April 1942
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Month April 1942

April 10, 1942

B A T A A N  H A S  F A L L E N

April 8, 1942 (April 8-9)

Morning

After the general heard my report, I took the field telephone and asked for Bat 108 –Manny’s code name in Corregidor. “What’s up, Primo?” he asked. I said: “the line in the east sector won’t hold. By tonight, the Japs will be here. Tell Leonie to stay there.” Manny didn’t believe me, but I was in no mood to argue… so I said: “So long, Primo… If I get home first… I’ll tell the folks you’re O.K.” Ten minutes later, the field phone rang again. I thought it was Leonie… but I was wrong. It was Oscar. “Say, Phil,” he said… “this is the end. I’m in Kilometer 165.5 with all my troops. Where shall I go?” Oscar sounded serious… in fact, nervous. I knew what had happened. The Japs had already broken through and there was general disorganization. The reserve lines had also probably been captured. It was as Oscar said “the end.” I told Oscar to retreat to kilometer 182.2 near Mariveles… because all Filipino troops were going there. “We better stick together,” I explained, “because the Japs might give us better treatment.” Oscar didn’t answer immediately… then he said, “O.K. kid… I’ll bring my men there. Good luck… and if you see Ramon… tell the old fellow not to be nervous.” That was just like Oscar… joking at a serious moment. For all his carefree, devil-may-care attitude… we needed more men like him in Bataan. To begin with… he had no business volunteering. But he did. General Valdes told him he would be a fool to leave his wife and two-day-old baby. But he did… and he told me one evening: “Phil… if I don’t ever get home… tell my kid why I fought. Tell him… I wanted him to be able to tell the other boys… ‘My father fought for his country.'”

At 6 p.m. –sunset– the phone rang again. “It’s me… Oscar… waiting for you in 182.2.” His retreat was a success.

That night, I burned all my papers, all records… including my diary. It pained me to see that diary go. It helped me a lot. Sometimes when I was very depressed… I wrote all my feelings on its pages…. and I felt better afterwards. But orders were orders. “Burn everything” said the General (De Jesus) nervously… and so everything was burnt.

I slept at Kilometer 182.2 that night, besides Ramon Pamintuan. Gatas Santos was also there. We didn’t know that later in the evening we would have a reunion. Ramon was pale and yellow… shivering with malaria. Gatas was looking fine but he was worried about his white skin. “They might take me for an American,” he said. Later in the evening, Johnny arrived. He was thin, exhausted… but not to exhausted to tell us all about his narrow escapes and the way his car ceased to be a car because of a bomb. Then Godofredo Reyes showed up. I didn’t recognize him in the dark, because I had not seen him for a long time and he had a beard. Then came Hector Unson, who I thought was isolated by Jap patrols in Batangas on Dec. 29. He said he heard I died in Corregidor. It turned out we were praying for each other’s soul. At about eleven o’clock Ernie Es. popped in. He had come from guard duty and he was cursing because it was not his turn to guard. Then Tony Nieva arrived. He was fagged out, sunburnt, and very thin. We gave him the little food we had, because he said he had not eaten for two days. He explained that his men were almost surrounded by the advance patrols of the Japanese, because the Americans ran away without notifying him. It was a reunion alright… but a sad one. We thought we would meet each other in Manila in some victory banquet… not on the night of defeat. But as things turned out… there we were… gathering on the dry bed of a stream… not knowing what the morning had in store for us. Would the Japanese kill us? Would they imprison us? Would they free us? We were discussing those questions throughout the night, I was thinking of escaping, thru the mountains of Bagac via Zambales. But they said… ‘Let’s stick together… till the end.’ We talked of our happy days in Manila… the way we used to run around town… Jai Alai… Casa Mañana… Manila Hotel… drinking, dancing, feasting…I also thought of Nini. It was her birthday –April 9.

I guess we were all changed men… and we all agreed that we didn’t regret our experience. I don’t think any of us were the worse for the hardships we endured. They had made men out of us… and above all… it put our country on the map. It was not all in vain. That’s what I was thinking of… when the ground began to shake and the stones in the stream started to roll. It was an earthquake. Was God going to rescue us in the final hour? My heart beat fast… I was sure something would happen… to turn the tide of defeat… but nothing did…and I waited and waited till I fell asleep.

April 9, 1942

Must order the refumigation of about 400 bags of corn-rice in our Oriente warehouse. This stock is eight months old. It came from Cebu.

