March 1942
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Month March 1942

March 31, 1942 – Tuesday

Paid a courtesy call on General MacArthur. I discussed with him my situation. I told him that I did not want to go to the U.S. with the President and I asked his advice. He said that unless I am ordered to go I should stay with him and return to the Philippines with him. I told him that I had the same opinion.

March 31, 1942

HQ, MIS, Bataan

 

 

Terrific day. Heavy fighting in front. Fred sent to west sector. I went to east. Spent day observing progress of battle.

Japs raining bombs on front line, powdering every inch of ground. Our artillery can only fire occasionally because of continuous presence of Jap planes.

Japs trying to break line with artillery fire supporting tank formations. Boys holding out with machine-guns and mines laid in front area. Japs have broken part of barbed wire but cannot penetrate.

Many casualties on both sides. Japs are also using flame-throwers. Incendiaries are being dropped on the rear.

Trucks carrying food cannot go to the line. Dumps are being bombed with out let-up. Any truck or car on any trail or road is machine-gunned. Even trucks carrying wounded cannot move.

U.S. tanks rushed to eastern sector. Japs will undoubtedly try to break through the east, perhaps in the very center of the front line, in the Patingan river.

If line breaks, it is the end for all of us. No more reserve line. Boys must hold and fight at all cost or all is lost.

Had to stop car two times because of strafing Jap planes. One bullet hit the running board neat the chauffeur.

Fred reports that Japs are also putting pressure on the west. But it is agreed that attacks on the west are just diversionary attacks. Main thrust will be in the east or perhaps in the very center, followed by a double envelopment maneuver.

Area in front of line has been partially mined. Several lines of barbed wire have been emplaced. Our artillery is ready for advancing Jap tanks. Huge clouds of dust in the front.

The zero hour has begun.

March 31, 1942

Gen. Yamakoshi gave a dinner in Honor of the NARIC staff at the Manila Hotel. It was a dry affair. Missed the lively Rotary luncheons.

Near our table there were Japanese civilians. They were drinking and singing and eating. They had hostesses. But they were old-looking. One of them must have been around 45. Too long at it. The war has given her a lease on life. There is a great demand.

Well, it’s been another month. How many more months or years?

Who said “Time flies”?

 

 

March 30, 1942 – Monday

Arrived in Melbourne at 9 a.m. We were met at the station by General & Mrs. MacArthur and his staff. The President and members of his family were conducted to the home of Mr. Norman Myer a wealthy Australian businessman, and we were taken to the Chevron Hotel, a neat and quiet place full of old and unattractive women. We were told that the U.S. Army had commandeered this hotel and that beginning April 4th there would be no more civilians. I have room 14. After I had installed my things in my room, I went with Joe McMicking to purchase a sweater and order some warm clothing. It is quite chilly. Joe invited Vice-President Osmeña and I to lunch at the Menzies Hotel. Nice place – good food. General MacArthur and his staff live there.

March 30, 1942

Must employ a good interpreter. Misunderstandings arise out of the inability to understand each other’s language.

Had a tense showdown with the new Japanese supervisor, Mr. Fukada. He called me to his desk. I told him to come to mine instead. He didn’t seem to understand. I told him straight: “If you want anything from me, you come to my desk; if I want something from you, I’ll go to yours.” He stood up and came to my desk.

Don’t give an inch if you don’t want to lose a yard.

 

March 29, 1942 – Sunday

Attended early Mass in the town church. After breakfast left for the landing field. We took off at 8:30 a.m. and landed in Adelaide at 12:30 p.m. Some American officers were waiting for us. We had a magnificent luncheon at the Adelaide Hotel. At 3 p.m. we boarded the special train that was going to take us to Melbourne. Fine train. Trip comfortable. The sleeping cars very similar to the Pullmans.

March 29, 1942

Gave the men in the office a confidential, heart-to-heart talk. This is what I said:

“Many responsible people outside and inside this office have suggested that I should be more assertive or aggressive regarding my powers and authority, and that if these are not accorded me, I should resign.”

“This is very easy to say, especially for people outside who are wont to criticize without knowing what is going on in this office As a matter of fact, I placed my resignation verbally with Secretary Vargas as far back as January, which was denied, and also with Mr. Noya on three subsequent occasions, each time likewise denied. I could not put this in writing for obvious reasons.”

“To the people in the office, in particular, I must remind that since the Japanese Army of Occupation took possession of the NARIC we have been literally sitting on top of a volcano, what with every one of the personnel being under a constant nervous strain, and more so when Mr. Castro Unson was taken to Fort Santiago, and subsequently, our Assistant Manager, Mr. Victor Pagulayan. In other words, as a conquered people, we have to grope our way through the confusion and uncertainty, and accept orders as they come. Under the circumstances, we should not demand anything but merely suggest, petition or make of record.

