September 14, 1945, Friday

Visit of family. I saw Victor, my new grandson, son of Paddy and Lily, for the first time.

Since my arrival, I had been conferring with the detainees of Muntinglupa and getting impressions. All seem to be very disappointed. They do not understand how we could be traitors. Even old Don Miguel Unson was bitter. All agreed that we should get together to protect our rights and to vindicate ourselves.

We who came from Iwahig continued to meet and comment on the different events and news. We were somewhat depressed. We were beginning to have the impression that some of those assuring us of their support are not really working for us. We even suspect that for political or personal reasons they preferred and wished that we remain in jail for a longer time or that our cases be prolonged.

There were two events that disheartened us very much. One is the case of Representative Veloso. He was about to be released and he announced to us his intention to take his seat in the House immediately. We tried to persuade him not to do so. But he insisted. He said that he had already talked to the majority of the Representatives. Apparently, his friends had forsaken him. The house refused to seat him. They set the precedent that he must first be cleared by the C.I.C. What a shameful ruling! Each House is the sole judge of the right to seat of its member. Why should they make it depend upon the discretion of another entity, especially one which is non-Filipino? The House should not allow anybody to interfere in the exercise of its constitutional right. Veloso announced that he would publish the names of collaborators now sitting in Congress and that he would go to the United States to to fight his case. He will make things worse.

The other is the cablegram to Pres. Osmeña of Secretary Ickes of the U.S. Department of the Interior, in effect it warns that the rehabilitation aid would depend upon whether the “collaborators” would be vigorously prosecuted and convicted. Osmeña answered that his administration is taking proper action. He said that proper machinery to handle the matter is being organized. He added that he even disregarded the legal provision that nobody can be detained for over 6 hours. There is quite a speculation as to why Ickes sent such a cablegram. The concensus of opinion is that it was the result of the campaign of Confesor, Cabili, Kalaw and Romulo. Ickes cannot possibly take personal active interest in an affair which is small in so far as the American people are concerned. Ickes’ cablegram was followed by several editorials and publications in the United States against “collaborationists.” The suspicion about the activities of Confesor and others in this connection comes from the statement of Col. Peralta, the guerrilla hero who has just returned from the United States, to the effect that Confesor and others go from one newspaper office to another to give news against the “collaborationists”. These people are certainly doing a lot of harm to the Philippines. The truth is that there is practically no pro-Japanese element in the Philippines. The Japanese themselves found this out, although too late. And yet Confesor and others would make the American people believe that there are many Filipino pro-Japanese and among them are counted many of the outstanding Filipinos who in the past or during the American regime occupied the most responsible positions in the government. I believe Confesor and others at heart do not believe that we are traitors to our country and pro-Japanese or disloyal to America. Their only aim is to prejudice Roxas who is disputing the presidency with Osmeña. So that we are being made the football of politics. We are being the victim of political intrigue and machinations. This gives one an insight of the evil of politics. Because of it, the most rudimentary principles of justice and fairness are trampled upon.

The cablegram of Ickes was received with disappointment and disgust by free loving Filipinos. The “collaborationists” issue is a matter that should be left to the Philippine Government to handle without interference on the part of the United States government officials. This gives us an indication of what we may expect if we are not given complete and immediate independence. Furthermore, why should the rehabilitation aid to which our country became entitled because of loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and more than a billion worth of damages as our contribution to this war, be made to depend upon a handful of supposed “traitors”? Why should our country be punished for the guilt of a few, who some Americans consider as “renegades”?

The answer of Osmeña was equally disappointing. It was weak and subservient. He should have resented the uncalled for and untimely interference. He should defend the rights and prerogatives of his government as we did when we fought General Wood for undue interference in our powers. He should resent the insult to him when Ickes seemed to presume that his government would not do what is right. Some remarked that this is just as “puppet” a government as the Republic during the Japanese occupation. It was an opportunity for Osmeña to make a stand to show that he means to govern this country.

There is another event worth mentioning. Habeas corpus proceedings were started in the Supreme Court for the release of one of the detainees. The Court decided against the petition on the ground that the war is not yet over. There was a brilliant dissenting opinion by Justice Ozaeta. It was a great document. He was for the maintenance and preservation of man’s constitutional libertarian rights.

* * * * *

            Our release began the very day we arrived in Muntinglupa. Saturday, September 8th, Minister Alunan and Gen. Francisco were released after giving the required bail. The next day, Yulo followed. Two days afterwards, Sison and Sebastian were released. There were rumors that Recto and I were to be released next. We had been informed that our papers were ready in Solicitor General Tañada’s office. Everytime one leaves, those left behind felt very sad.

We, members of Congress, had various meetings, once with Roxas. There was a proposition to write a letter to the Senate stating that we would not assume our positions in the Senate until after proper investigation and requesting such an investigation. It was written upon the suggestion of Roxas. But we decided not to take our seats until after our complete exoneration. I think this is a wise decision. We cannot do anything anyhow as we will be tied up on account of our cases. Besides, it will be embarrassing for us when questions involving our case or our relationship with the United States or Japan come up.


September 5, 1945, Wednesday

We seem to have been forgotten, not only by the Americans but also by our own government, and even by our most intimate friends. Is Osmeña decided not to help us? With so many planes and other means of transportation, is it not possible to ship us to Manila? Why was it that when we were brought here, they found a freighter? Why cannot the Mactan which is cruising the southern waters pass by Puerto Princesa. Where are our friends?

The United Charter was ratified by our Senate. Out of the present membership, 15 voted for approval. This is illegal as the Constitution requires 2/3 votes, or 16 votes. Such an important humanitarian document should not start its life in the Philippines with a violation of our fundamental law.

We do not know whether any discussion of the Charter took place. If I were there, I would ask clarification of the provision on independent peoples. I would ask whether it is applicable to the Philippines. I would want to know whether the ultimate independence of now dependent countries is guaranteed. Unless satisfactorily answered, I would propose a reservation; at least I would put on record the following: (1) that the Philippines should not be among those affected by this provision as we are not a dependent people like those in English colonies, and our eternal craving is independence for our country; (2) that since the purpose is to avoid war or at least remove its causes, no people should be continued as dependent. They should ultimately enjoy the God-given right to all peoples under the sun — the right to independence.

* * * * *

As I said before, when I have the time, I will write all that we talked about in the last two meetings. Meanwhile, I would like to make of record the following facts brought out:

Our first connection with the Japanese began this way. About the time the Japanese entered Manila on January 2, 1942, some Japanese came to see Don Quintin Paredes. They wanted to know his opinion on the organization of an administration. Paredes was taken to the office of General Maeda, Chief of Staff of the Japanese Army who, not in very clear terms, asked Paredes to organize or cooperate in the organization of some form of administration. Summarizing what they talked about, Paredes reported that the General wanted him to organize or cooperate in the organization of a body which shall take care of certain activities like building of roads and bridges, planting and harvesting crops, keeping peace and order, and making people return to their homes. Paredes told the General that he could not speak for all the Filipino officials.

The next day, Paredes went to see Yulo to confer with him about the matter. Yulo thought the matter was a very serious one and immediately consulted Chief Justice Ramon Avanceña, the grand old man, whose patriotism had already been shown by words and deeds. Meanwhile, Vargas, the man left by the President in charge of the government in the Philippines and who as Acting Mayor surrendered Greater Manila, was in continuous communication with the Japanese officials. Jose P. Laurel had also been visited by some Japanese including General Mayashi, whom he had known in Japan. Benigno Aquino and Claro M. Recto were also contacted by Japanese officers and civilians, and later also had conferences with General Maeda. They went to see Mr. Yulo, where it was decided that a meeting be called with all the members of the Cabinet of Pres. Quezon, the Senators-elect, some Representatives-elect, the heads of political parties, representatives of the press and elder statesmen. As a senator-elect, I was one of those called.

I have already given an account of what happened in the meetings in the house of Speaker Yulo. I will make a resume of the causes of our acceptance.

1. Maltreatment of Filipinos and atrocities committed by the Japanese were an everyday occurence all over Manila.

Everyone who came to the meetings brought fresh news of abuses and atrocities committed by the Japanese, both military and civilian. Don Ramon Fernandez, a most respected citizen, was slapped. In many parts of Manila, men were tied to electric posts, brutally beaten up and left exposed to the sun. I cannot forget the men I saw on the corner of Azcarraga St. and Rizal Avenue who were left to die. Arrests were very common and many of those arrested did not return; those who came back reported horrifying experiences. Properties, especially houses and automobiles, all kinds of foodstuffs were confiscated.

During those early days of Japanese occupation, news were constantly coming from the provinces of atrocities committed.

2. There was no doubt that unless we accepted, the Japanese would have governed directly or through Gen. Artemio Ricarte or Benigno Ramos. These two men were openly supporting Japan and undoubtedly would obey and implement whatever the Japanese wanted.

Ricarte had some strange ideas. When the slapping of men and women was brought to his attention, he said it was all right; our people need it; we have been wrongly educated by the Americans. (“Mabuti nga po. Kinakailangan ng ating mga kababayan. Masama ang itinuro sa kanila ng mga Americano.”) He also later advocated a resolution against the Americans and a formal outright declaration of war against America and Great Britain.

3. Acceptance would be in accordance with the instructions of President Quezon to us. He told us to protect our people and for the purpose we could even have an understanding with the Japanese. He only imposed one condition. We must not take the oath of allegiance.

This is the reason why when at one time the Japanese proposed the taking of the oath we all refused and we were willing to be punished. The Japanese gave up as a mass resignation of officials and employees could have spoiled their world propaganda that the Filipinos were with them.

4. We feared, later confirmed by events, that unless we accept there would be no peace and order. We would not be able to plant and to harvest and our people would die of hunger before the Philippines could be liberated by the Americans.

5. From the beginning, probably to attract us or for propaganda purposes, the Japanese wanted to give us independence. We could not refuse as we would not be able to explain our refusal. So we preferred the provisional arrangement entered into as we all then believed that America would come back soon.

Chief Justice Avanceña approved everything we did. He said he would be willing to stake his reputation, everything he had.

The alternatives from which to select were the following:

(a) Continuation of the Commonwealth. Rejected by the Japanese.

(b) Organization of a Republic. Immediately rejected.

(c) Special organization under the Japanese Military Administration. This was followed, but we endeavored to make as little change as possible as when we were in the Commonwealth Government.

