December 1941
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Month December 1941

December 29, 1941 – Monday

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 Compania 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

December 31, 1941 – Wednesday

Got up at 4 a.m. Left Army and Navy Club at 5 a.m. Arrived Corregidor at 6:10 a.m. after a slightly rough trip. The North East monsoon was blowing quite hard. Upon arrival I reported the results of my trip to President Quezon and General MacArthur. Both were pleased and congratulated me for the success of my mission.

At 5 p.m. while I was at Cottage 605, the telephone rang. It was a long distance from Manila. I rushed to answer. It was my aide Lieutenant Gonzalez informing that the ship would be ready to sail, but the Captain refused to leave unless he had the charts for trip, and same could not be had in Manila. I told Lieutenant Gonzalez to hold the line and I asked Colonel Huff who was at General MacArthur’s Quarters next door, and he told me that the charts of the Casiana could be given. I informed Lieutenant Gonzalez. Half an hour later Lieutenant Gonzalez again called me and told me that the boat would leave at 6:30 p.m.

I was tired. After dinner I retired. At 10:30 p.m. a U.S. Army Colonel woke me up to inform me that the ship was still in Pier N-1 and that the Captain refused to sail unless he had the charts. We contacted USAFFE Headquarters. We were informed that the Don Esteban was within the breakwater. We gave instructions that the charts of the Don Esteban be given to the Captain of the SS Mactan and that those of the Casiana would be given to the SS Don Esteban.

I then called Collector of Customs Mr. de Leon, and asked him to see that the ship sails even if he had to put soldiers on board and place the Captain under arrest.

At 11:40 p.m. we were advised by phone that the SS Mactan, the hospital ship had left the Pier at 11:30 p.m. We all gave a sigh of relief. I went back to bed. And so ended 1941 for me. I could not sleep; I thought of home, of those dear to me, and I felt a terrible nostalgia. How hard life is at times. It is a good thing, that we have the faith in our God to lean on. I hope and pray that the much needed assistance from the U.S. will come very soon, so that we may eject the invaders from our country, and be able to return to Manila to our homes and our dear ones.

December 30, 1941

I was privileged today, Rizal Day, to witness the oath-taking ceremony, for their 2nd term of Pres. Quezon and VP Osmeña before Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos outside the Corregidor Tunnel entrance. It was a solemn but brave ceremony for only yesterday, Corregidor was bombed by 54 enemy planes for an hour before noon and some of the craters are visible from where we sat. Quezon’s Yacht “Casiana” anchored off North Wharf was a direct hit and sunk but the Philippine flag still flies from her mast above water. I was caught halfway on my way to the Tunnel, jumped to a ditch, endured an hour of bombings with those scary hissing sounds. I was badly shaken by the experience with many killed or wounded in the area where I was.

Quezon made a stirring speech exhorting our people to fight the invaders.

Aside from the Quezon family, the MacArthurs and the Sayres, among those I saw in the ceremony were:  Lt. Col. Andres Soriano, Majors Carlos Romulo & Sid Huff; Capts. Jess Villamor, S. P. Lopez & J. B. Magluyan; Lts. F. Isidoro, L. M. Guerrero, N. Reyes, B. Cabangbang, & A. Aranzaso.

After the ceremony, I ordered my crew to retrive the Phil. flag still flying on the mast of the sunken “Casiana” because Pres. Quezon expressed a desire to have it.  While near the “Casiana” I noticed her auxiliary boat “Baler” under water.  I decided to salvage the boat,  towed it to Lamao and suggested to Capt. Magluyan who was with me to have it fixed to augment the “Danday.”  Magluyan is one of the Lamao Beach Defenders in Bataan under Capt. Jurado, C.,OSP.

Late in the afternoon, I got a copy of directive saying  “effective Jan. 1,1942,the Q-Boats will be under operational control of G-3, USAFFE HQ, Ft. Mills.”

December 30, 1941

Ft. McKinley,

Command Post

 

Our division has been ordered to move to San Fernando, Pampanga. The general said that very heavy fighting continues on the northern front. Troops under Generals Capinpin, Stevens, Shalleck and Brower are fiercely resisting the enemy’s full-dress attack.

Meanwhile the enemy has increased intensity of his raids in Luzon. Local air force however has struck back with increased fury. The 11 a.m. communique from MacArthur’s headquarters said that a Filipino pilot and two American airmen show down eight planes in engagements over southern Luzon during the past few days. Cesar Basa of the Ateneo died in one of these raids. His plane was attacked by 50 Japs. (Cesar and I used to swim together.)

Tuned in on radio with Signal Corps boys. Japs seem to be gaining ground in all fronts. Hong Kong’s governor has surrendered. Japanese troops on Malay east coast are reported approaching the Kemmanan area, 225 miles from Singapore. Contact with Kuching, capital of Sarawak has been lost since last Wednesday. Tokyo radio claims they have not bombed Santo Domingo Church.

