120 years ago: Diaries describe the start of the Filipino-American War, February 4, 1899

“Faithful unto death. Filipino color bearer. A touching incident connected with the fight at Paco near Manila, Feb. 5th, 1899.” Caption written by John E.T. Milsaps for this photo of a slain Filipino flag bearer which he pasted in his diary.

February 4 marks the 120th anniversary of the outbreak of the Filipino-American War. The Philippine Diary Project features several diaries not only covering the outbreak of the war, but which illustrate the atmosphere in American-occupied Manila and its environs from the American conquest of the city in August, 1898, to the immediate prelude to the war.

Miguel Saderra Maso

The diaries of a French naval officer, Aime Ernest Motsch, writing as “Lieutenant X,” and a Spanish Jesuit, Miguel Saderra Maso (identified by the Jesuit scholar Fr. Jun Arcilla, but described as “anonymous” by a Spanish scholar) assigned to the Philippine Observatory, cover the portion of the Spanish-American War concerning the Philippines.

Even as Dewey blockaded Manila, American troops began to arrive. The arrival of these troops, the months of waiting, the occupation of Manila and then the long period of uncertainty concerning both the Spaniards and the Filipinos, can be seen through the eyes of American soldiers from different backgrounds.

John Henry Asendorf

The soldiers scribbling down their observations and opinions came from diverse backgrounds. John Henry Asendorf a Corporal in the Pennsylvania Volunteers, was a butcher who emigrated from Germany. James J. Loughrey was a Sergeant serving in the California Volunteers, who’d emigrated from Ireland –both serving in the U.S. armed forces at a time when tensions were high against immigrants like themselves.

Chriss A. Bell was a Corporal (and lawyer) in the Oregon Volunteer Militia, and kept a diary from May, 1898 to June, 1899.Other soldiers began the Philippine portion of their diaries after the fall of Manila: Karl D. White, a Private in the Iowa Volunteer Infantry, kept a Philippine diary from October, 1898 to May, 1901.

Alfred Burton Welch

Alfred Burton Welch, who’d attended Puget Sound University, Tacoma, Washington, serving in the Washington State Volunteer Infantry, arrived in the Philippines in November, 1898, and would be in Santa Ana, Manila, when the Filipino-American war began.

Robert Bruce Payne

In contrast to these other soldiers, Robert Bruce Payne, who served in the Nebraska Volunteer Infantry, only kept a diary during the first week of the Filipino-American War, and more importantly, his is the only diary by an American soldier reflecting opposition to the war. By March, 1899 he was writing his brother to help him get out of his military service. Because of his sympathies for the Filipinos, it’s proper to feature his entries at the start of each day, for the full week he kept his dairy; the contrast with the diaries of his fellow American soldiers becomes that much more vivid.

John E.T. Milsaps in Paco Cemetery

A lone civilian voice is that of John E.T. Milsaps, a Texan, and a missionary for the Salvation Army. His is a unique perspective, partly opposed to war yet unquestioning about the superiority of the American cause; he was a compulsive collector, with an important collection of ephemera from the Philippines during this period: he would assiduously buy and file away Filipino and American newspapers, and during his travels, he would buy scattered government and other records he encountered. He was also an amateur photographer; uniquely, in places his diary contains photos of the places and people he’s describing for that day.

The first week of the Filipino-American War in diaries

The diaries reflect the culture (and prejudices) of the time and of the individual authors. Filipinos, for example, are variously called Filipinos, Filips, flips, insurgents, insurrectos, natives, niggers, gu-gu’s, and amigos. On February 10, one American soldier on the other hand referred to African-American troops as “coloured troops” –and stated that believing them unwilling to enter the fight, they “went up and clubbed them into action.”

Saturday, February 4, 1899

Robert Bruce Payne:

On the evening of this day was placed on guard or rather Cossack outpost at Block house no. 8 in the Santa Mesa district. Our orders were to hold this place and report anything suspicious. A number of recruits had been rec’d on this day by the Filipinos in the shape of wild men from the mountains who were armed with bows and arrows. They wore red breech cloths. [Pvt. James I.] Bowe]s] from our company had been placed on guard. The other private, the corporal and myself had lain down. At about 8 o’clock I heard a rifle shot, a Springfield. We did not pay much attention to this, but directly we heard two more shots. We began to hastily put on our stuff, but before we could get on our belts and haversacks on, firing began on our camp from all sides, and balls began to bing and chug around us. In a minute or two we heard footsteps approaching from camp. It was eight men and a sergeant from C to reinforce the post. Our orders were now to hold the blockhouse and fire only when the enemy advanced in the immediate open and were visible, so during the fire of the night which was incessant we lay sleepless and keeping a sharp watch.

James J. Loughrey:

We were called to arms at 8.35 pm. and recalled at 9.15 p.m. There was a second call to arms at 9.45 p.m. when the Insurgents attacked the Colorado’s outpost. We left the barracks at once and reported to the 6th Artillery Quarters and went from there to Paco Cemetery. We arrived back in our own quarters at 12.30 a.m. on February 5th.

John Henry Asendorf:

The weather is fine but terribly hot. The company is undergoing a strict inspection of quarters and arms. Everything was ok. Gun [inspection] was especially strict. The outpost came in at 8 o’clock and reported that things were restless on the insurgents’ line but we only sent fifteen men on outpost and seven men on guard duty. Around the quarters the day was rather quiet in the city all day which was broken in the stillness of the night by sudden shots being fired about fifteen minutes after midnight(?) but in a short time there were shots fired all along the line but most of it was near the waterworks where the Nebraska Regiment was encamped. All boys rushed to their respective quarters and dressed for action and, before the call for arms was sounded, every man was already in line each carrying 70 rounds of ammunition. We started off doubletime to Companies H and I quarters in front of the prison “Bilibid.” Here we were joined by the rest of the regiment. The Colonel [Alexander Hawkins] order Company I to guard General [Elwell Stephen] Otis‘ quarters and Company C to patrol our end of the city while the rest went on in double-quick to the front. The firing was now along the line. Some shots even landed in the city. Some [shots] went through the roof of our quarters. Just every place before 10 o’clock the Utah Battery had several guns going. All Filipinos were ordered into their houses. We had but very little trouble in the city. The firing kept on all night.

Alfred Burton Welch:

Adventures on line b[lock].h[ouse]. 14.

Dr. Santiago Barcelona:

The evening was quiet with a silver moon shining; Malolos was happy; a dance was being held in the house of Mrs. Concha del Rosario, widow of Mapúa. Gen. Artemio Ricarte and Col. Luciano San Miguel, commanders of the Santa Ana line in Manila, were paying homage to Terpsichore. While Malolos was in deep slumber without any suspicion of an unrest, between midnight and 1 o’clock in the morning, an unusual noise woke the unsuspecting inhabitants. The cry of “War” reverberated everywhere. The hostilities had begun!

We woke up at 1 o’clock and went to the Central Postal Station, where we met the Honorable President of the Philippine Republic issuing orders. All the prominent members of the government were also there: Gen. Ricarte, Col. San Miguel, [Teodoro] Sandico, and others.

About 3 o’clock, Gen. Ricarte and Col. San Miguel boarded a train for Sta. Ana; Moreno and I accompanied them. At 5 a.m. we reached the station at Caloocan and continued on foot to Maypajo. Before reaching it, Ricarte and San Miguel separated from our group and took the road to La Loma; Moreno and I proceeded to the trenches at Maypajo and reached them at 5:30 a.m. Here we learned of the impossibility of reaching Manila; Moreno has been appointed chief of the volunteers from Manila.

After a while some soldiers from detachments in Solis arrived informing us that they were leaving because they had no longer any cartridges. I left Moreno at 6 o’clock to be in Caloocan with the intention of establishing an emergency field hospital while waiting for the military health unit to take some action. A few steps away sounds of guns and cannons rent the air while shots whistled by, instilling in me the fear that the end was near. During intervals, I made my way and reached unscathed the municipal building where I intended to attend to the wounded. I had hardly gone upstairs when I saw a warship in the bay opposite the building. I left for the railroad station; but barely twenty meters away a grenade fell. I entered the station and saw a wounded man, but as I did not have anything with me to help him, and knowing the impossibility of requesting medicines from Malabon, I departed and took the train for Malolos.

When I arrived home, Choling told me that I was a coward because I had abandoned the fighting. I explained to her that I had come to get bandages and medicines because there were none there. I went to the drug store and requested everything needed for first aid. When I inquired for the cost, the pharmacist refused to collect. At 1 in the afternoon of the 5th, after lunch, I returned to Caloocan bringing my surgery satchel. I found [Antonio] Luna, José, [Leon Ma.] Guerrero and [Anastacio] Francisco, Inspector General of Military Health.

At 4 p.m. a stretcher arrived bringing [José] Torres Bugallon, Major of the General Staff, with a broken right thigh; he was very pale, looking almost bloodless owing to profuse hemorrhage. He stretched his hand upon seeing me, relating at the same time how he had been wounded.

He said, “I was leading the troops when I felt I was wounded, but continued marching about fifty meters farther; then I fell. I felt I was being dragged and then I lapsed into unconsciousness. I did not know anything more until I found myself here today. Bitter and endless fighting continued on both sides.” I asked him to stop talking and he kept silent.

Luna and I applied first aid to him then he was transferred to the Lolomboy Hospital at Bocaue. He died, however, on the way.

At 1 in the afternoon of the 5th, after lunch, I returned to Caloocan bringing my surgery satchel. I found [Antonio] Luna, José, [Leon Ma.] Guerrero and [Anastacio] Francisco, Inspector General of Military Health.

At 4 p.m. a stretcher arrived bringing [José] Torres Bugallon, Major of the General Staff, with a broken right thigh; he was very pale, looking almost bloodless owing to profuse hemorrhage. He stretched his hand upon seeing me, relating at the same time how he had been wounded.

He said, “I was leading the troops when I felt I was wounded, but continued marching about fifty meters farther; then I fell. I felt I was being dragged and then I lapsed into unconsciousness. I did not know anything more until I found myself here today. Bitter and endless fighting continued on both sides.” I asked him to stop talking and he kept silent.

Luna and I applied first aid to him then he was transferred to the Lolomboy Hospital at Bocaue. He died, however, on the way. 

John E.T. Mislaps (writing in Tondo, Manila):

The battle so long expected, has just started. Commenced just as taps were sounding. The roar & rattle of small arms is heard on the outskirts of the city; seems to be over towards the cross-roads –where the Montana troops are stationed. This starts the war. The so-called Filipino Republic is now doomed, –Mrs. Owens is greatly excited. Three Spaniards & mestizos from the lower floor of No. 2 Calle Santa Elena have come up stairs. Excepting the shooting now going on — the city is quiet. The Utah artillerymen –brass band across the street from us, are astir. –Two Filipino women have come up stairs.

The horrid din of war sounds louder. Rapid fire guns are at work. Can hear them above small arms & a call to arms us heard in the artillery q[uar]t[e]rs. –Now the thunder of a heavy gun. xx 10.40 p.m. Infantry are now hurrying out Calle Jolo to the front… A lull lasting about half an hour. Now there is disultury [desultory] small arms firing, with the occasional roar of a cannon –apparently from a war vessel… The Utah sentries across the street state that some small bullets struck their building –a soldier came over from the Cuartel de Meisig. Says he saw a 3rd Reg’t  artilleryman being carried in. In a different quarter the rattle of small arms accentuated with the crash of volleys is now heard. An engagement is in progress –is about 11.30 p.m.–Sleep is out of the question now with the din of war continually sounding, & men getting killed and crippled… The rumble of wheels is heard on the streets, probably cannon. –All the Utah cannons are out with the exception of two pieces , which have been left behind for street fighting… 25. min. to 12 midnight. Quiet again.

The mestizos of the first floor seem not to care to return to their own part of the house. They are remaining on our floor smoking, talking and keeping me in the qui vive as the battle progresses. xxx Mrs. Owens brought in some cake to refresh the physical man. Is very acceptable at this late hour. —

Past midnight — 12.15 a.m. All quiet, save the whistling of a locomotive over at the R.R. depot.

May God protect our precious Salvation Army comrades who this morning are facing death, likewise the dear Christians of other denominations. I know some splendid Christians –Salvationists and church members in this 8th army corps —

The sky is clear but no moon is shining. The city electric lights are driving away the darkness & the search lights from Dewey’s fleet are busy this morning.

10 minutes of 3 a.m. Have just been awakened from an uneasy slumber by the renewed noise of battle –which as re-opened. There is a constant sputter with the roar of great guns now & again. Private Frank Amie of H. Battery 3rd Heavy Artillery is in the street below our front window doing patrol duty. Says he is cold. Have thrown him my handkerchief to tie around his neck. xx This is the holy Sabbath of the God of peace, but the awful discord of war is marring its peace. The crescent moon is now shining out brightly.

 

Sunday, February 5, 1899

Robert Bruce Payne:

Sunday morning dawned bright and clear. The sun had no sooner rose bright and clear than the Americans began an advance on their entire lines. The advance was an inspiring sight. Our soldiers fired volleys by the platoons and then advanced under cover of the smoke and lay down behind the convenient rice ridges. Unfortunately our fort was soon behind the firing line and we could not fire. However I got in three shots at a sharp shooter in a tree. At this time a private in Co. C who had come out of the block house with me to get a crack at the sharp-shooter was shot through the shoulder. Then the Col came along and ordered us out of the block house and into the trenches. The men were coming back at this time from their advance and lay there the rest of the day. The Utah Artillery [Utah Volunteer Light Artillery] did fine work in their fire on block house no. 7 which was held by over 200 Filipinos, at San Juan Church at the Filipinos quarters just south of camp, and at two cannons they had mounted. The Filipino heavy cannon were soon silenced and general retreat of the natives took place all along the lines. The gunboat which had specially been prepared for this occasion came up the river Posig [Pasig] and began firing on churches and buildings occupied by the native troops. Many churches and other buildings were built of a sort of soft stone that is bullet proof of rifles, but the guns on the gun boat sent great holes in these buildings and soon there was not a native to be seen in five miles. In the afternoon I visited the battle field where my CO. “D” had been located. I saw there fifteen dead Filipinos, and heard that [Pvt. John L.] Bronson one of our men had been severely wounded in the arm. Many of the boys had killed from one to two Filipinos but they were not there to be found so of course it is hard to tell who killed the luckless fellows laid so low, one with the whole top of his head torn off and others with ghastly holes in them. This shows how deadly a weapon the Springfield is. During the day Dewey took some part in the fight in firing on towns and cutting off trains with reinforcements from Malolos. A whole train load was wrecked it is rumored. In the afternoon our boys crossed the river San Juan and took all of the Filipino works and occupied their headquarters which was the resevoir and filtering station of the waterworks. These places were occupied and held without attack for the night.

James J. Loughrey:

We were called to arms at 4 a.m., had our breakfasts and then left for the 6th Artillery Battery and then on to Paco Cemetery at Mole, where we were deployed as skirmishers at the rear of the battery. We received orders to advance at 8 a.m. We had to wade through rivers with water up to our breasts. Jack Ward was nearly drowned here but I pulled him out. My watch stopped at 8.10 a.m. as it had got full of water. We captured San Pedro Mercati [Makati] at 11 a.m. Sergeant Maher was killed here and his brother wounded. Corporal Murphy was shot in the calf of the leg and Lieutenant Hogan through the shoulder. Sergeant Wall was also wounded. It took the 14th US Regulars until 4.30 p.m. to capture Santa Ana where they had to blow up the church. We all went into camp at San Pedro Mereati [Makati].

John Henry Asendorf:

The weather was fine all night and we patrolled the city. At 8 o’clock we ate breakfast of sheet bread and coffee. At 10 o’clock forty of the company filled their haversacks with ammunition (300 per man) and carried the same to the front. All returned but four or five. I stayed myself with the Colonel’s permission. I laid alongside of the right to H Company. I kept 100 rounds myself. We continued heavy fire on the enemy which was stationed all along the lines but the strongest fort they had was in the Filipino hospital. But the Utah Battery soon put shell after shell into it and a few minutes later we made a charge. All boys along the line cheered as we advanced continuing to fire as we went. This made them run in all directions. Most of them fled to the Chinese hospital about 1/2 mile further back. Here we laid down flat in the rice field but they were now a good deal too much for us. They just poured their lead into us but in a short time C Company arrived. I now retreated to my company and laid between Charlie Playford and Milbert Johnson. We laid down here for a full 1.2 hour but firing was almost impossible for us. Seeing that we couldn’t stand their fire, we crept on hands and feet to the right which was a hillside on which was a Chinese cemetery with thousands of tombstones for breastworks. But, it had a strong wire fence around it which made it hard to cross with our guns and ammunition. Here two of our company were wounded and a few minutes later Major [Everhart] Bierer was hit with a brass bullet through the left shoulder and arm. The two men were Carl DeBolt and George Rockwell. Both were also hit with brass bullets through their shoulders. They were hurriedly carried back by our men. Here we opened up on them for about two hours. The Rebels were putting up a stubborn fight but after a couple hours work of the battery we again made a desperate fight and the rebels soon had to flee from there. Many of them were killed. Now we (the 10th) crept over to the right while the South Dakota men took charge of the hospital. We now entered a Filipino cemetery. Here the sharpshooters of the rebels which were all around us, in front of us in trees and bushes. [They] did some good work and wounded a good many of our men but not too dangerous. We opened up on them after finding some safe place but soon most of us were out of ammunition. It was in hand in short time. Then the bugle sounded for a charge. In front of us on the hill was a large church with a strong ten-foot wall around it and right in the rear of it was a blockhouse. About 200 yards in front of the church and to the right was a little village containing about 50 small “shacks.” Here we could see them as thick as grass. We fired volley after volley into them and could see them drop almost one on top another. Many of them retreated to the church. There we made a charge on the church. Here it was where Jake Landis was almost killed instantly. All he said was “well boys, I guess they got me.” He was taken back with the wounded. After taking the church and the blockhouse it was getting dark and we were assigned to our quarters for the night in a kind of skirmish line. All the rebels had made for the woods and everything was quiet for the night. In making the charge on the church I was the fifth man entering the same and the fifth man entering the blockhouse. Taps was sounded at 8 o’clock and we had a number of outposts and patrols out all night. The next morning, February 6th, the weather was fine but the night had been very cold. All of us were shivering all night having nothing but a poncho to cover with. All the boys started out to hunt some chickens which were plentiful in our neighborhood. Also they brought three sheep, two hogs, a buffalo calf and two cattle. I killed them all and strung them to a tree. One beef we gave to the Kansas boys who hadn’t any and one leg of veal and a fresh ham we sent to the Colonel. Several details were sent out to bury the dead rebels which were about 45 in our neighborhood. Each regiment burying their own. So, we buried all that was on the hill: one officer and 17 privates were put in our grave and the rest wherever they had fallen. This was a mean job as most of them were already decaying and had been partly eaten up by the dogs. We now established a cookhouse and fired up our quarters.

Alfred Burton Welch:

Firing opened at line by Pandacan at taps on Sat. eve. Battle around by bay by North. Opened on line on south of river at b[lock].h[ouse]. 11 at 3 a.m. Sunday and at b.h. 12 & Art. Knoll at 4.15. Steady, stubborn, continuous, until very late Sun. night. 4th Cav. & 14th Inf. on our rt. between b.h. 12 & 13. Our line extended from b.h. 12 to b.h. 10.

Terrible fight at Paco bridge. 3 sets of fours stormed and took Paco church burnt it & also 200 ins[urgents]. inside.

Rescued one Co. D lost 2 killed. Co. A at bridge lost several. Line of battle 10 mi. long, 5000 Filips killed.

Co. D took Paco in a.m. and Piebla a’ Tabacolaria in p.m. where I shot & killed an ins. officer with sixshooter. Took 250 prisoners –men and boys. Boys at b.h. 11 capt. 2 field pieces. Co. D burned town from 11 to Pena Francisca [Peñafrancia] and Sun. night slept in Santa Anna with the ins. in full fight to hills. Burned Santa Anna.

Santiago Barcelona:

It was a terrible day. From 6 in the morning the fighting began by sea and land. In the afternoon our forces were unable to continue the defense at Caloocan, where the grenades and incendiary bombs fell. Two fell directly on the church tower and confusion ensued. The forces retreated toward Tinajeros and Polo. Left behind when evening came were General Pantaleon García and Major Soriano.

Fully informed of this happening, the President left Malolos for Caloocan and Malabon ordering our forces to return and occupy these places; and if the enemy wanted to retake them, they should do so shedding their own blood in the attempt. The order brought renewed vigor among the troops. Caloocan was garrisoned anew as far as Navotas and Malabon.

The Director of War, Antonio Luna, was in the battlefield the whole Sunday afternoon, stopping the advance of the enemy with a small number of troops, thus showing his bravery and fearlessness on this occasion. Everybody agreed that he was worthy to be in the hierarchy of Division Generals who had displayed their insignia of distinction. This event won for him the general applause and an appointment as Defense Chief of the railroad line.

John E.T. Mislaps:

I feel somewhat tired and sleepy this morning. Time now is 7.30 (about.) The sputter of rapid fire guns, heavy cannon from warships and rattle of small arms made sleep well nigh out of question.

The air and building (No. 2 Calle Santa Elena) in which I am writing, vibrate from the concussion of the great guns.

With the dawn of this Sabbath morning, looking across the Estero Tondo, I see groups of Chinese standing on Calle Jolo gazing out towards the place from whence come the sound of firing.

American patrols are everywhere on the streets of Manila dressed in their suits of fighting brown. Mrs. Owens treated me to a couple of cups of strong coffee — a very welcome gift after a night of unrest.

A mounted orderly has just come in from the front to secure a spring for a gun — to replace one out of order. Says our pickets out at the cross roads on Calles Dulumbayan, de Sanloleyes, have taken position at the Filipino cemetery and Leper hospital. The latter & former have high concrete walls, good as a protection against small arms. Also says some of the Montana men have been hurt.

Between the roar of cannon I hear this morning the twitter and singing of birds. What a strange contrast between these sweet sounds of nature and the discord of war!

Following my usual custom when getting out of bed this a.m. read the Bible and prayed. Asked the Lord to give me something in His Word. Opened the book at a venture. My eye fell on Micah IV: Read: “But in the last days it shall come to pass that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; & people shall flow into it. xxxxxx And he shall judge among many people, & rebuke strong nations far off; & they shall beat their swords into plowshares, & their spears into pruning hooks; nations shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

May all nations speedily learn to follow the path of righteousness and settle their differences by arbitration.

9.40 a.m. There is a lull in the shooting. Occasionally the boom of a heavy gun breaks upon the Sabbath stillness.

Clouds of smoke have been rising some time from the native town out Dulumbayan street, and from burning buildings in Paco district.

Spaniards, mestizos and friendly Filipinos have been in this room & on this our flat all morning…

Burnt roofing-thatch from buildings afire has been raining down from the clouds, to whence it ascended with the smoke.

Took breakfast with Rev. & Mrs. Owens.

Private Devine (Landon) has been to the front with food. Said piles of dead Filipinos were seen in places. Also that one company of the 1st Washington vols. was almost wiped out.

12 o’clock noon. Private Devine (Landon) just brought the news that Bro. E. Tarr, of G Battery 3d artillery is dead. Killed in battle. Tarr was one of the most zealous members of the Y.M.C.A. & has taken part in my meetings and own Owens’, held in the Cuartel de Meisig. Devine just started with a gun on his shoulder for the front taking a load of food — dinner to K. battery.

Dense clouds of smoke overhang the native quarter out Calle Dulumbayan. The conflagration is increasing.

1.10 p.m. Filipino men and women are coming down the thoroughfares from the scene of the battle where the houses are burning, bringing their household effects in bundles, baskets & boxes. The fire of small arms has ceased, but frequently the city vibrates from the discharge of heavy ordnance.

A detachment of prisoners just came down Calle Jolo from the fight. A sergeant of the Utah artillery brought tidings that General King is killed & Col. Smith of the Tennessee vols.

4 p.m. (about) 4 or 5 carromatas guarded by American soldiers passed out Calle Jolo. About 5 minutes after passing the junction of Santa Elena street, the rapid reports of rifles followed. We could not see what was going on but for half an hour patrols kept up a continuous fusilade all around our quarters. The sharp, keen explosions of the Krag-Jorgensen rifles soon cleared the streets. The Americans shoot to kill without hesitation. The death of Gen. King who was shot from a window out in Malate, is a warning to Americans. They are dealing with a treacherous foe, who are in Manila by tens, yes probably hundreds of thousands of Filipinos. Manila has a population of about 300,000 inhabitants.

Soldiers are bringing in news from the long battle. The Filipinos have stubbornly contested the field but have been driven back about one mile. Fighting is still in progress. Thousands are reported killed. (Another shot just this moment around our corner). Our troops were fired at from windows in the nation town or quarter near Tondo church (Roman Catholic). Our men enfiladed the quarter shooting through the frail huts. Men, women and babies were killed. The dead are piled in heaps.

A Spanish or mestizo woman who resides down stairs, came up stairs & affrightedly said we are to be killed tonight & the house burned by Filipinos. Almost all day Spaniards — men & mestizo & Filipino women have hung around our rooms afraid to go away.

A patrol brought in word that Private Eli Clampitt of Battery G, 3d artillery, is dead. Was killed in this battle. Clampitt (a backslider) claimed the Lord Jesus as the Healer of his backslidings in a meeting led by me in the 3d artillery barracks –Cuartel Meisig, October 6th, 1898. (I heard he backslid again.)

8.40 p.m. Private Devine (Landon) cook of K battery, left us about 5 minutes ago. He came in from the battlefront. Told us much news. Bullets were flying thick. Our advance lines are now far from Manila that we can no longer hear the firing. All is quiet tonight. Devine said that Tarr is not dead, but Corporal Dean is. The latter was a Christian & assisted in our meetings. Was a frequent caller at No. 2. Took lessons in Spanish from Owens.

An advance is expected to be made tomorrow on Malolos. A Utah cannon by mistake killed one of our own men, SDergeant Whittaker of the 3d artillery. Before Devine said good-bye he & I prayed together with Rev. & Mrs. Owens. I took supper with the latter this p.m.

Held no religious meetings today.

Visitor 1.

This has been a day of slaughter.