The Japanese wanted to call the central body “Control Organs.” There were a lot of jokes about this expansion. We decided for Philippine Executive Commission.

How I was appointed was finally disclosed. I was not in the original list prepared by the Japanese. Those in the list were Vargas, Aquino, Laurel, Yulo, Paredes and Recto. The Japanese insisted on this list. They said they wanted all the factions duly represented. But later it was decided to appoint Yulo Chief Justice. Yulo did not want to serve in any capacity, but if he had to serve, he preferred the Supreme Court. Yulo was slated for Commissioner of Finance. In view of his appointment as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, two names were submitted for the position. Quirino and myself. Vargas did the selection. It was fatal in so far as I was concerned.

Vargas and Aquino aspired to be Chairman. Vargas from the very beginning acted as spokesman on our behalf although he had never been authorized. Because of this advantage, he won over Aquino Under the circumstances, it was preferable to have Vargas.

We afterwards discussed the following:

1. Message to our combatants in Bataan and Corregidor urging them to surrender. A prepared message was presented to us. Everybody was against it. The language was very bad, but we felt that that was better since it would be our best proof that it had been imposed. Alunan remarked: “Cuanto peor el lenguaje mejor.” Nobody remembered that he had signed.

2. It is said that we sent letters to Roosevelt and Quezon urging them to stop the hostilities. We did write Quezon under imposition. But nobody remembers the letter to Roosevelt as clearly it would have been improper.

For some time, I have felt fear that we might have to wait for Laurel, Vargas, Aquino, Osias and Capinpin who were still in Japan. It will delay our cases considerably. It may also complicate them. I hope this will not happen.


September 3, 1945, Monday

General Yamashita, the Japanese Commander-in-Chief in the Philippines, surrendered with thousands of his men in Baguio in the presence of Lt. Gen. Wainright. He was immediately confined in New Bilibid in Manila and will be tried as a war criminal. Under him, thousands and thousands of Filipinos, including my own daughter and brother-in-law, were massacred. He should be made, to atone for it. He should commit harakiri.

While on the way to luncheon a discussion ensued as to the retaking of the Philippines by MacArthur. With the exception of Alunan, all those who expressed themselves were of the opinion that the loss of over a billion pesos and the death of probably 200,000 Filipinos might have been avoided if the Philippines had not been retaken; that it was absolutely unnecessary since with America’s control of air and sea, better equipment, and the atomic bomb, Japan could have been brought to her knees by direct attack on Japan. But MacArthur, according to them, was ambitious. He desired to erase the blot on his record caused by his defeat in Bataan and Corregidor, and his escape from Corregidor. He said that he would return. And he wished to make good his word. The trouble was that in his effort to recover the Philippines, millions worth of properties and thousands of Filipino lives were sacrificed. Recto remarked: “MacArthur has destroyed the Philippines.” (“MacArthur ha destruido Filipinas.”)

In the afternoon, the Provincial Treasurer, Arcilla, came with letters for us. He first asked us to sign the receipt for the letters. We were very excited; we thought that it was an order for our release. It was a resolution presented by Rep. Magalona petitioning MacArthur to release us under bail. We appreciated it as we know Magalona had the best of intentions. But we all agreed that it was a foolish resolution. How can MacArthur grant us bail? The petition should have been to immediately turn us over to the Commonwealth, especially since there was already a plan for the disposition of our cases.


August 23, 1945, Thursday

10:40 a.m. It was reported that the talk all over town was that we were all leaving on the 27th.

Serging Osmeña wrote a letter to his father about our views on his candidacy. It seems that he reported that everybody was inclined towards his father except two or three. As to Recto, Serging thinks he is opposed. Serging also doubts Alunan because of his relations with Roxas. Paredes, Zulueta and others have been joking Serging. They told him that we are all for his father, but that we insist Paredes be the candidate for Vice-President. The truth is that we have not made up our minds. All we agreed on was that we would endeavor to be united; that we would endeavor to vindicate ourselves; and that we would fight against everybody who had been against us. We will see the situation in Manila. We will also do our best to help in the rehabilitation of our country.


August 16, 1945, Thursday

This morning, I modified my opinion as to when we will leave. I believe now that it will not be before the end of this month. It will be sometime in September or October. The reason for my change of view now is that I think Laurel, Aquino and Vargas, who are still in Japan, will be brought to the Philippines and I think their cases as well as the Ministers’ will be tried or investigated at the same time. Since the cases of those three or more serious, they may not be considered until after some time and, therefore, our cases will also be delayed.

It is reported by radio that Emperor Hirohito will fly to Manila, in a Japanese plane from Tokyo to Okinawa and in an American plane from Okinawa to Manila. MacArthur has been designated as Commander-in-Chief to receive the surrender of Japan. The representatives of the vanquished always come to the Headquarters of the Supreme Commander or to the place indicated by the latter. MacArthur’s headquarters is in Manila; therefore, the Japanese Representative should go there. But why Hirohito precisely. I can’t understand why it cannot be Premier Suzuki. I do not believe the United Nations will deal with the Premier, however; he will probably be one of those to be arrested and accused as a war criminal. But his cabinet can fall and a Pacifist Cabinet could be created under the Premiership of Konoye, Konoye can then sign the peace terms. But it seems it has to be Hirohito. What a humiliation! Before, he was a proud ruler, considered as god himself. His words were law and divine order at the same time. Now he is under the orders of MacArthur.

I suggested to Compadre Serging Osmeña that he write a letter to his father. I so suggested because it seems that they are already in good terms. I explained to him that his father is an experienced and shrewd politician. Serging ought to know that just now his father is at a disadvantage as regards the collaborationists inasmuch as Roxas has openly thrown himself on their side. I told Serging that he write his father that there is discontent here on account of his passive attitude. He should suggest to his father to do something; to make a “golpe” (sensational and radical act) which will boost his stock among the “collaborationists” and such “golpe” should be a general amnesty proclamation freeing everybody accused of collaboration. This may incline the collaborationists to his side or at least put him in a better position to approach them later. I found Serging rather reluctant for reasons which he explained. The reasons involved family relations among the father, mother-in-law and Serging.

* * * * *

Excerpts from a letter of Roy W. Howard, the principal owner of Scripps-Howard newspapers, dated at Manila, July 30, 1945 to Arsenio Luz:

My chief purpose in coming here, aside from a desire to confer with Gen. MacArthur and get a picture of the general situation, was to see if I could be of any help to you. I wish that it were possible for me to report success, but after pursuing every line that is open, and discussing your case with everyone I know who might be in a position to help, I am afraid that as far as your immediate release is concerned, my effort has been a failure.

It is my sincere belief, Arsenio, that in spite of any action that can be taken, including even legal action, the group held in Palawan now will be kept there until the conclusion of the war with Japan. I realize that this is going to be very tough, and I doubt whether were I in your place it would be possible for me to reconcile myself to the belief that remaining there is the best course. But in my efforts I have run into a few facts which, without in any sense justifying the action taken against you, throw a light on the situation which I want to pass along to you.

In my efforts I have talked to Gen. MacArthur, Gen. Thorpe, head of the C.I.C., Pres. Osmeña, Manuel Roxas, Phil Buencamino, Salvador Araneta, Manolo Elizalde, Chick Parsons, Paul McNutt, and others. They have all been very sympathetic and have helped me to the best of their ability. But we have all run into a stone wall in that Gen. MacArthur is embarked on a course which I am convinced he believes to be in the best interest of the Filipinos, and from which I do not believe it is going to be possible to dissuade him. As I see it, the situation boils down to about this:

MacArthur is fighting a war and doing a most magnificent job of it. However, the job is one calling for the most intense concentration, and despite what I am sure is his keen realization of a pot of political and purely domestic needs, he is having a straight line and giving no consideration to any proposition except killing Japs.

I have no doubt that he suspects there are men at Palawan who are entirely innocent, and many who have been guilty of nothing more serious than indiscretion or bad judgment. To attempt to sort those men out, however, would, if justice were to be done, be equivalent to bringing about trials at this time. I can see many reasons why this would be inadvisable, the chief one being that at the rate of which feeling is dying down, it is obvious that there will be much less emotionalism attaching to collaboration trials later on, than would be the case today.

If trials were to be held today, they would of necessity be trials before an American military tribunal. I suspect Gen. MacArthur feels that not only will Filipino courts be more competent to judge Filipino psychology, but that Filipinos, knowing the conditions existing in Manila and the pressure that put to bear on people like yourself, will be infinitely more lenient than would be the case with a hard-boiled, wholly impersonal military court. In any event, Arsenio, at the end of the week’s effort, in which I have thrown in everything I have without obtaining any redress in your case, I am forced to say that I think that is the way the thing stands, and while Gen. MacArthur has promised to have prepared for his own personal consideration a review of your case, I do not honestly advise you to count on much of anything happening in consequence.

The real purpose in writing this letter is this: I do not need to tell you, I am sure, that my own faith in your innocence of any action prejudicial to the United States has never waned. That will not be either news or a surprise to you. What is more important, however, to you… something which I am not sure you fully appreciate is that no one from Gen, MacArthur down has expressed to me the slightest belief that any action which you took under the stress of occupation conditions was in any sense an action aimed against the interests of the United States, and no one to whom I have talked has expressed the slightest doubt of your loyalty to the United States and to your American friends. That goes straight, Arsenio, and without any discount.

To give you a complete picture, however, I must add that some of your friends, even though they are understanding and tolerant, feel that you may have on occasion been a bit indiscreet and not used your head as effectively as might have been the case. Everyone realizes, however, that hindsight is sometimes better than foresight, and I haven’t the slightest doubt that aside from the discomfit and inconvenience of being held in custody for the very few months during which this war is going to continue, you will ultimately be restored to complete standing in this community and given a complete bill of health.

If your old sense of humor is still working, and I have no doubt that you still possess it even though it may have been scuffed up a bit, you may smile at a line of reasoning which I have given Carmen, and which I put forward in all seriousness. I realize the ridiculousness of a man on the outside arguing to the man who is detained, on the virtues of being in jail, and yet I think in your case there is some virtue in the situation.