Just found out there are many Ateneo boys with our division. Among them are Gonzalo Gonzalez, Alex Albert, Fermin Fernando, Henry Burgos, Gregg Anonas, Bert Misa, Saturn Velasco and others. Will try to find out how they are if the general gives me permission. He always wants me to be near him with all his maps and plans. Yesterday he told me that in addition to my duties as aide, I was assigned to also write the history of our division.

Heard the 26th cavalry was annihilated in Pozzorubio. They charged against tanks and artillery. An eye witness claims he saw “headless riders charging onward.” Another said that some members of said unit “jumped at tanks, pried open their turrets and hurled grenades.” MacArthur awarded DSC’s to members of this brave unit. Most decorations were posthumous.

Our division observers reported huge columns of smoke rising into the sky around Pandacan. No information on the cause or source was available in command post this morning. Apparently the Japs are not paying much attention to Open City declaration. However the general said that when we move to Pampanga we shall not cross Manila to abide by provisions of Open City.

Reports received in command post this morning indicate that troops under Gen. Segundo are also moving to Pampanga. Japs are apparently entering Laguna preceded by strong aerial and tank formations. Several young Baguio cadets, recent graduates of the Academy, were reportedly killed in action in the beaches of Tayabas. Capt. Fusilero who was in Camarines said the Japs were well acquainted with the terrain and they carried accurate maps.

Can hear Col. Garcia shouting at truck drivers. He is ordering them to park the trucks under cover of trees. “Do you want us to be bombed?” he is telling the chauffeurs.

Officers of the division spend their spare time discussing about the convoy. Some think it will arrive in a week’s time. Others say it will be three weeks. Fred said “Oh, maybe two months:” and everybody branded him a “low-down pessimist.” Fred explained: “Don’t get excited, fellows. I was only fooling. I think it will be three months.” The chaplain told Fred to pipe down because he was not funny. I ventured the opinion that the convoy would be here in three days and everybody cheered me. Fred said: “What’s your reason for thinking three days?” I said it was not ‘reason’ but ‘intuition’. I also pointed out that Roosevelt said “Help is on the way.” “If it’s the family way,” said Fred, “it’ll take nine months.”

Now Fred’s got me doubting…….

 

December 30, 1941 – Tuesday

At 5 a.m. Mr. Williams of the Red Cross phoned me that the ship had arrived but that he was not willing to put the painters on because there was still some cargo of rifles and ammunition left. He informed me that the Captain (Tamayo) and the Chief Officers were in his office. I asked him to hold them. I dressed hurriedly and rushed to the Red Cross Headquarters. They repeated the information given to Mr. Williams. Believing that this cargo belonged to the U.S. Army I asked them to come with me to the USAFFE Headquarters. I had to awake General Marshall. Pressing our inquiry we found out that this cargo consisted only of 3 or 4 boxes of rifles (Enfield) and 2 boxes of 30 caliber ammunition belonging to Philippine Army. It had been left as they were forced to leave Corregidor before everything had been unloaded. We explained to them that there was no danger and with my assurance that these boxes would be unloaded early in the morning, they returned to the ship, took on the painters and left for Malabon for the painting job.

From the USAFFE Headquarters, I rushed to the house of Colonel Miguel Aguilar, Chief of Finance. I found him in bed. He got up, and I asked him to see that the remaining cargo there be removed without delay. He assured me that he would contact the Chief of Quartermaster Service and direct him accordingly. My order was complied with during the course of the day.

At 9 a.m. I contacted Mr. Forster. He informed me that the painters were on the job and that in accordance with my instructions, two launches were tied close to the ship to transport the painters to the river of Malabon in case of a raid. I then went to Colonel Aguilar’s office at the Far Eastern University to discuss with him some matters regarding finance of the Army. From there I went to Malacañan to see Sec. Vargas, and from there to the office of the Sec. of National Defense, to inquire for correspondence for me.

At noon, I called Mr. Jose (Peping) Fernandez to inquire where the ship was. He asked me to have luncheon with him and to go afterwards to Malabon. After lunch we went by car to Malabon. I saw the ship being painted white. It already had a large Red Cross on the sides and on the funnel.

I returned to the Red Cross Headquarters to ascertain if all plans had been properly carried out. Mr. Forster was worried as he did not know whether the provisions and food supplies carried by his personnel would be sufficient. I then contacted Colonel Ward by phone, and later Colonel Carroll. Both assured me that there would be enough food and medical supplies for the trip.

With that assurance, and the promise of Mr. Forster that his doctors and nurses were all ready to go and of Colonel Carroll that as soon as the boat docked at Pier 1, he would begin to load his equipment, beds, etc. and transport his patients, I felt that my mission had been successfully accomplished.