“The truth is that the many unnecessary inconveniences which the public suffered in the manner in which rice and flour were distributed, in the purchase of palay, and in the issuance of passes—all caused condemnation of the writer, without the public knowing that those procedures were made upon orders of the Japanese authorities regardless of our suggestions. Our men in the office know that nothing can be done without the stamp of approval by any of the dozen Japanese civilian authorities placed in this office. What could we do? Merely accept orders and invite their attention. What has been their answer? That people erroneously believe we are proceeding on peace-time basis, and they forget that we are still at war: in short, their answer is, ‘Such is war!’

“I now ask every member of this office to think in retrospect from this day back to January, and consider what has been their state of mind. Hasn’t it been incessantly under nervous strain on the verge of prostration? How many have left on account of that condition? They are Abes, Melo, Paez, Occeña, Orendain, Sison and other minor employees. The rest of us have stood at our posts and tried to work as best as we could under these very difficult circumstances, which means, to obey orders and not to demand anything. We are sacrificing ourselves to serve the people.

“With the placing of the NARIC under the control of the Army, in which I was formally named Manager, I shall now try gradually to demand the authority which corresponds to the Management. But this must be done with plenty of good judgment and prudence.

“This morning Mr. Tanco and I are going to return the visit of Gen. Yamakoshi and pay our respects to him. I shall make my first overtures on the authority of the Manager.”

I must study tight-rope walking.

 

March 28, 1942 – Saturday

We attended Mass in a little church and then proceeded to the landing field. While there we were able to discover that the missing plane had gotten lost, had been short of gasoline and the pilot was forced to land in the desert. We finally found them all right but very hungry and tired. We returned to Alice Springs where we spent a second night.

March 28, 1942

Philip’s birthday.

March 27, 1942 – Friday

When we landed in Batchelor’s Field some Australian Air Force officers met us and took us in two dilapidated cars to their camp where we were given facilities to wash and then they served breakfast, not very good but it was welcome. Before breakfast we all prayed and thanked God for the safe trip and then we received Holy Communion from Father Ortiz. An American officer who introduced himself as Captain Godman told us that he had been a classmate of Captain Villamor at Kelly Field said he had been sent by General MacArthur to coordinate the trip in Australia. The President did not want to fly anymore, but when he was made to understand that there was no other way of transportation except a five day trip by truck he consented to continue. At 9:15 a.m. we took off, on a Douglas ten seater — a regular passenger plane –for Alice Springs an oasis in the middle of the Australian desert. The President asked me to sit next to him. After half an hour he said: “I believe we are too high because I feel I need oxygen.” “No Sir”, I answered, “we must be only at five thousand feet because I can easily count the trees on the ground.” He did not like my answer. Shortly after he told me to go to another seat so that I could sleep. Sometime later he sent Dr. Trepp to see the pilot and I noticed that we were then flying at a much lower altitude. As I expected it soon became very bumpy due to the heat from the desert. The President did not like it and sent Dr. Trepp back to the pilot to ask him to fly higher. The trip was very monotonous as we flew five hours over the desert. What desolation. As we flew over that immense territory I thought of how valuable that land could be if it had a system of irrigation. The water however would have to be brought from at least one thousand five hundred miles away. We landed at Alice Springs a town in the middle of the desert at 2:30 p.m. Before we landed we were already warned that the problem of flies there was a serious one, but we could not realize it until we landed. The soldiers on duty there use green fly nets over their hats and tied around the necks. As we came out of the plane our face and garments were full of flies small but sticky. We left that horrible landing field and proceeded to the town ten miles away where we spent the night in a small dirty hotel. As time passed we began to worry because the plane in which the Vice President & Major Soriano had flown had not arrived. We did not know what to do, and hoped that they were safe. The President transferred to the house of the priest and his family to a girls convent.

March 27, 1942

HQ, MIS, Bataan

 

Japs have dropped Tribunes carrying story Quezon had died in Iloilo. Everybody had a good laugh. Everybody knows that Quezon is safe in Australia.

Operatives in Manila report that Japs are befriending Indians. The case of India will always be a sore mark in the fight of Britain and America for the four freedoms. Churchill can’t talk of liberty and freedom while 400 million Indians, 1/5th of humanity groan under the British lash. I was sure the Japs will exploit this fact to the limit.

Reports from Manila indicate that people cooperating with Japs are severely criticized. American fears that Japs might win over Filipinos are unfounded. The last cochero hates the Japs. Japs have started off with wrong foot in Manila by committing abuses. Filipinos cannot stand slapping.

