September 27, 1944

I don’t know whether to laugh or to mourn but the puppets among us are still trying to show that we really have independence around here and that we are free and that we are running the show in these islands. No. 1 puppet, Jose Laurel, gave a speech over the radio and he paraphrased Lincoln’s “United we stand; divided we fall” speech. Then he appointed deputy governors and other officials to suit the tempo of the martial law he has enforced in this country through the courtesy of Japanese bayonets and guns. But what is the use of all this puppet-show, this stage-lighting, this silly act that fools nobody but themselves? Everybody knows that what counts in the Philippines today is not what Filipino officials say but what the Japanese officers dictate. Laurel is nothing but an echo, a human microphone with eye-glasses and an ability to make a pretense. He probably thinks he is fooling the Filipino people with his repeated affirmations that there is going to be no conscription. But that doesn’t pull the wool over anybody’s eyes. Everybody knows well enough that the Japs don’t want to arm the Filipinos for the plain and simple reason that their heads are not going to stay on their necks if they give our countrymen bayonets and guns. Oh well, why bore you with the stupid acts of our puppets? The less said of them, the better…

Saw a heart-breaking scene today. A young fellow knocked at our door and then collapsed. My cousin revived him with water and food. He had tears in his eyes and he said that he had not eaten for days. This is just the beginning. Hungry days are fast approaching. Food supply is getting very low. Very few things are being sold at the market and at sky-high prices. An egg costs more than ₱7.00; a ganta of rice around ₱160; and if something happens to the water-reservoir, even water will probably be sold. Ate nothing but canned goods today. Beans, sardines and a little rice. Its good Mama and Papa thought of stocking up canned stuff for lean days and it’s good too that the canned goods have not deteriorated. The stuff we have were bought before the war when the slogan of the CEA was “Make every home an arsenal of food”.

Got to close this letter now. Joe’s waiting for me. We intend to bike around town. Santa Cruz and Tondo churches have been taken by the Japanese. Atop the tower of Quiapo church, there are AA guns. Tio Gabriel said that the Cathedral had been filled with ammunition. Oh well, what can you expect from these people? And then, I suppose, they’ll cry like babies and tell the world that the Americans have bombed churches, if U.S. planes drop a few sticks on these ancients relics! Manila may yet be another Cassino.

P.S.

Curfew has been advanced to 8 o’clock. Some say 7 o’clock. Its hard to verify. The sentries don’t talk in English except in their native, savage Japanese. There are no newspaper that reach this district. The Tribune newsboy delivers the papers only when feels like. And all the telephones –for civilians– are out of order.

May 31, 1942

Quezon came into my room at the Shoreham for a two hours’ talk. Yesterday he had offered me an official position to go around with him and help him with his English in preparing his speeches. I told him I thought his command of English was excellent, and that I had not come to him to get a job. “But that was the reason why I asked you to come,” he replied. So here I am back again as adviser to the President, as I had been in 1935 and 1936. I hope I may be of some use to him in his very trying situation as head of a government-in-exile.

I then asked him whether he had foreseen the coming of war between the United States and Japan. He replied that during those last few weeks before the Japanese struck he had been sure of it. I enquired what he had thought of the note handed by Secretary of State Hull on November 26, 1941 to the two Japanese Ambassadors. He replied: “What did you think of it?” “I thought it,” I said, “the equivalent of a declaration of war upon Japan.” “So did I,” he put in; “with such a people as the Japanese,–no government could possibly accept such a proposal as to get out of China and give up Manchuria; the government which did that could not survive. So immediately I asked Admiral Hart urgently to call on me, and told him: ‘Admiral, this is the same as a declaration of war by the United States upon Japan. What will happen if our communications with the Mainland (i.e., the U.S.) are cut?’ The Admiral replied: ‘Oh, it will only be a matter of three weeks.'” Quezon continued by saying that a few days before Pearl Harbor in his speech on “Heroes’ day” (on December 2nd, 1941) at the University of the Philippines in Manila, he told the students how heavy his heart was, because many of those magnificent young men who had just passed in parade before him were soon to lay down their lives for their country.