I spent the evening fixing financial matters and giving instructions to my brother Ramon, regarding payment of certain obligations (Premium Fire Policies, Land Taxes, etc.)

December 29, 1941 – Monday

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.

December 29, 1941

Command Post

Ft. McKinley

 

Our division has been ordered by Corps headquarters to retreat and form a new line with a view to defending the Southern entrance of Manila. The general has chosen McKinley as the site of his new command post.

The troops are perplexed. “Why should we retreat when the Japs have not even dented our lines?” The general explained that the enemy was fast gaining ground in Tayabas exposing our rear to a possible flank maneuver.

Am writing this in old office of Maj. Gen. Parker which is partially destroyed. The books of Parker are still here including a complete set of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Other officers have left their files, typewriters, radios, hats and shoes. Fred just popped up, looked over my shoulder to see what I am writing and said “There are a lot of canned goods left in the Post Exchange.” From the window, I can see two huge craters, big enough for ten carabaos. The Japs have evidently subjected this fort to heavy aerial bombardment. The barracks are partially demolished. Some of the cottages for officers have also been destroyed. All the houses here are deserted. Fans, refrigerators, wardrobes, kitchen utensils have been left in disorder. Names of officers are still on sign posts outside their respective houses. I told my sergeant to get all the canned goods he could lay his hands on and to put them in the general’s command car.

Must stop writing. Air-raid alarm. I wonder where the shelter here is.

December 29, 1941

The war holds your problems in grateful suspension. You almost dread the coming of peace which will once more precipitate them. For the moment, they have lost their urgency. That trouble with your family, the uncompleted novel, the hopeless passion for a girl who does not love you, which had formerly so troubled you, must now stand humbly at the door while you occupy yourself with matters more pressing, of life and death. That fine emotional balance, that delicate synchronization of all your parts, that rich fulfillment you thought was so necessary to your happiness have ceased to concern you, for the reason that happiness has become, for the duration, superfluous. No longer necessary. The war has given you a breathing spell.

The war has given me what I never had before: time to read as much as I like. I had several books I bought and never found the leisure to read. I had given them up as money lost. During the last three weeks, I was able, between alarms and all-clears, to finish reading them all. The war has been an unexpected dividend.

It has changed, though, the character of my reading. I have a collection of detective novels still unread. I used to enjoy few things more than to run through their gory pages at the end of the day. Now I cannot read them.Their dismay over the killing of one, two or three people seems to me rather petty. Now.

Now I find comfort and relish in the pages of the philosophers whose conclusions may be briefly stated:

Nothing matters.

The war has also affected our drinking habits. Those who drank as a matter of habit are drinking more than ever. They drank for relief, as a means of escape from the intolerable self. Now they drink to escape, simply, the war.

Those who drank on occasion have, on the other hand, stopped drinking altogether. They drank as others read books, listen to music, collect paintings or go to the movies, to relieve boredom. The war has taken boredom away. Bombers coming over in perfect formation, glistening with death, are the equivalent of a good stiff drink. Bombs rushing through the air overhead are an all-night revel.

At the Arcade bar a man started a collection for a soldier who had just come back to the city from Lingayen and was now in a hospital for treatment of his wounds before returning to the front.

“I want to have enough to buy him a complete suit.”

When the Japanese captured the boy, they stripped him of his clothes except his underwear, leaving him shivering in the December cold. Managing to escape from prison camp, the boy reached Manila the other day, undaunted, naked except for his undershirt and shorts.

The narrator, a Dutchman who had once been district commissioner in the Netherlands East Indies, had retained his youthful admiration for Oscar Wilde’s wit. Now he concluded his little tale:

“He kept his pants up.”

What happens to a man is his private concern. It can hardly be of interest to anyone but himself. If he has a wife and children, it touches them. Otherwise, he goes alone.

But what happens today to a man is happening, in greater or less degree, to other men all over the world. The war has descended on us all. We are its heirs, joint and solitary. It cannot be disposed of separately.

We live a common life and the fate of one becomes, in time, by a new necessity, the fate of all. The order of the day has replaced “I” –precious relic from the past– with the collective “we”. We are all, under an absolute clause, parties to the act.

At the bar I heard a man complain to another about his bad luck. He had bought several yards of Irish linen some time ago and taken them to his tailor in Intramuros to have them made into suits. The suits were finished.

“I reminded myself to pass by Intramuros on the way home in the afternoon and get the suits. I never did. It was one thing or another, the days went by and the suits remained with the tailor. Yesterday, after the bombing, I went to Intramuros. There were no longer any suits. There was no longer any tailor.”

The man he was telling the story to asked him the name of the tailor. When he gave it, the man said:

“He was my tailor, too. I had two suits with him.”

The first man said he would be damned.

