January 6, 1942

Bataan

Limay Hospital

 

Helluva day. Almost died. It was noontime and the sun was very hot. So I stood under the shade of a tall tree beside the municipal building of Limay. The general was standing at the entrance of the building talking with colonels Sevilla, Garcia, and Caluyag. I was talking to Major Mascardo, former aide of President Quezon. Mascardo was telling me about the narrow escapes he had from bombs dropped in Camp Murphy and he said it was bad to be near the transmitter of the Signal Corps. Suddenly somebody shouted: “Planes! Planes!” I saw the general run for his life. Instinctively I dove flat. In a second I heard the droning of many bombers. They were diving towards us. I closed my eyes and prayed. Louder and louder came the planes. Then the eerie swishing of bombs and more bombs. The earth trembled. My chest was compressed by the concussion. My ears hummed. More bombs exploded. Trees fell and a pall of smoke filled the entire area. The municipal building began to burn and I was partly covered with mud. When the planes were gone, I slowly stood up. I was shaking from head to foot. I looked around and everything was burning. Two trucks loaded with troops were hit by incendiary bombs. In a nipa shack which was partially destroyed, there was a woman crying for help. The driver of Major Mascardo’s jitney lay sprawled beside a fence, an ugly gash on his brow and a piece of iron sticking out of his left eye. I saw the mangled bodies of three officers and two drivers who were playing dice under a mango tree. The dice was still in the hands of the chauffeur. I saw Fernando Poe, cinema star, running across the field with a soldier on his shoulder who was covered with blood. He was rushing the man to the medical department. Tony Arrieta was shouting for assistance because he said three of his friends were hit and bleeding to death across the road. Meanwhile Mascardo’s jitney caught fire. The gasoline tank exploded and the box of ammunition inside the car started to explode. I didn’t know where to go or what to do. I just stood pale and looked at everything blankly. Then the chaplain told me to accompany him to the truck with the troops. None of the passengers were saved. There they sat on their seats like carbon statues, charred to death, their rifles beside them. They could not be identified except for names or initials scratched on their helmets. Fred saw a helmet with his brother’s name. He asked me to look for the corpse but there were too many and it was almost impossible to distinguish. I told him “Maybe that’s just a fellow with same name, Fred.” But he wouldn’t be consoled. He is probably still examining each and every corpse. Under one of the Pasay trucks, I saw the body of an American boy. He was only partially burnt but a shrapnel pierced his lungs. I walked to the nearby schoolhouse as everything around me was burning and I could no longer stand the stench of roasted human flesh. Under the schoolhouse, I saw my general crouched beside Major Monserrat. The general was wounded on the shoulder.


January 3, 1942

Bataan

51st Division C.P.

(Provisional Brigade)

 

Slept last night in a deserted nipa shack beside a lazy river. It was very windy and I missed my soft, warm, spring bed. Bothered by mosquitoes the whole night. This morning the doctor gave me quinine. He said “mosquitoes here are anopheles. You might get malaria.”

Spent morning looking for C.P. of Gen. Jones. nobody knew where it was. Major Mascardo gave me a good suggestion. He said: “Follow the telephone wires and they will lead you there.”

My general and Jones had a long conference. I was outside talking to some of the officers who were having fox-holes dug. Officers in this C.P. believe the convoy will arrive in two weeks time. The general opinion is that the USAFFE will be back in Manila “by the end of the month.” Very few think “maybe by next month.”

Concrete impression is that Japs were not such good fighters and that they were very poor in hand-to-hand fighting. Everybody ended conversation about Japs with sigh: “If only we had the planes, not a single Jap would have been able to land.”

Chaplain Quadra caught a chicken and he fried it for the general and staff. I am ashamed I had such a good meal because I know that up to now some of the troops have not yet eaten. I have a feeling food will be a problem here unless the supply system is organized. Col. Caluyag, G-4, said the food for the troops is being cooked right now. My sergeant asked me for a banana. He said he had not yet taken his breakfast.

Saw Gonzalo Gonzalez. He looked very tired. He said: “Phil, the troops have not yet eaten since last night and we have been working and working.” I could not talk to him for a long time because the general was in a hurry. I also saw Fermin Fernando and Alex Albert. They did not say anything to me but they just waived because they were rushing to a truck. They looked very dirty and their blue-denim uniforms were covered with dust. I told the general: “I think, sir, the troops have not yet eaten.” “I know,” he said, “it’s the fault of the damned supply trucks. Nobody knows where they have bivouacked.”

