April 10, 1942

Morning came, and we were ordered to stack our guns and disarm. The white flag was raised on top of the highest hill. All Filipino troops in Bataan were going to surrender together. It was already nine o’clock… but still there were no Japs. We knew we were completely surrounded, but they were taking their time.

Some of the boys were crying –Teddy Arvisu, for example. Others were happy. They were glad the fighting was over, no matter how it ended. But the boys were mistaken. It was not all over yet.

Some twenty Americans armed themselves with machine-guns and started firing at the disarmed troops of General Lim. “You dirty cowards!” hollered the Americans. There was a big commotion. Then the desperate group of Yanks machinegunned a Jap observation plane that flew very low to verify the white flag. The plane was almost hit. It came back with a squadron of bombers and they rained tons of death on the unarmed troops. Generals de Jesus and Lim gave me an order that I will never forget. “Buencamino,” said Gen. Lim, “go to the Japanese line… and inform them that there are two Filipino generals here… who are surrending their troops.” I was sore. They were making a trial goat out of me. After having lived through the whole war… I was not in a mood to take anymore chances. How was I to know the Japanese were going to respect the white flag? Besides some ignorant Jap… still furious… might take a pot shot at me. Anyway, orders were orders and I proceeded to comply with it. Oscar saw me… and he embraced me. “I’m going with you,” he said.

We went up the first hill… and there below us… we saw hundred of trucks and cars blocking the road. We had to turn around… to find another route. Just then… I saw Pepito Castillo and Nene Gallaga. They were pale… and panting. “What happened?” I inquired. “Gosh,” said Gallaga, “we were carrying white flags and several Jap patrols machine-gunned us.”

I returned to General Lim. I told him: “I cannot comply with your order. As an officer, I have the right to choose between surrender or not. I do not wish to surrender.” Then Gallaga told General Lim what had happened. Lim understood.

By about eleven o’clock… the Japanese troops arrived. We were informed by them that General King had surrendered. We were disarmed completely, and they told us to walk up to Manila. “You are free because you are Filipinos,” they said. I thought: this is too good to be true. There was a catch… and it didn’t take long before we found out.

We walked together: Ramon, Tony Nieva, Ernie, Willie Jacinto, Paeng Estrada, Fred Castro, Johnnie Fabella, and myself. We carried one can of Carnation milk each and two cans of pork beans. We were told that at Orani we would be given trucks to go to Manila… and we believed them… and thanked them. So we walked on… and on… and on.

The sun was very hot. But we didn’t care. We wanted to get home. Ramon walked with a sweater and blanket wrapped around him. I was sustaining him most of the time. He tried his best not to be a “drag.” Chalito was quite the contrary. He was always complaining of the heat. Every five kilometers we would halt. Ernie gave us pep talks. “Carry on,” he said. “In a few days, we will be with our families.”

The main body of the Japanese forces were walking past us. Their tanks, trucks, cannons, cars, horses, troops rumbled by us. We had to run out of the road, because they didn’t give a damn about running over us. Japanese soldiers started taking our watches and money and canned goods. Some boys were stripped of their shirts. We endured all forms of indignities. After all, they were the victors. A Jap came up to Ramon… and he took of his sweater. We didn’t complain. It was best to be discreet. “Endure everything,” counseled Ernie, “that is the fate of the vanquished.” “After all,” said Tony Nieva, “we are getting off pretty easy.”

We trudged on and on that first day for almost fifteen kilometers. We were very thirsty. “I can’t… anymore,” cried Willie… and he dropped on the ground. We stayed around him… gave him pep talks. “I want a drink of water… even just a drop,” he begged. But there was no water. I pitied Willie… as a he lay there on the ground. We rested for half an hour… and then I made him sling his arm over my shoulders… and we walked on…

More Japanese troops passed by us: haughty, mocking. Some of the soldiers belonging to the 41st div. were commandeered by them. Some were made their servants… slaves.

But our little gang was left alone, thank God. When night came, we slept on a hillside. We were hungry and so for dinner we drank our cans of milk. I was so exhaustedI couldn’t take the prok and beans that Ernie thrust into my mouth. “Take it,” he shouted, “don’t be a fool. You’ve got to eat.”

I slept like a dead man that night. I had no bed, no pillow… just a blanket which Ernie shared. Johnnie was complaining of diarrhea… Ramon said he was getting better… but Tony was shivering. We gave him quinine. Willie Jacinto was pooped out… and Chalito Zamora had cramps. Godo Reyes was the strongest among us.

At about midnight, Ernie woke me up. There were strange cries. There was the voice of a woman, crying, pleading. Then there were other cries –female voices, too– and all had the same “spare-me-please” tone. We couldn’t move. I was tense. Then there were hoarse cries… soldiers… then shots that pierced the night… and the dull thud of bodies.

