February 1942
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Month February 1942

February 28, 1942 — Saturday

Arrived Bais Sugar Central at 2:15 a.m. We found that the big house of the manager was being occupied by various families and the poor people had to get up at that hour to pack their things and move out so that we could occupy the house. I felt very much ashamed and I tried my best to apologize. It broke my heart to see a little girl 6 years old get up from her bed and start collecting all her dolls and toys. Mass was said at that time, and then we went to bed. I awoke at 9 a.m. Attended to some work and visited the Central. Went to Dumaguete in afternoon. Saw Tapale.

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February 28, 1942

Rumors (are) that more NARIC employees will be taken to Fort Santiago. Most of my men are demoralized. The efficiency of the service is impaired. Nervous tension in the office prevails.

Unson has not yet been released. Charges against him have not been specified. He was just arrested and detained. Nobody knows how long he will be imprisoned. Who will be next?

Heard a heart-lifting broadcast over the Voice of Freedom: “Be of good cheer. Sleep tight through the night of defeat. Gather strength for the morning and we’ll be there sooner than you think.”

Now we grope through the night. For how long, only the Lord knows. We must carry on. Somewhere ahead is the morning.

How many of us will live to see it?

February 28, 1942

Bataan, HQ, MIS

Non-stop bombing. Spent day going in and out of dug-out. If they bomb some more, I will not go to dug-out anymore.

Hungry. A handful of lugao is not enough. We are fed like chickens and we live like rats –underground.

Quarreled with Fred over the use of my towel. Silly thing. Guess we are all somewhat nervous. Nerves all on edge.

Mass will be said in our CP tomorrow morning. It’s about time. What we can’t get with guns, we might have through prayers. I will pray for cheese.

Intense fighting in eastern front. Jap thrusts in Capinpin’s sector stopped.

Checked up instructions to operations going to Nueva Ecija and Lingayen.

Bawled out by General. He claims I didn’t keep all his papers in order. “What kind of an aide are you?” he asked.

Wrote him letter of resignation. Asked for assignment to front. Fred tried to stop me. So did Leonie. They are good friends. I don’t give a damn what the general does about my resignation. He makes me sick.

Finished the rest of brandy with Fred and Leonie. Fred started talking of old days with coeds in U.P. He revealed a lot of ‘green’ incidents in U.P. campus. Nothing like co-education. Leonie started singing “We are in the Army Now.” Drinking orgy stopped by arrival of some civilians for questioning, heck.

I’ve finished questioning the fellow given to me. Leonie is still in the dug-out questioning the old man who was wearing a red shirt. He is typing with a candle on one hand. Wottalife!

(later)

Henceforth, supper will be called the “salmon-hour”, according to Lt. Tatco, mess officer. To hell with Salmon!

February 27, 1942 — Friday

Left Mr. Enrique Montilla’s house at Isabela at 10 a.m. for San Carlos, Oriental Negros. Arrived at Panubigan at 12 noon, where luncheon had been prepared in the rest house. Colonel Hilsman, Captain Mason and Captain Jones were waiting for us. Left Panubigan at 1:15 p.m. Arrived at the house of Juanito Ledesma at The Hacienda Fortuna at 2:20 p.m. No one was in the house except a lady cousin.

The President and his family stayed to rest and I drove to San Carlos to look for General Villanueva as the President wanted to confer with him. On the road, I met Nieto and Soriano and I asked them to come with me. We found him with the Provincial Treasurer. Then we went to the Hacienda San Jose of the Tabacalera where I met the manager Mr. Miguel Aguirre and the Assistant Manager Mr. Buenaventura Duran. They agreed to prepare dinner for the party. Returned to The Hacienda Fortuna. Saw the race horses of Mr. Ledesma. While there the President changed all plans. Instead of taking the boat at San Carlos and proceeding to Cebu via Toledo, he decided to let Vice President Osmeña, the Chief Justice and the rest of the party proceed, while he and his family with Nieto, Salazar and I go to Bais Sugar Central at Tanjay. After dinner we left for Bais.

February 27, 1942

Busy all day with reports on the progress of rice purchases in the provinces.

February 27, 1942

Corregidor

Went to one of the coast batteries. Men were cleaning their guns. The officer in charge said the Japs would not try a frontal attack on the Rock. He also said that Corregidor could stand a six-month siege, as long as the water-tank is not destroyed.

Our conversation was interrupted by an air-raid.

Jap convoy in Subic Bay was bombed by 2 of our P-40’s. Hooray!

Corregidor

(later)

Drank half a bottle of brandy. Will bring other half to Bataan for Leonie and Fred. It’s no good drinking alone. Misery and drinking loves company.

