Monday, September 18, 1972

Today is one of my once-a-week trips by bus to Quezon City Hall. I do this to feel the pulse of the people.

As I was alighting from the bus at about 3:50 p.m., Ruth Manoloto, wife of my friend Ric at Knox, was getting nervously on the bus. Upon seeing me, she yelled, “Caesar, huwag ka nang magtuloy sa Con-Con. Umuwi ka na. Binomba ang Con-Con ngayon. Umuwi ka na.”

People were starting to flee. Romy Capulong was pale. The blast was at the sala of Judge Lustre on the 6th floor, he murmured.

Trooping behind him in ruffled dignity was well-known criminal lawyer delegate Dakila Castro, murmuring that Lustre is a good man—why should this happen?

I got nearer the building. Many people were screaming that it was the session hall that was bombed. Two thoroughly frightened City Hall employees passed me by shrieking that the canteen was damaged; there were splinters all over the place. Rebeck later appeared. “I last saw Tonypet Araneta crawling like a cat under the desks,” he quipped.

Apparently, this was what happened: At the precise time that Jess Matas was being interpellated, a big noise was heard. The soft-spoken Jess then politely said, “Excuse me, but could you please speak louder because there is so much noise outside?” He had hardly finished his sentence when there was a sudden explosion at the comfort room of the 14th floor. The delegates docked and flew to the other side of the session hall to the stairway. The women screamed. And pandemonium ensued.

I saw two people, one male and one female, being carried out in stretchers. Tonypet appeared later and gave us his version of what happened: The 4th, 6th and 14th floors were bombed!

Panic was in everybody’s face. The venerable Justice Jose Ma. Paredes came out scampering like a frightened rabbit. His eyes popping out, the gentle old man blurted, “This is the justification of your resolution for a recess. We have reason for a recess.”

This bombing incident made martyrs, to some extent, of the delegates. And at this stage, some martyrdom may be necessary to gain sympathy from a public that is fast losing its patience. The people are losing confidence in the Convention. After more than a year, it has not yet finished its task.

The time bombs were planted on three floors and they exploded almost simultaneously within seconds of each other. The question is—were they really meant to kill—or only to terrorize?

The corollary question is—who could have done it? To me, no moderate—whether of the right or of the left—would have done this. I am inclined to believe that not even the radical left would want to sow terrorism; this would alienate them from the population. The only group, to my mind, that would have some motive for bombing Quezon City is the Marcos group itself. The motive? To sow fear among the population and to find an excuse for imposing martial law or suspending the writ of habeas corpus. The executioners could be some paid pigeons of Marcos.

Come to think of it: who burned the Reichstag in 1933 anyway? Surely not that unfortunate Dutchman who was immediately arrested. Wasn’t the joke in Berlin at that time, that Goebbels loved to play dangerously with matches?

The Constitutional Convention would never be the same again. Fear has been sown into the hearts of delegates. Nevertheless, it would be difficult, at this stage, to suspend or adjourn the Convention. The proper thing would have been for the Convention to decide on a recess before the bombing incident. But now, it is too late to call for a recess; it would look cowardly for the delegates to do so.


August 15, 1945, Wednesday

Three orders of Gen. MacArthur have been brought to our attention.

The first, as reported to us by a Colonel who inspected our prison, was that MacArthur gave the Military Police an order while we were in Quezon City to take us to Palawan within 48 hours. This explains why they were in such a hurry to take us to the boat. We were notified at 11:00 a.m. to get ready and at 1 p.m. we were loaded in an open truck with heavy guard. In that truck we were not allowed to go down until we embarked at a landing barge at about 4 o’clock. So that we were literally dried in the sun for three hours. There should have been no hurry to load us in the hold of a ship as anyhow the boat laid anchor and did not depart until the day after. The trip to Iwahig has already been described.

The second was under date of July 17, 1945. Therein we were prohibited from writing to our relatives about our case or from giving instructions concerning our political plans or financial interests. Correspondence was confined to subjects of personal interest and not subjects connected with our detention or to carrying on political and business activities. The explanation given is that the intention of detaining us is to separate us temporarily from the political and economic life of the Commonwealth. We noted this order on August 9, 1945.

Because of this prohibition, all that could be communicated to us and all that we could communicate was the state of our health and our personal activities. Our letters soon became repetitious and monotonous so that now we do not write as frequently as before.

The third order was contained in the Daily Journal, International Falls, Minnesota, Dec. 30, 1944.