Col. Garcia just came in and told the general that our lines have been stabilized, sector strengthened, enemy not in sight, but that he’d feel better, “if we had more machine guns.”

G-2 section reported that Japs bombed Gen. Segundo’s sector this afternoon. The enemy is evidently massing his troops for a thrust in Mt. Natib. So far he is limiting himself to aerial reconnaissance and bombardment. No fighting in front lines.


January 1, 1942

Bataan

41st division, C.P.

 

Dead tired. Streets jammed from Bulacan to Bataan. Absolutely no traffic order. Roads filled with dust that covered entire body, entered ears, nose, eyes, lungs. Tanks were rattling up and down the road like lost monsters. Trucks loaded with food and ammunition were moving on, not knowing where to go. Haggard, weary troops retreating from southern front straggled on, looking for their officers. Men were shouting at one another to move out of the way so that their cars could pass. Trucks that stalled were dumped on the roadside. Gasoline cans were littered on the road for everybody’s use. American MP’s assigned to direct traffic lay drunk on the fields beside the main road singing “God Bless America.” The general told me as our car wormed its way to San Fernando: “If the Japs spot this convoy we are all goners.” Neither the general nor I could find our division in the assembly area. The night was very dark but I kept shouting for the names of the company commanders but there was no answer. Men of other divisions were in our area. Troops came to me asking where to go. Some belonged to the 71st, others to the 91st, others with the 1st regular. It was a chaotic retreat but the Japs were apparently asleep. The general then decided to leave me in San Fernando while he looked for the troops in Bacolor.

I stood under the monument at the plaza in front of San Fernando’s church, at the foot of the bridge. From afar there was a red glare that filled the skies in the direction of Manila that gave me the impression that the entire city was afire. Troops, tanks, cars, jeeps, trucks, cannons, trawlers passed by me. Some were asking where to go and I said I didn’t know and that I was also looking for my unit. Hours passed and there were no more tanks, no more troops, no more traffic. San Fernando was like a ghost city. I was all alone except for several Americans who were trying to fix their motorcycle under the starlight. In a deserted store, I could hear several drunk soldiers singing “Happy days are here again.” From the direction of Arayat came the distinct, metallic boom-boom-boom of Jap artillery. One of the Americans fixing the motorcycle asked: “Is that Porac or Arayat?” Another said: “Don’t worry bud, that’s our artillery.” They finally got their motor fixed and they asked me to join them. “We can squeeze you between us,” they said. I thanked them and explained I had to wait for the general. I was really tempted to join them but I was afraid the general might look for me. I must admit that I was getting very worried, if not afraid. I looked around for a hiding place and I kept fingering my .45 and six bullets. I must have cursed the general a thousand times and I kept telling myself: “What a way of spending New Year.” Then from a distance, I saw the hooded light of a car. It was the general and he said he almost forgot me. “We are going to Bataan,” he said. “Everybody is going there,” he explained. I was very tired and I fell asleep in the car and when I woke up, we were in Bataan and it was morning and there we were parked between two huge U.S. trucks in a dusty road, because there was another traffic jam and two tough-looking American drivers were arguing about who had the right of way.

Right now I’m here in Gen. Vicente Lim’s command post. My general and Lim are good pals. This C.P. is well-hidden on the side of a dried stream. The men have dug themselves inside the banks so that they are relatively safe from bombs and shells.

Gen. Lim is in good spirits. His belly is considerably thinner and his face is tanned. When we arrived, he said: “Don’t worry, in a week the convoy will be here.” He compared war to boxing. “They’ve won the first round,” he said, “but the war’s not over yet.” He gave us quite a good breakfast: coffee and carabao meat. Ernesto Santos and Vidal Tan, both friends of mine, are his aides.

From the conversation during breakfast, I gathered that all troops from the North and South fronts have been ordered to retreat to Bataan. This hilly spot of land, this bottle-neck will be USAFFE’s “last stand.” The principle of retreating to a favorable terrain and there engaging the enemy is going to be the strategy. The other half of the grand game will be up to the United States. Out here in Bataan, we will hold to the last ditch; the U.S. Navy on the other hand will rush the reinforcements.

