At 6 a.m. left General Head Quarters with Major General R.J. Marshall, Major General Stivers, Colonel Egbert for Manila. Arrived 10 a.m. Fighting still going on. Found five dead Japanese in front of Tata’s house. Many dead Japanese in the street. Went to R. Hidalgo Street. Prayed at Rita’s tomb. Saw my family.
At 3:15 p.m. General MacArthur, General Marshall and Colonel Lehrbas, & Colonel Egebert came to President Osmeña’s office. They are leaving on M-1.
In Tacloban. Had important conference at 3:30 p.m. with General R.J. Marshall, General Stivers, Colonel Kangleon and myself, about status of Kangleon’s forces & their payment.
The 77th Division is now at the outskirts of Ormoc. The 7th Division attacking northward from Palanas seized Balogo and high ground north of Tagbas River. Attended cocktails at quarters of General R.J. Marshall Chief of staff USAFFE. Went home at 10PM.
Went to the War Department had conference with President Osmeña and Major General R.J. Marshall, Deputy Chief of Staff of General MacArthur. President Osmeña expressed his objection to the tentative plan for Civil Affairs Directive, in which the Commonwealth Government should not lose the powers and prerogatives granted by the Constitution and laws of the Philippines, and which it exercised before the surrender of Corregidor.
The conference at USAFFE HQ presided by Col. R. Marshall G-4 that I attended addressed the acute food shortage of our Bataan troops. Among others present in that conference were Lt. Col. Andres Soriano of San Miguel (CAD & asgd. w/G-4) and my friend Capt. Juan Panopio OSP (Res.) former Capt. of Pres. Yacht “Casiana” and now CO, M.S. Kolambugan, a freighter. In that conference, it was decided that Q-112 escort M.S. Kolambugan break through enemy blockade under cover of darkness and sneak to Looc Cove, Batangas where a G-4 officer will deliver to us the foodstuff he procured. This mission is difficult as there are no aids to navigation and the approaches to Corregidor is blockaded. After giving detailed instructions to Capt. Panopio and lending him my signalman, Q-112 with Kolambugan following shoved off Corregidor after sunset Jan. 30 darkenship, radio silence. After passing the mine fields, I headed to Cavite coast hugging the coastline 2 miles off until we reached Looc Cove.
By prearranged signals, I contacted the G-4 Officer who turned out to be my townmate, Maj. Jose Ruedo ’27. He directed us to a concealed anchorage where loading of rice and cattle started at once, continued the whole day of the 31st up to 1600 when 5,000 tons of rice and 300 heads of cattle were loaded aboard the M.S. Kolambugan. In addition, Maj. Rueda gave me a gallon of pancit molo (native dumpling noodle soup) for Pres. Quezon. We left Looc Cove at 2000 tracing back our former route. The moon was bright and about midnight, my lookout reported seeing the snorkel of an unidentified sub, confirmed by my Exo, Lt. Gomez. I signaled the Kolambugan what to do, sped to the reported location and dropped four dept charges, after which Q-112 and M.S. Kolambugan resumed course to Corregidor arriving thereat 0700 today. Col. Marshall and Lt. Col. Soriano were so glad to welcome us back bring food stuff whose weight is equivalent in gold for our starving Bataan troops.
Later, I proceeded to the Lateral of the Quezon Family to deliver Maj. Rueda’s pancit molo. Mrs. Quezon was delighted saying it is the favorite soup of her husband. Mrs. Quezon brought me before the Pres. who was with Col. Charles Willoughby G-2. After thanking me for the pancit molo, Quezon resumed his talk with G-2. He seemed upset that no reinforcement was coming. I heard him say that America is giving more priority to England and Europe, reason we have no reinforcement. “Puñeta”, he exclaimed, “how typically American to writhe in anguish over a distant cousin (England) while a daughter (Philippines) is being raped in the backroom”.
At 5 a.m. Mr. Williams of the Red Cross phoned me that the ship had arrived but that he was not willing to put the painters on because there was still some cargo of rifles and ammunition left. He informed me that the Captain (Tamayo) and the Chief Officers were in his office. I asked him to hold them. I dressed hurriedly and rushed to the Red Cross Headquarters. They repeated the information given to Mr. Williams. Believing that this cargo belonged to the U.S. Army I asked them to come with me to the USAFFE Headquarters. I had to awake General Marshall. Pressing our inquiry we found out that this cargo consisted only of 3 or 4 boxes of rifles (Enfield) and 2 boxes of 30 caliber ammunition belonging to Philippine Army. It had been left as they were forced to leave Corregidor before everything had been unloaded. We explained to them that there was no danger and with my assurance that these boxes would be unloaded early in the morning, they returned to the ship, took on the painters and left for Malabon for the painting job.
