The cavalry and their last charge, December 1941-January 1942

Caption in the Polish-American Journal: “Polish cavalry during maneuvers before World War II. In addition to the lances chosen by some of these mounted cavalrymen, all of them were issued sabers and carried rifles slung on their backs.”

One of the great romantic stories of World War II, is of Polish lancers bravely –and desperately– charging German tanks in the opening days of World War II. Shades of the famed charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava during the Crimean War, which led a French general, Pierre Bosquet, observing the brave but pointless charge, to remark, C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre: c’est de la folie (“It is magnificent, but it is not war: it is madness”).

Apparently, romantic as the tale was, the story wasn’t true: it was a myth created by the panzer commander Gen. Guderian, and spread by the famed war correspondent William J. Shirer; see the Polish-American Journal and The Guardian for details.

What is important about the story of the Polish lancers was that it represented the gallantry of a country and a people outgunned and doomed by the relentless assault of an invader. What is romantic, and true, however, is how Radio Poland played Chopin’s Polonaise in A major, Op. 40, No. 1 (“Militaire”) every day, from the start of the German invasion on September 1, 1939, until the city fell on September 27, when “The first eleven notes of Chopin’s (†89) Military Polonaise, the signature of Warsaw State Radio, are sounded for the last time.” Go listen to Arthur Rubinstein’s performance of it.

President Quezon broadcasts from the air raid shelter in his Marikina residence on December 20, 1941. With him are Executive Secretary Jorge B. Vargas and Joe Stevenot, head of PLDT.

Radio would play a role in the Philippine resistance, too: when the Commonwealth inaugural for the second term of the president and vice-president was held on December 30, 1941, it turned out there was no way to broadcast the proceedings to unoccupied areas. Radio equipment from Manila were retrieved and transferred to Corregidor, becoming part of the apparatus for the Voice of Freedom which broadcast until Corregidor fell on May May 6, 1942.

But even as radio played a role, it is the legend of the Polish cavalry that concerns us here –and a parallel story of heroism on horseback from the early months of the war in the Philippines.

To place things in context, here is an overview published in Corregidor Then and Now:

Delaying actions were fought to permit withdrawal to Bataan, the bloodiest of which was fought by the 11th and 21st Divisions on the Porac-Guagua line. The 26th Cavalry Regiment protected the west flank of the 21st Division. As the entire USAFFE struggled from south and north toward the Layac junction, the only approach to Bataan, the delaying forces held their line on open and unprepared ground. From 1 January to 5 January they stood fast against massive enemy aerial and artillery bombardment, concentrated tank attacks and banzai charges. Casualties on both sides were heavy. The first defensive in Bataan was the Hermosa-Dinalupihan line, where on 6 January 1942 the 71st Division, the American 31st Infantry Regiment and the 26th Cavalry Regiment fought off the pursuing enemy.

Official US Army photo, 26th Cavalry in Pozzo Rubio.
Official US Army photo, 26th Cavalry in Pozzorubio.

The aim of War Plan Orange-3 was to delay the invading enemy forces until the US Navy could gather together it’s Pacific Fleet and sail to the Philippines, on the way dealing with the Japanese Fleet. But there was no US Navy fleet to gather together, for it now rested on the bottom of Pearl Harbor.

The main battle position of the USAFFE, the Abucay-Morong line, was attacked along its eastern flank on 9 January, but the 5th Regimental Combat Team, reinforced by the 57th Infantry of the 21st Division repulsed the attack. On 14 January the Japanese attacked the boundary of the 41st and 51st Divisions. The 43rd Infantry, holding the left lank of the 41st Division, which was reinforced by the 23rd Infantry, 21st Division sharply refused its flank. The 51st Infantry, holding the right flank of the 51st Division, withdrew creating a gap through which the enemy advanced to the Salian River. But a patrol of the 21st division discovered the enemy, and elements of the Division rushed to the Salian River valley where after a savage fight, they repulsed the enemy. Farther to the west the enemy surprised and routed the 53rd Infantry. Penetrating deep behind the main battle position along the Abo-Abo River valley, the enemy advance was held up by combined elements of the 21st Division of the II reserve, the 31st and the 51st Division of the Bani-Guirol forest area.

The American 31st Infantry and the 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, succeeded in partially restoring the abandoned line of the 51st Division.

img_3158On 15 January the Morong sector, defended by the 1st Regular Division, reinforced, came under heavy bombardment. But the line held.

A few days later, the enemy penetrated through a huge gap in the Silangan-Natib area and established a roadblock on the Mauban ridge, thus cutting off the 1st Regular Division from the rear area. Gravely threatened, elements of the 71st and 91st Divisions and the 2nd Regiment repeatedly attacked the roadblock but failed to dislodge the enemy.