Just a few minutes ago, the air was filled with the roar of many planes. Gen. Lim looked up and said “They’re ours.” Gatas Santos, his senior aide, was skeptical and his doubts were soon confirmed by the barking of AA guns. In a few seconds, the beautiful formation was broken up. More AA fire. Smoke oozed out of one plane, its wings wavered, it fell out of line and a silvery veil trailed its earthward descent. That is the first real action picture I’ve seen of a plane going down. I hope I see more.

Nice bunch out here in the 41st. Lorrie Tan said Teddy Arvisu is here too as staff sergeant. Montemayor and Henry Powers are also with this unit. Powers is in “No Man’s Land” as head of a scouting patrol. Estanislao Feria is assistant G-2 in Lim’s staff and Rufino is chief quartermaster.

The view is beautiful. Very many talls trees that give a lot of shelter. Beyond are grassy plains and little hillocks. Behind are old wooden barracks and a small training camp but Lim’s troops are not using the garrisons, In front is a flat terrain with call cogon and many clumps of bamboo and tall trees here and there. To the left of the 41st is Gen. Capinpin’s 21st which has behaved very well in the face of strong enemy thrusts in Lingayen. Johnny Fernandez, my classmate, is Capinpin’s aide. Johnny has always loved military life. Now I guess he is going to get a full dose of it.

Nice weather here. Cool January breeze. Can hear many birds chirping on the treetops. Must stop writing now. Now I think the general is going to our sector.

 

Later

 

Bataan

51st div. C.P.

 

Arranged division maps. Acquainted myself with operational plans. Noted down all field orders of General.


December 30, 1941

Ft. McKinley,

Command Post

 

Our division has been ordered to move to San Fernando, Pampanga. The general said that very heavy fighting continues on the northern front. Troops under Generals Capinpin, Stevens, Shalleck and Brower are fiercely resisting the enemy’s full-dress attack.

Meanwhile the enemy has increased intensity of his raids in Luzon. Local air force however has struck back with increased fury. The 11 a.m. communique from MacArthur’s headquarters said that a Filipino pilot and two American airmen show down eight planes in engagements over southern Luzon during the past few days. Cesar Basa of the Ateneo died in one of these raids. His plane was attacked by 50 Japs. (Cesar and I used to swim together.)

Tuned in on radio with Signal Corps boys. Japs seem to be gaining ground in all fronts. Hong Kong’s governor has surrendered. Japanese troops on Malay east coast are reported approaching the Kemmanan area, 225 miles from Singapore. Contact with Kuching, capital of Sarawak has been lost since last Wednesday. Tokyo radio claims they have not bombed Santo Domingo Church.

Just found out there are many Ateneo boys with our division. Among them are Gonzalo Gonzalez, Alex Albert, Fermin Fernando, Henry Burgos, Gregg Anonas, Bert Misa, Saturn Velasco and others. Will try to find out how they are if the general gives me permission. He always wants me to be near him with all his maps and plans. Yesterday he told me that in addition to my duties as aide, I was assigned to also write the history of our division.

Heard the 26th cavalry was annihilated in Pozzorubio. They charged against tanks and artillery. An eye witness claims he saw “headless riders charging onward.” Another said that some members of said unit “jumped at tanks, pried open their turrets and hurled grenades.” MacArthur awarded DSC’s to members of this brave unit. Most decorations were posthumous.

Our division observers reported huge columns of smoke rising into the sky around Pandacan. No information on the cause or source was available in command post this morning. Apparently the Japs are not paying much attention to Open City declaration. However the general said that when we move to Pampanga we shall not cross Manila to abide by provisions of Open City.

Reports received in command post this morning indicate that troops under Gen. Segundo are also moving to Pampanga. Japs are apparently entering Laguna preceded by strong aerial and tank formations. Several young Baguio cadets, recent graduates of the Academy, were reportedly killed in action in the beaches of Tayabas. Capt. Fusilero who was in Camarines said the Japs were well acquainted with the terrain and they carried accurate maps.

Can hear Col. Garcia shouting at truck drivers. He is ordering them to park the trucks under cover of trees. “Do you want us to be bombed?” he is telling the chauffeurs.

