Thursday, November 30, 1972

On the day of the signing of the Constitution, the headline of the Daily Express was “FM tells the Military: I want Free, Open Discussions on Charter Provision.”

What lie! What double-talk! Hitler seems to be alive again! But many people were somewhat comforted by these pronouncements of President Marcos. Being allowed to open the window of freedom somewhat after having been deprived our civil rights for more than a month now, is great.

We do not really value our freedom until we are deprived of it. Then we understand why throughout the ages, men have fought for their freedom as an important ingredient of human dignity.

An air of excitement was in the air at the session hall. The delegates, in spite of everything, seemed to exude a sense of history—whether a famous or infamous one, the future will tell.

The roll call of delegates for individual signing of the Constitution in English and Pilipino was somewhat unruly. President Macapagal kept on banging the gavel, asking the delegates to sit down.

Sig Siguion-Reyna whispered, “Macapagal should have shown this force a little bit earlier, not now; I myself thought that he should have at least presided over our meeting last night if only because it was the last session, but, sadly, it was Vice Pres. Abe Sarmiento who did.”

There were some congressmen who had entered the hall. Speaker Villareal was there, and so were Congressmen Sanchez and Caram and Solicitor General Titong Mendoza (UP Law Class ’52) who had phoned the Con-Con that I had been taken into custody by the military. Yesterday, Titong told us he had a conference with Justice Undersec. Taling Macaraeg (Class ’52) about my arrest. Taling’s suggestion was for Titong to guarantee me and take me into his custody.

Sig Siguion-Reyna learned last night that our colleagues in detention are to be released for one day today during the signing of the Constitution. He said he wanted to make sure of this so he had relayed the message to President Macapagal.

True enough, before we could finish our conversation, Nap Rama, who is detained at Fort Bonifacio, dramatically appeared at the session hall. He is no longer sporting the same macho hairdo. Rather, his hair is somewhat dishevelled and bears the untypical look of not having been creamed for sometime. How un-Nap-like! He also sports a mini-mustache now.

Two minutes later, Joe Mari Velez, also an inmate of Fort Bonifacio, appeared. Unlike Nap, Joe Mari is wearing a thick mustache curved sideways at the edges. He came in a blue t-shirt, looking quite healthy.

Nap Rama’s usual swagger seemed to have deserted him. After only two months in Fort Bonifacio! Joe Mari, on the other hand, looked defiant.

Joe Mari immediately told me that the news in his camp is that I have also been taken. He gave me the unnerving information that if I have not yet been arrested I would be—very soon.

I could hardly catch my breath. I thought my ordeals are over.

Both Nap and Mari expected me to join them soon—and in the isolation stockade of Fort Bonifacio, not in the relatively more comfortable Camp Crame stockade.

My heartbeats pounded like a gong.

Nap said that they had long expected me to be detained because their information was that I was marked by the military from the beginning as an enemy of the regime.

He talked about their own ordeal. In the first two days, the military had really sought to break them. The soldiers had put barbed wire fences higher than their windows all around their barracks. Poor Nap does not know until now precisely what he is being apprehended for.

Nap sounded desperate. Like the others, he seemed resigned to the present political situation. He will cooperate, if necessary, if this would give him back his liberty.

I inquired about his SSS loan and the reported foreclosure of his mortgage. “Yes,” he replied sadly. He has received a telegram saying he has ten days within which to pay the loan or else his house will be foreclosed. That is why his house is now for sale.

Nap did not sound bitter but he was clearly on edge. He said that it is ironical that the same reforms that we have been fighting for seem to be now under implementation by the martial law regime.

I inquired about Teddy Locsin. Teddy, Nap said, is quite bitter. Teddy says that he had fought so much for these reforms and now the military has put him in prison rather than awarding him a medal for his crusade.

Romy Capulong was with me while I was talking to Nap.

Nap gave us the shocking information that our meetings at Pepe Calderon’s place had been completely monitored by the military.

God! I gasped.

Could it be that some delegates went there with tape recorders in their pockets? After all, Romy said, in some of the meetings there were 30 or 40 delegates in attendance.

Still, I could not imagine how anyone in our Independent-Progressive group could have betrayed us.

Romy thought that it was possible that either one or two delegates who were present during one of our meetings could have done it; after all we also have counter-infiltration on the other side.

Out of sheer curiosity, I asked Romy who they were, and Romy said, “I don’t want to tell you because it might poison your mind and especially because it may not be true. But someday I will. One of these is a woman,” he said tantalizingly.

I overheard a delegate saying that Joe Concepcion and Tito Guingona were in the Steering Council room on the 13th floor and that they were waiting for President Macapagal.

“You better go down already,” Joe Feria told me. “I am just fetching Macapagal.”

President Macapagal was, for a while, busy entertaining Speaker Villareal, who had come in shortly before 11 o’clock. In the meantime that this was happening, Titong Mendoza came along looking for a copy of the new Constitution.

While Titong and I were in Macapagal’s room, I noticed former Central Bank Governor Cuaderno lying on his side on the couch, writhing in pain. Nobody seemed to be looking after him; nobody seemed to mind.

I was alarmed. I ran towards the governor and fell on my knees.

“Governor, is there anything wrong? Are you sick?”

“It’s my asthma.”

“Shall I call a doctor?” I asked. I gathered from his murmur that a doctor has been sent for.

“Air, air,” he murmured.

I opened the windows.

The doctor took long in coming. I thought it was heartless of many delegates to see him there and not to do anything to help him. Of course, they had other excitements today, but….

Then came the Convention doctor; we were not sure, however, of his competence. I was hoping that a physician delegate would come. Then Tony Velasco, himself a medical doctor, came in.

I went to the session hall looking for Dr. George Viterbo; I trust him most.

Two minutes later, Tony Velasco was in the session hall, doing what everybody else was doing—asking for the autograph of delegates. He asked me to sign his copy of the proposed Constitution. “But what, about Cuaderno? What have you done?” My concern was great.

“Oh, it is only asthma. The doctor is taking care of him. The medicine has already been brought in.”

President Macapagal was already with the detainees when I arrived. Tito Guingona and Joe Concepcion, among others, were asking him to make representation on their behalf with President Marcos.

President Macapagal kept on saying, “Yes, yes, yes, I will take it up.”

“I think tomorrow is the best time to discuss this,” I chipped in. “President Marcos will be in a good mood; this will really be good for national unity.”

