April 6, 1942

Soldiers by the hundreds, tired, haggard and hungry, passed by our command post. They gave the report that the front lines were already pierced and all was in chaos. Reports were made that Generals Lim and Capinpin were surrounded in Mount Samat. In brief, there was no more resistance in any point between the front and us. I watched and inquired eagerly for any member of the 41st, George’s regiment. I did not meet anyone. These soldiers belonged to the 42nd, 43rd, and 21st regiments. I feared that George’s regiment was entirely annihilated or possibly still holding up a useless resistance somewhere.

The sight of hundreds of soldiers passing by our command post, each man to himself, not knowing where to go, reminded me of Andre Maurois’ vivid picture of France’s defeat. My heart sank at the thought that defeat was only a question of hours away for the Philippines.

March 1, 1942

Yesterday, Major Dumlao for the first time talked to me since he became our Battalion Commanding Officer. He told me that he received news that George was back again in the hospital, this time more shell-shocked than ever. The CO at first felt reluctant to let me go, aware of my misconduct the week before. When he asked me if I really need to go, I said of course I need not have to, but that I would be very grateful if he will grant me the permission. At eight in the morning, he asked me why I wasn’t yet on my way to the hospital. He was really a swell guy – kind, friendly and understanding. I brought with me a pack of Piedmont, which I bought for five pesos. I knew George would be starved for cigarettes.

I went to three hospitals searching for George but he was nowhere to be found. Since the Philippine Army General Hospital was only a few hundred yards from the G-2, I took time out to visit Lt. Guerrero once more. This time, he showed me the script that had been read over the radio concerning us. I was sure that if Papa heard the broadcast he would know I was safe. I thanked Leonie for it. The members of the Tank Company were proud to hear of the script. Not finding George in any of the hospitals, I decided that the news was one of those exaggerated reports. I later found out it was just what I thought.

Our ration had been greatly reduced to water with a few drops of milk for breakfast and rice gruel for lunch and more of the same for supper in insufficient quantity. If we could only have boiled rice thrice a day! But were we not at war?

Today we started to send out a daily “patrol” of two to buy rice, meat or anything edible from the civilians in the mountains. We spent most of our money buying hot cakes made of rice flour, with no sugar, very little milk and no yeast. They were two inches in diameter and cost 30 to 35 centavos each. Nevertheless they “sold like hot cakes.”

February 3, 1942

HQ, Intelligence

Bataan

 

Given mission to Manila. Will take the Corregidor-to-Cavite route. Will bring ten operatives with me including two signal corps men. Should be in Manila by the 8th. Am excited. Can’t tell anyone about it, though. Fred just asked: “Why are you fixing up that civilian outfit?” Pretended not to hear him.

Leonie down with Malaria. He also has dysentery. Two days ago it was Fred. Even the doctor is sick. I have a slight headache.

Right now Maj. Javallera is bawling out two privates who fell asleep during their guarding hours. I pity the men. They have very little food, they work in the morning and afternoon and they even have to be sentinels at night.

Japs are now putting pressure on eastern sector. First they bomb the lines; then they shell; finally they attack. All their thrusts have been met with withering infantry and artillery fire. Some of our artillery shells fell short and exploded on our lines. Several boys killed.

Raid. Plenty of planes.

 

(later)

 

Climbed cliff of Little Baguio to watch planes bomb Mariveles airfield and Naval depot. Had a good bird’s eye view.

One formation came from east… The other from the west. When they were approaching their targets, our AA units opened fire.

Saw white puffs of smoke following path of Jap bombers. It was a beautiful sight. Jap planes looked like silver bullets sailing in clouds. AA shell-burst like white wreaths being thrown at planes.

Watched bombs as they sailed to objectives. Could hear sharp shrill sound of falling bombs. First bomb missed target. Landed between two camouflaged warehouses. Earth shook up to my high vantage point. Saw dust rise like geyser where bomb dropped. More bombs. Target burst into flames. Could feel wind blowing against my face. AA fire intensified. More white puffs below planes. Jap plane dives. Nope, it is falling. Twirls to earth. Crashes in Bay. Fires in naval depot. Many died.

Good story: Lt. Palo accompanied Lt. Mondoñedo to airforce headquarters. While Mondoñedo was talking to officers of the air corps, Palo stayed outside and talked to an old American who was wearing an old shirt, while basking in the sun.

Said Palo to the American: “Say bud, what are you doing out there?”

Said the old fellow: “Oh, I’m whittling this piece of wood.”

Palo: “What’s that?”

Old fellow: “Carving a dame.”

Palo: “You are too old for that stuff.”

Old fellow didn’t answer.

Palo: “Say Bud, have you got a glass of water?”

Old fellow took some water for Palo. Palo complained. “Haven’t you got a cleaner glass?”

The old fellow said that he drinks out of that glass.

Then Palo said: “Do you mind if I lie down on this table. I am tired.”

“That’s o.k.,” said the old man. “I’m dressing up now. Leave you for a while, lt.”

After about an hour, Lt. Mondoñedo finished his business with the air corps officers. When Mondoñedo and Palo were walking out of the HQ, they saw the old man dressed in a General’s uniform, with stars on his shoulder straps.

Palo stood at attention. Nervously he said: “I’m sorry, sir.”

Gen. George said: “That’s o.k. lieutenant. But don’t you ever make the same mistake with a capt.”

Palo is now in bed.

January 7, 1942

51st division C.P.

Bataan

 

Japs are in Manila now, according to KZRH. I wonder how the family is. Seat of government has been transferred to Corregidor.