Officers of the division spend their spare time discussing about the convoy. Some think it will arrive in a week’s time. Others say it will be three weeks. Fred said “Oh, maybe two months:” and everybody branded him a “low-down pessimist.” Fred explained: “Don’t get excited, fellows. I was only fooling. I think it will be three months.” The chaplain told Fred to pipe down because he was not funny. I ventured the opinion that the convoy would be here in three days and everybody cheered me. Fred said: “What’s your reason for thinking three days?” I said it was not ‘reason’ but ‘intuition’. I also pointed out that Roosevelt said “Help is on the way.” “If it’s the family way,” said Fred, “it’ll take nine months.”

Now Fred’s got me doubting…….

 


December 29, 1941

Command Post

Ft. McKinley

 

Our division has been ordered by Corps headquarters to retreat and form a new line with a view to defending the Southern entrance of Manila. The general has chosen McKinley as the site of his new command post.

The troops are perplexed. “Why should we retreat when the Japs have not even dented our lines?” The general explained that the enemy was fast gaining ground in Tayabas exposing our rear to a possible flank maneuver.

Am writing this in old office of Maj. Gen. Parker which is partially destroyed. The books of Parker are still here including a complete set of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Other officers have left their files, typewriters, radios, hats and shoes. Fred just popped up, looked over my shoulder to see what I am writing and said “There are a lot of canned goods left in the Post Exchange.” From the window, I can see two huge craters, big enough for ten carabaos. The Japs have evidently subjected this fort to heavy aerial bombardment. The barracks are partially demolished. Some of the cottages for officers have also been destroyed. All the houses here are deserted. Fans, refrigerators, wardrobes, kitchen utensils have been left in disorder. Names of officers are still on sign posts outside their respective houses. I told my sergeant to get all the canned goods he could lay his hands on and to put them in the general’s command car.

Must stop writing. Air-raid alarm. I wonder where the shelter here is.


December 24, 1941 – Wednesday

BVC-0001_Page_010

BVC-0001_Page_011

BVC-0001_Page_012

BVC-0001_Page_013

BVC-0001_Page_014

 

At 8 a.m. I attended the meeting of the Cabinet at Marikina. It was discussed that the situation was becoming serious. The enemy had landed at Atimonan and Mauban. The President advised us that General MacArthur had told him to prepare to leave for Corregidor at 2 hours notice.

At 9 a.m. I left for my office. At 10 a.m. General De Jesus and I were called rush to USAFFE Headquarters for an urgent conference. General Sutherland told me that I was to be at Malacañan, at 1 p.m. ready to leave with the President. At 1 p.m. sharp I was at Malacañan. There was an air-raid. When the “all-clear” signal was sounded, we left Malacañan for the Presidential landing, boarded the launch Baler, and boarded the SS Mayon which was anchored off the coast of Malabon. At 2:30 p.m. another raid alarm was sounded. The departure was delayed because the Chief Engineer of the Mayon had not arrived and could not be located. Finally we left at 4 p.m. without the Chief Engineer. This delay constituted a blessing in disguise as Japanese planes had raided Corregidor and Mariveles at 4 p.m. sinking one boat and setting on fire a French ship the Marechal Foch.

We landed at Corregidor at 5:30 p.m. The U.S. High Commissioner, Mrs. Sayre and son and office assistants were on the same boat. We were assigned beds in two of the Hospital tunnels. The men in tunnel 11 and the women in tunnel 10. We are fairly comfortable but I fear that living in the tunnel for a prolonged period is not healthy. The President is accompanied by his family and various servants. (Officially he is accompanied by the Vice-President (Osmeña) who has in addition been appointed Secretary of Public Instruction & Secretary of Health, by Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos who in addition has been appointed Acting Sec. of Justice & Acting sec. of Finance, and myself who in addition to being Chief of Staff Philippine Army I have been appointed Secretary of National Defense, Secretary of Public Works and Communications and Secretary of Labor.)

In addition the President is accompanied by 3 M.D.’s (Dr. E. C. Cruz, Dr. B. Diño & Dr. A. Trepp) all of whom were commissioned captains Medical Corps Reserves.


December 23, 1941

Silang, Cavite

Headquarters, 51st Division

 

Still no action. Troops ready in positions. Morale of men very high. Spent whole day running to a nearby foxhole every time Jap planes flew overhead. Several bombs dropped on grass field near ammunition dump but no damage done.

Ate with Silang’s parish priest. He gave me ham and eggs and coffee. He said he was glad the 51st was in Silang to defend the town from Japs who might land in Nasugbu Bay. “when there is a raid,” he said, “you may use the cellar of my church because it is very safe.”