From the USAFFE Headquarters, I rushed to the house of Colonel Miguel Aguilar, Chief of Finance. I found him in bed. He got up, and I asked him to see that the remaining cargo there be removed without delay. He assured me that he would contact the Chief of Quartermaster Service and direct him accordingly. My order was complied with during the course of the day.
At 9 a.m. I contacted Mr. Forster. He informed me that the painters were on the job and that in accordance with my instructions, two launches were tied close to the ship to transport the painters to the river of Malabon in case of a raid. I then went to Colonel Aguilar’s office at the Far Eastern University to discuss with him some matters regarding finance of the Army. From there I went to Malacañan to see Sec. Vargas, and from there to the office of the Sec. of National Defense, to inquire for correspondence for me.
At noon, I called Mr. Jose (Peping) Fernandez to inquire where the ship was. He asked me to have luncheon with him and to go afterwards to Malabon. After lunch we went by car to Malabon. I saw the ship being painted white. It already had a large Red Cross on the sides and on the funnel.
I returned to the Red Cross Headquarters to ascertain if all plans had been properly carried out. Mr. Forster was worried as he did not know whether the provisions and food supplies carried by his personnel would be sufficient. I then contacted Colonel Ward by phone, and later Colonel Carroll. Both assured me that there would be enough food and medical supplies for the trip.
With that assurance, and the promise of Mr. Forster that his doctors and nurses were all ready to go and of Colonel Carroll that as soon as the boat docked at Pier 1, he would begin to load his equipment, beds, etc. and transport his patients, I felt that my mission had been successfully accomplished.
I spent the evening fixing financial matters and giving instructions to my brother Ramon, regarding payment of certain obligations (Premium Fire Policies, Land Taxes, etc.)
At 5 a.m. I phoned Collector de Leon. His voice showed that he was worried. “I have not heard from the Apo”, he said, “I fear that it may have been sunk.” I decided to take other steps if no reply was received by 6:30 a.m.
At 6:30 a.m. I called up Mr. Jose (Peping) Fernandez one of the managers of Compañia Maritima and told him that I had to see him with an important problem. I rushed to his house. He realized my predicament. “I can offer you ships, but they are not here,” he said. After studying my needs from all angles we decided that the best thing to do would be to ask the U.S. Army to release the SS Mactan.
We contacted Colonel George, in charge of water transportation, and asked him to meet us at USAFFE Headquarters so that we could discuss the matter with General Marshall. We met at 8 a.m. and it was decided that the U.S. Army would release the Mactan to me to convert it into a hospital ship. I was told the SS Mactan, was in Corregidor and it would not be in Manila until after dark. I rushed to the Red Cross Headquarters and asked Mr. Forster to have the painters in readiness to start the painting without delay, as soon as the ship docked at Pier N-1.
Last night Mr. Forster sent a telegram to the American Red Cross in Washington informing them of our plan.
At 11 a.m. Collector de Leon phoned me that the Apo was sailing for Manila that evening. I thanked him and informed him that it was too late.
At 5 p.m. Mr. Wolff phoned me that they have received an important radiogram from the Secretary of State, Hull, and that my presence in the Red Cross was urgent to discuss the contents of this radiogram. I rushed there. Mr. Wolff, Mr. Forster, Judge Dewitt and Dr. Buss of the High Commissioner’s Office were already busy studying the contents of Mr. Hull’s radiogram. It was specified in it that the sending out of Red Cross hospital Ship was approved; that the Japanese government had been advised of its sailing through the Swiss Ambassador and that it was necessary that we radio rush the name of the ship and the route that would be followed. Moreover, we were told to comply strictly with the articles of the Hague convention of 1907. These articles define what is meant by Red Cross Hospital Ship, how it must be painted and what personnel it must carry. It clearly specifies that no civilian can be on the boat.
I left Red Cross Headquarters at 6:30 p.m. No news of the SS Mactan had been received. At 9 p.m. I called Dr. Canuto of the Red Cross, and I was advised that the ship had not yet arrived.
At 11 p.m. I went to Pier N-1 to inquire. No one could give me any information about the Mactan. There was a big fire in the Engineer Island. It had been bombed the previous day and the oil deposit took fire late this evening. The flames were very impressive. I left at 11:45 p.m.
The typewriter is too intricate for me.
The date of our going has been definitely fixed as Dec. 13, sailing on the SS Pres. Cleveland. Our freight will go on the S.S. “Capillo”, direct to Seattle. We should reach Ft. Lewis about Jan. 7.
I have been trying to turn over all work to others in the office, especially since the arrival of two new assistants from the States; Lt. Col. Richard Marshall, Q.M.C., and Maj. Tom Dunckel, F.A. Both seem to be very able, and I believe that Dunckel is outstanding! My efforts to free myself of official tasks, in order that I can take care of personal affairs, have been futile. The Gen. seems to find more and more things he wants me to do personally. While at Malacañan there have been a hundred odd jobs to complete. General MacA. has been particularly pleasant. I’ve written several statements for him, including a 13-minute speech that was recorded for possible future use, by the NBC, and he’s been lavish in his praise of them. Actually they are the same old platitudes on Phil. defense, dressed up in only slightly new language. But so long as any sentence puts a good face on his “plan,” or uses resounding language in support of his views, it is perfect, so far as he is concerned. His consuming desire for favorable publicity is going to give him a hard bump some day–or I miss my guess.