Rumors that Bataan has fallen. I doubt it. Will listen over KGEI or “Voice of Freedom.”

April 8, 1942

Bataan

Saw a big rat eating what looked like the arm of a soldier strewn near a stream in H.P.D.

Saw more troops –hollow-eyed, wasted, exhausted, lips parched with thirst, eyes wild with starvation.

Saw corpses of brave men, courageous men being buried by friends, comrades-in-arms.

All troops are moving to Mariveles, the southernmost tip of Bataan. After that is the sea –Beyond is Corregidor, still flying the flag.

Saw the staff car of Gen. Lim. He was riding fast to Mariveles. He looked thin, worried, and his hair was white.

Prayed, prayed, prayed. Prayed for victory. Prayed for myself. For the dying and DEAD.

Will pray some more. In the hour of defeat, there is only prayer.

(later)

Staff-meeting. Very sad, pathetic, gloomy, funeral-like. There were tears in all our eyes. “We are in the saddest moment in our nation’s history,” said the General.

All around us were fires, supply dumps burning, hospitals afire, cars, trucks hit by incendiaries. Great columns of smoke everywhere.

The telephone rang again. It was Oscar Arellano. He talked to me and he said: “Where shall I go with my troops?” He asked: “Are there any orders?” I said: “Go to Mariveles.”

The General said: “Our unit is disbanded. We cannot surrender as members of the Intelligence Service. Let us say that we belong to the 41st Division or any unit you please. The Japs will torture us if they know we have been engaged in espionage work. The general could speak no more.

Fred arrived. He said he went to the coast to look for bancas to row up to Corregidor but there were none.

Officers were conjecturing: “What will the Japs do to us? Will they shoot on sight? Will they torture us? Will they imprison us? Shall we die fighting? Shall we keep a bullet for ourselves? Shall we swim to Corregidor? What about the sharks? What shall we do? Oh Lord what shall we do?

More and more troops retreating to Mariveles. We are also packing up and moving to Mariveles. Took one last look in the direction of the front: it was one phantasmagoria of swirling clouds of red dust, roaring tanks moving men and dust-caked units, crawling on blood-red earth….

8 p.m.

Can feel earth shaking. Terrific explosions. The Americans are blowing up all ammunition dumps.

The General has ordered us to “Burn all papers.”

I don’t have the heart to burn this. I’ll tell my sergeant to do it for me.

(later — 10:10 p.m.)

Fred is crying. He said he saw troops carrying — white flags.

April 8, 1942

Intro from memoirs: But one day I had a scare. Old Pio Duran, who believed in the Jap-sponsored Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, if there ever was one, called me up and said I was wanted at Fort Santiago at 11:30 a.m. on April 8th…

I was worried. I could not tell Lolita [my wife] I was wanted at the Fort…

10:30 a.m. Thinking of Lolita and the kids. In the face of grave affliction, a man’s family is uppermost on his mind. He ceases to care about himself. He only thinks of his dear ones. He suddenly realizes that it is only for them that he lives.

Must stop writing, I’ve got to say goodbye to the boys. This silly sentimental crab will bore you no more…

11:00 p.m. Sorry, diary, the old bore is back again. No, he wasn’t detained. He was just shocked. He was a victim of a twisted sense of humor.

It was not an investigation after all but an invitation. Why I was invited, I don’t know. The others present were Dr. Antonio Sison, Messrs. Julio Francia, Pedro Aunario, Ramon Ordoveza, Pedro Vera, Bibiano Meer and Tomas Morato. Everyone was invited in the same fashion and for two days, they all imagined they’d be tortured in some dark cell. Morato arrived with sandwiches. “Just in case they lock me up,” he said.

Col. Ohta and Major Nishimura, the heads of Fort Santiago, explained the reason for the invitation. “We want to show you that Fort Santiago is not a place of torture.” We were taken around and shown the cell of Dr. Rizal. Games and exhibitions were performed before us. One Japanese officer, a Lieut. Koeki, took a bale of hay and hacked it into two parts with one swift stroke of his samurai sword.

We had quite a luncheon, too. And afterwards everybody was given a chance to speak. When my turn came, I told them what was uppermost in my mind. I was thinking og Pagulayan and Unson. I asked if something could be done to release them. But before I could say anything more, Major Nishimura raised his hands and said: “Not now, please.”

So I kept quiet, I knew all this was a sham.

