January 15, 1942

Bataan

HQ, Intelliegence Service

 

“See You in Manila” news sheet published by Intelligence Service well received by men in front and officers in Corregidor. Major Carlos Romulo wrote our unit a congratulatory message.

First part of news sheet carried items on fighting in various sectors in front lines. Leonie wrote a column analyzing situation, painting hopeful future, reminding boys of America’s promise to send us a convoy.

We did not put our names to publication because we were playing safe. Japs might have spies or some copies may fall in Japanese hands and our families in Manila may be needlessly endangered. We placed our initials as editors: CGB. C for Castro, G for Guerrero and B for myself. Most of the stuff however was written by Leonie, then Fred, I did the least work. Leonie and Fred write very much better than I do and I have to aide the general most of the time.

The SYIM publication is also running a Bataan Sweepstake. Corregidor boys may also join in. Each soldier is entitled to one guess as to date of our victorious entry into Manila. Each entry must be accompanied by P1. The one who first guesses correctly the date of entry of first troops into Manila will receive sum total of pesos entered in contest. Right now we have received more than P60 already. My entry is April 9, Guerrero’s is March 26th, his birthday. General run of entries is January 31st, Roosevelt’s birthday. Only one fellow July 4th. Most optimistic guess is January 20th, within five days.

Chuck Boyle, sergeant in Corregidor, is Voice of Freedom. Leonie was asked to broadcast but he refused because he was worried about his wife in Manila.

Heavy bombing during the last few days. Big tree near motor transport of our service was cut in two. A lot of AA shrapnel dropped near our C.P.

The town of Mariveles is a mass of ruins. All houses, nipa or cement, have been destroyed by bombs.

The coast area is leveled to the ground due to incendiaries. In some houses, nothing remains but the cement stairs. In the blaze, Bonifacio’s monument still stands but the bolo he carries has been partially destroyed. The flag was not hit. The Cross in the dome of the church still stands but part of the altar has been wrecked. The quarantine station in Mariveles stands on three posts only. Some of the rooms are open to the sky and the garden in front of the quarantine office is full of bomb-craters. The walls of the house are pock-marked with shrapnel holes but some of the rooms in the first floor are still habitable. I saw an old man trying to fix up the ruins of his nipa shack amid the wrecked homes in Mariveles. “The Japs can bomb this place again,” he said, “for all I care, I’ll build my shack.” He represents the fighting spirit of the Filipino people. You can’t put them down.

Just received telephone call from outposts in Cabcaben. Beach defendants claim they have arrested several men in bancas in civilian clothes. The general has sent for the men. They might be some of our operatives. There is still no coordination between our unit and the beach defense.

Food supply is running low. We now have only two meals a day. Brunch –breakfast and lunch– at 10 a.m. Brunch consists of one salmon and half a plate of rice. All the water you want. Supper is at six p.m. before sunset. Menu: Salmon and rice. Sometimes salmon changed to sardines. On Sundays, we get carabao’s meat. Sometime, monkey-steak which I can’t swallow.

Life in our HQ is like Robinson Crusoe’s . We have a shower bath. My sergeant connected bamboo poles to a stream. We therefore have a non-stop faucet. If you pull a rope, the bambo rises and you get some sort of a shower bath.

Our toilet is very primitive. Its just a canal with wooden facilities for squatting. It is also very spacious. Three people can be accommodated at the same time.

Our water for drinking comes from the upper part of the stream. The medical officer takes charge of boiling the water for us.

Each officer has a wooden desk made out of Carnation boxes. Maps are spread on tables made out of branches of trees.

The telephones are of the field type and they hang on tree branches near tents of the officers. The radio runs by battery and it is in the center of the C.P. Officers gather around at night to listen to the Voice of Freedom. Fred calls it “Voice of Boredom.”

The kitchen has been built quite far from the main camp because of the smoke. An old gas stove has been reconditioned for firewood use.