Accompanied Gen. S. de Jesus during his inspection of front line and reserve lines. High spirit of troops impressed me. The boys are raring to fight and anxious to “knock out a couple of Japs.” One private raised the flag atop a ridge. Somebody said: “Better remove that because it will disclose our positions.” The general remarked: “Take every normal precaution but let’s keep the flag flying.”

Went to Signal Corps tent to listen to radio. Tuned in on San Francisco, Tokyo and Manila. Heard Ignacio Javier’s daily commentary on the news. Signal Corps officers said they intercepted Jap messages at about eleven last night. “There must be ships nearby” remarked the radio operator. On my way to the command post, I stopped at a store to buy several packages of Camel’s . When I offered to pay, the waitress said: “never mind, you are a soldier.” I insisted but she refused. She was a smart looking girl although somewhat plump.

Wrote Mama three nights ago. Asked her to stop worrying about me because I can take care of myself. Fred also wrote to his mother but his letter to his wife was longer. I wonder whom a man loves more, his wife or mother. Started writing to Morita but tore the letter because I didn’t know what to say or how to say what I wanted to say. Fred smiled and remarked: “I’ve gone through all that.”

Attended staff meeting which lasted until 9:30 p.m. The general said main effort of enemy being exerted on northern front. He said a huge enemy fleet of about 80 transports was sighted off Lingayen Gulf. He stated that Gen. Capinpin’s 21st division will be on hand to welcome the Japs. The general explained that this was the second enemy thrust upon the Lingayen sector. The first landing was attempted on December 12. The division G-2 pointed out that Jap troops from 40 transports landed in Atimonan. He said that MacArthur’s headquarters gave information that troops of General Parker in this area are “behaving very well but are greatly outnumbered.” He opined that if the enemy continues gaining ground our lines may be outflanked. It was decided to establish closer contact with units under Gen. Albert Jones to coordinate defensive efforts. Capt. Fred Castro was told to act as liason and he was given a fast Ford coupe and Signal Corps men for transmission of messages as need arises. The general told Fred that he must observe conditions in Camarines and Tayabas fronts and relay information to our command post continuously. “Be sure you don’t lay down on the job Fred because I don’t want our rear exposed.” Fred’s face beamed with importance.

It is a beautiful night. Thousands of stars in the sky. Fields are green, river beyond is quiet, papaya trees are about to bear fruits. I can feel a soft wind blowing on my face right now. The soldiers sitting under the trees in the orchard nearby are singing “Tayo na sa Antipolo.”

I’m homesick, really.


August 29, 1941

All ten Military Districts in the Philippines are extra busy since yesterday.  One Infantry Regiment and Key O’s and EM of other organic units of EACH of the Phil. Army Divisions started reporting yesterday as ordered to their respective  Mobilization Centers  for  training. The PA Reserves being called to active duty (CAD) are expected to number 75,000 by 1 Dec ’41;  100,000 by 1 Jan ’42; and 200,000 by 1 Apr ’42.

Also, additional senior O’s selected to train at CGSS, Baguio to open Sept. 1 are: B/Gen. Guillermo Francisco; Col. Simeon de Jesus; Lt. Cols. Santiago Guevarra, Ricardo Poblete; Claro Lizardo; Paciano Tangco; Claro Lizardo; Irineo Buenconsejo;  Rafael Jalandoni; Calixto Duque;  Tomas Domaoal; Fidel Cruz; Bienvenido Alba; Patricio Borromeo; Majors Jaime Velasquez; and Emmanuel Cepeda. They are prospective Division Comdrs. or Staff O’s for the Divisions being mobilized.

Manila News report says  US Sec of State Hull warns Japan to leave the Pacific open to US Shipping.  Also Hitler and Mussolini met and formulated plans to counter US aid to  Allies.


Monday, Jan. 8, 1940

Segundo-Daily Reminder - 1940_Page_010

Schedule of breakfast & conference at Malacanang suspended probably due to Pampanga strike.

Conference w Lim, Garcia, De Jesus, [illegible] re atand on reorganization. De Jesus or [illegible] will propose separation of Constabulary.

I am preparing the synopsis of stand of Gen. Staff.

Centro Escolar — Mrs. Mendez & Mrs. Rodriguez want auxiliary service organized in their school. I believe they want to use this information for advertisement.