Jap successes in Luzon theater have been made possible by crippling of our airforce in first raids on Clark, Nichols, and Zablan. Many bombers were grounded. Right now, there are only seven fighters here in Bataan. Gen. Brereton, chief of airforce, has left for Australia. New air chief is Gen. George.

Saw hundred of men working on airfields in Cabcaben and Mariveles. Tractors were leveling ground. Giant cranes were roaring whole day. Labor crews were hastily building caves in mountain sides to serve as hangars for planes.

Meanwhile Japs dropped dozens of bombs in Cabcaben and Mariveles aerodromes. Huge craters made in middle of fields. As soon as Japs disappeared, men hurriedly covered bomb-holes and leveled ground with rollers.

Saw Jess Villamor and G. Juliano in quartermaster dump near Lamao field. Both fellows have been awarded Distinguished Flying Crosses for dogfights with Japs. Villamor was requisitioning for some uniforms. He had only two. They said they had no more planes and were waiting for shipments from Australia. I think the quartermaster chief denied their requisition, poor fellows. Found out Juliano is a cousin of mine. He said his dad and mine are cousins.

On my way back to our C.P., I had my sergeant sit on the engine so he can watch the sky for planes. It was a good precaution because two or three times, Jap fighters strafed the road. A truck ahead of us was hit by three bullets but the driver was uninjured.

Went to Gen. MacBride’s headquarters to arrange for a launch to bring the general to Corregidor. Col. Willoughby, MacArthur’s G-2, said the general’s presence was required in the Rock on the 8th. While I was in MacBride’s command post, AA shrapnel started raining near the Signal Corps tent. Nobody was injured. Everybody remained calm. Had a little discussion with a nasty American lieutenant while I was waiting for Major Raymond, MacBride’s assistant G-2. The lieutenant told me to stand at attention when in his presence because I did not notice him when he passed. I told him “To go to He–l”. He said he was sorry and explained that he thought I was “the fresh Filipino sergeant who was here yesterday. You look alike. Sorry.” I replied: “Your apologies accepted. Go to a doctor to get your eyes straightened.” He said: “Tough guy, eh?” I said “Nope, just been around.” “So, smart guy?” “Nope,” I replied, “just my poisonality.” The guy gave me up for hopeless and Major Raymond and Col. A. Fisher arrived. Fisher shook my hand and said: “Here’s a good friend of mine” and he introduced me to everyone. When he was going to introduce me to the nasty mutt, I said: “We’ve met, colonel.”

Missed my dinner because I arrived too late and the stupid mess sergeant didn’t keep anything for me. “I thought,” he explained, “you ate somewhere else already, sir.” I told him that from now one he must always reserve my food when I am not around because people in other divisions don’t offer food for visitors and where does he expect me to eat. The sergeant looked genuinely sorry. I guess I’ve got to stay hungry till tomorrow morning, heck. Missed Mama’s cooking more than ever.

 

(later)

 

Just arrived from lines. Reports received in C.P. that Japs have opened infantry fire. Went to the line. The men were cool and raring to fight. The night was lovely. Plenty of stars. Jap firing was very ineffective. Men asked only one question: “Where is the convoy?” They themselves answered the question with “Oh well, maybe in a week.” Must sleep now. It’s midnight. I’m hungry.

December 29, 1941 – Monday

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At 5 a.m. I phoned Collector de Leon. His voice showed that he was worried. “I have not heard from the Apo”, he said, “I fear that it may have been sunk.” I decided to take other steps if no reply was received by 6:30 a.m.

At 6:30 a.m. I called up Mr. Jose (Peping) Fernandez one of the managers of Compañia Maritima and told him that I had to see him with an important problem. I rushed to his house. He realized my predicament. “I can offer you ships, but they are not here,” he said. After studying my needs from all angles we decided that the best thing to do would be to ask the U.S. Army to release the SS Mactan.

We contacted Colonel George, in charge of water transportation, and asked him to meet us at USAFFE Headquarters so that we could discuss the matter with General Marshall. We met at 8 a.m. and it was decided that the U.S. Army would release the Mactan to me to convert it into a hospital ship. I was told the SS Mactan, was in Corregidor and it would not be in Manila until after dark. I rushed to the Red Cross Headquarters and asked Mr. Forster to have the painters in readiness to start the painting without delay, as soon as the ship docked at Pier N-1.

Last night Mr. Forster sent a telegram to the American Red Cross in Washington informing them of our plan.

At 11 a.m. Collector de Leon phoned me that the Apo was sailing for Manila that evening. I thanked him and informed him that it was too late.

At 5 p.m. Mr. Wolff phoned me that they have received an important radiogram from the Secretary of State, Hull, and that my presence in the Red Cross was urgent to discuss the contents of this radiogram. I rushed there. Mr. Wolff, Mr. Forster, Judge Dewitt and Dr. Buss of the High Commissioner’s Office were already busy studying the contents of Mr. Hull’s radiogram. It was specified in it that the sending out of Red Cross hospital Ship was approved; that the Japanese government had been advised of its sailing through the Swiss Ambassador and that it was necessary that we radio rush the name of the ship and the route that would be followed. Moreover, we were told to comply strictly with the articles of the Hague convention of 1907. These articles define what is meant by Red Cross Hospital Ship, how it must be painted and what personnel it must carry. It clearly specifies that no civilian can be on the boat.

I left Red Cross Headquarters at 6:30 p.m. No news of the SS Mactan had been received. At 9 p.m. I called Dr. Canuto of the Red Cross, and I was advised that the ship had not yet arrived.

At 11 p.m. I went to Pier N-1 to inquire. No one could give me any information about the Mactan. There was a big fire in the Engineer Island. It had been bombed the previous day and the oil deposit took fire late this evening. The flames were very impressive. I left at 11:45 p.m.