January 1945
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Month January 1945

January 31, 1945

There is no Foreign Legion in the American Army. But there is one particular group composed of daring characters who court death and who are sent on missions behind enemy lines. These are the “Rangers”. When sent on missions they do not wear the military uniform in order not to be detected by the enemy, but a special one by which they will not be mistaken for spies.

Two of these rangers, one of whom is a Mexican friend of ours, came last night from a humanitarian assignment. They narrated that there are a hundred of them, guided by 200 guerrillas who have penetrated the enemy lines sixty kilometers towards Cabanatuan where some 500 American war prisoners are being detained. After a brief battle all the Japanese soldiers were killed. They had a hard time convincing the prisoners that they had come to liberate, not to kill them. The prisoners could not believe them. Many of the prisoners had to be carried because of their weakness. Two of the rangers and twenty guerrillas were killed in the operations. The liberated prisoners were brought to hospitals in various towns of Pangasinan until they could be transported to their country.

No one can explain why there are hardly 500 prisoners in Cabanatuan when there were an estimated 10,000 of them in 1942. How many had died of hunger, sickness or torture, or brought out of the Philippines or died in Japanese boats sunk by American submarines or planes? We doubt if any satisfactory explanation could be made on this. All we have now was a cold fact, as sad as it was eloquent.

In September of last year, after the first American air attack on Manila, some 1,500 American prisoners were loaded in a boat for Formosa. The boat was sunk by American planes and only 600 were rescued. Such is the cruel and ironic tragedy of war.

January 27, 1945

We would frequently meet soldiers who say, “I am Spanish.” Curious as to how there could be Zamorans in the U.S. Army we asked one of them:

“From what province are you?”

“From California”. And he explained, “My father was Spanish and my mother Mexican, and I am an American citizen. We’ve just arrived and we feel like talking in Spanish. Tomorrow we might be dumped into another place where there are Japanese still remaining.”

They took pride in talking about their countrymen, and we enjoyed listening to their sweet accent and diction, their picturesque expression and their language interspersed with hispanized English words.

We came across some authentic Spanish who told us he was from Sevilla or from León or from Valencia. There was even one who insisted in referring to himself as an “Asturian from Texas”.

“In the Army” one officer told us, “there are no socialists nor communists as there are no Democrats or Republicans.” Among the Mexicans with whom we chatted, there are no partisans — Toledans or pro-Tolstoy or pro-Stalin. They are all good Catholics.

Also with the expeditionary forces were thousands of Filipinos who were connected with the auxiliary services. Fighting in the first lines were the locally enlisted Filipinos, especially the guerrillas who served as links to the American forces. They are excellent combatants. Unfortunately, though, many dissident elements in Tarlac and Pampanga would pass as guerrillas and they would attack the Americans. The Army, unable to distinguish the grain from the thistle, had to dissolve all groups — Sakdalistas and genuine guerrillas alike, confiscating all arms until they could clear the area and pick out the marauders from the same elements. The communist threat is real and is transcendental.

As long as the Army is in control, they will be able to keep the different dissident groups in check. But the day the politicians return to power, the political leaders of Moscow and Tokyo will be back to fish in the confused river of politics. We know who’s winning in war. But who’s going to win in peace?

Wars can be won by force of arms; peace can be gained only by justice — justice tempered with charity. To win in the grand final battle there is a need for men, organization, equipment and supplies. To win the peace, all these are needed, directed by the powers of the spirit. The course and recourse of these faculties is charity. I do not know of any other antidote to hatred than love, nor any other antidote to avarice, pride and ambition than charity!

If hatred is to win the war, what kind of peace shall we expect? Were the millions of lives lost sacrificed to this end?

“I don’t mind losing my life”, an officer told me a few days ago, “but I would certainly want to lose it for a noble cause.”

What these soldiers have to contend with is not Germany or Japan, both of which have already been defeated, but Russia or, if we might personify, Stalin.

