Tag Leon Ma. Guerrero

Bataan, 1942: views of a father and his son

Victor Buencamino (second from left, second row), with his family in the Pines Hotel, Baguio, 1932. Rightmost on second row is his eldest son, Felipe Buencamino III.

Victor Buencamino (second from left, second row), with his family in the Pines Hotel, Baguio, 1932. Rightmost on second row is his eldest son, Felipe Buencamino III.

The Philippine Diary Project includes the diaries of a father and his son: Victor Buencamino, and Felipe Buencamino III. At the outbreak of the war, Victor Buencamino was head of the National Rice and Corn Corporation, precursor of today’s National Food Authority. His published diary covers the period from the arrival of the Japanese in Manila, and the first half of the Japanese Occupation.

His diary provides an in-depth look into the dilemma facing government officials who stuck to their posts despite the withdrawal of the Commonwealth Government and the occupation of the Philippines by the Japanese. At certain points, particularly from January-April, 1942, he gets intermittent news about his son (who was, on the other hand, participating in clandestine military intelligence missions, even in Manila).

Particularly gripping are his entries for April, 1942, when on one hand, he is wrestling with increasing Japanese interference and intimidation –including his being summoned to the dreaded Fort Santiago, where other members of his staff had already been summoned and in at least once instance, tortured– and on the other, frantic for news about his son, particularly after the Fall of Bataan, when on the same day he received condolence messages and news his son was alive. Then, he recounted the grief of parents and his own search of the concentration camps.

Felipe Buencamino III (topmost, leaning on windshield of jeep), photo taken in Bataan, 1942.

Felipe Buencamino III (topmost, leaning on windshield of jeep), photo taken in Bataan, 1942.

As for Victor Buencamino’s son, Felipe Buencamino III, known to his friends as Philip, was a young journalist who became a junior officer in Bataan, assigned to General Simeon de Jesus and his military intelligence unit. He kept a diary from the time of the retreat of USAFFE forces to Bataan, conditions there as well as in Corregidor, which he periodically visited, looming defeat, the eve of surrender,  and then the Death March and the ordeal of his fellow prisoners in the Capas Concentration Campas well as his classmates. At times, his diary intersects with other diaries, such as the diary of Gen. Basilio J. Valdes, since Philip accompanied the General during one of his visits to the front. He resumed his diary, briefly, in 1944.

A close friend of Philip, Leon Ma. Guerrero, who was mentioned many times in Philip’s wartime diary, wrote about Mrs. Quezon and the ambush in which she was killed, in 1951. In his essay, he also wrote about his friend, Philip:

In Bataan I shared the same tent with Philip Buencamino, who was later to marry Nini Quezon. He was the aide of General de Jesus, the chief of military intelligence, to which I had been assigned. I remember distinctly that one of the first things Philip and I ever did was to ride out in the general’s command car along the east coast out of pure curiosity. The enemy’s January offensive was turning the USAFFE flank and all along the highway we met retreating units. Then there was nothing: only the open road, the dry and brittle stubble of the abandoned fields, and in the distance the smoke of a burning town. We turned back hurriedly; we had gone too far. I am afraid we never got any closer to the front lines. Our duties were behind the lines. We were quite close during the entire campaign until I was evacuated to the Corregidor hospital, and I developed a sincere admiration for Philip. He was a passionate nationalist who could not stomach racial discrimination, and I remember him best in a violent quarrel with an American non-commissioned officer whom he considered insolent toward his Filipino superiors.

On April 28, 1949, Felipe Buencamino III, together with his mother-in-law, Aurora A. Quezon, sister-in-law, Maria Aurora Quezon, and Ponciano Bernardo (mayor of Quezon City) and others, were killed in an ambush perpetrated by the Hukbalahap. The late Fr. James Reuter, SJ, wrote about it in 2005:

On April 28, 1949 – 56 years ago, Doña Aurora Aragon Quezon was on her way to Baler. With her eldest daughter, Maria Aurora, whom everyone called “Baby”. And with her son-in-law, Philip Buencamino, who was married to her younger daughter, Zeneida, whom everyone called “Nini”. Nini was at home with their first baby, Felipe IV, whom everyone called “Boom”. And she was pregnant with their second baby “Noni”.