Monday, February 6, 1899

Robert Bruce Payne:

I had joined my company during the night and now we anxiously waited orders to go to the front but instead were ordered to hold the captured places while two battalions of Nebr and two co’s of Colo [First Colorado Volunteer Infantry] moved against the waterworks or pumping station. When they had gone about two miles they [found] a quartermaster of the Utahs shot full of holes and with his throat cut from ear to ear and his heart cut out. He had lost his way trying to join his command which were advancing with Nebr with two guns. This nerved the boys who soon came upon the entrenched Filipinos. The advance guard fell back and the Filipinos mistaking this for a retreat made a charge out of breast works. They were fairly mowed down. 78 were found and buried here. After that there was no more opposition till the pumping station was reached which is eight miles east of Manila and now Nebr holding this and all surrounding territory. The pumping station is in a deep vale [illegible] splendidly for­tified. There is a fine fort on a high point which commands the entire valley. The country around here is a country of ledges and places not naturally adapted to battle it is terraced with rice fields. The ground is dry and hard now and in splendid condition for a campaign. Those boys of the two battalions went into camp here in separate co’s. Co L our friends at station and others here and there in nice spots. The night of the sixth was uneventful save that where we were quartered a K man got scared and began shooting and of course there was a call to arms, but there was not a shot fired by a Filipino in hearing. This camp at the waterworks was named after our Col. Camp Stotzenburg [John Miller Stotsenburg]. Our col. was very brave and led the charge against the block houses 6 and 7 which K and D men took on Sunday morning. He found a Remington Rifle and used it in the thickest of the fight. There are strict orders issued against pillaging which up to this time has been carried on to excess.

James J. Loughrey:

We left San Pedro Mercati [Makati] at 10 a.m. on reconnoitre and had a hot skirmish around Guadaloupe [Guadalupe] where Culling was shot through the eye, Slade was shot in the leg and Smyth, who was beside me, was marked on the arm by a flattened bullet. ‘H’ and ‘I’ Companies retired at 4 p.m. We were in some tight corners and were completely tired out for we had no sleep for three nights. It appears that we killed 30 Insurgents, their bodies being found by Father McKinnion next day. Reports said 3,000 Insurgents had been killed yesterday. ‘B’ Company 14th US Infantry were reduced to 35 men, the rest being either killed or injured. Amongst the Insurgent dead were found two deserters, one from ‘M’ Company and the other a Lieutenant Colonel.

Chriss A. Bell:

This morning reports show that our [troops] advanced driving natives before them. Most of the firing at night is by the natives answered by and [an] occasional volley from our men. But at daylight much to the purpose of the natives who expected us to remain quiet, our men opened fire at the same time. Dewey let them have it. The result was something awful. Natives were killed by them by the hundreds. They did so much shooting from bamboo huts that an order came to fire the huts as the men advanced. This was done & men, women, and children suffered. The natives are but poor fighters & do not understand our style charging under fire. Freeman was in the thick of the fight but was in the company and could not get away.

In the evening I got permission of the Capt. to take a walk. Carr, Jim & I started and we met Dustin & (?)dale who joined us. We started for Kansas lines but got on a road which finally led in the jungle & stopped. We could see a quarter of a mile to our right a big hut on fire so we retraced our steps. Crossed a rice field on the dikes and reached the fire but if our men started it they did not remain now. Just before reaching fire we ran on a hut. The inmates were watching fire on seeing us they began to yell “Buenos Noches, Onega Cara Beno.” [“Buenas Noches, Amigo Cara Bueno“] They were nearly frightened to death. From the fire we soon ran across the main wad & soon met some boys of G. Co. Kansas going to the front with blankets. We went across with them but once ran off the road & ran into Montana outpost. We turned back & in about an hour reach block house where Kansas Co. was located. It was on top of a hill to left of church where 3rd A battery was sited at. We could see but little and there were only a few stray shots fired so we did not go into action. In the return we got a ride in as far as Bibi Bid [Bilibid] We got back about 12 & went on guard at 4 A.M.

John E.T. Milsaps (writing in Tondo):

The sun is rising beautifully over the city of Manila as I write (about 7.15 a.m.) and the birds are singing sweetly as though grim war had not left its mark in this section.

This morning about 3.50 o’clock the sharp incisive report of Krag-Jorgensen rifles were heard. From first a solitary shot the reports increased until they became a roar intermixed with occasional volleys. Sounded like a small battle. Silence followed about 15 minutes of this kind of work. About a half hour later another fusilade woke the echoes of the silent streets. I do not know what was the cause of trouble, perhaps street fighting. The native made elaborate preparations for an uprising. The Utah artillerymen captured 2 bags full of daggers, new & native made. Thousands of arms are also reported discovered in a Roman Catholic church. The uprising failed. Many solitary shots were fired thro’ the night.

I am thinking seriously this morning of going out to the battle front which is about 10 miles from Manila. My right foot has pained me in the past 10 days or more, probably rheumatism which makes walking difficult. Am anxious to go nevertheless and trust myself in the hands of God, whose providential care is my safeguard. The Lord may have work for me to do where men are dying. Quite a few of the men at the front are Salvationists who love Jesus, likewise other saints are there & also many backsliders & other sinners who have never known experientally God’s saving grace…

Called at the post office in Manila…

Returning from the post office I took a bite to eat, filled my coat pocket with peanuts and struck out for the front on foot. The Lord favored me. Just as I turned out of Santa Elena street I met some 3d artillerymen starting out with food for the troops in carromatas. I joined the squad. Privates Amie & Devine (Landon) were in the party. The men carried the Krag-Jorgensen guns. We passed out Calle Dulumbayan thro’ the large native quarter. When we reached the Filipino cemetery* (*Santa Cruz cemetery) signs of the battle began to appear. The balustrade around the top walls was destroyed, the shack facing the street torn into fragments & the back wall torn down for a barricade. Almost all the native huts between the cemetery & outskirts were burnt. The ruins were smoking. Here & there were dead horses lying in the ashes partly roasted. Chickens wandered around & dogs. One of the latter was eating flesh from the carcass of a burnt poney. A lone cat was nestled by the ashes of its former home. A female carrabou was lying dead near one burnt house & its calf lying by its side, alive & suckling its dead mother. When we reached the stone monument I got the men to halt & took their photo. I walked all the way out. The monument is at the cross roads — Call de Sanloleyes & Calle Dulumbayan. All is changed now. The battle raged over this spot & the houses  & people are all gone. When our party arrived at the foot of the elevation on which is situated the great Chinese & Roman Catholic cemetery, I heard the sound of fighting — a familiar sound now. There were single shots & at times volleys. The Chinese cemetery showed signs of battle, shrapnel bestrewing the road, the packing for artillery ammunition & empty rifle shells. Barbed wire was cut here & there to permit the passage of cannon & men. Tombstones were shattered by projectiles. They were used as breastworks by Filipinos. I saw one dead Filipino lying among the tombs by the roadside. His face & mouth discolored by dry blood. A bullet had entered one eye & killed him. The red mortuary chapel used by the Chinese close by was vacant. The candle sticks, biers & other accessories used when the rites of the dead are performed were lying around broke. Bloody pillows were lying on the floor and blood stained bandages here & there. The building had been used by the Filipinos to shelter their wounded.

Presently I reached the top of the hill & made my way to Brigadier General McArthur’s headquarters. The General was there, likewise members of his staff and a company (G) belonging to the 20th Kansas Infantry. A long line of men were drawn up in battle line at rest. In a forest to the left of Malibon [Malabon] the American firing line was at work. Their crushing volleys had the effect of herding the natives over towards a forest in a point of land. I could see them about one mile distant. Two American war vessels came up towards Malibon [Malabon] off shore. I witnessed the shelling. Several bombs were thrown into the town. After the natives were driven over towards the point firing ceased. But the rattle of rifles over on our right towards Camp Santa Mesa, told of warm work there. When they had taken position firing ceased.

Spoke to several men about their souls.

A stranger (civilian) & I struck out for home on foot. A country carromata with 3 U.S. 3d artillery men aboard came along. The soldiers took me on & I got a ride to the Cuartel Meisig. Tomorrow may be a terrible day for the Filipinos as they seem to be shut off from escape.

Filipino prisoners, Santa Mesa, Feb. 5-6, 1899.

Tuesday, February 7, 1899

From the diary of John Milsaps, February 7, 1899

Robert Bruce Payne:

Today has been an uneventful day. The dead were buried and a little skirmishing done but few natives could be found. The boys are taking a much needed rest. Our 2nd sergeant and a pvt have returned from the front. By the way these are the two men who started the war. The sergeant, a Dutch man [Sgt. Joseph De Vriendt], told the guard [Pvt. William Grayson], a man of little character, not to stand any monkey work. There was a lieut. on the Filipino side who had about as much sense as the afore mentioned who had been getting drunk and causing trouble before. He came down and ordered a post of ours moved back which had been moved up to hold one in check which had been pushed up by the Filipinos. This had been done during the day and when night came the lieut. came up and was halted by our sentinels. He called back “Alto,” the Spanish for “halt” at which our sentenel fired upon him and it is stated killed him but he was taken back by the native soldiers with him. Then the post was reinforced and on the natives making a second advance were fired upon again, which was answered as stated before by the Filipinos on all sides of us save the Manila side.

James J. Loughrey:

Reveille at 6 a.m. We had chicken for breakfast. We held 16 Insurgent prisoners, one of whom was dressed in woman’s clothing and was suspected of spying. We left camp at 2 pm. to reconnoitre around Laguna da Bay, sixteen miles from Manila, and returned to camp at about 6 p.m.

Alfred Burton Welch:

Reviewed by Gen. King. In afternoon took line to San Pedro [Macati]. Had a patrol in night, 12 miles. Dogs & birds feasting on stray bodies.

Chriss A. Bell:

Nothing of importance happened during the day except arrest of all men who went to front without leave including Morrow, Watson, Clagget, & Pratt. In evening 2 natives were shot within 30 feet of me apparently no cause as neither of them had any sort of weapon. On guard all day.

John E.T. Milsaps:

A day of exciting events. … About 10. o’clock a.m. with my blanket, diary, soap, towel, one pair socks, 4 photographic films, one loaf bread, 3 cans devilled ham, & 1 of jelly & a pocket filled with peanuts, I struck out on foot. Brought my umbrella along for contingencies of rain & hot sun. Rev. Chas Owens and wife accompanied me on foot. Went out thro’ the native quarter on Dulumbayan street. A carromata driven by a Filipino came along with a 10th Pennsylvania soldier on board. Mrs. Owns was taken on & put off at the large Spanish Roman Catholic mortuary chapel in the Binondo or La Loma cemetery. This cemetery on the hill including the Chinese burying place is an immense affair. Name: Cemeterio de la Parroquia de Binondo.”

Owens and I walked out. Arrived on the battleground about 11 o’clock. Sharp shooting with an occasional volley was kept up all day until 5 p.m. in a disultory manner. In the forest to the left skirting the bay just outside of Caloocan, the American battle line lay across the pain with its left wing on the bay near Caloocan & the right wing miles away. I went along the battle line for quite a distance visiting the batteries (particularly H and K) of the 3d Reg’t heavy artillery & the Montana infantry. Met quite a number of acquaintances as saved & unsaved. Seemed glad to meet me. Brought the matter of salvation personally to the attention of a number of soldiers. The boys were very hospitable offering me such food as they have on the battlefield & coffee.

Brigadier General Otis was on the field taking in the situation personally.

During the early part of the afternoon I witnessed an interesting skirmish down on the open flat field north east of the Spanish mortuary chapel. Three men went down to fire some native huts. The enemy would have probably captured them, had not 15 men went out to support them. The firing on both sides was quite brisk for a time. The Filipinos lay in the shelter of timber & the Americans in the open, but none of the latter were hurt.

5 p.m. The shooting in the forest west of us became hot. Brisk work. A war vessel (probably “Concord”) out in the bay threw shells in the town &  2 Utah pieces over on our hill assisted. The attacking party (20th Kansas Infantry less Co. G) could not be seen from the forest but their advance could be traced by the line of burning buildings as they advanced into Caloocan. In half an hour the town was taken. As darkness closed in I went over to the battle line — 3d artillery. The boys gave me some coffee which with my loaf of bread served me for supper. By the light of the burning village I managed to pick my way over the small brook at the bottom of the hill to the Spanish blockhouse (No. 2) or fort. A wall about 10 feet high punctured with numerous port holes for small arms with a shelf to stand on around the inside, & a wood frame covered with corrugated iron is the aforesaid blockhouse. Company G, 20th Kansas vol. infantry (Capt. Elliot) occupied the same: also a detachment of Utah light artillerymen. I laid a piece of heavy paper on the ground, my blanket on the same & using my coat for a pillow considered myself fortunate. While lying there, availed myself of an opportunity the Lord gave me, to talk to a corporal lying alongside me of salvation.

My bed was pretty hard. Slept in my clothes.

Caloocan is a village on the Dagupan railroad about one and a half miles from Malibon [Malabon].

Our battle line remained in place all night sleeping on their arms. Nothing unusual happened during the night save the occasional firing of our pickets.

Block House No. 7, Feb. 7, 1899

Wednesday, February 8, 1899

Robert Bruce Payne:

This day was spent waiting for orders which came and were revoked several times. The Tenns. [First Tennessee Volunteer Infantry] left for Iloilo and in a few days the fight will be on there. Dewey bombarded a few towns where there might be Filipino soldiers stationed, and several of these towns burned. Kansas [First Kansas Volunteer Infantry] had another brush with the natives who tried to effect an entrance through our lines at that point north of the city. So far as can be heard our boys have done bravely through the whole army corps. The Washingtons [First Washington Volunteer Infantry] shot a little too much ammunition perhaps and the Minns [First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry] who were police in the city killed too many harmless people if accts are true.

James J. Loughrey:

We prepared to go to the city for 24 hours to relieve ‘C’ and ‘I’ Companies. We saw a gunboat go up river to shell Pasig. It got stuck and had to wait about three hours for a launch to go to its assistance. During the day we had photographs taken. Later we had a Wyoming Company firing over our heads at the Insurgents.

Alfred Burton Welch:

In Santa Anna. Other W[ashingto]n CO’s on line beyond San Pedro.

Chriss A. Bell:

On guard all day. Privates who left without leave were fined from $2 to $7. The non coms I think got a severe lecture because of charges were preferred a General Court Martial was necessary. It is rather hard on privates to be fined and non coms let go with a talk. Shorty, Pratt, Coyine, & Hampton all tell of a very exciting time. Hope I’ll get a chance to see some action.

An incident happened which showed native character. During the battle one of Aguinaldo’s Generals who took part in Peace conference appeared with a flag truce. It was answered by Col. Crowder [Major Cardwell] & Col. [Q.M. Sergeant] Potter who also took part in peace conference. The American officers advanced to near the insurgent lines & were met by officers. Immediately after insurgents fired on the crowd. When our officer demanded of insurgent officer what was meant by firing on flag of truce he answered, almost in ha [laugh] that he was forced to admit that his men were untamed savages without the first principle of humanity and apologized for being a part of such a disgraceful affair & asked to be allowed to retire. He himself was pured on by his own men. The chances of the Oregon regiment Co. H in particular going to the front grow lean fully less each day. Was on guard all last night nothing very exciting happened. There was more fighting at the front.

I feel very tired & sleepy tonight. Hardly had any sleep last in the “block house”. The ground was hard, atmosphere cold & coffee Im inclined to think excited my nerves too much.

…A soldier belonging to Co. G. 20th Kansas Vol. Inf., gave me some coffee in an old tin can. He & I sipped out of it. Devilled ham & bread (which I shared with him) completed my breakfast.

From the tower of the blockhouse on the hill watched the movements of the Insurrectos, sometimes thro’ an opera glass. The Filipinos appear to be gathering in force & a battle is imminent. One battle line commenced to intrench themselves –the men. Likewise 2 more guns were planted alongside our blockhouse by the Utah’s & hasty breastworks constructed.

I went along the battle line where the men lying two days & talked with a number of the men. Not only did I visit the 3d artillery but likewise the Montana’s whom I found forming in the woods to receive an attack from the enemy. I took 2 Kodak views of Co. E. Two letters written on the battlefield were given me to mail. One was a postcard –a hard looking affair…

Met Mr. John F. Bass (war correspondent for Harper’s weekly) again, on the field.

A number of ex-soldiers and civilians are hanging about, desirous of sharing in the battle. Minnesota (13th) soldiers are slipping out of town, where they do police duty, to take part in the expected battle. One of the Minnesota men told me that an outbreak is expected daily. Last night they slept on their arms. Have killed 50 natives since hostilities commenced Saturday night…

Good night; am very tired. God be with all.

On second thought will add: On my way back through the Filipino quarter along Dulumbayan street a great many white flags were hanging out in front of the private houses — flags of truce or surrender probably. I heard when reaching home that Aguinaldo declared war against the United States today. Rumor says the Filipino chief said he cannot restrain his men any longer. Otis sent word back that he will restrain them for him then. Aguinaldo’s private secretary has been captured.

“Brigadier-General King and Staff, at the Surrender of Pasig, February 8, 1899”

Thursday, February 9, 1899

Robert Bruce Payne:

This morning our company rec’d orders to go to the water works. We left the “Asilo de Huer-fanos” [Asilo de Huerfanos] Orphans Home, an old brick building which had been used by the Filipinos for barracks, about 8 o’clock and reached the Pumping Station about one. Co. L our friends had a dinner ready for us when we reached there. They gave us three cheers when we came to which we responded heartily though we were very tired. We enjoyed our dinner very much. In the afternoon James, my tent mate and myself were down to the river a small mountain stream called San Mateo. Here we enjoyed a fine bath. The water was very chilly however. In the pumping station are four mammoth engines capable of 120,000 gallons per hr each. The natives had not destroyed a thing here though it could easily have been done and one would think they would from the way our forces burnt their homes.

James J. Loughrey:

At 8 a.m. we were ready to leave for the city and arrived there about noon. Last night several thousand Insurgent cavalry were advancing on the city. Dewey’s ships shelled them and played the Devil with them!

Alfred Burton Welch:

Wrote home to Tops. In Santa Anna.

Chriss A. Bell:

Nothing had happened today. The usual round of work & guard duty. In evening put on extra guards as outbreak was expected. The non coms who took trench leave were reprimanded by Clagett & Capt. Mc [McDonnell] was very cool to them but in evening he took up their regulations played crib with short & said let by gones be by gones. Privates were all fined from $2 to $10. Little now fighting.

John E.T. Milsaps:

Am sleepy this morning. Was kept awake the entire night. Stayed with Co. E* (*Note. Capt. A. Jensen in command) 1st Montana vol. inf. in the stone fort (Blockhouse No. 2) on the hill…

When in town I got shaved in a Spanish barber shop; also called at the General or Brigade Hospital to see Private Clayton Scott. He is up again & getting well. Advised him to do as much work for Jesus as possible among the patients. From town returned home, took a bite to eat, bundled up some things & struck out afoot for the Caloocan battlefield. While trudging out Dulumbayan street through the dust and sun heat, a couple of Utah light artillery men overtook me. They were taking mail out to their comrades in a carromata. Invited me to ride out. I gladly accepted the invitation. Arrived on the battlefield about 4 p.m. Put my luggage in the stone fort. Private D.C. Hines fished me up a soldier’s kit & some supper from the company (E.) cook. After supper Hines & I went down the battle line. The men are about in the same place, but have constructed trenches. Encouraged some of the Christian soldiers to remain true to Christ.

Returned to the stone fort (Blockhouse No. 2), spread our blankets on the ground & lay down with the intention of sleeping but did not sleep all night. About 10 o’clock p.m. firing started up in the forest over on our left wing & with slight intermissions had continued until daybreak. The outposts over on our right fired at real or imagined foes. I could hear them cry out “Pennsylvania outpost” in the darkness probably to let their comrades know their whereabouts so as not to fire on them. Company E. 1st Montana lined up (some) behind the fort walls at the portholes & others went outside into the rifle pit. They fired one volley. A bullet presumably from the enemy struck our corrugated iron roof with a bang.

An officer* (*Note. Captain Andrew Jensen) of Co. E. ordered a sergeant to make me get up and change my bed. Would not permit any of his men to sleep.

The sun is now up but an occasional shot still rings across the battlefield. Brother Lloyd has just brought me some fried pork, boiled potatoes and coffee so I must discontinue this entry and pay my respects to soldiers’ rations. The men are cross this morning because robbed of sleep.

Sandra Plummer Collection, Genealogy, History and Archives Unit, Fort Worth Public Library, Texas.

Friday, February 10, 1899

Robert Bruce Payne:

This day passed with little done save waiting for orders which came at supper time. In the morning we enjoyed another bath in the clear and swift San Mateo [river]. When we reached camp again we found letters from home. Mine announced the death of my father [Richard Thornton Payne, b. 1828]. He died of paralysis on the 18th of Dec. 1898. This was sad news to me. I had written him in Jan. some time after his death. I had hoped to be home and see him again before he died. Indeed I often thought I would like to see father again. My nephew tells me he died reading the bible. He was alone on his farm near Otto [Webster County] Nebr. Late in the evening we rec’d orders to return partway back to the filtering station and resevoir. There were said to be some 20 or 25,000 Filipinos.going to attack no. 7 block house and force an entrance to Manila combined. They did not try it that night.

James J. Loughrey:

Last night we were called out and later slept in our clothes all night. Late this afternoon the battle of Malabon took place. The coloured troops lay in their trenches until the 23rd US Infantry went up and clubbed them into action. Five men were killed and twenty wounded. Captain Wallace of the Montanas was shut in this action.

Alfred Burton Welch:

At Santa Anna. A battle raged to the east last night –could hear the volleys. Wrote to Gypsy.

Chriss A. Bell:

Last night American forces captured two small towns & California [was] fighting in left was severe but insurgents were licked. At one place center of our lines fell back purposely let insurgents in then caught them on the flanks & slaughtered them. Another hospital man killed. This makes three I think. A few days ago 6 natives were shot for firing on hospital wagon. We were issued one days rations & rolled blankets yesterday as outbreak was expected and we had some hopes of going to front but as our lines were strong enough we were not sent & fear we will not be.

John E.T. Milsaps:

It is late in the afternoon. The Utah Light Artillery guards have half closed the double doors of their commissary warehouse; a very unusual proceeding. The Spanish men –2 of them– on the lower floor of No. 2 Call Santa Elena have come up stairs again. They are apprehensive of danger. The old Señora down stairs also excitedly drew her hand across her throat signifying what is expected. Word has been sent to the American military guards to look out for an uprising of Filipinos. With a telescope loaned me by one of the Spaniards I saw a few minutes ago the two towers of Tondo Roman Catholic church full of American troops. The heavy, barred gates of our basement have been closed on the street side. The streets of Manila are look deserted. During an hour the heavy roar of great guns from Dewey’s fleet has been heard here in our house bombarding either Caloocan or Malibon [Malabon]. Aguinaldo is massing his troops at Malibon [Malabon] and a decisive battle is expected.

I feel very sleepy. Captain A. Jensen of Co. E., 1st Montana vol. inf. found me sleeping or rather lying down on the ground among his men in the Spanish blockhouse* (*Blockhouse No. 2). He instructed a sergeant to make me get up & go to another part of the fort. Kept my clothes on & sat up almost all night with the noise of shooting to help keep my eyes open. Hines said the men of Co. E. did not like the way I was treated by their Captain. Says he has been drunk the last two or three days.

After breakfast Private D. Hines & I walked down the lines to almost the end of our left wing in the forest skirting the railroad where so much fighting has been done of late. The Americans 20th Kansas vol. inf. have constructed trenches & rifle pits & are still at work. The Filipinos attacked our troops last night. While we were in the forest sharpshooters were still pegging away. A bullet came unpleasantly near to us.

Desiring sleep & feeling the need of recuperating I gathered up my belongings and struck out for home on foot. A long, hot, dusty walk. Arrived at home at last glad to be back. Civilians are not usually welcome in a military camp when war is in progress. They do no good (from a military standpoint) & may do much harm.

4.40 p.m. The sound of cannon is still heard in the distance…

Rev. Owens who was out near the front returned this evening from near the front. The enemy has been driven back –charged. Dense clouds of smoke I saw rising heavenward was caused by the burning of Caloocan. I expect to go out to the front again tomorrow…

Saturday, February 11, 1899

From the diary of John Milsaps, February 11, 1899

Robert Bruce Payne:

When we got up this morning we had a two miles march in heavy marching order to make before breakfast. This gave us a good appetite, but breakfast was not ready when we arrived which annoyed us somewhat as we expected to advance against the Filipinos. We had orders to be in readiness after breakfast as we were to be in the reserve but the advance after meandering around the country all day returned empty handed. So today has been a day of rest with us. I have had a bath again in the San Mateo [river]. Its bottom is sandy and the gravel is plainly visible and the smallest fish can be seen. Ten days rations were just issued to us here and our dinner was an excellent one we had been having poor fare since we have been in field hitherto. It is nearly supper time and I am writing seated in a species of rubber tree. This tree is large and spreading and close to camp. Under it is an immense stone a boulder with steps up it, so one can walk up the steps and step off in the tree. There was a bombardment of Caloocan, a small town, by Dewey this morning. During the middle of the days the heat is hardly bearable but in the evenings and mornings it is quite cool and the nights are cold. Very dry here now, even too dry to plow. We hear many banterings and quarrels now about what troops did this and that. But I can hardly realize the honour that is to be gained any way fighting a people struggling for liberty. Many of the boys have a poor opinion of the Filipinos simply because they have talked ill of them so long that now they hate them. I think they are doing unwisely in fighting so powerful [a] nation as the U.S. It reveals at once the[ir] patriotism as well as their ignorance. Nor is it by any means all ignorance.

Alfred Burton Welch:

Buried some Filips. The 14th were pressed on Pasa [Pasay] and we were called out to help, but were not needed. Maloban [Malabon] was taken by Mont. & Kas, Penn & 6th Art.

Chriss A. Bell (entry for February 11-12):

Nothing happened but usual round of duty. Several boys are off ships so guard work is less heavy on me. No province boats are allowed to leave harbor. Skirmishing goes on at front with but little loss in either side. Will try and take camera to front tomorrow.

John E.T. Milsaps:

One week ago tonight the Filipinos attacked Manila or rather the American outposts & what a week it has been! A week of constant conflict –day and night. Thousands of Filipinos (over 3,000) have been killed. Others wounded. And hundreds of Americans have suffered. Houses have been destroyed & devastation is evident on every side. The atmosphere is foul in places with the stench of putrefying men and animals. The Insurrectos have been beaten in every action. God has signally blessed our arms. The desire of our Government was to pursue a pacific policy, but I fear the natives mistook a generous spirit for cowardice. I heard that their contempt of our soldiers led them more than once to spit in the face of our sentries, but such work could not continue. The swagger & spirit of bravado so marked a few days ago, are gone, for they have been taught a dreadful lesson.

To me Feb. 11th will be associated a long time with horrid memories.

