March 29, 1942

Gave the men in the office a confidential, heart-to-heart talk. This is what I said:

“Many responsible people outside and inside this office have suggested that I should be more assertive or aggressive regarding my powers and authority, and that if these are not accorded me, I should resign.”

“This is very easy to say, especially for people outside who are wont to criticize without knowing what is going on in this office As a matter of fact, I placed my resignation verbally with Secretary Vargas as far back as January, which was denied, and also with Mr. Noya on three subsequent occasions, each time likewise denied. I could not put this in writing for obvious reasons.”

“To the people in the office, in particular, I must remind that since the Japanese Army of Occupation took possession of the NARIC we have been literally sitting on top of a volcano, what with every one of the personnel being under a constant nervous strain, and more so when Mr. Castro Unson was taken to Fort Santiago, and subsequently, our Assistant Manager, Mr. Victor Pagulayan. In other words, as a conquered people, we have to grope our way through the confusion and uncertainty, and accept orders as they come. Under the circumstances, we should not demand anything but merely suggest, petition or make of record.

“The truth is that the many unnecessary inconveniences which the public suffered in the manner in which rice and flour were distributed, in the purchase of palay, and in the issuance of passes—all caused condemnation of the writer, without the public knowing that those procedures were made upon orders of the Japanese authorities regardless of our suggestions. Our men in the office know that nothing can be done without the stamp of approval by any of the dozen Japanese civilian authorities placed in this office. What could we do? Merely accept orders and invite their attention. What has been their answer? That people erroneously believe we are proceeding on peace-time basis, and they forget that we are still at war: in short, their answer is, ‘Such is war!’

“I now ask every member of this office to think in retrospect from this day back to January, and consider what has been their state of mind. Hasn’t it been incessantly under nervous strain on the verge of prostration? How many have left on account of that condition? They are Abes, Melo, Paez, Occeña, Orendain, Sison and other minor employees. The rest of us have stood at our posts and tried to work as best as we could under these very difficult circumstances, which means, to obey orders and not to demand anything. We are sacrificing ourselves to serve the people.

“With the placing of the NARIC under the control of the Army, in which I was formally named Manager, I shall now try gradually to demand the authority which corresponds to the Management. But this must be done with plenty of good judgment and prudence.

“This morning Mr. Tanco and I are going to return the visit of Gen. Yamakoshi and pay our respects to him. I shall make my first overtures on the authority of the Manager.”

I must study tight-rope walking.

 

March 27, 1942

Noya has been replaced by Mr. Fukada as Supervisor. Noya was all right. He was not arrogant and we got along quite well. There must be a code of gallantry between generals. A friend of mine told me that when General MacArthur left for Corregidor he left his room in the Manila Hotel just as it was. “As if he just went out for a walk,” my friend related. “His books were in the shelves, some on top of the tables and his clothes and even his decorations were left as they were. There was obviously no effort to hide anything.” My friend said General MacArthur left a little note to the commander-in-chief of the Japanese forces entrusting his belongings to him. The Japanese general, in turn, has not touched Gen. MacArthur’s room. “And he has ordered the Manila Hotel Manager,” recounted my friend, “to see to it that nobody touches anything in the room.” The age of chivalry has not passed.

March 23, 1942

The Army formally took over the NARIC this morning. This is what I said:

The work of the NARIC heretofore has been to stabilize prices both to producers and consumers. Notwithstanding forecasts of failure by many of the best business minds of the country, this corporation has been successful from the beginning of its operations, as compared with results obtained from similar institutions in other countries.

We have been ordered verbally by the Japanese authorities to control and regulate the harvest and distribution. It is undoubtedly a colossal task. We have been requested to cooperate towards that end and our adviser-supervisor Mr. Yoshio Noya, has asked us to muster up determination, because this is the policy of the block economy of Japan. Under these circumstances and upon orders as you have just heard, it behooves each and everyone of us to work and cooperate along this policy to the end that we may assure the country its main staple food—rice.

As to the present harvest, time is running short. To save the harvest from spoiling, I earnestly reiterate what I have repeatedly urged upon the authorities: to provide immediately these four indispensable needs: (1) police protection; (2) fuel for trucks, threshers and mills; (3) sacks; (4) financing.

We are appreciative for this visit of the High Command and we hope it will be fruitful to all concerned.

Today’s shocking headline: “QUEZON REPORTED DEAD IN ILOILO.”

March 22, 1942

Had a showdown with the Supervisor. There is nothing like talking frankly. I told him I wanted to know just where I stood. If I am Manager, I want to manage. Otherwise don’t call me manager.

We agreed on these things: (1) That the whole office is under my responsibility. He (Noya) is only an adviser. (2) That he (Noya) will be the chief of the General Service Department. (3) That all decisions of the department chiefs, including those of the Japanese, must be approved by me. (4) That the main objective of the corporation at present is to insure the people’s food supply. Towards this end, we shall presently exert our utmost to save the crop in the fields from spoiling.

Noya revealed that almost all plans of the NARIC have already been approved by the Army. He also stated that the ₱600,000 for this month is forthcoming.

It is clear that I have the responsibility. Shall I have the authority commensurate with it?

Man is not always guided by reason and justice.

March 14, 1942

Presented my resignation verbally to Mr. Noya. Was “asked” to remain. Insistence on my resignation will be considered a hostile act by the Military.

Another Japanese raised his hand to one of the Filipino employees. He caught the Filipino lying.

The auditors of the Accounting Division will be eliminated. The Army will do the auditing.