“I have a drink with a stranger, tell him about the suits I lost in the raid, and what does he tell me –this perfect stranger– he had lost his, too, in the same place, with the same tailor, in the same raid!”

“We are all in the same war.”

Including the tailor.

The people are taking to the war easily. They have adjusted themselves to having to walk to work in the morning, to salary cuts, to unemployment, to the possibility of death during the day. They have few possessions, and the war finds them singularly unencumbered except for the wish to survive without loss of character, to give no way to fear.

The rich and the influential are the pitiful ones. They have so much to lose! They shake for their lives, they shake for their office, they shake for their bank accounts. They read all the literature on the established methods of avoiding death and damage by bomb, bullet, and gas. They sit in a circle all day and worry over every rumor and report of disaster. They scan every threat to their security with the passion of scholars poring over a newly recovered line from the Greek Anthology.

The war freshly illumines a paradox:

One may be casual about one’s life but rarely over one’s property.

In high good humor the people are compiling a list of dishonor. With infinite malice they treasure each new story of how their lords and masters have disgraced themselves.

A prominent politician who used to set the National Assembly on fire with his oratory, when the bombs began to fall last week in one part of the city, flung himself on the floor of his office so hard he broke an arm.

A former executive, who liked to make a show of independence of spirit and about whom I had, with the careless accuracy of journalism, written admiringly in the past, made the Manila Hotel, which has the best air-raid shelter in the city, his home, careful not to leave its premises unless absolutely necessary. He was having a drink with a woman at the hotel bar when the first bomb fell on Port Area. At the thud of the bomb, he left lady and drink at the bar and scurried for shelter. The following day, the woman was having lunch with a friend in the dining-room when the father of his province passed by. Seeing the woman he had so casually deserted the day before and seeing no way out of it, he came over and made small talk as though nothing had happened. The woman, after listening to him for a while, smiled amiably.

“Gotten over your jitters now?” she asked, shattering him.

And here’s a story:

The first time Japanese bombers came over the city, students manning a machine-gun unit on top of their college building debated among themselves where the bombs were falling.

“Nichols Field.”

“No, it’s Fort McKinley.”

“It’s the Nielson air-port.”

The debate went on. American officers from another unit came over and listened to the Filipino boys argue which part of their country was being bombed by the Japanese. They broke into pure laughter when a boy of 19 put an end to the fruitless debate by declaring with a grave and judicious mien:

“The Philippines.”

This morning an army officer came to the office and offered two to one that Manila would never be taken.

“We have not even begun to use our army. We let the Japanese come through, then we cut them down. Down in the South we let Japanese trucks loaded with soldiers come up the road, then, from the hillside, we cut them down with machine-gun fire. You could see the trucks turn over and spill the bodies of the Japanese all over the road.”

They would never take Manila.

December 28, 1941

Today in the papers the evidence of the enemy’s bad aim the day before. It was very bad, indeed.

“Now, nobody is safe.”

Among the objects the enemy did not aim at was the Santo Domingo church. Built in the 16th century, it has been destroyed several times by typhoons and earthquakes, as many times rebuilt. It took the Japanese to destroy it by mistake.

Heavy with history, the structure enclosed the venerated Lady of the Rosary. The bejewelled image, valued at a cool million, had been placed in a steel vault. It was saved.

Less fortunate were the Dominican “convento” and the Santa Rosa College, both destroyed. The Intendencia building, which housed the Philippine mint, was directly hit several times. The Santa Catalina College, the old building of the University of Santo Tomas and the Intramuros Primary School were partly destroyed.

Nor were these all.

For many days to come, the city will look back on that day and each one will recall, in his own way, how close he had been to the bombing, how, but for some business or other, he might have been that day in Intramuros.

Today they bombed Manila again. Again the ships still in the Pasig River drew the Japanese fire. From 11:45 a.m. till 1:10 p.m., Japanese bombers, free from any threat of anti-aircraft fire, swooped down the river raining bombs. They hit the Letran College, the Intendencia building again, Engineer Island, the NARIC bodega near the mouth of the river, the San Fernando Fire Station in Binondo, and, their aim improved from practice, some of the ships in the river.

I was at the house of a friend, near enough the bombing to hear, for the first time, the sound that a bomb makes as it comes through the air. If the bomb is near, it makes a sound like that of a car going very fast down the street, with the barest hint of rustling leaves. It was all very poetic and sinister.

During the bombing, one said:

“This is the first time I have lain flat on the floor during a raid. I don’t like it. In this position, I can’t feel brave and unruffled. I feel I am letting myself down.”

The USAFFE declared, for the third day, that fighting was desultory in the north, but very heavy in the south. The Japanese, it was admitted, were reinforcing their northern troops as well as those at Atimonan. Enemy activity in the air was heavy.