“Yes, yes, yes,” Macapagal nodded in agreement.

Joe Concepcion wanted Macapagal to do more than this. He kept on asking whether or not they would be allowed to see President Marcos tomorrow. Macapagal said he could get another clearance for them. Of course, he would not talk to the President about any single one of them. He could only ask that all delegates be invited—including those under detention.

The detainees present were Joe Concepcion, Tito Guingona, Ernie Rondon, Bren Guiao, Pepito Nolledo and Natalio (Taliox) Bacalzo. Nolledo was standing at the back, somewhat lost!

Joecon whispered to me that the one in most pathetic condition among them is Nolledo. He seems to be on the verge of a breakdown.

Ding Lichauco is, likewise, not in good shape. He has contracted pneumonia and was taken to the hospital this morning. He is in a pitiful state. He has no children and his wife, Nita, is now alone.

Macapagal bade the detainees good-bye. “You know it’s good to meet with you… even just to be together for a while,” he said. “But I must now go up and attend to the Convention.”

Bebet Duavit arrived as Macapagal was leaving. “Here is the man who can help you,” he said as he left.

We all finally got Duavit to promise that he was going to talk to President Marcos. When the detainees told him that Macapagal had already talked to Marcos, he dismissed Macapagal: “Wala ‘yan.” Macapagal is too proud to talk to Marcos. He only sends letters. He does everything in writing. He said that as past president of the Philippines, he should be in a position to talk to President Marcos for the detainees. Bebet intimated, the detainees should not expect Macapagal to be able to do much for them.

President Macapagal’s ego is monumental, Duavit added. When he and Macapagal were with Flores Bayot, one of Marcos’ assistant executive secretaries (who was in the session hall yesterday; Sed Ordoñez, in fact, was asking me why? What was he monitoring?), Duavit said he had told Bayot, “You tell your President that my President is arranging with the postman for the delivery of the Constitution in Malacañang.” Duavit saw Macapagal’s face light up, he was all smiles, and he seemed to have grown two inches taller.

Duavit promised to talk to President Marcos tonight and follow it up with another talk tomorrow morning.

Joecon and Tito Guingona asked Duavit to tell Marcos that they can help in the implementation of the program of the New Society.

Duavit promised to try to persuade Marcos again, as he had done in the past, to release them. President Marcos had, in fact, told him at one time that Duavit should talk to the military and tell them that he would guarantee them.

But Duavit expressed reluctance to guarantee anyone. “Baka naman e-escape kayo,” he said sheepishly.

“Why not divide the responsibility?” I suggested. “You guarantee X, Ven Yaneza guarantees Y.

            Eh, kung umescape kayo.” Duavit has misgivings.

Tito Guingona then spoke up. “Yes,” he said, “political amnesty is the best.”

In the beginning, the detained delegates present had all come from Camp Crame only and so Tito, Joecon and the rest talked about amnesty for them… because they were presumably not charged with as grave crimes as the detainees in Fort Bonifacio.

But later, Nap Rama from Fort Bonifacio dropped by. They then agreed that the amnesty should include all delegates.

Bren Guiao tried to pin down Duavit on whether he would visit them. How else would they know the result?

Duavit promised to visit them tomorrow.

Later, as we were leaving, Joecon lingered around to talk some more with Duavit. Duavit then said he would tell President Marcos that it would be good for the Rizal delegates to be released because they would especially need to get “Yes” votes from Rizal—the oppositionist district.

What a paradoxical figure this Duavit is! So much a lackey for Marcos, yet warm, possibly even affectionate towards his colleagues—even to those in the opposite side of the political spectrum. Is he a good man at heart—who is possessed? If so, he needs an exorcist! Or is he a marionette? What is he really?

Joe Feria, Naning Kalaw and I invited the detainees for lunch at the Sulo Hotel. Later, Romy Capulong and Raul Roco joined us. Still later, while we were eating, Ric Sagmit came by and spent a while with us, particularly with Bren Guiao.

Everyone has his own story. Bren Guiao said that on Saturday night, he had dinner with Tito Guingona, but Tito did not tell him then—and Bren turned towards Tito reproachfully—what he, Tito, may have already known.

Tito was with General Rialp. Tito had asked Rialp if he was in the list. They went over the list alphabetically. “Letter G… Guiao, etc., no Guingona. You are not in,” Rialp had confirmed.

But in the meantime, the name of Guiao had already been read aloud and Tito did not warn him!

When Bren phoned his house Sunday morning, he discovered that about 40 Metrocom troopers had surrounded his house. So he did not know what to do. Finally, he decided to talk over the phone with the commander. The commander said he was being invited for interrogation. So Bren answered, “I might as well meet you in Camp Crame.”

He thought he would be interrogated, then released immediately, but when he got into the Camp he was not allowed to get out anymore.

Romy Capulong and Raul Roco’s houses were raided at 10:00 o’clock on Saturday—the very first day. Romy and Raul would have been ahead of Guiao in the stockades were they not able to run out of their houses earlier that day.

It was on the sixth day—on Friday—as Tito was talking with Bobbit that he, Tito, was arrested.

Taliox Bacalzo said he was interrogated at the stockade for his radio broadcasts going back to 1949 (sic).

The detainees still kept their sense of humor in spite of their obvious anguish. They were complaining of each other’s behavior, like little children. First, they picked on Pepito Nolledo.

Joecon said that in the first two nights, Nolledo would suddenly go up to his fellow prisoners and ask, “By the way, are you a spy?”

Bacalzo swore that one night, Nolledo came to his bed and stared at him for three minutes without speaking. He (Bacalzo) got scared. After three minutes, Nolledo asked Bacalzo, “Brod, are you a spy?” Bacalzo was terribly shaken!

There was a near fight in the camp. Nolledo was at the lower bunk while the hard-hitting columnist Louie Beltran was on top. One day, Beltran’s watch got lost. He searched everywhere, swearing and cursing as he went. Finally, he found the watch in the bag of Nolledo. Apparently, the watch fell down from the upper bunk and fell right into the open bag of Nolledo.

Nolledo was peeved by the remarks of his friends about him.

“Joe Concepcion’s behavior was worse than mine. He was always crying during the first two days” he attacked.

Joecon blushed. When his children came, one of them rushed to him and cried, so he started wailing also, he explained.

Joecon said that one of the worst things that can happen to a man is to lose his freedom.