Saw Vic. He said he had a tiff with an American officer. Some of them have race-prejudice, hell.

February 26, 1942 — Thursday

Spent morning and afternoon in the same place. At 5 p.m. we left for Isabela where we arrived at about 7 p.m. We were met by Mrs. Jesusa Lacson vda. de Arroyo, and Mr. & Mrs. Enrique Montilla, in whose house we were lodged. Major Soriano, Colonel Nieto and myself were given a comfortable room downstairs near the swimming pool. The President invited Colonel Hilsman & Captain Mason for dinner.

February 26, 1942

Purchasing campaign in the provinces is meeting with great difficulties. Not all mayors are cooperating. Some are aloof, haughty. Others are looking for personal gain. Many are indifferent.

Warehouses must be prepared to receive palay.

We need more sacks.

Scales are also lacking.

Transportation is a big problem. Must secure spare parts for trucks. Fuel is very limited.

My head aches. Too much worry. Must carry on with the rice purchases. Our men are at the mercy of bandits. They are not even armed. But we must get the rice. Our present stocks are depleting. We must have an adequate reserve.

We are battling against starvation.

February 26, 1942

Corregidor

Malinta

 

Had a nice luncheon with Mr. Roxas, Romulo, Razon, Baby Vargas, and Manny de Leon. We “swiped” some of the chickens in Mac’s house and fried it. We ate at the chalet beside Mac’s bungalow which is being used by Mr. Roxas and Romulo as sleeping quarters.

It was so warm and there is very little shade in the Rock that we took off our unifoms and ate with undershirts.

Everybody was happy as Manny who is quite a good cook made culinary wonders with Mac’s chicken.

Romulo and Roxas were talking about the fighting in Bataan and Roxas said that after the war, a big national shrine should be constructed in Mt. Samat to honor all the heroes that have died and are now dying in this battle.

Roxas was talking about the shipping of supplies from the Visayas to Corregidor to improve the rations of the boys. Romulo cracked that it was hard to fight on an empty stomach.

I told Mr. Romulo that one of our operatives had contacted his secretary and that he should stop worrying about his family because they are all right and hiding in Pagsanjan.

Roxas asked me to bring a bottle of whiskey for Jake Zobel who was in Lim’s division and some cigarettes for him.

Romulo said that the President was now in the Visayas and that the weather there would be much healthier for him than the damp air of the tunnel.

After the fried chicken, Manny surprised us with ice cream made out of dri-mix and the ice he was able to get from the Chinese boys in Malinta.

I had myself insured and Baby Vargas who is in the Finance Division fixed up my papers.

Roxas and Romulo then talked of a broadcast over Voice of Freedom which was very hard on “Quislings collaborating with Japs while their sons were fighting in Bataan.” Romulo said that this broadcast was written by Gen. MacArthur. Roxas regretted that it was written because he stated those in Manila. “We don’t know,” he said, “how much pressure of torture was being exerted by the Japs.”

Our happy luncheon was interrupted during the ice cream because of the air raid alarm. We were too full to run to the tunnel so we decided to stick it out in our shack. Fortunately the bombers dropped their bombs on the Cavite side. When we returned to the table, our ice cream had melted.

 

(later)

 

Barracks is top-hill bombed. Oil dumps hit. Damage slight, according to Vic Osias.

Talked with Norman Reyes and Vic Osias. Both fellows were full of wisecracks. Norman is one of the announcers of the Voice of Freedom. Osias is attached to air corps unit in Corregidor.

Discussion on prostitution popped up again. Some officers think it is a bad necessity. Two U.S. marines joined discussion. They claim the French are the best prostitutes.

Played Ping Pong with Manny de Leon before taking dinner.

Norman Reyes had a fight with an American soldier. “I don’t like guys with racial prejudices,” he said.

 

February 25, 1942 — Wednesday

1 a.m. The Princes of Negros started for Bacolod. We arrived in Bacolod 6 a.m. Proceeded to the Bachelor Officer’s quarters where breakfast was served. From there we went to the Hacienda Rosario of Mr. & Mrs. Manuel del Rosario. We were very comfortably installed in their home. The President conferred with several government officials. I was kept busy until 2 a.m. investigating a Swiss national.

February 25, 1942

The American mainland has been shelled by a Japanese submarine. This will spur America. This is the kick she needed. The U-boat fired 20 shells, according to the British radio. The attack occurred shortly after President Roosevelt’s nationwide address.

My Japanese neighbors are celebrating. This is Japan’s greatest hour.

In downtown Manila, the people were happy. “This will wake America,” they said.