Rising early, after bible reading & prayer I cooked & ate breakfast then started out alone for the battlefront. The roar of great guns bombarding Malibon [Malabon] caused me to push on. By street car went to the end of the line. A civilian dressed partly in soldier’s clothes with a gun on his shoulder joined me. He proved to be a Salvationist of 22 years ago. He carried my bundle. Spoke to him re religious matters. Together, we scoured the forest in which the recent fighting has been done. Everywhere we saw the ashes of burnt huts & residences. Everything gone. A few lonely chickens and other live domestic animals wandered about lost. But the air was burdened in places with the loathsome smell of rotting human beings — their corpses. In one place lay about ten corpses bloated, black, hideous & rotten with worms eating them. In another place (same forest) lay about 6 more dead Filipinos, several apparently killed by shrapnel. One place up the road near a burnt hut lay a dead native with his back, head & hair fearfully burned. A wound in one leg led me to infer that he had been struck in the leg near the ankle by a bullet & entered a hut for refuge. The same was set afire. There he remained until the flame took hold of him. The awful agony caused the poor wretch to pull himself out into the road where he died. He was lying in the dust with his body bent & face down. In the church yard were 3 more corpses. In the cemetery another hideous sight met my gaze. A number of empty tombs are built [intiam?] –Spanish fashion. A dead soldier was crammed into one & hastily left with some loose stones put into the opening. The man’s head was thrown back, with mouth wide open & almost gone thro’ putrefaction. In another tomb lay another corpse. A funny thing connected with these vacant tombs was told me. One of the wild tribes –almost naked– crawled into one and remained there until the Americans discovered him & brought him out of his queer hiding place. He was sent a prisoner to Manila.

I met Brother Joshua Calvin in the Roman Catholic Church which was temporarily improvised into a hospital. Calvin did not go to Iloilo. His vessel was ordered to remain in the bay until further orders.

Calvin & I went down the road towards Malibon [Malabon]. This in Caloocan. The town was in possession of the Americans. A battle was in progress. Met on the road Cos, S, E., F., & H, of the First Idaho Vol. Infantry & ex-Salvation Army Sergeant-major Spankie of Fresno, Leal, who is private, had a pipe in his mouth. Called his attention to advice given hium on salvation the other day & again urged him to seek Jesus. The command was ordered to fall in & marched down into the brush to take position as a reserve line. In addition to the fusilade of small arms shells were thrown into Malibon [Malabon] (which was being attacked) by a vessel of Dewey’s squadron. Calvin & I sat down at a spot by the roadside back of the American firing line (20th Kansas). Bullets flew over our heads quite rapidly. A U.S. soldier had just been wounded in the leg when we arrived. His leg was red with blood. A bandage was tied around the wound. After a while Calvin & I parted. He visited the 20th Kansas & I went back to a bluff back of the post office to watch the bombardment of Malibon [Malabon]. Also explored the flat near the bay shore. While there exposed myself to view. A gun report was heard by me in Malibon [Malabon]. In a second or two a bullety struck near me. I concluded to leave that spot without loss of time.

Met Rev. & Mrs. Owens, Bro. Geo. Turner near the Catholic Church in Caloocan. The former & I visited the firing line ogf our troops –20th Kansas & 2 guns 6th U.S. light artillery, & Sec. 4-B. Battery, Utah light artillery. Also visited the cemetery & then went to the Railroad depot. The trains are being run by the U.S. Gov’t today. We got permission from a Hospital Sergeant in charge of the train to go back to Manila –5 miles. Was a hospital train taking back wounded men  & men overcome by heat. In our car 23d U.S. Inf. brass band with guns traveled with us, likewise several British officers. Naval officers have lately been watching the battles closely…

Sunday, February 12, 1899

From the diary of John E.T. Milsaps, Feb. 11, 1899

Alfred Burton Welch:

Started early for San Pedro Macati.

John E.T. Milsaps:

Remained at home all day in Manila, sleepy and tired. Have been on the go to & from the front all week. Felt like remaining at home because there is a lull in the storm of war. Chaplain Stevenson of the Idaho Vol. Inf. called on Rev. Chas. Owens this afternoon. The chaplain reported that a Spaniard had just been captured from inside the Insurrectos’ lines, who said the strength of the Filipino army in Malibon [Malabon] is about 10,000. Stevenson said he saw their line about 3 miles long. The line is not thin and weak. The American line is about 18 miles long. This information from a Utah artilleryman. We are under the necessity of protecting Manila on three sides.

Monday, February 13, 1899

From the diary of John E.T. Milsaps, Feb. 11, 1899

James J. Loughrey:

Reports state that the Insurgent leader Aguinaldo wants to surrender Malabon but Otis will not accept unless Malolas [Malolos] surrender as well.

John Henry Asendorf:

It has been impossible for me to keep account from day to day. I will try to put it all in a nutshell because I was always occupied with work almost day and night. While all the regiment had its hands full in trying to keep the enemy, who were constantly shooting away at us on account of our small force, at bay. We were compelled to stay where we are. Therefore we threw up entrenchments all along the line which already extends over 30 miles and was occupied by only 8000 men in all. We now laid in trenches all day and night. Ten men from each company were allowed to go to town each day, five in the morning and five in the afternoon. Our wounded are doing fine. The Major is walking around and DeBolt and Rockwell are sitting up but still very sick. During this time we have burned down thousands of homes and have captured all horses and wagons within our reach. We have also taken over eight towns which were all destroyed by heavy shells which Dewey put into them. We also captured the railroad and oarshops at Caloocan. On the evening of the 11th I was sent to town for the first time to get a load of fresh meat out. The next morning I walked the five miles. When I was about two miles from the city I heard five or six shots fired along the road and at the same time I saw an officer riding along and it was him these were intended for but none of them hit him. One Filipino with a revolver in hand came running my way. I fired but missed him but the second bullet went through his heart and down he went. Unfortunately, the revolver was marked U.S. and I had to give it up. We then set fire to all the houses in this section. All told we have lost: killed 65; wounded about 300 and two missing. But the rebel losses are counted by the thousands. Good many of our boys, when found, could hardly be recognized since they had been cut up in a terrible manner. On the 12th we received mail which was delivered in the field. The boys, having no paper or envelopes, wrote on cartridge boxes or anything they could find. I sent several myself. We also have killed hundreds of dogs and cats during the engagement. On the 5th we also lost three horses belonging to our regiment. All told it was simply horrifying after all these battles. This is only what I witnessed myself but all the other regiments had equally the same experience. Many Mausers and Remington rifles were captured and many prisoners were taken, among them some of Aguinaldo’s staff and about 400 Indians which used the old fashioned bow and arrow for weapons. When captured, they were all naked and had to be dressed before bringing them into the walled city where most of our prisoners are kept. Our eight men who were captured some time ago are still held prisoner by the rebels and perhaps tortured to death by this time… During all these days, the weather was terribly hot and we had to carry our water for over a mile and then boil it. But, we had plenty of rations.

Other diaries and the rest of the War

“Aguinaldo and his chief men,” a photograph included in his diary by John E.T. Milsaps, June 9, 1899
William Herman Wilhelm

In contrast to the enlisted men, an officer’s point of view is reflected in the diary of Captain William Herman Wilhelm, a West Point graduate who arrived in the Philippines after the Filipino-American War had already broken out. The Philippine portion of his diary begins on May 27, 1899, when he was first assigned in Pasay, then being transferred to Bacoor, and being nominated for the Medal of Honor after the battle of San Mateo; he went on to serve in Laguna, Pampanga, and Tayabas, ending up fatally wounded in Lipa, Batangas, on June 12, 1901.

Gen. Venancio Concepcion

One of the few, rare glimpses of the war from a Filipino point of view is in the diary of General Venancio Concepcion, who chronicled his detention in the wake of the assassination of General Antonio Luna. The man who interrogated Concepcion’s men, General Gregorio del Pilar, kept a diary which was taken as a war trophy: if it ever resurfaces, it should provide an insight into the man and his times, gauging from the published journal he kept in 1896-97 (as summarized and reproduced by Teodoro M. Kalaw).

Santiago Barcelona, Emilio Aguinaldo, Simeon Villa in captivity in Malacañan Palace, 1901.

The long, extended, death agony of the First Republic is seen through the eyes of Santiago Barcelona, who was the appointed representative of Butuan in the Malolos Congress, and who accompanied President Aguinaldo as he evaded capture by the Americans; and Simeon Villa (father of the noted poet Jose Garcia Villa), who was the physician of Aguinaldo and held the rank of Colonel: he chronicled Aguinaldo’s various escapes from November 1899 to his capture by the Americans in March, 1901.

The era is closed off with the poignant diary of Apolinario Mabini, writing in exile in Guam.

“Manila, Tondo Dist., Dead Filipinos in a yard. This man lay dead near a hydrant where he had apparently been dressing chickens for supper. Uprising of Feb. 22d and 23d in Tondo Dist. Manila. The dead of the 2 photos were in same yard.” From the diary of John E.T. Milsaps, February 22, 1899.

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.

Railways in Mindanao: Then and Now

Department of Transportation and Communications, 2010

 

News is that the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) has approved a Feasibility Study to proceed for the proposed Mindanao Railway Project. The map above gives an indication of the scope of the proposed railway system.It’s been a long time coming. An overview of railways in the past can be found in The Colonial Iron Horse: Railroads and Regional Development in the Philippines, 1875-1935 by Arturo G. Corpuz. The British, of course, were railway pioneers in the Philippines, and as this report on a US Congressional Hearing in 1904 shows, the Americans were wary of British commercial interests in this regard. See also a 1907 journal article by Frank McIntyre, Railroads in the Philippine Islands.

The Philippine Diary Project gives a glimpse into the first glimmerings of a railway scheme for Mindanao. These glimpses are through the diary of Francis Burton Harrison, former Governor-General, and who served as an adviser to the Commonwealth of the Philippines from 1935-36 and again from 1942-44 (and after independence, on foreign affairs). Aside from having been a chief executive, Harrison was a longtime resident of the United Kingdom and was thus attuned both to British psychology and their reliance on railways, in contrast to the American preference for highways. See Planes, trains, and automobiles from July 16, 2008 for some background:

Courtesy of Augusto de Viana is The railways in Philippine history which, however, so compresses the most interesting years, the 20s to the 50s, as to render that section meaningless. Oh well. Viviana overlooks the ambivalence and even hostility American officials felt towards railways, since it would affect the Philippine market for automobiles… When autonomy was achieved, railroad development accelerated. And the policy debate on highways versus railways also began, along with still-unrealized plans such as a railroad for Mindanao (the development of Maria Cristina Fall’s hydroelectric power was originally envisioned as primarily powering the Mindanao railways: there are interesting snippets on these debates in F.B. Harrison’s diary: as an Anglophile, he was pro-railways, pointing with envy to Britain’s not altogether altruistic promotion of its own steam engine industry in its colonies…

Harrison’s interest in railways can be seen in his entry for October 25-29, 1935, Harrison records an extended conversation with Alejandro Roces, the leading newspaper publisher at the time:

Roces, Sr. advocates a National Transportation Corporation to take over all the motor bus lines –capital required now is about three million pesos but they would take shares or installment payments; they can be run as feeders for the Railroad. Paez agrees with him. Roces advocates moving Bilibid prison out of town and making the site a central market and the hub of motor buses –thus cutting out the middleman. This has been tried in Spain –and is a success.

His interest is also shown by railways-related details he notices. Two days before the inauguration of the Commonwealth (November 13, 1935), Harrison visits Pasay and noticed,

Called at Pasay. Quezon was closeted with General MacIntyre, General Creed Cox (Chief of the Bureau of Insular Affairs), Osmeña, Roxas, Paez and Carmona –I believe they were discussing the subject of the bonds of the Manila Railroad.

Harrison quite early on (the idea was first broached in broad strokes on November 2, 1935, thirteen days before the inauguration of the Commonwealth) was engaged as an adviser on communications, and his first task was advising the Philippine government on how to handle the British owners of the Manila Railway Company. See his diary entry for November 26, 1935:

We then discussed my appointment as Adviser on Communications and he asked me also to help him in the reorganization of the government. He is to put me in touch with Quirino and Paez on the purchase of the Manila RR. bonds from the English.

Harrison seems to have immediately set about getting himself up to speed on the railway situation. See his diary entry for November 27, 1935:

Talk with [James J.] Rafferty and McCreery, who is auditor and acting manager of the Philippine Railway. He said that the Iloilo line, is practically self-sustaining. Cebu is not suited to a railway.

Two days later, he was actively taking up the task assigned him with the railways manager. See his diary entry for November 29, 1935:

Conference 9-10 a.m. with [Jose] Paez over the proposed purchase of the Manila RR. Southern 4’s from the Southern Syndicate. He is much in favor of accepting the British offer, and says that if the plan is carried thru’ the RR. can meet its indebtedness for interest even in bad times.

About a week later, he was being consulted by representatives of investors on what to do, see his entry for December 6, 1935:

[John H.] Pardee wants to know whether the Philippine Railway Co., should pay its Dutch bond holders on a gold basis, or whether the Manila RR. had decided that under American law they could pay only 4%. If so, the Philippine Railway Co., would pay only 4%, because the gold clause was not in their bonds and upon “instructions” from the Secretary of War in the time of Taft this had not been followed by a vote of their board. No written word of this exists in the War Department today.

Three days later, the government position was formally communicated to the new National Assembly. See Message of President Quezon to the First National Assembly on Railroad Bonds Redemption, December 9, 1935.

Politics being what it is, by December 15, 1935 Harrison was noticing political intrigue concerning his assignment on railways:

[A.D. Williams] reported that it is now rumoured that I came out here this time to advance the interests of the English in the Manila RR. bond redemption. (Exactly contrary to facts –as usual). Says Paez insisted on resigning if the bonds are not redeemed. I feel certain we could have made a better bargain with the English; that I could have done it; and that it is legally possible to avoid paying them receipts from the “gold clause” in the bonds, and that the English know it. (N.B. Quezon asked me to prepare “advise” on this subject and then never asked for my opinion.)

Five days after that, Harrison records his discussions with the president, and then with the British consul on December 20, 1935 (along the way it’s an interesting glimpse into the contending interests that come into play whenever any commercial interest is affected by government policies –press, politicians, governments local and foreign, get into the act):

Then I asked him [Quezon] what was the matter with the Manila RR. bond purchase? He said it has been held up to enquire of the United States Government as to whether they considered that the Philippine Government was resposible for the principal of these bonds; they had replied thru the High Commissioner in the affirmative –so Quezon said the bill would go through because this meant that the United States would act on the maturity of the bonds and seize the Customs House. He said that if the American Government had decided this Government was not responsible for the principal, he was going to say to the English that he had been in favour of purchase but the Legislature demands better terms. I told him that this Government was not responsible for principal of these bonds –that just as we had bought the railroad we could sell it. Then he said Confesor (Assemblyman) had told him of F. Theo Roger’s (of Free Press) story that I had come out here to get what I could for the English! He said that he had authorized Confesor to state the true facts in the Legislature –that this impugned his honor as well as my own– that he would put Rogers in prison if he printed such a gross libel. He asked me to bring him the memorandum on these bonds which I had prepared for him on December 6, which I did…

…I then went to home of A.P. Blunt, British Consul General –he did not get there until 8 o’clock, having been at work in his office, getting off in the mail all his reports on governmental development here… As I left, Blunt asked me in a casual voice what had happened about the purchase of the Manila RR. bonds –I said there had been “a hitch.” He eagerly enquired “what hitch?” I said it had been caused by Vicente Villamin’s speech –“ah!” he said “they fear the wily English bankers, whereas our fellows would rather get this agreement now than perhaps lose everything later.” I replied that there was much to be said on each side, but I really thought the deal would go through –(it passed the Legislature just about that time).

The story resumes some weeks later, on January 16, 1936:

I asked him [Quezon] whether he wanted me to talk public business at luncheon, and he replied that he enjoyed it with people he liked. Told him I had just been with Paez and had written for him (Quezon) an opinion on the Manila RR. I advised him to instruct the public utilities commission to stop for the present issuing any more “certificates” or licenses for the bus lines. Said he would do so. Told him it was fortunate he could put the railroad and the busses under one control –other countries could not now do so but he was catching the situation nearly as it began.

I also expressed the hope that he would be able to get the Legislature to agree to permit the Manila Railroad to abandon those branches which were (dead) unprofitable.

(a few days later, on January 20, 1936, Harrison would note that he submitted a memorandum on Manila Railroad plans “for the next few years”). A few months later, the situation seems to have been resolved, as recorded in his diary entry for March 19, 1936:

Quirino said to me that my silver purchase suggestion was “gaining ground.” He also remarked that I had helped in the purchase of the Manila Railroad bonds, because I knew the “psychological background” of the English bondholders.

But this entry is about the proposed Mindanao Railway. And here, Harrison gives insights into the thinking behind the Mindanao Railway –and the opposition to it.

The entries related to a Mindanao Railways plan start on February 18, 1936, when A.D. Williams, the American adviser of the government on public works, makes an inquiry with Harrison:

A. D. Williams came in to enquire whether there was any basis for Quezon’s newspaper statement that it was being considered whether to build main roads in Mindanao, or railroads, which would cost ten times as much and probably be a heavy loss. We agreed that roads were the modern solution, and that a railroad was only justified if leading to a mine or other heavy industry.

A month later, Harrison, on March 17, 1936 notes that Teofisto Guingona, Sr. (who would be Commissioner of Mindanao and Sulu) had a different point of view:

Guingona is in favour of constructing roads rather than railroads in Mindanao.

The clash between these points of views is discussed in his entry for March 25, 1936:

Busy morning at office. Miguel Unson has seen Quezon…

We talked over the issue of railway vs. roads in Mindanao: he says the plan is to take down there that useless railroad outfit in Cebu, and perhaps in Iloilo as well, and to build roads as feeders. I also saw Osmeña for a moment before the Cabinet meeting and he talked on the same subject: says the time has come to decide either for railroad or roads, and not to make the same mistake as in Luzon, where they run parallel.

It seems that the issue continued to remain unresolved –or that those opposed to railways were still lobbying to change the policy. See Harrison’s entry for April 28, 1936:

At Malacañan. A. D. Williams had just come from a conference with Quezon, Paez and Ramon Fernandez; says the President is set on building railways in Mindanao, and “A.D.” and Fernandez tried to convince him they would not pay. “A.D.” said he thought he had offended Quezon still more by replying to his (Quezon’s) complaints that the roads offered too unfair competition to the Manila Railroad, that the competition from trucks was unfair and when they had finally managed by January 1, 1936 to get the tax on trucks raised from one peso to two pesos per 100 kilos, the rate had at once been reduced again. This was Quezon’s own doing on the advice of Geo. Vargas, and they both looked pretty glum.

But the policy remained. See May 8, 1936:

This morning, Quezon gave a press interview to both “foreign” and “local” reporters. Evidently, he had important things to give out. The newspapers published:

(a)  A statement that Davao land “leases” would go to the courts.

(b)  The President contemplates the construction of a 150 kilometer (300!) electric railway between Davao and Cagayan de Misamis, and also would complete the Aloneros-Pasacao gap in the southern lines of the Manila Railroad. The Maria Cristina Falls in Lanao are to be used for part of the power for the first project.

(c)  That the Philippines would sooner ask for immediate independence than wait for the end of the ten years period if there are no prospects of improving the provisions of the economic clauses of the Tydings-McDuffie law.

Still, the opponents of the railways scheme hadn’t given up, as recorded in this entry for May 9, 1936:

[A.D. Williams] told me again of a talk with Quezon concerning transportation. It arose out of a project to build a wharf for the Cebu Portland Cement Co. Williams pointed out that this would reduce the revenues of the Cebu Railway. Quezon replied: “our guarantee of interest on the bonds expires next year. We will have to buy the road and move it.” Williams agreed and suggested moving it to Negros. Quezon remained silent. What he wants is to move it to Mindanao which Williams opposes since he believes that a railroad would be so much more expensive to maintain and operate than roads.

The policy, however, still remained. As the entry for May 18, 1936, the railways head was dispatched to Mindanao to conduct an inspection:

Quezon returned from Hong Kong and after a day at Malacañan left for Baguio. His office work is greatly in arrears and is in confusion. Vargas handed me a memorandum prepared by Quezon dated April 14 in Iloilo, addressed to me, (and unsigned) asking me to prepare papers to carry out the recommendations of the annual report of the Manila Railroad Co. This I received May 18!! Vargas says he found it “on the boat” (Arayat?). I hardly think it was meant for me, anyway, but probably for Paez who is away inspecting the line for the proposed railroad in Mindanao.

A month later, the lobbying of the National Assembly included a pitch for the Mindanao railways scheme, see June 6, 1936:

Before making wharf at Iligan, Quezon addressed the Assemblymen, asking for funds for the development of Mindanao. He used maps, and said that an electric railway was to be built from Misamis, via Bukidnon to Davao, the water power for this project coming from the falls in Lanao. Only four or five of the Assemblymen had ever been in Mindanao before. The gathering seemed to be willing to vote the money, but wanted to know how they were to get the colonists? Quezon replied “Open roads, and they will come of themselves.”

These behind-the-scenes stories in Harrison’s diaries, help provide context to the official declaration of policy in the Second State of the Nation Address, June 16, 1936 in which the railroad bonds, and future plans, including the expansion of the railways system, were discussed:

Manila Railroad Company –A very important measure approved by the National Assembly is Commonwealth Act No. 4 providing funds to be loaned to the Manila Railroad Company for the purchase, before maturity, of certain outstanding bonds of the said Company. In accordance with the provisions of this Act, I directed the Insular Treasurer to loan to the Manila Railroad Company P9,900,000, and authorized the Philippine National Bank to use P3,360,000 of its funds in the purchase of said bonds.

On January 29, 1936, upon payment to the Manila Railway Company (1906) Ltd., through the Chase National Bank, New York City, of the sum of $6,698,631.41 covering the principal, interest and exchange premium, all of the Souther Lines 4 per cent gold bonds maturing May 1, 1939, held by the English Company, with par value of P16,340,000, were delivered to the order of the Bureau of Insular Affairs, Washington, D.C., acting as representative of the Commonwealth Government and the Manila Railroad Company.

The successful culmination of this exceedingly important transaction resulted in great financial advantages to the direct benefit of the Manila Railroad Company and indirectly of the Commonwealth Government, which is the sole owner of the property. The following estimates indicate in round figures the savings that will be effected between now and the maturity of the bonds:

Total face value of the bonds held by the Manila Railway Company (1906), Ltd. …………….. P16,340,000.00
Cost at 80 per cent of face value …………….. 13,072,000.00
Savings in principal …………….. 3,268,000.00
Less –premium …………….. 165,500.00
Net saving in principal …………….. 3,102,500.00
Normal 4 per cent annual interest on English Company holdings P653,600.00
Normal interest for 1936, 1937, 1938 and half of 1939 2,287,600.00
Premium for 3-1/2 years at P441,180 each year 1,544,130.00—————— 3,831,730.00—————————–
Total …………….. P6,934,230.00
Less-
2% on P13,350,000 for 3-1/2 years 934,500.00—————————–
Total savings in principal and interest …………….. P5,999,730.00================

The above savings on the English Company holdings are based on the principal of the bonds being redeemed at maturity at their face value. However, both the principal and interest are subject, at the holders’ option, to payment in certain European currencies at the former gold equivalent, and if this option should be exercised covering the principal at the time of maturity, the amount necessary to redeem the bonds being held by the English Company would, on the present basis of exchange, represent a total sum of approximately P27,287,800. The purchase of these new bonds at this time for the sum of P13,072,000, therefore, means a saving in interest and principal of about P14,200,000 besides a savings in interest and premium amounting to about P2,900,000 after allowing for the two per cent interest on the loan from the Government, or a total saving of about P17,100,000.

The investment of the Government in the Manila Railroad Company including bonded indebtedness of the Company all told amounts to approximately P28,000,000. This is a respectable sum for any Government and doubly so for a Government whose yearly revenue at present is around P78,000,000 and at its highest peak only reached the total of P92,783,173.70.

Bus and truck transportation due to improved roads in the northern and central provinces of Luzon have caused a large decline in the income of the Manila Railroad Company. We cannot afford to allow this situation to continue and permit the Government to suffer tremendous losses in railroad operation, for the time might come when the Government would either be compelled to suspend the operation of the Railway or carry a yearly financial burden that sooner or later would bankrupt the National Treasury.

The Manila Railroad was acquired by the Insular Government in 1917 in order partly to withdraw from foreign hands the control of our most important means of transportation at that time. Soon after the Government assumed the administration of this property, the railroad began paying interest on the bonds from its revenue, and even extended some of its lines with its own resources. Only during the last two or three years has the income of the railroad begun to decline due, as already stated, to bus and truck competition. If it should be found advisable, I am prepared to authorize the Manila Railroad Company to purchase some of these competing bus transportation companies or else to have the Government establish and operate its own bus and truck services. The Constitution expressly authorizes the Government to establish and operate means of transportation and communication, and, upon payment of just compensation, transfer to public ownership utilities held by private individuals to be operated by the Government.

Another step that must be taken at once is the completion of the railroad line to the Bicol provinces. This, I am informed, will make the southern lines a paying enterprise. In pursuance of the authority vested in me by law, I have directed the Secretary of Finance to purchase P3,000,000 worth of stocks of the Manila Railroad to finance the completion of the Aloneros-Ragay line. It is my understanding that to complete the road the Government will have to invest only P700,000 more in addition to the P3,000,000 referred to above.

But this amount will have to be greatly increased if the Manila Railroad Company is not given permission to abandon the Legaspi-Tabaco, Las Pinas-Naic, Rosario-Montalban and Batangas-Bauan lines which are absolutely unnecessary from the point of view of public convenience and which, consequently, are causing an annual loss of about P100,000 to the Railroad Company. Once these lines are abandoned their materials and equipment will be used in the construction of the Aloneros-Ragay line.

I, therefore, earnestly recommend that a law be enacted authorizing the Manila Railroad Company to abandon the lines above mentioned.

After this, there isn’t any discussion on the Mindanao railways scheme, as Harrison resigned as adviser in 1936. As a postscript, the last mention of railroad planning in Harrison’s Diary is on December 23, 1938 when, during a visit, he mentions the recently-completed Bicol Express:

Staying with the President alone at the Guest House across the Pasig River from Malacañan Palace.

At luncheon we had Don Alejandro Roces, proprietor of the T.V.T. newspapers and Paez, manager of the Manila Railroad Company. Paez told of the success of the new branch of the railroad in the Bicol Provinces –at last, they have through connection with Manila and it is no longer necessary to cross Ragay Gulf by steamer. Quezon mentioned that he had refused the request of residents of those provinces for a highway parallel with the railroad.

