President Manuel Quezon is sick again. He coughed many times while I talked to him. He was in bed when I submitted report of the General regarding political movements in Manila. He did not read it.
The President looked pale. Marked change in his countenance since I last had breakfast with his family. The damp air of the tunnel and the poor food in Corregidor were evidently straining his health.
He asked me about conditions in Bataan –food, health of boys, intensity of fighting. He was thinking of the hardships being endured by the men in Bataan.
He also said he heard reports that some sort of friction exists between Filipinos and American. “How true is that?”
The President’s room was just a make-shift affair of six-by-five meters in one of the corridors of the tunnel. He was sharing discomfort of the troops in Corregidor.
The President’s stenographer said “The Castila got sick again because he was wet in the rain.” Quezon visited artillery men in coast batteries of Rock and he personally distributed cigars to the boys. He was caught by the rain but he did not seek shelter.
Mrs. Quezon is slightly thinner. She says she cannot sleep well at night because her son who sleeps in the upper deck of her bed “moves too much.”
Mrs. Quezon showed great concern over hardships suffered by boys in Bataan. She said she was proud of the great stories of heroism of Filipino troops in Bataan. “The whole world,” she said “is talking about it.”
The President’s wife showed me the fuse of the first bomb dropped by Japs in Baguio on Dec. 8, 1941. “I’m keeping this,” she said in her slow, calm manner, “because this is historical.”
She said she was in Baguio when Japs first bombed Philippines. “We thought the planes flying were U.S.,” she said.
Mrs. Quezon told me to send some of our operatives to Arayat to find out what has happened to her farm. I said there were men in Arayat now looking into the matter.
Mrs. Quezon recounted how she and her family went to Corregidor, how they crossed Manila Bay and how an air-raid signal was sounded in the City when their boat left Manila.
She told me to see her before I leave for Bataan because she had some canned stuff for me.
Mrs. Quezon spends her time in the Rock reading, sewing, visiting some of the sick and praying. I think she prays most of the time. She is a very holy woman.
Fr. Ortiz, the chaplain in the Rock, said: “I think she’s a saint. I shall recommend her for canonization.”
Reported to Col. Charles Willoughby, Chief of G-2 section, MacArthur’s staff. Willoughby is author of famous book Maneuvers in War. He is handsome, young, intelligent, pleasing, gentlemanly officer. He greeted me in Spanish: “Como estas amigo?”
Submitted to him reports of Intelligence Service in Bataan (I am beginning to feel like a high class messenger).
Willoughby promised to get a uniform for me. I told him I only had one. I think he believed me because I looked very dirty and my shirt was covered with the clay of Bataan.
Willoughby’s desk was littered with maps and papers. He evidently has a lot of work. A few meters behind is MacArthur’s desk and to MacArthur’s right is Gen. Sutherland’s. Sutherland is Mac’s chief of staff.
While I was waiting for papers Willoughby wants delivered to Gen. de Jesus, I kept on watching movements of MacArthur.
The USAFFE head has a dynamic personality. He is also handsome and dignified-looking. He was holding his cane with a silver knob and had on his Pershing cap.
MacArthur was talking to Sutherland from his desk. I could not hear what they were talking about but MacArthur had a serious expression on his face. Sutherland was listening attentively.
After a while, MacArthur stood up, Sutherland remained seated and MacArthur continued talking rapidly. Then MacArthur left office in direction of main lateral. MacArthur was wearing his khaki field uniform, khaki shirt and pants and his usual pershing cap. When MacArthur passed by desk of other officer nobody stood up. In Corregidor, the General has apparently dispensed with formalities of standing at attention and saluting.
After MacArthur left. I saw Major Romulo arriving. Romulo went straight to his desk beside Col. Diller and Capt. Sauer of the Press Section. He placed a paper in his typewriter and then he started talking to Col. Diller. Romulo must have told something funny to Diller because Diller started to laugh and Romulo also laughed. Then Romulo began typing.
When Mr. Romulo saw me, he asked me to see him after Willougby. Romulo wanted to know what reports our operatives had regarding Manila. He told me to send another fellow to contact his family. He gave me the address of his secretary who lives near Santo Tomas. “Tell your agent,” he said, “to ask this man about ‘Serapia’ and ‘fortune’ and other names. I was wondering why ‘Serapia’ when his wife’s name is Viriginia. He said he and his wife have code names. “Serapia,” he said “stands for Virgina.”
I ate lunch with Mr. Romulo. He said that after Bataan, he would build the new Herald at the grounds of the Jap-owned BBB. He promised to give me two cans of Tuna fish, “fresh from Argentina,” he joked. He said he was going over to Bataan “to take a look at the front.”
Played dice. Lost. Played black-jack. Lost. Played checkers. Lost. Capt. Salientes said: “That’s OK, Phil, maybe you are lucky in love.” I wonder.
Sat on stairs of barracks chattering with Sal. Filipino barracks is out in the open, made of ‘sawali’ and faces Bataan.
Sal was recalling his cadet days in West Point Academy. He still wears his class ring. He said “Nothing like school days in America.”
We talked of everything on earth and finally of the convoy. All conversation in Bataan and Corregidor ends up in the convoy. He says he thinks “it’s somewhere in Australia now.”
Beautiful evening. Plenty of stars. He and I were homesick.
I asked him about Corregidor defenses. He said they were very strong. “If Bataan does not fall,” he explained, “Corregidor cannot be attacked except by landing parties from Cavite.”
He said my brother Vic gave him a ride on New Year’s eve. “I saw a Buick,” he said. “I asked for a lift and it was your brother, celebrating New Year’s Eve.”
I wonder how Vic is. I guess he is missing me. Ever since we were kids we bunked in the same room.