On a rough mountain road, in Bongabong, Nueva Ecija, they were ambushed by gunmen hiding behind the trees on the mountainside. The cars were riddled with bullets. All three of them were killed. Along with several others, among them Mayor Ponciano Bernardo of Quezon City.

Adiong, the Quezon family driver, was spared. Running to the first car, Adiong found Philip lying on the front seat, his side dripping blood. Philip smiled at Adiong and said: “Malakas pa ako. Tingnan mo” — “I am still strong. Look!” And dipping his finger in his own blood, Philip wrote on the backrest of the front seat: “Hope in God”.

When they placed him in another vehicle for Cabanatuan, his bloody hands were fingering his rosary, and his lips were moving in prayer. This was consistent with his whole life. His rosary was always in his pocket. And on his 29th birthday, exactly one month before, on March 28, 1949, at dinner in his father’s home, he said to Raul Manglapus: “Raul, the Blessed Virgin has appeared at Lipa, and has a message for all of us. What are we going to do, to welcome her, and to spread her message?”

He was echoing the thoughts of Doña Aurora, who wanted a national period of prayer to welcome the Virgin and to spread her message of Peace. Years later, the Concerned Women of the Philippines established the Doña Aurora Aragon Quezon Peace Awards, choosing the name in honor of this good, quiet, peaceful woman.

The blood stained rosary was brought to Nini, after Philip’s death. Many years later, she wrote down the thoughts that came to her when they gave her the bloody beads:

“We had joined my mother in Baguio for Holy Week, 1949. As we drove down the zigzag, after attending all the Holy Week services, Phil turned to me and said, ‘Nini, if we were to have an accident now, wouldn’t it be the perfect time for us to go?’ I said to him, ‘You may be ready, Phil, but I still have a child to give life to, so I can’t go just yet.’ And not long after this, his life was taken, and mine was spared.”

Her life was spared, but she felt the agony of those three deaths more intensely than anyone else. In that ambush she lost her husband, her mother, and her only sister. The gunmen riddled their bodies with bullets, on that rough mountain road. But miles away, with her one year old baby in her arms, and another baby in her womb, the gunmen left her with a broken heart. The ones she loved went home to God. But she had to carry on.

Another friend of Philip’s, Teodoro M. Locsin, whose wartime diary is also featured in the Philippine Diary Project, wrote about the murder of his friend, in the Philippines Free Press: see One Must Die, May 7, 1949:

I knew Philip slightly before the war. We were together when the Americans entered Manila in February, 1945. We were given a job by Frederic S. Marquardt, chief of the Office of War Information, Southwest Pacific Area, and formerly associate editor of the Free Press. Afterward, Philip would say that he owed his first postwar job to me: I had introduced him to Marquardt.

Philip and I helped put out the first issues of the Free Philippines. We worked together and wrote our stories while shells were going overhead. Philip was never happier; he was in his element. He was at last a newspaperman. He had done some newspaper work before the war, but this was big time. We were covering a city at war. Afterward, we resigned from the OWI, or were fired. Anyway, we went out together.

Meanwhile, we had, with Jose Diokno, the son of Senator Diokno, put out a new paper, the Philippines Press. Diokno was at the desk and more or less kept the paper from going to pieces as it threatened to do every day. I thundered and shrilled; that is, I wrote the editorials. Philip was the objective reporter, the impartial journalist, who gave the paper many a scoop. That was Philip’s particular pride: to give every man, even the devil, his due. While I jumped on a man, Philip would patiently listen to his side…

…As for Philip, he was eager to work, willing to listen, and devoted to the ideals of his craft. He was always smiling—perhaps because he was quite young. He had no enemy in the world—he thought.

After the paper closed up, Philip went to the Manila Post, which suffered a similar fate. Philip went on the radio, as a news commentator. He had a good radio voice; he spoke clearly, forcefully, well. He married the daughter of the late President Manuel L. Quezon, later joined the foreign service. But he never stopped wanting to be again a newspaperman. He would have dropped his work in the government at any time had there been an opening in the press for him.

Philip never spoke ill of Taruc. He saw the movement, of which Taruc was the head, as something he must cover, if given the assignment, and nothing more. Belonging to the landlord class though he did, he did not rave and rant against the Huks.