For the official record on this, see the Fifth State of the Nation Address, January 24, 1939:

The Manila Railroad Company has at long last completed its southern line. The gap which existed for many years between Tayabas and Camarines Sur was connected at a cost of about P2,000,000. This was one of my dreams that have come true. The significance of this achievement will be readily seen when we consider the fact that a daily, comfortable, fast and inexpensive communication service has been established between Manila and the Bicol provinces. At the same time the completion of this southern line means increased earnings for the railroad.

Some photos (click to enlarge):

 

The Hondagua reception committee consisted of the crew of a Manila railroad boat.

Railroad officials inspecting the construction of the Sinuknipan Bridge along the new railway line

Government officials and assemblyman welcomed Commissioner McNutt and President Quezon

Coming down

A big crowd cheered the gayly-decorated special trains bearing guests of the Manila Railroad Company as it reached Del Gallego

High Commissioner Paul V. McNutt, President Manuel L. Quezon and Speaker Gil Montilla at the historical stone marker

The historical stone marker unveiled by Commissioner McNutt

Another partial view of the unveiling of the stone marker at Del Gallego, Commissioner McNutt (left) and President Quezon are shown standing before the marker in the background

Manila-Legaspi Line Inauguration

Line to the South

We can catch glimpses of the continuing story, also in the official record for the next two years:

Sixth State of the Nation Address, January 22, 1940:

In addition to this public debt, however, the Manila Railroad Company has an outstanding obligation in the amount of P26,472,000 for which no sinking funds are being provided. In order to protect the credit of one of our most im­portant enterprises, the Government will have to as­sume the payment of this debt maturing in 1956. I recommend that the National Assembly consider a plan establishing a sinking fund for these obliga­tions from the proceeds of the excise tax in the event the Manila Railroad Company is unable to provide therefore.

Seventh State of the Nation Address, January 31, 1941:

With the completion of the Tayabas-Legaspi section of its main Southern Line, the Manila Railroad Company has been enabled to maintain through train operation between Manila and Albay…

The Manila Railroad Company has also outstanding bonds amounting to P28,718,000.00. We have taken steps to enable this company to redeem its outstanding bonds upon maturity. For this purpose the National Assembly last year appropriated P7,000,000 from the Coconut Oil Excise Tax Fund. The present program of the Government contemplates further yearly appropriations from this same Fund until the total bonded debt of the Manila Railroad Company is fully covered.

World War II would put an end to railway schemes. In the years that followed, the story would be destruction and trying to rehabilitate the railways system.

See the two-part series by in the Cebu Daily News: “What happened to the Philippine Railway Company?” on June 12, 2014 and June 19, 2014.

See Statement of the Presidential Spokesperson on the restoration of rail service between Manila and Bicol on June 29, 2011:

The Bicol Express commenced in 1938 when, half a kilometer from del Gallego town proper in Camarines Sur, a golden nail was driven into a railroad tie, marking the meeting point of the south and north railroad lines and so officially linking Manila and Legaspi City by rail. The devastating weather of the early 1970s devastated the South Railway, and only token efforts were made to restore rail services. The railway was only rehabilitated in 1985, but deteriorated again soon after that. Then rail service between Manila and Bicol ceased in 2006 due to typhoon damage.

See also The Railways and Industrial Heritage Society of the Philippines website.

 

Philippine wartime views on the future of Indonesia, China and Japan

"Published in Philadelphia in early 1942, this ‘Outline of (the) Post-War New World Map’, created by Maurice Gomberg, shows a proposal to re-arrange the world after an Allied victory against the Axis forces. Its title refers to a ‘New World Order’, a vague concept, its many definitions often contradicting each other."

 

This 1942 New World Order map attributed to Maurice Gomberg is interesting in that it gives a snapshot of emerging thought about the United States and its sphere of influence after World War II.

The map above also seems to include an expansion of the Philippines. See this detail:

2763128952_1208e278c6_o

 

Which may have had some basis in a proposal made around this time in Allied circles in Washington, DC. As Ricardo Trota Jose summarized it (see Governments in exile),

One other aim of the Commonwealth government-in-exile – one which had been a dream of Quezon – was the establishment of a Malay confederation and the eventual decolonization of Southeast Asia. Quezon even felt that the Atlantic Charter – which guaranteed the basic rights of man – could be applied to Southeast Asia. The Philippine example – independence in 1946 – could serve as an example for the world, he believed. However, as time wore on, Quezon realized that while Roosevelt may personally have favored decolonization, Winston Churchill, the prime minister of Great Britain, and the other imperial powers, did not favor the idea of giving up their colonies…

This is borne out by entries in wartime portion of the Diary of Francis Burton Harrison, who was an adviser in the Commonwealth government-in-exile. His wartime diary commences in May, 1942 all the way to August, 1944.

June 7, 1942 the idea is first broached by the President of the Philippines to Harrison:

I asked him whether, in the peace settlement, the Dutch East Indies would be given back to the Netherlands? He replied: “That would be an outrage. The Malays should be allowed to unite. For years the Javanese have been looking to the Filipinos to lead them to freedom. The movement started when General Wood was Governor General; we smuggled their leaders into the Philippines with the connivance of the Collector of Customs (Aldanese); Ramon Fernandez helped them and gave them money. I must soon begin to work on this with the English, the Australians and the New Zealanders. At the Peace Conference, I intend to make a loud noise. If we were to be united politically, I would be willing to have the capital in Java. It is not mere numbers that count, but intelligence.”

November 29, 1942 a detail on the proceedings of the Pacific War Council:

I asked Quezon how he got on with his Dutch colleague on the Pacific War Council. He said he had nothing much to do with him. Asked whether he thought the Dutch would have their empire restored after the war, he said he didn’t know–but it it were, it would only be a matter of thirty years at most.

December 1, 1942 on putting forward the idea:

I was invited to attend the Cabinet meeting yesterday to hear Bernstein explain his plan and program for the new office of “Special Service” (propaganda) which he is organizing for Quezon. It was a one man show. Quezon made a long and rather astute statement to let Bernstein understand that he had changed his mind as to the scope of the undertaking. Bernstein was told to read his plan of organization and was stopped after the opening paragraphs. It was a scheme for a Malay Federation to include the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, Siam and French Indo-China. Quezon explained that if such a scheme were ever proposed, it would have to come from the Javanese, or others of the countries concerned –otherwise it would look as if the Filipinos were reaching out after an empire. Quezon said he would not mind if Java were the seat of government, of such a federated state –but that it was no time to mix in such questions now! Such a move would only provoke ill feelings among allies. Elizalde says that Quezon watches the faces and studies the expressions of everybody in a group which he is addressing and added that Quezon must have noted the strained and worried countenances around him during this very interesting and, perhaps, momentous conversation.

December 3, 1942:

On my return to Washington, I made an especial (verbal) report to President Quezon on this situation. It is a subject in which he is most particularly interested. For some years, underground conferences between him and “leaders” of the Javanese (who are erroneously supposed to be completely docile–like the two hand-picked specimens the Dutch brought with them to Mont Tremblant). They seem to have some sort of a vague ambition to recreate the old Malay Empire of long ago–to include the Netherlands Indies and the Philippines and parts of British North Borneo.

Quezon did not seem much impressed by the determination of the Dutch to hold on to their rich empire. His comment was that the last time he talked to the Javanese leaders a few years ago, they were all pro-Japanese. He told them this was a very great mistake; for while they could get rid of the Dutch any time they tried, they would never of their own efforts, get rid of the Japanese, once the latter were established in the East Indies.

December 15, 1942:

On my own return from the two weeks session of the Institute of Pacific Relations at Mont Tremblant, Quebec, I reported to Quezon at the Shoreham. He was deeply interested. Said the terms of the proposed settlement by Holland of the Indonesian question didn’t really matter–the Indonesians could get rid of the Dutch any time they wanted.

January 7-8, 1943:

Quezon had seen Panikkar, the Indian, whom I met at Mont Tremblant. Had been very deeply interested. Panikkar told him the Indians want independence–not Dominion Status; that the Moslems also want it, though they demand safeguards as a minority. Quezon suggested to him the federal system like the United States, with a lower house representation based on population, and the upper house giving equality to states. Panikkar replied that is what they propose to do. That they must retain all of Occidental influence they now have and not just lapse into their former Oriental luxury and magnificence. England is afraid to let go just now–the Indian army is chiefly one of professional soldiers, and could easily turn against England if things went badly.

But Quezon told me he had abandoned all idea of taking any hand in the freeing of India and of Indonesia and in the forming of an Indonesian Empire, made up of a union of the Philippines and the Netherlands Indies. He had decided to concentrate entirely on the problems of his own people, though he would be “the happiest man in the world” if the other projects became a reality. Said it would take fifty years for an Indonesian Empire to become strong enough to withstand China or Japan. He had told President Roosevelt of his decision to concentrate on the problems of his own country and not take part in the other schemes, and that this statement “made Roosevelt jump.” He added that the good will or support of Great Britain as well as of the United States would be needed in either eventuality. Thought Hong Kong should not be given back to China, but that the English should pay China the value of the barren island as it was when ceded to them, because of the disgraceful circumstances in which they got it.

Panikkar told Quezon that the Burmese were going to fight on the side of Japan!

Quezon is now going to try to get through Congress a joint resolution that the Philippines are and of right should be independent, etc.

January 9-10, 1943:

The next day I was with him to receive David Bernstein, his new “Special Services” (i.e., advertising) man. Bernstein is full of clever schemes for publicity over the radio and movies. Quezon conveyed to him his decision to drop the “free India” and “free Indonesia” issues for the present. Said he had been with Harry Hopkins this morning communicating to him the same decision. (Harry Hopkins probably let Lord Halifax know this at once–thus removing a cause of irritation if not worse!) Told Hopkins he must concentrate on the affairs of his own people, and was beginning to prepare his plans for the Joint Resolution for Independence. Bernstein commented that this would be a very powerful weapon of psychological warfare; also conveyed a request of Time for a reply to an article from Buenos Aires–German sponsored propaganda purporting to come via Japan from the Philippines, in which eulogistic descriptions were given of the present peace and contentment in the Philippines. Quezon dictated a brief response quoting General Tanaka’s recent report on his tour of the Philippines, in which the situation of public order was described as “not very satisfactory.” Quezon added that naturally it was not satisfactory to the Japanese since the Filipinos were still fighting vigorously. They had tasted freedom such as the Japanese themselves had never known at home and did not mean to give it up.

The idea of a Pan-Malayan Union predated World War II; it would resurface in the postwar era (in particular there is a book by the controversial Eduardo Martelino, see the opening chapter, Vision in Malaysia from 1959, which seems to be more familiar to Malaysian than Filipino commentators) whether as Maphilindo or, eventually, as an antecedent for ASEAN. For additional background, see Indonesian and Dutch Reactions to the Philippine Struggle for Independence by Adrian P. Lapian and Visions of Empire: Changing American Perspectives on Dutch Colonial Rule in Indonesia between 1920 and 1942 by Frances Gouda.

The reader will also notice mention of Indochina –today’s Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia– which brings up an interesting point of contending points of view between the Americans and the British and the French. At the time the map above was made, the American position seemed to be to deny France a return to Indochina. For a survey of the official view see Vietnam Footnote: The Pentagon Papers and Roosevelt’s Anti-Colonialism—by Mark Arnold. However, FDR seems to have reversed his trusteeship plan for Vietnam: see Roosevelt, Churchill, and Indochina: 1942-45 by Walter La Feber. See also Franklin Roosevelt and Indochina by Gary R. Hess.

There are also interesting views on China put forward by Filipino leaders –as well as by others, in a conference attended by representatives of the Allied nations–  as recounted by Harrison in his diary.

June 7, 1942:

Quezon thinks this is a business war, caused by slavish imitation by Japanese of the Western powers’ methods of monopoly. If the Japanese had not closed the open door in China, there would have been no war. It was totally needless, in any case, for the Japanese could have undersold all commercial rivals with all of her own products in China and she had already regained for China control over her own customs administration. If the “open door” had been maintained, the United States could then have held their Chinese market only on petroleum and tobacco.

In Japan in 1937, Quezon met members of the House of Peers and of the Diet who were opposed to the militarists —not so now. One of the Peers who was speaking of the recent Coronation said it was the last, as a religious ceremony with all the “Son of Heaven” cult. Quezon says he is never entirely at his ease in conversations with Japs —they have been until recently, for too many centuries isolated from the rest of the world.

Thinks it is a mistake to assume the Japanese are naturally an Empire and the Chinese not; on the contrary, the Chinese have always been imperialists when they were strong enough, and the Japanese only recently so. China in the past tried to conquer Japan. If the Chinese now argue that the aid promised by the United States to China has not been satisfactorily supplied, he would reply, if he was an American, that the Chinese got us into this war anyway.

Quezon is absolutely opposed to the plan to let the Chinese remain armed after this war, and the Japanese entirely disarmed. “The Japanese could teach us civic virtues, but the Chinese only ‘trickery and corruption.’” Would prefer to have the Indians armed.

June 12, 1942

It later appeared that one of Luce’s publications–Fortune in its August number was to publish an excellent analysis of Far Eastern affairs by Buell. They sent Quezon a preview copy of this article which however carried an absurd suggestion that independence be postponed in the Philippines until 1960, the islands to be garrisoned meanwhile by the United Nations. “What” cried Quezon, “they propose to garrison us with Chinese and Russian soldiers? The moment that article comes out, the Japanese radio will use it. The people of my country will turn at once to the Japanese side, and I shall be completely discredited. You propose to return Formosa to China? How foolish. Better garrisonFormosa by the United Nations armies, and thereby protect the Philippines and insure peace in the Far East.”

Quezon says he finally converted Luce and Howard to this view, and Luce is going to advocate Philippine independence immediately after the war. Quezon is quite worn out by the strain of these arguments, conducted until 1:30 last night and for an hour this morning. He remains still greatly depressed by the views of Howard and Luce on the Philippines’ status after this war is over. He now sees that the final success of his life’s work really depends upon Roosevelt’s party remaining in power in Washington.

July 14, 1942

Spoke of his troubles caused by the corruption by the Chinese in the Philippines. When a delegation from Chiang Kai-shek visited him he told them he sympathized with their desire of independence and hoped they would throw the Japanese out, but he did wish they would help him to curb Chinese corruption in the Philippines. The last Consul General they had in Manila was one of the “new young men” and he helped Quezon to clean up the immigration mess; and to put in jail the violators of that act. Quezon reorganized the Bureau of Immigration. He added that if he lives to attend the Peace Conference, he will work to see that China and Russia do not remain armed while Japan is disarmed. Hopes to line up Canada, Australia and the Latin American countries to that end.

December 3, 1942

He was followed by Dr. Sao-ke Alfred , former Chinese Ambassador in Washington and London. He too, read from a prepared address. He is an amiable and popular man, and the method by which he has gained his popularity was apparent in his speech. He talked for some time and said nothing. He has some nervous disorder which caused his hands to shake so he could hardly follow the paper. The other fourteen Chinese present were gloomy and recalcitrant. They felt they were being neglected–they had moreover positive complaints, to wit: four lend-lease shipments of armaments which had been ear-marked for China had been diverted en route to others of their “allies.” (India?) They wanted all of their territory back–especially the three eastern provinces which make up Manchuria, and Formosa which they had ceded to Japan in 1895. They did not ask for Korea–they wanted to stick the United States with a mandate for that! Especially on the subject of emigration of Chinese they were insistent. This is a really live issue in all near-by parts of the eastern world, and causes the utmost and genuine concern to their neighbours. The spectre of Chinese penetration and economic imperialism haunted us all throughout the conference. Their ardent nationalism of the present day alarms all of their neighbours. They demanded the return of Formosa without any concession as to an international police post–said that could be discussed later. Their delegation showed little teamwork; they seemed to me to be afraid of the two or three delegates who had come by bomber plane from Chungking, and were alarmed at what they might report on their return there. One of them, at a plenary session made a fiery speech, demanding: “Is America fighting for China?”

The most attractive, refined-looking woman present was the lady pilot, Mrs. Hilda Yen, who had flown her plane from Chungking via India and Africa. She had been as a child to school in the United States and could speak English perfectly, free from those humming, explosive noises indulged in by most Chinese when they are said to be talking in English.

Taking it all in all, throughout the conference, the English got the roughest ride, but the Chinese caused the greatest uneasiness to others…

…The most serious issue of immediate post-war concern was, of course, Hong Kong. Did the Chinese insist upon its return after a century as a British colony? Was not the matter also of great importance to the trade of all the nations in the Western Pacific? Could we afford to lose this great free trade post? One of the English delegates put the matter very objectively and with much restraint. There was no answer from the Chinese. They sat silent, with poker faces. The foreign concessions at Shanghai present an almost equally thorny problem. A great imperial city has grown up on the mud flats so contemptuously given the European merchants long ago. In recent years, the Chinese have shown a decided intention to get them back, with all the fabulous riches which have been built up there.

Two of the fears in the back of the minds of many Asiatic delegates were Chinese imperialism and American imperialism! One delegate let slip the statement that the people of the United States were imperialists and didn’t know it themselves. Perhaps he referred to our “Good Neighbour” policy towards South America which is compounded of an equal mixture of self-defense and exploitation. However, there is no need at present to worry about that since everyone knows that people seldom stay bought. There were no delegates present from any of the South American States which front on the Pacific!

January 7-8, 1943

He added that the good will or support of Great Britain as well as of the United States would be needed in either eventuality. Thought Hong Kong should not be given back to China, but that the English should pay China the value of the barren island as it was when ceded to them, because of the disgraceful circumstances in which they got it.

January 18, 1943

Quezon began by looking very tired, speaking slowly and reaching for his words in English. As he warmed up, he showed at his very best. Described the lunch of the day before at which he had entertained Mr. and Mrs. Henry Luce. Mrs. Luce is not enjoying her first days in Congress–the new member is usually treated with little consideration by the House. She could not get on the Committee on Foreign Affairs, etc. Quezon was much relieved to find that Mrs. Luce, who had been so very active in the propaganda for China, was now not in favour of entirely overthrowing the balance of power in Asia and of leaving Japan (as well as the rest of her neighbours) at the mercy of China….

…In the Philippine Government circles I find general anxiety over probably future aggressions by Russia and China. Many stories of Russian plundering of the elite in the part of Poland which they annexed.

January 26-27, 1943

Quezon expressed himself as in favour of a balance of power in the Far East–that Japan should not be so crushed that China may arise in her place as the would-be dictator of the Orient.

These entries are an interesting insight into past views on what were, back then, emerging questions: the post-colonial world that would emerge after World War II; attitudes towards an ally, China, and a foe, Japan. It is equally interesting to consider how some concerns have gone away, and how many remain.

 

The sinking of the S.S. Corregidor, December 16-17, 1941

The S.S. Corregidor of the Compañia Maritima, which sank on December 16, 1941. Photo from Chad Hill.
The S.S. Corregidor of the Compañia Maritima, which sank on December 16, 1941. Photo from Chad Hill.

On December 16-17, 1941 (around midnight, hence the event straddling two dates), the S.S. Corregidor, an inter-island steamship of the Compañia Maritima, hit a mine off Corregidor Island and sank, resulting in a tremendous loss of life.

Here is a map of the area (click on this link for the original scan).

Detail of sketch of minefields around Corregidor island, provided by Peter Parsons.
Detail of sketch of minefields around Corregidor island, provided by Peter Parsons.

There is a very interesting discussion on the disaster, and the question of whether negligence was involved, and if so, who should be assigned blame, in the The Loss of the S.S. Corregidor thread of Corregidor Then and Now Proboards. Within the thread can be found recollections by George Steiger (an officer in Corregidor), Charles Balaza (serving in an artillery detachment on Corregidor) and others.

Here is a dramatic account by one of the survivors of the sinking of the ship, in the memoirs of Jose E. Romero (Not So Long Ago: A Chronicle of My Life, Times, and Contemporaries, Alemar-Phoenix, Quezon City, 1997 reprint):

The S.S. Corregidor Disaster

WAR HAVING BEEN DECLARED, the next day the National Assembly met at the house of Speaker Yulo to pass legislation giving the President powers to be able to cope with emergency. After that the members of Assembly were concerned with the problem of returning home to their provinces and their families. I was very much chagrined that close friends of mine had been able to take passage on the S.S. Legaspi that was making trips to my hometown, Dumaguete, via Cebu, a trip that took two days, without having difficulty from Japanese boats and planes. I was also chagrined to learn that my good friend, the District Engineer of my province who had come to Manila with me a few days previously, had been able to get out of Manila by way of the Bicol provinces and then made it to Samar and Leyte and back to our home province. A few days later, another boat was scheduled to depart for the South, including my hometown of Dumaguete. Passengers, including myself, were aboard when an hour later we were told to disembark by order of the U.S. Army, probably for fear of enemy action.

Inasmuch as the Japanese had already bombed Clark Field, Camp Nichols, Cavite, and Manila itself, particularly the Intendencia building and the Herald building and Santo Domingo Church, I thought it would be safer, being alone in Manila with my houseboys, for me to live in my office in the Legislative building. (The basement at the Legislative building had been sandbagged and was converted into an air-raid shelter.) I immediately arranged with the late Ramon Fernandez, whose boats were making trips to the Visayas, to advise me whenever any of his boats made a trip for the South, but this he never did. I had also arranged with my good friend, Salvador Araneta, who was then one of the principal owners of the FEATI (Far East Aviation Transport Co., Inc.), which owned the planes making trips between Manila, Iloilo, and Bacolod, to advise me whenever there was a chance to get on one of those planes. I was very much worried because, as already stated, I had come to Manila immediately after the election, and being very confident that in case of emergency I could easily return to my province either by a FEATI plane or by boat, I had not made sufficient provision for the maintenance of my family during my absence. In any event we had used up practically all of our financial resources during the political campaign and I had precisely come to Manila, among other things, to make arrangements to meet my immediate financial problems.

Although Mr. Araneta did his best to try to get an accommodation for me on the plane to the South, the man actually running the affairs of the FEATI was so swamped with demands for passage on his planes that even Mr. Araneta’s recommendation could not help me. One night I received a message from Mr. Araneta advising me that if I would go to Batangas that night, I might be able to get a passage on a plane. (The Manila airfield at Nichols had been bombed and was not safe for takeoff and landing of planes.) This was very difficult because the country was then under blackout orders, it was not safe to travel at night, and there was no certainty that I would get on the plane. It was the last trip that the plane made, so I missed this chance.

One day the member of the Assembly were advised that a special train was being reserved for us to go to Sorsogon. From there we could get launches or sailboats for Samar, Leyte, and our respective provinces in the Visayas. At the appointed day and hour many of us gathered at the Paco Station and we were hardly seated in the car when we were asked to come down because the Japanese had landed in Legaspi. A couple of days later, I saw my colleagues who like me had been living in the Legislative building rushing toward the Compañia Maritima office. One of them shouted to me that the S.S. Corregidor was leaving for the South. I immediately packed up the few things that I had and, together with a cousin of mine and his daughter who were living with me in the Legislative building, hied myself to the Compañia Maritima building. It was chaos there, with hundreds of people trying to get into the building to buy a ticket for the trip. A security guard, gun in hand, was at the door trying to prevent people from going into the building. I explained to him that I had an arrangement with Don Ramon Fernandez to get on the first boat going to the south, but he said that he knew nothing about the arrangement and would not let me in. My cousin, his daughter, and I left the building very disappointed when a little farther on we met Don Ramon’s nephew, Carlos, who today is still active with the shipping company. I explained my situation to him and he asked me whether I was really anxious to go on that trip. When I answered in the affirmative, he personally took me inside the office and helped me get a ticket for myself, my cousin, and his daughter. I also bought a ticket for a fellow townsman who wanted to return home but was without funds. But the danger of the trip was made manifest by our being asked to sign a waiver of any responsibility on the part of the shipping company in case a mishap occurred during the trip.

From the Compañia Maritima office and the Muelle de la Industria, we went to the South Harbor where the S.S. Corregidor was docked. There were hundreds of people and it seemed that there were many who got aboard even without tickets. I was delighted to find aboard Senator Villanueva, his recently married son and daughter, and their household help. He told me that he had been trying to contact me repeatedly the last few days, because he was anxious that we should go home together. In times of emergency like this, personal animosities among relatives are forgotten and the old family ties reassert themselves. I also met Captain Calvo of the boat, who had been a longtime friend of mine, with his pretty young wife that he had just married. He told me that I must be anxious to get back home under such conditions of danger. I told him that if he and his wife, my relatives and other people were willing to take the chance, there was no reason why I should not do the same. The boat was being located with ammunition and other military equipment for the South. I was quite nervous and I was told later that he had not wanted to make that trip. This probably partly explains why he was taking his wife along with him. I was also told later that on previous occasions, while passing the mined sections around Corregidor he had been warned that he was passing too close to the mines.

Probably the trip would not have been as risky as it was surmised. The plan was to land at the first port in the South at daybreak and from there the passengers would take sailboats or other means of transportation to the provinces which were still unoccupied by the Japanese. There were many times more passengers than should ordinarily have been allowed aboard. We stayed aboard for several hours and strict blackout was observed. Senator Villanueva and his family and I and my cousin with his daughter seated ourselves directly in front of a lifeboat as we thought we could quickly get on it in case of emergency. We were all furnished life belts and hundreds of other life belts were strewn around the deck. About midnight the boat started to leave in pitch darkness. I was half-asleep but noticed that light signals were being flashed from what I think was Corregidor Island. I was to learn afterward that the signals were to warn the captain of the boat that he was not on the right track. (The passage between Corregidor and the mainland in Manila Bay had been mined.) All of a sudden there was a dull thud and then an explosion. We had hit a mine. The boat shuddered as if mortally wounded. It did not sink immediately and the group already referred to who were seated near a lifeboat got aboard it.

Before the boat left, as already stated, we had been supplied with life belts. My companions were very prudent in having attached the life belts to their bodies, but I only held mine in my hands. A husky Spaniard had been saying that this was a bad joke we were playing with the life belts, but I told him that it was customary, even in peacetime, to have drill aboard the ships and practice the use of life belts. When we hit the mine this husky man grabbed my life belt, since he had not taken the precaution to provide one for himself. I insisted that the life belt was mine, but he claimed that it was his and proposed that we throw the life belt into the water, confident that later on, if we had to struggle for that life belt, as a much huskier man he would have the advantage. But the man from my province, whom I had helped to get a ticket on that trip and for which ticket I had paid, handed me another life belt. Again it was grabbed by another person. This faithful protege of mine handed me another one and still another one, but each time somebody would grab the life belt away from me. Remembering that I was the only one without a life belt and recalling that hundreds of life belts had been scattered on the deck in the early evening, I went down to the deck to see if I could find another life belt. At this moment, there was a second and more terrible explosion. It seemed that it was the boiler that exploded and the boat immediately sank headlong into the water. We were all drawn by the suction and had the water in those parts been deeper, we could not have returned to the surface.