Let me explain: If it were possible to exercise any influence to get you sprung at the present time, and I had an opportunity to do so, I would advise you to turn your back on such an opportunity. My reasoning is this: if you were to come out under such circumstances and without a trial, there would always be hovering over you a suspicion that may be you were at liberty not because of innocence, but because of some pull you were able to exercise. Such a situation would be a handicap to you and your family for the rest of your life. On the basis of what I have been told, and I am not going to attempt to state here which man or men most influenced my judgment (although I assure you they were among your best friends and American well wishers), I believe that the hearing which you will certainly get immediately upon the conclusion of the war and the turning of this whole problem over to the Philippines, will give you a clean bill of health and completely establish your innocence of any action that would prejudice your standing either with Filipinos or Americans. For whatever my judgment is worth, the value of this bill of health and official establishment of your innocence will over the long haul more than compensate for the few additonal weeks or months that you may be denied your liberty.

As I said, this argument, sound though I am convinced it is, may be one easier for me to make on the outside than for you to accept on the inside. I know, however, that you will not doubt my honesty, even though you should doubt my judgment, when I tell you my opinion of the tremendous value which I believe will attach to your exoneration, as distinct from the situation which might result if you were released in consequence of political pressure, even though there was the possibility of exerting political pressure, a possibility which I am sure does not exist.

I would of course have come to Palawan to see you, had it been possible to do so. I even made some efforts in that direction, but became convinced that not only could I have been of no value to you down there, but to have made the trip might have in some degree prejudiced your case.

Now for one more point, and then I’ll wind up this interminably long letter. In April, before his death on August 1st, I visited President Quezon at Miami, Florida. At that time he was on his death bed and I think fully realized that his number was up. He talked with extreme difficulty and only in a whisper, because the tuberculosis had reached his throat. I won’t attempt to quote all of his conversation, but merely that which has a bearing on your situation, and on his unshakeable faith in you and confidence in your loyalty and integrity. There had at that time come back to the United States varied stories of collaborative action being taken by Filipinos. Cases discussed with a number of these people, some of whom I knew and others whose names had slipped me, but whom he insisted I had met and who knew me. Finally, he turned to me and said:

Roy, I do not know about all of these people. I am worried about Jorge Vargas. The reports on what Jorge is doing are not good, though I find it very difficult to believe that any one so long associated with me would turn out to be disloyal to me, to the Filipino people, and to the United States. I must admit that I am having to reserve judgment. About some of your friends, however, I would advise you to have faith, just as I have. There are some of them to whom disloyalty would be impossible and I include in this list Alunan, Joe Yulo, Arsenio Luz, Phil Buencamino…’

In addition he named those several others — people whom probably I would recognize if I saw them, but whose names at the time did not mean much to me.

Quezon told me at that time the instructions that he had left with his friends, and added that he was now in touch with those men by clandestine short wave radio. He also told me that within a week he had received a call from one of his men, a Filipino doctor, who had returned to the States from Manila within the preceding forthnight.

At home I have a diary memorandum which I wrote that night, in which I have Quezon’s exact words. The foregoing quotation, however, is to all intents and purposes correct and accurate.

…I am no seventh son of a seventh son, but I venture the prophecy that this war will be over before the end of the year and that your complete restoration to your family and to the position which you have so well earned in this community, will have been effected before the New Year is many days old.

Mr. Howard is one of the two or three great newspapermen in the United States now living. The news above is the most authoritative we have received inasmuch as it is the result of his personal conferences with MacArthur in whose hands our destiny lies. Therein it is clear that we will not be released while the war lasts. He believes that even if we can go now we should not accept it as there will always be the suspicion that we got out as a result of influence. Whereas if we are acquitted after due trial, we will be given a clean bill of health, and, therefore, be restored to our old position in the community. Such was my opinion from the beginning. We do not positively know what we are charged of. But under the circumstances, we presume that it must be treason to our country and disloyalty to the United States. As to the latter, I have never been disloyal to the United States but if they insist, I would not mind it because after all deep in my heart I do not recognize loyalty to any country other than my own. But the charge of treason to my country is very serious. From all indications at the present time, only prejudiced Filipinos believe that we have been traitors and they constitute a very small portion of our population. But how about future generations who do not know the facts personally? If our declaration of innocence now is not recorded, they may get the idea that we have done something against our country. So it is preferable that we be submitted to a trial in order that our formal vindication may be decreed if we are found not guilty.


August 2, 1945, Thursday

We began a Novena to San Judas Tadeo, my wife’s favorite saint. She used to go to the Cathedral to pray before the saint. Paredes is the leader. He also has been going to confession. We were wondering whether he had left the Masonry in which he was an ex-grand Master and one of the most prominent.

It was reported that Cummings, when he was Attorney General, rendered the opinion that collaborators would lose their citizenship. The best legal talents are here in this camp and they all said that they could not understand how Cummings could render such an opinion.

We received another version of the instructions of Pres. Quezon. It was in the form of a cablegram to Col. Nakar, Commander of the USAFFE forces in Northern Luzon, which reads as follows:

For Gov. Quirino and Gov. Visayas, Masaya, Isabela. In reply your telephone re instructions to you in case occupation your province by Japanese, you must remain in your post to maintain peace and order and protect civilian population until Japanese take over government authority. In case you asked by Japanese to continue performing functions you should use discretion considering best interests your people but should be sure no personal or official aid and comfort to enemy especially its military activities. Municipal police should continue maintaining peace and order until relieved by Japanese but Constabulary should immediately join nearest Philippine Army detachment. In case you withdraw to hills or mountains keep in touch with Voice of Freedom, or another station in occupied territory or K.G.E.I. San Francisco for possible further contact with Commonwealth Government. Quezon.

The telegram was dated Washington, April 18, 1942.

Above is substantially the same as other instructions given, which I have previously mentioned.

This day the Lieutenant came with an American who was looking for me. I became rather nervous. It turned out that he was Mr. L. C. Ashmore of the C.I.C. I thought he came to investigate me. He introduced himself and he seemed to be very nice. He said that the Manila office had sent him a letter to ask me certain questions on Imports and Exports during the Japanese occupation and also certain business practices of the Japanese. He gave me an outline of what he wanted. I immediately prepared a memorandum on the different matters contained in his memorandum and, on August 15th when he came back, I handed it to him. I kept copies of his memorandum and mine.

On account of the Luz’s illness, we have been recalling his many acts. Zulueta recounts that one afternoon, Luz called Alunan and himself, and with Luz’s forefinger on his lips to indicate that they should make no noise, he led them to a corner. Luz said he had very important news and Alunan and Zulueta became very anxious to know what they were. Suddenly he stood up and sang “Pregunta a Las Estrellas.”

Shortly after his arrival, he asked that we hold a special prayer for the soul of his mother as it was the anniversary of her death. He prepared a prayer which he said with full devotion. But his prayer was that Madrigal give his millions to our cause.

The next day he called us all to a meeting. He said he had very important news to transmit. Since we did not know him very well then, we were very eager to hear what he had to say. After a long preliminary which kept us more anxious, he broke down and began to cry. He announced that he was suffering from malaria and he hoped that we would not mind if he stayed with us. In chorus, we told him that we had no objection.


August 1, 1945 Wednesday

Today has been declared a legal holiday to commemorate the death anniversary of Pres. Quezon. This is a very fitting tribute, Pres. Quezon will pass in history as the greatest man we have ever produced. Correctly, he can be called the father of the Philippines. He it was who was able to insure the independence of our country. He was the one that did most to implant democracy in this country. His love for the masses, for the laboring class is proverbial. It is to be deeply regretted that he died precisely when we were at the threshold of our goal — the independence of our country.

The Iwahig people, upon the invitation of the teachers, is holding an appropriate program. They have selected Mr. Quintin Paredes as the main speaker. The Colonel-Superintendent approved. But it was disapproved in Manila. And yet we are not to be called “prisoners”. It smacks of intolerance.

At times I ponder on who suffered more — those who went to the mountains or those who stayed in the towns and cities. It is true that those in the mountains experienced untold sufferings. They had to move from place to place to avoid being hunted by the Japanese. Many times they had no food and this is the reason why they sometimes had to resort to forced commandeering of foodstuffs whenever the owners are unwilling to give. Many of them became sick, some very seriously, and died for lack of doctor or medicine. But so did those who stayed in the cities and towns. Their lives too were in danger at all times. They had to watch their conduct, their day-to-day acts for fear that they might displease the Japanese or Japanese sympathizers. The mere sound of heavy boots made them tremble with fear. Their pulse beats faster when somebody knocks at their door at night. Their fears were not without proof; the fact is that thousands in the cities and towns met their death at the hands of the Japanese or their agents, or suffered the most cruel torture at Fort Santiago and other prisons. The victims were both private citizens and officials and employees of the government. Those in the cities and towns perhaps had even less food than those in the mountains because there was very little food — food being transported to the cities and towns were confiscated by the Japanese or by crooks or false agents of the law, or could only be bought at prohibitive prices. As to medicine, the stock was very limited and mostly in the hands of soulless profiteers.

I state all the above not to minimize the patriotic services rendered by the guerrillas in the mountains as the truth is that I have nothing but respect and admiration for them. I envy them for their sacrifice and readiness to give their lives for the sake of the country. What I regret very much is that I, as many thousand others, was not in a condition to follow them for obvious reasons — my family is big and composed mostly of girls who cannot possibly escape capture. What happened to the family of unknown patriot, Col. Emmanuel Borja, is a good example. He was able to flee outside the city, but then the Japanese arrested his wife and, I understand, other members of the family. He had to come back. Many of us just did not know where to go. Many of us could not be a guerrilla at all because of physical defects. I still remember many years ago when I was still young. I applied for enlistment in the National Guard which was to have been sent to Europe. I was rejected for very defective eyesight.

I can cite very many other incidents which show that our lives, those who stayed in the cities and towns, were all but rosy. There was a proclamation providing for mass responsibility and death if any Japanese was harmed or killed. In the streetcars, many were slapped for just jostling a Japanese. I remember an incident in front of my house. A “carromata” (horse rig), probably unintentionally on the part of the “cochero” (rig driver), blocked the way of another “carromata”. The passenger in the other “carromata”, a Japanese, attacked the “cochero” and almost killed him. The people gathered around wanted to lynch the Japanese. But someone in the crowd with presence of mind told them to desist as it would have meant the arrest and death of many persons in the neighborhood. We resorted to cowardice to avoid any trouble with the Japanese.

I would like to relate what our life in Baguio was like and our trek down down the mountains from Agusan, Baguio to Tubao, La Union.