He had all the advantages, and he had, within the framework of the existing social order, what is called a great future. He was married to a fine girl and all the newspapermen were his friends. They kidded him; they called him Philip Buencamino the Tired, but they all liked him. He wanted so much to be everybody’s friend. he got along with everyone—including myself and Arsenio H. Lacson.

When he returned from Europe to which he had been sent in the foreign service of the Philippines, he was happy, he said, to be home again, and he still wanted to be a newspaperman. His wife was expecting a second child and life was wonderful. Now he is dead, murdered, shot down in cold blood by Taruc’s men.

He was, in the Communist view and in Communist terminology, a representative of feudal landlordism, a bourgeois reactionary, etc. I remember him as a decent young man who tried to be and was a good newspaperman, who used to walk home with me in the afternoon in the early days of Liberation, munching roasted corn and hating no one at all in the world.

A few days earlier, the other friend mentioned by Locsin —Arsenio H. Lacson on May 3, 1949— had also paid tribute to his friend, Philip:

Until now, I can’t quite get over Philip’s tragic death. He was first of all, a very close friend of mine. I saw him married, and was one of the best men at his wedding. I also saw him buried, and it is not a pleasant thing to remember.

Philip was such a nice, clean boy, friendly, warm-hearted and generous, so full of life, and laughter, that I learned to love him. Of course he had his faults, but you take your friends as they are, not as you want them to be. And Philip, for all his faults, was quite a man. In all the years that we kept close together, I never knew him to deliberately do a mean thing.

Because he was by nature easy-going and amiable, he exasperated me at time by failing to take things more seriously and using his considerable talents to point out the many evils with which our government is cursed. Actually, he was not wholly indifferent to them. He could on occasions become quite angry over certain injustices, but he had no capacity for sustained indignation, and it was not in him, to fret and worry over the distraceful and scandalous way this country is being run. Life to him was one swell adventure, to be lived and savored to the full, with very little time left for crusades. The world cannot be changed or saved in a day.

And because he was Philip, he would gaily twit me about being afflicted with a messianic itch. Relax, he would say. Take it easy. Things are not as bad as they look. In time, everything would be alright. Perhaps, he had the right answer. I wouldn’t know. But I shudder to think what would happen if all of us adopted a carely and carefree attitude and paraphrasing archie, Don Marquis’ cockroach reporter, say:

no trick nor kick of fate
can raise me from a yell,
serene I sit and wait
for the Philippines to go to hell.

The last time I saw Philip was two days before his death. Linking his arm to mine with a gay laugh, he dragged me to Astoria for a cup of coffee. We joined a boisterous group of newsmen who flung good-natured jibes at Philip when he announced that he was quitting the government foreign service to settle down to a life of a country farmer. Somebody brought up the subject of a certain Malacañan reporter who always made it a point to take a malicious crack at Philip and his influential family connections, and Philip agreed the guy was nasty. It was typical of Philip, however, that when I curtly suggested that he punch the offensive reporter on the nose, he smilingly shook his head saying: “How can I? Every time I get sore, the fellow embraces me and tells me with that silly laugh of his ‘Sport lang, Chief.’ I can’t get mad at him.”

That was Philip. He couldn’t get mad at anyone for long. He liked everybody, even those who, regarding him with envious eyes as a darling Child of Fortune, spoke harshly of him. He was essentially a nice, friendly guy. It was not in him to harm anybody, including those who tried to harm him.

And now he is dead, along with that fine and noble lady who was his mother-in-law, and that vivid, great-hearted, spirited girl who was so much like her great and illustrious father, foully murdered by hunted and persecuted men turned into wild, insensate beasts by grave injustices –men who, in laying ambush for Mr. Quirino and other government officials, brutally and mercilessly struck down innocent victims instead.

Philip Buencamino III had so much to live for: a charming, gracious wife who adored him, a chubby little son who will one day grow up into sturdy manhood with only a dim memory of his father, and another child on the way whom Philip now will never see. Handsome and talented, Philip had his whole future before him. His was a life so full of brilliant promise, and it is a great tragedy that it should have ended soon. He had been a top reporter before he entered the foreign service. With his charm and affability, his personal gifts and family prestige, there was no height he could not have scaled as a diplomat. The pity of it, the futile pitiful waste of it! A nice, clean, promising youngster sacrificed to the warring passions of men who have turned Central Luzon into a charnel house.