When the boat reached the bottom and there was no more force of suction, I instinctively swam with all my force toward the surface, and when I reached the surface after what seemed an endless effort to reach it, it seemed this was a second life for me. Right in front of me was a life belt and a piece of board just enough for me to lie down on. If ever there are or were miracles, this certainly was one. I had gone into the water without a life belt and here right in front of me was the board of salvation and a life belt. I did not realize it then, but I had ugly cut in the head which must have been caused when the boat touched the bottom and my head hit something hard. I was too weak to tie on my life belt and it was really the board that saved me. I was too weak from loss of blood, so I only hung on to the board which, as I said, was just sufficient to keep my body afloat. Fortunately, it was as long as my body so that my body covered it almost entirely, otherwise other people who were floating around without support might have tried to grab it from me. I just lay over that board semi-conscious for several hours. Fortunately, the sharks that infest these waters must have been kept away by the explosion and by the oil from the sunken ship. About four hours later. I felt as if there were some bright lights. It was one of the P.T. or so-called mosquito boats that had been sent to rescue the survivors. I looked up and one of the American crewmen threw me a life belt which was tied to a rope that he held. I took hold of the life belt and he pulled me toward the boat. I must have looked like a real mess, covered all over with oil from the boat that sank and with the blood of my head over my face. I just lay there on that boat while we were being taken to Corregidor. It was just beginning to dawn when we docked at the harbor of Corregidor. I will never forget, especially after seeing the callousness and cruelty of the Japanese later, seeing one of the American soldiers who had come to the dock to meet the survivors take particular notice of me, saying, “This man is badly hurt.” He immediately ran up the gangplank, took me in his arms, loaded me into the car that he was driving, and then rushed me like mad to the hospital in Malinta Tunnel. The others who were not so badly hurt were taken to Manila. Only about one-third of some one thousand people that were in the S.S. Corregidor were saved. Senator Villanueva and his son, my cousin and his daughter, as well as two of my colleagues, Representatives Ampig and Reyes of Iloilo and Capiz, respectively, perished in the disaster, as did the wife and children of Representative Dominador Tan. Representative Zaldivar, later Justice of the Supreme Court, survived.

In Corregidor Hospital

At the hospital in Malinta Tunnel, which I revisited later, the wound in my scalp was sewn up by a kind American doctor. Fortunately, the wound was only skin-deep and did not fracture my skull. When a Filipino nurse found out who I was, she made a lot of fuss about it and many people were soon coming to see me. (Much later when I was Secretary of Education, on a visit to Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija, I was fortunate to see her again with her husband.) Two of the young officers who visited me in Corregidor were from my town and province. A medic or medical assistant, an American, took very kind interest in me. (To anticipate my story, when I left Corregidor Hospital ten days after I entered it, I was to wear his civilian clothes as I had none of my own. I gave him my address and after the war when the House of Representatives, of which I was a member, was reconvened, one day an American came to my office and greeted me joyously. When I could not quite remember him, he said, “I was the one who sewed up your head in Corregidor.” It was a happy reunion. He gave me his address in the U.S. to which he was returning and when I was Ambassador to London, I unfailingly sent him a Christmas card. I did not receive any reply from him, but after the third or fourth time I sent him a card, I got a reply explaining that the reason he did not acknowledge my previous cards was that he did not know the address of the Philippine Embassy in London, not realizing that it would have been sufficient for him just to put the Philippine Embassy as address. He told me that he was working somewhere in the Middle East and was doing pretty well financially.)

I developed a slight case of pneumonia, but thanks to the sulfa drugs that had just recently been discovered, this danger to my health was averted.

To return to my story, next to my bed at the hospital was that of Captain Kelly of the United States Navy, a man made famous by a book written in the United States by American escapee during the War, entitled They Were Expendable—a bestseller. Like many Americans in Corregidor, they were still confident that military aid would come from the United State and that the Philippines would be retaken. But this was not to be for more than three years.

During my ten-day stay in Corregidor, from December 17, the day of the sinking of the Corregidor, until December 27 when we were ordered to evacuate to Manila, many prominent officials went to Corregidor. Among those who visited me were the Commanding General of Corregidor and the U.S. High Commissioner, Francis B. Sayre, Vice-President Osmeña and his family, ex-Speaker Roxas, and Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos. President Quezon and his family, however, who also arrived at Corregidor on Christmas Eve, did not visit me. When casually one night I saw him and Mrs. Quezon, he did not even talk to me. I think he was ill and depressed when he saw me with my bandaged head and, perhaps thinking that I was more badly hurt than I really was, he simply was too depressed to talk to me. However, Mrs. Quezon who was seated next to me while we were seeing a movie just outside the entrance to Manila Tunnel during a lull in the bombing by the Japanese, held my hand and gave me words of comfort. From Vice-President Osmeña, I learned for the first time that my relatives by affinity, ex-Senator Villanueva and his son, had not survived the sinking of S.S. Corregidor, although the ex-Senator’s daughter-in-law, who was expecting a baby (and who is still very much alive), and two maids survived.

Christmas Eve was celebrated in Corregidor, and in my condition, away from my family, it was indeed a sad Christmas Eve for me. The singing of Christmas carols by the American and Filipino nurses and other personnel only added poignancy to my depressed spirit. On December 27 an order was received from General Douglas MacArthur for the evacuation of all civilians in Corregidor to Manila, as the Japanese were fast approaching Manila. The medic who took such interest in me suggested that I ask President Quezon to contact General MacArthur and get him to make an exception in my case by allowing me to stay in Corregidor. I contacted Mr. Roxas, who immediately got in touch with President Quezon and who in turn tried to get in touch with General MacArthur. However, General MacArthur was busy directing the withdrawal of USAFFE troops to Bataan and could not be contacted. Mr. Roxas urged me, however, to go to Manila. He said that I could get better medical treatment there and, besides, the boat leaving for Manila might be the last one that could make the trip as, with the arrival of the Japanese, Manila would be isolated from Corregidor. So I decided to leave.

We left again in pitch darkness, as complete blackout was ordered everywhere. I shall not forget another American soldier who took me in his car to the waiting ship and then removed his overcoat and placed it over me. After my experience on the S.S. Corregidor, to travel again in complete darkness could not but inspire fear in me, but we made the trip uneventfully. Upon arrival in the South Harbor, we were placed in a covered truck where it was also very dark. The driver had to stop at every street corner to find his way, and finally I was deposited at the Philippine General Hospital which was then under the direction of my good friend, the late Dr. Augusto Villalon. I was placed under the direct care of Dr. Santos Cuyugan, who was a specialist in wounds and burns. Because of the infection of my wound, it took about three months to heal, although it was only a superficial one

The Philippine Diary Project contains several points of view discussing the S.S. Corregidor disaster. The earliest one appears in an entry in the diary of Teodoro M. Locsin, December 16, 1941:

Today the inter-island vessel Corregidor struck a mine near the mouth of Manila Bay and sank in a few minutes. The ship was packed to the gunwales with passengers leaving the city for the southern islands, thus reintroducing the “Samarra” theme.

The number of people on board was estimated at from 600 to 1,000. The exact number may never be known. Government officials used their influence to make the ship’s agents issue them and their friends tickets. Many went up the gangplanks just before the boat sailed, thinking to get their tickets from the purser afterward, when the boat was out at sea. Each, in one way or another, properly sealed his fate.

Later in the day, I was shown a wire from a man in Iloilo asking a friend in the city to secure a ticket for his mistress on the Corregidor. The war caught the woman in Manila and the man wanted her with him. The friend, I need not say, got the ticket.

Locsin, then a young newsman in the Philippines Free Press, would have been among the first to receive important news. Others got the day after. Fr. Juan Labrador OP, December 17, 1941 mentions how most other people got the news, and details that shocked the public:

At noontime, an “extra” of the dailies announced the great catastrophe of the vessel “Corregidor”. This was the heaviest and fastest of the boats anchored at the river. It set sail the night before without previous notice. Nevertheless, it was teeming with passengers destined for the Visayas. Around midnight, it hit a mine near the island of Corregidor and in three to five minutes it was swallowed up by the black waters of Manila Bay. It cannot be ascertained how many lives were lost. The Compañía Marítima does not have a list of the passengers. Many had filtered in without paying the fare, or mounted aboard with the idea of paying later on. Only 200 passengers were rescued, and the number of those drowned is estimated at 600 to 800.

Among the passengers were assemblymen, students from the South, and well-known families, including the brothers of the Archbishop of Cebu, one of whom was a professor and secretary of the Faculty of Law of the University of Santo Tomas; the other was a member of the Assembly. The assemblyman drowned, but the faculty member of UST was saved after swimming and floating for six hours. Those who were trapped in the cabins—women and children, for the most part—are forever buried in the bosom of the sea. Even among those who were on deck and had time to jump overboard, many were drowned for lack of lifesavers or for their inabiity to resist the current of the waves.

It was the first great tragedy of the war, and God permit that it be the last.

A young officer in the Philippine Coastal Patrol (the fledgling Philippine Navy) wrote about the tragedy as he received the news from colleagues in the US Navy. See Ramon Alcaraz, December 17, 1941:

By night time, the tragedy was compounded by the sinking of S.S. Corregidor in our own defensive minefields guarding the entrance to Manila Bay west of Corregidor Fortress.  S.S. Corregidor is one of the best among our inter-island commercial vessels with civilian and military personnel aboard bound for Visayas and Mindanao.

Loaded also are Artillery pieces, equipment and supplies of the 101st FA, and other Vis-Min Units.  From initial scant report I got from my Mistah Alano, ExO of Q-111 that participated in the rescue, he said the ship hit a mine and sunk so fast virtually all passengers went down with the ship including her Captain.  There were very few survivors.  The mined area is under the responsibility of the Harbor Defense and PT RON 3.  I should know more details about this tragedy after I talk with some of my comrades on duty then at PT RON 3.

Five days later, Alcaraz had more information about the tragedy. See Ramon Alcaraz, December 22, 1941:

I also talked with Ens. George Cox, CO PT 41 on duty when S.S. Corregidor sunk five days ago.  He said PT 41 was leading the ill fated ship at the channel but suddenly, all at once, the S.S. Corregidor veered course towards the minefields and his efforts to stop her were to no avail.  There was a loud explosion after hitting a mine, the ship sank so fast virtually all aboard went with her including the ship captain. There were very few survivors.

Events would rapidly overtake the S.S. Corregidor disaster. See December 24-25, 1941 in diaries; The Great Escape of the S.S. Mactan: December 31, 1941Evacuation of the Gold Reserves of the Commonwealth, February 3, 1942The debate on taking the Philippines out of the war: February 6-12, 1942Bataan, 1942: views of a father and his son; Life, death, decisions, during the Japanese Occupation; Diary entries on the Leyte Landing: October, 1944; and The Battle of Manila, Feb. 3-March 3, 1945 for more features on entries in the Philippine Diary Project.

Update: The Maritime Review blog has the latest findings of NAMRIA, see Revisiting the Sinking of the SS Corregidor.

 

Hugh Gibson’s Food Mission Diary: Herbert Hoover in Manila, 1946

(above) British Pathé newsreel of a portion of former President Herbert Hoover’s mission to assess food requirements for devastated parts of the world, 1946.

While this diary is part of the Herbert Hoover papers, the diary of Hugh Gibson gives a useful glimpse into an interesting mission –Hoover’s task to survey the globe to see food requirements for devastated countries– and American perspectives about those countries and peoples. Among the nations visited was the Philippines. See The Food Mission Diaries of Hugh Gibson (1946 and 1947), particularly 2nd diary: 1st trip (part II), 1946 April 27–June 19, which contains the portion on the Philippines.  The entry starts at the bottom of page 11 and concludes the Philippine portion in the middle of page 20. It provides an American’s impressions of war-devastated Manila (Monday, April 29, 1946):

We drove through the ruined town which is far worse than it looks from the air. Instead of having been destroyed with bombs which scatter the walls, these buildings were for the most part knocked out by artillery and fire, so the walls still stand in utter desolation. Some of the newer structures stood up better to the punishment but there is very little that is fit for habitation. Wherever there is a vacant lot the squatters have swarmed in with scraps of corrugated iron, ply-board or tin and have erected shanty towns of the most appalling variety. With a weak government there is some doubt as to how and when they can get these people out.

It also includes an interesting vignette of a visit to Malacañan Palace in April, 1946 (pages 11-15, Monday, April 29, 1946):

 Malacañan was occupied by the Japs and consequently escaped destruction. It was mined but as so often happened, when the time came the enemy was so busy getting out that he neglected to carry out his fell purpose.

We were escorted up the red-carpeted staircase and through several big drawing rooms in one of what was a tremendous and rather fine chandelier. Holes showed where two other had hung. It seems the Japs made off with them but there is hope they may be hidden somewhere near at hand as it is doubtful whether they could have been packed and shipped in time at their disposal.

Osmeña was waiting at the door to receive us and escorted us across the room to instal us in big arm chairs. Then he sat down, composed his features and was silent in several languages at once. After waiting for him to sound off the Chief [Hoover] made some remark about being happy to tell him that an idea had appeared this morning as to how the Philippine food needs could be met. Osmeña nodded his head without batting an eyelash. He did not ask what the solution was, but nodded and then stopped as if turned off. The Chief made another remark and again got a nod for his reply. [U.S. High Commissioner] McNutt leapt into the fray with two efforts and got two nods for his pains. As things were rollicking along at this rate servants came in with champagne. Osmeña raised his glass and uttered two words: “Your health.” After this outburst of garrulity he relapsed into silence and after a time the Chief allowed he must not take up any more of his time. He evidently agreed as he offered no protest, but accompanied us all the way downstairs to get his picture taken by the waiting photographers.

This entry gives a glimpse of the reaction of Americans to the increasingly hard-of-hearing Osmeña; and incidentally documents the absence of two of the three large Czechoslavak chandeliers in the Reception Hall of the Palace –in the 1950s Minister of Presidential Protocol Manuel Zamora would recount that the chandeliers had been taken down for cleaning right before the war broke out, and were buried for safekeeping for the duration of the war.

On page 18 of the diary, there is also an account of a dinner given in honor of Hoover by the American High Commissioner, Paul V. McNutt, in which President Osmeña and President-elect Manuel Roxas were both present:

At 7:30 dinner at the High Commissioner’s. He has an agreeable house facing the bay, adequate but nothing like the style of Malacañan which [Frank] Murphy stupidly gave over to the Philippines so that he could go and live near the Elks Club. The High Commissioner has been a vagrant ever since and it has not added to his prestige. Murphy built a house of the water front where he and [Francis B.] Sayre lived, which may have been comfortable inside but which looks like of the less distinguished Oklahoma high schools. Why we had to put up something of that sort in a country where there is a distinguished native style is a mystery. Fortunately the cursed thing was thoroughly bombed and it is to be hoped that something decent will be be built or required for our new diplomatic mission.

Most of our party was asked to the dinner, a number of official Americans and several Filipinos, including the President and his wife and the President-elect and his. There was no love lost between then. I sat next to Señora de Osmeña. Directly across her was Señora Rojas [sic], wife of the Pres. elect. Not one word was exchanged between them through the dinner although McNutt did his valiant best. My neighbor is as chatty as her husband is taciturn and kept up a steady flow of conversation –but I haven’t an idea of what she talked about. Perhaps she does this as compensation like Mrs. Coolidge.

It was hot as blazes and we dripped through dinner which was served out of doors in a loggia. The thermometer stood at 102 which is high for people who were not so long ago in the snows of Scandinavia. We had some talk among the men after dinner…

In the same entry, there is another interesting vignette: about agrarian conditions:

FitzGerald ran into an interested situation here today. The Government people are crying famine and calling for help in securing rice for the starving. It seems that after the war the people in the valleys of Northern Luzon decided to get rid of their landlords and take over the land for themselves. So they shot some landlords and chased the rest away. Thereupon Mr. Osmeña’s boys moved in, organized a cooperative, and announced it would take the place of the landlords. Of course the landlords had been wrong to take half of the rice as their share, so the co-operative would take only thirty percent. However Osmeña’s party was essential to keeping the co-operative afloat, and there were some expenses of the underground which had to be met, so another ten percent would be knocked off for that. The net result is that Osmeña and his people have forty percent of all the rice crop of the region hidden away in hundreds of little warehouses, ready to play politics or make a fortune, or both. But it does indicate that the people are not going to do so badly with all the fruit and vegetables that grow so easily and all the fish they can have in any quantity.

And he closes with a snapshot of American official opinion on the prospects of Philippine independence:

On May 25 Rojas [sic] takes over as Pres. of the Commonwealth and on July 4th comes complete independence. The prospect is not rosy. The Osmeña government has had a year to put things in order. Congress is voting $600,000,000 for rehabilitation which is a fabulous amount compared to the work that has to be done. Many of the local people are already unhappy and look forward to disintegration as soon as the P.I. [Philippine Islands] are left to their own devices. The remark is frequently heard that within five years the people will be clamoring for the United States to move back in again. And at that they have not yet begun to envisage the possibility that China or Russia might move in. Asia for the Asiatics is a grand slogan but the mess they are going to make of it is terrifying.

Diary entries on the Leyte Landing: October, 1944

Philippine President Sergio Osmeña (center) and General Douglas MacArthur (right) on board a landing craft en route to the Leyte landing beaches, October 20, 1944. At left are Lieutenant General George C. Kenney and Lieutenant General Richard K. Sutherland. At the extreme right, with his head turned toward MacArthur, is Brigadier General Carlos Romulo. In the front row with two stars on his battle helmet, is Major General Basilio J. Valdes, Chief of Staff of the Philippine Army and Secretary of National Defense in the Osmeña War Cabinet. Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives.
Philippine President Sergio Osmeña (center) and General Douglas MacArthur (right) on board a landing craft en route to the Leyte landing beaches, October 20, 1944.
At left are Lieutenant General George C. Kenney and Lieutenant General Richard K. Sutherland. At the extreme right, with his head turned toward MacArthur, is Brigadier General Carlos Romulo.
In the front row with two stars on his battle helmet, is Major General Basilio J. Valdes, Chief of Staff of the Philippine Army and Secretary of National Defense in the Osmeña War Cabinet.
Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives.

The Philippine Diary Project contains diary entries from a leading figure in the Leyte Landing: Major General Basilio J. Valdes. His diary, as encoded, edited, and provided to researchers by the Valdes family, provides an invaluable, first-person account of the entire Pacific War, from the outbreak of hostilities in 1941 to the restoration of the Commonwealth Government in Manila in 1945.

During this period, Valdes, already Chief of Staff of the Philippine Army, became a member of the War Cabinet of President Quezon, accompanying him to Corregidor, and then to the Visayas, Mindanao, Australia and the United States. During that period he underwent further training in Fort Benning, Georgia.

He then served in the Osmeña War Cabinet and in the first regular cabinet established by Osmeña in the Philippines, after which he returned to focusing on the Philippine Army until November 7, 1945. He established a private practice in medicine and served as the head of the Lourdes Hospital after the war.

The Philippine Diary Project has already focused on the early part of World War II in the Philippines, contrasting the eyewitness accounts of officials like Valdes and civilians: see December 24-25, 1941 In Diaries for example.

December 24, 1941, Malacañan Palace, shortly before the Commonwealth War Cabinet evacuated to Corregidor: Maj. Gen. Basilio J. Valdes; President Quezon; Secretary to the President and soon-to-be Mayor of Greater Manila Jorge B. Vargas; Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Jose P. Laurel; Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos (taking his oath of office); senator-elect Benigno S. Aquino; Manila Mayor Juan Posadas  December 24-25, 1941 in Diaries

This period saw the transformation of Valdes from Chief of Staff to a member of the War Cabinet, including the key role Valdes played in the escape of a hospital ship, see The Great Escape of the S.S. Mactan

In Corregidor, the tensions of the time were also chronicled by Valdes; and it includes some acts of derring-do, for example the Evacuation of the Gold Reserves of the Commonwealth February 3, 1942. This was a time of particular crisis for Filipino leaders, which you can read about in The Debate on Taking the Philippines Out of the War: February 6-12, 1942.

Valdes’ diary then chronicles the risky, tension-filled hegira of the War Cabinet from Corregidor to the Visayas, then to Mindanao and Australia. From there, the War Cabinet went to the United States to establish a government-in-exile in May, 1942.

This entire period is a topsy-turvy one, and most accounts are confusing because the wartime situation necessarily made record-keeping and the keeping of an official chronology difficult.

This chart, prepared by the Presidential Library and Museum, shows in infographic form, the parallel governments that existed from 1942-1945:

As for the Commonwealth government-in-exile, you will find Valdes mentioned from time to time in the diary of Francis Burton Harrison who served as an Adviser to the government-in-exile. Much of 1943 was spent by Valdes undergoing further training, with expectations growing that the Allied forces would soon be returning to the Philippines.

The Quezon War Cabinet shortly after the Commonwealth government-in-exile was established in Washington, DC:Auditor-General Jaime Hernandez; Secretary of Finance, Agriculture, and Commerce Andres Soriano; Vice President Sergio Osmeña, Secretary of Public Instruction, Health, and Public Welfare; President Quezon; Member of the Cabinet without portfolio and Resident Commissioner Joaquin Elizalde; Secretary of National Defense, Public Works, Communication and Labor Maj. Gen. Basilio J. Valdes.

Valdes seems to have been relatively uninvolved in the intense debate over the succession issue involving the Philippine presidency at this time. For an insight into this, read Frederick Marquardt’s Quezon and Osmeña.

As for what was happening in the Philippines in the meantime, see Life, Death, Decisions During the Japanese Occupation and the special section in the Presidential Museum and Library, 70th Anniversary of the Second Philippine Republic for more information. This was a period of great stress for Philippine society: see the essay of Alfonso J. Aluit, World War 2 in the Philippines

The Philippine Diary Project also allows us to contrast Valdes’ experience with those of civilians in Manila, before, during, and after the return of the Allies to the Philippines. Fr. Juan Labrador, OP, a Spanish Dominican priest, gives us the point of view of a Spaniard sympathetic to the Allies, and who shuttled back and forth between the Colegio de San Juan de Letran and the University of Santo Tomas where Allied civilians had been interned by the Japanese for the duration of the War. The diary entries of Felipe Buencamino III, a veteran of the Bataan campaign (see Bataan, 1942: Views of a Father and his Son), reflects the point of view of young Filipinos anxious for the return of the Allies and the expulsion of the Japanese.

Here are extracts from relevant entries in the Philippine Diary Project, together with information from C. Peter Chen’s Philippines Campaign, Phase 1, the Leyte Campaign: 22 Oct 1944 – 21 Dec 1944 from which come the dates and summary of military movements, in italics. Diary entries from the same day or thereabouts follows each date.

The diary entries of Felipe Buencamino III for October 1, 1944 and October 2, 1944 opens the scene, so to speak, with a description of how life in Manila was breaking down, and anticipation of an Allied invasion was building up.

On October 3, 1944 Gen. Valdes tersely begins his journey home, flying from Washington D.C. to Hamilton Field, California.

October 5, 1944: In preparation for the invasion of the Philippine Islands… United States Navy Admiral Chester Nimitz ordered Admiral William Halsey to strike Japanese airfields at Taiwan, China and Ryukyu Islands, Japan.

On the same day, October 5, 1944, Gen. Valdes, President Osmeña, Col. Alejandro Melchor and Captain Antonio P. Madrigal had arrived in Hawaii and transferred to Kwajalein. By October 7, 1944 they had arrived in Hollandia, where Gen. Valdes shared a bungalow with Gen. Carlos P. Romulo.

October 10, 1944: American aircraft struck Okinawa, Yaeyama, and Miyako Islands, Japan. Okinawan city of Naha was heavily damaged; many of the 548 deaths occurred in Naha, as many of the 698 wounded. 11,451 buildings were destroyed, which included a great number of civilian residences

October 11, 1944: Halsey struck Luzon, and moved on to bombard Taiwan from 12 Oct thru 15 Oct. The attack on Taiwan disabled or destroyed every single one of the 230 fighters that Admiral Shigeru Fukudome had available to him at Taiwan. Other pre-invasion operations included bombing of Hong Kong, Dutch East Indies, and Mindanao.

October 12, 1944: [A] cloudy day, a total of 90 Japanese aircraft were sent to attack Halsey’s carriers off Taiwan, which included Army B6N Tenzan torpedo bombers, Army Ki-49 Donryu horizontal bombers, and Navy P1Y Ginga horizontal bombers.

Gen. Valdes had spent October 8-12, 1944 at work with American staff officers.On the same day, Felipe Buencamino III recounts in his diary that he suffered a relapse of the Malaria he contracted in Bataan, and that,

A Japanese visited Tio Phil and told him that 700 U.S. ships were sighted north of Luzon including 100 aircraft carriers. I wonder if this is the invasion fleet, cross your fingers.

October 13, 1944: 947 American aircraft struck several Japanese airfields at Taiwan. The Japanese staged a counter attack that achieved little, but inflated reports on damage inflicted on the enemy provided the Japanese leaders the false information that the counter strike sunk one aircraft carrier and one battleship; meanwhile, the Japanese admitted to only two aircraft lost.

Seeadler Harbor in the Admiralties on 6 October 1944. This is the invasion fleet for Leyte, Philippines.

On this day, October 13, 1944, Gen. Valdes wrote that the invasion fleet bound for Leyte Gulf set sail from Hollandia:

At 10:40 a.m. we boarded our ship the APH SS John Lang. Captain Graf the skipper, a very charming U.S Navy officer met us. Several cabins belonging to the officers of the ship were prepared for us. I occupy the cabin of Lieutenant John F. Moorehead the navigator, and I am very comfortable. The bay is covered with ships of all kinds — hundreds of them: L.C.V’s, L.C.I’s, L.C.M’s, L.S.T’s, APA Cruisers, Destroyers, Airplane Carriers and P.T. Boats. Airplanes are flying over us continuously. What a magnificent display of force. This wonderful picture shows what the U.S can do when she gets started. The alert has been sounded for 1:30 p.m. In a few hours we will start moving, and then the biggest convoy set for an attack, since the invasion of France, will be on its way. I have talked to several officers and men. The morale is high, the enthusiasm inspiring. They are all happy to go, anxious to meet the foe in a death struggle. I am happy to be with them.

