April 1, 1977

1977-04-01-01a 1977-04-01-01b

[p.1]

Sierra Lakes

Malacañan Palace

Manila

April 1, 1977

Life after Life —

The phenomenon of 12 people declared clinically dead and returned to life.

Hair-raising as these experiences coincide with mine in August of 1974 when I was ill of black-water fever in the Philippine General Hospital.

As I explained to the boys some time ago, the floating away from the body seemed to me then a part of my delirium but when I recounted what I saw floating above my body and everyone else, the priest coming to give me extreme unction, the doctor (Dr. Agerico B.M. Sison) saying I was gone, the people around me trying to revive me, etc., it was uncanny that it coincided with what actually happened.

 

[p.2]

Sierra Lakes

Malacañan Palace

Manila

April 1, 1977

Father Cruz keeps repeating that the North Vietnamese won the war with only rifles and rockets against the greatest military power in the world because of their national spirit.

Partly true. It is also true that the South Vietnamese were not equally resolved and motivated because they were not convinced that they were fighting for their country since the Americans loomed large as the principal protagonist and interested party. The South Vietnamese were not fighting for their country. Desertions were high.

Paradoxically, neither were the Americans (both the leaders and followers) convinced of the justice of their cause. Desertions were equally high. And the councils of government were divided. The media were against the war.

So the United States held back its power. It was fighting with one hand tied behind –voluntarily.


July 6, 1945 Friday

Yulo continued to be very bitter against everybody. He has lost confidence in Osmeña and in Roxas in so far as our situation is concerned. As to MacArthur, he says MacArthur will do only what would be for his own convenience. He thinks Osmeña is useless. As to Roxas, he resented the fact that both of them journeyed from Baguio to La Union together, and then to Manila together, and afterwards, Roxas left him. Since then, they have not seen each other.

It is reported that Osmeña at one time planned to prevent the election of Roxas as President of the Senate. He wanted Yulo to return to make him his candidate for the position. This was never carried out.

It was also reported that Roxas had said that Congress had nothing to do and could do nothing in our case, and that it is only the military that could decide our case. This report depressed us. But the news was clarified by the letter of my wife. She said that she, accompanied by Mrs. Recto and Sen. Rodriguez, went to see Pres. Osmeña in his office. The President received them amiably. My wife went there to intervene in my behalf. The President told them that he cannot do anything now as we are still under the military, that he had already requested that we be transferred to the Commonwealth, and that once transferred he would be able to do something. According to her, Roxas paid her a call at our house. He said practically the same thing — that nothing can be done now, but that he has already asked Gen. MacArthur to turn us over to the Commonwealth. He would do his best for us, and if necessary he will go to America.

Today, news came that the military campaign in the Philippines had been declared closed. This may accelerate our transfer to the Commonwealth.

* * * * *

It seems almost definite that the elections will be held next November and that the opposing candidates will be Pres. Osmeña and Roxas. There is quite a difference of opinion as to whether it will benefit us or prejudice us. The general opinion seems to be that it will favor us. Recto upholds this view. They say that both will try to do everything for us with the expectation that we would help whoever could get us released. They are aware that we here hold the balance of power and that whoever we support will come out.

My opinion is different. I believe the effect will be just the reverse. Each would not be a candidate unless he is reasonably sure that he can win. They would be thinking: Why allow a new element to come in which may deprive him of his chance to win? Better eliminate any disturbing element. On the other hand, there are many candidates for senator who will try to use their influence not to allow us to be released for fear that we may present our candidacies and therefore lessen their chances to get elected. Furthermore, each candidate will want to be sure of our support. Those will not get our support will surely work against us.

Both Osmeña and Roxas can do very much for us either way. Osmeña will be the one to decide what to do with us once we are turned over to the Commonwealth. On the other hand, Roxas is an intimate friend of MacArthur and just now our fate is in the hands of MacArthur. If, on the other hand, because of our prudence and because we do not want our attitude known just yet, both may lose interest or may want us to remain where we are until they find out how we stand.

We have been informed that the most serious charge against former Ministers of the Philippine Republic is that we left Manila and this resulted in the killing of so many residents of the city. In other words, they say that if we had not left Manila, the massacre of residents would not have occurred. I am sure that our presence in Manila would not have made any difference. This is what the Japanese did throughout China before the establishment of the Pro-Japanese government. The Japanese were aware that the majority of Filipinos were against them. To protect our people and ourselves, we of course denied this. But as a matter of fact, we knew positively that 95% of the Filipino people were anti-Japanese. We knew that even the government employees serving in the Japanese regime were “guerrilleros”. We knew the feeling of the Filipinos because we were in continuous close contact with them. They hated the Japanese. This feeling was prompted by the abuses committed by the Japanese. They also resented the intervention of the military police and Japanese civilians in strictly private affairs.

What the Filipinos resented most was the air of superiority assumed by the Japanese. Even those holding the lowliest jobs acted no more, no less than kings. All branches of government had Japanese advisers, some of them very ignorant. They would give orders to Filipino officials who by education and experience were far ahead of them.

I remember the case of Dr. Sison, Director of the Philippine General Hospital and Dean of the College of Medicine, reputed as one of the best doctors in the Philippines. A young doctor in the Japanese Army with the rank of Lieutenant, a Dr. Ono, tried to boss him around. We had a Japanese friend, Mr. Yamamoto, then Manager of the Yokohama Specie Bank. We were with him almost everyday as he was a member of the Philippine Club and we used to play tennis with him. After the Japanese occupation of Manila, he would not even talk to us.