Since the landing of the Americans on the Lingayen Gulf on January 9, 1945, there were daily flights of American planes to Baguio to bomb and strafe the different parts of the city. By the middle of March, bombings had become very intense. The central part of the city was almost all destroyed. Hospitals, convents, one Protestant church and the surroundings of two Catholic churches were destroyed. Many died or were wounded, especially in the bombed hospitals. The people expressed deep resentment for what we thought was indiscriminate bombing. My own experience with American planes was on January 5, when the market was strafed. I was then holding office at the Philippine National Bank, just around the corner from the strafing.

The Cabinet Hill was surrounded by military objectives. In the east were the South Road and the Teachers’ Camp (converted into a Japanese military camp); in the north, Elizalde’s compound and various private houses occupied by the Japanese; in the west was Hogan’s Alley occupied by the Japanese Marines; in the south, Baguio Auto Line (BAL), Engineer’s Hill, the Government Center and the Justice Hill. Hardly a day passed without bombings of these places. The first heavy bombing was staged by various B24’s and I actually saw the first bombs being released as they were discharged right above our house. We ran to the shelter under our house. The shelter withstood the ordeal but when nearby houses caught fire, we moved to the tunnel-shelter of Minister Sanvictores. Later, we used the shelter of Minister Jose Paez. Luckily enough, not a single bomb fell within the Cabinet Hill compound, although all the houses were full of shrapnel and bullet holes.

Since my family was very big, I decided to build our own shelter-dormitory on the eastern side of Cabinet Hill where we transferred on the 18th of March. The dormitory, built by the male members of my household including my two sons, was 2 by 3 meters with passage of 2 meters. The height was 5 feet 10 inches to the beams. The posts were of fair-sized pine trees. The sides and ceiling were of burnt galvanized iron. Near the passage we built a shaft for ventilation, but principally for an exit in case of necessity. We braced the shelter with two iron pipes so it would not collapse. We covered the shelter with about a meter and a half of earth. It was quite comfortable for sleeping.

The bombings continued. The Mansion House where the President and his family were staying, as well as Speaker Benigno Aquino, Sr. and other officials, was hit and badly damaged. When the American airmen staged carpet bombings, a bomb which would have hit squarely my air raid shelter and the adjoining shelters of Ministers Recto and Paez, exploded in the tree tops. If it had exploded on the ground, all three families would have been wiped out completely. Mr. Recto’s chauffeur was killed and my cook seriously wounded.

We got scared. We decided to walk everyday to the Catholic Cathedral to seek shelter during the daytime. But bombs fell all around the Cathedral and one of the bombs hit the road near the church. We decided that it was too dangerous for us to stay in the city and so we evacuated to a place called Irisan, in the outskirts of Baguio about 6 kilometers away. All the other Ministers also fled the city.

In Irisan, my two sons Tony and Alfredo, and my Filipino bodyguard, Venancio Llagas, built shelters in a narrow gap between two mountains — the shelters were actually caves. It would not be possible, therefore, for the bombs to hit us. My Japanese bodyguard, Mr. Ishikawa, did not accompany us to Irisan.

By this time, a big contingent of the American Armed Forces was proceeding to Manila while other forces prepared to go to Baguio and other places in the Mountain Province.

On the afternoon of the 12th of April, 1945 at about one o’clock, I decided to evacuate from Baguio because for weeks a continuous stream of people fleeing Baguio passed in front or near our shelter. In conversations with them, I came to know that they were leaving to save their lives either as a result of American air and land bombardments, or of massacres being perpetrated by the Japanese. They were all very anxious to go to the American occupied territory. Among them were men and women from all walks of life, from the poorest laborer to the richest tycoons, from a humble messenger to a very high government official. There were doctors, lawyers, engineers, nuns, priests — in fact all human activities were represented. There were newly born babies as well as persons who were visibly sick or over seventy years old who could hardly walk. I could not see how the old and the sick could make it, but I learned later that they all reached their destination after crossing steep and apparently insurmountable mountains, deep ravines, crystal-like rapid streams, thick forests. They arrived at the safety zone more dead than alive, however.

This stream of people so impressed us that we decided to take the long journey ourselves, although we had my child of 6 years, Menchu, who had been sick, and my mother-in-law, Maria de Lontoc, who was old, sickly and could hardly walk.

All our friends in the neighboring shelters, Dr. Jose de la Rosa and family, the Suntays and others, had already left and we regretted not to have gone with them. We received news that they arrived safely at their destination behind the American lines. Mr. and Mrs. Salvador Araneta, Compadre Lacson and family, Atty. Feria and many others stopped for a while at our shelter on their way to Agusan. We became more anxious to go. Two days before our departure, a massacre of about 32 occupants of 2 Igorot houses was perpetrated by the Japanese soldiers. The next day we found the places all around us deserted. I sent my son, Alfredo, to the shelter of Eugenio Lopez and they had just left without notifying us although we had agreed to go together. We inquired about Mayor Mitra and he had also fled. In the meanwhile, we noticed that fighting was getting nearer and nearer judging from the sound of cannons and machine guns. Shelling was becoming intense. Shells were falling all around our shelter. We could distinctly hear the whistling of shells passing overhead. At one o’clock, I sent my bodyguard to Minister Sison to tell them that we better leave right away. The answer came that they could not go as Mrs. Sison was sick and they were waiting for Major Leocadio de Asis who they had sent ahead to explore the way. I immediately went to their shelter which must be about 200 yards distance from my shelter. Shelling was very intense that afternoon and the shells were falling near our shelter and along the way. I had to dive to the ground many times. After almost running the whole way, I arrived on top of the hill where the shelter of Minister Sison was. Up there the explosions were louder; it seemed that the shells were falling just a few yards from us.

I proposed to Mr. Sison that we leave that same afternoon. He refused saying that his wife was sick and that he would prefer to wait for Major de Asis. I pleaded and pleaded, but he would not budge an inch. I then told him that we were leaving anyhow as I was afraid that the next day would be too late. I also told him that we had no guide but that I was sure that we would find other people fleeing on the way. Probably because shelling was becoming more intense and the shells were falling nearer and nearer, Mr. and Mrs. Sison decided to come.

I returned to our shelter and announced that we were leaving right then and there. Everybody was ready; everything we could carry had already been packed. Each of us, especially the body guard and the servants, practiced carrying our packs. All gave assurance that they could carry their respective loads. Even small Menchu had a small package. Needless to say, we were able to take very little. We left several sacks of rice, plenty of canned goods and other food provisions. We left almost all our clothing and several valises full of miscellaneous things. They were scattered in and outside the shelter as if a typhoon had just passed. We hid a little food in one of the caves and sealed the entrance, in case we should be compelled to return. We carried food only for one day as we could not carry more. We knew we had to travel at least 3 days but we were expecting to dig camotes along the way and, at any rate, we were ready to suffer hunger. We felt that all we would need was water and we had been assured that there was plenty of water along the way.

We climbed the first hill which was already steep although it was nothing compared with other mountains we had to climb later. We had a great deal of difficulty going up. When we reached the top, we realized that our packs were too heavy to carry all the way. We threw most of our load. The guard and the laundry woman, without even consulting us, left behind a greater portion of their load. It so happened that my clothes were in one of the packs. I had other clothes being carried by a small young servant girl, but they were all woolen clothes. I gave up hope of saving them because I did not believe the little girl could carry her load which was quite heavy. But to the surprise of everybody, she reached our destination without throwing any part of her load.

We went by the shelter of Minister Sison where the family joined our party, and proceeded on our way. Crossing the Naguilian Road, the trail was downhill and it was quite good. After walking about four kilometers we were stopped. On the way we were stopped by two Japanese soldiers. One of them, an officer, asked us where we were going. We told him that we wanted to escape from shells and bombs. We indicated that we were going to Amasi. He was very nice. He allowed us to proceed but warned us not to go straight ahead or turn to the right as there was fighting. He said we should take the left trail as it would be safe.

The place where we stopped and passed the night was near a Japanese patrol station. From there we could see the flash of cannons, hear the whistling of shells overhead and afterwards the sound of bursting shells. On the hillside some of our companions, mostly girls, danced and sang. We had a good sleep and the next morning, we had enough strength to proceed.

Starting our journey early in the morning at about 5 o’clock, we passed through rough trails dotted with big stones, indicating that we were walking on a river bed where a rapid stream runs through during the rainy season. Eight kilometers further, we reached the Asin road. We walked for another eight kilometers along this road where we arrived at a spot where heavy fighting had taken place. It seemed to be a dead trail. Trying to pick up the trail, we explored the area for a while and right up the road about a hundred yards from where we were, we found another trail. There could be no mistake about it; clothes were strewn all along the path. As a matter of fact, from this point on there were clothes thrown all along the trail to Pitugon. We could not possibly lose our way. We contributed our own clothes to the litter, including my terry cloth coat which had covered me for years after playing tennis.

We crossed a big river, went up a steep mountain where we saw some Japanese picking “camotes”, and reached a narrow plateau where at about 9 o’clock we stopped as airplanes passed overhead and began fierce bombardment. I was surprised to learn, especially since shell explosions had been taking place around her shelter, that during a bombing, Mrs. Sison is unable to walk. We could see the target distinctly. It was the place where we used to live and had just left only the previous day. There could be no mistake about it as we could see bombs exploding on and around the lime factory. (Lime is “apog” in Tagalog; this is the reason why the place is called Apugan. Irisan is the next barrio, the boundary of which is very near my shelter). Our shelters are just a few yards below the factory. We were sure that our shelters had been bombed and this was confirmed by reliable information we received later. We probably would have been killed if we had remained until the next Saturday as proposed by Sison. I do not know whether I had already said that I insisted in leaving that afternoon and did not wish to leave the next day as this day was Friday the 13th. Later we also learned that the only places in Baguio where hand-to-hand combat between Americans and Japanese took place were Irisan and vicinity. In other words, fighting was right there where we lived. What would have happened if we had not left?