Although the II Corps Sector had prevented a similar envelopment in the Salian River battle, the I Corps position was now untenable. The Abucay-Morong tine was abandoned on 24 January. The Orion-Bagac line was established two days later. Again in a desperate attempt to outflank the I Corps, the enemy landed crack units on the west coast of southern Bataan. The aim was to outflank and to isolate the frontline units from headquarters and supplies.

There were three ferocious battles in the I.apiay-Longoskawayan Points area, fought from 23 to 29 January; in Quinawan-Aglaloma Points area, fought from 23 January to 8 February; and Silaiim-Anyasan Points, fought from 27 January to 13 February. Of the 2,000 enemy troops committed to these battles, only 34 wounded soldiers returned to their lines.

On 27 January enemy troops were discovered in the rear of the Orion-Bagac line, the Tuol River valley behind the 11th Regular Division and in the Gogo-Cotar River valley behind the 1st Regular Division. The series of engagements to eliminate these enemy salients became known as the Battle of the Pockets, fought from 27 January through 17 February. Of the 2,000 Japanese troops committed to this battle, only 377 were reported to have escaped.

After the battles of the points, pockets and Trail 2, which were brilliant triumphs of the USAFFE, the enemy withdrew to regroup their forces and to wait for reinforcements.

It’s in these encounters that the image of dashing, daring, but doomed cavalrymen seems to have captured the imagination of soldiers and civilians alike.

Captain John Wheeler leading the Machine Gun Troop of the 26th Cavalry Regiment(PS)(Horse) just prior to the Japanese invasion. From the cover of the March/April, 1943 issue of "The Cavalry Journal," published online in the Philippine Scouts Heritage Society website.
Captain John Wheeler leading the Machine Gun Troop of the 26th Cavalry Regiment(PS)(Horse) just prior to the Japanese invasion. From the cover of the March/April, 1943 issue of “The Cavalry Journal,” published online in the Philippine Scouts Heritage Society website.

On December 30, 1941, a young lieutenant in the intelligence unit of USAFFE, Felipe Buencamino III, wrote in his diary,

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.

Buencamino III at the time he wrote his diary entry was in Fort McKinley (today’s Fort Bonifacio) and not in touch with his family; he would soon join the USAFFE withdrawal to Bataan.

An American, Captain Dr. Albert Brown, wrote in his diary (the excerpt can be found in this interesting page in the Tragedy of Bataan site) on December 30, 1941:

December 30, 1941 23rd Day of War.
The 26th Cavalry of the Philippine Scouts really distinguished themselves. A Lieutenant made the mistake of lighting a cigarette early one morning. An ambushed machine gunner yelled that was the wrong thing to do and they were riddled by the Japanese, losing about 500 hundred mounts, eight officers, and many unlisted men. They were covering the flank. The Philippine Army retreated and left them cut off. They had to take to the mountains around Lingayen and get reorganized.

News, apparently, traveled fast if Buencamino III and Brown in the field, and Felipe Buencamino III’s father, Victor Buencamino,in already-Japanese-occuppied Manila, also heard the story. writing in his diary on January 9, 1942, something similar:

Talked to an officer whose troops were cut off from the main body of the USAFFE retreating to Bataan. He said the MacArthur strategy in the north was to delay the Japanese advance as much as possible. He recounted the charge of the 26th cavalry. “I saw those Filipino scouts charging armored units, riding on, on, on, matching flesh with tanks. I saw headless riders. . .” I did not make him go on.

The pressure on Filipino and American troops proved to be tremendous. There is January 16, 1942 when, in the vicinity of Morong, 27 members of G Troop of the U.S. Army’s 26th Cavalry Regiment (Philippine Scouts) surprised and charged a Japanese infantry unit– the last cavalry charge of the US Army.

You can detect in the official and personal accounts of the military above, that there was resentment on the part of the Americans towards the Filipinos. Filipinos for their part, were aware of this and both puzzled and indignant about what seemed to be a slur on national valor.

img_3156

There is a story told by General Basilio Valdes to Francis Burton Harrison on June 12, 1942, about this battle in Morong, Bataan:

Valdes: “After the battle of Morong (in Bataan), General Segundo said, we had to withdraw and with us were cavalry from Stotsenburg who had lost their horses in the battle. The next day we retook Morong; so we searched the forest for those horses. We met a man in Filipino uniform who spoke perfect English; he said he knew where the horses were and led us up a trail. But he led our two officers, a major and a lieutenant up to a machine gun nest–thereupon the guide (Jap) threw himself on the ground. Our lieut. was killed, the officer in command of the machine gun, and the others fled. Then the major killed the false guide. The Japanese were always after Filipino uniforms.”

Those feelings are more fully described in the entry The debate on taking the Philippines out of the war: January 28 to February 12, 1942 on developments at the front, particularly the Japanese offensive in late January, 1942, and how Filipino officers and leaders felt about what was taking place.