In between tents are dug-outs which can accomodate seven to ten men. Dug-outs have chairs inside and look like little tunnels. Some dug-outs are connected to each other and there is a cobweb-like network underground. At night, lamps are placed inside dug-outs and typing of reports for Corregidor continues.

Staff meetings are held in little plaza in front of radio. Today the General said operatives have begun gathering reports in Manila and various enemy occupied Luzon regions. The General also read reports that Japs have been pocketed in sector of 1st regular division and “is trying to break through fiercely”. “In other fronts,” he said, “interdictory fire has been maintained.” In eastern sector, artillery duel continues and patrol activity has been further intensified. The general said that he was worried about the supply problem but that plans are being studied to solve difficulty by bringing food from Visayas. He did not say anything about the convoy. Col. Torralba, chief of staff, entered Bataan Sweepstakes. He thinks it’ll be Jan. 31.

Leonie and I feel situation is not as rosy as pictured. There must be some trouble about the convoy. Maybe the U.S. Navy was badly crippled in Pearl Harbor.  Maybe also something has happened in Hart’s Asiatic fleet. Why did he not come out and challenge the Jap transports? Maybe –and this is likely I think– I don’t know anything about naval strategy.

Nevertheless morale of boys in Bataan still high. There is still a strong determination to kill the Japs. They are praying for reinforcements from the U.S. though. They’ve been fighting since Dec. without any replacement. Rations are getting less and less.

Most of the boys say: “Never mind sending us troops. We can lick the Japs. Just send planes, planes, planes.”

Presence of Japs flying above without opposition, bombing and strafing at will except for AA fire gives a helpless feeling. One gets very sore but there’s nothing he can do about it. Some of the boys in desperation shoot at planes with their rifles. In certain instances, this has made matters worse because the Japs are able to locate positions. They return later and drop bombs.

There is a rumor that S.S. Legaspi was able to steam up Cavite and load rice sacks carried from Batangas. This will greatly help fast decreasing rice stocks. Salvage units are trying to refloat a ship sunk in Bay loaded with wheat flour. Quartermaster officers believe the inner part of flour can still be eaten. Only outer walls will be wet, they claim. All these moves show food supply is getting very short.

Funny incident happened between Col. Jalandoni and Gen. MacBride. The General who had just inspected Jalandoni’s beach defenses said:

“Colonel, your line is getting thinner,” Jalandoni thought the general was referring to his waist line, and so he replied:

“General, I did not come here to eat; I came here to fight.”

General MacBride laughed and said:

“I was not referring to your waist line but to your front line.”

Another funny incident happened to Col. Jalandoni the other day. His area was subjected to heavy aerial bombardment. The colonel ran and when he saw a dug-out, he jumped in. The dug-out was a latrine.

Col. Jalandoni was commander of Nueva Ecija garrison before the war. Then he was assigned to Malacañan. He is a good friend of President Quezon and family. He came to our C.P. this morning to visit Gen. de Jesus and he gave me a box of chewing gums. He is a good friend of my dad.

It’s getting dark now so I must stop writing. I wonder how mama and papa are. I am missing them an awful lot. Never thought this fight would last this long. When will we be able to see each other? I pity those whose boys die. They will never be able to see each other again. Of course, there is the memory that their son gave his life for the country. I wonder if that is a great consolation. Maybe it is.

I guess there is really no place like home especially when you are not home. Leonie is always thinking of his wife. Fred is worried extremely because his wife was on the family way. “By now, I’ve got a baby, I wonder if it’s a boy,” he said. I’m sure all of us at this time of the night start thinking of our homes only we don’t tell each other about those feelings. When I pray at night, I don’t only pray that I might see my family but also that all my companions might see their families too. But I guess that’s an almost impossible thing to ask. I think I’ll stop writing now because what I am writing is making me feel sad.

 

(later)

 

Prayed rosary with Sgt. Sinculan. He said he had not prayed for a long, long time.

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