Gen. MacArthur’s Headquarters, Philippines, Dec. 30 — AP. Gen. MacArthur today ordered military interment of Filipinos who ‘have given aid, comfort and sustenance to the enemy’.

A proclamation issued by his headquarters said that military necessity requires that such persons be removed from any opportunity to threaten the security of our military forces of success of our military operations.

As Commander of the Southwest Pacific Areas, MacArthur declared his intent to ‘remove such persons when apprehended from any position of political and economic influence in the Philippines and hold them in restraint for the duration of the war whereafter I shall release them to the Philippine government for its judgment.’

A spokesman emphasized that this was not punitive action, but merely military interment similar to action taken against the Japanese in the United States early in the war. He said the proclamation was directed particularly at persons in positions where their actions could be of military consequence.

MacArthur said ‘evidence is before me of such activity’. He gave no details.

There should be no quarrel about the order itself. I do not agree with MacArthur that we can endanger military security. But let us give him the benefit of the doubt.

What I cannot understand is why we were deprived of our liberty without due trial or investigation — without giving us an opportunity to be heard. The charge against us must have been that we gave aid, comfort and sustenance to the Japanese. Why did MacArthur convict us of this charge based on the evidence before him — evidence submitted ex-parte? We do not know what it consists of. Why were we not given an opportunity to examine such evidence and to give our side of the case? If we were found guilty after a trial, we would at least have had the satisfaction of having been submitted to due trial or investigation.

Why did MacArthur do such a thing? Many versions have been given as to the motive of MacArthur. One said that he is not as Pro-Filipino as he is alleged to be. Another said that it was personal ambition, He has his eye on the presidency of the United States and he thinks this will help him. Another said that it is just sheer stupidity on the part of MacArthur. Yulo even thinks that MacArthur is anti-Filipino and he does not care what happens to us. Personally, I believe that MacArthur is ill-advised.

I am afraid I will have to modify the opinion I expressed earlier when I wrote on MacArthur.

In this connection, many of us believe that the Philippines should not have been invaded at all. The Americans should have gone direct to Japan. With the superfortresses, the absolute predominance in the air, the absolute control of the sea, and the atomic bomb, there was not the least doubt that the mainland of Japan could have been invaded and Japan conquered in a very short time. But MacArthur had stated that he would return to the Philippines and he wanted to make his promise good. He suffered humiliation when he fled from Corregidor and he wanted to recover his prestige by returning to the Filipinos. He wanted to satisfy his personal pride because of his political ambition. This decision on the part of MacArthur has been very costly to us. We lost hundreds of millions in material wealth. But this is nothing compared with the appalling loss of life. I estimate that about half a million Filipinos died because of the American invasion. History will have something to say about this.


January 13, 1945

Thin mush and hot water for breakfast and thinner soup for lunch. For supper, a stew made of corn meal, a few kidney beans, camotes (also few), coco lard. Not so bad. But anything tastes good right now.

Twenty four B-24’s came over this morning 10:00 a.m. and from what we could see, they plastered Marikina Valley near Pasig. About 1:00 p.m. some smaller planes were operating far out over Quezon City. No Jap planes around yesterday and today. What a relief after three years. There was one Jap plane took off from Grace Park about 5:00 this morning. But as I didn’t see it my eyesight was not damaged.

We were notified today to keep all containers full of water and to strictly observe all blackout regulations tonight. Now, I want to fill my bucket with fresh water but there is none running at present.

Lots of oil fires around today. It shows that our friends know there is no chance to take it with them. Now, isn’t that just too bad ?


January 11, 1945

Rice flour much and hot water for breakfast. I bummed a piece of ginger and made ginger tea and put some cinnamon in it (also bummed). It wasn’t bad. Thin soup for lunch. but, never mind — the end is near.

A flock of B-24’s came over this morning and plastered what appears to be about the exposition grounds in Quezon City. They did it like Grace Park. There was fires and dirt flying over a spot a mile long. Just before noon two navy planes flew low right over the camp and one of the pilots waved at the internees. It was sure a welcome sight to see the star on the wings of a plane instead of a fried egg.

This afternoon about 20 navy planes bombed and strafed Rizal Avenue extension. Some of them flew low over the camp. Later, they came back and from what we could see, strafed and bombed railroad yards.

This evening there have been a lot of explosions around the waterfront and Tondo, with lots of fires. Looks like the Japs are blowing up things and getting ready to leave. Well, the sooner the better.

Camote stew for supper. Had bacon in it. About like canned pork and beans has pork. Would have enjoyed three times that much. No rice. Did a big washing today and my back is broken.