But there remains this postscript to the last engagements and charge of the cavalry. Old, decimated, units were recombined, as Ramon Alcaraz reports in his diary on February 21, 1942:

Finally, a composite unit from the PC, 26th Cavalry, 71st Div, PAAC and even Ateneo ROTC Volunteers annihilated the remaining enemy forces at Silaim-Anyasan Pts. thus ending the so-called Battle of the Points in West Bataan two days ago. And so, Alas and Alackay, I can now say “All’s Quiet in All Bataan Fronts.” Have not seen any enemy plane whole day.

And as for the cavalry’s horses, on March 10, 1942, Felipe Buencamino III would write in his diary,

Life is getting harder and harder. Morning ration reduced to one handful of ‘lugao’.

Sometimes carabao meat is given. It is made into ‘tapa’ so that the rest can be preserved for some other day.

The mess officer told me that very soon we will have horse-meat for viand. The QM will slaughter the remaining horses of the 26th cavalry. I don’t think I can eat those brave horses.

Still, the fight would go on. Even after General Wainwright, under duress, ordered the surrender of all USFIP forces in the Philippines, there were officers and men, Filipinos and Americans alike, who continued to resist.

Writing on May 15, 1942, Ramon Alcaraz mentions Ramsey:

Ramsey, in a photo from his official website, visiting the memorial marker to the 26th Cavalry in Clark Field, Pampanga.
Ramsey, in a photo from his official website, visiting the memorial marker to the 26th Cavalry in Clark Field, Pampanga.

I remember the Commando Unit smuggled into Zambales on the night of March 11, by Q-113 of Lt. Santiago C. Nuval with instructions from USAFFE HQ to start guerrilla organization and operation that early. When I told this to the Judge, he said that is perhaps the guerrilla unit under a certain Col. Thorpe operating from Mt. Pinatubo and some of his officers are former Cavalry Officers from Ft. Stotsenberg that managed to escape from Bataan Death March such as Lts. Ed Ramsey and Joe Barker. They were joined by Filipino volunteers from Zambales willing to continue fighting the Japanese.

But the era of the cavalry had come to an end. A simple marker stands as its monument.


Bataan, 1942: views of a father and his son

Victor Buencamino (second from left, second row), with his family in the Pines Hotel, Baguio, 1932. Rightmost on second row is his eldest son, Felipe Buencamino III.
Victor Buencamino (second from left, second row), with his family in the Pines Hotel, Baguio, 1932. Rightmost on second row is his eldest son, Felipe Buencamino III.

The Philippine Diary Project includes the diaries of a father and his son: Victor Buencamino, and Felipe Buencamino III. At the outbreak of the war, Victor Buencamino was head of the National Rice and Corn Corporation, precursor of today’s National Food Authority. His published diary covers the period from the arrival of the Japanese in Manila, and the first half of the Japanese Occupation.

His diary provides an in-depth look into the dilemma facing government officials who stuck to their posts despite the withdrawal of the Commonwealth Government and the occupation of the Philippines by the Japanese. At certain points, particularly from January-April, 1942, he gets intermittent news about his son (who was, on the other hand, participating in clandestine military intelligence missions, even in Manila).

Particularly gripping are his entries for April, 1942, when on one hand, he is wrestling with increasing Japanese interference and intimidation –including his being summoned to the dreaded Fort Santiago, where other members of his staff had already been summoned and in at least once instance, tortured– and on the other, frantic for news about his son, particularly after the Fall of Bataan, when on the same day he received condolence messages and news his son was alive. Then, he recounted the grief of parents and his own search of the concentration camps.

Felipe Buencamino III (topmost, leaning on windshield of jeep), photo taken in Bataan, 1942.
Felipe Buencamino III (topmost, leaning on windshield of jeep), photo taken in Bataan, 1942.

As for Victor Buencamino’s son, Felipe Buencamino III, known to his friends as Philip, was a young journalist who became a junior officer in Bataan, assigned to General Simeon de Jesus and his military intelligence unit. He kept a diary from the time of the retreat of USAFFE forces to Bataan, conditions there as well as in Corregidor, which he periodically visited, looming defeat, the eve of surrender,  and then the Death March and the ordeal of his fellow prisoners in the Capas Concentration Campas well as his classmates. At times, his diary intersects with other diaries, such as the diary of Gen. Basilio J. Valdes, since Philip accompanied the General during one of his visits to the front. He resumed his diary, briefly, in 1944.