Another communique explained why Manila was declared open. It was a much better explanation than the first. The guns being used to defend Manila were needed elsewhere, where they could be of greater use.

“The declaration of Manila as an open city was intended not only to preserve the city from the ravages of war, but also intended to increase the possibilities of the defenses in the outlying areas.”

The city was satisfied. It was a military necessity. And would serve, besides, since the enemy has shown no sign of respecting the declaration, to condemn him beyond argument. It serves our purpose and the enemy cannot plead extenuation.

Tonight, so that the character of Manila as an open city may be placed beyond cavil, so that even the near-sighted may see, the authorities lifted the blackout order. The city is now open day and night. The people may keep their lights shining.

Few –we have grown accustomed to the dark– did.

I had just gone out of the house for a breath of fresh air. I saw two or three lighted windows. The rest along the street were dark. Intramuros, however, burning on my left, made up for them.

The city is lighted up, all right.

December 28, 1941 – Sunday

I attended Mass at 6:30 a.m. After Mass I had breakfast and then went to the cottage assigned to us to take a bath and change clothes. At 9 a.m. Colonel Willoughby G-2 USAFFE arrived and told me that General MacArthur wanted to see me ASAP. I dressed hurriedly and proceeded to the house of General Moore which General MacArthur was occupying. He received me and instructed me to proceed immediately to Manila and organize a Hospital Ship to leave Manila within 4 days with all serious patients of Sternberg General Hospital and added: No military personnel must be on board except the Commanding Officer of the unit and one nurse. The balance must be Red Cross personnel. We shook hands and I left. I realized that the mission was hard as I had been informed that the previous day the Japanese had severely bombed Manila Bay and had sunk various ships.

We left Corregidor on a Q Boat. It took us 45 minutes to negotiate the distance. The picture of Manila Bay with all the ships either sunk or in flames was one of horror and desolation. We landed at the Army and Navy Club.

I rushed immediately to Red Cross Headquarters. I informed Mr. Forster, Manager Philippine Red Cross, and Mr. Wolff, Chairman of the Executive Board of my mission. I then called the Collector of Customs Mr. de Leon and I asked him what ships were still available for my purpose. He offered the government cutter Apo. I accepted. He told me that it was hiding somewhere in Bataan and that he expected to hear from the Captain at 6 p.m.

From his house, I rushed to Sternberg General Hospital where I conferred with Colonel Carroll regarding my plans. Then I returned to the Red Cross Headquarters and arranged for 100 painters and sufficient paint to change its present color to white, with a huge Red Cross in the center of the sides and on the funnel.

At 3 p.m. I again called Collector de Leon and inquired if he would try to contact the Apo. He assured me that he would endeavor to contact the Captain (Panopio). At 11 p.m. Mr. De Leon phoned me that he had not yet received any reply to his radio call. I could not sleep. I was worried.

December 27, 1941

C.,OSP conscripted a 40 ft boat, armed her with two .30 Cal. MGs christened “Danday”, Mrs. Jurado’s namesake, for use by the OSP Lamao Beach Defenders of Bataan.  Today my ExO, Lt. Abraham ‘Abe’ Campo (USNA ’40) was rel’d. to be CO, “Danday” and to replace Lt. Campo, I selected Lt. Manuel Gomez ’41, my former classmate at MIT before we entered PMA.  The bulk of OSP shore personnel transferred to Lamao, Bataan after Manila was declared Open City three days ago and so the beach defense of Lamao eastern Bataan becomes an OSP responsibility.

The 1st Q-Boat Squadron found a suitable place called Sisiman Cove east of Mariveles Bay that conceals our boats from the air.  One mile up Sisiman River is our Support Gp. –Engineering under Lt. Jose Zulueta; Torpedoes, Depth Charges, Ordnance under Chief William Mooney, USNR; Adm., under Lt. Carlos J. Albert (USNA ’39). Since Christmas, our mission is primarily ferrying VIPs from Manila to Corregidor, the seat of government.

Today, all PAAC planes are gone.  The planeless PAAC is organized as PAAC Provincial Regiment that is proceeding to Bataan.  My province mates Capts. Pelagio Cruz and Eustacio Onrobia as well as my classmate Lt. Vic Osias are among with this Regiment.  Also, the 700 PAAC Cadets were organized as an Infantry Battalion under Maj. Jose Francisco (USNA ’31) and proceeding to Corregidor.  My classmates Lts. Bartolome Cabangbang and Alberto Aranzaso are among this Battalion.

The Jap invasion forces from Lingayen Gulf and Lamon Bay are slowly advancing towards Manila.  They have to fight every inch of ground despite their air superiority.  And if you think our situation is bad, Hongkong is worst. It was a sad christmas for the British in Hongkong.  The British garrison retreated to Kowloon but after intense bombings for three days Gov. Sir Mark Young of Hongkong gave up easily and  surrendered to Japanese Gen. Sakai on Christmas Day.