We interpreted the attitude of the Japanese as a superiority complex. This we can never accept. Just as we have been preaching that we must have no inferiority complex towards the Americans and other whites, we cannot under any circumstances admit inferiority to the Japanese. Such is the general feeling of Filipinos toward the Japanese and they knew this perfectly well. This is the reason why they tried to change the government, why they wanted Gen. Ricarte and Benigno Ramos to hold responsible positions in the government; why they organized the Makapili, which constitutes not only an army to fight with the Japanese, but a party openly and aggressively for the Japanese. They were against the Laurel government because they were convinced that all of us were not sincere. On the other hand, they knew perfectly well that in Manila and everywhere else, there were many “guerrilleros” and that the moment the Americans approached Manila the Filipinos would all rise up in arms. Under the circumstances, it was not surprising that they had decided to kill everybody they saw before retreating. We could not have done anything. All that would have happened is that they would have killed us also; they did not discriminate. Even those who were reputed to be pro-Japanese and who had done much for the Japanese were killed.

Supposing that we could have done something, why did we leave Manila. We did not want to leave Manila. Plans to evacuate Manila had been previously considered. Various places were considered for the purpose, like San Mateo and Montalban. After due consideration, however, we decided to drop the matter of the proposed evacuation. But on the 19th of December, the President called us to a special meeting and told us that we were being ordered by the Japanese Military authorities to go to Baguio. We were all surprised. Baguio was one of the evacuation places considered and there was almost a unanimous vote against it for two reasons: (1) There were only two roads leading to the City. If these were cut off, not only would it be impossible to escape but there would also be a food shortage since Baguio is far from being self-sufficient. (2) The water supply of Baguio comes from a pumping water system and if the water lines or the pumping mechanism were destroyed or ran out of fuel, we would have a big problem with our water supply.

At any rate, we had decided not to leave Manila. We asked the President whether we could stay. He answered that he had done all he could to prevent the evacuation since he felt duty was to stay in Manila. He feared that there would be a panic when the people found out that the national government had left. He desired to be in a position to protect the people, to die if necessary. Of course that was also the sentiment of each and every Minister. The President said we must go.

We were given 48 hours to leave Manila. For this reason, I was not able to clear out my desk. My family had no time to prepare for departure. I left many things that I should have taken. At home, we packed hurriedly, also leaving many valuable things behind. We were not able to make arrangements for the occupancy of our house during our absence. We had to ask my daughter Lily and her husband to stay there in the meanwhile. The newly married couple, my daughter Neny and Ramon Cojuangco, could not go to Baguio with us because the younger sister of Ramon was doing to be married in a few days. They promised to follow us as soon as possible. (They failed to do so and I suspect it was because of lack of transportation or because American planes were hovering all over Luzon and it was not safe to travel.)

Our car was not ready for the long trip; it needed to be brought to the repair shop. We were told that we would leave for Baguio at ten o’clock of the night of the 20th. Our car was finished at about 9 o’clock of the night set for our departure, but it did not run smoothly. A Malacañan mechanic, after inspecting it, told us that the car could definitely not reach Baguio. I decided to take the armored car of the Philippine National Bank where I was the one-man Board of Directors. But the armored car was hardly sufficient to accommodate our cook, laundry woman and servants, not to mention our luggage. Not including our household help, we were thirteen: my wife and I, my eight children, mother-in-law, my Japanese military police guard and my chauffeur. We tried to get other cars in Malacañan, but they were all in bad shape and the mechanic certified that they could not reach Baguio. In a way, we were glad as we thought that it would be a good excuse for us not to go.

The Japanese offered to give us a military car, but of course I did not want to use such a car because it was painted in the special khaki color of all military cars. It would have been very dangerous since American planes seem to have already mastery of the air and I was sure that we would encounter American planes. The military car would be a target. I decided to borrow the Buick 7-passenger car of my son-in-law, Ramon Cojuangco (1941 model), although it had not been used for months and we were not sure that it would run. When we tried to leave the Malacañan Palace grounds to go to the house of Speaker Benigno Aquino where the car was kept, the Japanese guards stopped us and questioned us repeatedly. When they found out who I was and where I was going, and that my sole purpose for leaving the premises was to get my son-in-law’s car to use in going to Baguio, we were allowed to leave but under guard. Speaker Aquino’s house was within hailing distance from Malacañan.

The Buick would not start. We pushed it to start the engine, and finally after two hours of pushing, the car began to function. All the while we were pushing the automobile, the soldiers followed behind us. Back in Malacañan, the mechanic certified that it could reach Baguio, so we decided to use it.

We arrived in Malacañan before ten o’clock, the time for departure set by the military, but we were not to leave for Baguio until the next morning. No one was allowed to leave Malacañan. That night we slept on divans and chairs, and some slept in the cars. We were not allowed to get food from the outside; we had to be contented with the little food furnished us by Malacañan. The palace was very heavily guarded by Japanese soldiers and officers.

The motorcade consisted of at least 30 cars belonging to the President, the Chief Justice, and all the Ministers with the exception of Minister Sison of Home Affairs. The Japanese Ambassador and his staff were also with us. Alongside the car of each Minister was a military vehicle with Japanese guards in full uniform. We noticed that they kept their eyes on us.

We boarded our automobiles at about seven o’clock in the morning. We were given instructions. The cars were camouflaged and divided into groups. Each group would leave at half-hour intervals and each car was to keep a certain distance from the next. When American planes appeared, we were told to alight and endeavor to find an air raid shelter, or go to a more protected place like under trees, and not to move. We knew that the trip was going to be a dangerous one. I was worried as I was carrying about ₱15,000,000 of military notes and about ₱1,000,000 of Commonwealth notes in the armored car owned by the Philippine National Bank which was part of our caravan.

We did not actually start until about 9 o’clock and so we were inside the car sweating for a full two hours. The Kempetai or military police assigned to me sat with the chauffeur and was fully armed. We took the regular route to Baguio. There was very little civilian traffic or Filipinos on the road. All along the way, the roads with the exception of places inside the “poblacion” were deserted. Almost all the houses were vacant. The atmosphere was very pitiful and sombre. We also saw no animals. There were stretches of miles and miles with no Filipinos in sight. They probably had fled to the mountains or to the barrios to avoid the Japanese soldiers who had been taking all their food. There were many Japanese soldiers, automobiles, trucks and other military vehicles all along the way. It convinced us that there were still many Japanese soldiers in the Philippines. What we could not understand was that the soldiers were travelling in both directions. We saw cannons, especially anti-aircraft. We saw various airplanes parked alongside the roads, very well camouflaged.