A close friend of Philip, Leon Ma. Guerrero, who was mentioned many times in Philip’s wartime diary, wrote about Mrs. Quezon and the ambush in which she was killed, in 1951. In his essay, he also wrote about his friend, Philip:

In Bataan I shared the same tent with Philip Buencamino, who was later to marry Nini Quezon. He was the aide of General de Jesus, the chief of military intelligence, to which I had been assigned. I remember distinctly that one of the first things Philip and I ever did was to ride out in the general’s command car along the east coast out of pure curiosity. The enemy’s January offensive was turning the USAFFE flank and all along the highway we met retreating units. Then there was nothing: only the open road, the dry and brittle stubble of the abandoned fields, and in the distance the smoke of a burning town. We turned back hurriedly; we had gone too far. I am afraid we never got any closer to the front lines. Our duties were behind the lines. We were quite close during the entire campaign until I was evacuated to the Corregidor hospital, and I developed a sincere admiration for Philip. He was a passionate nationalist who could not stomach racial discrimination, and I remember him best in a violent quarrel with an American non-commissioned officer whom he considered insolent toward his Filipino superiors.

On April 28, 1949, Felipe Buencamino III, together with his mother-in-law, Aurora A. Quezon, sister-in-law, Maria Aurora Quezon, and Ponciano Bernardo (mayor of Quezon City) and others, were killed in an ambush perpetrated by the Hukbalahap. The late Fr. James Reuter, SJ, wrote about it in 2005:

On April 28, 1949 – 56 years ago, Doña Aurora Aragon Quezon was on her way to Baler. With her eldest daughter, Maria Aurora, whom everyone called “Baby”. And with her son-in-law, Philip Buencamino, who was married to her younger daughter, Zeneida, whom everyone called “Nini”. Nini was at home with their first baby, Felipe IV, whom everyone called “Boom”. And she was pregnant with their second baby “Noni”.

On a rough mountain road, in Bongabong, Nueva Ecija, they were ambushed by gunmen hiding behind the trees on the mountainside. The cars were riddled with bullets. All three of them were killed. Along with several others, among them Mayor Ponciano Bernardo of Quezon City.

Adiong, the Quezon family driver, was spared. Running to the first car, Adiong found Philip lying on the front seat, his side dripping blood. Philip smiled at Adiong and said: “Malakas pa ako. Tingnan mo” — “I am still strong. Look!” And dipping his finger in his own blood, Philip wrote on the backrest of the front seat: “Hope in God”.

When they placed him in another vehicle for Cabanatuan, his bloody hands were fingering his rosary, and his lips were moving in prayer. This was consistent with his whole life. His rosary was always in his pocket. And on his 29th birthday, exactly one month before, on March 28, 1949, at dinner in his father’s home, he said to Raul Manglapus: “Raul, the Blessed Virgin has appeared at Lipa, and has a message for all of us. What are we going to do, to welcome her, and to spread her message?”

He was echoing the thoughts of Doña Aurora, who wanted a national period of prayer to welcome the Virgin and to spread her message of Peace. Years later, the Concerned Women of the Philippines established the Doña Aurora Aragon Quezon Peace Awards, choosing the name in honor of this good, quiet, peaceful woman.

The blood stained rosary was brought to Nini, after Philip’s death. Many years later, she wrote down the thoughts that came to her when they gave her the bloody beads:

“We had joined my mother in Baguio for Holy Week, 1949. As we drove down the zigzag, after attending all the Holy Week services, Phil turned to me and said, ‘Nini, if we were to have an accident now, wouldn’t it be the perfect time for us to go?’ I said to him, ‘You may be ready, Phil, but I still have a child to give life to, so I can’t go just yet.’ And not long after this, his life was taken, and mine was spared.”

Her life was spared, but she felt the agony of those three deaths more intensely than anyone else. In that ambush she lost her husband, her mother, and her only sister. The gunmen riddled their bodies with bullets, on that rough mountain road. But miles away, with her one year old baby in her arms, and another baby in her womb, the gunmen left her with a broken heart. The ones she loved went home to God. But she had to carry on.

Another friend of Philip’s, Teodoro M. Locsin, whose wartime diary is also featured in the Philippine Diary Project, wrote about the murder of his friend, in the Philippines Free Press: see One Must Die, May 7, 1949:

I knew Philip slightly before the war. We were together when the Americans entered Manila in February, 1945. We were given a job by Frederic S. Marquardt, chief of the Office of War Information, Southwest Pacific Area, and formerly associate editor of the Free Press. Afterward, Philip would say that he owed his first postwar job to me: I had introduced him to Marquardt.

Philip and I helped put out the first issues of the Free Philippines. We worked together and wrote our stories while shells were going overhead. Philip was never happier; he was in his element. He was at last a newspaperman. He had done some newspaper work before the war, but this was big time. We were covering a city at war. Afterward, we resigned from the OWI, or were fired. Anyway, we went out together.