After aerial bombardment at about 11:30, we moved ahead. We decided not to eat lunch until we were a little further. We crossed the narrow open plateau and again went up through a narrow trail well shadowed by trees. It was quite a winding trail. We seemed to be going around and around. Finally, we reached a ridge which was quite open. We went along this ridge. Ahead of us we could see shells bursting. Before we reached the place where the shells were falling, we turned left. We reached a place where very large rocks nestled several Igorots houses, all deserted. I forgot to state that after crossing the first river after the Asin road, we were stopped by a Japanese civilian. He asked us many questions and ordered us to give all our revolvers if we had any. We carried 6 revolvers. He took them all, but later returned them except one that belonged to Col. Desiderio which was really a very goodlooking revolver. Afterwards, he asked for cigarettes. We were convinced that he was not connected with the Army but was one of the Japanese civilians who went around robbing people. I should also state that from the time we left our shelter, an American observation plane had been flying overhead. It flew very low and we could see the pilot distinctly. He evidently knew that we were evacuees as he waved at us. We waved back whenever we were sure there was no Japanese around. We had to be careful. My son, Tony, was almost killed because a Japanese sentry saw him waving while an American plane flew overhead. He was lucky that the Japanese believed his explanation that he was waving at a girl friend in a house up the road, which was the truth.

We considered the Igorot village as unsafe as it could be the target of shelling. So after two hours of rest, although we were still very tired, we moved. We wished to reach the other side of the valley which we thought was only about two kilometers away. We walked and walked but it took us hours to reach the river bank bordering the village. This was a trail which descends very abruptly. The hill to the river bank was almost perpendicular. We looked down and we were perplexed as to how we could do it. Finally we decided to slide down. It was a most dangerous feat. It was raining hard and this made the trail very slippery. We feared that my mother-in-law might have to remain behind since she could not continue walking anymore. But she was brave and determined. She said she could make it also. She did, and we attributed it to a miracle. She could hardly walk but by sheer strength of will and perseverance she always could go farther and farther.

But there was a time when the way seemed impossible for her and to make things worse, she had fever. She did not wish to go any further; she could not. It rained and she had to lie down on the wet ground. But my son, Tony, true to my instructions to him to take care of Lola (grandmother), stuck to her. Tony and my Filipino bodyguard, Llagas, carried her down to the river bank. This took several hours. Could she continue? It looked impossible. We prayed and prayed. God must have heeded us as the next day, she found enough strength to proceed. She was able to go several kilometers when it started to rain again. Still suffering from a high fever, she had to take a long rest. Then, although practically dragging her feet, she continued on her way and was able to walk almost all the way to the border of the safety zone. All along the way since the start of our trek, I tried to find carriers, but I could not get any. I asked an Igorot guide to furnish me men to carry my mother-in-law but he said it would have to be after Ambosi as runners thought it dangerous to approach Baguio. A man was willing to do it for ₱3,000 worth of treasury notes. I did not have the money; I carried over ₱3,000 but half of them were PNB notes. He lowered his rate to ₱2,000, but I still could not pay. But the Igorot leader assured me that he would have some men carry Mama (my mother-in-law) after Ambosi. Finally, when we were almost at the end of our journey, a man agreed to carry her. How she was able to walk about 25 kilometers of trail crossing high mountains and deep valleys can only be attributed to God’s mercy.

Going back to the river bank, there was a lone house near the bank. As it was raining we went under it where we slept on the dirty ground with our wet clothes on. We slept soundly probably because we were tired. We did not mind the mosquitoes. It is possible that my wife was bitten here by a malaria transmitting mosquito since after her arrival in Manila, she had bouts of malaria. The house must have sheltered numerous evacuees; on the floor and all around were clothes and human refuse. It was upon our arrival in this place that an Igorot leader with several companions passed by and told us they were on their way to Baguio on behalf of the American Army to rescue General Roxas. I told them to be careful since Roxas was being closely watched. The leader said that he expected to be back next morning with Roxas. I thought he was just boasting.

The next morning we could not leave because my mother-in-law had not arrived. We worried about her and feared for her safety, and the two men with her (Tony and Llagas). We were embarrassed because we were delaying everybody in our party. Fortunately or unfortunately, an air bombardment staged by many airplanes began, so we could not leave anyway. The planes started diving just above us, and we could see the bombs being released. The target to be Japanese positions at the end of the Asin road. Finally, my mother-in-law arrived at about 10 o’clock. Shortly thereafter, we continued on our journey. While crossing the river I took a bath in the rapid crystalline current. When my mother-in-law saw my body which was more of a skeleton than anything else, she cried.

On the river we were advised that Gen. Roxas and Chief Justice Yulo and their families had arrived. The Igorot leader had made good his promise. It seems that he went directly to the shelter of Roxas, and upon his insistence the Roxases and the Yulos left at once. Mrs. Roxas, Mrs. Yulo and Miss Roxas were carried by the Igorots in hammocks. Sison and I decided to leave at once and go a little faster as we did not want Roxas and Yulo to leave ahead of us; we feared that the Japanese would pursue them. They were not pursued, however. I doubt whether the Japanese could have followed them because all along the way American airplanes flew above them as if patrolling to protect them from attacks by the Japanese.

We climbed one steep mountain and another steep mountain. We stopped to rest and shortly afterwards, to our surprise, my mother-in-law came walking. But she was very weak and again with fever. A very kindly mestizo gave her medicine. It started to rain hard again, and again she had to stay in the rain with fever.

We continued our way and after about 3 or 4 kilometers walk over a comparatively good road, we arrived soaking wet at a place which was apparently a rest house. As it continued to rain, we huddled like sardines in the one room house. In size, it must have been four by four meters. It had a front porch that sagged. At about 5 o’clock in the afternoon, we were startled by our Igorot guide suddenly jumping out the window. A Japanese soldier appeared with a loaded sub-machinegun pointed at us. Another armed Japanese soldier with a big scar on his face stood just outside the door. We could not tell whether there were others outside. The one inside the hut, with Capt. Desiderio who studied in Japan and spoke Japanese acting as interpreter, told us not to move. He told us to surrender all firearms. We showed him our five revolvers. He got them all, but then returned my revolver and that of Minister Sison. But almost immediately, he took mine back. He ordered us to open our baggage, which we did. He examined each of them. He got all the foodstuff. One of our companions, Mr. Gatchalian, remained seated on his bundle. The Japanese pulled it from under him and opened it. To our consternation, it contained a revolver with many rounds of ammunition. The Japanese became very angry. He pointed a revolver at Mr. Gatchalian. We thought the Japanese was going to shoot him, but fortunately he merely got the revolver. The tension eased. He asked us for our watches which we gave him. He returned some but retained the expensive ones, including my gold watch. I did not expect him to like my watch as I had been told that the Japanese preferred wrist watches and the watch of Mr. Sison was a gold wristwatch of the best kind. I prized my watch very much; it was a gift to me of Don Antonio Roxas. My other watch which had been presented to me by the employees of the Executive Bureau when I resigned from this office and which I therefore also prized very highly, had been accidentally included in the bag containing our very valuable medicines left along the way. I could not blame my wife for this as like others she was not herself. It was plain robbery, a regular daytime hold-up. As it turned out, the Igorots jumped out of the window to warn Roxas that there were Japanese and not to proceed. Roxas and Yulo did not arrive until after the Igorot had assured them that the Japanese were no longer in the vicinity.

Roxas and party arrived in the hut that night. He told us that they decided to leave Baguio after they found out that Sison and I had already left. They feared that the Japanese would take action against the Ministers who were left in Baguio. They walked very fast even during the night because they feared that they were being pursued. Fortunately, they met no Japanese. We had a long talk about many things that night. We agreed to leave early the next morning, April the 15th, 1945. He proposed that we go in groups instead of together, each group to leave at half hour intervals.

We learned that we were within the jurisdiction of Ambosi; that we were not yet in the safety zone. Although we were very tired, we did not sleep well that night. The Roxases and the Yulos slept in a nearby house, but we were still too crowded. We slept in a sitting position. The mestizo who gave medicine to my mother-in-law suffered a deep cut on his foot when he stepped on a can which had been thrown out the window by the young son of Mr. and Mrs. Villegas. He was bleeding profusely.

Mr. and Mrs. Villegas had a small baby and they kept lighting matches throughout the night. We could not understand why. We all grumbled and protested but they paid no attention. Because of them, I do not believe anybody was able to sleep.

We had no more food. The men went to search for food and they came back with a load of “camote”. This is what we ate for breakfast the next morning. We received information that the Japanese were pursuing us, so although according to Roxas’ plan they were to leave before us, Sison and I decided to go ahead. At about 5 o’clock, we continued our journey. I left my son Tony, my bodyguard and our laundrywoman to take care of my mother-in-law. I told my son that we would be waiting for them when we reached the safety zone. To make sure that they would not lose their way, I told them I would mark the turns or crossings with toilet paper, which I did. They could not lose their way as there was only one trail and the whole way as littered with clothes and other things thrown by the evacuees. My mother-in-law was growing weaker and weaker. I knew that, her strong will notwithstanding, there would come a time when it would just be impossible for her to continue.

The trails continued to be perilous — in fact they were even worse. Almost perpendicular mountains had to be traversed. After ascending and descending a mountain, another one loomed ahead. We counted nine high mountains before reaching Tubao. Many times we just had to slide down on our backs. There was one portion of about 100 yards on the side of a steep mountain with the trail no more than a foot wide and very slippery. In parts, avalanches had occurred and the trail disappeared down the mountain. We passed these portions by holding tightly on tree roots and vines which fortunately were quite abundant. We had to do some Tarzan stunts. To fall meant certain death as the ravine was very deep. Fortunately, no accident happened to any of us. It was the Almighty protecting us.

The first man we met along this trail told us that he had seen Japanese soldiers on the way. We became very nervous. Although we were already dead tired we accelerated our pace. Mr. and Mrs. Sison and our other companions were far ahead of us. My whole family with the exception of Tony, who was with his grandmother, were walking together. My wife was visibly very tired and weak. But the others, including little Menchu, seemed to be still strong. At one time, we stopped to take a little rest. My three young ladies, Dely, Tesy and Ming, who were a little ahead of us entered a dilapidated shack to take a rest. They came running and very excited. They saw a horrible sight — the body of an old person which they could not distinguish to be that of a man or a woman, already in an advanced state of decomposition. We left the place hurriedly.