Before leaving Manila, we were told that signals would be given whenever there was an air raid or American planes above. I forgot to say that our convoy included many trucks of Japanese officers and soldiers. Generally, there was one truck in front of a group and another behind. Because of these trucks, we travelled at a very slow pace. A kilometer before reaching San Fernando, Pampanga, we were stopped. We were advised that Camp Clark, the most important Japanese air base, was being attacked. We got off to run for shelter. I selected a ditch. We saw two American planes overhead. We certainly were scared. Evidently the planes did not see our cars as they continued on their way.

We proceeded on our way. San Fernando was intact, but when we reached Angeles we saw that the town was almost completely wiped out. It is said that it was burned by Communist elements. We reached a place from where we could see Camp Clark; a few places were still burning. We learned that many Japanese planes were either shot down or destroyed on the ground. There were also some American planes hit. We learned that Pres. Laurel and his family, who were in the first group, were very near the scene of the air battle and bombing. They also had to alight and hide.

When passing Tarlac we saw many planes coming. At first we thought they were American planes, but they were flying low. Evidently, a big transport carrying some high Japanese officers, was being escorted. The rest of the way we did not stop. We tried to go as fast as possible when approaching or passing airports and other military objectives. We did not encounter any more planes.

Alcohol fuel is really far from being as good as gasoline. All along the road cars belonging to different groups stalled. Many had to be pushed or’ repaired. Some cars had to be abandoned on the roadside, the occupants transferred to the military trucks with the Japanese and Philippine Constabulary soldiers. After a few hours, the motorcade broke up as most of the cars had stopped. The cars still running went ahead. All along the way the trucks loaded with Japanese soldiers never left us. When our car stalled, they also stopped and helped push our car. No car was able to arrive in Baguio before dusk. Some arrived before midnight of the 21st and some in the early morning of the 22nd. Some even arrived on the 23rd. Many cars were left behind. The occupants of cars that broken down in Kennon Road walked all the way to Baguio.

My family and I had the most sensational experience. My car ran smoothly until we entered Pangasinan when it stopped. It had to be pushed by Army trucks quite a long way before it would start again. This had to be repeated many times. At one point, the machine would not function anymore. A Japanese mechanic alighted from a truck and repaired the machine. He must have been a good mechanic as the machine started and we continued on our trip. After about 20 kilometers we stopped again. A truck tried to pull us with the intention of doing so up to Baguio. But my car was very big and heavy and it could not be pulled up the mountain road. The mechanic was able to make it function again. After stopping in Pozorrubio for fuel, at about six o’clock in the evening, we started the sleep climb to Baguio. Before reaching Camp one, the car stopped again. It had to be pushed for kilometers by Min. Recto’s car. In places, the roads were so narrow after a landslide; the fender skirts caught a high ground and the car got stuck. We removed the fender skirts but were convinced, however, that we could not continue the trip that way. Meanwhile, many cars had accumulated behind us and the occupants were becoming impatient. I heard them hooting. I was annoyed; I thought they ought to be more helpful. I told the chauffeur to stop the car, park it on the side of the road, and allow all the cars, including the one pushing us to pass. I was determined that we would sleep right there on the road. It was certainly difficult for my mother-in-law, my wife and my children. I could see that they were suffering, especially as it was already very cold. I was not sorry to stay; I was afraid to continue. My chauffeur had been rejected by the government insurance company for poor eyesight. He was also color blind. I should not have allowed him to drive, especially on narrow and dangerous roads like the Kennon Road. But the chauffeur continued to work on the car. Finally, to our amazement, it started to function.

By this time we were the only car on Kennon Road. We went quite fast. We could not slow down because everytime the car slowed down it would stop. We continued our way in quite a fast clip. We passed all the cars that hours before had left us. We reached Baguio several hours ahead of them. My chauffeur had never been to Baguio. So I had to direct him. We intended to go straight to the house reserved for us in Cabinet Hill. The road to Cabinet Hill was closed. We went ahead to the Pines Hotel. There we learned that the houses on Cabinet Hill were not ready since the present occupants had been given only a few days to vacate the houses — accommodations in Baguio were then very difficult. But the Pines Hotel was ready for us.

My chauffeur, who had never been to Pines Hotel, did not know the correct entrance. He entered through the exit. Since the driveway was very narrow which made it difficult for a car to back out, I walked to the hotel lobby where I got permission for us to approach the front entrance passing through the wrong way. From the entrance, I hailed my chauffeur to start the automobile and proceed. The road was steep and the car began to roll down, I was right in front of it. I hardly had time to jump out of the way. It was a narrow escape.

We went into the hotel. There was no food prepared for us so we passed the night hungry. We were given two small rooms where we had to sleep four to a bed. We suffered terribly.

I relate all these facts to show that we did not want to leave Manila voluntarily and that we were carried by threat and by force to Baguio.

I would also like to relate here the circumstances connected with the ₱15,000,000 of military notes and ₱1,000,000 of Commonwealth notes that we brought to Baguio.

Sometime on December 19, 1944, the Japanese adviser of the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Haraguti, accompanied by three Japanese officers, came to see me at my office. I was surprised at the sudden arrival of my visitors for I had not been informed of their coming. Haraguti, in the name and on behalf of the Japanese Army, demanded that all Philippine and American currency deposited and in the possession of the different Filipino banks be turned over to the Southern Development Bank, a bank owned and controlled by the Japanese government. As Minister of Finance, I had the sole discretion of affecting such a transfer with the final approval of the President. The Japanese did not go to Laurel directly because, in many previous occasions, Laurel told them that where money matters were involved he executes whatever his Minister of Finance recommends.