We woke up very early in the morning -before sunrise. We decided to walk… while it was cool. We rolled our blankets… and we moved towards Little Baguio. “Wish we had ham and eggs!” said Ramon jokingly. Nobody answered. We kept on walking… walking… walking. Finally, we reached Little Baguio. There we had our breakfast: water. The brook in Little Baguio was nice as ever. We filled our canteens and we filled ourselves up. We had a short rest… and we walked again.

On the roadside, we saw a lot of dead bodies, unlucky fellows who died just a few days before the end. There was an awful smell. Some corpses showed signs of torture before death. The wrists and ankles were bound, and the mouth gagged. Others had ugly wounds in their bellies, which proved they had hand-to-hand fighting. Most of the bodies were rotting, and there was no one to even give them a decent grave.

The sun was scorchingly hot by now, and I was getting dizzy with the heat. Tony Nieva was trying hard to walk… despite his malaria. Godo Reyes was still going strong… but I noticed that Ernie was weakening.

Noontime came… but we had no lunch. We just sat under a tree… and stared at each other. I saw a 3-year old girl… sitting beside a bush… crying. Her face was dusty. Where was her mother? I looked around… and in a nearby bush… there was an awful smell. There lay a rigid body, and the torn clothes and the bayonet thrusts on the body told the story. I felt like bringing the child with me… she looked sick and so hungry… but I left the child… without help. I can’t forgive myself. I tried to ease my conscience by saying that thousands of soldiers passed that child also… that many more would see it. I tried to tell myself that the Japanese Red Cross (surely, they probably had a Red Cross) would help the kid. As I walked and walked and walked… the child haunted me. But on the way… there were more such children… some asleep from sheer exhaustion… but still breathing. I carried one out of the curve… because a truck might just rumble over her. Again I felt like bringing the child. I already had her in my arms. But I laid her down alone… under a tree.

We walked on and on till it was dark, and we had no more strength. We found out that hunger does not matter very much… after a while… because your stomach becomes tense. My feet were beginning to hurt me. Ernie had big blisters. Ramon, too. Godo’s feet were bleeding. That night… we slept by a beach.

Before sunrise… we walked again… with nothing but water for breakfast. I saw more suffering. I saw an old man whom we thought dead… trying to say something because his lips were moving. His body was partly covered with mud and flies. His bones were sticking out. There he lay… dying. But we didn’t bother anymore about him. There were too many of them. I also saw a fellow soldier bayoneted by an angry Japanese soldier.He dropped to the ground… and he lay there… looking at us.. begging with his eyes for help… but nobody dared even give him a look of sympathy. I cursed everybody for not helping him… but I should also have cursed myself. I too didn’t dare.

Everywhere victims of catastrophe filled the roadside. Mobs of pitiful figures pleaded for food, begged for water. As we walked on and on and on… I saw more and more desperate-looking faces… smoke-blackened faces… some had bandaged heads and limbs. Then Japanese soldiers would come and start kicking them and having fun at the expense of the wounded soldiers. They would offer water then drop it before them. One man was shot for stealing rice from a parked Jap truck. Thousands slept on the roadside… right in the open… using their little bundles of worldly goods for pillows, and rags and paper for bedding. In every lane, suffering humanity squatted, stood, or lay wherever space was. I thought why don’t Vargas and our leaders do something to help these soldiers? I could not understand. Where were our social workers?

I kept on praying while I walked. More and more of the Japanese troops passed by. We avoided them. More soldiers dropped down out of sheer exhaustion. Ernie and Ramon were going crazy. They had no more water. They kept on looking and looking and asking and asking for water, water, water. They were thirsty, very thirsty. Willie Jacinto was saying “water-water-water” at every step. The routine was breaking my nerves. I shouted at Willie… told him to “Shut up!” He did… and I cried. Then we saw a canal. Instinctively… we all dove into it. there was the dead body of a Negro floating in the stagnant water. But we drank it… and it was good. I took a precaution. I poured a little bit of iodine in my cup. Never did I like my drink more.

Afternoon came… and we rested under a tree. Here, three Americans joined us. One of them –a major– told Ramon: “Say you… move out of there… so I can get the shade.” Ramon didn’t like the way the American said it. The major forgot that the war was over for us at least… and that we were now equal. Ramon got sore, shouted: “I take no orders from American cowards.” The major reddened. “You talk of equality… but when I was in your country… despite my money… I couldn’t dance with your girls.” The American said: “That’s what you give us after fighting for you!” “Whattha hell!” said Tony. “Who’s fighting for whom?” “Why you mutts never even went near the front?”