Meanwhile, we had, with Jose Diokno, the son of Senator Diokno, put out a new paper, the Philippines Press. Diokno was at the desk and more or less kept the paper from going to pieces as it threatened to do every day. I thundered and shrilled; that is, I wrote the editorials. Philip was the objective reporter, the impartial journalist, who gave the paper many a scoop. That was Philip’s particular pride: to give every man, even the devil, his due. While I jumped on a man, Philip would patiently listen to his side…

…As for Philip, he was eager to work, willing to listen, and devoted to the ideals of his craft. He was always smiling—perhaps because he was quite young. He had no enemy in the world—he thought.

After the paper closed up, Philip went to the Manila Post, which suffered a similar fate. Philip went on the radio, as a news commentator. He had a good radio voice; he spoke clearly, forcefully, well. He married the daughter of the late President Manuel L. Quezon, later joined the foreign service. But he never stopped wanting to be again a newspaperman. He would have dropped his work in the government at any time had there been an opening in the press for him.

Philip never spoke ill of Taruc. He saw the movement, of which Taruc was the head, as something he must cover, if given the assignment, and nothing more. Belonging to the landlord class though he did, he did not rave and rant against the Huks.

He had all the advantages, and he had, within the framework of the existing social order, what is called a great future. He was married to a fine girl and all the newspapermen were his friends. They kidded him; they called him Philip Buencamino the Tired, but they all liked him. He wanted so much to be everybody’s friend. he got along with everyone—including myself and Arsenio H. Lacson.

When he returned from Europe to which he had been sent in the foreign service of the Philippines, he was happy, he said, to be home again, and he still wanted to be a newspaperman. His wife was expecting a second child and life was wonderful. Now he is dead, murdered, shot down in cold blood by Taruc’s men.

He was, in the Communist view and in Communist terminology, a representative of feudal landlordism, a bourgeois reactionary, etc. I remember him as a decent young man who tried to be and was a good newspaperman, who used to walk home with me in the afternoon in the early days of Liberation, munching roasted corn and hating no one at all in the world.

A few days earlier, the other friend mentioned by Locsin —Arsenio H. Lacson on May 3, 1949— had also paid tribute to his friend, Philip:

Until now, I can’t quite get over Philip’s tragic death. He was first of all, a very close friend of mine. I saw him married, and was one of the best men at his wedding. I also saw him buried, and it is not a pleasant thing to remember.

Philip was such a nice, clean boy, friendly, warm-hearted and generous, so full of life, and laughter, that I learned to love him. Of course he had his faults, but you take your friends as they are, not as you want them to be. And Philip, for all his faults, was quite a man. In all the years that we kept close together, I never knew him to deliberately do a mean thing.

Because he was by nature easy-going and amiable, he exasperated me at time by failing to take things more seriously and using his considerable talents to point out the many evils with which our government is cursed. Actually, he was not wholly indifferent to them. He could on occasions become quite angry over certain injustices, but he had no capacity for sustained indignation, and it was not in him, to fret and worry over the distraceful and scandalous way this country is being run. Life to him was one swell adventure, to be lived and savored to the full, with very little time left for crusades. The world cannot be changed or saved in a day.

And because he was Philip, he would gaily twit me about being afflicted with a messianic itch. Relax, he would say. Take it easy. Things are not as bad as they look. In time, everything would be alright. Perhaps, he had the right answer. I wouldn’t know. But I shudder to think what would happen if all of us adopted a carely and carefree attitude and paraphrasing archie, Don Marquis’ cockroach reporter, say:

no trick nor kick of fate
can raise me from a yell,
serene I sit and wait
for the Philippines to go to hell.

The last time I saw Philip was two days before his death. Linking his arm to mine with a gay laugh, he dragged me to Astoria for a cup of coffee. We joined a boisterous group of newsmen who flung good-natured jibes at Philip when he announced that he was quitting the government foreign service to settle down to a life of a country farmer. Somebody brought up the subject of a certain Malacañan reporter who always made it a point to take a malicious crack at Philip and his influential family connections, and Philip agreed the guy was nasty. It was typical of Philip, however, that when I curtly suggested that he punch the offensive reporter on the nose, he smilingly shook his head saying: “How can I? Every time I get sore, the fellow embraces me and tells me with that silly laugh of his ‘Sport lang, Chief.’ I can’t get mad at him.”

That was Philip. He couldn’t get mad at anyone for long. He liked everybody, even those who, regarding him with envious eyes as a darling Child of Fortune, spoke harshly of him. He was essentially a nice, friendly guy. It was not in him to harm anybody, including those who tried to harm him.

And now he is dead, along with that fine and noble lady who was his mother-in-law, and that vivid, great-hearted, spirited girl who was so much like her great and illustrious father, foully murdered by hunted and persecuted men turned into wild, insensate beasts by grave injustices –men who, in laying ambush for Mr. Quirino and other government officials, brutally and mercilessly struck down innocent victims instead.