I protested vehemently. Haraguti cited a precedent — what the American High Commissioner did with reference to bank funds upon the commencement of the Pacific war. He said that the High Commissioner took possession of all the Philippine currency belonging to the different banks. I answered that the present case is different inasmuch as the Philippine Commonwealth was really under the American government, whereas at present the Philippines is an independent Republic formally recognized by the Japanese government. Haraguti insisted and I could see that the Japanese were determined to use force if necessary. I then asked him why they wanted to get the money. He answered that the purpose was to prevent their circulation. I then proposed that the Republic get the money for safekeeping. I added, however, that I would consult Pres. Laurel before making a definite decision. I thought they had accepted my proposition as they left without saying anything further.

I immediately went to see Pres. Laurel. I told Laurel that I was convinced that the Japanese were hell bent on confiscating the money and that we had no other recourse but to do all the means necessary to save the money. Pres. Laurel and I decided to meet with the managers of the banks concerned. Whatever is agreed upon by the managers and myself, would be considered as approved and ordered by the President.

The following day, I called the bank managers concerned and met with them in the office of the President of the Philippine National Bank on the Escolta. As I recall, the only banks then having Philippine or American currency were the Philippine National Bank, the Philippine Bank of Commerce, and the Bank of the Philippine Islands. The PNB was represented by Mr. Vicente Carmona, as bank President, while PBC and BPI were represented by their respective Vice President and General Manager, Miguel Cuaderno and Rafael Moreno. Felix de la Costa, director of the Bureau of Credits and Investment, was also present.

During the meeting I gave them an account of what happened. I told them that the only possible satisfactory solution would be for them to turn over the money to the Philippine government for safekeeping. I added that the money would be returned to them as soon as conditions become normal. They all readily agreed. With respect to the Philippine National Bank, no action was necessary as we were leaving all the money with the bank. I issued corresponding receipts to the banks for the amounts received as follows: Philippine National Bank, ₱490,529.00; Philippine Bank of Commerce, ₱425.200.00; and Bank of the Philippine Islands, ₱969.00. The total amount taken by my office was left and deposited with the Philippine National Bank. After leaving the bank, I went directly to Pres. Laurel to give my report. He approved all that had been done.

About a week prior to the above-mentioned events, Malacañan had advised all the Ministers that the Japanese were ordering all of us to go with them to Baguio. On December 20, 1944, an arrangement was made with the Philippine National Bank to load all the currency in the bank’s armored car which would go with us to Baguio. The person in charge of the armored car was Mr. Amado Lagdameo, the manager of the Baguio branch of PNB. Upon arrival in Baguio, the money was taken directly to and deposited in the Philippine National Bank branch.

In the evening of January 8, 1945, I received a letter from Manager Lagdameo reporting that Maj. I. Moritani accompanied by the Managers of the Bank of Taiwan and the Nampo Kaihatsu Kinko, forced him to hand over to them all the notes deposited in trust with the branch. Also taken were all the cash in the vault. He also wrote that he was not allowed to communicate with me by phone nor see me personally.

I immediately reported the matter to Pres. Laurel. I told him that what the Japanese had done was clearly illegal and improper. I recommended that Laurel make representations to the proper Japanese authorities immediately for the return of the currency seized as it was being held in trust by the Philippine Republic for the banks. Laurel protested strongly to the Japanese Ambassador and the Japanese military authorities demanding the return of the money. Up to the time when I escaped from Baguio on April 12, 1945, the money had not yet been returned. All that we were able to get was a receipt for the money from Col. Utsonomiya. All the original documents are in my possession.


June 18, 1945 Monday

Discussions have been raging as to whether the policies and acts of America in the Philippines at the present time are correct. The almost unanimous opinion is that America is committing a blunder in the Philippines and, consequently, alienating a good portion of the Filipinos. They say the acts of the Americans in the Philippines after the reconquest, especially concerning the alleged “collaborationists” are uncalled for and unjustified.

The reason it out this way. America came to the Philippines under the most suspicious circumstances. She fought Spain to save the Cubans from the atrocities of Spain. As an incident of that war, Dewey entered Manila Bay, destroyed the Spanish fleet, and later with the American Army, set foot on Philippine soil. It is said that Dewey promised Aguinaldo that America would respect the independence of the Philippines which the Filipinos had won from Spain. Because of that promise the Filipinos helped the Americans. Later, when the Spaniards left, the Americans refused to leave the Philippine soil. Fighting between the Americans and the Filipinos began. As was to be expected we Filipinos were vanquished, America decided to occupy the Philippines.

The Filipinos were heartened when President McKinley announced America’s policy in the Philippines. He said that the Philippines would be prepared for self-government. America had been true to that policy. Little by little we were granted government powers. Filipinos were called to run the provincial and municipal governments. An elective assembly was created which, with the Philippine Commission, exercised the legislative powers. Later, the Senate was created. The Legislature, composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives, was created and to it was granted all legislative powers. This was in accordance with the Jones Law approved in 1916. Almost all the government positions were given to Filipinos. Naturally, we were all very grateful to America. In the same law there was a definite promise that independence would be granted upon the establishment of a stable government.

Some discontent arose when later independence did not come notwithstanding the promise contained in the Jones Law. However, the law had not been definite and clear as to when independence would be granted. All doubts were cleared up when in 1935, the Independence Law—Tydings-McDuffie Act—was approved. It provided for independence after ten years. This ten year period was thought to be necessary for economic readjustment since Philippine export trade was almost wholly with America. Notwithstanding our opposition, it established free trade and other economic policies that intertwined the Philippine economic system to that of the United States. In accordance with the Tydings-McDuffie Act, the Commonwealth of the Philippines was organized, to cover the 10 year period of readjustment. As the economic provisions of the Tydings-McDuffie Act intended to facilitate the readjustment were not satisfactory, we sent Missions to the United States to work for the necessary modification. I was a member of one of those Missions. We met very little success in this connection. When the war broke out in 1941, we had covered over one-half of the readjustment period.