Quezon then went on to describe to me the meeting of the American-Japan Society in Tokyo which was attended by Ambassador Grew, on the occasion of the appointment of Nomura as Ambassador to the United States. At this meeting, Foreign Minister Matsuoka had told them of his efforts to get Nomura, a retired admiral, to go to United States as Ambassador, because Nomura was known to be a personal friend of President Roosevelt. At first Nomura had been unwilling to accept the post, but Matsuoka went to his house and persuaded him to take on the serious and difficult talk of reaching a working agreement with the United States Government. Matsuoka then emphasis his opinion that it was the duty of the United States and of Japan to avoid war–if not, it would be a terrible conflict, and would destroy civilization. Matsuoka then sent a letter to Quezon enclosing a copy of this speech and wrote at the bottom of the letter as follows: “To His Excellency President Quezon: Dear Mr President, I hope you will agree with my views.” The envelope was addressed in Matsuoka’s own handwriting, and was handed to Quezon by the Japanese Consul General at Manila–so every precaution had been taken to conceal the identity of the person to whom the letter was to be delivered–even the stenographer was not to know. Quezon said that at the time, he thought this was a very “suspicious circumstance,” and that Matsuoka was in deadly earnest. “But,” Quezon added, “I did not then know anything about the real strength of Japan, and I simply wondered how they dared even to consider a war against the United States, since he assumed that America would immediately send their whole fleet against Japan and completely destroy the Japanese navy.”

He did not believe that the second Japanese envoy Kurusu was sent to the United States to join with Nomura in order to “gain time.” Indeed, he thought that it was the United States that needed “time”–not Japan, and he added: “The seriousness of the situation was apaprent when the attack was made on Pearl Harbor, because the Japanese never go to war unless they are thoroughly prepared.”

On the question as to why the Japanese aviation had bombed President Quezon’s birth place, Baler, Quezon did not believe at any time that this was done in reprisal because he had called upon his people to support the American side; “If it was aimed at me,” he asked, “why did they respect my houses at Baguio, at Mariquina and Malacañan Palace itself? Those buildings have not been damaged nor looted.” (N.B. It transpired later that the bombing at Baler had been aimed at the small wireless station there.)

Quezon then reported a conversation he had had a few days ago with the Chinese Ambassador who had told him Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek had recently gone to India not, as reported, to try to persuade the Indians to join the English in resistance against Japan, but to try to persuade the British Government to give independence to India!

I then asked the President to elucidate the phrase he had used: “doubts as to my duty to the people of the Philippines” which beset him when he arrived at Corregidor and of which he at once had informed President Roosevelt by cable. Of course, I could understand his perplexity as to whether it would be best to insist upon further resistance when he was already convinced that the United States neither could nor would send reinforcements nor supplies to them while concentrating on the German War, but I asked him to explain further his state of mind then on that momentous question. Thereupon, he replied that he might have considered advising his countrymen to join an association of Asiatic nations which were to be partners in the real meaning of the word but that he had no confidence in the Japanese offer to them of self-government. He added: “Those fellows would not really leave us alone to govern ourselves—-it would take them three hundred years longer to learn how to do so.”

Asked about the internal situation in the Philippines just before the war, Quezon began his reply by stating that he himself was a sincere democrat and really believed in the rule of the people, but that in dealing with the application of this theory, especially in times of strain, there were too many people going around advocating democracy for everybody without any real sense of responsibility towards the people themselves or knowledge of the struggle and fight necessary to protect democracy. He believed it was especially necessary to know the background of a people, and to understand what their history meant. This, of course, recalled my effort in 1936 to prepare for him at his suggestion, and when first acting as his adviser, a bill to reform the system of landholding in the Philippines, so as to protect the millions of small farmers (taos) in their tenant holdings and really to begin the dividing up of the many great haciendas. The bill was modelled upon Gladstone’s “three F’s” land bill of the 1880’s for Ireland, as had been suggested to me by Quezon himself. But, as related in the first part of this “diary,” the members of his Cabinet all balked at it and the President had handed it back to me with the remark that it was “loaded with dynamite.” I replied that I had, at the time, been greatly distressed by the failure of this effort at reform, but that I know a little of the background in Philippine history: how, always until the Spanish liberals had begun in their own country for reforms, with repercussions upon the Filipinos, the state of society in the Philippines as in other Malay communities elsewhere had been entirely aristocratic. “Why,” I said, “Your own Cabinet then, and most of the members of the legislature–those gentlemen were almost all aristocrats.” “Except me” he interrupted, “I wasn’t one.”

Then I got him to tell part, at least, of the story of the constant friction existing between High Commissioner Sayre and himself during the year before this war. He started by saying that Sayre is, personally, a very nice fellow, but unlike his late father-in-law, Woodrow Wilson, he does not understand government. He is one of those lovers of liberty who goes around trying to apply liberty as a solution to problems which arise without much consideration of the results to follow; that he started all his arguments with him (Quezon) with the statement: “I am a Christian gentleman,” which is no doubt perfectly true, but in itself does not solve by its application all political problems. The serious disagreement between Quezon and Sayre which had some bearings on inadequate civilian preparedness in the Philippines just before this war broke out, arose through what the United States would call the “Office of Civilian Defense,” and had nothing to do, as I had previously presumed, with any attempt by President Quezon to spend part of the $50,000,000 then held in the United States for the Philippines. Nor did Quezon try to get the United States to pay for his Office of Civilian Defense.