Philip Buencamino III had so much to live for: a charming, gracious wife who adored him, a chubby little son who will one day grow up into sturdy manhood with only a dim memory of his father, and another child on the way whom Philip now will never see. Handsome and talented, Philip had his whole future before him. His was a life so full of brilliant promise, and it is a great tragedy that it should have ended soon. He had been a top reporter before he entered the foreign service. With his charm and affability, his personal gifts and family prestige, there was no height he could not have scaled as a diplomat. The pity of it, the futile pitiful waste of it! A nice, clean, promising youngster sacrificed to the warring passions of men who have turned Central Luzon into a charnel house.

Incidentally, a very rare recording exists of Philip during his time as a radio commentator –and a member of the Malacañan Press Corps– you can listen to him being the emcee of sorts, in President Roxas’s first radio press conference.

Readers can access the diary of Victor Buencamino in full, or that of Felipe Buencamino III in full, as well; or, they can go through the entries for April 1942, which include other entries by other diarists who were writing at the same time.


July 5, 1945 Thursday

This is one of my happiest days. I finally received a letter from my wife. I also received letters from all my children Lily, Tony, Dely and Lina (twins), Tesy, Alfredo, Remedios, Pacita, and little Menchu and my sons-in-law, Padilla and Cojuangco. My whole family is well. Everybody is in perfect health, and well provided for. They have plenty to eat, and they have not borrowed money; on the contrary they have more than enough. Tony is engaged in business, and my sons-in-law are helping very much. Paddy is engaged also in business and he made my wife one of the partners although she does not work and she put up no capital. Many friends have brought food, clothing and all kinds of things to my family. My wife especially mentioned Dr. and Mrs. Victor Buencamino, and our relatives from Batangas who gave them rice, eggs, fruits and vegetables.

Such a situation is more than I expected.

Our house in San Andres was burned down. All our belongings, together with my priceless collection of historical documents including many originals, furnitures, and objects of importance like the cane used by Pres. Quezon during his campaign in America for the approval of the Tydings-McDuffie Law which he gave me as a gift of appreciation for my participation in securing approval of the law, were lost in the fire.


November 9, 1944

Just woke up from my siesta because the rain was entering the window. It looks like a strong typhoon. The Weather Bureau now under Japanese control refuses to give warning as to the strength of the typhoon. Dad thinks its No. 3 but that the vortex will not hit Manila. This kind of weather will hamper smooth operation of MacArthur’s offensive in Leyte and naturally the invasion of Luzon.

Manilans are now very impatient. Everybody is asking “When?” but then everybody answers the question with “not later that this month, of course.” Some think “After the typhoon, but definitely.” Others ask: “Will it be after Leyte and Samar have been completely taken?” or “Will they just pocket the Japs and skip to Tayabas or Camarines or Batangas or in all these three potential landing points at one time?”.

Guerrillas are getting ready for the zero hour. When the time comes, MacArthur’s troops will get determined assistance from the rear. Many young men are “going up”. Maybe they’re “up” already. I have been called for next Tuesday.

Pagulayan was brought to Fort Santiago yesterday. He was very ill with probably stomach ulcers. His sons came home and they were crying. This is the second time he is brought in. Papa guaranteed his good behavior with his life. My dad is very sad.

Dids Adriano was taken in also. They said he was buying grenades for guerrillas. He was apparently brought in by a Jap spy who “planted” the grenades.

Colonel Juan Moran was also picked up by the M.P. He was apparently lured by the notorious Madame Pansani who they claim is a spy also working for the Japanese.

No planes today. Japanese or American. Once a truck passed and I thought it was a plane. Japs are able to sleep these days. They are sure there will be no bombing while the typhoon continues. I hope the Americans arrive when the sky brightens.

And they better come before the year ends because the food situation is getting worse and worse. Rice costs ₱5,600 a sack.

Today’s Tribune announced Yamashita, Singapore’s conqueror, is the new Commander-in-Chief of the Philippine sector. There were also a lot of news stories about how Jap Kamikaze unit dives into aircraft carriers. Somebody remarked: “Why do they toot their horn so much about their readiness to die?” What about those American pilots diving at the Jap airfields and strafing from a stone’s-throw altitude?

Good crack I heard: Jap communiques always speak of planes that have not yet returned to their base after a daring attack on enemy positions. Somebody said: I was trying to see in today’s paper if those planes have already returned to their base.


November 5, 1944

Just came out of the shelter so I’m quite dirty right now. The bombing was quite stiff and the mud on the sides started to scatter all over the place. I can’t stand the shelter so I went out to take a look at the dogfights. Saw a plane shot atop Camp Murphy. First it started to spin downward and then there was smoke and finally it lighted up in flames. I didn’t know whether to be happy or sad. I don’t know whether it was Jap or U.S. The bombing began at about 8 a.m., just after Mass and it ended at 8:30. They came back again at 10. I wonder if they’ll come back before this afternoon.