Needless to say, the Filipinos were filled with gratitude towards the United States. The Americans could have enslaved us, but they preferred to treat us as free people. They could have exploited our country, reserving for themselves the abundant resources of the country, but they preferred to leave them for us to enjoy. They could have imposed terms which would reserve for them certain rights or which would grant them preferential advantages. Instead, however, they would allow us to have absolute freedom in our future relationship with America. America meant to give us the kind of independence we had worked for. The readjustment period will expire in 1946, so that in that year we shall have our independence.

How can we now work against the interest of America under these circumstances? It is unthinkable. The Japanese did not do anything in the Philippines, something they should have done, to get the sympathy and support of the Filipino people.

Before her occupation by the Japanese, there was a good portion of Filipinos in sympathy with Japan. This was because of race and geographical considerations. They sincerely believed that the destiny of our country was with Japan and that we will have to be a member of a League of Nations composed of the Far Eastern countries. In view of the announced policy of Japan of not considering us as enemies and of recognizing our independence very soon, naturally the Filipinos expected to be treated as equals.

But from the very beginning, the Japanese conducted themselves in such a fashion that they alienated the Filipinos. One of the acts was to require the Filipinos to bow to the Japanese sentries. Bowing is a practice in Japan which is good and can very well be obeyed. But the Filipinos were not accustomed to such a practice; they thought they were being made to salute the Japanese, to acknowledge them as superior and master of the Filipinos. This the Filipinos could not accept, as a consequence, many failed to salute and were immediately punished. The worst part of it was that, on occasions when the Filipinos obeyed, the Japanese sentries insisted in having the bow executed properly, although the correct form had never been communicated to the Filipinos. The usual punishment for not saluting is slapping. High government officials and prominent people did not escape punishment. Slapping, perhaps caused more people to hold themselves aloof from or even to hate the Japanese than any other act of the Japanese.

Those incidents showed that the Japanese did not respect our customs, did not know the psychology of the Filipino people. Even soldiers not on sentry duty and Japanese civilians indulged in this pastime. The ranking Japanese officers saw the effects of slapping and other abuses being committed by the Japanese soldiers and civilians and they endeavored to stop them, but they met with very little success. General Tanaka himself toured the whole country for the purpose, and it was in that trip that he contracted the sickness which kept him in bed for many months.

The Japanese civilians had a pretty good share in the commission of abuses. Their hands were into almost everything. They commandeered automobiles. They compelled house owners to rent their buildings or houses to them or to their Filipino friends at very low rents. They took over almost all Filipino businesses. In Batangas, one Japanese tried to acquire all the “batels” (sail boats) to have a monopoly of the water transportation business. At that time, Batangas ports were being extensively used for shipping to the Southern Islands on the “batels”. The Batangueños were so angry that, to show their oppositions to this form of robbery, it is said that a Japanese was tied to the mast of one of the “batels” and burned alive. Filipinos who refused to sell their business would be threatened; if this fails to scare them, the Japanese would get the business by force. They compelled the sale of the T.V.T. newspapers to them. If the intention was just to control the press they could have done so without compelling the sale to them. The Japanese civilians alleged that they had been appointed agents of the Japanese Army or Navy to take over businesses to bolster the war efforts. Some businesses are really necessary for war purposes, but it would take a wide stretch of the imagination to consider other businesses in connection with the war efforts.

This monopolization of Filipino business caused the Filipinos to doubt the much vaunted purposes of creating the “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.” They say it is not “co-prosperity” but “prosperity ko.” “Ko” is the Tagalog word for my or mine. It was obvious that even if political independence were granted, the Japanese meant to make slaves of us, economically speaking.

I did my best to curtail this activity of the Japanese. I did it under the guise of inflation prevention. I knew the Japanese businessmen were being lavishly financed by the Japanese banks (for they did not bring any capital from the outside) and I alleged that it was increasing circulation and consequently causing inflation. I was not very successful. Gen. Utsonomiya with whom I had various conferences seemed to be unwilling or unable to help. Only in very few cases was I able to succeed. Some of the businesses I remember having intervened in is the Puyat Furniture Co., and the Philippine Refining Co. which had the monopoly of sugar refinery in the Philippines. The only Filipino businesses that thrived during the Japanese regime were the “buy and sell” business and the real estate business. In the “buy and sell” business, only those who sold war materials to the Japanese Army and Navy got rich. As to the real estate business its boom was caused by the apparently high values of real estate (I say “apparently” because the fact was that the low value of the Japanese military notes, made the prices seem high).

Returning to the matter of the maltreatment of Filipinos at Japanese hands, the cruelty displayed was to say the least horrifying. Many Filipinos were subjected to severe beatings and other forms of corporal punishment. Many were killed. One of those subjected to torture was Dr. Antonio Sison, Director of the Philippine General Hospital, Dean of the College of Medicine and Surgery, and President of the University of the Philippines. Dr. Sison was very strict in the performance of his duties as Director of Philippine General Hospital. He treated everybody equally; gave no special privileges in the hospital no matter how rich and influential the patient may be. Unfortunately, some Filipinos resented this. One of those harboring a grudge against Dr. Sison denounced him to the Japanese military authorities as being the Chief Surgeon of the U.S. Army in the Philippines. The accusation of course turned out to be false. He was arrested, tied to a post blindfolded for more than ten days with practically no food. He was almost dead when released because of the intervention of Pres. Laurel and his brother, Minister Teofilo Sison of the Interior. In this connection, I should state that at the start of the war, Dr. Sison was a great admirer of the Germans and Japanese. He was one of the assiduous students learning Nippongo. His admiration for the Japanese did not last long, soon replaced by a feeling bordering on hate. He dropped the study of Nippongo.