I was reminded of my note to Raul Roco on his birthday a couple of weeks ago—that we are prone to take our liberty for granted; it is only when we are denied it that we realize the real value of personal freedom.

Joecon, who is a close friend, then turned towards me and said complainingly that he now realizes who his real friends are…. I did not even visit him!

Of course, they all know that I was interrogated; that I was in the secondary “list,” that were it not for my long friendship with Enrile, I could have been in the stockade with them.

Joecon admitted that the officers of his corporations have been going there for meetings with him every week. I had also learned from Vicente (Ting) Jaime, that Joecon has been getting passes because his mother is sick. Also, at one time, he had procured a pass to attend a board meeting of his company.

The detainees feasted as on nectar and ambrosia. In no time, we had cleaned up the plates. We horsed around for a while in an atmosphere of complete carefreeness.

This was the first time they have had a good meal in weeks. Also the first time that they were in an air-conditioned room.

Tito Guingona complained that the terrible thing in the stockade is like being in a sauna, he said; the gym is as hot as hell!

I asked then why Conception Industries did not install an airconditioning unit there. Of course, Joecon said, if they would allow it for two months, he would have it done. But the gym was so huge.

I told Joecon I did not recognize him because he no longer looked like a bouncing baby. He had lost at least five kilos. Besides he was not wearing his famous two-way transmitter in his belt anymore.

He said that he was dictating on his Philip machine but even that was taken from him. And he was heartbroken because his two-way radio is no longer allowed.

Bobbit Sanchez came later and said that he had talked to Duavit for some few minutes more after we had left. Duavit was supposed to have said he was going to see the President today and tomorrow and the detainees should have an answer one way or the other in 15 days. In any case, Bobbit said, possibly, after the ratification of the Constitution they would be freed.

Joecon wailed “No, no, no, that is too long. Tell us if it is 15 days, it is 15 days. Then at least we can hope. Magpapasko ba naman kami doon?

Joecon then proceeded to mention that he knew someone who was going to commit suicide during the first few days because of the loss of his liberty.

Bobbit reported that Joe Mari Velez refused to be included in the proposed amnesty. He left him in the session hall waiting to be called because he wanted to deliver a speech. Even if there is hardly any audience anymore.

But, he said, the session was already over last night, he would certainly not be allowed to speak. Indeed, it is foolish and senseless waiting to speak when the session is over.

Bobbit said that Joe Mari said he would stay in the stockade even if it meant staying indefinitely. Joe Mari is very bitter.

One of the delegates whispered that part of the bitterness lay in the fact that Voltaire Garcia had voted “Yes” in the transitory provisions when he could have voted “No” because he was only under house arrest (after he had already been released from the stockade).

In fairness, however, I knew that Voltaire fell ill in the stockade; I had seen how pale and thin he was when I met and embraced him upon his release.

“I am worried about Voltaire”, I had told Ding afterwards.

“So am I,” he said. He had watched Voltaire as he entered to vote.

Raul Roco said that we should really understand that the environment of Joe Man and Nap Rama in Fort Bonifacio is different from that in Camp Crame. In Bonifacio there is a group of defiant people like Ninoy Aquino, Pepe Diokno, Chino Roces, Teddy Locsin. This is the reason Joe Mari is defiant; he has been influenced by his environment.

Taking a cue, Joe Mari made a doomsday statement. Based on their reading of history, he perorated, they would either be executed or they would one day seize political power.

“Correct, correct,” Bobbit Sanchez nodded in assent.

“Except that Nap Rama seems to have a different frame of mind,” I teased. “Nap has acquired a Camp Crame mentality. He has shed his Fort Bonifacio mentality.”

“True, true,” the naughty Bobbit blurted.

Poor Nap flushed and we laughed freely. What was it Thomas Gray had written in his Elegy in a Country Churchyard?

            We look before and after
And pine for what is not;
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught…

Nap quickly recovered his composure and took over with a vengeance. Last night, at 12:30 past midnight, he had received a call from President Macapagal. Awakened by the call, he abruptly got up. This is it, he thought. I’m going to be executed. He fell on his knees to pray.

Of course I remember that Nap was a seminarian. I could imagine him reciting his Hail Marys:

Hail Mary, full of grace! The Lord is with thee….

Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour…

Joecon butted in. He recounted how President Macapagal had called him up after the call to Nap. The result was that he had hardly slept because Macapagal talked for three hours—until 3:30 in the morning. Either Macapagal was incoherent or he was just too sleepy, Joecon confessed, but he didn’t understand what Macapagal was talking about. That was why he rang up Joe Feria to find out what this was all about.

Joecon added that Nolledo had excitedly woke up Ding Lichauco.

“Ding, Ding, si Macapagal.”

Ding jumped out of bed. “Nasaan ang punyetang Macapagal?”

Nolledo explained that Macapagal was on the phone talking to Joecon. Several minutes later, Ding got up again and shouted, “Nasaan siya? Nasaan ang punyetang Macapagal?”

Joecon explained that it was Macapagal who was arranging for this one-day freedom and they should be grateful.

All the delegates then started their litany of complaints against Ding, his picayunes and foibles. Affectionate complaints against a comrade in suffering?

Ernie Rondon quipped that Ding Lichauco is so used to royalty he had decorated his bed with different varieties of blankets so that his bed looked like a royal bed.

They were all afraid to get near him, they said, because he is irritable. (Not to mention the fact that he was a boxing champion at Harvard?)

            Katakot-takot ang punyeta at punyetero,” Joe Concepcion and Taliox sighed. “Talo pa si Quezon.”

They were picking on Ding now, but all of them respect him as a patriot, a nationalist, one of those rare guys who really have the courage of his convictions. At the back of their minds they all knew this and respect Ding for it. But this did not deter them from getting more and more juvenile.

“I am one of Ding’s friends but many times I can not talk to him.” I was now contaminated by their degenerate mood. “Do you know that at one time, when I was with Joe Romero at CEPO, Ding appeared? Upon seeing his friend, Joe, without any provocation, he said: ‘Romero, if the revolution should succeed, your head will roll.'”

“I’m sure he was kidding,” I added, “but do you know how Joe took it? He was visibly unnerved.”

“But wait.” I was not yet through. “Upon seeing me also there, he went on with his offensive: ‘Also your head, Caesar.'”

“But enough of his good qualities. Let us talk of his foibles.”