While we feasted above, men were groaning in the dungeons below. The food stuck in my throat and I felt cold. I guess everybody felt the same way too…

April 7, 1942 – Tuesday

The Vice-President asked me to accompany him to the tailor and shopping.

April 7, 1942

Can’t write. I feel lost.

April 7, 1942

Asked Duran if he knows why F.S. wants me. He said: “Sorry Vic, I don’t know. Major Nishimura was in my house last night and he told me to tell you to be there on Wednesday.”

Stayed in the office until eight. Gave final instructions to Valdezco. “Goodbye, doc,” he said with a sad voice. I had to cheer him up. He is a loyal man.

Couldn’t tell Lolita. She was in a happy mood and she even baked a cake. The kids were talking about a closely contested tennis game. How could I tell them?

My conscience is clear. I trust in the justice of God. I told this to a friend and he replied: “The question is whether you can trust the justice of the Japanese.”

April 6, 1942

HQ, Bataan

 

 

More men retreating, more stragglers, the rear area has become the front. Japs keep on following their gains, bombing, shelling, blasting, burning, shooting, bayoneting. They have been waiting for this hour. Blood is flowing freely…

Evacuee area is a most pitiful sight. Saw women and children gathered around the cinders of their former dwellings, begging for food, bewildered by the terrific advance of the Japanese.

From morning to sunset, the hillsides and shell-burnt roads have been brown with bleeding men –the remnants of the Filipino-American forces. These are the men who have electrified the world with their glorious stand.

Saw troops of the 41st lying on the ground near Mariveles. Most of them were thin, emaciated, yellow with malaria. Many were dying. Others were blind to due to vitamin deficiencies. Some did not have even strength to drive the flies crawling on their bodies. When planes hovered above, they did not move, they did not care to move. Death would be a welcome respite.

Japs advancing fiercely, killing mercilessly, bayoneting with unleashed fury.

Already the flies, the hawks and the pariah dogs have found the dying & dead. Saw a big rat bite off a dead man’s eye.

Still no order to surrender. Fight must continue. Bleeding must continue. Dying must continue. Can hear roar of machine-guns. More & more boys dying, by the minute.

 

(later)

 

Received a phone-call from Manny de Leon from Corregidor. He said “Leonie is very ill.” I gave him my regards and farewell. I told him the lines had broken. After that our telephone went dead.

April 6, 1942 – Monday

Nothing special.

April 6, 1942

I am wanted in Fort Santiago. Mr. Duran called me up by phone and said that Fort Santiago wants me to report there on Wednesday, April 8 at 11:30 a.m.

Shall I tell my wife?

April 5, 1942 – Easter Sunday

I attended Mass at the President’s house. Then the President asked me to go with him on a picnic, at 10:30 a.m. It was a very cold morning and the President decided to stay home, and asked Colonel Nieto and I to accompany his children. We drove to a place called Olinda. It was very cold. After lunch we rushed home, and I had to accompany the President & Mrs. Quezon to a tea offered by the Archbishop of Melbourne.

April 5, 1942

Bataan

 

 

Dead men everywhere. Uniforms red with blood. Guns red with blood. Bataan is a sea of blood.

Some troops still fighting but contact with the main line has been lost. Most of the boys are retreating, firing, retreating, firing –dying.

Saw hundreds and hundreds of unkempt, disheveled, bewildered troops dragging their swollen feet in an attempt to escape from Jap onrush.

An American doughboy, thin, gaunt, skeletal, approached me, asked for “bread, buddy, bread.” I gave him water. I had no bread.

Evacuees are panic-stricken. Saw men, women, children crying. I could not find her.

Divisions have ceased to exist. Regiments are split. Troops are mixed & many platoons have no more officers. Trenches have been abandoned. Everywhere are rifles, broken bayonets, revolvers, staff cars. This is defeat…

Last staff meeting, perhaps, held just a few minutes ago. The General with tears in his eyes said: we are defeated.

He revealed that a last-minute attempt to stop the onrushing stream of Jap troops was attempted but the battalions of P.C. and Scout troops sent were all killed. “Jap tanks not trucks transporting them.”

“That was our last chance, the final hope,” he said.

The mess officer was ordered to prepare as much food as he could. “Let us eat as much as we can,” said the Major. “Make it a 3-day supply.”

Meeting abruptly stopped by strafing planes.

I have a fever.