In Batangas, at the beginning the majority of the inhabitants were very friendly towards the Japanese. But the appointment of a Captain Sakai as Chief of the Military Police (Kempetai) soon changed this. Many were arrested, interrogated, slapped and tortured. At one time, Capt. Sakai made a list of prominent people in Batangas and required them all to surrender their revolvers. Many complied; those who did not were punished. I remember my cousin, Luis Atienza of the barrio of Sambat, Taal, in this connection. He received one of those letters. He consulted me as to what he should do. He said that his friends advised him to buy a revolver and surrender it. I answered: “You should not consult me. You ought to know me well enough by this time. Since you say that you have no revolver, do not acquire one. Don’t allow your dignity to be trampled on, accept any punishment that may be meted out to you. It is not dishonorable to receive punishment when you stand up to what is right.” I later regretted that I gave such an advice as I was thereby assuming too much responsibility. Sakai had done much to propagate anti-Japanese feeling in Batangas. This is the reason why guerrillas multiplied in Batangas.

We naturally protested vehemently against such brutal treatment of the Filipinos. I went to see Gen. Utsonomiya many times to request the removal of Capt. Sakai from office. After a long delay, he was finally transferred to Laguna. I heard that in his new post he changed, became very friendly to all the Filipinos especially the “guerrilleros.” He was able to make many “guerrilleros” surrender. He used to go to the mountains alone. In one of those trips he was murdered. The story was that he agreed to meet an important leader of the “guerrilleros” who wanted to negotiate. The followers of the guerrilla leader discovered the plan and, in order to foil the surrender, murdered Sakai.

Another practice so much resented by the Filipinos was “zoning”. A barrio or town is surrounded; all the inhabitants are ordered to proceed to a small place, usually a school house or a church. There they are kept without food and any sanitation facilities. The men are ordered to line up. A Filipino who is hooded walks down the line, pointing out those he believed to be guerrillas or enemies of the Japanese. The accused are forthwith arrested and punished. In many cases, they are never seen again. I have witnessed “zoning” in my youth; the Americans under General Bell, practiced it in Batangas in 1901.

We in government did all we could to save the lives of Filipinos and to free them from imprisonment or detention by the Japanese. Hon. Jose Abad Santos was the Secretary of Justice and former Justice of the Supreme Court who, according to reliable information, was the one to whom President Quezon left all affairs of government when he departed for the United States. When we heard that he was being held by the Japanese in Cebu, we talked to General Wachi, Director General of the Japanese Military Administration, and other generals and asked them most insistently to free Mr. Abad Santos. We explained that he was an Orientalist. We also talked to Col. Kawakami who was the Commander of the Army and in whose hands was placed the fate of Mr. Abad Santos. We were told that our intervention came too late as Mr. Abad Santos had already been executed. Kawakami was extremely cruel to the Filipinos. He was reported to be mentally deranged.

When we heard that Gen. Manuel Roxas was being held by the Japanese in Mindanao, we also took the necessary steps to free him. We were also told that he had already been executed. It appeared that Roxas had really been sentenced to death, but the Colonel in charge refused to carry out the sentence. We later discovered that Gen. Roxas had been brought to Manila. We do not know whether our intervention had any influence at all in Gen. Roxas’ case.

We also intervened in behalf of many other Filipinos. I was always one of those who intervened.

One day my friend, Representative Feliciano Gomez, came to see me to ask me for help for the Mayor of his town as he was being sought by the Japanese. The Mayor, Mr. Alinsod, was accused of being the head of the guerrillas in the town. He assured me that he was not a guerrilla. I talked to General Kawazoe, Chief of Staff of the Army in Central Luzon, who promised to investigate. After a few days, the General came to me, bringing with him papers which proved that the Mayor was really the head of the guerrillas in Sta. Rosa and that he provided guns and food to the guerrillas. I called Mr. Alinsod and asked him to tell me the whole truth. The Mayor confessed. I saw Gen. Kawazoe again, told him the truth, but I strongly urged that the Mayor be given another chance and I would be willing to guarantee his future good conduct. The Mayor was not arrested. He later joined his companions in the mountains and continued his guerrilla activities until the landing of the Americans in Leyte.

Another case was that of Mr. Calingasan, Mayor of Tuy, Batangas. Calingasan had been one of my best leaders when I ran several times for Representative. I remember that in one of our political meetings in Tuy, a fight ensued. Calingasan drew his dagger and challenged the rioters. The disturbance stopped. Calingasan was arrested by the Japanese, charged with being a guerrillero and with having furnished food to American guerrillas. His family came to me to solicit my good offices. I talked to Gen. Kawazoe. The General showed me the papers of the Mayor, among which was an affidavit admitting his guilt. I insisted that the Mayor be released, promising good conduct on his part in the future. The general acceded and Mr. Calingasan was delivered to me in my house. He had various scars on his body as he was tortured during his imprisonment in Nasugbu.

I intervened in various cases of guerrilleros caught by the Japanese. I succeeded in very few cases. One of the patriots I tried to save was Mrs. Antonio Escoda, wife of the newspaperman whose underground activities were well-known and who was captured and put to death by the Japanese. Because of the capture of her husband, she sensed that she would be arrested too. I employed her in my department to show the Japanese that she was cooperating with the administration. All my efforts were in vain because she was arrested and executed.

Another person I tried to help was Gen. Vicente Lim. I was making arrangements to employ Gen. Lim in my department to camouflage his underground activities when he disappeared. I heard later that he tried to escape to Australia and was captured. He was executed.

Many persons representing themselves to be guerrillas came to my house to request for monetary aid. I was very careful in dealing with them because the Japanese Military Police had employed spies to catch Filipino officials who were in contact or cooperating with the guerrillas. However, whenever I was sure they were genuine guerrillas and could be trusted, I gave them valuable information and some monetary aid. I could not give as much money as I would have wanted because I did not have much to spare. Three Filipino guerrillas with whom I had constant contact were Colonels Baya and Jurado, and Lieutenant Jimenez. I personally knew they belonged to the USAFFE. Lt. Jimenez was in constant contact with Bataan and Corregidor and I was able to give him valuable information. I remember I gave some monetary aid to Lt. Lazaro Malabanan who came in behalf of a large guerrilla organization in Batangas, and Ramon Cabrera of the Ateneo de Manila.