Little Bobbit was a teen-ager again, in his barkada mood.

“Okay,” one of the detainees said. “Do you know that whenever Ding received his food, he would eat without making any gesture of sharing it with the rest of us?”

“This is only a cultural pattern; after all, he had spent seven years at Harvard, where this is the norm,” I was now defending Ding.

Still, barbarian Taliox from the wilderness of Cebu could not understand this. In a burst of mischief, he said: “But then when somebody else is eating I notice that Ding would even steal some cookies from this somebody.”

“Oh, come on.”

Everyone laughed.

Poor Ding. These friends had to make merry. And they just happened to pick on Ding because he was not present. They seized the opportunity of making fun of him because they would otherwise have been afraid to say these things to his face.

In the process, our friends forgot their sorry plight—for a moment, at least. Indeed, for a moment, they were like little children. And the rest of us, too.

My heart went out to these friends. They were a pathetic sight. We had fun, of course, while it lasted. It was really a celebration—a celebration of their temporary freedom. And I was happy that we made them happy, thanks to Joe Feria and to Naning Kalaw, who had taken the initiative to organize this dinner.

Our eyes were moist as we escorted them back to the long line of Constabulary guards who were all heavily armed, as if Joecon and Taliox, Bren and Pepito and Tito too—these harmless peacemakers—would not run away at the explosion of a bawang firecracker.

Raul Roco, as usual, pretended to be nonchalant.

“At least, these guys do not have to pay for their gasoline,” he said. He had the look of a shyster as he laughed. Typical.

Tito Guingona, however, looked so forlorn. He was a study in brooding silence. He was desolate.

“Everyone is in revelry, Tito,” I comforted this man who has been a sincere and gallant partner in our struggle for decency, fairness and freedom. “You alone seem so despondent.”

Tito lifted his eyes and spoke his parting words: “Do not forget us, Caesar.”

“Forget? Tito, how can we forget?”

Our hearts went out to our colleagues as the soldiers came forward; they were to be returned to the stockades.

“Do not lose hope!” Joe Feria, Naning Kalaw and I chorused as we waved at them.

Not lose hope? Did we really mean what we said? But today, the 30th of November, 1972, did we not really lose hope ourselves? On this day of infamy, did we not bury our dreams?

The Con-Con is over. Finished.

“I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith,” Paul had written to Timothy. But as for us, did we tight the good fight, really, or did we simply capitulate?

The Constitution has been bastardized. Authoritarianism has been legalized—but surely not legitimized! Where is that acceptance by the population of rulers imbued with superior moral, intellectual and political capabilities which Antonio Gramsci says, is the hallmark of legitimacy?

Up to now, our democracy, at best, has been a fragile one. But even this as yet imperfect—because clientelist and elitist—democracy has been cruelly snatched from us by this coup from above. Will the political institutions of this fragile democracy someday be restored, perhaps even nurtured to ripen into an authentic democracy? But democratic institutions can only be sustained if they are part of a democratic culture; even free institutions may not create a free society. Can we look forward to a time when the next generation may be able to cure the defects of a facade democracy and really see a participatory society with the incandescent idea enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence—that all men are created equal—at least approximated?

But even these reflections should be set aside for now. At the moment, one anxiously wonders whether this dark night of repression that has descended upon all of us will last for a long period? Or is this going to be a mere aberration in our 70 years of constitutional development—a nightmare whose memory will vanish soon enough?

But vanish it, perhaps we should not. For if we fail to remember our past, pride will dominate our politics and history.

I now close this diary of the Con-Con which depicts the strands of a complex fabric of contradictions—of indecency, bad taste, dishonor, betrayal, cowardice—compounded by some acts of selfishness, too, even of sparks of courage among a few.

Our actuations in the Con-Con reflected vividly the tragedy of man in his pride and his vulnerability.

I remember that 27 years ago, the philosopher Karl Jaspers had addressed his fellow Germans in searing terms, whose words I can not now exactly recall: “We did not go into the streets when our Jewish friends were led away; we did not scream until we, too, were destroyed. We preferred to stay alive on the feeble, if logical ground that our death could not have helped anyone… we are guilty of being alive.”

I feel guilty of being free; thousands are in the stockades, some of them tortured. And two of the “super-radicals” at our Asian Leadership Development Conference (ALDEC)—with whom I had some violent quarrels on the night that martial law was declared—have been shot and killed, I heard.

Could a certain respect for higher principles above our own personal existence have saved our people from so much pain and suffering? Don’t ethical and moral dimensions in political decision-making count anymore?

Should not our people—perhaps the next generation, who knows?—not confront our national guilt someday?

Will this story of guilt and betrayal someday be unravelled and the judgment of history brought down upon our heads? I, for one, hereby vow that at the very first opportunity, when the dawn of freedom shall have brightened again the skies of our darkened land, I will have this diary read by our people. They have a right to know how their delegates performed and behaved at the Con-Con during the decisive last three months of its tragic life; our development, whether for progress or retrogression, is blurred enough by too much anonymization.

Withal, some halting doubts assail me as I close the Con-Con story: What if martial law was not declared? Could the Con-Con have framed a Constitution that would have brought about basic changes in our social structures, minimized inequality in wealth and political power? Could we have conquered massive poverty among the people or accelerated growth that would ameliorate the harshest aspects of poverty of the present and bears the seeds of decreasing inequality in the future? If those of us who call ourselves democrats have had our way in the Con-Con, could we have ushered in a more just society, a more participatory polity?

I do realize even as I close this diary that this is one of those great “ifs” in history. Nevertheless, I cannot help but wonder: Could the Con-Con really have effected a social revolution through constitutional means in response to the desperate need of our people for greater social justice, if only some of us, myself included, had stood up for the harder right instead of the easier wrong?

Of course there is no way to test the big decisions of history, as the Czech writer, Milan Kundera, says, because there is no way to go back and see what the opposite choices would have brought. Indeed, how can we know for certain that those of us who had experienced detention or been suppressed in the exercise of our freedom of expression during the Con-Con would not follow after the footsteps of our oppressors if it should happen that someday it may be our turn to wield political power? Would we not, then, precisely fulfill the role set by Paulo Freire in his Pedagogy of the Oppressed?

I do not really know what to think of these things; perhaps I can never know. Indeed, often in life we have to face serious and difficult questions where no one really knows the answers. But it does not really matter, as Max Frisch has once said; the important thing is to raise the questions nevertheless. Then, in the end, everyone must answer in his own way. Some, no doubt, would answer with their own lives.