We left after a few minutes. On the way… I saw Japs kicking Americans sitting on the roadside. The Japanese preferred to hit Americans rather than Filipinos. There were mestizos… who I guess in peace-time… wouldn’t associate with Filipinos… that came to our gang begging to join us… so that they would not be mistaken for Americans. I couldn’t help thinking: “Here were Filipinos, trying to save themselves by the drop of Filipino blood which they were ashamed of all their lives.”

We walked on. Hundreds of thoughts filled my mind. Before Lamao… the fields were full of craters. Hundreds of exposed corpses rotted in the fields. The Japs had concentrated total fire on this area. The fields were sown with unfired grenades, shells, bullets. Here and there were helmets… torn shrapnel… half buried by recent rains that kindly interred the heads to which they were strapped. I saw a Jap stealing the pocketbook of a dead trainee. I saw a Jap officer undress the corpse of an officer in the rain. Walking along, I saw here and there a clenched fist… an arm… a leg.

Lamao… I rested in a shack. Here we found a fellow called De Asis. He told me he was the brother of a friend of mine: Leocadio de Asis. He knew me, but I didn’t know him. He had a wound in his leg. He said he was hit by a grenade. Then we heard the whizzing of shells. More shells mingled with anti-aircraft fire. It was Corregidor. The Japs had started the offensive. “Let’s go,” said Ernie. “Let’s leave Bataan before the Rock shells this place.” So we all stood with one thought in our minds… walk and walk till we get out of Bataan. When we were all ready to start, I noticed De Asis still lying down. “What’s the matter?” I asked. “Never mind,” he said, “I can’t walk anymore. My feet are bleeding.”

It broke my heart to leave him. He tried to make it easy for us. “Go ahead,” he said, “if I were in your shoes… I’d leave you guys, too.” I looked back… when we were nearing the bend… and he was at the window… and he waved at us… and my tears just rolled down. It was every man for himself. What had war done to us?

We walked on and on. A Japanese officer met us. He was kind. He said: “Firipino, Manira; American, imprison.” We were happy. We would be free –at last. We walked on and on… with the thought that each step brought us nearer home.

Finally, we arrived in Orani. This is the neck of the peninsula of Bataan. Here there were many Japanese guards… and we were all concentrated. We were counted, searched. Then we were brought to Balanga –five kilometers away– in a hell of a concentration camp. We were not given food nor water. The men were doing their necessities all over the place. Johnnie laid his blanket on somebody’s manure. It was a hell of a place… but they told us once again: “You will go to Manila.” That was enough for me. I could and would endure anything as long as they brought me home where I can see mama and papa again. I think the same thought kept all of us alive. Maybe if I didn’t have a nice home… I wouldn’t have been able to walk on.

Morning came. Japanese guards woke us up with the butt of their rifles. I slept soundly. When you are tired, you can sleep anywhere, anyway… even in a mud-hole. Others who were too lazy to get up, never got up again. They were bayoneted to death. I have to give thanks that, up to then… not a single Jap ever laid hands on me. I was not robbed of a single cent, altho’ some of my companions were stripped of their watches, fountain pens and money.

We were told to walk again. Lubao was our next destination. Nobody talked of breakfast. It was better not to think of the things you couldn’t have. It only tortured you. Our sentry was kind. He allowed us to fill our canteens with water. We were fresh again. You can’t imagine the refreshing value of water. I felt like I could wak up to Manila. But after three or four kilometers… I was already tired. A few more minutes… and I was dragging my feet. My only consolation was that all my companions were also dragging their feet.

Car after car with Japanese passengers passed by us. Some of the cards belonged to my friends. Ernie shouted: “There’s my Buick!” I asked myself: “Is this Japan’s New Order?” I couldn’t help thinking: there we were –walking, crawling; there they were: riding, smoking. Is this what they called a co-prosperity sphere?

To the right and left of me… I could see fellow soldiers gradually losing strength. Now and then, older soldiers would drop down. Too exhausted. As we approached Pampanga… my heart skipped. At last, we were nearer Manila, nearer home. But that joy lasted only for a moment. I was thirsty… but I was not allowed to drink. A captain who drank anyway was killed. Was it a crime to drink?

We walked and walked… from sunrise to sunset and then till midnight… till dawn… without food, without water. Many dropped. Others dead. Some were killed. It was the survival of the fittest. Some sentries were kind. They would permit us ten minutes rest. Sometimes twenty. They realized that even an animal… a machine… has to rest. Then I would just lie down on the cement roads of Pampanga… and fall asleep because of sheer exhaustion.

Then finally I saw Bacolor. “My hometown,” said Ernie. But the houses were filled with naked men, bald-headed men… men in G-strings. They had even taken the houses. We passed by the church. It was full of boxes, of canned goods. It was transformed into a warehouse. Many men –Filipinos– walked with Japanese flags on their breasts. Houses were flying Jap flags. I thought: only yesterday, these men were waving the American and Filipino flags.