Perhaps in America they will also rejoice. But it will not end there. I can see America smarting from a slap, buckling down to work, determined to even up the score.

There is nothing as fierce as a wounded lion.

February 25, 1942

All Quiet continue in all fronts. Major Sidney Huff summoned me to USAFFE HQ and his purpose is to “borrow” the inflatable rubber raft of Q-112 to serve as sample for additional such rafts he will order. I learned that my raft is the only one still usable among the Torpedo Boats and so I left it at Malinta Tunnel.

I also learned from Maj. Huff that USS Swordfish that took Pres. Quezon and party from Corregidor four nights ago, for reasons unknown to me, unloaded her passengers at San Jose, Antique, returned to Corregidor, picked up U.S. High Commissioner Francis B. Sayre and party and quietly departed last night presumably for Australia. It was my presumption also that when Pres. Quezon and party left, they were headed for Australia. It seems his desire not to abandon his countrymen is still paramount in his mind so he is still in the Visayas.

While our troops apparently appear to have good morale, the non-arrival of expected reinforcements — that imagined miles and miles of convoy of ships — plus the food shortages, difficulties in the Bataan jungles with its fierce mosquitos, all these contribute to doubts and apprehensions.  Due to lack of food, the Cavalry horses were all eaten by this time and many edible items are being discovered in Bataan forests.  A group of  young American soldiers calling themselves “Battling Bastards of Bataan” even composed a song  which goes something like this:    “We’re the Battling Bastards of Bataan. No Mama, No Papa, No Uncle Sam. No Aunts, No Uncles, No Cousins, No Nieces. No, Pills, No Planes, No Artillery Pieces. . . . . And Nobody Gives a Damn.”

Now that Q-111 main engines are being overhauled to take advantage of the lull, Q-112 and Q-113 will alternate in the nightly patrols of Manila Bay.  The officers and men of USS Canopus well-camouflaged to blend with Gorda Point west of Sisiman Cove are of invaluable assistance keeping our torpedoes charged and their shops ready to help us anytime. We, from OSP, are very grateful to them.

February 25, 1942

Corregidor

Malinta Tunnel

 

Helluva trip. Thought it was the end of the courier boat, passengers and –me.

I was telling an American officer who was on deck that it was a very lovely afternoon. The sun was beginning to set and the sea was very calm. If you could manage to forget the men in the front in Bataan and the fellows in the batteries of Corregidor, you could get the feeling that it was a pleasure cruise over Manila Bay.

Then the captain suddenly shouted an order which I did not hear. The boat stopped. I began to wonder because we were already very near the Rock. The streets girding the side of the fortress could be seen clearly from our distance.

The captain was silent and he was looking at the sky. Somebody muttered “planes”. In a while, we could hear the metallic desynchronized engine of Jap bombers.

The nurses on deck started to lie flat. Others sat between iron bars. The American officer and I stood beside the railing not knowing whether to jump into the shark-infested water or to take a chance on the poor bombing of the Japs. Then the captain ordered lifebelts. I began to pray.

Then bombs started to fall on the water around us. The water would sprout up like a geyser and part of the deck would be wet. We zigzagged all around the Bay, sometimes going towards Bataan, then to Cavite, then to Pampanga, then to Corregidor. It was dark when the bombers left. We could see their plane-lights like little stars among the clouds. Nobody jumped in the water. The officers in the boat were nervous but they kept their nerves under control.

It was a relief when we got near the docks of the Rock. Never was I so happy. When I walked down the gangplank, the American officer remarked:

“Quite a pleasure cruise, lieutenant!”

February 24, 1942 — Tuesday

Busy attending to Army work and buying some things.

Took boat Princess of Negros at 9:30 p.m. Left Iloilo at 11:30 p.m. for Guimaras. Picked up the President & his family who spent the day in Dr. Evangelista’s house. I had dinner with Tito & Rosario. I ordered that Tito be called to active duty, in order that he may assist in the patrol of the waters near Iloilo.

February 24, 1942

Colonel Uzaki visited the office today. The colonel said: “NARIC must start to buy actively. Begin with Baliuag.”

Purchases will be made through municipal mayors. Producers must go to the provinces. Passes will be given by the Military Police.

Distribution depends on procurement. There will be nothing to distribute to the people, if nothing is procured. The procurement campaign must succeed.

Roosevelt will speak at 11 a.m. today. Must hear him. Millions of hearts will probably listen to him. It is during times of stress that one can see the mettle of a leader.

In a storm you can judge the good navigator.