December 27, 1941

All night last night the fire across the river continued to burn and the smoke roll across the moon-lighted sky. It made quite a picture, one of silver and black to which  the explosions that came at irregular intervals brought angry flashes of orange and red.

Today, the open city of Manila, but two days old, unexpectedly came of age. Suddenly it felt very old.

There were no military forces, either defensive or offensive, inside the city and its suburbs. There were no anti-aircraft guns in or near Manila. We had been quite thorough about being an open city.

Just below the Jones Bridge over the Pasig were docked four interisland vessels. Across the river and closer to its mouth were several others. Their owners had been ordered to move the ships out into the bay at least a week ago, but the ships remained where they were. Moving the ships meant trouble and expense. These were bad times. We must retrench, gentlemen.

Shortly before noon, for three whole hours, Japanese bombers tried to get those ships. Their aim was truly execrable, not one of the ships was hit, but before they went away, they killed 43 people, wounded at least 150 and destroyed 5,000,000 pesos worth of public and private buildings.

The open city of Manila had failed to take into account one thing. There was one factor it had overlooked. It had not considered the enemy’s bad aim.

Now that the bad business of declaring Manila open had been found bankrupt, now that we were in the war again, now that we had been relieved of our secret shame, the city took heart once more and strangers in the streets looked into each other’s eyes and gave each other a small significant smile. The city had recovered its honor and need not fear to face the soldiers when they come back.

And in spite of the death and the damage done, because they were done by the enemy’s bad aim, the city felt it was scored a victory.

I was on Escolta when the bombers came. When the bombs came –sounding so near– some of the people in the store I was caught in by the raid fell on their faces as they had read in the papers they should do in such emergencies. But the others, while the bombs came “thud-thud-thud”, made no movement but stood where they were. The salesgirls grew pale but kept their places behind the glass counters. After the explosions, those who had flung themselves on the floor got up and grinned sheepishly. Then the bombs thudded again and they resumed their former position. Somebody said something and swift laughter went though the store like a point of light in a blackout.

Someday, someone will write in detail about the men and women of Manila, how they conducted themselves, under bombardment. Meanwhile, these men and women, who used to look up and down the street so carefully before crossing, now go downtown and face the possibility of death without thinking too much about it.

“It is remarkable,” observed a woman I knew, “how the human being can take, how the human frame can adjust itself to all sorts of conditions.”

She herself is going to have a baby.

The enemy continued to advance slowly in the north and in the south and land reinforcements. In the north the battle-line followed the Agno River, in the south the fighting was clustered in the Atimonan area.

In Washington, the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, declared that the democracies would take the initiative in 1943.

“The United States and Britain will give Japan a lesson the Japanese and the world will never forget.”

December 26, 1941

Tokyo broadcast the news of the surrender of Hong Kong and London confirmed the news. Yesterday the musicians of the sky respected the day, but today they doubled their performance. They laughed off the declaration of an open city as a fable.

However, the newspapers published in bold letters the declaration of General MacArthur, President Quezon and Commissioner Sayre that Manila and the adjacent towns are an open city. They announced that they and all the military forces will leave the city. We saw that all military quarters had indeed been deserted. Only the local police force was left to maintain order.

Though some people rejoice at the thought Manila would be spared from destruction many are skeptical. Will the Japanese ignore the declaration? Have they been officially notified through a neutral power which would guarantee its observance? Would they accept its validity?

The Japanese pilots know that today they were not fired at. The radio supports the theory that the invaders are under obligation to respect the city. Manila will yield without any resistance if the advancing forces reach its borders.

Before abandoning Malacañan, Quezon created the Greater Manila Area, annexing Quezon City, Pasay, Parañaque, Mandaluyong, San Juan del Monte, Caloocan and other areas in the vicinity of Manila. He appointed Jorge Vargas his secretary, its Mayor. Then, President Quezon, Vice President Osmeña, General Valdes and Manuel Roxas moved to an undisclosed place.

December 26, 1941

We are now reconciled –there were six alarms today– to having an air raid announce breakfast, serve lunch and interrupt dinner. One wonders at the indefatigable newsboys, undismayed by the news they cry, innocent of the meaning of the stuff they sell. Since the war began, there has been wedding after wedding in the city. How many of these marriages, contracted in the heady air of war, will survive the calm, slightly enervating air of peace? Well might you ask the livelong day. Reports of tanks rolling to meet the enemy thousands of miles away, in the Philippines, must now bring comfort to the isolationists. They had done their best to keep those tanks from getting here at all. We must have no hate or bitterness toward anyone –even Lindbergh. Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season, as the poet says.

The story persists that Filipino soldiers, most of whom came from the farm, just before going over the top inquire of their officers if they may fight in any way they choose.