We again climbed up a mountain so thickly forested that we could not see the sky. The trail was also very bad, but because it was very shady, we considered it the best portion of our trip. We crossed other streams with crystalline water, but although we wished to wash ourselves, we did not stop. We finally reached a group of houses. There were four or five persons in the village. They said that the day before they had been visited by Japanese soldiers which information scared us awfully. After eating some bananas which we picked along the way, we left. We were again caught by heavy rain. We stopped at an abandoned shack with a roof that hardly protected us. It was here that the Roxases and Yulos overtook us. The ladies looked fresh as they were carried in hammocks. As soon as the rains subsided, we proceeded. We had hardly walked 2 kilometers when it began to rain again. The trail was already very slippery and impassable. We had to stop under a structure which seemed to be an old stone bridge. When the sky cleared, we beheld a mountain on the other side of the river. Behind the mountain was already the safety zone. We burst in jubilation. Roxas signalled us to be quiet as there were Japanese. Sure enough; to our right we saw some Japanese soldiers going in a direction parallel to us. Are we going to meet misfortune at the last lap of our trip? We proceeded quietly and fortunately the Japanese did not see us or pretended not to see us.

As if to complete our suffering and martyrdom, the last lap to safety was a steep mountain which was very slippery from the rain. I fell down many times and at one time I almost rolled down into a deep ravine. I would have met instant death. It was impossible for my wife and daughters to go down the mountain. Roxas approached me and told me that runners and carriers would come for them. I still wonder how these Igorots can go down a steep mountain trail so easily just as if it were a perfectly level road. We arrived at the river bank safely and easily. For the first time since the war, we laid eyes on an American soldier. Our emotions were indescribable.

I related earlier our jubilation at seeing the U.S. Captain and his men. We were carried across the river and then we had to ascend another very steep, very difficult, slippery mountain. We did not allow ourselves to be carried any more. But we noticed that we climbed better and faster. Besides we were no longer suffering from nervousness caused by well-founded fears. We reached the top where we stopped to rest. We tarried as we were already in the safety zone. There were many soldiers and guerrillas. Shortly after we had sat down, my younger son, Alfredo, told me that my mother-in-law was coming. We thought he was joking, but then we saw her carried on the back of a man who was rather small. He was carrying my mother-in-law on his back as if she were a small child. We waited for her and there was a happy reunion of three generations of my family.

Before dusk we had to climb again, but it was not a difficult ascent compared with the others. At the top, a place called Pitugan, were three houses, one just a hut. The big one was occupied by Roxas and family and their friends. The small hut was assigned to my family and to Mr. and Mrs. Padilla. Others wanted to join as but we objected because there was no more room. I am glad the Padilla family was the one assigned to us since Mrs. Padilla is a sister of Don Jacobo Zobel, one of my very good friends whose family always supported me in my election bids in Calatagan and Nasugbu. Here for the first time we ate right; we had a good meal. Here we passed the night without hardly any sleep not only because we were almost all in semi-sitting positions, but also because we were too excited for being already in the safety zone. Even then the necessary precautions were taken by the American Captain. There were soldiers with submachine guns posted throughout the night around our houses. The order was to shoot anybody loitering around. Frequently, they searched the whole neighborhood with lighted torches and flashlights. We were cautioned not to go out by ourselves as we might be mistaken for Japanese snipers. We did not go out all night even though we felt the necessity to relieve ourselves. The precautions were well taken as the place where we saw the Japanese soldiers was just on the other side of the river, and once in a while they cross the river and shoot at anyone they see. Fortunately, no untoward incident happened that night.

The next morning, April 16th we left already rather late — about 7 o’clock. We walked not hurriedly on trails all going down. They reminded me of the trails of Batangas. I admired my wife; she had walked practically the whole way and she seemed to be still strong. She was very thin and I feared she would collapse, but she was no more tired than I was. We were, carrying nothing as we were able to hire carriers for this part of the trip. Mama and Menchu were being carried. All along the way, we met hundreds of people, many were runners and carriers. They brought canned goods and candies which they were selling at high prices to the thousands of evacuees coming from Baguio. At about half past eleven, we reached the plains. I think the place is called Rizal. There we stopped a while to eat young coconuts and sugar cane.

Gen. Roxas and Mr. Yulo walked with us. When we were half way to Rizal, a horse was brought for Gen. Roxas. We walked on the plains and after crossing two rivers we sighted a military truck. It was intended for us. The Engineer son of Minister Paredes was in it. The American driver was very nice. My wife and I boarded the truck. I wanted to bring my young ladies but I was told the truck was going back for them. We passed new roads which I understand were built by the American Army. On the way, we picked up Mama and Menchu. We reached Tubao after twelve. The truck returned to Rizal, and after less than an hour it returned with my other children.

We all went to church to give thanks to God for our safe arrival, our successful escape from the clutches of the Japanese. After we left the church, we stayed at the church plaza to wait for assignment of our quarters as we were told. It was there that we received the sad news that my daughter Neny had died. Our sorrow was indescribable. We wept like children. She had been a good and dutiful daughter. She married Ramon Cojuangco in September, 1944 a little more than six months ago. My wife and I were very happy when Neny married a man we heartily approved of. The news of her death was totally unexpected. We had always feared for Lily and her family because they lived in San Miguel near Malacañan and the San Miguel Brewery, and it was here that heavy fighting was reported. It was true that heavy bombardment was reported at Taft Avenue, but it was the Taft Avenue proper up to a little beyond Vito Cruz. This is still far from the house of the Cojuangcos which was on the southern end of Taft Avenue extension. But it turned out that the whole Conjuangco family left their house to seek shelter in the Chapel of De La Salle College near the intersection of Taft Avenue and Vito Cruz. It was a surprise to me to learn that they had gone to that place since, when I learned that the family of Judge Carlos had moved to that place, I expressed to them my belief that it was not a safe place. De La Salle College itself was occupied by the Japanese Army and it had to be bombarded from the air or shelled from the ground. I told them that they should either join the Aquino family who lived in a concrete house near Malacañan or they should just stay in their house on Taft Avenue which was a three storey cement house with a very strong air raid shelter. The reason for this instruction was that I feared the Japanese more than the American bombs and shells. It got into my head that upon retreat they would kill all the Filipinos they could find as by then they would have discovered that the Filipinos were not only guerrilleros but that they hated the Japanese. I based my belief on the record of the Japanese in China. I thought that the only house the Japanese would respect was that of Speaker Aquino for his vocal Japanese leanings. If they chose to remain in their own house in Taft Ave., my instructions to them were to secure the gates, and close tightly and securely all the doors and windows of the house. Evidently, they moved to La Salle upon the persuasion of the Carlos family, Mrs. Carlos being the sister of Mrs. Cojuangco.

I was called to the Municipal building where the office of the C.I.C. was. Engineer Paredes accompanied me. I met there Justice Yulo, Mr. Sison, Mr. Paredes, an American and a priest. There I cried again. The priest was trying to console me by saying that the news about Neny could not be true. This gave me a ray of hope. I was given a little brandy to drink probably to bolster up my spirit. I left the building without having been questioned at all. I think they just wanted to know my personal circumstances and these were provided by Engineer Paredes. I had just returned to the church yard when I was called again. We — Roxas, Yulo, Sison and Paredes and myself — were loaded in two jeeps and taken to Agoo which was the headquarters of the 6th Army operating toward Baguio. There we were introduced to the Commander of the Division, Gen. Carlson. We were invited to a luncheon which was a typical American meal. For the first time in a long time, we ate good bread with butter, nice sweets, ice cream, etc. We had a hearty meal. All the members of the staff of Gen. Carlson were there. After the meal group pictures were taken of us.

Gen. Roxas and Mr. Paredes were closeted with Gen. Carlson probably to learn from them some facts of military value in connection with the operations to take Baguio. We were taken to the office of Col. Arvey whose position we did not know. He might have been the Judge-Advocate. He seemed to have complete files on us and other Filipino high officials. He had a good many personnel and the office seemed to be a busy one. We were asked many questions, but the one that struck us the most was when he asked us what we thought of the postponement of independence. Yulo, our spokesman, answered immediately and without the least hesitation. He answered that our independence should not be postponed at all. The Colonel argued that what we need now is the country’s rehabilitation and this would require the assistance of America. Yulo answered that there was no incompatibility between independence and American assistance to our rehabilitation. I could not help making my sentiments also known by nodding approval to the statements of Mr. Yulo.

The Colonel immediately retorted, “I am surprised with your attitude. I have talked to very many Filipinos and 98% of them were for postponement.” I do not doubt that the Colonel was telling the truth. This reveals the inherent weakness of the Filipinos. I am sure that a great majority of them are for immediate independence. But we generally do not want to displease our hearers especially if they are Americans. We readily agree to insinuations. Or we are apt to presume that all the Americans are against our independence and so whenever we talked to them we give them to understand that we are not enthusiastic for independence. This trait, this weakness in our character must be remedied.

Before leaving another Colonel talked to me. He said that a mob near Baguio had unearthed about 800,000 of silver pesos, and he asked me whether I knew something about it. I told him that I was reliably informed by the Japanese that they were able to recover in the waters around Corregidor several boxes of silver pesos. These were turned over to the Taiwan Bank. This bank had a branch in Baguio and it is possible that the bank had buried the silver pesos in the place where the Americans found them. The Colonel after some recollecting exclaimed, “Oh yes, there was a piece of board with ‘Taiwan’ written on it.”

We returned to Tubao and rejoined our families. We were taken to the school building where two families were assigned to a classroom for living quarters. We, with the Sison family, occupied the classroom on the right end of the building, and the Roxas and Yulo families, the room on the other end of the building. We were given rations of canned goods at nominal prices; We had everything we needed, including butter. We had more than enough. What a contrast! Whereas the Japanese stole our food, the Americans gave us food. Our only problem in that building was sanitation. The authorities were doing their best to keep the surroundings sanitary. There were many toilets behind the building. But just the same human refuse was found abundant all around the building.

I forget to recount that before we reached Ambosi, there was continuous shelling directed by slow flying planes hovering above — the target of the shells was a mountain top just above us. In that place we heard sounds that were most terrifying. The sound travelled through the ravine where we were. I believe it was the whistling of shells falling above us, but instead of the whistling sound, it sounded like the zooming of many airplanes on account of the ravine. Or it might have been the sound of the cannonading at Galleno, the place below Asin where heavy fighting was taking place and as cannonading was on the ravine we were in the sound path.