Pictures in the Tribune of Japanese soldiers carrying Filipino babies and distributing candies to children. That is not the way to attract the Filipino people. They do not believe everything they read in the papers. What happens to them and to their friends is what remains in their hearts.

Rumor (is) that reinforcements have arrived in Bataan. A friend said he heard over the Voice of Freedom the news that the USAFFE has started an offensive. Rumors that the present commander-in-chief may be removed because of his inability to crack Bataan defenses. Several young boys took a banca at Hagonoy and rowed to Bataan. They want to do their part.

These are the youths of Rizal’s dream.

February 23, 1942

Proud of our boys in Bataan. They are still holding the line. KGEI reports “heavy exchange of artillery in the Bataan peninsula.” We’re doing better than Singapore. Filipinos are good soldiers.

Messrs. Noya, Kobatake and Evangelista returned from Bulacan. They report confusion and misunderstanding in purchase arrangements between Major Kurumatani and Supervisor Noya.

Posadas reported inability to handle tremendous amount of detail work in connection with the handling of confiscated rice.

Bank meeting this morning. Didn’t agree with the Board. Binalbagan has a credit line of ₱1,000,000 which was being increased to ₱1,500,000 favorably. On the other hand, Nasugbu and Roxas firms were requesting a credit line of ₱100,000 each for 160,000 piculs of sugar and this was denied. It was my opinion that under the circumstances, Binalbagan’s request should have also been denied. Carmona argued that Binalbagan belonged to the bank. I said that that should give greater weight to my contention. Then Chairman Vargas revealed that ₱350,000 of the requested increase had already been given. This was given without the Board’s knowledge nor consent and I called the Board’s attention to this. Chairman Vargas demanded a categorical answer: “Do you approve—Yes or no?” I remained silent. The credit line was passed.

After the meeting. Vargas called me. In the presence of President Carmona, Vargas apologized, giving as excuse his state of high nervous tension.

Later in the morning, as I had no time to go to the bank, I told Carmona over the telephone that under the circumstances, I did not want any longer to be a board member and I leave it to him to present my resignation as bank director at the opportune time. Carmona asked me not to resign. “Just forget the matter, Vic,” he said.

Those present in the board meeting were Carmona, Sison, Rodriguez, Gomez, Avanceña and Vargas.

I submitted my resignation, verbally anyway. A man must stick to his principles.

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.

February 16, 1942

Martial law is severe, ruthless. It knows no leniency. Three British internees were made to dig three graves and then they were executed in the Santo Tomas concentration camp as an example to all other internees. The Britishers tried to escape.

It is hard to argue with the Japanese. This morning’s Tribune carries a news item from the Manila Defense Command advising civilians of Manila to cooperate with the sentries and approach them in a friendly manner. “The advice,” says the Tribune, “has been given because civilians run away when sentries approach them.” Everything has been twisted. Now it is the civilians at fault. Black has become white.

Reminded Supervisor Noya of the suggestion I made at the Rice Growers Meeting last Saturday that out of the 1 1/2% milling tax paid by producers and merchants which is equivalent to .0975 if rice costs 6.50, 3 centavos be set aside for the operation of the NARIC. Mr. Noya will take the matter up with the Japanese High Command as he believes the proposition will further help to stabilize the finances of the corporation.

The British forces in Singapore have unconditionally surrendered. It must have been a bitter, humiliating experience for the Britishers. Is this the end of British imperialism?

Saw a Japanese officer and a white girl enter a side door. He was old; she was young. Such is life.

February 14, 1942

Asked an old man of eighty years which regime he prefers: Spanish, American or Japanese?

The old man thought for a moment. Then he answered and there was a sparkle in his eyes: “The best regime is our own regime. A Filipino regime!”

There is much wisdom in the old man’s answer. A foreign regime, no matter how benevolent, cannot be preferred. A master is always a master. Spain may have given us Christianity; America, democracy; and Japan, racial dignity. But only we can give ourselves national sovereignty. It is useless to await the fulfillment of promises of independence. Independence is not given. It is always there, sometimes completely suppressed, sometimes partly chained. And it is up to the people to declare themselves independent and to make that independence a reality. Words do not make it. Only actions.

Meeting of rice-producers at the Bureau of Plant Industry. Present were Sanvictores, Silayan, Juan and Jose Cojuangco, Alzate, Mrs. Rustia, Mrs. de Leon, Belmonte, Cajucom, Alfredo Santos, L. de Leon, Virgilio Rodriguez, Quisumbing, Balmaceda, Gabaldon and myself. Supervisor Noya presented the plan of the NARIC regarding the purchase of the harvest. The producers were told how much they would be paid for their rice. While their opinion was sounded, the final decision rested on the NARIC. The price fixed by the NARIC took into account both the ability of the consumers to pay and a reasonable profit for the producers. The NARIC is the neutral body standing between consumers and producers. If someday the producers control the rice industry and they are the ones to dictate the price of rice, the industry will collapse because the balance maintained presently by the NARIC will be removed. The determination of the price of rice must always be placed in the hands of a disinterested body.

Two Japanese soldiers were knocking at the door of my friend’s house. Since they were asleep, because it was midnight, they were not able to open the door immediately. When they finally opened the door, the Japanese were very angry. They slapped my friend and threatened him with Fort Santiago. He came to me this morning complaining. He wants to know how he can obtain redress for grievances.

“In these days,” I told him, “patience is better.”

Fire can be extinguished by water.