Morale of Manilans very high. They have faith that Americans will surely send the convoy very soon. A small minority believe there is no more hope for return of Americans.

Some boys are complaining about Americans who have race-prejudice.

 

(later)

 

Contact established with guerrilla group that has sprung up in Nueva Vizcaya, under Major Thorpe and Lt. Nakar. Nakar belongs to the 71st. He was cut off from retreat to Bataan. So he went to hills of Nueva Vizcaya.

An operative has arrived from Ilocos. He said he talked with Buenaventura Bello. Bello was reported killed by Japs when they landed in Vigan because he did not like to lower the U.S. flag. Manila newspapermen must have invented this story.

Three raids today. Only two casualties.

March 27, 1942

Noya has been replaced by Mr. Fukada as Supervisor. Noya was all right. He was not arrogant and we got along quite well. There must be a code of gallantry between generals. A friend of mine told me that when General MacArthur left for Corregidor he left his room in the Manila Hotel just as it was. “As if he just went out for a walk,” my friend related. “His books were in the shelves, some on top of the tables and his clothes and even his decorations were left as they were. There was obviously no effort to hide anything.” My friend said General MacArthur left a little note to the commander-in-chief of the Japanese forces entrusting his belongings to him. The Japanese general, in turn, has not touched Gen. MacArthur’s room. “And he has ordered the Manila Hotel Manager,” recounted my friend, “to see to it that nobody touches anything in the room.” The age of chivalry has not passed.

March 26, 1942

Had an important conference with Colonel Uzaki, head of the Army’s Food Division. I took up all the important matters preoccupying me.

First, the flour distribution. He stated that as long as the amount of daily release previously fixed to authorized bakeries is not exceeded, the authority to determine who should or should not receive flour rested upon me.

Second, rice distribution. Authority, he said, also rested on me. In other words, Mr. Inada must submit to me his plans for decision and action. Under the present set-up, Mr. Inada tries to do things as he pleases and in case he bungles them up, the entire corporation, including myself as Manager, will be blamed by the public.

Third, police protection. We agreed that if the Army cannot furnish us with soldiers and if we cannot, in any particular case, depend on the provincial or municipal police, then we should be allowed to possess firearms. He asked me how many we needed. I answered, “Offhand, about 10.” He said that he would make arrangements for this purpose.

Fourth, financing. I told him the necessary finances should be made immediately available because when purchases start in Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Tarlac and Pampanga, they should be done fast to avoid the undesirable effects of the rainy season. The colonel replied that if the funds as planned are not sufficient, the NARIC would have to buy on credit. This alternative is not so satisfactory.

Fifth, Was authorized to buy palay stored in bodegas of Ileto and Pinaod. Was told not to pay the palay deposited by Nueva Ecija producers which has already been taken by the Army, until arrangements are made with the Army.

Sixth. Asked him to secure enough fuel for us if he wants us to succeed in our work.

Seventh, I am authorized to take up matters directly with the Military Administration after consulting Mr. Fukada, Supervisor de facto. When Japanese assistants to the supervisor de facto go to the Military Administration, it is understood that they must first advise Mr. Fukada or me about it.

Eighth, All matters not otherwise specified are to be submitted in writing (copy of which must be handed to Mr. Fukada in advance) for final decision by Col. Uzaki. Heavy raid on Corregidor fortifications. General MacArthur is no longer there. KGEI said he was sent to Australia. The Japanese claim he “escaped.” They are “peeved” about his “escape.” No, not MacArthur. He is not the type that runs always. He has brave blood in his veins. We cannot judge his acts until the end of the war. Let us await the verdict of history.

 

 

March 26, 1942 – Thursday

Attended and served Mass. Returned to Del Monte. 12:30 p.m. went with Vice-President Osmeña to Mr Crawford’s evacuation house for lunch. Returned to Del Monte. Packed my valise for the airplane trip.