One case I would specially like to mention is that of Roberto Vallejo, nicknamed Berto. He was our cook in Manila and we took him with us to Baguio when the government evacuated to that city. From the very beginning, I noticed that he was always out specially at night. During air raids, he would not enter our shelter but instead would stay in an open space. I asked my wife to dismiss him. It was then that he revealed to us that he was a Sergeant in the guerrilla forces. He showed me all his papers. He said he had to observe and report on the effects of the bombings. I immediately relieved him of his duties as our cook so he can concentrate on the performance of his patriotic duties.

Much of the difficulty in our effort to save lives was due to the rather unusual organization of the Japanese Army in the Philippines. Local commanders do not seem to be under any central authority as they paid no attention to orders or requests from Manila. The local commanders would arrest provincial and municipal officials and peaceful law abiding citizens notwithstanding orders, rules and regulations emanating from higher officers in Manila. We were repeatedly frustrated. Many times we were able to obtain the release orders of arrested persons from higher officials in Manila, but local commanders would disregard them.

The punishment inflicted by the Japanese were of the most cruel nature. They also enforced collective responsibility. For the death of a Japanese soldier, masses are massacred and towns burned. This happened in a town in Tayabas.

Another cause of discontent is the forcible eviction of Filipinos from their homes or the forcible taking of private buildings and houses. There were all kinds of abuses in this connection. They would notify the house owner to leave with a certain period and he has to comply. If the buildings and houses were to be used for military purposes, we Filipinos would have understood the necessity of giving up our homes, although we would have objected to the method employed. But in many cases, we just could not see how military necessity enters. The houses are not strategically located and sometimes only one or two officers live in them. In some cases, the houses were left unoccupied and as a result they were looted. Don Vicente Singson Encarnacion was forced to leave his house. The house, which was left vacant for a long period of time, was vandalized. To settle all conflicts, a House Committee was created in accordance with an understanding with the military authorities. However, from the very start, the Japanese officers paid no attention to the committee, and soon thereafter the membership of the committee had to be changed several times as nobody cared to serve in it.

An incident happened with reference to the house on Taft Avenue belonging to the in-laws of my daughter, Natividad. The Cojuangcos were notified by the Japanese officers that the house was to be occupied by the military. Naturally, the owners expressed their desire to have the matter submitted to the House Committee. They had good reasons not to give up their house. I took the matter up with Malacañan and with the House Committee. The Japanese officers returned and told the owner that they must leave within two days and upon failure to do so, they would be thrown out into the streets with all their furniture and belongings. When the Japanese were told that the matter was being investigated by the House Committee, they answered: “Never mind Committee. They are all crooks.” The owners had to leave, transferring to a very small house and moving almost all the furniture. A few days later, they found out that the occupants of the house were Filipino women who were mistresses of the officers. Barely a month passed when the owners found the house abandoned. They returned to the house.

When Gen. Homma announced that the Japanese came as friends of the Filipinos, and when General Tojo announced that the Philippines would be granted her independence immediately and later in October, 1943, actually granted our independence, there was general rejoicing and genuine expression of gratitude to Japan on the part of the Filipinos. There were many, however, who doubted the sincerity of Japan. They turned out to be right. After independence, the changes affected were only in names and expressions. The Japanese continued to intervene in public affairs especially in the provinces. They continued to arrest and abuse the Filipino; they even arrested public officials without notifying the President or the corresponding high authority. They still controlled businesses. Confiscation still continued.

Before the organization of the Republic, each ministry had Japanese advisers. After the Republic, all were withdrawn, with the exception of the Ministries of Finance and Agriculture. They refused to allow the Minister of Finance to supervise Japanese banks and to control Japanese investments and credit. The offices in the Japanese Administration corresponding to the different ministries remained, however, and continued to give suggestions to the Filipino officials which under the circumstances had to be followed. I must recognize, however, that my adviser, Dr. Haraguti, had been very good to me. He expressed approval or at least sympathy for my plans. But unfortunately, he seemed to be powerless and the military people continued to be the deciding factor. I should add that Japanese officials continued to intervene in private affairs.

To top it all, after the Americans landed, the retreating Japanese massacred everybody in sight, by guns, bayonets and hand grenades. Some of the victims were my own daughter, Natividad, married to Ramon Cojuangco, and my brother-in-law, Jose Lualhati, husband of Conchita.

Many Filipinos joined the American Army to avenge the deaths of their dear ones. It would be unthinkable that Filipinos would not turn pro-American, or that they would do anything to jeopardize America’s war efforts, even those who cooperated with the Japanese. But instead the Americans arrested many of them, including almost all the Filipino high officials during the Japanese regime who served only to help their own people. They arrested numerous persons for flimsy motives and for complaints which generally come from persons who harbor grudges against the accused or who try to make the Americans believe that they are the real “guerrilleros.” The Americans are sowing seeds for anti-American feelings. The Filipinos actively work for Philippine independence because, as they say, if we drive all the Japanese and Americans away, we could manage our affairs without any kind of interference. There will be opposition to any movement that might tie us up with America politically.


February 20, 1945

Let us shift our view for a while from this scenario of horrors, and take a look at the Manila of the liberators, as it was narrated to me.

The American High Command has not failed to notice the vandalistic scheme of the Japanese in the attempt to save themselves with the City and with the residents of the Capital, of converting the city into a heap of rubble and killing all the inhabitants, starting with the internees in Santo Tomas.

This was confirmed by some well-meaning Japanese. The program of destruction, murder and suicide, which is being launched in the southern zone is also being planned for the northern section. Written orders to this effect had been found and brought by the guerillas to the headquarters of General MacArthur.