I noticed also that the people were afraid to even greet us…. as if we didn’t go through all this hell because we wanted to fight for them. But that is the irony of life. When you win, you are cheered. But when you are defeated…

But there were also some who dared cry. I do not like tears… but somehow I was happy to see eyes that were swollen and red. But then I hoped there would be no more tears. A woman was bayoneted for crying. But could she help it? Her son was among the group.

Then… in a nipa shack… we saw the family of Ernie. His mother was crying. They gave us bread and eggs. But I was too tired. I couldn’t eat it. The Jap sentry kicked Willie Gonzales out of the way… for handing us food. Ramon asked: is it a crime to eat?

We passed by the Pasudeco. The Japs also occupied it. Ernie said: “I own part of that central… but I can’t even eat a sugarcane.”

San Fernando was in ruins. The big church in the plaza was also converted into a bodega. What was left of the houses, were occupied by Japs. We were all dumped in San Fernando’s cockpit –about 6,000 of us– jammed in that “sabungan” with a capacity for 900. You can imagine how we slept. I was half-seated, half-standing. That’s how I stayed the whole night. Here –at last– I was able to get a glass of water, thanks to Marcial Lichauco. He came over to visit us. Jorge de Leon was with him. I asked Jorge to tell Papa that I was alive and kicking.

Then I succumbed to fever. My temperature was probably around 40… but I felt like I had 50. But I was determined to carry on. In cases like this, one must steel himself and muster his fighting spirit. I could remember Papa’s lecture when I was a high school swimmer in La Salle: “Never give up. Fight to the last lap.”

Early morning, we were told to get up with kicks and butt strokes. We were made to walk to the railway station. There we were dumped in baggage cars. Imagine about 80 dirty, sickly, sweating men… locked in one of those iron baggage cars. There we were… struggling and groping for air. Many fainted. Some were moaning. Others suffocated. Some were trying to break the floors. Others said they were dying. The train chugged on… and on… and on… Oh, why did it travel so slowly? There I was… with two mutts on my stomach… and my head cramped between Godo Reyes’ legs. But I didn’t mind… because there was a little hole… and I could get a whiff of air. I couldn’t help thinking: there are many wonderful things on earth -like the air we breathe- that we take for granted. That was the first time I realized its importance.

At last we arrived in Capas, Tarlac. The door of the baggage car was opened. You ought to have seen the boys breathing in the first whiff of fresh air. You would have thought that was the last time they would breathe!

We marched in fours… to O’Donnell… the concentration camp… where most of us were destined to die. There were thousands of Tarlaqueños at the station. They lined the roadside. They were crying… many of them… men, women, children. They threw bread, rice, sugar, panocha… and everything they could get a hold of. I couldn’t help crying. Every 200 meters they placed cans of water. Here was real Filipino patriotism and kindness. The Japs couldn’t stop them. They shouted: “Heroes! Mabuhay!” Some were looking for their brothers, sons, fathers. A woman asked: “Si Mr. Julian?” When they told her… they didn’t know.. she gave out the food she prepared for him. I couldn’t hold my tears anymore. I just let them roll down my cheeks. Our fight was, after all, not in vain, I thought. At least, here were people that appreciated it. But I tried to control my tears… Because I didn’t want my friends to see me crying. But when I dared look at them… I saw that they were also wiping their eyes. The Japanese guards then gave up the attempt to drive the people away. What they did was to help the civilians give us food. A Japanese guard handed a panocha to me… and he pointed at a pretty girl who took pity on me. For the first time, I realized the truth of Rizal’s words: “No hay verdugos donde no hay esclavos.”

We finally reached O’Donnell.

In a field… facing the headquarters of the American commander… we were made to stand at attention. I was dizzy standing there in the heat… with my fever. Many others were at the point of dropping down… we tried our best to stand straight. General Francisco stood before us… and explained: “the head of this camp will talk to you. Be sure to stay at attention, or you will be shot.”

The Japanese commander arrived. He stood on the platform with an air of arrogance. He said: “I am Capt. Shineyosi. I am head of this camp. If you have no behave, you will be killed. Why you fight Japan? She is your friend. She wants to free the suffering people of Asia. The Asiatics have long been oppressed by the Whites. Now the whiles will be made to suffer…” And at this point, he made a dramatic gesture and pointed at the American prisoners on the other side of the fence. There were the Americans, bent. They were carrying pails of water… fixing the road… building fences. They were being kicked, butt-struck, bayoneted. I saw an old American being carried by two young bearded aviators. I saw many falling down out of sheer exhaustion. I saw Japanese faces laughing at them… kicking and hitting them. I couldn’t help but pity them… although my heart was bitter at the way Americans discriminated racially against Filipinos. These men were not entirely to blame. They were brought up in a stupid atmosphere that made them believe they were superior to the brown man. But there they were –kicked, hit by brown men. It was a picture of racial vindication… but it was also a picture of the heartlessness of war. Why should these few men… be the ones to endure the stupidities of centuries?