“Fight any way you like.”

And the Filipino soldiers do –without shoes.

 

Today, Manila was declared an open city. All military centers have been destroyed and all soldiers withdrawn from the city. It is now armless and harmless. It has earned the right not to be bombed. It is no longer in the war. It has made what Hemingway called a separate peace. It is a little ashamed of it.

Elsewhere the military situation was regarded as completely under control. A military spokesman declared that our forces were not only holding their own but doing better, even, than had been expected. On the northern front, the action consisted mainly of artillery duels between the two forces. The enemy continued to bring up artillery to increase pressure on our line. In the southeast, from Atimonan to Mauban, the enemy continued to effect landings. Our forces advanced to prevent the enemy from using these beach-heads as bases for a blitz drive on Manila, which is entirely open, the spokesman said.

Turning from my desk at the office to look out of the window, I saw a tall column of smoke rising from one part of the city. The thick black smoke billowed into the serene sky, obscuring the morning sun which at moments shot through a rift in the smoke a shaft, such as you see slanting down from the glass window of a cathedral during an early Mass –of light.

One man said it was the National Development Company, which was only a block or two from my home. I thought of my books, which I had acquired, through so many denials, over a period of so many years. As the smoke continued to rise, I told myself my books were gone. I suddenly felt empty but free. I no longer gave a damn.

When, much later, I learned that the fire was across the river and home and my books were safe, I felt I had, by renouncing my goods in my mind, somehow saved them. I felt I had personally outwitted the enemy.

Coming home in the afternoon, I saw the sun like a white-hot coin shining through the smoke.

I am living now very much alone.

December 26, 1941 – Friday

At 6:30 a.m. I attended Mass and received Holy Communion. At 8 a.m. I went to see General MacArthur and I asked him to assign me some work as this inactivity is terrible. He thanked me and asked me to wait, as he had plans in which he wanted to utilize me. His office was being installed at “top side” at the extreme end of the long concrete barracks. The outside door and windows of his office and the windows of the adjoining ones were being protected with sandbags. I returned to the tunnel.

At 4 p.m. went to the Post Exchange(P.X.) at topside to buy some things I needed urgently.

December 25, 1941

Home all day. There was no work, and there was no place to go. At noon, waves of Japanese bombers circled and circled over the city unopposed and untouched. Is this the meaning of open city?

The declaration of Manila as an open city would mean its complete demilitarization, the removal or destruction of all military installations, and a hypothetical freedom from bombing. The cases of Rome, Paris, and Brussels, which were declared open and were not bombed, were cited as an argument for the declaration of Manila as of the same category. On the other hand, who wants to be like Rome, Paris and Brussels? Look at them now.

There is, besides, no guarantee that the enemy would, in the present case, respect the “open city.” The declaration would create a “right” which the enemy may or may not recognize. One man’s right may be another man’s inconvenience, and convenience is the sole law of war. We would have, therefore, for the declaration, immunity of a sort, if it pleases the enemy, and against the declaration, what amounts to surrender.

Meanwhile, as the headquarters of the United States Army Forces in the Far East, along with Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the commanding general, left the city, Manila prepared to assume the supine role of non-combatant.

This morning the enemy raided Nichols Field –what is there left to raid? More reports on yesterday’s raid on Port Area placed the number of persons killed at 43, those wounded at 150. At Atimonan, the enemy’s landing force advanced a mile inland a short distance but was driven back by our force. The enemy, however, continued to bring up more reinforcements and Tayabas, where there had been previously little more than desultory patrol activity, now flamed into the third major battleground of the Philippines. Davao and Lingayen are, of course, the other two. USAFFE headquarters declared itself satisfied with the conduct of American and Filipino troops.

Listening to the radio in the evening, I caught an announcement that “the city will be evacuated within 24 hours”. Later, the announcer carefully corrected himself and informed his listeners that the evacuation of the city would “begin within 24 hours”. It was, as far as I was concerned, the worst moment of the war. I must leave home, books, work. A sense of utter loss washed over me. At the end of the broadcast, it was announced that the city to be evacuated was Cebu, not –as many misunderstood– Manila.

Merry Christmas, after all.

December 25, 1941 – Thursday

At 12:30 a.m. I attended midnight mass in the hospital tunnel. The mass was said by an American Chaplain, and I received Holy Communion. After Mass the President asked us to be cheerful, and forget our worries, and reveal a real Christmas spirit. It was hard to do when my spirits were so low. Such a sudden separation had taken me by surprise and I had not yet recovered from the shock. What a sad Christmas away from my beloved ones and from my dear child. Well – such is life in the army – and in war.

At 1:30 a.m. I retired. Got up at 7 a.m. The day was dull and the inactivity was very boresome. Luncheon at 12:30 p.m. Dinner at 5:30 p.m.