The trouble between the President of the Philippines and the High Commissioner started in 1940 when the legislature passed an act delegating to Quezon powers to regulate the civilian defense corps and otherwise prepare for a supply of food and for making air-raid shelters for the protection of the civilian population of the Philippines. The Philippine constitution placed his power in the legislature only “in a national emergency,” with restrictions on the power to be exercised by the President. They had studied the history of difficulties which had arisen in the United States over the “delegated powers” which are forbidden by the American constitution.

In 1941, during the growing tension throughout the Far East, Quezon issued the necessary executive orders based upon this grant to him of limited delegated powers. At once, a group of young Filipinos called the “Civil Liberties Union” passed a resolution of protest. High Commissioner Sayre was aroused, and is believed to have notified President Roosevelt who cabled Quezon warning him that adverse sentiment was aroused in the United States since the American “Civil Liberties Union” had joined in the fray. Quezon at once cabled back to Roosevelt that he would not exercise any of the powers so delegated to him without a direct application to him from High Commissioner Sayre.

A few months later, Major General Grunert then in command of the Philippine Department of the American Army, asked Quezon to attend a meeting with him. High Commissioner Sayre and the American Admiral. The general wanted to know what plans there were for the protection of the civilian population in the event of war and complained that so far as he could see, nothing had been done; what was Quezon going to do about it? The President replied: “Ask High Commissioner Sayre”–who sat absolutely silent. Finally, at this conference, it was agreed that a committee should be appointed as an Office of Civilian Defense, consisting of General Douglas MacArthur, then a retired Lieutenant General of the American Army, but engaged as Quezon’s Adviser on Military Affairs and occupied in organizing the Philippine Army, and Quezon’s secretary George Vargas, and A. D. Williams, adviser to the President on public works. This committee was to cooperate with the American General and Admiral. At the meeting, General MacArthur asked Major General Grunert if he would state to him first of all, as Department Commander, whether the American Army was going to protect the Philippines and what plans he had for getting the equipment necessary for such protection? The Department Commander replied that he was only a soldier, and knew nothing of politics; that he intended to fight for the protection of the Philippines but could not state what equipment would come to him for that purpose. General MacArthur then expressed himself as dissatisfied with the latter part of the Department Commander’s reply, and refused to serve on this committee until he had a satisfactory answer. So MacArthur retired from this committee and A. D. Williams and Vargas went ahead with their plans for air-raid shelters, etc.

Shortly after this, A. D. Williams returned to the United States after forty years of service in the Philippines on public works and construction, and by this time General MacArthur had been put in command of all American and Philippine forces in the islands.

At the public meeting on “Heroes’ day,” December 2, 1941, to which reference has already been made in these pages. President Quezon said in his public address that he had not been able to discharge his full duty and prepare adequately for the civilian population a sufficient food supply nor adequate air-raid shelters because he had been prevented from doing so by the President of the United States, and this statement was reported in garbled and misleading form in some newspapers in the United States. Further, Quezon stated that the protest against due preparation in the Philippines had been started by the local Civil Liberties Union, and that if they were thus responsible for any evil results, they merited condign punishment.

At dinner that evening, Quezon told me had rented the house of General Hurley, “Belmont,” near Leesburg, Loudon County, Virginia from next Sunday for the summer, so he will be only two days at Hot Springs–another of those sudden and unexpected changes of his plans to which his entourage are thoroughly well accustomed. This means, however, that I am not to have him to myself to get on with the manuscript.

Bridge in my room at the Shoreham, nine p.m. to two a.m. Very lively bidding and the playing was animated. The other players were Quezon, Dr. Trepp, his devoted physician from Manila and the attractive and modest young a.d.c., Lieutenant-Colonel Velasquez from the Province of Bulacan, a West Pointer, who has been through the battle of Bataan. When the Governor General of Australia met Quezon a few months ago, Quezon told the Governor General that Velasquez was one of the Filipinos who had been doing the fighting. The Governor General talked with him for five minutes and turned and thanked Quezon for the delaying battle in the Philippines which had helped to save Australia. Quezon, however, agrees with me in doubting whether the Japanese plans included the conquest of Australia.

February 19, 1942

Everybody in the office is in a state of high nervous tension. Unson was taken to Fort Santiago. Why was he taken? What will they do to him? Nobody knows. Nobody dares ask. Who will be next? Many are planning to leave the office. They will hide. I may be taken any time. They may hold me responsible for my men. Reign of terror. Sullenly Noya said: “Sympathizers should beware. They too will be investigated.” In Fort Santiago, torture is part of the investigation. Shall I help Unson? Shall I appeal for him? What can I do, anyway? I might even be suspected. Life under the Rising Sun is not sunny but dark. Very dark.

