May 20th, 1900

The President visited Major Panel in his military installation this morning. While we three were gathered together, we suddenly heard the sound of slapping. I went to see what was the matter. Major Jeciel of the infantry, an aide of the Captain General, blinded with anger, was slapping and kicking a soldier of Major Panel’s column. The President felt nervous but said only, “That is not good.” He addressed a few words to Major Jeciel; but as the latter continued striking the soldier, the President stopped and rebuked him. We went home to take our breakfast.

He was preoccupied and thoughtful as he sat beside a small window. After a while, he said, “Look!” A black butterfly with small dots on the border of its wings was resting on his left hand, which was on the window sill. He was about to touch it when it flew away; it came back and flew away again, never to return. Again he told me after a while: “I’m getting more nervous each day.”

After lunch we went up, at his request. We ascended the summit of the mountain where our sentinels were stationed. He reconnoitered the place then ordered the captain to place an officer in charge of the watchtower. We descended after a while. Having ordered Major Panel in the morning to a higher position, we went there to see him. The column under Gatmaitan had also ascended to the immediate vicinity of the farmhouses.

On our way back to the forces under Major Gatmaitan, the sentinel on the watchtower, on seeing us, shouted that the enemy had deployed as guerrillas to surround our camp. An order was given for everybody to ascend and firing began after a short while. We were calling the Panel column, but they did not hear us; they had placed themselves in strategic positions.

It was getting dark but still the column under Gatmaitan had not arrived; meanwhile, the firing was getting more intense. There was a lull, though, which made us suspect that the firing came from an uprising of the Igorots. As the bullets would suddenly whistle at our side, I urged the President to abandon the place. Upon reaching a certain place at sundown, our horses could not pass. A shout of “Americans behind” forced us to abandon horses and saddles; we took with us a satchel, a raincoat and a woolen blanket only.

It was night when we reached a ranchería; our guard could not find the way out. At last a trail was found. There were few of us; hardly ten soldiers were in our group. While following this pass, we saw from afar many lights coming towards us. We left this trail and went deep into the forest, and ascended mountains whose summits we could not scale because of the rocks and steep slopes. Here we spent the night of May 20th, ignoring what fate could have in store for us.

Our forces broken up and their whereabouts unknown, we were desperate; but our energetic leader decided to leave this place. He was looking for a trail for us to follow when suddenly he heard a sound which seemed to have come from the ranchería. He took the rifle and removed his helmet. I replaced it with my dark-brown one. Moving cautiously, he addressed those behind him. But they had ran away, leaving the four of us alone. What demoralization!

He called and led us to a road, a short distance away, to another ranchería, which we reached at dawn. We rested a little, cooked, and ate mouthfuls of rice without salt, after which we resumed our march upwards. Our guide, Vicente Langcay, was doubtful about the road we had taken. After several turns, we decided to go uphill. We had covered half the distance when we saw some of our companions coming our way. Retracing our steps, we met Capts. Villareal and Yldefonso with some soldiers. We were very happy.

We followed the road up the mountain peak and saw the Americans arriving at the ranchería we had just left. Down the mountains we found a settlement and then another, where we were offered some rice. We ate a little and drank water; then we continued to a river, on the left side of which we had to walk over big boulders.

We reached Tuctuguinoc, a ranchería, where they cooked rice and killed a pig for us. However, when the food was about ready to be served, our sentinel announced that the Americans were at the river deployed in guerrilla groups. We almost jumped, leaving the place in flight. As I was in an undershirt, I put on my black coat, the cartridge-belt, and my gun; but my hat was not in its place when I reached for it. I saw the President, Villa, and a companion, already quite far from me. Fearing to be left behind, lost or separated from them, I ran without a hat to overtake them.

On our way to the peak we saw the Americans in the ranchería. We continued moving upward. After a short while, I felt giddy; I could neither open my eyes nor stand. They came to help me. Our brave leader fanned me, and while I was resting on his lap, he gave me some mouthfuls of rice and water to drink. After half an hour, I regained strength, and we resumed the trip.

Villa was informing me that we had still a long way to climb when, suddenly, our leader ordered us to descend to the left and leave the road. After fifteen minutes we heard firing at close range from three different sources. We were surrounded by three enemy columns, who were firing at us continually, their bullets whistling past our rear guard. A slight confusion ensued. We ran downward, found a dry stream, followed its course, retraced our steps, ascended; and then our chief ordered us to return downstream.

The firing continued. The President ordered that a reconnaissance be made throughout the length of the river. Two soldiers followed his instructions. He, likewise, ordered Lieut. Carasco, his aide, to go with them. After going a short distance, [Lieut. Carasco] came back shouting that there were Americans. There was great confusion; we turned around and ran away. I, then, advised the President to proceed to a small forest, but he answered: “I do not go to a forest to hide.”

By this time everybody had recovered. The two soldiers sent to investigate returned informing us that there were no Americans.

We followed the course of the river and left the enemy behind.

In the afternoon, almost at dusk, we rested, wet, hungry and tired on the right bank of the stream; we slept as best as we could on damp mossy stones.