Incidentally, a very rare recording exists of Philip during his time as a radio commentator –and a member of the Malacañan Press Corps– you can listen to him being the emcee of sorts, in President Roxas’s first radio press conference.

Readers can access the diary of Victor Buencamino in full, or that of Felipe Buencamino III in full, as well; or, they can go through the entries for April 1942, which include other entries by other diarists who were writing at the same time.

April 8, 1942 (April 8-9)

Morning

After the general heard my report, I took the field telephone and asked for Bat 108 –Manny’s code name in Corregidor. “What’s up, Primo?” he asked. I said: “the line in the east sector won’t hold. By tonight, the Japs will be here. Tell Leonie to stay there.” Manny didn’t believe me, but I was in no mood to argue… so I said: “So long, Primo… If I get home first… I’ll tell the folks you’re O.K.” Ten minutes later, the field phone rang again. I thought it was Leonie… but I was wrong. It was Oscar. “Say, Phil,” he said… “this is the end. I’m in Kilometer 165.5 with all my troops. Where shall I go?” Oscar sounded serious… in fact, nervous. I knew what had happened. The Japs had already broken through and there was general disorganization. The reserve lines had also probably been captured. It was as Oscar said “the end.” I told Oscar to retreat to kilometer 182.2 near Mariveles… because all Filipino troops were going there. “We better stick together,” I explained, “because the Japs might give us better treatment.” Oscar didn’t answer immediately… then he said, “O.K. kid… I’ll bring my men there. Good luck… and if you see Ramon… tell the old fellow not to be nervous.” That was just like Oscar… joking at a serious moment. For all his carefree, devil-may-care attitude… we needed more men like him in Bataan. To begin with… he had no business volunteering. But he did. General Valdes told him he would be a fool to leave his wife and two-day-old baby. But he did… and he told me one evening: “Phil… if I don’t ever get home… tell my kid why I fought. Tell him… I wanted him to be able to tell the other boys… ‘My father fought for his country.'”

At 6 p.m. –sunset– the phone rang again. “It’s me… Oscar… waiting for you in 182.2.” His retreat was a success.

That night, I burned all my papers, all records… including my diary. It pained me to see that diary go. It helped me a lot. Sometimes when I was very depressed… I wrote all my feelings on its pages…. and I felt better afterwards. But orders were orders. “Burn everything” said the General (De Jesus) nervously… and so everything was burnt.

I slept at Kilometer 182.2 that night, besides Ramon Pamintuan. Gatas Santos was also there. We didn’t know that later in the evening we would have a reunion. Ramon was pale and yellow… shivering with malaria. Gatas was looking fine but he was worried about his white skin. “They might take me for an American,” he said. Later in the evening, Johnny arrived. He was thin, exhausted… but not to exhausted to tell us all about his narrow escapes and the way his car ceased to be a car because of a bomb. Then Godofredo Reyes showed up. I didn’t recognize him in the dark, because I had not seen him for a long time and he had a beard. Then came Hector Unson, who I thought was isolated by Jap patrols in Batangas on Dec. 29. He said he heard I died in Corregidor. It turned out we were praying for each other’s soul. At about eleven o’clock Ernie Es. popped in. He had come from guard duty and he was cursing because it was not his turn to guard. Then Tony Nieva arrived. He was fagged out, sunburnt, and very thin. We gave him the little food we had, because he said he had not eaten for two days. He explained that his men were almost surrounded by the advance patrols of the Japanese, because the Americans ran away without notifying him. It was a reunion alright… but a sad one. We thought we would meet each other in Manila in some victory banquet… not on the night of defeat. But as things turned out… there we were… gathering on the dry bed of a stream… not knowing what the morning had in store for us. Would the Japanese kill us? Would they imprison us? Would they free us? We were discussing those questions throughout the night, I was thinking of escaping, thru the mountains of Bagac via Zambales. But they said… ‘Let’s stick together… till the end.’ We talked of our happy days in Manila… the way we used to run around town… Jai Alai… Casa Mañana… Manila Hotel… drinking, dancing, feasting…I also thought of Nini. It was her birthday –April 9.