I was assigned to Group II and made regimental adjutant in the concentration camp. Col. Abla was our group commander. He gave us a talk: “You have to behave. Only yesterday, three boys were shot for disrespectfulness towards Japanese soldiers.”

Life in the concentration camp was quite hard. Food was scarce. All we had was a ball of rice… as big as your fist, and salt. There was hardly any water. We had to get it from the river. One could take only two cups a day… and it was boiled mud water.

There was an average of about 400 deaths a day. Many soldiers were suffering from malaria, dysentery, and deficiency diseases. The Japs, however, prohibited the Red Cross from helping the sick. If you got appendicitis, for example, it was your tough luck.

There was a hospital, but only in name. It had –to begin with– no facilities: no cotton, no medicine… and not even water. I know because I have seen that many of those who became insane in that hospital could have been saved, if they could have been given just one glass of water. I never saw such a hospital in my life. It was really a morgue… a waiting room where all the sick are piled… there to die and then to be buried.

I got sicker still in camp. Not having had a bath… for almost three weeks… I walked around with a shirt. My shirt was hard with dried sweat and I couldn’t stand my own smell. One morning… when I woke up… I noticed that I had a fever, and I was coughing. Carlos Vergel de Dios, a fellow prisoner, took care of me. He gave me a sponge bath. My fever went down. There I was lying on the floor, with wood for a pillow. I missed mama and my soft bed.

Then the next day… my fever went down to 39 degrees.

Write on Japan and the Japanese… how gradually my mind has changed… asia for the asiatics… banzai!


April 8, 1942

Bataan

Saw a big rat eating what looked like the arm of a soldier strewn near a stream in H.P.D.

Saw more troops –hollow-eyed, wasted, exhausted, lips parched with thirst, eyes wild with starvation.

Saw corpses of brave men, courageous men being buried by friends, comrades-in-arms.

All troops are moving to Mariveles, the southernmost tip of Bataan. After that is the sea –Beyond is Corregidor, still flying the flag.

Saw the staff car of Gen. Lim. He was riding fast to Mariveles. He looked thin, worried, and his hair was white.

Prayed, prayed, prayed. Prayed for victory. Prayed for myself. For the dying and DEAD.

Will pray some more. In the hour of defeat, there is only prayer.

(later)

Staff-meeting. Very sad, pathetic, gloomy, funeral-like. There were tears in all our eyes. “We are in the saddest moment in our nation’s history,” said the General.

All around us were fires, supply dumps burning, hospitals afire, cars, trucks hit by incendiaries. Great columns of smoke everywhere.

The telephone rang again. It was Oscar Arellano. He talked to me and he said: “Where shall I go with my troops?” He asked: “Are there any orders?” I said: “Go to Mariveles.”

The General said: “Our unit is disbanded. We cannot surrender as members of the Intelligence Service. Let us say that we belong to the 41st Division or any unit you please. The Japs will torture us if they know we have been engaged in espionage work. The general could speak no more.

Fred arrived. He said he went to the coast to look for bancas to row up to Corregidor but there were none.

Officers were conjecturing: “What will the Japs do to us? Will they shoot on sight? Will they torture us? Will they imprison us? Shall we die fighting? Shall we keep a bullet for ourselves? Shall we swim to Corregidor? What about the sharks? What shall we do? Oh Lord what shall we do?

More and more troops retreating to Mariveles. We are also packing up and moving to Mariveles. Took one last look in the direction of the front: it was one phantasmagoria of swirling clouds of red dust, roaring tanks moving men and dust-caked units, crawling on blood-red earth….

8 p.m.

Can feel earth shaking. Terrific explosions. The Americans are blowing up all ammunition dumps.

The General has ordered us to “Burn all papers.”

I don’t have the heart to burn this. I’ll tell my sergeant to do it for me.

(later — 10:10 p.m.)

Fred is crying. He said he saw troops carrying — white flags.


April 1, 1942

HQ, MIS, BATAAN

 

Awakened by “Photo Joe”. Name given to Jap observation plane by Bataan boys is “Photo Joe”. Leonie said: “That means bombing around ‘brunch’ time.” Fred, usually more grim, said: “That also means deaths.”

Major Javallera who was O.D. said that there was continous artillery firing the whole night. “It must be hell at the front,” he remarked.