Worked till nine p.m. Closed contracts on sacks at thirty centavos. Tried to buy everything possible. Established policy as to purchases of palay. Buy palay at ₱2.50, if without sack and freight. Purchase rice at ₱5.10, if without sack and freight. Secure truck permits for Syquia, Loewinsohn, Zarragoza, Quisumbing. Trucks are very needed to transport palay and rice. There are plans to commandeer more trucks. Ask Mr. Mori, owner of Mizuno Athletic Supply, for my car, Buick-250. He was the one who commandeered it.

Personnel of the National Trading Corporation must be reduced to minimum, according to the Japanese. The corporation must be closed and liquidated.

The Civilian Emergency Administration has been dissolved. Will ask for the retention of useful men. The rest will be dismissed. Talked to Mr. Noya before leaving the office for home, regarding my resignation. His exact words: “Please, some other time, doctor. Just now you have to lead your boys.”

Had better sleep now. Am very tired. I wonder how Unson is. I hope he is not being manhandled. Today is Mrs. Quezon’s birthday. Can still recall the parties at Malacañan. When will those days return? The past has vanished like a dream.

December 8, 1941

After breakfast, I read the Daily Bulletin, the only newspaper published on Mondays. The Bulletin carried no news of special interest. At seven in the morning, Señor Alberto Guevara called me up. He had just heard over the radio that Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor had been attacked by Japanese planes. That was the first news of the war.

One of the Fathers came up with an “extra” of the Daily Bulletin. But the “extra” added very little to the scanty information we had. It was reported that Japan had declared war on the United States moments before Ambassador Kurusu delivered to Secretary Hull the answer to the demands of Roosevelt. Hull replied that those were the greatest bunch of lies the world had ever heard.

We are beginning to realize that we are engulfed in the whirlpool of war. There is excitement, there are telephone calls, sirens, plans, scamperings, panic-buying of food, clothes and other provisions. Speculations and projections run big. Everybody is playing prophet. Would they attack? No, they would not dare. If they do, it would be by air from Formosa, Hainan, in aircraft carriers. Landing places would be Lingayen and Batangas, but they are fortified. By sea, it is impossible to pass through Corregidor. Evacuate the capital: to Laguna, Rizal, Bulacan, Bicolandia, Visayas. Manila will be mercilessly destroyed. Wait for developments.

Thus it was on the day of the Immaculate Conception.

By midmorning, the Director of Private Schools announced that all classes are suspended until further notice.

But when will this further notice come?

I attended the Provincial Council to discuss emergency and urgent matter. The Father Provincial had just arrived by car all the way from Aparri, as the boat he was supposed to take was late. It was providential though. The boat was later bombed and sunk by Japanese planes.

The other Fathers who felt more secure in the provinces or with friendly families have been allowed to receive money from and live with them. It was feared that the government would order the evacuation of some districts, Intramuros among them. The suburbs are considered safer.

As Chairman of the National Basketball Committee, I presided over the meeting scheduled for today. The members of the Committee unanimously decided to suspend the national championship games which were to start the day after tomorrow. The teams from Cebu and Iloilo arrived yesterday; they were sent back home. There could be bombings during the games and we wanted to avoid a possible catastrophe.

 

Came night time. There was complete black-out. We slept in our rooms on the fourth floor. Two Fathers volunteered to keep watch for the night and to give warning in case of an air raid. It was necessary though, as the siren was situated at the Post Office, about 200 meters away.

We were awakened before midnight by its shrill, doleful sound as if it were announcing gloom which the nocturnal planes would sow. The vestibule and the receiving room were converted into shelters. One hour in the shelters and back to bed.

At three o’clock there was another signal. We scampered down in total darkness, feeling the wall with our hands, taking care that we and the boarders would not slip.

The planes could not be seen. We only saw a small red star like a wandering ruby among the others which were gilded and immobile in the sky.

Then an airborne fleet, like buzzing bumble bees made known its presence. The searchlights ripped the thick mantle of darkness that enveloped us. A frantic volley of shots deafened us. The CEA fired their pistols, the cadets and recruits fired their guns. Artillery and antiaircraft guns thundered, dominating this infernal macabre orchestra with their barking.

The planes continued their majestic flight at a comfortable altitude that permitted them to enjoy the sight of the dogs which below were barking at them with fury.

There were sounds of bomb explosions. We calculated where they fell. Each one of us suddenly became an expert in localizing these deep rumblings. We were hearing them for the first time in our lives, but we indicated the places being bombed with the accuracy of veteran warriors.

And so ended the first day of war, with a greater noise and din than New Year’s eve. Beautiful was the perspective the god Mars showed us!