April 5, 1942

Easter Sunday, but no celebration.

Ration cards for rice will soon be issued to the public. Rice will be distributed through 19 public markets. This system is in preparation for the releases of the increased quantity of rice for sale daily to the public.

Under the new plan, a ration card which will be good for at least three months, Will be issued against a new residence tax certificate obtained for 1942. The ration card will be punched every other day to correspond to a ganta of rice purchased.

Saw a Japanese officer walking with boots that were too big for him. They reached above his knees. He also had two watches on his wrist.

“This is co-prosperity,” said a friend.

April 4, 1942

HQ, Bataan

 

 

The Americans in HPD are burning their papers. Others are packing their maps and clothes. They are transferring to Corregidor. This is a clear indication that our days here are numbered.

Courier boats leaving for Corregidor are packed with high-ranking officers transferring to the Rock. Personally I prefer to stick out here with the men.

The area around HPD, Limay, Lamao is burning. Huge trees are aflame. Craters pock-mark the shell-burnt earth. Hell has broken loose.

Balanga is obliterated. Not a single standing structure. Houses lie in crumbled ruins, mere piles of wood and stone.

The municipal building, the Cathedral, houses around the plaza have been seared by the fire of incendiaries. All along the trails leading to the front are huge bomb craters, gaping shell holes, corpses of brave men.

I saw three Jap planes hedge-hopping in airfield at Cabcaben then flying off again. Boys machinegunned the planes. Planes came back with bombs and killed the boys.

I saw an American driver turning his truck amid burning bushes. He was singing “Melancholy Baby.” I saw an American motorcycle-messenger weeping. “This is the end,” he told me.

 

(later)

 

The lines have broken. Japs with tanks, trucks penetrated the area between the 21st and 41st divisions at the Patingan River.

I saw Lt. Juan Fernandez, aide of Gen. Capinpin, of the 21st. He said: “I don’t know where Gen. Capinpin is. I can’t find him.” It is believed that the General either committed suicide or was captured by the Japs. The last time he was seen was in the very front, directing boys who could no long fire their enfields.

Saw troops, frontline men, retreating in disorder. Others had thrown their guns. No more bullets, they said. They were clinging to their bayonets.

Fred asked: “Where is the convoy?”

 

(later)

 

Sgt. Sinculan could not find her. Where is she? I hope nothing has happened to her.

April 2-4, 1942

In Melbourne.

April 4, 1942

Commencement of NARIC purchasing operations in Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac and Pangasinan.

Said Col. Uzaki on this occasion: “I wish to impress upon you the heavy responsibility that rests on your shoulders as the vanguards of your organization. It is incumbent upon each and every one of you to do the best to purchase a large quantity of rice and palay in a short time, for which purpose you will be custodians of considerable sums of money.”

He promised to supply all provincial employees with food, housing and a per diem of ₱1.00, irrespective of nationality besides rice rations.

A ₱1,500,000 account has been arranged with the Bank of Taiwan. Must immediately send ₱150,000 for Cabanatuan and ₱150,000 for Tarlac. The damage in the Cabanatuan compound due to the bombing in the first weeks of the war must be repaired.

Missing Pagulayan in the office. He was a great help. There is news that he may be executed. I refuse to believe it. Some people enjoy spreading alarming stories. I dislike gossipers and alarmists.

Saw a soldier walking with a monkey perched on his head. There must be some truth in the Darwinian theory.

April 3, 1942

HQ, Bataan

 

Japs pounding the front heavily, continuously, mercilessly. The boys are standing firm, fighting with the littler strength left in their sick, hungry, weary, bloody bodies.

What is happening in Bataan today is phenomenal. Here are inexperienced youngsters –schoolboys, trainees, academy undergraduates– fighting veterans of many campaigns who are numerically and materially superior. “And,” adds the General, “stopping them!”

Saw truck after truck of the wounded, dying and dead being rushed to the hospitals. One truck stalled and the wounded had to be jammed in one of our jeeps. I saw the stalled truck parked near the curve of the HPD. Only the driver was there trying to fix the dust-covered engine. What I noticed on the seats of the truck sent a cold shudder in my spine: it was bathed with blood. Brave blood.

Met a QM officer, of one of the frontline divisions. We did not have a chance to talk for a long time. I shouted to him across the creek if he could still send supplies to the front. He just made a gesture with his hands and shook his head. That was more eloquent than words.