I guess we were all changed men… and we all agreed that we didn’t regret our experience. I don’t think any of us were the worse for the hardships we endured. They had made men out of us… and above all… it put our country on the map. It was not all in vain. That’s what I was thinking of… when the ground began to shake and the stones in the stream started to roll. It was an earthquake. Was God going to rescue us in the final hour? My heart beat fast… I was sure something would happen… to turn the tide of defeat… but nothing did…and I waited and waited till I fell asleep.

April 6, 1942

HQ, Bataan

 

 

More men retreating, more stragglers, the rear area has become the front. Japs keep on following their gains, bombing, shelling, blasting, burning, shooting, bayoneting. They have been waiting for this hour. Blood is flowing freely…

Evacuee area is a most pitiful sight. Saw women and children gathered around the cinders of their former dwellings, begging for food, bewildered by the terrific advance of the Japanese.

From morning to sunset, the hillsides and shell-burnt roads have been brown with bleeding men –the remnants of the Filipino-American forces. These are the men who have electrified the world with their glorious stand.

Saw troops of the 41st lying on the ground near Mariveles. Most of them were thin, emaciated, yellow with malaria. Many were dying. Others were blind to due to vitamin deficiencies. Some did not have even strength to drive the flies crawling on their bodies. When planes hovered above, they did not move, they did not care to move. Death would be a welcome respite.

Japs advancing fiercely, killing mercilessly, bayoneting with unleashed fury.

Already the flies, the hawks and the pariah dogs have found the dying & dead. Saw a big rat bite off a dead man’s eye.

Still no order to surrender. Fight must continue. Bleeding must continue. Dying must continue. Can hear roar of machine-guns. More & more boys dying, by the minute.

 

(later)

 

Received a phone-call from Manny de Leon from Corregidor. He said “Leonie is very ill.” I gave him my regards and farewell. I told him the lines had broken. After that our telephone went dead.

April 2, 1942

HQ, MIS, BATAAN

This place has turned into hell. The Japs are battering the lines from morning to evening, pounding the front from the air with high explosives. rushing the front with tanks and flame-throwers under cover of ceaseless artillery fire.

The rear areas are being subjected to inch-by-inch bombardment. Several AA guns have been silenced. Gasoline and oil supplies are aflame. Parts of the jungle are burning, presenting a weird light at night. Corpses strewn by the roadside staring up at the sky.

Corregidor too is rocking with bombs. We can see columns of smoke rising out of the Rock. We can feel the detonation here when bombs are dropped in Corregidor. The Rock looks like a blazing boulder.

We had no rice today as the mess officer did not dare build a fire. We only had canned goods. ate one sardine for brunch and one salmon for supper. It was like medicine. Had to follow it up with water.

Leonie is very ill. I am afraid he will die if he does not get medical assistance. Romulo said by phone that it would be better to send Leonie to the hospital in the Rock.

Leonie and I have written a plan for the establishment of an underground broadcasting station to operate in enemy-territory to continue the Voice of Freedom in case Bataan and Corregidor fall.

We addressed the plan to Romulo who is in charge of the Voice of Freedom. Romulo said he would take the matter up to the staff in the Rock.

Our plan consisted in putting up a moving radio station to broadcast in Luzon in case the Japs overrun Bataan and Corregidor.

We offered to operate the radio and to broadcast if the plan is approved. Proposed site of station was the island of Talim, in the heart of Laguna de Bay. Operatives have reported that Talim is not yet occupied by Japs.

Received letter from Romulo stating “Roxas will return to Corregidor to join us in the crucial hr.”

April 1, 1942

HQ, MIS, BATAAN

 

Awakened by “Photo Joe”. Name given to Jap observation plane by Bataan boys is “Photo Joe”. Leonie said: “That means bombing around ‘brunch’ time.” Fred, usually more grim, said: “That also means deaths.”

Major Javallera who was O.D. said that there was continous artillery firing the whole night. “It must be hell at the front,” he remarked.

After brunch, I prepared to go to the eastern sector. While crossing the stream to the Motor Pool, Jap planes commenced bombardment.