Manaoag, January 25, 1945

When I passed by Mangaldan two days ago, I did not see anything special. On my way back, I saw several hundreds of planes in a very wide field. The technology brought along by these Americans can convert a rice field into an airfield within a few hours.

January 24, 1945

“No man is great in the eyes of his valet.” They said that Napoleon used to say this. But the driver of General MacArthur thinks otherwise. This driver was assigned to me when I had a hard time looking for a vehicle to bring three Fathers to Lingayen. He told me that everyday, except today, he drove the General to the front line, but never did they take the same route twice. I asked him how he was able to memorize the complicated network of streets in so short a time, but he replied that it was not he, but the General, who knew the roads as well as the driver knew his hometown roads. The General was using a jeep which was no different from the thousands of others which the Army brought along. He narrated to me that once they had to cross a river across a pair of unstable wood plunks. He asked the General to get off while he drove the jeep across lest the General fell off and drown. But the General said, “If I fall, you also fall.” And he refused to get off.

The preceding night was the first time one in which the thunderous boom of 12-inch guns was heard at a distance. But a stray shell shook the house and the nerves of its occupants. Inch by inch the Americans hunted the Japanese, flushing them out of their mountain nests, some of which were settled, about 20 kilometers from Manaoag, along the length of San Manuel through Sison, Camp One, Rosario, Damortis. The sad part of it is that the Japanese are using guns which they had pulled out of Bataan and Corregidor, killing Yankees with Yankee guns.

In Manaoag, the shellings, bombings and mortar fire make us feel and live the war anew. Here in Lingayen the air force prevents us from forgetting the war. Like bees around the hive, at every hour of the day, these giant bees keep buzzing around the air field. To make matters worse, the howling of engines reached our place as the planes took off or landed. They flew so low we felt we could reach them with our hands.

January 21, 1945 — Sunday

Attended 6:45 a.m. Mass and received Communion. Went to Air Strip at 8 a.m. Took off at 9 a.m. on a B-25. Sat inside the cabin next to the turret gunner. Arrived San Jose, Mindoro 10:50 a.m. Had luncheon with General Dunckel. Discussed with Major Nimick needs of civil population. Took off 3:30 p.m. Landed Tacloban Air strip at 5:20 p.m.

January 20, 1945 — Saturday

Busy in office. Invited by Commander James Van Landt to luncheon in his L.S.T. in the bay. Delightful luncheon. Returned to office 2:30 p.m.

January 19, 1945 — Friday

In Tacloban. A gray, rainy day. I was informed today that we have already had 28 inches of rain in January. My work was interrupted by two black outs due to air-raid warnings.

I have been so busy in the office today that I did not go home for lunch. Returned home at 4:30 p.m. and was back at my desk at 7 p.m.

Our attack on Luzon continues. We have captured Urdaneta and Paniqui. The air force has given us excellent support bombing the enemy concentration pool and supply dumps at San Jose, Nueva Ecija causing explosions and fires.

January 18, 1945

One day the American troops were delayed in arriving at Manaoag in recapturing the fifteen kilometers which separated it from San Fabian. It took them one week to advance eleven kilometers to Pozorrubio. The cause was the Pugaros. The troops that landed in Lingayen went directly to Manila in forced marches which were not really forced. They could have advanced and come within a few days in an unprecedented blitzkrieg. But the Japanese had retreated to the eastern and western mountain ranges, and the liberators feared flank attacks which would isolate their vanguard from the main body of the Army. In spite of having slowed down their march, their provisions hardly caught up with them. The High Command had estimated that they could enter Manila by the end of March. Now they expected to make it on the first week of February.

There was another surprise for us since we sang hossana in praise of those who came in the name of the Lord. We feared that the Japanese air force would not give a moment of respite to the fleet and the landed troops, with successive bombings by suicide squads. At least this was what the Japanese radio and press reported every time a landing was made. The Americans just laughed off the reports of Radio Tokyo about the damage suffered by the American convoys and forces, with hundreds of ships sunk and entire divisions annihilated.

