the vanguards of your organization. It is incumbent upon each and every one of you to do the best to purchase a large quantity of rice and palay in a short time, for which purpose you will be custodians of considerable sums of money.”

He promised to supply all provincial employees with food, housing and a per diem of ₱1.00, irrespective of nationality besides rice rations.

A ₱1,500,000 account has been arranged with the Bank of Taiwan. Must immediately send ₱150,000 for Cabanatuan and ₱150,000 for Tarlac. The damage in the Cabanatuan compound due to the bombing in the first weeks of the war must be repaired.

Missing Pagulayan in the office. He was a great help. There is news that he may be executed. I refuse to believe it. Some people enjoy spreading alarming stories. I dislike gossipers and alarmists.

Saw a soldier walking with a monkey perched on his head. There must be some truth in the Darwinian theory.


March 26, 1942

Had an important conference with Colonel Uzaki, head of the Army’s Food Division. I took up all the important matters preoccupying me.

First, the flour distribution. He stated that as long as the amount of daily release previously fixed to authorized bakeries is not exceeded, the authority to determine who should or should not receive flour rested upon me.

Second, rice distribution. Authority, he said, also rested on me. In other words, Mr. Inada must submit to me his plans for decision and action. Under the present set-up, Mr. Inada tries to do things as he pleases and in case he bungles them up, the entire corporation, including myself as Manager, will be blamed by the public.

Third, police protection. We agreed that if the Army cannot furnish us with soldiers and if we cannot, in any particular case, depend on the provincial or municipal police, then we should be allowed to possess firearms. He asked me how many we needed. I answered, “Offhand, about 10.” He said that he would make arrangements for this purpose.

Fourth, financing. I told him the necessary finances should be made immediately available because when purchases start in Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Tarlac and Pampanga, they should be done fast to avoid the undesirable effects of the rainy season. The colonel replied that if the funds as planned are not sufficient, the NARIC would have to buy on credit. This alternative is not so satisfactory.

Fifth, Was authorized to buy palay stored in bodegas of Ileto and Pinaod. Was told not to pay the palay deposited by Nueva Ecija producers which has already been taken by the Army, until arrangements are made with the Army.

Sixth. Asked him to secure enough fuel for us if he wants us to succeed in our work.

Seventh, I am authorized to take up matters directly with the Military Administration after consulting Mr. Fukada, Supervisor de facto. When Japanese assistants to the supervisor de facto go to the Military Administration, it is understood that they must first advise Mr. Fukada or me about it.

Eighth, All matters not otherwise specified are to be submitted in writing (copy of which must be handed to Mr. Fukada in advance) for final decision by Col. Uzaki. Heavy raid on Corregidor fortifications. General MacArthur is no longer there. KGEI said he was sent to Australia. The Japanese claim he “escaped.” They are “peeved” about his “escape.” No, not MacArthur. He is not the type that runs always. He has brave blood in his veins. We cannot judge his acts until the end of the war. Let us await the verdict of history.

 

 


February 11, 1942

The NARIC will purchase rice in Nueva Ecija, Tarlac and Pampanga. I am worried about the unsettled conditions, the lack of peace and order, the dislocation of transportation, (the) shortage of fuel and the spirit of non-cooperation. But we have to succeed; otherwise, there will be no rice for Manilans.

The Army has reduced the 25 trucks requested by the office to 20, five run by alcohol and fifteen by gasoline. Only 60 tins of gasoline will be issued per week. This is the basis of the Army’s calculation: for trucks, one liter for every three kilometers; for cars, one liter for every five or six kilometers. In war, gasoline is like blood.

On or after February 18th, the Army will allow the NARIC to transport 200 tons of rice by freight cars. Two hundred tons is equivalent to about 3,600 bags of rice or 6 NBB cars and 1 J car. So far, the railroad is strictly for Army use.

Must make plans according to stations: what mills, what towns, (what) quantities of palay or rice, beginning February 18th. There must be no hitches, no delays. The use of the railroad will be a great help. We must make the most out of the privilege.

The Japanese supervisor said that we must have ready daily 3,600 cavans of rice or palay, preferably rice, to be loaded in freight cars. If we cannot fill the cars, the Army must be notified two or three days in advance. Every available space must be utilized. The Army does not want to waste even one inch of baggage or cargo space.

At present, the Army alone can procure the rice and palay in Nueva Ecija and Tarlac. They take 3,000 sacks daily. We are trying to negotiate whether we can take the rest after the Army has taken its quota. We are not sure whether the Army will agree. In war, it is always “Army first!”

The Japanese Army will be a major cause of the food shortage. At present, this fact is not yet felt. But as the months pass by, there will be less food on every table. In some, there will be no food at all. Then people will ask: “Where is the food going?” And they will know that it goes to the Army.

Can’t speak of these things publicly nowadays. It is strange, but the meaning of freedom can only be understood when one no longer has it.


October 17, 1936

Went with Don Vicente Singson to Malacañan to see Quezon in order to urge a modification of the sales tax law in order to impose only one incidence if the goods are sold in the proposed new produce exchange;–this referred to agricultural products only. Singson did the talking–an excellent statement for about ten minutes. Quezon then called a meeting of the National Economic Council for the next day, at which, eventually, the proposition was adopted. So it passed the Assembly, but was followed by another law organizing a government produce exchange; which was, perhaps, either a trick or bad faith of some sort (Yulo?).

During our interview, Quezon had spoken of the devastations in Nueva Ecija which he had just visited:–he said the stench of decomposition was still in his nostrils. Due to his visit he had been able to stop the survivors from rebuilding in exactly the same exposed spots.