At 2:30 p.m. life belts were distributed and instructions were given to us on how to use them in case of sinking. It is on the same principle as the Mae West life vest used by Aviators. It becomes inflated with carbon dioxide. We were advised to keep it on continuously and not to inflate until after we are in the water, as it would be dangerous to jump overboard with that inflated.

It is warm; sea is calm, perhaps a presage of the “hell” to come. I hope the weather is good when we reach our objective. With the grace of God we cannot fail.

The convoy started on its way at 4 p.m.. 400 ships of all kinds. We travel only at eight knots per hour because the L.C.I’s cannot go faster.

On the same day that the Allied invasion fleet set sail, Felipe Buencamino III mused in his diary,

Tribune headlined U.S. raid on Taiwan. They claim that a hundred U.S. planes were shot down. I wonder how much damage was done. Question is now being raised as to whether the U.S. will attack Formosa before the P.I.? Or is the Formosa raid just a diversionary attack? Or will they head for the Japanese mainland immediately?

October 14, 1944: American aircraft struck Taiwan and northern Luzon, Philippine Islands. About 240 Japanese aircraft were lost on this day both in the air and on the ground, including aircraft lost during another failed counter strike. Imperial General Headquarters reported that, once again based on inflated reports from the field, that at least three American carriers, one destroyer, and three unidentified warships were sunk, with another carrier and another warship damaged.

On his diary, on the same day, October 14, 1944 Gen. Valdes wrote,

En route. We crossed the equator at 2:30 p.m., and I was made a member of the ‘Order of the Deep’. A card signed by ‘Rex Neptune’ was presented to me. It is very hot. Practically no breeze…

The convoy is magnificent & impressive. It shows the tremendous power of the U.S. ships of all sizes, types and denominations.

In Manila, October 14 was the first anniversary of the Republic established by the Japanese. Fr. Juan Labrador OP wrote about the isolated nature of the official commemoration:

Today is the first anniversary of the Republic. Due to existing conditions—Formosa is under air attack—the celebrations were limited to some ceremonies at Malacañan. The projected parade before the legislative building was suspended. The suspension was attributed to the lack of transportation for the students and employees who were supposed to attend. Only the President’s family and some Japanese officials were invited to Malacañan. The public had never attended such ceremonies, nor is it interested in the welfare of the Republic, which they consider to be moribund and liable to collapse anytime, either violently or by natural death.

In his diary, Felipe Buencamino III, Bataan veteran and guerrilla sympathizer, wrote,

Today’s the first anniversary of the Philippine Republic, heh, heh. Puppet Laurel declared: “The first-year of the Republic has been a success”. He forgot to say that during this republic’s first year, the people have had less and less food. The BIBA has distributed rice only three or four times. There has been no peace and order, no….. oh why crab about it.

–adding that the public had been expecting an air-raid.

October 15, 16, and 19, 1944: successive corrections to the reports further increased the number of American ships damaged and/or sunk during the counter strikes at the US 3rd Fleet operating east of Taiwan.

On October 15, 1944, writing in his diary on the progress of the invasion fleet, Gen. Valdes noticed,

At 11:45 a.m. another convoy coming from Manis Island joined us. We are now 600 ships. The hardest part is the total blackout at night.

On the same day, in Manila, Felipe Buencamino III recorded another Allied air-raid:

Hooray, there were here again… this morning. They came at about 10 o’clock, after Mass. Of course, you know who I mean by “they”.

Japanese planes went up this time. People said there were many dogfights around Caloocan. Several civilians were killed.

I saw a heartbreaking sight. An American aviator bailed out. First, he looked like a toy dangling on a white umbrella. Then his figure became more distinct and people started shouting “Parachute, parachute!”. When he was just above the housetops, Japanese soldiers started firing at him. I even heard the rat-a-tat of machine guns. Made my blood boil, this slaughtering of a fellow that’s defenceless. Can’t conceive how the Japanese can interpret such an act as bravery.

No more raids this afternoon…

Several of the boys that came to the house to play basketball believe this is the prelude to invasion.

On October 16, 1944, Felipe Buencamino III reported in his diary that,

The Japanese have spread their ammunition dumps all over the city. In front of Hicky’s and Gabaldon’s and the street leading to the house and beyond there are a lot of boxes under the trees. Taft Avenue is exclusively for Army cars and trucks. Streetcars are also for Army and Navy men only. There’s a rumor that cars, dokars and bicycles will be commandeered. That’ll leave us with practically nothing. They’ve taken our food, our shelter and now –transportation.

The Japanese claim they sunk 12 aircraft carriers. “We’ve driven them off,” they boast. “No,” added another, “we sunk them all.” That’s why I’m disappointed. I wanted them to come to make these fellows eat their words.

Tio Phil thinks this was just a diversionary raid. Their main objective is Formosa, he said. They sent a couple of carriers here to mislead the Japs, he opined.

America is still silent about yesterday’s raid. Some say Aparri was terribly bombed. That’s what I think. In my opinion, the air raid over Manila was just a feint. They were after some big game up north.

The diary of Fr. Juan Labrador OP on the same day gives his own eyewitness account of the same air-raid recorded by Buencamino –and his own account of the same Japanese propaganda:

I was reading this dogmatic editorial when the air raid signal no. 1 sounded, and within a few minutes, anti-aircraft shells were exploding above the clouds. The Japanese fighter planes, emboldened by the editorial, were flying confidently overhead when the American bombers came without having learned about the sinking of their aircraft carrier. Bombs exploded so loudly from Nichols that they could be heard in Balintawak, as a giant umbrella rose from the airfield.

Eighteen out of sixty American planes were downed according to Japanese propaganda. Tokyo found the figure too low and increased it to thirty. Both agencies are giving a decisive importance, and as we supposed, a very inflated one at that, to the battle being waged at the east of Formosa. Tokyo radio arrived at fifty-three American ships sunk or damaged, twenty-thousand Americans killed, and one thousand planes shot down. The Manila news agency was more conservative, scattering flying leaflets in the streets and sending out a van through the city with streamers announcing the resounding victory.

On October 17, 1944 Felipe Buencamino III noticed only Japanese planes were flying that day, and recorded that,

Several people were getting disappointed. They are asking: Maybe there is some truth in the Japanese claims of 12 aircraft carriers sunk? Is that why they can’t bomb anymore? Others are angry. They say: “The Americans shouldn’t have bombed at all if they were going to stop like this. It only gave the Japs a chance to spread their dumps into private houses. They should have kept it up, bombed on and on”. Only consoling note is the fact that Formosa is being bombed and rebombed. People say that this is a prelude to the invasion of the Philippines. “They’re neutralizing whatever help Formosa can give to the Japanese here when invasion comes” according to Joe.

The next day, October 18, 1944, Felipe Buencamino III wrote,

I don’t know what history books will write about this day. Maybe they’ll put it down as the beginning of the offensive for the reconquest of the Philippines. Or probably they’ll note it as just the 7th day of the naval attack on Taiwan with diversionary raids on the Philippines. To me it’s the day I had a narrow escape. A machine gun bullet struck our shelter, fortunately on the concrete side. If it had hit an inch higher, it would have penetrated the thin wooden panel and I wouldn’t be writing this now.

I don’t know how many U.S. planes raided Manila today. They looked plenty and I didn’t have time to count because AA shrapnel started raining around our garden. By the drone and by the glimpse I had, I judged there were at least a hundred.

October 18 to this tramp means nothing but several hours in the air-raid shelter, Mama nervous about Vic who refused to take cover, Neneng praying the rosary, grandpop smoking a cigar, Dad going in and out of the shelter to take a look and then to hurriedly run in when the earth begins to shake, and the dog trying to squeeze into the shelter.

October 19, 1944: By the time the Imperial General Headquarters released the battle report on 19 Oct, it noted that 11 carriers, 2 battleships, and 7 cruisers and destroyers American ships were sunk. Furious but yet somewhat amused, William Halsey noted to Chester Nimitz that “[a]ll Third Fleet ships recently reported sunk by Radio Tokyo have been salvaged and are retiring at high speed toward the Japanese Fleet”, and Nimitz promptly made that message into a public relations piece. The top ranks of Japanese leadership bought into their own propaganda, with Emperor Showa personally delivered a word of congratulations for the achievement that never took place.

From October 16-19, 1944 Gen. Valdes had nothing to write about except the routine of the invasion fleet’s voyage:

At sea. Nothing unusual. I attended Mass every Morning to receive Communion. It is nice to see a number of boys that attend Mass and receive Communion, about 100 every day

On October 19, 1944, Fr. Juan Labrador OP reported another air-raid on Manila:

We had a double feast today; great activity in the morning and doubly great in the afternoon. Without previous siren warnings the planes attacked at 7:15 a.m. and caught the sleeping guardians of the city by surprise. Before the anti-aircraft guns could be positioned, the enemies had dropped their loads and spun back to the skies beyond the reach of ground fire. There was not one red marked plane in sight the whole day. It’s either that they were not given the chance to take off or they were discarded for good. Anti-aircrafts barkings were fewer. Only the guns near the bombings were fired, unlike before when the air vibrated with activities and the city was draped in smoke. On the whole, the thunder was still terrific, but there were fewer shelling victims. It’s surprising how there could have been less accidents when people were all out in the streets watching and enjoying the fight in the sky.

I found the internees the best indicators of oncoming raids. They were the first to identify American planes. All I did was watch these internees as they pointed to the skies and applauded noiselessly.

The contrast between the speculation in Manila and the stealthy advance –under cover of air-raids in other places– of the Allies is a striking one.

General Douglas MacArthur (right, seen in profile) on the bridge of USS Nashville (CL-43), off Leyte during the landings there in late October 1944. Standing in the center (also seen in profile) is Lieutenant General George C. Kenney. Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives.
General Douglas MacArthur (right, seen in profile) on the bridge of USS Nashville (CL-43), off Leyte during the landings there in late October 1944. Standing in the center (also seen in profile) is Lieutenant General George C. Kenney.
Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives.

October 20, 1944: After a two-day naval bombardment, the US Sixth Army landed on the northeastern coast on the island of Leyte on 20 Oct 1944 under the command of General Walter Krueger. The US 7th Fleet under the command of Vice Admiral Thomas Kinkaid provided transport and protection for the 175,000-strong landing force. Against the advice of General Tomoyuki Yamashita, the Imperial General Headquarters in Tokyo (IGHQ) sent in reinforcements to Leyte from Luzon and as far as China, determining to fight the decisive land battle against the American land forces at Leyte. Landing troops almost whenever they wished, the US forces largely accomplished the goals set for the first day of landing.

Part of Leyte invasion fleet with US Army troops assaulting Leyte beach.

After having escaped from the Japanese and in the process fleeing his homeland, one can only image in the emotion felt by himself –and the other Filipinos in the landing party– when, on October 20, 1944, Gen. Valdes finally returned to the Philippines.

His account of the historic Leyte landing is terse:

Entered Leyte Gulf at midnight. Reached our anchorage at 7 a.m. The battleships, cruisers, and destroyers opened fire on the beaches and finished the work begun two days before ‘A Day’ by other U.S Navy units. The boys in my ship where ready at 9:45 a.m. At 10 a.m. sharp they went down the rope on the side of the ship. Their objective was Palo. At 1 p.m. General MacArthur and members of his staff, President Osmeña, myself, General Romulo, and Captain Madrigal left the ship and proceeded on an L.C.M for Red beach. The beach was not good, the landing craft could not make the dry beach and we had to wade through the water beyond our knees. We inspected the area, and at two instances shots were fired by Japanese snipers. General MacArthur and President Osmeña spoke in a broadcast to the U.S. We returned to the ship at 6 p.m. under a torrential rain. We transferred to the Auxiliary cruiser Blue Ridge flagship of Admiral Barbey, as the SS John Land was leaving for Hollandia.

General Douglas MacArthur (center), accompanied by Lieutenant Generals George C. Kenney and Richard K. Sutherland and Major General Verne D. Mudge (Commanding General, First Cavalry Division), inspecting the beachhead on Leyte Island, 20 October 1944. Note the crowd of onlookers. The swamped LCVP in the right background is from USS Ormsby (APA-49). Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives.
General Douglas MacArthur (center), accompanied by Lieutenant Generals George C. Kenney and Richard K. Sutherland and Major General Verne D. Mudge (Commanding General, First Cavalry Division), inspecting the beachhead on Leyte Island, 20 October 1944.
Note the crowd of onlookers.
The swamped LCVP in the right background is from USS Ormsby (APA-49).
Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives.

In Manila, Fr. Juan Labrador OP observed there was no air-raid that day, which was just as well as everyone was on edge after the past few day’s bombings:

A bomb fell yesterday near the Legazpi-Urdaneta monument, up an enormous crater, burying alive thirty-one persons who died of asphyxiation. They were in a shelter nearby. At the explosion, mounds of earth and a big uprooted tree covered the entrance.

The Luneta was turned into a forest of anti-aircraft guns. There was such a shower of exploded shells and stray bullets that even those who stayed in light houses could not be protected. If anyone was spared by the metallic fragments, it was someting miraculous. A roof of GI sheets and a wooden floor were as easily pierced as if they were made of paper.

October 21, 1944: US 7th Cavalry Regiment reached Tacloban, the capital of Leyte. Civilians cheered them on as they entered the city, but the Japanese were still well dug-in.

In his diary on October 21, 1944, Gen. Valdes recounted a kamikaze attack on their ship:

At 5:30 a.m. ‘general quarters’ were sounded. All rushed to their respective guns and fired at approaching Japanese planes. The Australian cruiser Australia was about 300 yards from our starboard side. A Japanese plane coming from the stern flew very low strafing the cruiser. He accidentally came too low and hit the wireless and crashed on the forward deck near the bridge killing the Captain and mortally wounding the Commodore, who died six hours later. The cruiser Honolulu was also hit and was beached to save it. The Australia returned to Australia for repairs.

At 5 p.m. some more Japanese planes attacked us and we downed two.

Manila found out about the Leyte landing on this day. Fr. Juan Labrador OP recounts in his diary entry for October 21, 1944, how news spread in the city:

Joy! Joy! The Yanks have arrived. They landed on the same place where Magellan set foot on firm land when he discovered these islands which he called St. Lazarus. The news of the landing in Leyte spread like wildfire. We took the news as probable, without reassuring ourselves of its certainty, but the exultant Filipinos believed it without a shadow of doubt. Tokyo had admitted it, although the local press still refuses to put its stamp of approval.

Gen. MacArthur and Pres. Osmeña were heard delivering messages over the radio. MacArthur announced that he had complied with his promise to return and, God willing, he would proceed with the re-conquest of the Islands. Osmeña declared that the legitimate government has been restored in this country. Reports have it that General Valdés, Soriano, Romulo and a nucleus of the exiled Philippine government has also arrived.

No one—not even the sharpest strategists—predicted where the landing was to be made. Some guessed that it would be in Mindanao, or at some gulf in Luzon, or in some island in the Visayas, but not one of them singled out the place where the landing was actually made. After the fact, everybody admitted that the Bay of Leyte, formed by Leyte and Samar, was the least guarded, least defended and most strategic point for the developing operations. Situated almost in the center of the archipelago, it is one leap from Mindanao, from Luzon, and from almost all the islands of the Visayas.

October 22, 1944: US 8th Cavalry Regiment secured the high ground around Tacloban, slowing strangling any remaining resistance in the area. At this stage, the American troops at Tacloban realized their mission became as much a humanitarian one as a combat one, for that many thousands of Tacloban residents were in dire need of food and shelter; some of the soldiers offered the little rations they had, while others opened up Japanese warehouses and distributed whatever they thought could help.

The day was spent quietly as far as Gen. Valdes was concerned: his diary entry for October 22, 1944 recounts sending radio messages and dinner on board another ship with American officers.

For his part, writing in Manila on October 22, 1944, Fr. Juan Labrador OP recounted how the Japanese finally confirmed the Leyte landing had taken place (and how Filipinos were responding to the return of the Allies):

Tokyo radio, in announcing the landings in Leyte, added that the Filipino and Japanese defenses furiously counter-attacked the invaders. This reports, however, were not repeated in the Philippines for lack of any semblance of truth. What appear credible to us, however, are the rumors that the Constabulary strongholds are passing over to the invaders. We were told that the insular police of different towns, with their rifles and baggages, have taken to the mountains to join the guerillas. In Calamba, the Constables have gone into hiding in the mountain thickness, a pattern which we had observed at other times. The guerillas are becoming active, mobilizing ex-USAFFE officers and chaplains.

With the first attack, whole towns have moved to the mountains. In some districts and provinces, the guerillas are in command. They cannot do so, however, in Manila, where it is risky for them to come out in the open.

U.S. naval vessels at Leyte, 1944

October 23, 1944: As soon as Tacloban [was] secured, MacArthur restored Osmeña’s government there as the ruling body of the Philippines. “On behalf of my government,” MacArthur announced, “I restore to you a constitutional administration by countrymen of your confidence and choice.” [At sea: Battle of Leyte Gulf, Oct. 23-26, 1944]

 

In his diary, Gen. Basilio Valdes (October 23, 1944)once again has a terse account of a history-laden event:

General Douglas MacArthur at the microphone during ceremonies marking the liberation of Leyte, at Tacloban, October 23, 1944. Philippine President Sergio Osmeña is in the center, one step behind MacArthur. At left are Lieutenant Generals Walter Kreuger and Richard K. Sutherland. Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives.
General Douglas MacArthur at the microphone during ceremonies marking the liberation of Leyte, at Tacloban, October 23, 1944.
Philippine President Sergio Osmeña is in the center, one step behind MacArthur.
At left are Lieutenant Generals Walter Kreuger and Richard K. Sutherland.
Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives.

Disembarked and went ashore to Tacloban. In front of the Capitol of the province, General MacArthur read the proclamation declaring null and void all laws promulgated by the Japanese and the puppet republic, and replacing those of the Commonwealth. His proclamation was followed by a speech by President Osmeña. At 2 p.m. I returned to the ship on a PT boat to get my luggage and return to Tacloban at 5 p.m. I was going to stay in the house occupied by the Japanese commanding general, which was made available for the President, but due to lack of space I accepted the invitation of Mrs. Losa to live in her home.

It’s only on this day, October 23, 1944, that Felipe Buencamino III is able to catch up with his diary, recounting the news of the Leyte landing and the excitement that swept the city:

Well, first there’s the landing in Leyte. The consensus was that they would land in Mindanao or perhaps Luzon so Leyte was quite a surprise. The Japs have admitted the landing but they’re trying to belittle it. Its been placed in a small corner of the front page. A lot of emphasis is being placed on the Taiwan affair. They’re tooting their horn about the aircraft carriers sunk, which to me is plain baloney. It seems they even had a sort of victory parade in Tokyo. People here think the Jap leaders are pulling the wool over the eyes of the Japs and that ought to be easy because they’re chinky-eyed.

Buencamino then catches up with the latest news –even in Manila, they’re getting news practically in real time by this point:

What really was a great surprise was the res-establishment of the Commonwealth Gov’t on Philippine soil. I’m not a very sentimental guy, but when I heard Osmeña and Romulo and Valdes and the rest were already in the Philippines, I wept like a kid. And when I repeated the story of how Mac landed to Dad, his eyes got moisty.

Everybody is jubilant these days. When you walk the streets, people greet you with “Have you heard? They’re here.”

The question now is when will they land in Luzon?

He also waxes nostalgic for President Quezon:

Quite anxious to see Baby and Nini. Gee, I wish their old man pulled through. Sometimes I think he’s still alive.

Yes, men like him, never die. He is the greatest man I’ve met.

October 24, 1944: [T]roops of the US 8th Cavalry Regiment crossed the strait to the island of Samar. [At sea: Battle of Sibuyan Sea] See photo of President Osmeña, Maj. Gen. Basilio J. Valdes, Lt. Gen. Carlos P. Romulo in Leyte, 1944.

The October 24, 1944 diary entry of Gen. Valdes features a close call with Japanese bombs:

5:20 a.m. I woke up with the sound of two airplanes flying low over our house. I thought “It’s nice to have our planes patrolling”. A few seconds later I was startled by two explosions nearby. The concussion blew away my mosquito net. I jumped out of bed. I took a quick bath, as I was wet with perspiration, dressed and went to the place where the bombs had exploded. The first one fell over a nipa house killing the whole family who were asleep. A woman and six children. The husband was out working for the U.S. troops unloading. When he returned home he found his home destroyed and all his family killed. Poor man. The second bomb fell about 60 yards from the house occupied by the other members of the Presidential party. The President slept elsewhere. Some small shell fragments went through the house.

In Manila, the story is of Allied air-raids. His October 24, 1944 entry has Fr. Juan Labrador OP writing,

Some twenty planes made a thunderous attack over Nichols, catching the guardians of the city unaware. They did not hit as accurately as on the first day.

In San Pedro, Makati, bombs were dropped off-target. A boat in Manila Bay was bombed several times but it remained firmly afloat.

A Japanese official attributed this poor hitting precision to the fact that the pilots were Canadians, not Americans. That was a consolation for the Imperial Air Force which had already lost supremacy of the air in the Philippines since the first day.

A good part of the Japanese officialdom is gradually being convinced, not only of the possibility of losing the war, but also of the improbability of winning it.

Once again, we have another eyewitness account of the same raid, this time from Felipe Buencamino III:

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… 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.

October 25, 1944: [A]ll initial goals had been met, with slightly lighter casualties than expected. [At sea: Battle of Surigao Strait].

His diary entry for October 25-28, 1944 has Gen. Valdes recounting the success of U.S. fighter planes. On October 26, 1944, Juan Labrador OP was writing about the Japanese commandeering all forms of transportation:

The soldiers are commandeering horses, calesas, bicycles and push carts, and the people are forced to hide them. As a consequence, there is an even greater lack of transportation in Manila. This is a sign that the Japanese are running short of motorized vehicles. The trucks which they had confiscated at the start of the war are reduced to junk. They are now willing to pay ₱200,000.00 for an automobile of a reputable brand in running condition, and ₱400,000.00 for a good truck. The only cars moving about are those which are being used by the officers and ministers. There are many other cars, but their owners have dismantled them, hoping to drive them around again when the Leyte invaders arrive.

On October 29, 1944, Gen. Valdes was writing about going to Palo, Leyte:

At 9 a.m. left for Palo with Major Lambert 1st C.A.D., to inspect the post-office there. The town was full of soldiers, trucks, and tanks etc. The First Cavalry Division has a Squadron bivouac in Palo. The Church is being used as a hospital where army as well as civilian casualties are treated. Met Lew Ayers who is doing excellent work. Called on Bishop Manuel Mascariñas of Palo. He received me very cordially. He has accommodated civilian refugees in his convent and he himself at times sleeps in a chair.

For his part, after recounting there had been no Allied air-raids for four days, Felipe Buencamino III reported another Allied air-raid:

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… 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?”

By October 29, 1944, Juan Labrador OP would be writing about the increasing absurdity of Japanese propaganda:

The press proclaimed in bold lines: “American Bombing in Leyte Ceases”.

“In the face of a terrific Japanese attack, the American fleet had abandoned the landing troops which are facing complete annihilation. American forces in the Pacific have been completely destroyed and Manila is going to be spared attacks for a long time.”

I was reading these lines this morning when, without previous warning, American planes came within visible altitude, dropping their bombs on their targets on Manila Bay. The people who are getting to be more hopeful are comparing what the Japanese are claiming and what is actually happening. Obviously, what was annihilated was the Japanese fleet, and the Imperial Air Force has been left without wings.

Today is Sunday, and the UST Chapel was full of devotees. The sermon started just when the bomb explosions were loudest, the pounding of anti-aircraft shots was most resounding and the gloomy staccato of machine guns was most frightening. Many of the faithful were feeling uneasy, glancing towards the door with one foot forward. The preacher, calmly and cooly, exhorted the people to stay in their seats as they were safe within that sacred place. The Mass—a High Mass—went on and the choir continued singing to the accompaniment of the Celestial concert outside.

            Later, everybody ridiculed the Tribune editorial which promised peace and a sky free from attacks. It was a known fact that when the newspapers predicted a pleasant time, based on Japanese victories, the American planes—which were supposed to have fled or been destroyed—came attacking with greater intensity.

And so, on October 30, 1944, Felipe Buencamino III would write,

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…

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!

The month ends with Gen. Valdes’ laconic entry for October 31, 1944:

Two air raids…An uncomfortable night.

But there would be months more of fighting before the Allies even reached Manila –and then the death agony of the capital city would take place. See The Battle of Manila, Feb. 3-March 3, 1945 for eyewitness accounts of the Battle for Manila. During that period, on February 25, 1945, Valdes took on the Health portfolio; soon after that, he would leave the Cabinet altogether to wrap up his work as Chief of Staff of the Philippine Army.

President Sergio Osmeña (September 9, 1878 – October 19, 1961) inducts his first regular Cabinet into office in the Council of State Room (now the Quirino Room) in the Executive Building (today known as Kalayaan Hall), Malacañan, 1945. His first regular Cabinet was composed of Secretary of the Interior Tomas Confesor; Secretary of Finance and Reconstruction Jaime Hernandez; Secretary of Justice Ramon Quisumbing; Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce Vicente Singson Encarnacion; Secretary of National Defense Tomas Cabili; Secretary of Health and Public Welfare Basilio Valdes;Secretary of Public Instruction and Information Francisco Benitez; Secretary of Public Works and Communications Sotero Cabahug; Secretary of the Budget Ismael Mathay Sr.; Executive Secretary Jose S. Reyes; Secretary of Labor Marcelo Aduru; and Resident Commissioner Carlos P. Romulo.

 

 

 

 

The Delegate and the President: Contrasting Diaries on Martial Law

President Marcos, Secretary Enrile, and generals in the Presidential Study, Malacañan Palace

September 23 marks the 41st anniversary of the proclamation of martial law by President Marcos, although Marcos himself insisted on September 21.

The Philippine Diary Project has two diaries that give contrasting views on martial law. The first is the diary of Ferdinand E. Marcos, the second, the diary of Constitutional Convention delegate Augusto Caesar Espiritu.

The options for Marcos were laid out quite early on. On January 26, 1970, after he was attacked by demonstrators after delivering his State of the Nation Address, Marcos wrote, “We must get the emergency plan polished up.” in his diary entry for January 28, 1970 (just a few weeks after his second inaugural) he summarized his options as follows:

I have several options. One of them is to abort the subversive plan now by the sudden arrest of the plotters. But this would not be accepted by the people. Nor could we get the Huks, their legal cadres and support. Nor the MIM and other subversive [or front] organizations, nor those underground. We could allow the situation to develop naturally then after massive terrorism, wanton killings and an attempt at my assassination and a coup d’etat, then declare martial law or suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus – and arrest all including the legal cadres. Right now I am inclined towards the latter.

