January 9, 1942

Manila Bay

On board Navy Courier Boat

 

Beautiful morning. Sun is slightly above horizon. Sea is calm. Cool morning air. All is quiet except for chugging of boat. Looks like a pleasant cruise.

Heard Mass said by Fr. Ortiz and received Communion. The President and family, Vice President Osmeña, Gen. B. Valdes, Sec. Abad Santos and Col. Manuel Roxas all attended Mass. Mass was said in small corridor between Fr. Ortiz’s bed and the President’s. Fr. Ortiz was slightly peeved because Nonong Quezon attended Mass in pajamas.

Had breakfast with President and his daughters. The President was in good spirits. He said he was aware of the sacrifices the Filipino youth were now undergoing. “I am sure,” he said, “they will come out of it gloriously.”

The President recalled his last speech in the U.P. campus when he told the student body that it was very probable that in a very short time many of them would be fighting and dying.

At the other table, I watched Gen. Douglas MacArthur taking his breakfast. He was not talking at all. He ate hurriedly and I don’t think he even finished his coffee.

Breakfast even in Corregidor is rationed. We had a handfull of oatmeal, one slice of bread, a little jam and a cup of chocolate. Nonong Quezon wanted more and I noticed Nini gave some of her own food to her kid brother. I had to hurry through the breakfast because the boat was about to leave.

Fr. Ortiz gave me a big can of of powdered KLIM and he told me to ask him anything I needed. He gave me a strong embrace and he told me to take good care of myself.  He accompanied me to the boat and he told the general that I was one of his craziest students.

Right now, I am half-way between Corregidor and Bataan. From here, Corregidor looks like a small reef floating between the jaws of a huge monster. Corregidor stands between Cavite and Bataan at the very narrow entrance of Manila Bay. Japs have not dared attack Corregidor from Western entrance. Too many coast artillery guns.

Morale of men in Rock very high. They have more ‘inside’ news on the convoy. All the big-wigs are there. I noticed a lot of officers in Rock are somewhat bored due to inactivity. Some of them want to go and fight Japs in Bataan. Others prefer comfort and safety of Rock.

Life in Rock is very dull. Officers sit around listening to swing music from KZRH and laugh at radio commentator. Once in a while during day they have to rush inside the tunnel to hide from bombs. At night, they gather outside mouth of tunnel, to breathe some fresh air and to light a cigarette. Smoking is prohibited inside tunnel.

Boys in Rock are very glad when some of the fellows in Bataan drop over. It sort of breaks the monotony of their lives. They crowd around Bataan boy and pump him with a thousand questions on life in the mountains and conditions of trenches and “how many Japs have you killed?”

Pepito Abad Santos was very eager to go with me to Bataan. He said he was bored stiff with life in the tunnel. But his father did not give him permission. He gave me several letters for some of his schoolmates that are now in the front.

We are now approaching Cabcaben. Japs have bombed this little dock several times but they have always missed. Our boat is signaling the shore defenders now. I can see Fred waiting for us in the command car.

The general just called for me. He said: “When the boys ask you why they called for us, keep it a secret. Nobody must know. Tell them I’ve just been relieved. Secrecy is essential.” He added: “If they ask about the convoy, say you understand it will be here very soon —to pep them up.”

I asked the General: “Frankly sir, when is it arriving?”

He said: “No mention of it during our conference.”

 

(Later)

 

51st brigade, C.P.

Bataan

 

Everybody wondering why we were called to Rock. Fred’s asked me ten times: “What’s up, Phil? Come on tell a pal.”

Major Sison asked: “When is the convoy arriving? Are we going to get more reinforcements?”

My sergeant said: “May be, sir, we are going to commence a general attack.”

Major Montserrat asked about health of President and “how’s my friend Valdes?” I told the Major that Gen. Valdes was sending him regards and that he was probably going to get a promotion. Major Montserrat was very happy.

Nobody dared ask the the General anything. Neither did he speak a word. He just told his orderly to pack his things.

I think the general will take me to the Intelligence Service. I’m sure I’ll find that work more interesting.

The General is writing right now under candle light. He is forming his new staff. I think Maj. Gen. Guillermo Francisco will head this division. General de Jesus may take officers he needs for his new assignment according to arrangements in Corregidor. I wonder where we will have our headquarters: Corregidor or Bataan?

Intensified patrol activity in front. Artillery duel. No casualties, on our side.

A lot of monkeys running up and down trees in this area. Fred said the other night the sentinel shot a monkey. He shouted “Halt” and the dark figure kept on crawling. When morning came, sentinel found out it was a big monkey. Password for tonight is “Lolita.” Words with letter ‘L’ are generally chosen. Japs cannot pronounce the ‘L.’

Some of the boys are singing “The gang’s all here.” They are out of tune. In Corregidor, there was no singing. Too many high officers around.

Report just received that Japs started attack on Western sector putting pressure on 1st Regular Division.

Lost my bottle of quinine pills.

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