Japs were throwing small bombs, a lot of them. At first, I thought they were leaflets. But when I heard the swishing sounds and the detonations, I ran to a ditch near the traffic officer at the foot of the bridge in Base Camp.

Several bombs dropped near the trucks parked under the trees at the curve of the stream. One exploded a few meters away from the Igorot chauffeur. I saw him shaking and pouring water over his head. Men have funny reactions to a bombardment.

I rode on one of the jeeps. Had to stop three times because of strafing planes. Around Limay, I did not notice a low-flying Jap plane until I saw a truck full of Americans put on the brakes and stop dead in its tracks and all the soldiers jumped out and took cover under the brushes along the road. My chauffeur jammed the brakes and I dove into a bush. The U.S. truck was hit by five .mg bullets but it was able to run because the meter was not hit at all.

Saw the Limay schoolhouse burning, it was hit by incendiaries. An officer stopped our jeep and he asked for a ride till the next intersection. He said the Japs have a system of rotating cannons so that they do not stop pounding our lines. They are sending wave after wave of fresh troops and it was a question of time for the lines to break. I remember the General’s statement about the limit of human endurance. The officer said: “We kill and kill but more and more came…”

Scouts have been placed on the eastern sector. The Philippine Scouts have a fine record. One officer of high rank said that if all troops in Bataan were as well-trained as the Scouts, the Japs would have a very much harder time.

Bulk of troops in main-line however are mostly ROTC boys, cadre-trainees and volunteers. They are not professional soldiers like the scouts. But after all these months of fighting, they have gained valuable experience and according to an American officer from West Point “they are behaving like seasoned troops, like veterans.”

Saw several stragglers. They can’t find their units. Some said they belonged to the 41st, others to the 51st, others to the 31st. My driver said “those are running away from the fighting.”

The sight of those five or six stragglers reminded me of the retreat from the northern front in Pangasinan. When the fighting there was getting very hot, the divisions who were still new, started to get disorganized and many of the troops were lost. “Bad sign,” I said to myself.

On the way to one of the trails leading to the front, our jeep ran out of gas. I stayed on the roadside till dark waiting for someone who would be kind enough to share a bit of fuel. Slept an hour and when I woke up I was covered with dust.

There is no doubt by now that the Japanese are putting their “main effort” on the center of the front line, between the divisions of Gens. Capinpin and Lim. They are trying to drive a wedge where the two divisions meet. Here the maximum amount of fire power is being concentrated and although I have not noticed any sign of the lines folding in this region, when it does break it will be sudden and rapid, like a dam that suddenly cracks, and there will be a stream of blood.

March 14, 1942

Bataan, HQ, MIS

 

The general looks very depressed. He talked to nobody today. He stayed in his tent smoking his pipe silently. He must be brooding about something sad.

I told Fred when I said “Good morning” to the General, the old Fogie did not even answer, damn the impolite bum. (Sometimes I like him; sometimes I detest him.)

Fred said the General talked with him. Said the general: “Fred you talk pessimistically.”

Fred said he was taken aback but he replied: “I always try to take a rational and realistic point of view, sir.”

The General did not reply.

Leonie is down with malaria and dysentery. He is getting very thin. He does not trust the doctor.

No change in general situation. Occasional artillery duels, partial skirmishes.

 

(later)

 

Three U.P. boys are here. They are Angel Baking, Teddy Lansang, and Renato Constantino. They want to join our service. They are sergeants.

Leonie was indifferent about taking them in. “What can these U.P. guys do, anyway?” he asked Fred jokingly because Fred comes from U.P.

The General asked me if the three fellows are O.K. because he does not know them. I told them the three were good writers and editors at one time or another of a paper called Collegian.

The General said: “Ah, they are your rivals.” I replied: “I don’t know them personally. What are we rivals about?”

The General said he liked the Ateneo.

I told the General to take them in and I would answer for them because I believe they are intelligent fellows. “Put them under Leonie or myself.” I wanted to have them under me, confidentially.

I pointed out that maybe we could use them for some mission in Manila.

The General said: “Let’s try them out on little things first.”

It was decided that I should bring them the day after tomorrow to Corregidor and give them instructions on the way.

 

(later)

 

Very dark night. Maybe it is going to rain. If I get wet, my malaria will get worse. Hell!