The President, and his Malacañan assistants appear to be genuinely sorry that I am going. I hope they are sincere, but the Malay mind is still a sealed book to me. They may be secretly delighted. However, I’m tempted to believe them, if for no other reason than the number of times my advice has been sought lately–often on subjects that are not connected with the Army.
Recently a Department of National Defense was established. There were certain ridiculous aspects, or at least amusing, to this incident. I’m not sure I’ve ever entered in these sketchy notes anything at all on this subject so I’ll outline the development.
A couple of years ago the President first expressed an intention of establishing such a department. Upon hearing of this the Gen. was greatly disturbed, because he feared that a Sec. of Nat. Defense would tend to supplant him as the Chief Military Official in the govt. and so lessen his prestige and endanger his job. In fact, when the rumor first made its appearance the General flatly stated to the office gang, “If a Sec. of Nat. Def. is appointed, I will immediately resign.” He sought an interview with the President and, at that time, succeeded in having the matter dropped.
However, in the summer sessions of the Assembly in 1938 (I was in the States) (or possibly the actual passing of the law was in the fall of 1938) the President authorized the enactment of a law establishing two Departments–Public Health and Defense. It was provided that both should be set up before the end of the President’s term, in 1941. The General felt temporarily safe, since he said he had the promise of Malacañan that no action would be taken on the Defense Dept. until the summer of 1941.
When I returned from the States I heard immediately that the President’s mind was made up and that he was soon going to select a Secretary and appoint him. I reported this to the General and advised him that if he still felt so strongly about the matter he should exert himself without delay before further publicity was given to the matter, and especially before any individual was notified as to his impending selection. He pooh-poohed the accuracy of my information saying he had the situation under full control.
When I resumed my former duties at Malacañan, about May 1, 1939, I constantly ran into evidence that something was going to be done along this line. I brought it again and again to the Gen.’s attention, but for the first time he refused to show fright in the face of unpleasant news. He just didn’t believe it.
Suddenly the Pres. made a public announcement of what he had in mind, and the Gen. raged to us in the office. He said he’d dissolve the mission and didn’t like it at all when I reminded him there was no mission; that he was a retired officer working for Manuel Quezon, and the rest of us were officers to the Dept. Commander’s staff, and loaned by the U.S. Govt. to the Pres. of the Commonwealth. He then pointedly requested me (and later Sutherland) to go with him to the Pres. to protest against the announced intention. I told him that, of course, I’d go with him, but that my comments (if called upon) would be confined to expressing a conviction as to the usefulness of the office, but that personally, I had nothing otherwise against it. Certainly, I told him, it doesn’t affect the work that I do for the Commonwealth, one way or another. I further advised him that since his objections were personal, based upon his prestige, face and desires, that he should seek a personal, confidential conference with the Pres., to have the matter out. This he decided to do.
He immediately called up for a date with the Pres. but received a very evasive reply from the aide. That afternoon he couldn’t stand it longer so he took poor old Hutter and went to Malacañan. He went at an hour when he could find no one on the job, but he sent Hutter, who is an habitué of the Palace, on a detailed search. Hutter found the Pres. asleep and when this invasion of his privacy was later reported to Q. by underlings he got furious.
However, the Gen. hung around until finally he got an appointment and, according to him, had a most satisfactory talk.
We heard no more about the matter for some little time, but suddenly, another definite, and public, announcement was made by Q. in which he even named the man he was going to make Sec. of Nat. Defense (Sison).
Seeing he was licked the General now executed another of his amazing “about faces.” He simply sat down and wrote a memo to the Pres., a long memo, urging the setting up of the Dept. of Nat. Defense. Soon the appointment was made, and on the surface, all was lovely. The moral is–they can’t make him give up that job, no matter what they do!!
Dozens of entertainments in the nature of despedidas have been arranged for Mamie and me. It’s all very gratifying but is likely to be hard on Mamie, who cannot stand much running around.
More gratifying is a message from Mr. Vargas, to the effect that, with the authority of the President, he is arranging a bonus for me upon departure, equal to two months pay (not including my hotel allowances). That is most pleasing, not only to the pocketbook, but as evidence that the govt. really regrets my departure. In this connection the Gen., in spite of our many dirty fights, has expressed the same views. But when I remember his parting conversation just before I went to the States in ’38, and what he tried to do to me while I was gone, I simply cannot believe him.
I’m leaving in a day or two for a last inspection trip to the south. And and I are going in the Beechcraft.