February 24, 1942

HQ, Bataan

 

Bert Misa and Saturn Velasco were here a few minutes ago. Touching sight. They looked like lost souls: thin, haggard, dirty, hungry, sunburnt. They joined as buck privates and they have to swallow everything their sergeant tells them. A private’s life is a dog’s life. Their sector is Limay beach. The poor fellows are being subjected to bombing and strafing every morning and afternoon and they only rest at night. They said: “We live underground most of the time.”

They said that Torre and Gregg are with them. Both fellows are also from Ateneo. Bert asked for a “little bit of sugar.” They complained that their daily food is nothing but salmon and lugao.

The other day Saturn found an egg. Everybody was happy but it was not enough for all of them. So they decided nobody was going to eat it.

Bert said that they pray the rosary every night. They gather all the fellows from school and those that care to join and then they pray the rosary. Gives them strength.

“After a bombardment,” Saturn said, “each one calls out for the name of the others, just to see if all are still alive.”

School-mates become more attached to each other here.

 

(later)

 

In staff meeting after dinner, the General said Japs are attempting to break through eastern sector. He stated that Japs emplaced cannons on barges pulled by motor boats and started shelling eastern shore.

Four raids this morning and three raids this afternoon. Right now there are planes flying but no bombs have been dropped yet. Our AA guns are still silent. Maybe waiting for them to fly lower.

Fred and Leonie are discussing about race prejudice. Some Americans here are too damned cocky.

 

(later)

 

Am officer of the night. Must post the sentinels.

Tried to write an article on Bataan. Couldn’t even get started.

Norman now speaking over Voice of Freedom. He reads the pep talk.

Leonie writing a radio drama. Romulo wants Vero Perfecto, Leoni, Norman and I to take part in a script depicting Bataan life in front.

Will write a script for Voice of Freedom. Will ask Leonie to fix it up.

Feeling hungry. Will pay P1,000 for a tenderloin steak. I don’t know why but I always think of steaks. Would love a cheese sandwich too.

Fred is calling Leonie and I. He says he was able to swipe a can of Condensed Milk from Major Panopio’s private supply. This will be a party, hooray.

February 23, 1942 — Monday

Had luncheon at the Ajuy-Sara Sugar Central of Elizalde & Company. At 4 p.m. we returned to Mariano Cacho’s house in Iloilo. Met Tito & Rosario. Tito had gone back to Buenavista to pick her up. We were not able to leave Iloilo as the light in the buoy number 4 was not lighted.

February 23, 1942

Proud of our boys in Bataan. They are still holding the line. KGEI reports “heavy exchange of artillery in the Bataan peninsula.” We’re doing better than Singapore. Filipinos are good soldiers.

Messrs. Noya, Kobatake and Evangelista returned from Bulacan. They report confusion and misunderstanding in purchase arrangements between Major Kurumatani and Supervisor Noya.

Posadas reported inability to handle tremendous amount of detail work in connection with the handling of confiscated rice.

Bank meeting this morning. Didn’t agree with the Board. Binalbagan has a credit line of ₱1,000,000 which was being increased to ₱1,500,000 favorably. On the other hand, Nasugbu and Roxas firms were requesting a credit line of ₱100,000 each for 160,000 piculs of sugar and this was denied. It was my opinion that under the circumstances, Binalbagan’s request should have also been denied. Carmona argued that Binalbagan belonged to the bank. I said that that should give greater weight to my contention. Then Chairman Vargas revealed that ₱350,000 of the requested increase had already been given. This was given without the Board’s knowledge nor consent and I called the Board’s attention to this. Chairman Vargas demanded a categorical answer: “Do you approve—Yes or no?” I remained silent. The credit line was passed.

After the meeting. Vargas called me. In the presence of President Carmona, Vargas apologized, giving as excuse his state of high nervous tension.

Later in the morning, as I had no time to go to the bank, I told Carmona over the telephone that under the circumstances, I did not want any longer to be a board member and I leave it to him to present my resignation as bank director at the opportune time. Carmona asked me not to resign. “Just forget the matter, Vic,” he said.

Those present in the board meeting were Carmona, Sison, Rodriguez, Gomez, Avanceña and Vargas.

I submitted my resignation, verbally anyway. A man must stick to his principles.

February 22, 1942 — Sunday

We arrived in Iloilo 7 a.m. Had breakfast in the house of Colonel Powell. I went with Quimbo to his house to take a bath and change clothes. Had luncheon in the beach home of Mr. Lopez and spent the evening in Mariano Cacho’s house. Met Tito, my brother, whom I called for.

February 22, 1942

Stayed home. I think I need a rest. All work and no play makes John a dull boy.