Manila. Three hours past midnight of November 30, 1972.


June 4, 1945 Monday

Again rumors are circulating about the coming of Osmeña and MacArthur. We refuse to believe in order not to suffer another disappointment. We concede, however, the possibility of the coming of MacArthur. It has been reported that military and naval bases have been granted by the Philippines to America for a period of 20 years. We have no definite information, nor do we know the details. It is reported that the agreement was signed by Pres. Quezon. It is difficult for us to believe this as this was precisely one of the main objections to the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Law which provoked the greatest political crisis in the Philippines in 1933-1935. It was argued that independence with such bases could not be real—the proper status would be more that of a protectorate. Before a definite long term agreement is entered into it will be good to consult the Filipino people’s reaction. The Filipino people’s attitude then had the concurrence of the Americans at that time. When the appropriation for bases and fortifications was submitted to Congress, it was voted down in the House of Representatives. Of course now I do not know the American people’s attitude. I have been informed that it has suffered a radical change.

The above has nothing to do with the present situation. America is now using the whole Philippines as military, naval and air bases. I am sure there is no objection to that on the part of any Filipino. They know the necessity for it. They believe that such an arrangement is beneficial, not only to America, but to the Philippines as well. The Filipinos know that this war involved the problem of the Filipinos and the territorial integrity of the country. I am sure then that there will be absolutely no objection to the present arrangement. But let no formal arrangement be entered into yet. At present, it is not possible to consider the merits of the different phases of the question. There is no hurry since the Americans are using our territory anyhow, and during the next 20 or maybe 100 years, no menace of any kind may be expected.

Marshal MacArthur, with naval and air ranking officers, may come to investigate the possibility of using part of Palawan as military, naval and air bases. Some persons claiming to know, assure me that Palawan is strategically located and consequently has to be seriously considered. It is wishful thinking to believe that his coming has anything to do with us. He is engaged in a work that concerns world affairs and our affair is too insignificant to merit attention. But it is possible that in his spare moments, he may inquire about us, as he has some very intimate friends among us. In my case, I was in charge of preparing the appropriation for the Philippine Army which he planned and organized, with the aid of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower and Col. Ord.

Marshal MacArthur is really the father of the Philippine Army. He got everything he wanted from me because his explanations were so clear and convincing that I felt it an honor, no matter how insignificant, to have a role in his plan. My connection with MacArthur was a result of the positions I successively held: Chairman, Appropriations Committee of the House which at that time was also the Ways and Means Committee, Speaker Protempore, Secretary of Public Works and Communications, and Secretary of Finance. I have the highest respect for Marshall MacArthur. As a friend, he is always true; as an orator and literary man, he is not behind many known men in that field; as an organizer, he is superb; and as a military man, he richly deserves the reputation he gained of being among the greatest. Certainly he is a most worthy son of his great father to whom the Philippines is also deeply indebted. The Philippines, through our greatest hero, Pres. Quezon, conferred upon him the rank of Marshal. I have attended all public and official functions in Manila since 1919 and I have never been as thrilled as in the ceremony conferring the rank of Marshal on MacArthur. Everybody was thrilled. We gave him one of the biggest banquets in Malacañan. He delivered a speech which was a masterpiece in substance as well as in literary style. His oratory was perfect. That was not the first time he was thus honored by the Filipinos. One occasion was when he became the Commanding General of the Philippine Department of the U.S. Army. I am not certain, but I believe it was after his tour of duty ended and he was to return to the United States that we tendered a banquet in his honor at the Manila Hotel. He delivered a speech for which he received a standing ovation. The speech won for the Marshal, in addition to being an orator and literary man, a reputation as a statesman and profound thinker. The banquet was attended by all the high officials of the government, prominent persons, and people from all classes ans walks of life. As I remember it now, Gen. Manuel Roxas was one of the orators on that occasion.

Marshal MacArthur is not without enemies. He has many enemies—almost all of them his countrymen. He has very bitter enemies in Washington. It was rather a paradox that I, a Filipino, was defending him to the Americans who were conspicuously assailing him, calling him a coward, a false friend, disloyal, ignorant, ambitious and a propagandist of the first order. They say that his reputation has been built on propaganda which was generally self-serving. They will tell you that the Filipinos hate him, but a few—a very few only—carefully planned the building up of the reputation that he was admired by the Filipinos. They told me that all he did in America was to charge, on horseback with bayonet drawn, on a crowd who had travelled thousands of miles to present in petition of grievances to the Washington officials. They said that when MacArthur left Corregidor, this was desertion. They put Gen. Wainright far above Gen. MacArthur.

Such accusations do not detract anything from the Marshal, as far as Filipinos are concerned; it probably made him greater. No one can be great if along the way there were no thorns to tread.

I do not mean to defend the Marshal. He can take care of himself. He also has many loyal friends behind him. I will touch on some incidents that endeared him to us which I happened to have witnessed personally. Is he really loved by the Filipinos? I answer yes, not as a result of propaganda, but because he richly deserved it.

Since the American occupation up to as recent as 1918, the relationship between the U.S. Army and the Filipinos was anything but cordial. I remember conflicts with the Rizal provincial officials because the American officers at Fort McKinley considered the reservation as an independent nation where no Filipino could enter without the required passport. The Filipinos, including even the Philippine Scouts, were considered foreigners in their own country. At Ft. McKinley, Ft. Santiago and Sta. Lucia, the American officers of all ranks were very anti-Filipino. They showed their disdain for us by refusing to sit with the Filipino officials during official functions. We Filipinos did likewise; we showed our disdain and hatred of them just as clearly as they showed their hatred towards us. The cleavage went so deep that there were many incidents.

When MacArthur came, one of his first acts was to pay his respects to Pres. Quezon and other Filipino officials. The President immediately returned the courtesy, paying a call to Gen. MacArthur accompanied by about 20 high Filipino officials. I was one of them. Right then and there MacArthur invited us to a review of the troops which would be staged in our honor. During the review, the General was there with his Staff. The officers looked fiercely at us when the General was not looking. We also made it rather painful for the officers; we talked directly to the General with our backs turned on them.