Perrucho was here and he was complaining about his salary. He is receiving ₱22o plus corn ration of 200 grams. That’s certainly not enough. A ‘papaya’ costs ₱50. If you take your lunch downtown, it’ll cost you around ₱300. Then, of course, the conversation was all about the war. People think Luzon will be invaded before the Elections. Anybody who thinks otherwise is considered a defeatist. Papa told us not to speak very loud because outside the house there is a Japanese sentry. The Japs are very strict these days.

Everything is quiet right now, although we are still under ‘alert’. The radio is still blacked out. If you look out of my window and the see the fields and the carabao wallowing in the mud near Tito’s shack, you’d think there was no war.

Now I can hear the motor of Jap planes. There are three of them flying near Murphy. There are four columns of smoke in the direction of Mandaluyong and another one around Pasay.

Mama’s calling me for lunch. She says we better eat early because they might come back again.

I listened to the press dispatches from Leyte last night. In fact, I’ve been listening for the last of three nights. I like the shows of Dunn, Flarety, Clint Roberts, Cummison and others. The Time Inc. story was also very good.

P.S.

This is shocking news. Eking Albert was captured. You probably heard of his escape from Muntinglupa and his guerrilla activities. He is a great loss. He had a thousand and one ideas and he had nothing but his country in mind. He is a great kid.

Because of Eking’s arrest and the arrest of Gen. de Jesus I am very cautious these days. I have made arrangements for a hurried escape, just in case the Japs start knocking at my door one of these nights.


November 2, 1944

Must hurry writing this stuff because Joe’s waiting for me outside. Nothing much today. None of the usual processions to the cemetery to visit the dead. Tribune says that Laurel will give a speech on the heroes that died in O’Donnell.

On my way to Dad’s office, I saw many Jap trucks filled with supplies. They’re spreading their dumps to minimize destruction from bombing. They’re very afraid of raids. You ought to see how they scramble to their dugouts when they hear the siren. The Filipinos laugh at them and they get sore when our countrymen stay out in the streets and watch the U.S. bombers drop their cargoes.

There are sentries in many street corners again. They’re afraid of guerrillas. The City is full of these patriots and nobody can tell when they’re going to attack the Japs. This keeps the Jap on nerve’s edge and he’s very nasty these days.

The Japs are commandeering horses. First, they took cars, now it’s horses and bicycles too, according to Sal Neri. Damaso said that he saw gasoline tins being moved into our former house. Oh by the way, they paid us a couple of worthless Jap bills for rent. I felt like laughing. I don’t know why.

Many Jap soldiers walking in the streets. They haven’t got trucks. Transportation is a big problem for them. They try to bum rides from anybody.

Saw Formosan soldiers –you can tell when they’re Formosans because they’re very thin and underfed– building foxholes and dugouts. I wonder if they’re going to put up a stiff fight in the city.

Three main questions in the minds of people these days

First: When will they land in Luzon?

Second: Will there be heavy fighting in Manila?

Third: Will the Japs bring the Puppet President and his cabinet to Japan?

There is a fourth question any everybody more or less knows the answer but ask it anyway: What will the Americans do to the collaborationists like Aquino and Laurel?

P.S.

Dad have a good one during dinner time today. “Did you ever notice the names of our three Presidents?” he asked. “Yes, why?” I asked. Mrs. Quezon’s name is Aurora meaning Dawn; Mrs. Osmeña’s is Esperanza, which means Hope; and Puppet Laurel’s wife is Paciencia, which means Patience. We had our morning, our birth under Quezon, Osmeña’s regime is now filled with hope; and you certainly have to have a lot of patience during this regime of Laurel.


October 31, 1944

It’s three in the afternoon. Vic’s listening to the radio. Papa is reading Willoughby’s Maneuvers in War; Neneng is cooking; Lolo sleeping and Dolly is looking at the planes from the window. There are many planes flying but they’re Japs. You can tell by the metallic desynchronized roar of the engines. There’s one plane flying very low. It passed directly on top of the house. There was a time –just after Bataan when I would dive on the floor when I hear a plane. I must’ve been bomb-shocked but I didn’t realize it.

Received a letter from a friend in Baguio. She wrote it a week ago. There are no more mail deliveries. If you want to send a letter, you’ve got to look for some fellow who’s going up or down from Baguio who’ll be kind enough to play postman for you.

Went downtown this morning. I was soaked wet by the damned rain. It’s been raining since yesterday afternoon. There seems to be a weak typhoon somewhere. Saw carromatas being commandeered by Japs in Avenida Taft. Heard too that Tio Charlie’s car was taken by Jap soldiers somewhere in Tarlac. He was evacuating to Baguio because the Japs took his house. Saw Feling Avellana who was trying to sell his wife’s ring. “I need it for food”, he explained. Life’s getting tougher these days.