After brunch, I prepared to go to the eastern sector. While crossing the stream to the Motor Pool, Jap planes commenced bombardment.

Japs were throwing small bombs, a lot of them. At first, I thought they were leaflets. But when I heard the swishing sounds and the detonations, I ran to a ditch near the traffic officer at the foot of the bridge in Base Camp.

Several bombs dropped near the trucks parked under the trees at the curve of the stream. One exploded a few meters away from the Igorot chauffeur. I saw him shaking and pouring water over his head. Men have funny reactions to a bombardment.

I rode on one of the jeeps. Had to stop three times because of strafing planes. Around Limay, I did not notice a low-flying Jap plane until I saw a truck full of Americans put on the brakes and stop dead in its tracks and all the soldiers jumped out and took cover under the brushes along the road. My chauffeur jammed the brakes and I dove into a bush. The U.S. truck was hit by five .mg bullets but it was able to run because the meter was not hit at all.

Saw the Limay schoolhouse burning, it was hit by incendiaries. An officer stopped our jeep and he asked for a ride till the next intersection. He said the Japs have a system of rotating cannons so that they do not stop pounding our lines. They are sending wave after wave of fresh troops and it was a question of time for the lines to break. I remember the General’s statement about the limit of human endurance. The officer said: “We kill and kill but more and more came…”

Scouts have been placed on the eastern sector. The Philippine Scouts have a fine record. One officer of high rank said that if all troops in Bataan were as well-trained as the Scouts, the Japs would have a very much harder time.

Bulk of troops in main-line however are mostly ROTC boys, cadre-trainees and volunteers. They are not professional soldiers like the scouts. But after all these months of fighting, they have gained valuable experience and according to an American officer from West Point “they are behaving like seasoned troops, like veterans.”

Saw several stragglers. They can’t find their units. Some said they belonged to the 41st, others to the 51st, others to the 31st. My driver said “those are running away from the fighting.”

The sight of those five or six stragglers reminded me of the retreat from the northern front in Pangasinan. When the fighting there was getting very hot, the divisions who were still new, started to get disorganized and many of the troops were lost. “Bad sign,” I said to myself.

On the way to one of the trails leading to the front, our jeep ran out of gas. I stayed on the roadside till dark waiting for someone who would be kind enough to share a bit of fuel. Slept an hour and when I woke up I was covered with dust.

There is no doubt by now that the Japanese are putting their “main effort” on the center of the front line, between the divisions of Gens. Capinpin and Lim. They are trying to drive a wedge where the two divisions meet. Here the maximum amount of fire power is being concentrated and although I have not noticed any sign of the lines folding in this region, when it does break it will be sudden and rapid, like a dam that suddenly cracks, and there will be a stream of blood.


March 12, 1942

Corregidor

Quiet, uneventful trip crossing Bay. Gatas depressed when he heard President no longer here. He said he heard of it but he was not sure.

Life here is very boring. No action. It’s all going in and out of the tunnel. When there is a raid, just go in the tunnel. After its over, you go out and breathe the fresh air.

After raids, officers always ask: “When will the convoy arrive?”

Placards have been posted around the Rock prohibiting discussion of military matters.

Ate three times. First, with officers in tunnel; then with Filipino officers in barracks; third, with Marines.

Arranged insurance papers of officers in our unit. Capt. Pepe Razon was very helpful. He is a finance officer. Gatas fixed Lim’s salary. His wife will collect for him.

Romulo said that Col. Manuel Roxas is being called by the President to Mindanao but that Roxas does not like to leave the Rock.

Romulo wanted me to take part in a script for tomorrow’s Voice of Freedom broadcast but the General said I had to be back by 6 p.m.

Heard another batch of Americans and Filipinos to be given DSC for bravery in the front.


February 26, 1942

Corregidor

Malinta

 

Had a nice luncheon with Mr. Roxas, Romulo, Razon, Baby Vargas, and Manny de Leon. We “swiped” some of the chickens in Mac’s house and fried it. We ate at the chalet beside Mac’s bungalow which is being used by Mr. Roxas and Romulo as sleeping quarters.

It was so warm and there is very little shade in the Rock that we took off our unifoms and ate with undershirts.

Everybody was happy as Manny who is quite a good cook made culinary wonders with Mac’s chicken.

Romulo and Roxas were talking about the fighting in Bataan and Roxas said that after the war, a big national shrine should be constructed in Mt. Samat to honor all the heroes that have died and are now dying in this battle.

Roxas was talking about the shipping of supplies from the Visayas to Corregidor to improve the rations of the boys. Romulo cracked that it was hard to fight on an empty stomach.

I told Mr. Romulo that one of our operatives had contacted his secretary and that he should stop worrying about his family because they are all right and hiding in Pagsanjan.