After the first year of MacArthur’s arrival, we began to mix with the Americans, and in that way we came to know one another better. The review in honor of the Philippine Legislature (then only the legislative branch was in our hands) became an annual feature and continued to be staged even after the departure of the General. At one time, the program in our honor included equestrian feats performed by the Philippine Scouts. They performed acrobatic stunts on galloping horses. Another number was a race (I do not remember what they call it) of the best Army horses, over walls, hedges, ditches and other obstacles. One of the participants was a Filipino who later became Colonel, a brother of Justice Moran. It is reported that he was one of those killed by the Japanese. Thereafter, there were U.S. Army and Navy high officials in all Filipino public functions. The officers of the lower ranks also became very chummy with us. So were their ladies. They invited us to play bowling with them and we organized a men’s and a ladies’ bowling team. After each game, they would invite us for refreshments in their club. For the first time Filipinos were seen eating and drinking in that club. Even the exclusive Army and Navy Club opened its doors to Filipinos.

General MacArthur left, but he returned on his second tour and this time his office or residence was in the western part of the historic walls surrounding Intramuros. I think they call it Sta. Lucia. We went to see him in his quarters to pay our respects. We intended to stay just a few minutes but he and Mrs. MacArthur insisted on our staying longer. We stayed for over two hours enjoying the hospitality of General and Mrs. MacArthur. This was also the first time that Filipino officials were honored in the military barracks. I believe it was at this time that he did another act which convinced us that he had reposed upon us his full confidence.

The well known Island of Corregidor then was as foreign to us as the famous Island of Sta. Catalina on the beautiful California coast. Filipinos were not allowed to roam around that portion of their country, with the exception of the landing. The only other portion of the Island ever treaded by a Filipino official was the cave where our Treasury deposited and kept its funds, especially the silver coins. We were thrilled when Gen. MacArthur invited us to inspect the Island. Was it possible? Will we be allowed to see that portion of our own country where America had built at an enormous cost fortifications containing all their military secrets? We thought that they would probably just take us to the Island for lunch at their military club there, and then return to Manila.

But early the next morning, the Commanding General at Corregidor himself, I think his name is General Hutch (I lost all my personal memoirs when my house was burned by the Japanese upon the entry of the Americans), received us at the Admiral Landing where we boarded a good-sized Army launch. At the pier on the landing place in Corregidor, we were received by the high officers at Corregidor. We were immediately given a complete tour of the Island. We saw every section of it. We saw cannons in deep trenches and we wondered how they could be fired to hit the target. They explained to us how it could be done. We saw the gun implacements. But the most interesting part of the tour was a large hall deep in the interior of a big tunnel where we saw all kinds of apparatus to find the ranges and give orders to the different emplacements. Afterwards we were treated to a sumptuous luncheon at their club located at a summit in the middle of a golf course. The Filipino waiters who were allowed only in the club, gaped at us with their mouths wide open since it was the first time that Filipino civilians accompanied by the General himself were served by them.

The General returned to the United States, I understand to occupy the highest position within the realm of a military man in the U.S.—Chief of Staff. We expressed real joy as it was the triumph of a friend. After his term of office he retired.

But the Philippines needed him. Dark clouds were already hovering over the Orient. Everyone knew that there was going to be war with Japan, but nobody thought it would come so soon. In the meanwhile full military preparation in the Philippines was being made. It was no surprise that the U.S. immediately thought of Gen. MacArthur. He came back to the Philippines. He lost no time in organizing the Philippine Army which was later made a part of the United States Army. When the war broke out, it was logical that General MacArthur became the Commander-in-Chief in the Southern Pacific.

He is now one of the four or five Five-Star full fledged Generals. There is talk of his appointment as the first American Ambassador to the coming Philippine Republic. I believe such an appointment will be received with approval by the Filipino people.

I want this portion of my memoirs kept strictly confidential, at least for the present. It may be misinterpreted in view of my present status. I purposely do not want anybody to intervene in my case. My relationship with Pres. Osmeña was close and very intimate. But I do not want to make use of that relationship. I need no influence; I want no favor. This writing may be misunderstood as an effort to win the goodwill of Gen. MacArthur. I have absolute confidence in the justice of my case.

I am charged with being a collaborationist. If it means that I am anti-American, and I favor Japan, I emphatically deny this. How can I be anti-American and pro-Japanese? I saw an American for the first time at age 11 in about 1901, while hiding from the American invading forces in the barrio of Cubamba, Taal. I still remember that my sister, Consolacion, and my cousin, Carmen Castillo, painted their faces with charcoal because it was rumored that Americans capture pretty Filipino girls. The soldiers passed by and saw us, but they merely smiled. Our impression of Americans changed immediately.

We went out of hiding into town and were horrified to see that our house had burned down. It was because the Philippine revolutionary army took refuge in the town and when they departed, the Americans burned a good portion of the town.

I studied in the barrio under cousin Ramon Castillo, and in town after our arrival under Maestrong Goyo (Gregorio Castillo) and later under Mr. Juan Medina. Later, I enrolled in the public school, established by the Americans, under Mr. H. H. Buck, Mr. Kempthorne and Mr. Dennis. How good they were! Mr. Buck treated us just like his own children. He remained in the Philippines and married a Filipina girl. I studied in the public school of Taal from 1903 until 1905, finishing grade school in three years. I was one of top students in class. The only one who could beat me was Mr. Agapito Gaa (during the Japanese occupation, he received my protection). I was good in debating and was captain of the spelling team that competed with other schools. The year after finishing grade school, I was appointed teacher in the barrio school of Mojon. That same year, after a few weeks of teaching, Mr. Trace, the American District Supervisor of Schools, came to the school to tell me that I must quit teaching. I thought it was because I was not making good so I went home very disappointed. I was receiving ₱15.00 a month, and I was happy since I was able to give almost all of it to my parents. They bought a “calesa” (horse rig) and a horse for my use in going to school in the barrio of Mojon about 7 kilometers from the town. Mr. Trace told me that I was young, bright and with a good future and he wanted me to continue my studies. I answered, “How can I? You know my family is poor. My brother, Vicente is studying medicine in Manila, and my parents can hardly support him.” Mr. Trace said that he would take care of the matter. He said that an examination for government pensionados to the United States was going to be held soon in Batangas and he would like me to take it.

I protested, “You know that I am not prepared for it. I only finished grade school and there are subjects that I had not studied.” He promised to prepare me for the examination. For three months he instructed me day and night. He was sure I would make it. His only fear was that I was too thin and that I was not strong enough to pass the physical examination.