By February 1, 1971 he had come up with “democratic revolution” as a term to provide ideological cover for his plans.

February 20, 1972 and February 22, 1970, he was getting military used to developing contingency plans for emergencies.

February 24, 1970, support of Ilocanos was being rallied.

February 28, 1970: Marcos was toying with lists of people to arrest:

We must finalize the list to be arrested if there is massive sabotage or assassination. I assess the plans of the communists to include these activities by the middle of March.

In January, 1971, Marcos claims that his allies were imploring him to impose emergency rule (see January 13, 1971):

The congressmen close to me, Cong. Cojuangco, Frisco San Juan, Ali Dimaporo, Jose Aspiras, Navarro, Lucas Canton, Roque Ablan all proposed for the use of my emergency powers. “We cannot understand why you are so patient. Do not wait until we are completely debilitated and the people is against us. It will be too late. One swift blow and we remove the cancer from our society,” they all said.

I could only answer that it may be sooner than we think…

With the opposition already warning of martial law in full-page ads (see January 20, 1971) he was systematically putting together a coalition to support the eventual proclamation of martial law:

January 27, 1971: intellectuals to provide ideological cover; January 23, 1971 and January 28, 1971: big business and friendly media; January 30, 1971: local government leaders.

By February 1, 1971, he had come up with the term “democratic revolution” to provide ideological cover for his plans.

On May 8, 1972, Marcos again returned to drafting scenarios and arrest lists:

… After the meeting I directed Sec. Ponce Enrile, the Chief of Staff, Gen. Espino, Vice Chief of Staff, Gen. Ileto, PC Chief, Gen. Ramos, PA Chief, Gen. Zagala, Air Force Chief, Gen. Rancudo, 1st PC Zone Commander, Gen. Tomas Diaz, IV PC Zone Commander, Gen. Encarnacion, Asst. Chief of Staff, J-2, Col. Paz, to update the contingency plans and the list of target personalities in the event of the use of emergency powers.

I directed Sec. Ponce Enrile to finalize all documentation for the contingency plans, including the orders and implementation.

A couple of days later, on May 12, 1972, he would chuckle about his divide-and-conquer strategy with the opposition.

On June 4, 1972, Marcos seems to have concluded that his options through the Constitutional Convention had reached a dead end:

But from my point of view the Concon has become useless. Anything they will approve now will be rejected by the people in a plebiscite.

August 31, 1972 shows lobbying efforts well underway with Americans (officials and in business).

It is in the fateful month of September, 1972, that the two voices –Marcos writing down his version of history-as-it-happened, and Espiritu, writing of events in the Constitutional Convention and the creeping feeling of things coming to a head– provide a kind of contrasting conversation. Here are their entries, on the dates that both happened to write in their diaries on the same day:

September 5-6

The Ban Marcos Resolution –also known as the Anti Dynasty Resolution– comes up for a vote in the Constitutional Convention. Espiritu recounts the parliamentary tactics of the Marcos bloc in the convention:

In the afternoon, there was a continuation of the speeches in favor of the ban-dynasty resolution…

Later in the afternoon, the “anti” speeches were heard. The period for the opposition began with former Central Bank governor, Miguel Cuaderno, firing the opening salvo.

The pro-Marcos delegates are smart. They have been using people like Cuaderno and former UP president, Vicente Sinco, with all their prestige and known independence, to “deodorize” their position. But because of their advanced age, these venerable delegates did not really wield much influence in the Convention.

Cuaderno said that it would be unfortunate for the Convention to involve itself in the preelection fight between two major political parties. He said that he regarded the proposal to ban the incumbent president as the last attempt of the presidentialists to retain the vestiges of the presidential system in the new Constitution. (Cuaderno is, like Aquilino (Nene) Pimentel, Raul Manglapus, Joe Feria, Sonny Alvarez, Rebeck Espiritu, Godofredo (Goding) Ramos and me, a parliamentarist.)

Cuaderno was followed by former foreign secretary, Felixberto Serrano, who delivered one of his rare speeches in the Convention.

I have been wondering why such an eminent man like Serrano has not been active in the Convention. He has not participated in much of the discussions. Of course, he belongs to the Garcia (Marcos) bloc, but it would still be interesting to hear his views.

Lindy Pangandangan also spoke against the resolution, followed by ageing President Sinco, who has not only been president of the University of the Philippines and dean of the UP College of Law, for one generation, but was also an authority on constitutional law. He was, in fact, the mentor of quite a number of delegates in the Convention.

But he is quite a very old man now. The pro-Marcos group is shamelessly using him. To use a much-quoted term of Nap Rama, he is being used as one of the “deodorizers.”

For his part, on that day, Marcos only writes about reviewing contingency plans and grumbles about his critics; it’s on the next day that Marcos writes about the ConCon vote –he views the proceedings as a loyalty check:

The Concon voted down the ban Marcos resolution by 155 votes against 131. Some of those who pose as friends voted against us. Carlos Ledesma, Angara (Johnny Ponce Enrile’s partner). Tiling Yulo was absent. Ditas Teodoro and Elizabeth Chiongbian voted by teller but these were not recognized.

Macapagal delivered a bitter vicious attack against us. So did Rama. But Sotero Laurel and Cuaderno spoke in our favor.

September 7

On this day, Espiritu has a conversation with ConCon President Diosdado Macapagal, on options for the convention not to get caught up in Marcos’ perceived game plan to extend his stay in office beyond his term; and it is here that what would eventually become the clincher for approving the new Constitution –assuring delegates who voted for it, seats in the new National Assembly– first gets mentioned:

This morning, I had a full hour’s chat with President Macapagal. Majority Floor Leader Edmundo (Munding) Cea and Vice Pres. Abraham (Abe) Sarmiento were with us part of the time. I was telling Macapagal that he had delivered a mesmerizing speech yesterday in favor of the ban-dynasty resolution. In fact I heard it said, by some delegates, that that was his finest hour.

I also suggested to Macapagal that there are perhaps two options for us. The first is to just simply freeze the ball and let the Convention work as slowly as possible so that the plebiscite on the new Constitution may only be done after the expiration of Marcos’ term in 1973. This would really, in effect, ban the incumbent. In fact, Convention secretary, Jose (Pepe) Abueva, has also suggested the same thing.

Another possibility, I said, was to declare a recess until January 1974.

We then talked about the transition government resolution filed by Oscar (Oka) Leviste and Antonio (Tony) Velasco. To my great surprise, Macapagal said what was almost unbelievable to me up to then—that this resolution might pass.

For some delegates, the point is, the ban-dynasty provision has already failed anyway; Marcos would surely win. Therefore, we might just as well postpone the election and hold over the positions of elective officials. The bonus is that we, the delegates, would be there in the first parliament. This is the substance and spirit of the Tony-Oka transition government resolution.

Marcos, on the other hand, continues to obsess over Ninoy Aquino and ends his entry:

This afternoon I spent in finishing all papers needed for a possible proclamation of martial law, just in case it is necessary to do so.

September 8

Espiritu does character sketches of fellow delegates, looking into their motivations and changes in ideological position; Marcos dwells on Ninoy Aquino and closes with ordering yet another review of contingency plans for Manila.

September 9

Espiritu looks into news reports on who, actually, constitutes the Marcos bloc in the convention; Marcos –for the nth time– finishes the paperwork for martial law:

Sec. Ponce Enrile and I finished the material for any possible proclamation of martial law. 6:00-7:30 PM. Then TV-Radio interview by KBS, Rey Pedrahe and Emil Jurado 8-9:00 PM.

September 12

As Marcos focuses on intelligence on the Communists, Espiritu gently pokes fun at fellow delegates who’ve had to disguise their taking orders from Marcos.

September 13

Espiritu continues to discuss the Ban Dynasty resolution, and proposes delegates should also ban themselves from serving in the next government (this becomes ironic, later on, when the new Constitution is approved on the basis of sweeteners, including offering ConCon delegates automatic membership in the new National Assembly):

We agreed that during the discussion on the transitory provision, we should support the move to ban all elective officials, including ourselves. This would show to the world that we are not motivated by personal hatred for President Marcos, but rather that we are for democratizing the political process.

Marcos selects September 21 as the date for martial law:

At the rate the tension and hysteria in [Manila] continues, I may have to declare martial [law] soon. Many people are not leaving their houses.

Threats to bomb and blackmail is rampant. KBS and the Daily Express were told to raise ₱200,000 otherwise there would be a bomb for them. This was conveyed by a certain Policarpio, a KBS labor leader. He probably cooked it up.

So I met with Johnny Ponce Enrile, Gen. Tom Diaz, Col. Montoya, Col. Romy Gatan, and Danding Cojuangco this evening at Pangarap and we agreed to set the 21st of this month as the deadline.

September 14

Marcos holds a meeting in Bahay Pangarap where he asks the military if they have any objections to his plan to impose martial law:

After golf, at 9:00 at my room at Pangarap while taking breakfast, I told the SND, C of S, Major Service Commanders (Gen. Ramos, PC, Gen. Zagala, PA, Romando, PAF and Commodore Ruiz, PN) Gen. Ver and Gen. Paranis that I intend to declare martial law to liquidate the communist apparatus, reform our government and society, then have the Concon ratify our acts and the people can confirm it by plebiscite and return to constitutional processes; but that I needed at least one year and two months; that this would be a legitimate exercise of my emergency powers under the constitution as clarified by the Habeas Corpus case by the Supreme Court last January; that we need to cure the ills of our society by radical means (I mentioned corruption, tax evasion, criminality, smuggling, lack of discipline, unequal opportunities) so we must keep our moves clean and submerge self-interest.

I asked for any objection to the plan and there was none except for the observation of Gen. Ramos that the closing of the media should be done by a civilian minister supported by the military, and Gen. Gen. Rancudo who wanted missions definitely assigned to each branch of the service.

For his part, Espiritu writes about bomb rumors, including the possible bombing of the Constitutional Convention:

The bomb scare has been sweeping Manila in the past few days. Rebeck tipped me off on a rumor that the Convention would be bombed. He said this could not be mentioned in the Convention Hall because the delegates might panic. Even Raul Manglapus, he said, was preparing to leave at about 4:00 p.m.

September 18

Espiritu goes to the ConCon (holding session in Quezon City Hall), only to arrive in time for a bombing:

As I was alighting from the bus at about 3:50 p.m., Ruth Manoloto, wife of my friend Ric at Knox, was getting nervously on the bus. Upon seeing me, she yelled, “Caesar, huwag ka nang magtuloy sa Con-Con. Umuwi ka na. Binomba ang Con-Con ngayon. Umuwi ka na.”

People were starting to flee. Romy Capulong was pale. The blast was at the sala of Judge Lustre on the 6th floor, he murmured…

Apparently, this was what happened: At the precise time that Jess Matas was being interpellated, a big noise was heard. The soft-spoken Jess then politely said, “Excuse me, but could you please speak louder because there is so much noise outside?” He had hardly finished his sentence when there was a sudden explosion at the comfort room of the 14th floor. The delegates docked and flew to the other side of the session hall to the stairway. The women screamed. And pandemonium ensued…

Panic was in everybody’s face. The venerable Justice Jose Ma. Paredes came out scampering like a frightened rabbit. His eyes popping out, the gentle old man blurted, “This is the justification of your resolution for a recess. We have reason for a recess.”

This bombing incident made martyrs, to some extent, of the delegates. And at this stage, some martyrdom may be necessary to gain sympathy from a public that is fast losing its patience. The people are losing confidence in the Convention. After more than a year, it has not yet finished its task…

The corollary question is—who could have done it? To me, no moderate—whether of the right or of the left—would have done this. I am inclined to believe that not even the radical left would want to sow terrorism; this would alienate them from the population. The only group, to my mind, that would have some motive for bombing Quezon City is the Marcos group itself.

That night, Marcos puts forward his view on the bombing and the action taken: finalizing plans for martial law, and again broaches the selection of a date, September 21:

The Concon and the sala of Judge Lustre of Quezon City trying the subversives were bombed by unidentified person this afternoon at 3:40 PM. It caused extensive damage and injured about thirty people.

Two of the subversives were almost able to escape.

This is apparently the answer of the subversives to the raids on their headquarters in Manila, Quezon and Pasay last Sunday morning at 4:30 where about 48 were arrested including Cabardo, a former PMA cadet who is tagged as the Visayan NPA head…

We finalized the plans for the proclamation of martial law at 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm with the SND, the Chief of Staff, major service commanders, J-2, Gen. Paz, 1st PC Zone Commander, Gen. Diaz and Metrocom commander, Co. Montoya, with Gen. Ver in attendance.

They all agreed the earlier we do it the better because the media is waging a propaganda campaign that distorts and twists the facts and they may succeed in weakening our support among the people if it is allowed to continue.

So after the bombing of the Concon, we agreed on the 21st without any postponement.

We finalized the target personalities, the assignments, and the procedures.

Our communications network will center in Malacañan as before.

September 20

Marcos meets with the military who provide him with a recommendation to use emergency powers:

This afternoon General Staff with the SND and the Chiefs of the major services came to see us to submit the Assessment of Public Order wherein they recommend the use of “other forms of countering subversion/insurgency should be considered.” This means they recommend the use of Emergency Powers including Martial Law, formally. Envelope No. XXXV-B.

Then we gave an interview where we kept silent on Emergency Powers but spoke of listing Arrival (?) syndicates in the Order of Battle of the communist armed elements, the Self-Reliant Defense Posture as it relates to internal threats, expenditures, additional armaments and personnel etc.

I was surprised to hear Sec. Melchor say he was now in favor of Martial Law although he was against it a year and a half ago. And all Sec. Abad Santos said was, Let us not talk about it publicly.

I asked Sec. Melchor to submit a study and recommendation in writing and to prepare to use his American contacts to see the U.S. does not oppose us.

September 21

Martial law doesn’t happen on this date. Instead, Marcos receives a delegation of friends, skirts their question, and lobbies the Americans as paperwork is finished:

Delayed by the hurried visit of Joe Aspiras and Meling Barbero who came from the Northern bloc of congressmen and senators who want to know if there is going to be Martial Law in 48 hours as predicted by Ninoy Aquino.

Of course Imelda and I denied it.

But Johnny Ponce Enrile, Gen. Paz, Gen Nanadiego, Kits Tatad and I with Piciong Tagmani doing the typing finished all the papers, (the proclamation and the orders) today at 8.00PM.

Amb. Byroade came to see me at 11.15 AM and was apparently interested to know whether there would be Martial Law. He seemed to favor it when I explained it is intended to primarily reform our society and eliminate the communist threat. But he suggested a proclamation before the American elections may be used by MacGovern, the Democratic Presidetial candidate as proof of the failure of the foreign policy of the present president.

September 22

No martial law yet; Espiritu attends a seminar in the evening, where he is taken aback by the militancy of some Christian groups. For his part, Marcos, writing at 9:50 p.m. cites Enrile’s ambush as the kick-off for proclaiming martial law –yet mentioning Congress hasn’t adjourned suggests why no proclamation could take place during the day:

Sec. Juan Ponce Enrile was ambushed near Wack-Wack at about 8:00 pm tonight. It was a good thing he was riding in his security car as a protective measure. His first car which he usually uses was the one riddled by bullets from a car parked in ambush.

He is now at his DND office. I have advised him to stay there.

And I have doubled the security of Imelda in the Nayon Pilipino where she is giving dinner to the UPI and AP as well as other wire services.

This makes the martial law proclamation a necessity.

Imelda arrived at 11:35 PM in my Electra bullet proof car to be told that Johnny had been ambushed, it is all over the radio.

Congress is not adjourning tonight as the conference committee on the Tariff and Customs Code could not agree on a common version. They adjourn tomorrow.

I conferred with Speaker Villareal, Roces, Yñiguez and Barbero who are going to Moscow and they are ready to leave on Sunday. So they are decided to finish the session same.

September 23

Espiritu finds out in the morning, that Martial Law has been imposed:

It was strange, I thought. There were no newspapers and no radio broadcasts in the morning.

At about 8:00 a.m., the Korean, Moonkyoo Kang, and Pura Calo, a Filipino, who were jointly running the ALDEC, visited me at my house and asked me how I felt. I told them that I was quite disappointed last night with the SCM in that in trying to set a new reading of the gospel, they seemed to have given a Christian organization, the Student Christian Movement, a neo-Maoist strain. I believe in a theology of liberation, I hastened to add; but liberation in Christ, not through a forcible overthrow of government.

“Obviously, you have not heard the news,” they exclaimed. “Martial law has already been declared.”

I nearly fell off my seat!

Martial law declared? Impossible!

“Yes, it is true. That is the reason why there are no newspapers and why radio stations are not in operation.”

Forthwith, I rang up my friend, Solicitor-General Estelito Mendoza, to find out if this were true. Titong was out of the house but his wife, Rosie, said this is probably true. She added that Defense Minister Enrile was ambushed yesterday afternoon. By whom?

I told her that I was, in fact, preparing to address the meeting of the Christians Concerned for civil liberties at the St. Joseph’s College today. Rosie advised me to stay home and not attend the meeting.

I immediately tried to reach my friends—Sonny Alvarez first, but Sonny’s phone was busy. Next, I tried calling up Sonia Aldeguer but I was not successful either in contacting her.

I got Pres. Pro-Tempore Sotero (Teroy) Laurel on the phone. Teroy confirmed that the news is true. He had it from good authority: from his own brother, House of Representatives Speaker Jose Laurel. He added that two of our fellow delegates have already been arrested, namely, Nap Rama and Joe Mari Velez. Teroy suggested that we just meet more or less socially but that in the meantime, we should lie low.

I called up Raul Manglapus; we have to plan on what we should do next.

I was informed that Raul had left for the U.S. a couple of days ago.

Next, I tried calling up Raul Roco, but Raul was out of the house. Fearful for his safety, I rang up the home of his father-in-law, Congressman Malasarte. I was able to get his wife, Sonia, who said that Raul had “gone out.”

I rang up Alejandro (Ding) Lichauco, but Ding’s phone was busy.

I went to the Convention Hall. The streets were almost deserted. By late morning there were still no newspapers, no radio broadcasts. In Quezon City, I saw two cars of soldiers with one civilian on the front seat in each of the cars—obviously taken into custody.

There were some soldiers at the checkpoint near the Quezon Memorial Circle, but the soldiers didn’t molest anyone.

At the Convention Hall, there was a note of hushed excitement, frustration and resignation. Now the reality is sinking into our consciousness. Martial law has been proclaimed!

Rumors were rife that our most outspoken activist delegates, Voltaire Garcia, Joe Mari Velez, Nap Rama, Ding Lichauco and Sonny Alvarez have been arrested. I met Convention Sec. Pepe Abueva and he informed me that this was what he had also heard.

The whole day, practically, was spent by us tensely waiting for some news. All sorts of rumors were floating around.

It was repeatedly announced that President Marcos was going to give an important message at 12:00 noon. Twelve o’clock came and went, and there was no news; there was only an announcement that this was going to be made later. At 2:30 p.m., a new announcement came: this would be done at 3:30 p.m. Then it was announced that due to the fact that documents were still being looked over by the President and that TV sets were still being installed at Malacañang, the message of the President was going to be later, between 6:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

The people could hardly wait. At 7:00 p.m., over the radio, during dinner with the ALDEC seminar participants, we heard President Marcos explaining the grounds for declaring martial law as well as the general orders given to the secretary of national defense, Juan Ponce Enrile, and to Press Sec. Francisco (Kit) Tatad. Tatad’s big face popped out on TV. He read for more than an hour, in what seemed to us sinister monotone, the full text of the presidential proclamation.

“Big Brother is watching us,” exclaimed one of the participants while looking at Tatad’s face which filled the TV frame. But this is not 1984! George Orwell showed up too early in the Philippines.

Tatad was continuously pouring out words that seemed to seal the fate of our people. We sat there and listened in mingled fear and confusion.

For his part, late that night, Marcos expresses moderate satisfaction with how things have turned out, though some irritation with how foreign media has covered it:

Things have moved according to plan although out of the total 200 target personalities in the plan only 52 have been arrested, including the three senators, Aquino, Diokno and Mitra and Chino Roces and Teddy Locsin.

At 7:15 PM I finally appeared on a nationwide TV and Radio broadcast to announce the proclamation of martial law, the general orders and instructions.

I place them in Envelope XXXV-C

I was supposed to broadcast at 12:00AM but technical difficulties prevented it. We had closed all TV stations. We had to clear KBS which broadcast it live. VOP and PBS broadcast it by radio nationwide.

The broadcast turned out rather well and Mons. Gaviola as well as the usual friends liked it. But my most exacting critic, Imelda, found it impressing. I watched the replay at 9:00 PM.

I have amended curfew from 8-6 to 12-4.

Arms bearing outside residence without permit punishable by death.

Kits Tatad read the proclamation, the orders and the instructions after my talk.

Have started checking on Zone Commanders. Gen. Encarnacion of the IV does not seem to have been systematic. He still talks of some people like Mayor Cabili criticizing the proclamation of martial law as premature although grudgingly extending cooperation under Gen. Order No. 3 for all offices to continue functioning.

Talk to Imee and Bongbong. London newspaper had it I arrested the opposition, no mention of communists.

And called up Sec. Romulo and Amb. Romualdez before them. New York Times at least was sure handed and spoke of martial law after the attempt of assassination of my Secretary of National Defense.

September 24

Espiritu is reduced to talking political theory and the legal literature on martial law with a judge; Marcos for his part, detects a possible avenue of attack against martial law and swiftly closes it off, in an informal (verbal threats) and formal (a string of new decrees) closing off of the Supreme Court as a venue for challenging martial law:

Diokno, Chino Roces, Max Soliven etc. have filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus before the Supreme Court.

I asked Justices Claudo Teehangkee, Antonio Barredo, Felix Macasiar and Felix Antonio to see us. They insisted that the government should submit to the Supreme Court for the Court to review the constitutionality of the proclamation of martial law, Proclamation No. 1081.

So I told them in the presence of Secs. Ponce Enrile and Vicente Abad Santos as well as Sol. Gen. Estelito Mendoza that if necessary I would formally declare the establishment of a revolutionary government so that I can formally disregard the actions of the Supreme Court.

They insisted that we retain a color of constitutionality for everything that we do.

But I feel that they are still image-building and do not understand that a new day has dawned. While they claim to be for a reformed society, they are not too motivated but are too bound by technical legalism.

I have amended both Gen. Orders Nos. 1 and 3 to assume all powers of government including legislative and judicial and clearly excluded cases involving the constitutionality of my acts from the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.

I met the cabinet to emphasize the program to reform our society.

And I signed the decree (No. 1) to promulgate the law on the Reorganization of the Government…

September 25

Espiritu recounts attempts to figure out if fellow delegates are OK; and rumors sweeping the capital:

In the meantime, rumors have spread that Mayor Estrada has been shot by Metrocom troopers. Erap shot? But he cannot die; he is not supposed to. He wins every gun battle in the movies, doesn’t he?

Activist UP pastor Jim Palm and Asia World Student Christian Federation Sec. Moonkyoo Kang appeared at the gate. They invited me to join them for coffee with Louise Palm and Pastor Dave and Cory Sobrepeña over at the Nordik Restaurant.

Dave recalled, as we sat down at the Nordik, that Cecille Guidote was crying while watching the dance at the Cultural Center with them because Cecille was preparing to appear on TV very soon with Joseph Estrada. She said that “Erap” has been shot and is dead.

We were quite grim. Jim’s usual levity was gone.

We moved for dinner to the Taza de Oro. Upon our arrival at the Taza de Oro, we saw (former Governor) Wency Vinzons, Jr. who told us the same dreadful news: Joseph Estrada is dead! Wency also said that he had heard from his sister that Soc Rodrigo, who had earlier resisted arrest, died that afternoon at the hospital.

There were all sorts of rumors. Grim ones.

We were in gloom. Soc Rodrigo was a good man… or lay brother, if such a one could exist. Didn’t Mabini say that the true man of God is not only he who wears a soutane?

For his part, Marcos continues with his effort to stare down the Supreme Court –and expresses satisfaction with how everything has turned out:

Met Justices Fred Ruiz Castro and Salvador Esguerra on a consulta.

I told them frankly that I needed their help and counsel because we must keep all the actuations within constitutional limits.

Justice Castro asked permission to ask a blunt question, “Is this a coup d’etat?” and I told him that it is not but it is the exercise of an extraordinary power by the president for a situation anticipated by the constitution.

Justice Esguerra said immediately that he feels that it is a legitimate exercise of martial law.

And apparently reading my mind, he said, in the Merriman case, Justice Tannay had issued a writ of habeas corpus for a man who was detained on orders of President Lincoln. And President Lincoln just disregarded the judicial order. And Justice Tanney said, “what can we do, we are confronted by a superior authority?

I then concluded that there must be no conflict between the two separate departments of Justice and Executive for it would be embarrassing to both.

I believe that they are both of this persuasion.

The public reaction throughout the Philippines is a welcome to martial law because of the smooth, peaceful reestablishment of peace and order and the hope of a reformed society. In fact most everyone now says, this should have been done earlier.

I attach the report of Boni Isip about the same result of a survey conducted by Liberal Party Leader Gerry Roxas.

It is indeed gratifying that everyone now finds or discovers I am some kind of a hero!

There is nothing as successful as success!

September 26

Espiritu recounts discussions among delegates as to how long martial law might last –and the continuing threat of further arrests:

“How long would the detention last, if it should come?” There was a faint note of desperation in Ding’s voice. “Tito Guingona has told me that martial law would last forever.”

Ding, in his agitated state of mind, was losing his rationality.

“Don’t believe Tito. After the government shall have caught the people it would like to catch, martial law would probably be lifted. And you could always read and write in the stockade,” I comforted him.

“But what if it should last for a year?” His voice trailed off.

“No, I don’t think it would last that long. Besides, you are not guilty of any crime.”

After about 30 minutes of our conversation, I said as a parting remark: “In the remote possibility that you are taken, Ding, send an SOS. I may be able to help you in some way.”

“Yes,” he replied sadly.

I left Ding and went to Bobbit Sanchez and Caling Lobregat.

Ten tense minutes passed. Suddenly Caling came to me and bent towards me.

“Ding has just been taken by the military.”

“What?” Unnerved, I slumped on my seat.

Sig Siguion-Reyna came to me and whispered that he was with Defense Minister Johnny Enrile, his brother-in-law, last night. These people mean business, he said. While he was with Enrile, they talked about a news item that Roquito Ablan was seen at Forbes Park. Sig said that Enrile himself ordered his soldiers: “Well, let’s put him immediately in the stockade, otherwise the people might say we are playing favorites with these people. We must get him in immediately.”