The Japanese did not expect the American advance forces at the approach to Manila until about the 6th or 7th of February, so that on the 3rd, it was supposed that the front line was about fifty kilometers from Balintawak. On the eve of this day, at about 8:00 o’clock, the priests and internees of Santo Tomas heard tanks penetrating through España street. They posted themselves in front of the gate of the University campus. Lights went on and illuminated the buildings. Jubilant shouts and outbursts of joy were heard from the detainees who barely perceived that their liberation was forthcoming. In a few moments, volleys sounded from within and without the campus. The tanks and machine-guns replied. A number of soldiers and guerillas who served as guides fell, among them Manuel Colayco and the young Kierulf who died later. Absolute silence. Total darkness. Then the lead tank barged in through the fence into the campus, followed by seven others and by twenty trucks loaded with troops, the first with lights on, the others without lights. They reached the front of the Main building. Another shout and welcome from the prisoners. A new discharge of fire from the Japanese defenders, and then another sepulchral silence. The monstrous caterpillars kept advancing along the sides of the building until they were positioned one at each alley. Some internees started fraternizing with the liberators and received their first cigarettes, biscuits and canned goods. Other tanks positioned themselves towards the gymnasium and the Education building.

So passed the night.

At daybreak, the capture of the Gymnasium. There were Japanese soldiers there guarding the prisoners. But they fled into the darkness. The Americans scoured the place fearing that the Japanese had hidden themselves in a nearby grassy area. But they could not be found.

Later, the conquest of the Education building. There were some seventy Japanese soldiers dispersed behind the detainees. The Americans appealed to the Japanese to surrender. No response. They were promised to be let free out of the campus. Negative. They were promised to be transported with their arms up to the Japanese lines. The Japanese conceded, and in two trucks they were transported up to the Rotonda.

That was how the campus which had imprisoned some four thousand internees, and, incidentally, occupants of the seminary, was recaptured. But they were so far the only liberated buildings together with those near Malacañang. The rest of the city, during the night of the 3rd and the whole day of the 4th, were still not re-occupied, except in the sense that the liberators were almost in the middle of the capital. But there was only a handful of American troops who had entered the enemy territory. It was a blow which was as bold as it was daring.

The First Cavalry, dismounted but motorized, had left Cabanatuan two days before. As it was left behind forty kilometers from the main body of the advance forces, it opened up a road through Novaliches and Balintawak, Rizal Avenue and Quezon Boulevard, spitting machinegun shells against Japanese troops and trucks they encountered along the way, and penetrating almost into the heart of the city. They were about a thousand men surrounded by Japanese forces bent on defending the city. Their audacity rattle the enemy. If the Japanese had a foreknowledge of the small number of the infiltrating forces, and had they organized a rapid and decisive attack on the Americans, the liberating forces would have been annihilated. They had thirty-six hours to do it and they faltered. Thus were saved the First Cavalry, the American prisoners and the north of Manila.

In the morning of the 5th, when the Japanese initiated a disorganized attack from España street, from Far Eastern University and from Bilibid, the 37th Division had already penetrated the City from the north and from the east, joining the liberators of Santo Tomas, and jointly re-occupying Quezon City and the sector of Manila north of Azcarraga. Malacañan and Bilibid, where some one thousand two hundred seventy war and civil prisoners were detained including those who came from Baguio, were also liberated.

The Japanese began their program of destruction. They placed cans of gasoline and mines in big buildings of the Escolta, and surrounding streets, and destroyed fire engines and equipments. They blew up and burned buildings, and the uncontrollable fires razed the whole of the commercial district from Azcarraga to the Pasig.

On the 6th, the Americans positioned themselves along the Pasig River. The whole northern region was thus liberated, although small groups of Japanese continued burning clusters of houses and forcing the Filipinos under their control to do the same. On the 7th, the battle of the Philippine General Hospital shelled the north of the city, especially the University of Santo Tomas which suffered fifty to sixty hits, mostly on the construction of P. Ruaño, the principal target of the Japanese guns. There was a lamentable number of casualties, some forty dead and three hundred wounded among the recently liberated. In the Education building, five were wounded. In the Seminary, there were only two slight casualties, a priest and a househelp. The attack lasted forty-eight hours.

The Japanese blew up the four bridges across the Pasig. On the 7th, further beyond Malacañan, five battalions of the 37th Division crossed the river in tanks and amphibian trucks and, after fierce fighting, they opened up a path through the cleared areas of Paco and the Gas factory. The Japanese defenders started converting each house and building into a fortress, burning them and killing their occupants when they had to abandon their posts.

In the meantime, the 11th Airborne Division, after a successful landing in Tagaytay, advanced until they joined the first wave at the southern approaches to the capital through Baclaran and Nichols Field. They mopped up these areas, destroying one hundred Japanese fighter planes and capturing seventy-five pieces of artillery and one hundred and twelve machineguns. They then proceeded towards Pasay. The cavalry made a second crossing of the Pasig through Sta. Ana. After a bitter house-to-house fighting, they drove back the Japanese from the hippodrome and from Makati. They then joined the 37th Division near the Paco Railroad station, and the 11th Airborne at the north of the Polo Club.

With these reunited forces, the Japanese defenses in Manila have been isolated and pushed back in Singalong, Malate, Ermita, Paco, Intramuros and the Port Area. American advance is slow. They are not employing the air force and they use the artillery with moderation for the sake of the civilians. The soulless defenders entrench themselves behind houses and concrete buildings, devoting their time more to arson and murder rather than in fighting the liberators. The Americans, in a rapid execution of strategy, were able to save some seven thousand refugees at the General Hospital before the vandals could effect their diabolic plans.


July 25, 1942

Made arrangements with Dr. Sison for the sending of sick war prisoners to his hospital.

Gave him ₱1,000 as contribution for Philippine General Hospital. He was very pleased.

Sent a war prisoner to Sison who was suffering with malaria. The young veteran had three bullet wounds. I wrote the doctor: “Please see what you can do for this soldier. He did not die of three bullet wounds but he may die of malaria.”

Played tennis with Sison. Defeated him.