The examination for government pensionados was given by examiners under my former grade school teacher, Mr. Buck, who was then Superintendent of Schools. Knowing that I had no high school education, he was surprised that I got an average of about 84%.

While waiting for the result of the examination, I enrolled in the first year class of the High School of Batangas then located just behind the municipal building. My teachers were Americans also. (The high school was later transferred to a new site near the market. When I was Speaker Protempore, one of the buildings burned down. I secured a large appropriation for a new school building.)

Accompanied by my father, I went to Manila for my physical examination. I failed. I remember the examiner was Dr. del Rosario, I asked for reconsideration through Dr. Gervasio Ocampo. The examination was reconsidered and this time I passed.

While waiting for the boat to take the government pensionados to the United States, we noticed big parties being held. We found out that they were parties in honor of William H. Taft, then Governor General of the Philippines. One of the parties was held in the old premises of the Army and Navy Club in Intramuros, located just in front of the house where I lived in Cabildo St. One day, we were taken to the Philippine Normal School on Padre Faura St. (later made a part of Philippine General Hospital grounds) to hear the speech of Mr. Taft. It was in that occasion where Mr. Taft said the famous words which made him popular among the Filipinos: “The Philippines for the Filipinos.”

My companions and I left Manila on August 15, 1905 in a boat called “Toan”, only about 4,000 tons. We were about 40, accompanied by Prof. Townsend of the University of the Philippines, a very kindly old man. We suffered terribly in the trip to Hongkong because the weather was rough and our boat was small. I was able to stand the trip better than the others. In Hongkong, we transferred to the S. S. Manchuria, a four-masted 28,000 ton American steamer. It was then the second largest boat on the Pacific, the first being the Mongolia of about 32,000 tons. We proceeded to San Francisco passing through Japan.

After a full month, we finally reached San Francisco. We had a very nice time across the Pacific, playing games on board. Upon our arrival, we were impressed with the greatness of America. We were met by the Superintendent of Filipino Students in America, Mr. Sutherland. He certainly was a father to us. He gave us advice on what we should study, suggesting teaching, medicine, engineering or agriculture. He insinuated that law was discouraged. I chose law and insisted on it. Why I did is not quite clear in my mind. I was probably influenced by the belief prevailing during the Spanish regime that the most honorable professions are law and medicine, and that farming or any work that may require physical efforts is shameful. Because I selected law, I was sent to Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.

In San Francisco, we lived in the Palace Hotel which was later destroyed by the great earthquake. We bought new clothes in a store called the Emporium. I got acquainted with a girl from Iowa. While at the hotel, a near tragedy occurred. Two of my companions, instead of turning the key to put out the gas lamp, blew out the light. Gas came out and almost asphixiated them. A timely discovery prevented a tragedy.

It took us 6 days to reach Indiana, staying a few hours in Chicago. We were also delayed in the Rocky Mountains because of snow. We got off the train and had a good look at the Rockies. I found Bloomington a very nice place. It is a town of only about 10,000 inhabitants. The people were very nice to us. We lived with American families who treated us like real members of the family. We would never forget the Reeds and the Thompsons. The university itself was small, having only 3,000 students, but a very good one. For undergraduates, it is advisable to enter small universities like Indiana. The dean of the law school was Dr. Rainhard and I had many outstanding professors like Dr. Hepburn. The Filipino students were Francisco Delgado, Jorge Bocobo, Mariano H. de Joya, Proceso Sanchez, Pedro Sandico and myself.

A problem arose as to how I could be admitted. I was only in the first year of high school when I left for the U.S. However, being a government student, a special arrangement was entered into. I would be admitted in the first year but had to get a good grade in the first examination. Only then could I be considered a regular student. I received one of the highest grades in the first examination. I took as much academic courses as I could possibly study—philosophy, economics, history, literature, etc. College life was certainly a very enjoyable one. The American students, especially the girls, were very good to us. I also took oratory under Professor Clapp. I do not know why but I seem to have a penchant towards oratory.

Our pension was very small, about $25.00 a month, exclusive of books and clothing. We paid $5 for room and $4 for board a week. We had very little money for extra expenses, especially since we never neglected our Sunday mass contribution. To make extra money, I worked as an ordinary laborer in one of the stone quarries which abound around Bloomington. As I remember, I was given about 15 cents an hour. I walked to the quarry which was about 6 miles away, and for luncheon I took a can of pork and beans with a piece or two of bread with butter. It was sufficient for me. All the other laborers were American whites. They were honest and hardworking. The work did not only provide me with some money to make up the deficiency in my pensions, but it also built up my body and gave me a correct appreciation of labor which in my public life influenced me to favor all legislation and measures calculated to better the conditions of the laboring class.

I got acquainted with many girls there, among whom were Agnes and Marie Peale, Edith Skinner, May Berry and Helen Burnett. We spent our time dancing and playing tennis. We also joined a debating club to practice oratory. I received my Ll.B. degree in June of 1909. Among those in the platform when we graduated were Gov. Folk of Missouri and poet Reilly. Pres. William Lowe Bryan of the University spoke. I was one of the highest in class.

I went to New Haven, Connecticut, to take post graduate courses in Yale University. I arrived there in September of 1909.

Yale is located right in the heart of the City of New Haven which had about 200,000 people then. The city itself had the old look but it counts with modern, beautiful parks. The only thing noteworthy then in the city was the University of Yale. It had some of the very best professors in the United States. It could afford the best because it was amply provided with donations. For President, it had Dr. Twidling Hadley; Dean of Law School, Mr. Rogers who afterwards became a Federal Judge. I enrolled in the post graduate school for my Ll. M. degree. In June, I finished with the honor of Cum Laude. There was no higher honor conferred.

* * * * *

My reminiscences of my boyhood days are not very clear. All that I remember was that my father had to hide many times because the Spanish “guardia civil”, noted for cruelties and brutalities, were looking for him. At one time, he had to jump through the back window of the kitchen into a deep precipice behind our house to elude them. I also recollect that our house was at one time occupied by Spanish officers. One of the sights which impressed me very much and which I shall never forget was when I saw from our window three “careton” loads of dead bodies—persons killed by the Civil Guards. Because of the persecutions and injustices committed by the Spaniards, the revolution was embraced by all the Filipinos and spread like wild fire all over the Philippines.