At noon, following the mountain ranges one after another, we descended to a plain. At a distance we saw the ranchería of Tabog. We reached and crossed a river, then rested on the opposite side where we cooked and ate some rice. We were nearing Magaripi, in the vicinity of Tabog, when we observed a column [of individuals] moving down the mountains. We could not recognize them. We seemed certain they were the enemy. Our Chief ordered us to stop at the side of a river at our left and disperse. With my field glasses, I saw a man dressed in black with a colored felt hat holding a rifle. I remarked, “They are Americans.” I took along the President, and the two of us passed by the river to reconnoiter. Suddenly, I noticed the group ready to fire. I pulled the President by the arm and drew him away from the firing line.

At a safe distance, they called us and told us that they were Filipinos. We returned to verify. They were Lieut. Taro [Teodoro Dayao] and some forty-five men, who were grouped together when we arrived. We entered Magaripi. Lieut. Taro informed us that, according to reports, there were about two hundred of the enemy in Tabog. We did not care, though; we were hungry and wanted to eat.

President Aguinaldo ordered the vanguard column to enter, leaving the rear guard outside the town with us. He sent a corporal with six soldiers to the crest of the ridge with field glasses to observe the enemy. There was confusion in Tabog. They had formed guerrilla units; others climbed the mountains where they had put up guards. They were thinking perhaps that we would attack them. We ate a little, then departed in an orderly manner, retracing our steps part of the way. Before dawn we were in a forest. Here we rested. When it was daylight, I observed that everybody looked like corpses—pale, weak, and with deep-set eyes!

We had no food. A puppy who had followed us was killed and eaten by some soldiers.

In the afternoon we departed and followed the road to the ranchería of Magaogao. Early the next morning we reached the first house situated at the nearest barrio. Here we ate rice offered by an Igorot. We headed to the interior of another forest to rest. Here we bought palay[1] at half a duro[2], a tabo[3], which would measure three chupas at the most.

We had a good meal. We rested and slept; in the evening we moved past the enemy line. We crossed one tranquil river, then another; but the third, reaching us up to our waist and chest, was very swift. We thought of suspending our trip, but the President taking the lead advanced shouting, “Decision, brothers!” Holding tightly to one another, eight to ten of us in number formed a chain and crossed the angry waters which seemed to sweep us off violently.

With great effort we reached the other side, but lost ten rifles. There were Americans in the población; however, we passed it quietly without being noticed. We came to a mountain, climbed it and found a house on top. We turned left; but our leader was doubtful, he summoned the owner of the house, who led us to the right. Upon reaching a certain place, our guide Langcay dismissed the Igorot, as he was now familiar with the route.

After a short distance we came to a dead end. The guide wavered; he was lost, and so were all of us. We descended to a stream. We had very little to eat; the rice was exhausted. We followed another route, which led us to another stream. As it was late in the day, we stopped here for the night. The following day we retreated, took a trail to our left till evening. As we could not go any further, we slept beside the road.

At dawn we resumed our trip; at the end of two hours we beheld from a distance a corral with cows in a barrio of Mogueb: the sight brought joy to all of us. We descended the mountains and sent out guide Langcay in advance. He returned after two hours with some rice and the roasted leg of a kid. We ate immediately.

We reached the house of the keeper of the corral: he offered us ground corn. When it was distributed among the soldiers, each received a mouthful. A cow was killed and roasted: we ate without salt or rice.

We had been eating beef only until the afternoon of the next day, the 27th, when we departed for Enrile. We marched the whole night, reaching the Madalusong hills by dawn. At 7 a.m. the towns of Tuguegarao and Enrile came to view. We stopped and sent Langcay to the barrio to locate Capt. Floro Calixto. His delay made us impatient. A Tagalog woman from Nueva Ecija brought us ground corn which was consumed by the 5th Company. I gave her ₱2.00 to bring me food. When she came back after half an hour she had rice and a roasted chicken; she also cooked sinigang and brought two ripe mangoes. We ate.

Villa with Subido went to the house of Vicente Guzman, whom they found having his lunch. He was barefooted, with his trousers tucked up. On seeing them, Guzman put on his socks and shoes and invited them to eat. Without having tasted food for three days and two nights, without rest and sleep, they devoured the fare, consisting of lisas, large banac,[4] and mangoes; nevertheless, they did not forget their table manners.

[1]Rice in the husk.

[2]A duro is equivalent to five Spanish peselas.

[3]Container made of the hard half-shell of the coconut.

[4]Fish of the mugil species.

May 17, 1900

Just as the honorable president awoke this morning at 6 o’clock he found an Igorrote of this settlement, who told him that in Sumader, a settlement distant one hour from this, there were Americans en route here. As soon as we were aware of the presence of the Americans in Balbalasan we knew that their plan was to shut us in on all sides for the purpose, perhaps, of capturing the honorable president. He, on receiving this news, at once sent a courier to Sumader to see if the Americans were already there.

The men returned at the end of an hour and told the honorable president that the Americans were eating breakfast when he left that settlement.