Almost every night, the air raid signal rang out, but it was seldom that a Japanese plane penetrated through, coming in a suicide attempt as it was caught between anti-aircraft fire and the clutches of some night fighters which patrolled the occupied areas. It was seldom that a desperate Japanese plane succeeded in dropping a bomb among the innumerable ships anchored on the Gulf. What happened to the zero fighters and the Wild Eagles whose exploits were so much praised by the Tokyo radio? In Lingayen, the Japanese left behind more than fifty planes, and more than 300 in Clark Field.

January 17, 1945

The artillery keep on thundering in the vicinity of Manaoag. I am having some remorse of conscience for my subordinates who are suffering from the nocturnal gunfires which shake the ruined roofs and walls. I decided to move the group to the boundary of the foot of the Pugaros where the doughboys are pulverizing one by one the underground tunnels and fortifications — a true Siegfried line in miniature — of the Japanese.

Transportation these days is fast and economical. All you have to do is put your thumb up and shout at the passing vehicle. “Can you give me a ride?” For greater effectiveness, you could approach an MP and ask him to stop the first jeep or duck or truck that comes along. In both cases, the soldier driver is very willing to accommodate.

January 16, 1945

We never ran short of shocks. Last night an American patrol ordered us to abandon the house of Mr. Sipin in the town’s outskirts and take refuge among the ruins of the town. We were being threatened by a group of Japanese who were reconnoitering the vicinity and we could be the victim of a nocturnal attack. There were Japanese stragglers on the forests whom the Americans had to track down and exterminate like dangerous animals and, who, instead of surrendering, attacked isolated posts and defenseless civilians under cover of darkness.

January 14, 1945 — Sunday

In Tacloban. Attended 9 a.m Mass and then went to the office. Lunched with Captain Hunt, Lieutenant Klenn & Capt. Minas. Spent afternoon at home packing canned foods for Manila.

January 13, 1945 — Saturday

In Tacloban. Spent day busy in the office. Had luncheon at the home of Lieutenant & Mrs. Quejado Philippine Constabulary. Attended buffet dinner in the home of President Osmeña. His family invited me. Returned home 8:30 p.m.

15th day, January 11,1945

We are still here waiting. Gen. McArthur is still busy. Why be impatient? We might be landed in Manila instead of Leyte. Everything happens for the best, as Joe used to say.

The tuba in Col. Abcede’s place has put my stomach on the blink. Well, but Dr. Sevilla has given me already the pill to get it back in shape.

My name went on the air again from the USA. I feel embarrassed instead of being elated over it.

Hail Gen. McArthur and Adm. Nimitz for the successful landing of American forces in Lingayen! Mabuhay!

Quezon if he only knew what’s going on, he would break out of his grave and join Gen. McArthur.

It can’t all be glory for him, after all.

January 10, 1945 — Wednesday

In Tacloban, attending to official matters in the office.

January 9, 1945 — Tuesday

In Tacloban. General MacArthur landed at 10:30 a.m. in Lingayen.

January 8, 1945 — Monday

In the office all day. It is hard to perform a job for an absent official.

January 7, 1945 — Sunday

Rushed to office to confer with President Osmeña and obtain last minute instructions. At 10 a.m. General Sutherland said that the plane was in and ready to leave at 12 noon. Advised the President and party. Left the President’s house with a M.P. escort and arrived on time. President left at 12:30 p.m.

January 6, 1945 — Saturday

At 6:30 am attended wedding of treasurer Jimenez’s son. Attended dinner given by Mr. Serapio Canceran in Maceda’s home.

January 5, 1945 — Friday

Very busy in Tacloban. Conferred with General Willoughby on request of people of Bantayan for 50 Cruisers. Conferred three times with President Osmeña on important matters. Attended Mass at 6:30 p.m. (First Friday)

January 4, 1945 — Thursday

At 3:15 p.m. General MacArthur, General Marshall and Colonel Lehrbas, & Colonel Egebert came to President Osmeña’s office. They are leaving on M-1.