Roxas asked me to bring a bottle of whiskey for Jake Zobel who was in Lim’s division and some cigarettes for him.

Romulo said that the President was now in the Visayas and that the weather there would be much healthier for him than the damp air of the tunnel.

After the fried chicken, Manny surprised us with ice cream made out of dri-mix and the ice he was able to get from the Chinese boys in Malinta.

I had myself insured and Baby Vargas who is in the Finance Division fixed up my papers.

Roxas and Romulo then talked of a broadcast over Voice of Freedom which was very hard on “Quislings collaborating with Japs while their sons were fighting in Bataan.” Romulo said that this broadcast was written by Gen. MacArthur. Roxas regretted that it was written because he stated those in Manila. “We don’t know,” he said, “how much pressure of torture was being exerted by the Japs.”

Our happy luncheon was interrupted during the ice cream because of the air raid alarm. We were too full to run to the tunnel so we decided to stick it out in our shack. Fortunately the bombers dropped their bombs on the Cavite side. When we returned to the table, our ice cream had melted.

 

(later)

 

Barracks is top-hill bombed. Oil dumps hit. Damage slight, according to Vic Osias.

Talked with Norman Reyes and Vic Osias. Both fellows were full of wisecracks. Norman is one of the announcers of the Voice of Freedom. Osias is attached to air corps unit in Corregidor.

Discussion on prostitution popped up again. Some officers think it is a bad necessity. Two U.S. marines joined discussion. They claim the French are the best prostitutes.

Played Ping Pong with Manny de Leon before taking dinner.

Norman Reyes had a fight with an American soldier. “I don’t like guys with racial prejudices,” he said.

 


February 14, 1942 – Saturday

6:30 a.m. left Corregidor for Bataan on a Q boat. The sea was very rough and it could not make any speed.

I arrived at 7:30 a.m. at Cabcaben. Colonel Hill and General de Jesus were waiting for me. I gave some instructions to General de Jesus and then left with Colonel Hill in a command car for the Command Post of General Lough. It was a hard trip through newly constructed trails in the mountains. The dust was terrible. We reached a place in the mountain where the trail ended. Then we had to hike up-hill. We reached the Command Post of General Lough at 10:45 a.m. There I met General Lough and his staff, General Lim and his aide, Lieutenant Santos, General Capinpin, Captain Angel Tuason. I had a letter for Bubby Tuason from Loling, that had been smuggled out of Manila by someone. As soon as he received the note he began to cry. I patted him on the shoulder and told him to cheer up. I talked to General Capinpin and General Lim regarding the morale of the officers and men. At 11 a.m. while I was talking to them we heard the roar of airplane engines. I was told that there were 12 bombers and four pursuits. They encircled around again and again. They flew so low that we could distinctly hear the characteristic whistle that the bombers have. General Lough ordered that everyone stand near the entrance of the dug outs. Suddenly we heard the explosions caused by the bombs dropped towards our left probably some artillery placements. At 11:30 p.m. when we realized that the danger had passed we hiked back to our car and proceeded to the Command Post of Colonel Catalin Commanding Officer of 21st F.A. He was waiting for me on the road together with Major Villarreal and Lieutenant Aquino.

He showed me his post. I inspected his Command Post and discussed with him the phases of military situation and the morale of the officers and men.

Left his Command Post for the offshore patrol base at Lamao. Major Villarreal offered to go with me to show me the new place, as Captain Jurado, had transferred his Post to another place, as his former place had been bombed by enemy planes.

When I arrived there I found Lee Stevens waiting for me. He is a captain Q.M.C. USAFFE. We talked for a while and ate a luncheon prepared impromptu by Captain Jurado. He served Carabao meat. It was not bad. Before I left Lee gave me a letter to be opened only in case of his death. Lee is the Commanding Officer of a motor pool. His place was recently bombed.

From this place I rushed to the Philippine Army Hospital at Km. 172 to inspect. The conditions not as good as I would like them to be. The ward tents are dark and give the impression of poor ventilation. The general arrangement is poor. I instructed Colonel Luna to discuss the matter with Colonel Janairo, Chief enginner.

I left the Philippine Army hospital with Colonel Hill & Major Cruz for the Command Post of General Marshall. Washed up and had dinner with him. Proceeded afterwards to Cabcaben to take the Q boat which was waiting to take me to the rock. Colonel Browley of the Staff of General Moore asked to be allowed to come with me. I was happy to authorize him to do so.