The Tribune says the Americans are shelling Lamon Bay. That’s about 60 miles from Manila in a straight line. Why don’t they hurry up because this waiting and waiting is killing me? Somebody told me the suspense is like waiting for the bride to appear in Church. Saw Emilio on my way home. He was looking at the map.

I can hear the sound of blasting somewhere in the direction of McKinley. I’ m afraid the Japs are planting mines.

Heard the G8s have been tipped to expect landings on either the 3rd or 4th.

Listened to broadcasts from Leyte to America by the different newspapermen there. Liked Cliff Roberts’ “personal report”. Time had a good story on the naval battle off Leyte Bay. Courtney had a good report on the rehabilitation work in Leyte.

P.S.

Heard that Romulo gave a nationwide instruction to the Filipino people. It was short, dramatic: WORK OR FIGHT!

There are no more planes flying. The sky is also beginning to brighten up. No more rain. I hope the typhoon blows far out of here and then maybe they can commence landings in Luzon.


October 29, 1944

Went to Mass with Mama and Neneng at 6:30. It was still dark. We didn’t bow before the sentry and he said nothing. Maybe he was in a happy mood. The Japs are in a happy mood. Their Propaganda Corps has been telling them for the last four days of great naval victories in Sulu Sea. Our Jap neighbors were drinking and feasting last night and shouting “Banzai! Banzai!”. Right now I can hear the radio saying something about outstanding victories in the waters east of the Philippines and that the American fleet is almost entirely crippled. Now he is boasting that MacArthur’s troops are stranded on Leyte. (Wait, I hear the roar of planes, many planes)

I can’t see them but I’m sure there are planes above. Maybe they are Japanese. There have been no raids these last four days. Some people are quite disappointed though many say that its just the lull before the storm. I’ve been trying to take bets that there will be landings in Luzon before the 7th or 15th and no one wants to call. The Japanese however interpret this lull as proof of the sinking of many aircraft carriers in Philippine waters. In fact, I can hear the radio saying this very thing right now. “The complete absence of raids in Manila for the last four days is proof,” he says, “of the crippling of the American Navy in the waters of…..” (Wow. That sounded like a bomb. More bombs. Yes, I can see planes diving at Nichols Field. Yes, that’s the direction of Nichols Field. There are hundreds of planes, Papa and Mama and Neneng are running to the shelter. My gosh, Vic and Dolly are in Church. The Japs have been surprised again. Now the siren is giving the air-raid alarm, late again. The poor commentator has to eat his words. Now the AA guns are barking. But the planes don’t seem to mind. They keep on attacking the airfields and the Pier areas. Now I can hear machine guns, strafing probably. There’s not a single Jap plane intercepting. The Japs in the next house are now very silent. I can see them crouching in their foxholes. The Filipino boys in the fields behind the house are watching the planes and they are smiling. I got to leave now, AA shrapnels are falling nearer and nearer the house. I think I heard several drop on the cement pavement near the garage. Yes, Ma is calling for me. She gets nervous if all her chickens aren’t around her. I can hear more strafing. And there goes a big bomb. It shook the whole house. This is a pretty long raid. There goes another bomb and another…… Wish I could tell that radio commentator “So you’ve sunk all their carriers?”

P.S.

Raid’s over. Now I can see Jap planes flying, four of them. They are flying very low. Still no radio. I’ve got to have our short wave fixed. The only trouble is they might inspect this house and this is no time to get imprisoned, not when liberation is almost at hand. Oh I guess I’ll take a chance. They say Mr. Romulo gave a swell speech the other day. Tear jerking, said a friend.


October 24, 1944

There are bombers flying. Nope, they’re pursuit planes, plenty of them, about fifty. They’re up too early, I think. Ben’s looking at them and he says they’re Japs. Yes, I think he is right. I can hear that familiar metallic roar. Tia Mameng is nervous. She says there’s an air-raid signal. “I heard the siren”, she is telling Papa. The old man is still sleepy and he is saying “You can be sure there won’t be any bombing.” “why not,” Tia Mameng is asking. “Jap planes don’t go up when there’s a raid and they’re up now.” Vic is opening the radio to verify. Now, its not a raid. They’re playing a boogie number, “In the Mood” I think. Wait… I think that was an AA I just heard. Yes, siree, the guns are firing at something. It’s a raid, and the Japs have been surprised again. The radio is still playing “In the Mood”. Wow, I can see U.S. planes right here from the porch where I am typing. There goes five, ten, twenty, wow… so many…. heading for the Bay area. Now the house is shaking but they’re bombing the other side of Manila so I can still type. I want to give you a blow by blow description of this thing. Nope, change my mind. It’s getting too close. This blow-by-blow story might end up with this bum blowing up too.

P.S.

The radio announcer is excited. “There is an air-raid,” he says. There goes the siren giving the air-raid alarm. Caught asleep again, heh, heh.