Likewise, when he was with Enrile, there was a phone call from President Marcos asking Enrile whether Mrs. Gordon, the mother of delegate Dick Gordon, was in the list. Enrile answered that she was in the first list but that he had already taken out her name. Enrile told Marcos he didn’t know why she was arrested by the military in spite of the fact that her name had already been taken out of the list.

But who prepared the list of politicians, student leaders, newsmen and dissenters to be arrested? It could not be Enrile because he knows me quite well. He knows I’m neither a Communist nor a man of violence; simply a practicing Christian who believes in the need for democratizing wealth and economic power in a society whose hallmark is that of distressing social and economic inequalities. Indeed, if we should really want to achieve development, we have to institute radical changes in our social structures, even as we should work for far-reaching changes in the structures of the world economy.

Sig warned us that there are many people in the list, and that the arrests have only started. He has also heard over the radio that according to President Marcos, mere speculations and rumors are punishable.

“In other words, do not speculate, do not spread rumors, do not think.”

Pabling Trillana interrupted our talk. He told me in a subdued tone that he had just signed a manifesto passed on to him by Tito Guingona.

“What was it about?” I asked.

“The manifesto opposing martial law, similar to the Diokno manifesto I signed and passed around four days ago.”

“You must be careful,” I advised him like an elder brother.

He became visibly afraid. He pleaded with me to talk with Tito Guingona and persuade him to try to “hold” the document that he had signed.

I continued advising Pabling Trillana. This is not the time for these things. We are now under difficult conditions.

He repeated his plea for me to talk with Tito.

I went to Tito. He was tense. He showed me the manifesto. He asked me to sign it, but I demurred.

“In fact, for your own safety, you should not release that,” I chided Tito. “Mrs. Trono has just told me she was worried about you because you are in the ‘list.’”

Mrs. Trono, although a Marcos supporter, showed genuine concern. “Guingona is innocent and is a good man. To all of you, young people who are innocent, please keep quiet. What can you do?”

Here was a rabid Marcos partisan—a political enemy—now showing sympathy for us. The springs of human compassion are indeed inexhaustible!

“Ninoy Aquino is so powerful but where is he now? What can you do? And you, Caesar, please don’t get involved. You with your transparent idealism, you should be serving your people, not be languishing in jail. And please tell Guingona not to get involved.”

I related all these to Tito, but he seemed ready for martyrdom. “We might as well express our last words before being taken in.” There was a note of bravado in his tone of voice.

“But there is no sense trying to be a martyr by courting detention. And what do we achieve? If we have to speak out, and risk our lives, let us do so. But let us be sure of our objective. Let us act at the right moment.”

“After all, we would just insert it in the records. He would not read it before the Convention.”

“Tito, you are a patriot. You and I are about to be arrested. Should we also get our friends involved?”

Could this be a self-fulfilling prophecy?

And Marcos addresses the same question –in the process showing he doesn’t seem set on what he will eventually do: padlock Congress, as he expedites the “approval” of a new Constitution:

Spoke to the separate unit commanders and the major service commanders at the ceremonial hall: The proclamation of martial law is a constitutional exercise of power; it is not a coup d’etat nor military take over, it being a legitimate exercise of power, the government is a constitutional government, the reforms are necessary to win the battle because this battle is not just the battle with guns but the minds and hearts of our people, that reform will counteract subversion which is the bigger battle; that the use of media a legitimate necessity.

Then finished the decree of reform and the abolition of the PSC and removal of GAB chairman Montano.

In the afternoon I gave the first interview to Tillman Durdin of the New York Times and later to the UPI Vic Maliwanag and Pat Killen.

They asked how long it would last –I will keep it only as long as necessary- “To dismantle the communist apparatus” and this includes the reforms I envision.

For a corrupt government cannot long last -or a sick and criminally infected society.

“I hope before the end of my term.”

The Con Con and Congress continue. The power of the President merely augments the deficiencies.

September 28

For Espiritu, the dreaded announcement finally arrives –he is on the list of those to be arrested:

The note on my desk said I should ring up Sig Siguion-Reyna. It was 6:00 o’clock p.m.

Another note was marked “Urgent.” I should call up my brother Rebeck.

I called up Rebeck first. He informed me that Beth Mateo, Bobbit Sanchez’ secretary, had called him up to say that I was in the “list” and that, according to Bobbit, I should call up Sig.

I called up Sig.

“Where are you?”

“I am at home.”

“Well, why don’t you come over?” Apprehension was apparent in his voice.

“Is it serious, Sig?” My voice trembled. “If it is, may I request you to contact immediately Johnny Ponce Enrile. We are good friends and he knows me very well. It is very important that he be notified.”

Rebeck decided to meet me at Sig’s office to give me company. Sig was waiting for me. It was quarter past seven o’clock. He had a forced smile on his face.

He immediately took us to his room. Then almost solemnly, he said that he had gone to the session hall and that one of his primary reasons for going there was to see me. He then told me that last night, he was at the house of Enrile and while they were chatting, Sig was casually looking over the military’s thick list of the persons to be arrested. Suddenly, he saw—because he was farsighted—my name and that of (Senator) Sonny Osmeña’s in the secondary list.

It must be really serious. This is it, I gasped.

I was now getting to be unhappily resigned to the idea that I might be arrested and detained by the military. Are we not all of us—atheists or believers—really fatalists at heart?

I asked him if Enrile knew that my name was there.

Sig did not know, but he made me promise that I would never mention to anyone that he was the one who told me. But he was emphatic that my name was there.

“I saw it very clearly: Espiritu, Augusto Caesar.”

“I should like to see Johnny.” I was getting anxious.

Sig said that it would be quite obvious he was my informer if he took me to Enrile. Although they are brothers-in-law, Sig did not want it said that he has betrayed Enrile’s trust.

The only advice he could give me, he said, was for me not to sleep in my house tonight. He said that in any case he promised that whether he saw Enrile or not today, he is going to see him if and when I am “picked up.”

“Not after I am picked up, Sig… before!” I shrieked.

I repeated that Enrile and I are quite good friends; we have known each other for more than 23 years and he personally knows I have not done anything wrong.

Well, Sig said, the problem with Enrile at this time is, he would not recognize any relations or friends.

He was not too reassuring but he tried to demonstrate that he is a real friend.

I asked Sig’s opinion on the advisability of my seeing Lt. Gen. Fidel Ramos. Eddie Ramos knows me, too.

Sig thought that General Ramos would be tight-lipped. He is a soldier; he only obeys orders.

“Do you think I can see Johnny?” I repeated, as in a trance.

Sig repeated that it was untimely for him to take me to Enrile. He felt it would be quite difficult to see him, anyway, because of so many security men around his house.

Then I asked if perhaps I could talk to Estelito (Titong) Mendoza, the solicitor-general, who is one of my really closest friends. Sig thought that there is very little contact between Titong and Enrile. In any case, he thought that the key man here is Enrile, not Titong Mendoza, not Eddie Ramos.

I asked Sig if, perhaps, Edong Angara could help.

Ah, yes, Edong, he replied. I could ask Edong’s help because he was also at Enrile’s house last night.

Sig can be such a terrible rightist at times that I get exasperated with him. Nevertheless, I am somewhat fond of him; he is actually a good friend. I am grateful.

Sig and I are both nonpoliticians. We had first met when we were campaigning for the Con-Con in Caloocan. The vice-mayor of the city wanted to have us greet some people he had gathered together. Sig and I rushed to shake the hands of the people, hardly looking at their faces. Just like politicians, we just shook hundreds of hands in thirty minutes flat when, to our embarrassment and dismay, Sig and I suddenly discovered we were shaking each other’s hand! We have since been associated in some business activities.

How many seconds did it take me, in my bewildered state, to negotiate the several hundred meters distance between Sig’s office and Edong’s?

The ACCRA (Angara Law Office) partners were all there at the office: Edong, Teddy Regala, Ave Cruz, Jose Concepcion and others.

Still panting, I walked into their conference room.

“Oh, you are still out?” they laughed in banter. “We thought that you would now be at the stockade.”

They were, of course, speaking lightly, but their words only added to my apprehensions.

I asked Edong whether he had heard anything about me.

“You are in the list.” He was forthright. But he added that I was only in the secondary list. He was not sure whether Enrile had said that he was going to scratch my name out or that my name was going to be withheld.

I asked him whether we could see Enrile. He dialed a certain number and very soon, he was talking to Enrile’s wife, Cristina. Apparently, Edong is really in direct contact with Enrile.

“I might as well tell you that Caesar Espiritu is here beside me. We are thinking of going to see Johnny because Caesar is in the list.”

He asked whether he could talk to Johnny over the phone. Afterwards, he hanged up because he said that Johnny was on the other line. Then he said we should see Johnny later on.

After a while, he decided that perhaps it might be better for him to go ahead to Johnny’s place; he would call me up from there.

After another 30 minutes, Edong was on the phone. Enrile was meeting with some generals, and, therefore, we would not be able to see him. He consoled me, however, with the news that he had talked to Enrile. Enrile had said that I should not worry because he was going to “withhold” my name. He kept assuring me that if Johnny Enrile said I should not worry , then I should rest assured.

I was not quite sure about what “withhold” means.

“Ed, it would even be better if he could scratch out my name,” I pleaded.

I am not sleeping in the house tonight.

Marcos pens talking points on the justifications for martial law –and points to October as the crucial month (they would stretch until January, 1973, when he finally got a new Constitution to his liking, accepted by the Supreme Court, and thus giving him legal cover for padlocking Congress):

The legitimate use of force on chosen targets is the incontestable secret of the reform movement.

Restrained force will bring about the New Society.

And the Reformation is coming about without any obstacle.

Gerry Roxas wanted to be invited to meet with me. But the Liberal leaders all want to join up now that martial law is a success.

For that matter, everyone now wants to be identified with the Reform Movement.

Freddie Elizalde who has been a critic has come (brought by Adrian Cristobal) to offer a plan of indoctrination of the masses.

But we already have such a plan. And this must be indoctrination by participation –inflexible justice and actual involvement.

The reasons for change can be articulated later.

I have asked Armand Fabella to organize a Think Tank.

Then I will organize a group of men to follow up projects.

Johnny Gatbonton and T.S.J. George of Far East Review interviewed me at 1100-1:20 am.

We do not want another Vietnam nor another mainland China. If the Communists did not succeed in its plot to overthrow the Republic, the economy would have collapsed anyway because of the paralyzation of the government and business.

Received the lists of the Customs and BIR men to be dismissed tomorrow. Prepared the request for the judges to resign.

I am preparing the Educational Reform Act.

October will be the critical month. The Communists and criminals may be able to regroup.

We have to attend to criminality (keep it down) and food prices, repair the roads up to October.

For the rest of their diary entries, check out September, 1972 in the Philippine Diary Project.

Additional Readings:

Last year, I tweeted a minute-by-minute or hour-by-hour (as much as possible) reconstruction of the events of September 22-23, 1972. Here is the story as it can be pieced together from various accounts:

 

Accounts of arrests also appeared in a series of interviews conducted and published by Cynthia SyCip after Ninoy Aquino’s death. Here are some excerpts.

Teodoro M. Locsin, publisher of the Philippines Free Press:

Q: I understand you were detained together with Ninoy?

A: Yes. They picked me up in my home at Dasmariñas Village and took me to Camp Crame and that was where I met Ninoy, Chino Roces and the rest of those who were arrested. It was an honor to be arrested, of course, if we were not arrested, we would look stupid. So, there we were in Camp Crame… then we were fingerprinted and photographed with numbers like the criminals.

After that, later in the day, they took Ninoy and the rest of us to Bonifacio in a truck. There, we were stripped naked. Maybe they wanted to check whether we had scars or not so that we could not say later that they inflicted it on us. I do not know the reason.

For a while we were kept separate. Chino and I were kept in one building. Ninoy and the rest were kept in another building some distance away. We would meet about 5 o’clock in the afternoon when we would have our exercise. We were given one hour.

Later, we were put together in a one-story building.

Because of the difference in our ages, I really belonged to a previous generation, I really thought of him as a young man. Therefore, we got to be so friendly and so close and we formed deep friendships. We talked, we assigned to ourselves certain tasks, I cleaned the bathroom, Chino killed the flies… Ninoy was there, talking, reading, but there was nothing remarkable about him then…

We were all there, nine of us, and we were very independent-minded people with opinions about everything… you would think we’d get into fights but we never did. Instead we became as close, if not closer than brothers. Each one did not think only of his thoughts and feelings but of the others… not one harsh word, not one argument. That is why I told Ninoy and Mari Velez that we were undergoing a rich spiritual experience we would never otherwise had known inspite of the pain of separation from our families and being prisoners. I would not have missed it for the world… Ninoy was there, he tried to sing his favorite song then which was not “Impossible Dream” but “My Way”, but he just couldn’t carry the tune. So one day he told me, “Teddy, will you teach me how to read poetry?” and I tried but he lost interest… We really learned to be very very fond of each other, but still I thought of him as a young man and I had not much to say to him.

Q: What was remarkable about Ninoy in prison?

A: Well, I’ll tell you… The remarkable thing about Ninoy was that, confined as he was with us, he seemed to know what was happening all over the damn country. I think he was more informed than most people outside. He worked out a system of getting messages in, getting messages out… One day, we woke up one morning to find our small building surrounded completely with barb wires. We thought “Ah, this is it, we’re gonna get shot” but nothing happened. But I raised the question, “What if there’s a fire? We’d all get roasted.” So, we took it up with the Commandant and eventually they removed the barb wires. Possibly that was because there were rumors that we were attempting to escape…

Q: Was it true that you were planning to escape?

A: No we could not try to escape. We were there for only 71 days. They released us, except Ninoy and Pepe Diokno… So I was released. The night before my release our warden came to the building where we were being held and said, “Mr. Locsin, you may leave tomorrow to attend the wedding of your son,” which was December 1st, and I said, “What happens if I go out? Am I supposed to come back?”. He said, “Yes, you can come back but you have several days of enjoying yourself outside.” And I said to him, “I don’t want to go out. It has taken me 70 days to get used to this place, to begin to get used to prison, I don’t want to start all over again to begin to get used to living outside. Thank you.”

But the next day three or four Generals came, brought with them Scotch, and I asked then, “Are there any charges against us?” They said there was none. Then I asked, “Why are we being held, give me some reason…” He said, “Well, it is for your own good because we don’t know how your followers will react.”

Anyway we were released… except Ninoy and Pepe. When I was there with Ninoy I said to him, “I do not know if you agree but the demonstrations against Marcos led by leftists who were waving banners of revolution gave Marcos an excuse to declare martial law. That was all he wanted. And afterwards when he declared martial law the leftists disappeared.”

Ninoy said, “I agree that those demonstrations handed martial law to Marcos on a silver platter.”

After I was released he was made to go through the horrible experience at Laur. One Christmas season he was allowed to go out and stay at his home at Times St. and my wife and I went to visit him several times and I told him that I was very shocked, disgusted, and felt so bad that the Filipino people did not seem to care. There were no demonstrations against martial law. Nobody gave a damn. The businessmen were happy. Nobody seemed to value liberties. I said, “What kind of a people are we?” There was even that fellow Senator Mansfield, who is ambassador to Japan now, who was supposed to be a historian and a liberal man but who was reported to have said that the Filipino people consisted of forty million cowards and one son-of-a-bitch. It was very hard not to agree with him.

But Ninoy said, “Teddy, don’t take it like that because you will remember what Rizal said, that a man who would lead his people must learn to forgive them.”

Jose Mari Velez, broadcaster and at the time, Delegate in the 1971 Constitutional Convention:

Q: What about later when you and Ninoy were arrested. I understand you were one of those with him when he was detained at Camp Bonifacio in 1972?

A: Yes, we were all arrested on September 23, which was a Saturday morning. I was arrested supposedly on charges of rebellion, sedition, and insurrection. That was the charge in the warrant of arrest but Mr. Marcos never brought us to trial so I don’t know… Ninoy was arrested at midnight at the Manila Hilton, Senator Diokno was arrested at about one o’clock, Chino Roces, well, he was not at home, Soc Rodrigo at about three o’clock, and I was arrested at about four o’clock in the morning. In any case at about six o’clock that morning we were all together at the Camp Crame gym which was then being boarded up… I mean you could see that they were preparing it for more people who would come in and by noontime there were quite a number of us inside, but, of course, Ninoy was the bubbly one. Even inside he was greeting everybody. Of course, he was greeting everybody because he was the first one there and he saw everybody come in. The first thing he told me then was, “So, they got you. Welcome to the club”. That’s more or less how he greeted us.

Q: Were you genuinely worried that first day you were arrested?

A: Oh yes, all of us were worried. You gotta be worried anytime you’re picked up in the middle of the night by the military. And don’t forget, Ninoy was a senator, I was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. Technically, we were all enjoying so-called parliamentary immunity, so it was a period when in effect the constitution was being suspended and it was quite a step for Mr. Marcos hoarding everybody into jail. So naturally, we were all worried. I guess we were all seeking strength and consolation in each other’s arms. Generally it was really not knowing what was going on. We didn’t know. We were told that it was martial law but none of us had a copy of the proclamation of martial law. You could see more or less the quality of the people coming in. It was really the opposition. One of the more chilling incidents was that on that same day in the afternoon the Sergeant came in and read the list and said “Will all of you follow me” and he starts out with “Senator Aquino.” Now, we asked the Sargeant what it was for and he said, “I dunno, sir,” that’s how a Sargeant usually answers, you know. The thing was that, when the list was read, and since it began with Ninoy, it sounded like a “death list”. Some of us really thought that it was a list of people who were going to be executed. Since I am talking of the first day of martial law, you can imagine how we felt. In other words we were all removed from Camp Crame gymnasium and put in a bus and we were brought to another place inside Camp Crame. They said that we were being transferred somewhere else. Then we were in effect transferred to Fort Bonifacio.

Another ConCon delegate (and former Free Press writer) Napoleon Rama, recounted the events as follows:

This is what happened. We were playing ‘balot’ in the house of Chino Roces. We were about 3 or 4 people there. At 8 o’clock in the evening Chino arrived.

Chino said, “You know, I’ve got it from the horse’s mouth, there’s going to be martial law tonight”. Doming Abadilla was with me and he said that it was another of Chino’s ‘kwentong kutsero’. So, we ignored Chino.

At 10 o’clock, we watched television. The news then which was flashed on T.V. was this alleged ambush of Juan Ponce Enrile. But when they said that the scene of the ambush was inside a subdivision we started reconsidering Chino’s news.

I said, “Chino, that is an indication that there may be martial law… they’re rigging the events.” I’ve been following Marcos’ strategy of creating incidents and I thought this could be one of the excuses for declaring martial law.

At 11:30 we got a phone call from Mrs. Diokno who was crying over the phone saying that they have arrested Pepe Diokno. She was calling from a neighbor’s house because their telephone was cut. She said that martial law has been declared.

Five minutes later, Cory Aquino called up. She told Chino that Ninoy has been arrrested.

Thirty minutes later Mrs. Maximo Soliven also called up. So, I said, “I think if Soliven is arrested, they will also arrest me. You, Chino, will also be arrested.” Then the Manila Times called up and said that the Marines have closed all the operations and invaded the place.

I said, “Chino, I think we are going to be arrested.” He said “Yes, ok, let’s go out of this place. Let’s go to Central Luzon or to Baguio.” “You’re crazy Chino. They have all these guards posted on all the raods and on all of the highways,” I said.

We called Gerry Roxas and he confirmed that they had already declared martial law. We went to the house of Gerry Roxas. Five minutes later we learned the soldiers had come to arrest Chino. The wife of Chino called us up at Gerry Roxas’ place. She said, “They are all here, looking for you and ransacking the whole place.” Later, Chino decided to just go to Camp Crame and surrender. He got some sandwiches and he put them in his pocket. He wanted to walk alone. Gerry said, “No, I’ll accompany you.”

I came home about 2 o’clock and before I could reach the stairs there was a very loud buzzing and there were soldiers with long guns who came in.

When we were there at Camp Crame, there were about a thousand of us, Ninoy was the one who would greet us and would try to console us. He would say, “Never mind, you’re in good company, join the club.”

At about 10 o’clock General Nanañiego arrived. He said, “Alright, I’m going to call your names and these people will please come forward”. He was calling the name of Ninoy Aquino, Pepe Diokno, Mitra, Chino Roces, etcetera, myself… there were ten of us.

I said, “What are they going to do?” Ninoy said, “This is it. We’re going to be sent to Luneta to be shot.” Soliven was very depressed and told Ninoy, “Son-of-a-bitch, why do you talk like that?”. We were taken out and sent to another place which was the air-conditioned quarter. That was still in Camp Crame.

Ninoy was whistling and was happy as he told us, “You know what? there’s a bathroom in the other side of that building. I’m going to take a bath.”

Of course Soliven was angry, “You are a son-of-a-gun Ninoy… We are here, you know we are going to be killed and now you are making a joke of this thing.”

Ninoy said, “I have to take a bath. At least when I meet my Creator, I am clean.” That was the kind of fellow he was. He was unafraid. But I thought he was telling jokes to cheer up people. He was concerned about us.

Then we were taken out of Camp Crame at about 2 o’clock. We took a big bus, a Metrocom bus, and we had about 10 escorts, and so, we had this motorcade… everybody was looking at us…

Ninoy said, “If we reach Buendia and we turn right, we are going to Luneta to be shot, you can expect that.”

Somewhere in EDSA near Guadalupe there was this traffic and we were stopped. People were curious, cringing their necks and watching us. We rode in a big bus with big windows and some recognized us.

I was seated beside Ninoy and he said, “Look at our people. They know that we’ve been fighting for their rights, that we’ve risked our lives and that freedoms have been taken away from them, and yet, they are not doing anything… Look at them, they’re just watching us, curious, so, I don’t think there’s hope for the Filipino.”

His statement then was different from what he said later that the Filipino is worth dying for. Almost contradictory… but I could understand Ninoy’s feeling. Many of us there were trying to do something for the country. Because of this they arrested us. Ninoy half-expected, I think, that there should be some disturbances or reaction from the people, some kind of demonstration. But there they were just watching us not doing anything, so Ninoy was depressed.

When later we were brought to Fort Bonifacio we tended to agree with Max Soliven. Soliven reiterated his theory that Mr. Marcos had taken a measure of the Filipino people and found them wanting. That is why Marcos had the nerve to declare martial law and just abolish these institutions of freedom. He knew, according to the theory of Max Soliven, that the Filipinos would not do anything about it…

Joaquin “Chino” Roces, publisher of the Manila Times:

Q: I understand you were arrested with Ninoy when martial law was declared in 1972?

A: Yes. We were arrested and there were sad times and happy times of our life in detention. In a way I am glad that I had the opportunity of getting to know those who were with us in detention. I am proud to have known them and proud to have had the opportunity of being with them.

I remember a time when Ninoy was with us in jail and there was some sort of a movie. We were outside, the two of us, and I saw in one corner. He was crying. So, he was by himself a little away from the group. So, I approached him and told him, “Ninoy, what’s the trouble?” He told me that one of his men was taken and was tortured. Ninoy was very sad about it and he said that he would have rather been the one arrested and tortured. That was one particular time when I learned that Ninoy cared for people.

Life, death, decisions, during the Japanese Occupation

Filipino officials and Japanese General Homma Masaharu at the former residence of the U.S. High Commissioner, January, 1942

In October, 2013, the country will mark the 70th anniversary of the so-called Second Republic established under Japanese auspices.

In anticipation of that event, the project aims to complete the publication of the Iwahig Prison Diary of Antonio de las Alas, a prominent prewar political and business figure, and member of the Laurel government. His diary, written while he was detained by Allied forces awaiting trial for collaboration, gives a thorough account of the dilemmas and choices made by officials who served during the Japanese Occupation, including their motivations and justifications for remaining in the government.

The diary of de las Alas goes backward and forward in time: starting on April 29, 1945 he details the tedium and petty bickering of prison life, he also gives an insight into politics and society during the Liberation Era, while extensively recounting his experiences during the Japanese Occupation.

Salvador H. Laurel, son of occupation president Jose P. Laurel, was tasked by his father to keep a diary of their going into exile at the hands of the Japanese (see entries from March 21, 1945 to August 17, 1945).

His account bears comparison with the conversations recorded by Francis Burton Harrison, prewar adviser to President Quezon, who again served as an adviser during World War II, when the Philippine government went into exile in Washington D.C. His entries covering the government-in-exile begin on May 30, 1942, and come to an end on May 31, 1944.

In the Philippine Diary project, other diarists put forward different facets of life in the Philippines during the Japanese Occupation.

Charles Gordon Mock, an American originally imprisoned together with other Allied civilians in the University of Santo Tomas, details his experiences as a prisoner-of-war transferred to Los Baños on May 14, 1943.

The experiences of soldiers and guerrillas are captured in the diary entries of Ramon Alcaraz –his entries chronicle the transformation of a prisoner-of-war into a soldier serving in the Japanese-sponsored Philippine Constabulary: and how he used his Constabulary postings for guerrilla activities (the progression of this development can be gleaned from a sampling of entries: June 30, 1942; August 3, 1942; August 30, 1942; February 20, 1943).

The diary of Felipe Buencamino III ends with his first few weeks as a prisoner-of-war in the concentration camps established by the Japanese; but he resumes his diary on September 21 1944, at the tail end of the Japanese Occupation (see October 2, 1944 for an example of the growing anticipation of the end of the Occupation): in fact, his diary ends just at the moment of Liberation.

His father, Victor Buencamino, chronicles the frustrations, fears, and tedium of being a mid-level official still serving in the government, not so highly-placed as to be ignorant of public opinion, but also, trapped between public opinion and his own problems as someone in government. His diary serves as a counterpoint to the diaries of soldiers and officers in the field, and to the other diaries describing life during the Occupation.

Two other diaries remain to be uploaded extensively, namely the Sugamo Prison diary of Jorge B. Vargas, onetime Chairman of the Philippine Executive Commission, and Laurel’s wartime ambassador to Japan, and the diary of Fr. Juan Labrador, O.P, a Spanish Dominican who kept a diary during the Japanese Occupation. But perhaps these will have to wait for future anniversaries.

You can browse the entries of the diarists mentioned above by clicking these links to view their entries in reverse chronological order:

Antonio de las Alas

Ramon A. Alcaraz

Felipe Buencamino III

Victor Buencamino

Francis Burton Harrison

Juan Labrador O.P.

Salvador H. Laurel

Charles Mock