The 17th and 18th, we spent resting, recovering from our ordeal. Each one of us had lost at least ten pounds on the way. We inquired about when we were to be brought to Manila. The military people promised to provide transportation to Manila just as soon as the quarantine of Manila was lifted and they could secure special passes for us. In the morning of the 19th, we were loaded in a closed small truck, and the rest of the story has already been told. Little did we imagine that it was the beginning of a long incarceration. We were ignorant of what they intended to do to us and we brought nothing. We were originally told that we were only going to San Fabian. I had nothing but the clothes on my back and my toothbrush and shaving kit.

I want to record the departure of President Jose P. Laurel.

On Sunday, March 18, we were called to a special meeting of the Cabinet at the Mansion House. All the Ministers, with the exception of Yulo, Sison and Roxas, were present. It was a very solemn meeting. The President spoke for more than one hour beginning at about half past five. We consider it one of the best speeches that he had ever delivered.

He explained that Ambassador Morata had seen him to transmit the wish of the Japanese Supreme Council to have the President, the members of his Cabinet, the Speaker and the Chief Justice brought to Japan. Laurel asked that he be given until that evening to give his answer. His purpose was to be able to consult his collaborators in the government. He showed us a letter which he had dictated when he was told in Manila that he and the members of his Cabinet might be taken to Japan.

In the letter he declined to go to Japan, giving his reasons. He accepted the Presidency on the conviction that he would be able to serve his country and people. He can only do so if he stays in the Philippines. He was determined to stay and serve his people even if it would cost him his life. His leaving the Philippines at this time would be a desertion and he cannot betray his people by such a cowardly act. Besides, Pres. Quezon was criticized by the Japanese themselves for having abandoned his people when they needed him. He considered the criticism well founded and he should, therefore, not commit a similar dereliction of duty. But if circumstances prevail on him to leave, he would like to request as a counter proposal that he go alone. Just as when the “state of war” with the United States and Great Britain was declared, he was desirous of assuming alone and exclusively the full responsibility, he was now willing to make another sacrifice by going alone so that the others would not have to undertake a dangerous trip to Japan.

Everybody was so affected that no one could speak after the peroration of the President. The President himself had to ask our opinion. The consensus of opinion was that, if possible at all, the President and his Cabinet and other high officials should not go. But if he had to go, each and everyone were willing to accompany him. The President reiterated his determination to go alone. He promised to go to the Cabinet Hill the next day to tell us the result of his negotiation with the Japanese.

The next day, Monday, March 19, he did not go to the Cabinet Hill. Tuesday, at 5:00 p.m., we went to the Mansion House. This time Yulo, Sison and Roxas were there. The President informed us that he had to go, and that his proposal to go alone was partly accepted in the sense that he would only be accompanied by some Ministers and a General. He announced that those accompanying him were Speaker Aquino, Min. Teofilo Sison of Home Affairs, Min. Camilo Osias of Education and Mrs. Osias, and Gen. Capinpin. This announcement was a great relief to me because I feared that on account of my position in the government, I had to go. I was worried as I brought my whole family to Baguio, except my two married daughters. I also brought my mother-in-law. My wife was not in good health. Besides, almost all the families in Baguio were having serious problems with the food shortage. Under the circumstances, I could not leave my family. The announcement was also a surprise as regards Manuel Roxas because it was taken for granted that he would have to go. The President concluded that the departure of the party would be announced soon. We promised to come in the afternoon of the next day.

The next day, Exec. Sec. Emilio Abello sent us a note that the President would like us to go to the Mansion House early. We went at two o’clock that afternoon. We had our picture taken with the President. In the picture was the Filipino flag which the President had been using and which was almost completely torn from the bombing of the Mansion House. Those present were Claro M. Recto, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Jose Paez, Minister of Public Works and Communications; Camilo Osias, Minister of Public Instruction; Pedro Sabido, Minister of Economic Affairs; Emiliano Tria Tirona, Minister of Public Health and Welfare; Arsenio Luz, Chairman of the Board of Information; Jose Sanvictores, Head of the Food Production Activities; Emilio Abello, Executive Secretary; Ramon Macasaet, Vice Minister of Health and Welfare and private physician to the President, Maj. Gen. Guillermo Francisco, Mayor Ramon Mitra of Baguio, Jose Laurel, Jr., Assemblyman from Batangas, and myself, Minister of Finance. Speaker Benigno Aquino, Sr. was also present. Chief Justice Jose Yulo and Brig. Gen. Manuel Roxas came after the meeting, conferred with the President, and left before the President’s departure. Ministers Quintin Paredes of Justice and Rafael Alunan of Agriculture were absent as they could not be notified.

The President spoke again for several minutes. He said that he had devoted the greater portion of his life to his country. It would be a pleasure and it is his determination to dedicate the rest of his life to the service of his country. Undoubtedly, he said, he would be criticized and bitterly attacked. But he hopes that some day his people will understand. His ideals and principles are very clear, having been repeatedly expounded by him. He wants to establish a Philippine nation, truly independent and free. He will combat with all his might any intervention or interference on the part of the Americans, or Japanese, or any other foreigner. He wants his people to be happy and prosperous. He believes that we should not depend upon foreigners as no one could love a Filipino better than a brother Filipino. He would like the Philippine Republic to befriend all nations, but we should always remember that we are Oriental and our country is located in the midst of Oriental nations. It is but natural that we should establish the most friendly relationships with other Oriental nations.

Afterwards, the President sent for his crucifix. He stated that since his childhood he had knelt and prayed before this crucifix. He is leaving it with us under the care of the ranking member, Minister Recto. Before it, he would like us to pledge unity and perfect understanding. He concluded by asking us to forgive whatever offense or wrong he had committed.

It was a very touching and pathetic scene. The President was crying and so were all of us. I could not bear it — I was the most affected as I am the most intimate friend of the President — I had to leave the room for a while. Nobody could speak. In everybody’s eyes we could see the love and trust for our President. The scene was at the Guest House, amidst the ruins and debris.

We left the President and went to the Mansion House. The President spent his time bidding goodbye to the Presidential Guards and the household.

At 7:00 o’clock in the evening, the President and those accompanying him to Japan went by automobile to Ambassador Murata’s residence. We followed on foot as the residence was just outside the Mansion House compound.

Members of the party to Japan were President and Mrs. Laurel, and all the members of his family including his in-laws, Speaker Aquino, Minister and Mrs. Osias, and General Capinpin.

Those who saw the President and party off were Ministers Recto, Paez, Sabido, Tirona, Luz, Sanvictores, Abello, and myself; Gen. Francisco; and Vice Min. Ramon Macasaet.

The Japanese present were Lt. Gen. Muto, Chief of Staff; Maj. Gen. Utsonomiya; Mr. Hamamoto; and many other Japanese.

As a last wish, the President asked Gen. Muto to extend assistance and protection to the Ministers and the General whom he left behind. Gen. Muto promised to do so and, addressing us, he stated that we should not hesitate to communicate to him anything in which the Army could be of help.

The party left by automobile at 9 o’clock. Ambassador Murata accompanied the party to Japan. Japanese soldiers in two trucks convoyed the party. They were supposed to go by automobile for about 15 kilometers; walk for about 60 kilometers, and then by automobile again up to the point the party could board an airplane. A few days later, Mr. Hamamoto told us that the President and party had to walk only about 30 kilometers and that they had arrived safely in Formosa. They could not proceed to Japan probably because of the invasion of Okinawa Island, part of Japan proper.

Before leaving, the President signed an order reorganizing the government by relieving all the Ministers and other officials who remained in the Philippines. Chief Justice Yulo resigned. The purpose was to be able to organize a complete government in Japan.

Thus ended the first government of the Second Republic of the Philippines. No doubt it had been a success under the able and courageous leadership of Pres. Laurel. The government was established under the most difficult circumstances. The war reached its acute stage and it was natural that there would be conflicts between the government and the Filipinos on the one hand, and the Japanese Military authorities on the other. The Japanese naturally wanted to win the war, and at times the requirements of the Army and Navy affected vitally the interest and welfare of Filipino citizens. The difficulty of subordinate Japanese officers and officials and Japanese civilians to understand and appreciate the Filipino customs and idiosyncracies and also to understand and effectuate the principles and aims of Japan as regards the Philippines, created problems which admitted no solution satisfactory to the Filipinos. With so many serious difficulties, the government of the Republic was nevertheless able to forge ahead. It is a wonder how it could count with so many achievements and accomplishments under the circumstances.

I purposely mentioned Japanese subordinate officers and officials. This is because the high officers, like Gen. Kuroda, Gen. Wachi, and Gen. Utsonomiya deserve the respect, admiration and gratitude of the Filipino people.

* * * * *

            Thus for the second time, I am out of the public service. It certainly afforded genuine pleasure and relief. Notwithstanding the fact that I was in the service of the government from 1909 to 1939, and from 1942 to March, 1945, I harbor only dislike for the public service. The reason is not because I have experienced disappointment in public service. I know of no other person who has been treated with as much justice. In fact, my promotions were even faster than they should have been.

But I have seen countless cases of irregularities in the public service. I have seen men promoted who did not in the least deserve it. I have seen flagrant cases of nepotism. I have seen vengeance wreaked on brilliant employees. I have seen bribery and serious irregularities in the service go unpunished because of the influence and “pull” enjoyed by the culprit. I have seen promising young men unjustly dismissed or laid off just to give way to relatives or favorites of the appointing officers. I have seen lazy and inefficient employees retained in the service to the prejudice of the interest of the people. All these so disgusted me that I longed to leave the public service and enter private business where I felt I belonged.

My first opportunity came in 1938 and I immediately seized it. The then President did his best to persuade me to remain in the service, offering all kinds of inducements, including the managership of either the Philippine National Bank or the Manila Railroad Co. But I insisted in resigning. I was not mistaken. In April of 1939, I joined Marsman & Co. I left the government with an indebtedness up to my neck.

On this day, Wednesday, August 1,1945 we read that at Potsdam, Germany, Truman, Stalin and Attlee (the new Premier of Great Britain), and with the concurrence of Chiang Kai Shek, sent an ultimatum to Japan demanding surrender. The conditions imposed were that Japan is to have only her four original islands. All lands taken by force must be returned.