On the way from General Marshall’s Command Post to Cabcaben, Colonel Browley told me that he had just inspected Anti-Aircraft batteries in Mariveles and praised the Philippine Army unit. He said that the two outstanding batteries or Anti-Aircraft units there was one American (Colonel National Guard) and one Philippine Army composed of our trainees from Fort Windt 90% and Scout Filipino N.C.O. 10%. The American unit has 14 planes to its credit; the Philippine Army unit 12 planes. The previous day two Japanese planes who were apparently on a bombing mission to Mariveles make a dive to attack our unit. Our boys received them with a heavy barrage and brought the two planes down with only 40 rounds of ammunition consumed.

When we arrived at Cabcaben, the sea was very rough, and the Captain of the Q boat had difficulty in docking it. Finally he was successful. We arrived at Corregidor at 6:30 p.m. I saw the President to report my trip and then went home for supper.


January 26, 1942

HQ, MIS

Bataan

 

Maj. Gen. Basilio Valdes and Major Carlos Romulo dropped at our Command Post this morning. Romulo said they would go to the command posts of Generals Lim and Segundo. They want to see “a little bit of action”.

They got a bit of it when they docked at Cabcaben this morning. The Japs bombed the docks again just when they were jumping out of the torpedo boat.

The General informed Romulo and Valdes that snipers have penetrated lines of Segundo. He told them to proceed with caution. I accompanied Valdes and Romulo down the steep hill leading to Base Camp.

We walked through a small trail skirting the side of a hill, crossed a narrow stream by jumping on boulders amid the stream so as not to get our shoes wet.

Valdes and Romulo rode in a Command Car. They had the driver put the top down so they can watch planes. Japs generally strafe cars in Bataan roads. I told them they would get a lot of dust in their faces. Valdes said: “Never mind the dust. What counts are the bullets.”

Romulo shook my hands before riding the command car and then he looked at the hill we had just descended. “Quite steep,” he said. “Quite steep.” I felt like saying “STEEPENDOUS.”

 

(later)

 

Col. Willoughby was just here. He talked with the general. He was wearing a doughboy’s cap. I thanked him for the uniform. In fact, he noticed I was wearing it.

Raid from three to six this morning. Saw some of the wounded piled on trucks being rushed to field hospital. Many died.

 

(later)

 

Missing mama terribly. Prayed for her.


January 25, 1942

HQ, Intelligence Service, Bataan

 

Talked to some of the boys of the 21st at the front yesterday. Japs have tried to penetrate their lines during last few days but to no avail. Boys are complaining about very little food ration. Many were very anxious to get a smoke.

Japs have dropped a lot of “surrender” leaflets in front lines. Leaflets are about the size of the palm. Front sheet reads: “Ticket to Armistice”. Lower caption states: “You and any number of your friends can walk with these leaflets to our lines. We shall bring you back to your homes.” Back cover of “ticket to armistice” carries picture of some home in Manila or picture of Jap soldiers playing with Manila kids. Almost everybody in front line keeps these tickets as souvenir. There are no cases of desertion. The men know that this is a dirty Jap trick and that they will shoot any of us on sight.

Boys in 41st division are raring to attack Japs. Some of their patrols found the dead body of a young girl. She was evidently abused. Her hair was recently curled. Her dress was smeared with blood. Her finger nails still had manicure. She was a pretty Filipina. Her handkerchief was partly torn. On one side of the handkerchief was the name Erlinda. Troops under Lim have adopted as fighting motto: “Remember Erlinda!” Leonie is now writing a radio script for Voice of Freedom on Erlinda.

Corregidor censored part of our SYIM stuff for tomorrow. Fred had an article describing hard life in Rock, the damp air of tunnel as I described to him and the boxes of ammunition inside the main tunnel. Corregidor claims this gives out information to enemy. Fred explained to the General who in turn called up Corregidor that the intention of SYIM editors was to make boys in the front feel that men in Corregidor are sharing hardships with them; that SYIM editors merely want to paint Corregidor officers in better light, because boys in front think that fellows in Corregidor are having an easy life while boys in Bataan fight and starve. The article remains censored.

During broadcast this evening, I slipped into Montserrat’s tent and got some of Javallera’s canned goods. Now Javallera suspects Montserrat took it. The two majors have decided to separate tents. Major Javallera will put up another tent. He says “It’s better to be alone.” Major Montserrat feels the same way. The general is already aware of the canned stuff mystery. He told me he suspects it is Major Panopio taking the canned goods. Meanwhile Fred, Leonie and I are having the time of our lives laughing at the old fogies. Leonie suspects the doctor knows we three have something to do with the canned goods of Montserrat and Javallera because he has seen us eating in private and laughing to ourselves. Fred said “Let us plant the empty cans in the doctor’s tent.” Leonie suggested: “Let Philip put it under the general’s cot.” The plot thickens…

 

(later)

 

Heard that a certain Capt. Wermuth, an American, will be given a third or fourth decoration for distinguished service…


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.