January 7, 1945

Sunday started out fine. Bombing started early this morning with dive bombers. They shook up Grace Park and what appeared to be along the river in San Francisco del Monte. The real fun started later when the four motored bombers came over. They sowed small demolition bombs over that area like scattering seeds. Never saw anything like it. It seemed that the whole place was blowing up at the same time. The windows shook here in Santo Tomas like in a heavy thunderstorm.

That is one thing we got out of this. We, on the third floor have a fine view of Grace Park, Quezon City, Camp Murphy, Zablan Field, and the Marikina Valley in the distance. We have a box seat that many people would gladly pay thousands of dollars to see. And it is quite safe in here. Our planes silenced a lot of Jap anti-aircraft guns today. The last time our planes were over today (that is about 3:30 p.m.) there was very little gunfire anywhere.

The Japs have been very busy all day. Packing up boxes and other baggage, loading it on carts and trucks and leaving the camp. It sure looks good now.

The story is that there will be 20 Jap soldiers to guard the camp and only six rifles for the men who are actually on post. The Internee guards will take over inside the fence. Maybe a rumor. We’ll know more later. Note: Lots of the Japs left but there are plenty of guards left.

We had rice and camotes fried together for supper — pretty good. But we will have good chow in a very few days.

Oh, the Japs killed the beef that we were in hopes of getting and took it with them. They also killed their pigs. Oh hum, we’ll get some one of these days


January 3, 1945

Coconut milk, weak coffee and weaker rice mush. Mostly water. Weighed myself this morning. Weighed 119 lb. When I was in the Gym, I held at 170 lb. and now, the extreme low. Oh well, it won’t be long now.

Had soy bean soup for lunch. Not very much but it was hot. for supper, one rounding ladle of camotes boiled with skins on and a ladle of vegetable and mongo bean soup. Gee, was I hungry last night. Couldn’t sleep. My stomach kept inquiring why there was no food. It thought that my throat has been cut so that I couldn’t swallow anything.

We haven’t had a calamansi for about 15 days, nor a banana for over a month and we have forgotten what an egg looks like. The last banana that I had was a little surly saba that never got ripe. Well, I baked it in a fire and ate it “mas que”. Now as to camotes, it takes three times the weight of camotes to equal the same amount of rice, so if we had three ladles of camotes last night, we would have bloated up like a balloon. Now you see why I was hungry.

About 5:45 p.m., saw 4 of our dive bomber type planes fly over Grace Park and Quezon City. The Nips shot at them but the planes did not stop. So that ended a perfect day.


January 2, 1945

10:45 a.m. Another flock of our planes just passed over. No air raid alarm and no rough stuff.

We had a tasty dinner yesterday. Two scoops (small) of rice, camotes and carabao meat fried with garlic and leeks. mmmm! tasted mighty good. Also a fair sized ladle of meat gravy. Would have liked to have had double the helping. Then my poor little tummy would have been full for once.

Breakfast this morning — just mush. I got some hot water and mixed some of the mush on the hot water with salt and had a hot drink. Trying to fool myself, but no can do.

At 3:30 p.m. 10 B-24’s passed over Quezon City, going east. Anti-aircraft batteries shot at them but no hits. (They drove them away.)

Rice and mixed camote and talinum greens with meat gravy. No taste.


December 23, 1944

10:15 a.m. eighteen B-24’s with several P-38’s came over and bombed Grace Park and kept on going toward Mariveles. The most beautiful and inspiring sight of my life. Felt like crying. Several women did cry. Later they came back and sprinkled (that’s the word) Grace Park with small bombs. One large fire (oil) and several small ones. Four P-38’s straffed a place far out in Quezon City, probably a troop concentration. At 10:00 p.m. more bombings probably one or two planes. Passed waterfront and Nichols field 3 times –dropped some bombs. Shell bursts from anti-aircraft guns was beautiful to behold. Last raid about 11:00 p.m.


July 25, 1942

The search of houses is intensified. In Binondo, the dog-like police follow the trails of wanted persons or things useful to the enemy. The interrogations are terrifying.

The procedure is to herd the occupants of a house and keep them in a room while a thorough search is being made of the house. Fortunately, however, the searchers do not destroy or confiscate anything which is not offensive.

I talked to the son of Mayor Morató. He confirmed the news that his father and other government officials were arrested yesterday. The Japanese believe that there are many hidden firearms in Quezon City and that Mayor Morató had a hand in them. The young Morató was however confident that his father would be released once his innocence is proven.