The honorable president thought of making resistance, but as he did not have sufficient forces for that, nearly half of our soldiers being sick, he deemed it expedient to abandon the camp. In fact, at 8 a.m. we left the settlement, following the route to Guinaang, in order to gather up some of our soldiers on duty there.

We reached the guardhouse of the first outpost at 10 a.m., and halted here to observe the movements of the enemy. At 10.30 Major Gaitmaitan arrived, having come from the trench on top of the mountain ridge facing Sumader, and said that he left Lieutenant Morales and fourteen soldiers in that trench.

At about 11.30 Lieutenant Morales arrived with his soldiers. He reported that the enemy did not reach the trench, but flanked it to the left, and had succeeded in going as far as Cuabuntot, a settlement on the other side of Labuagan, and distant from it only one hour. Being unable at this moment to further avoid the coming of the enemy, the honorable president ordered that we should continue the march for Guinaang, which we reached at 1 p.m.

This morning the honorable president did not know how to carry our sick soldiers who, on account of the seriousness of their condition, can not walk. He found no remedy except to give instructions for them to be left behind. Accordingly, he particularly charged the head man of the settlement to take good care of the soldiers who are going to remain, saying that he and all the people of his settlement will have to answer with their lives for these sick men. The honorable president delivered money to the head man of the Igorrotes to buy food for the sick soldiers, and he also gave $3 to each one of the latter. It can not be imagined how sad and desperate they are, through fear that the Igorrotes may have a “kanao” feast at their cost. But these can not follow us, because they are too weak to walk. Divine providence will protect these defenders. After eating, at 2 o’clock p.m., we left Guinaang, passing through thick woods on the mountain ridges, and going up and down among these.

At 3.30 we arrived at the Pugon settlement and kept up the march, continually descending and ascending, toward Magsilay, which we reached at 5 o’clock. Being unable to spend the night there on account of the nearness of the enemy, the honorable president gave orders for us to go on till we reached the next settlement.

We kept on. But daylight was already disappearing. We were traveling very slippery roads, and at every minute could be heard the sounds of soldiers and officers falling down. We ascended a very high mountain, several of our pack horses falling down its sides into the precipices and becoming utterly useless. In spite of the painfulness of the journey, we kept on climbing till we reached the top, everyone being exhausted, wet with perspiration, and so out of breath that he could not pronounce a single word. The top once gained, we followed the direction of the mountain ridge. Night came on, and the darkness was so intense that we were unable to recognize one another. Besides the road being very slippery, it was very narrow, crossed by thorny trees, and close to deep precipices, which appeared to be only waiting to receive some lives into their depths. But with our five senses we gave all our attention to our walking. Nevertheless, some of the pack horses became victims of the precipices.

We reached the place where we had to begin descending the mountain ridge. The road was so steep that it seemed to be vertical. Many of us taking a step had to prolong it for 50 yards—that is, we fell and rolled over and over like a ball. Thanks to the thick branches of the trees covering the mountain ridge, as they defended us from the precipices and counteracted the diversions (sic) of falling.

Nine o’clock arrived and the light of the moon enabled us to see. Though the moonlight scarcely penetrated the interior of the mountain ridge, owing to the bushes and trees, yet it was of great assistance to us.

In spite of the difficulties of the road and the great number of falls, we kept the march without halting, until at 11.30 p.m. we reached the foot of the mountain ridge, where the Cagaranan settlement is located.

We ate supper at 12 o’clock and then went to sleep. It should be noted that the greater part of our soldiers had not yet arrived, as those constituting the vanguard (sic) arrived about 3 a.m.; and also that First Lieut. Alberto Bautista left this morning for Cagayan Valley, having been specially commissioned by the honorable president to establish the Katipunan society in those regions.

April 8 and 9, 1900

Nothing of importance.

The honorable president is preparing for a decisive attack on Bangued.

On the afternoon of the 9th the honorable president attended the drilling by the soldiers, and his attention was attracted to a 16-year-old boy among them, who, besides being well versed in tactics, showed by his bearing that he was of noble and refined parents. The honorable president, unable to resist his affection for the boy, had Major Gatmaitan called, and then asked him who that boy was. The major told him that the boy was a son of the lawyer Ventus, of Nueva Ecija Province, who was shot by the Spaniards during the revolution of 1896. Then the honorable president at once sent for the boy, who did not delay in presenting himself, and asked him who he was, and how and by what means he had entered the army. The boy replied that his name was Paquito Ventus, a son of a man shot by the Spaniards; that his father was a paralytic years before the misfortune; that his mother had also been dead some time; that he had eight brothers, but five of these were minors like himself; that impelled by the profound grief under which he was suffering he entered the Filipino ranks of General Tinio’s brigade; that his present rank was that of a corporal; and that during a fight with the Americans in Ilocos he was on the point of being captured, but owing to the fight taking place in the mountains he had been able to escape by climbing up among the precipices.

When asked by the honorable president if his ideas were firm and inflexible, he replied that he would prefer to live and die in these mountains rather than submit to foreign rule. The honorable president immediately ordered the captain of the company to strike Ventus’s name off the rolls, as the honorable president would take charge of him. Since then Ventus has been in the honorable president’s quarters, being well treated and considered as a veritable son.