During this period, I already had enough discretion to remember events distinctly. Preparations for the war against Spain went on feverishly right under the very noses of the Spaniards. All the brave sons of our town enlisted in the Army. I remember Gen. Diokno, Col. Martin Cabrera, Col. Filomeno Encarnacion, and Col. Tacio Marasigan. I am sorry I do not remember the names of many others. They immediately proceeded to take the town. But the Spaniards were not willing to fight in the town of Taal. They decided to proceed to Batangas, Batangas. As soon as the Spaniards left Taal, the Filipino revolutionary army entered the town. There were thousands of them, most of them carrying only “bolos.” They lined up in the spacious town plaza where they were welcomed cordially by the townspeople. I was one of the many boys who took part in the wild celebration. In the midst of the celebration, the people began to run in all directions. The soldiers promptly assumed battle positions planting themselves in strategic locations. Nobody knew what was going on. Finally, we heard an officer remark, “The Spaniards are coming back!”

My brother Vicente and I ran home to the house of our aunt, Felipa de las Alas, married to Aguado Orlina. After the death of our mother and when our father Cornelio married again, our aunt took care of us in her house located near the town plaza. We immediately packed essential clothing and started for the house of Mamay Ukay, located at the extreme western end of our street where we had a good view of Balayan Bay. I still remember that on the way, one of our maid servants stepped on a big snake. We did not sleep that night, expecting to hear plenty of shooting. We heard no shots and the next day we learned that the news about the return of the Spaniards was false. This must have been around 1898, when I was nine years of age.

The next several months were very peaceful and quiet. Everybody was happy as there was no longer the threat of civil guards; the intrigue, injustices and mismanagement of the government by the friars (at that time the friars were really the ones governing the towns; they selected the “capitanes”), and the stupidity and haughtiness of the Spaniards. Many Spaniards were captured and they were distributed in the different towns where they served as servants to prominent Filipinos. There were many social functions, the most notable one was held in the palatial house of Capitan Flaviano Agoncillo, father of Don Gregorio Agoncillo. The guest of honor was the famous Filipino General, Miguel Malvar, the last to surrender to the Americans. He was accompanied by almost all the prominent people of Batangas, including the ladies from Lipa all brought in by “carruajes” pulled by the finest Batangas horses. As boys, we maneuvered for the best position to see everything. What impressed me most was the beautiful well-dressed young ladies from Lipa who were adorned with sparkling diamonds of unimaginable sizes all over their bodies, including their shoe tops. This was the period of the bonanza in Lipa brought about by the famous coffee of Lipa.

War between the United States and the Philippines started and feverish preparations were made. Enlistments were started. A military organization was formed call the “Guardias de Honor” (Guards of Honor). What I recall about this organization is that there were as many officers as there were privates. In appearance, it was as good as any military organization—martial discipline was one of its characteristics. The town was also prepared. Trenches were dug, some bridges destroyed. At the bottom of the destroyed spans were well camouflaged bamboo spears projecting from the ground. A machinegun was placed in the church roof. Cannons were placed just behind the house of Ka Ukay where the approach from Lemery, through the only bridge spanning the Pansipit River and connecting the towns of Taal and Lemery, could be well defended.

One day Filipino soldiers, all well equipped, entered the town. They immediately occupied the Church of Caysasay at Labak on the northern portion of the town near the bank of the Pansipit River. They made the town authorities believe that they were soldiers of Aguinaldo sent to reinforce the defense of Batangas. They turned out to be Macabebe soldiers (from Macabebe, Pampanga) sent by the Americans. The discovery came too late as they had already spread and occupied strategic places in Taal and Lemery. Before the Filipino Army could prepare to oust the impostors, the Americans came. The Filipino Army withdrew to the mountains to engage in guerrilla warfare. In this, they were not totally unsuccessful. At one time, they were able to attack the town of Taal, but had to withdraw because of American reinforcements. The Americans burned the town.

The guerrilla warfare of Gen. Malvar worried the Americans very much. They took drastic action and adopted what was called “zoning” (zona). The people were ordered to move to a certain place, generally the “poblacion” of a town, with all their food and belongings. They were warned that anybody stepping outside the boundary would be shot or dealt with as an enemy. The zonification order was made by Gen. Bell and executed by Col. Baker. The people suffered very much because of this concentration. The backbone of the resistance was broken; Gen. Aguinaldo was captured; and resistance all over the Philippines ceased. Gen. Malvar and his men surrendered.

While we were fighting the Spaniards and Americans, the spirit of Rizal was invoked. His teachings had spread all over the Philippines. There were all kinds of legends and stories built around Rizal. One was that he was riding on the moon to watch over us. The other was that, like Christ, he would rise again from his grave to lead us in our fight for liberty and independence.

After the surrender of Malvar and as late as 1905, there were remnants of the revolutionary army roaming around Batangas under Montalan, Sakay and Igat (Jose Solis). They were, however, regarded as bandits and hunted down by the government. In 1903, they entered the town of Taal and ransacked the municipal building. Thousands of Mexican silver pesos were taken. My brother Vicente and I were out that night. We saw Solis’ men enter the building. I was then visiting a girl near the municipal building. I left her house and hid in the house of Dr. Hermenegildo Castillo. It was on this occasion when almost all the prominent people of Taal were arrested and lodged in the municipal jail suspected of conniving with the bandits. My father, who was Municipal Treasurer, expected to be arrested. The Provincial Treasurer, Mr. Blanchard, had a very high regard for him and he was not molested. Don Vicente Ilustre, one of our most prominent lawyers who had been educated in Europe, tried to see the prisoners. Lt. McLean refused. Don Vicente brushed the Lieutenant aside and went inside. Luckily, the Lieutenant did not take action. The prisoners were being forced to confess their connection with the bandits. They refused. Later that night, they were all taken out of jail and shoved into a hold of a boat. For days they saw nothing. They did not know where they were; all they knew was that the boat was moving. They feared that they would be taken to Guam where Mabini was exiled. After a few days the boat returned. Most of the prisoners were released. This reminded me of what happened to us—placed in a hold of a freighter, not knowing our destination. It was when we were approaching Palawan after a few days at sea that we discovered that we were headed for Iwahig Penal Colony.

Later I shall continue my biography in so far as America and the Americans are concerned. I shall also prove that my connection with the Japanese regime was motivated solely by my love for my country, my desire to serve my people.