The planes arrived at 8:45 p.m. We could hear the roar of the engines from our house at Del Monte. At 10 p.m. we were told to get into automobiles already assigned to each person and member of the President’s party. Those that were to ride in Plane N-1 rode in cars N-1 and N-2. We were the President and his family, Dr. Trepp, Colonel Nieto, Chaplain Ortiz and myself. We arrived at the airfield at 10:40 p.m.; we were assigned to various places thus; Colonel Nieto & Chaplain Ortiz in the gunners cockpit in front. Dr. Trepp in the rear and the President, his family and myself in the radio operators compartment in the center of the plane. There was absolutely no comfort amenities, but we were willing to sacrifice every thing for safety. We took off exactly at 11 p.m. The moon was bright. I heard the roar of the four engines, then I felt a few bumps and a few seconds later I realized we were in the air. The first part of the journey was pleasant although I felt cold. I was sitting on a box in the bomb compartment and there was a cold draft coming from a small opening in the floor of the compartment. A few minutes later the pilot Lieutenant Falkner came and asked me not to smoke as I was situated next to the two big tanks of gasoline. I assured him that there was no danger and I was not a smoker. I could notice we were climbing as it became colder and colder. My feet were almost frozen. Suddenly I felt a hand in the dark grabbing my left leg. I got up; it was the President. “Give me oxygen”, he said “I cannot breathe well”. I applied the oxygen apparatus to his nose. After a few minutes he said: “this does not function; I can not smell the oxygen.” I informed him that oxygen had no odor and consequently could not be smelled. The he said: “Tell the pilot not to climb too high as I cannot stand it.” I took his pulse; it was a little fast due to his fear but otherwise was alright. I spoke to the pilot who assured me that he would not go higher than 9,000 feet and as soon as the enemy bases had been passed he would come down to 6,000 ft.

I watched the moon playing hide and seek behind the clouds. I took my rosary and prayed fervently. I thought of my family, of my little Nucay (Charito) of those dear to me. What would become of them if the trip should end in a disaster? As the moon disappeared behind the horizon, I looked at my watch; it was 2 a.m. Then I looked at the stars, but these also disappeared as we entered clouds. The clouds become darker and thicker. Then I could hear the rain pounding on the plane. The President asked for oxygen again. Then as we entered a heavy rain squall the plane was lifted and dropped a few times by the strong winds. I did not like it. The President was quite worried. He asked me if there was any danger. I assured him that there was none. Suddenly I noticed that the pilot banked the plane and the flying became smoother, later he told us that he had gone around the squall. At 6 a.m. the pilot came to inform us that we had passed already the Japanese bases and were practically safe. I saw the sky become clearer and then the sun came out. Then I saw land and a little later Port Darwin. We landed at Batchelor’s Field at 7:45 a.m.

March 25, 1942 – Wednesday

Attended mass at 8 a.m. 9:30 a.m. visited the new installations for the Air Corps.

March 25, 1942

Another man arrived from Bataan. Said he was Philip’s sergeant. He was sunburnt and thin and sick with malaria. “Do not worry about Phil,” he said. He would not stay for dinner. We asked him if Philip was sick “No,” he replied, he is all right.” Vic, my other boy, wanted to go with him. “One in the family is enough,” he replied. He was a very cheerful fellow. I can still remember his smile. He was like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day.

March 24, 1942 – Tuesday

In Del Monte.

March 24, 1942

If the news about President Quezon is true, this country has lost one of its main pillars. But I have a feeling, the news is false. Men like Don Manuel do not die in times like this. He is destiny’s godson.

Capati and Oliveros called to Fort Santiago.

Pagu and Unson still languishing in the fort. Their families have not heard from them.

More troops have arrived. Saw them speeding through Taft Avenue in camouflaged trucks. Somebody said they were speeding to their death.

March 23, 1942 – Monday

Got up at 8 a.m. At 9 a.m. the air raid alarm was sounded. Three planes flew over our camp headed North. Apparently they believe this camp has been abandoned as they did not change their course.

Shortly after the alarm was sounded Mr. Crawford the manager of Del Monte Pineapple Corporation rushed into the house occupied by the President and his family and took them away, on the grounds that the camp was dangerous. This he did without the knowledge of General Sharp. Absurd. He took them to his house which he built 5 kilometers away from the camp.

I worked all day arranging my files of telegrams so as to reduce weight.

Note: I overlooked writing in yesterday’s diary that upon my request Major Soriano spoke to the President regarding my trip, and expressed my points of view. The President answered that he will take me with him to Australia so that I can be with General MacArthur. He believes that it will be hard for me to remain in Mindanao or Cebu as the Commanding Generals are only Brigadier Generals. He added that in view of my rank and position I would be better with General MacArthur where I could observe and study his plan for the offensive. Later I spoke with the President and he reiterated what he had told Soriano.

March 23, 1942

The newspapers headlined in bold letters that President Quezon died in Iloilo, a victim of his old disease. It was however added that the news has not yet been confirmed. Radio Bataan denied it strongly and promised that it would issue its own bulletin. Radio Tokyo nevertheless came back, insisting that President Quezon was assassinated. He allegedly wanted to surrender in order to avoid further shedding of blood, but General MacArthur contradicted him. A violent altercation ensued and General MacArthur shot him. The enemy radio stations repeatedly and vehemently denied the rumor and the ensuing battle of propaganda detonated like explosives. Although the rumors and counter-rumors did not kill anyone, they were demoralized, and these attacks, though unseen, caused fear and shock.

What is it that they are trying to prove, anyway!