December 24, 1941

News and what happened today are devastating.  I learned that the simulteneous Japanese landings two days ago in Lingayen Gulf and Lamon Bay were not difficult considering the enemy have superiority in the ar and at sea.  They are expanding their beach gains and my thoughts are with my classmates Lt. Ed Navarro wth the 71st Div. in Lingayen Gulf area and Lts. Job Mayo, Fred Filart, David Pelayo and Joe Javier with the 1st Reg Div. in Lamon Bay area.

The Alert Order given for the Q-Boats two days ago was rescinded and the new order is to escort the S.S. Mayon to evacuate ranking officials of the Phil. gov’t led by Pres. Quezon and US High Commisioner Francis B. Sayre from Manila to Corregidor as the new seat of gov’t. Gen. MacArthur declared Manila an Open City and USAFFE HQ is also transferring. S.S. Mayon docked at Corregidor north wharf safely at 2000 H today under the protective eyes of the three Q-Boats.  The US Navy 16th Naval District HQ had moved to Corregidor three days ago.

USAFFE HQ also ordered that War Plans Orange 3 (WPO-3) be enforced. This old plan was opposed by MacArthur and I am surprised the order came out.  It is a defense plan of the Philippines in case of invasion, the country generally believed to be indefensible. The plan calls for the withdrawal of troops to Bataan, defend Luzon by delaying tactics for six months with support from the Asiatic Fleet and USAAC until needed relief from USA reaches the Philippines.

At present, we have no Asiatic Fleet nor USAAC.  Only nine Torpedo Boats are available. What now?

Wednesday, December 24, 1941

Four days ago, the President of the Philippines addressed the American public assuring the people of the United States that we Filipinos realize that this war is being waged to preserve democracy and to secure for all peoples the essential freedoms proclaimed by President Roosevelt, freedoms in which we believe and for which we are willing to fight and die. “The Philippines is today the ‘beleaguered citadel of liberty.'” he said, “but we are determined to defend it to the end.”

This noon, however, President Quezon accompanied by his wife and children, Vice-President Osmeña and Chief Justice Abad Santos left the city for Corregidor. They were preceded a few hours earlier by the American High Commissioner and his family. Later in the afternoon, General MacArthur and his staff quietly left Manila to establish their headquarters in that island fortress. It is a pretty clear indication that Manila is in peril.

Vastly superior numbers of Japanese on hundreds of transports heavily escorted by destroyers, cruisers, battleships and clouds of airplanes have succeeded in making successful landings in northern and southern Luzon. The enemy, however, has not dared make a frontal attack on the city for Corregidor guards the entrance to the bay impudently challenging the entire Japanese fleet to try and enter. Japan’s warlords evidently know better than to accept the challenge, hence the drive towards Manila via a more circuitous route.

December 24, 1941

Tagaytay outpost

Midnight

Can’t sleep. Just arrived from Manila. The general ordered me to supervise burning of records of G-2 Section, Philippine Army. Had a huge bonfire in Far Eastern University drill-field. Took dinner at home. Papa looked tired due to work in Food Administration and Naric. Dolly baked my favorite cake. Dindo Gonzalez dropped in asking for news on southern front. Told him I had nothing to say. He said he was very worried about Open City rumors. He looked very nervous. Mama started to cry when I kissed her goodbye. I felt like crying too but I held back my tears. Vic’s eyes were red.

Gave Morita a steel helmet, gas mask, first-aid kit and silver identification tag for Christmas. Couldn’t tell her where I was assigned because of military secrecy. She is now living with her uncle in Taft Avenue. Morita said her grandpop was very pessimistic about the outcome of the war. Wanted to ask her for just one kiss but didn’t get a chance because there were too many people around.

Dropped by Manila Hotel bar to buy a bottle of whiskey. Saw Theo Rogers of Free Press. He invited me to eat with him. I took coffee. He was very sentimental and he said he was proud to see me in uniform. I will write about the admirable spirit of the Filipino youth, he said. When I told Rogers I had to leave, he held my hand firmly and he said: “I will pray for you every day.”

Reports from MacArthur’s headquarters indicate heavy fighting including tank combats with new Japanese landing forces in Lingayen. It seems to me that our airforce has suffered greater damage than has been disclosed in surprise raids made by Japs in first days of war. It is apparent that Japs have complete aerial superiority over entire Luzon area. When I dropped by Victoria No. 1, MacArthur’s headquarters, officers were talking of the convoy. (Gen. MacArthur was no longer there. Together with the staff of the forward echelon of the USAFFE, he has gone to the field to personally head his forces.)

Can hear my sergeant snoring. I guess it is time for me to sleep too. Quite cold in this tent but there are no mosquitoes. It is past midnight.

Merry Christmas.