Met an artillery officer. He said most of the cannons have been blasted by bombs. “The end is near,” he said.

Leonie left for Corregidor. He could hardly walk. In his condition, with the bombing, it is better for him to go to the Rock.

 

(later)

 

Fred just arrived. Reported that the Hospital near the HPD was bombed. He said: “Many were killed.” I asked him “How many?” and he answered: “I don’t know. I just know there were many, very many.”

He said that he was visiting a friend when the Japs bombed the hospital. He said he ran to the left side in the direction of the road. Those who went towards the hillside ran to their deaths because there is were most of the bombs fell. “Up to now the hospital is burning,” he recounted.

Fred’s uniform was covered with mud and dust. He was visibly nervous not because of his narrow escape but because of the bloody sight he saw: wounded men rolling in the dust, others shouting with pain, many dying…

April 3, 1942

Will buy a bicycle. My alcohol ration is not enough. It might even be reduced. Most people now ride in rigs, except the Japanese of course. They ride in cars. It is not an uncommon sight to hear a man walking under the blistering sun shout: “There is my car.”

To the victor belongs the spoils of battle.

(later)

Double talk is very frequent these days. People have mastered the art of ambiguity. Here’s a sample of a conversation between two friends who dined with me at the Manila Hotel.

“Japanese music is superb, don’t you think so?” The orchestra was playing a popular Japanese song.

“Not only superb. It is realistic. And also reproductive.”

“Waddya mean—realistic and reproductive?”

“American music, for example is basically savage. It is an improvisation of jungle tom-toms. But Japanese music immortalizes one of man’s best household friends, reproduces that blithe, graceful, nine-lifed creature that women so love to fondle.”

“By the way, where’s Pedro now?”

“They took him for a vacation. So very kind of them.”

“I hope he is all right.”

“Of course, he is. They see to it that nobody hurts you, so they put a lot of men to watch you. And they’ve probably given him bracelets that don’t break unlike those you buy in the Estrella. And not only for his wrist but also for his ankles. They’re so generous, you know.”

“By the way, how’s Maria’s face?”

“Perfect.”

“They told me she was…”

“Yes, she was. Many times. Now she doesn’t have to use rouge. Its all for the better. More economical, practical and attractive. Very attractive.”

“Say, I haven’t seen you for ages. What do you do these days?”

“I’m cooperating with the co-prosperity sphere.”

“How?”

“Oh, I gave them my house and my car and even my face—both cheeks.”

“You also? Why, what happened?”

“I forgot to bow.”

“Oh…

“Well, see you soon… when the sun sets. Its cooler then.”

“Now, I know I’ll certainly see you. The sun is sure to set.”

The orchestra stopped playing, the band leader bowed and several officers applauded.

“Here waiter. Keep the change.”

April 2, 1942

HQ, MIS, BATAAN

This place has turned into hell. The Japs are battering the lines from morning to evening, pounding the front from the air with high explosives. rushing the front with tanks and flame-throwers under cover of ceaseless artillery fire.

The rear areas are being subjected to inch-by-inch bombardment. Several AA guns have been silenced. Gasoline and oil supplies are aflame. Parts of the jungle are burning, presenting a weird light at night. Corpses strewn by the roadside staring up at the sky.

Corregidor too is rocking with bombs. We can see columns of smoke rising out of the Rock. We can feel the detonation here when bombs are dropped in Corregidor. The Rock looks like a blazing boulder.

We had no rice today as the mess officer did not dare build a fire. We only had canned goods. ate one sardine for brunch and one salmon for supper. It was like medicine. Had to follow it up with water.

Leonie is very ill. I am afraid he will die if he does not get medical assistance. Romulo said by phone that it would be better to send Leonie to the hospital in the Rock.

Leonie and I have written a plan for the establishment of an underground broadcasting station to operate in enemy-territory to continue the Voice of Freedom in case Bataan and Corregidor fall.

We addressed the plan to Romulo who is in charge of the Voice of Freedom. Romulo said he would take the matter up to the staff in the Rock.

Our plan consisted in putting up a moving radio station to broadcast in Luzon in case the Japs overrun Bataan and Corregidor.

We offered to operate the radio and to broadcast if the plan is approved. Proposed site of station was the island of Talim, in the heart of Laguna de Bay. Operatives have reported that Talim is not yet occupied by Japs.

Received letter from Romulo stating “Roxas will return to Corregidor to join us in the crucial hr.”

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