August first has always been considered as an unlucky day. We were therefore glad that we went to bed at 10 o’clock without any unfortunate incident. But at about 11:30 that night we were awakened by a loud cry. We did not pay any attention. A few minutes later, we heard a heavy thing drop. We jumped out of bed and turned the lights on. We saw Dr. Julio Luz lying on the floor. We thought he was merely dreaming. We put him back on his cot. He woke up and began to sing. It was then we realized that he had lost his mind. He stood up on his bed and fell on the floor again. It was lucky for him that he did not get hurt. His brother, Arsenio, called for the doctor. The guard also notified Lt. Hagonberg. They came immediately. Julio called for Sanvictores. He took hold of the left hand of Sanvictores and pulled him in. Julio pulled Sanvictores so strongly that if he were not a strong man, being our physical director, he would have fallen. Luz saw Lt. Hagonberg and he asked, “How is Hagonberg?” “Well, thank you,” answered the Lieutenant. “How is Gilfilan? How is your shit?” The Lieutenant did not answer.

Luz crawled to the ballustrade and tried to jump. Three strong men, for in the meanwhile a big crowd had gathered around, pulled him back. His brother Arsenio became so nervous that he did not know what to do. He ran back and forth. Somebody remarked that it was the effect of Atabrine. Doctor Bunye said that it was the effect of the malaria itself as the type he contracted attacks the brain. But we who knew Luz before he came to Iwahig, and who had observed his conduct since his arrival believe that he is a lunatic.

Bocobo is also showing signs of eccentricity. He seems to think that he is seriously sick and would soon die. We believe that it is just the result of depression caused by our unjust imprisonment. We are all doing our best to help him. The Colonel and the Lieutenant are also doing their best to help. They have authorized him to go out of the stockade any time he wished to take a walk accompanied by another internee to Class A. We still hope to save him.

As a joke, we printed out the different hobbies of each of us, which showed that something is also the matter with our heads.


July 20, 1945 Friday

At about ten o’clock this morning, we were advised that Col. Gilfilan, the Superintendent, wanted to see Mr. Paredes, Gen. Francisco and me. We all became very excited. We thought that we will receive some good news relating to our release. But I doubted this. Why should others, like Yulo and Alunan, whose cases are also very meritorious, not be included? On the other hand, I feared that I would be investigated. A few days ago, an Army Chaplain came with letters from Manila. I got the idea that one of those letters was for me. They were handed by the Chaplain to the Colonel. As they were uncensored, I feared that the letter for me may have contained something that would require further inquiry. But it turned out later that I had no letter. Those who were not invited by Col. Gilfilan looked at us with envy. We walked to the office of the Colonel where we saw our dear friend who had shown deep sympathy towards us, Colonel Barros. We immediately concluded that Col. Barros wanted to visit us and, for some reason, we were allowed to talk him at the Superintendent’s Office. Colonel Gilfilan was extremely nice to us. He motioned to Col. Barros that he could talk to us in the farthest corner of the room. We were with Col. Barros for about 20 minutes. He brought us some gifts. He said that he had been wanting to see us to be able to personally express his sympathy. He said that we must not be ashamed because almost all our countrymen are convinced that we had done absolutely nothing against our country and people, nothing that was even censurable. We asked the Colonel whether there was news about us. He answered no, except he considered the speech of Gen. MacArthur favorable to us in the sense that he urges unity among the Filipinos. He said that his wife cried when she heard that we were here as prisoners. He said that the people at the beginning were somewhat prejudicial against us, but now they understand and they even admire us. He reiterated his ardent desire that we be freed so that our country may again count with our services.

When we were about to leave, Col. Gilfilan beckoned us to sit around his table. He said that he was doing all he could to make us more comfortable. We expressed our gratitude.

Upon our arrival at the stockade, we told our companions to prepare their letters as we were leaving the next day. No one swallowed it.

All the newspapers report heavy bombardment of Japan by air and sea. One thousand five hundred super-fortresses and fighters from aircraft carriers had attacked different places in Japan. Air attack is almost continuous. The biggest task force ever assembled with several dreadnaughts are bombarding Japan from places about a rifle’s shot from the shores. We who trembled with just a few small planes bombarding, have a pretty good idea of the effects of such bombardment. We are now confident that the war will end soon. Although America has always insisted on unconditional surrender, there were statements from responsible persons in America that Emperor Hirohito will be spared and that the Japanese people will not be enslaved. Somebody jokingly remarked that Hirohito will go to the shrine, commune with his God-ancestors, and afterwards, say that he was requested by them to surrender. Recto remarked that the ancestors will mark, “Estamos cayados”.

I had expressed the belief before that the collaborationist issue may divide our people and confuse the political situation. Already in Manila there is a serious division on this account. But the injustice committed against us and the indifference toward our situation shown by even our most intimate friends in Manila, will compel us to organize a party of our own. This will be composed of the supposed collaborationists and their sympathizers. We will organize everyone here and found a newspaper. We will put up candidates for representatives and senators. We ourselves will run. We shall seek not only our vindication, but the carrying out of policies and programs which shall make our country truly independent and prosperous. With the elements this proposed party can count on, it will be a formidable one. If Osmeña and Roxas do not reconcile, the new party may even put up a candidate for president.

McNutt, ex-American High Commissioner of the Philippines and the father of the re-examinationist movement under which the Philippines will have more or less permanent political connection with America, is coming. Avowedly he comes to investigate economic conditions, but if that is the purpose, he is not exactly qualified. I am more inclined to believe that he comes to ascertain the chances his theory may have, and begin laying the groundwork to push his ideas through. We must be on guard. In the movement, he will be supported by American capitalists who see in the Philippines a good field for investment or a strategic place for commercial operations in the Orient, and the imperialists who dream world domination by America. We must assure the free rights of every people. We must combat imperialism at all cost.

What are we? Nobody seems to know. We came as war prisoners, but such status is inconsistent with the theory of those who wish to detain us. If the Republic had never existed and the Commonwealth continued, then we cannot be enemies and we cannot be war prisoners. If the existence of the Republic is recognized, we will then be enemies. At the beginning, the Superintendent here always mentioned the Geneva Convention as the source of all their authority. Later, we were told that we were merely under protective custody. We should appreciate their good intention, but is there real danger for us? Still later, we were told that we were modified or assimilated war prisoners. None of us understand this. Finally, two days ago, the Superintendent objected to our calling ourselves prisoners. “You are not prisoners. You are internees,” he said. It soothes us not to be branded as prisoners, but what matters is not the name but the situation.

Once in a while we crave for real Filipino food. We cannot help but get tired of canned American food which we are not accustomed to eat. Minister Sison and I decided to stay at our quarters to be able to eat such food. It was one of the best meals we have ever enjoyed. We ate good fish, mechado, and rice, with mango and banana dessert. It was a perfect meal. It made us homesick, especially since the mechado was from my wife sent to me from Manila.

We were given a suit of khaki, a two-piece American soldier’s uniform. It is made of good cloth. The coat fits me, but the pants have to be remade by tailor Hernandez from Ibaan Batangas. He is a good tailor.


July 18, 1945 Wednesday

Life here is very monotonous. We see the same things and do the same things over and over again. We try to occupy our time, to entertain ourselves. We go to church every Sunday and pray the Rosary in a body in the evening. We have learned to do manual work such as sweeping and cleaning our premises. We have learned to sew, to wash clothes, to make our bed and to do other household odd jobs. We exercise regularly, and in my case, on Sundays when we are allowed to go to the town plaza for recreation, I play baseball. Every Monday, we are allowed to see moving picture shows, and in our quarters we hold programs to entertain ourselves composed of singing, boxing, poetry recitation, magic, etc.

Each of us has his special activity. Chief Yulo likes to meditate and brood over our situation. Speaker Paredes spends his time taking up matters with the prison officials as our spokesman, talking to the enlisted class, playing solitaire, reading, writing and entertaining himself with local girls who pity us so much that they try their best to console us. Recto has returned to his old love — writing poetry. He also reads extensively. He furnishes us with a lot of entertainment with his orations and amusing jokes. He also plays card games. Alunan takes it easy and spends his time reading and taking care of his health. Paez reads and plays “a holoy”. Zulueta has a carpentry shop and a kitchen. He spends a good portion of his time preparing a meal and eating it with gusto. Sabido enjoys making predictions which, unfortunately for us, never come true, ponders on economic problems, reads and plays a little card. Justice Bocobo reads and writes much and prays. Madrigal takes a lot of reducing exercises and is continually planning for the future development of our country. Sanvictores is the exercise booster and reads considerably. Luz entertains us with his jokes and interesting conversations. Gen. Francisco is suffering because of the injustice done to him and to forget, he reads constantly. Sebastian has the most diversified activities; he reads, writes, sings, exercises and plays cards. He has also been the most helpful to his companions. Abello reads much, and, as an experienced secretary and being the Benjamin, he is the jack-of-all-trades in the party, helping in everything. Sison keeps himself very busy by taking care of the beautification of our premises. He is also our spiritual head, conducting all our prayers. Bayan takes care of all engineering work and plays chess. His teeth are giving him a lot of worry. Lavides has no specific hobby; he likes to do whatever could be of help. Aquino watches over the games played by others, sometimes taking part himself and pondering on what this is all about. Urquico is pitied by all of us as he is always sick. The most interesting activity is that Paredes. Some young girls, in their eagerness to cheer us up, have been sending food and letters. Don Quintin takes pains answering their letters which are very entertaining, although devoid of all romantic expressions. We could see in them their deep sympathy for our unfortunate situation. They ask us to write in their autograph books. I wrote the following: “July 15, 1945. Unknown to you, but deep in his heart is engraved a sincere feeling of gratitude for the sympathy bestowed upon us who suffer terribly for having served our motherland.”

I recall those days during the luncheon meetings of the Ministers. Instead of discussing the specific tasks assigned by the Japanese, we would while away the time by sending notes to one another across the table. These notes expressed the nationalistic sentiments of each one of us. They were written in Spanish, Tagalog and English. I wish now that I had conserved these notes which could help very much in our defense. I liked the notes written by Claro M. Recto best. Recto would scribble a nationalistic poem in a matter of minutes, revealing what was in his heart and mind. I too scribbled a lot of notes and poems.

Inside the stockade there are now very few incidents. All are doing their best not to mar our reputation. There are some exceptions. Someone was placed in the isolation cell for one day for having stolen some clothes. Two men were placed in isolation for a week for having foolishly tried to escape. Another was almost similarly punished for defying an order to work. He was excused, however, as he showed that he really had hurt himself while working the previous day. He yelled at the Lieutenant, but one good trait of an American is that he does not hesitate to admit that he is wrong.