Spent afternoon reading Tribune. Saw pictures of Manilans biking in boulevard. Noticed that marriage wave continues unabated. I wonder how Morita is.

Leonie looked at advertisements. This and that restaurant selling this and that pastry and cake. This and that show running this and that film. We felt very homesick. Leonie read some parts of “Personals” aloud.

The three U.P. boys are all right. They are regular fellows. I don’t know why there is so much tiff between the Guidon and the Collegian. Its just a case of not knowing each other.

Constantino showed me a diary with a drawing of his girl’s face. He is in love with her. I think she is a niece of Speaker Roxas. Lansang sketched her face. Lansang also likes to write poems.

Will bring them to the Rock tomorrow afternoon at about five o’clock. Told them to eat well. They laughed.

Several raids today. Some AA shrapnel dropped near our toilet.

Three operatives arrived from Manila. One had a letter from Mrs. Osmeña to the Vice President.

Another operative whom we gave up for lost arrived. He claims he was captured by the Japs and allowed to return providing he comes back with information for them, heh, heh. Sometimes Japs are naive.

The general bawled out one of our officers. He was sent to the front to observe conditions and he pretended he went but he really stayed in rear.

March 10, 1942

HQ, MIS, Bataan

Life is getting harder and harder. Morning ration reduced to one handful of ‘lugao’.

Sometimes carabao meat is given. It is made into ‘tapa’ so that the rest can be preserved for some other day.

The mess officer told me that very soon we will have horse-meat for viand. The QM will slaughter the remaining horses of the 26th cavalry. I don’t think I can eat those brave horses.

Bombing has been intensified. Raids are more frequent. Rest periods between raids are shorter and shorter.

More men stricken with malaria and dystentery. Many shell-shocked cases. Several dozen cases of appendicitis and many tuberculosis patients.

Morale visibly on the downgrade. Officers greet fellow officers with remark: “What, is there any hope yet of the convoy?”

Reports from front indicate that the boys there are suffering from blindness especially at night due to lack of vitamins.

Men are weary, exhausted. They work all day and they also act as sentries at night. Men have only several hours of sleep. Sometimes two or three only.

We officers do double, triple work. Many officers are sick, others have died.

Gasoline shortage. Use of trucks and cars are limited. Horses that are not eaten will be used to help out in the transportation problem.

No more quinine. Medicine bottles in hospital are empty. Doctors are working day and night. Wounded have increased.

Paper for SYIM publication very limited. Practically no more stencils. Food for evacuees cut down. One civilian in evacuee camp committed suicide.

Japs continue dropping surrender-leaflets. They have changed technique. Behind surrender-leaflets, they print the picture of a naked ‘mestiza’. Still no cases of desertion.

Fred thinks “It’ll take a long time for the convoy to arrive”. “There is no use deluding ourselves,” he says.

Some of the officers believe Hart’s fleet was beaten in naval battle around Macassar strait.

Others think convoy will be diverted to Australia.

Still others cling to distant hope of war between Japan and Russia.

Very few believe the convoy will be here in a few weeks.

Some think –very few of them– that “we will all die here.”

Japs have given ultimatum urging immediate, unconditional surrender –or else.

We have chosen the: or else.

(later)

Visited her again. She helps one forget this blasted war.

We sat again under the cenniguela tree but I couldn’t stay there for more than an hour.

Fred and Leonie visited the other girl. They will rival each other. They had better make an agreement: one day Leonie, one day Fred.

When Major Javallera found out, he complained. Told Fred: “That’s my territory.”

“That’s all right, sir,” said Fred. “Don’t you believe in Communism? What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine?”

“Stand for private property,” said the Major.

“Abuse of authority, sir,” ventured Fred jokingly.

The Major replied: “All’s fair in love and war.”

March 4, 1942

HQ, MIS, Bataan

 

Back from patrol. Reconnoitered in Balanga. Met  several Jap patrols. Japs not there in force.

We were very careful. Kept away from beach. Balanga church was destroyed by our artillery. Did not enter church. There might have been Japs inside.

General refuses to believe there are no Japs in Balanga. I told him there are only Jap patrols, nothing more. He shook his head. Felt like telling him: “If you don’t believe me, why the hell don’t you go there yourself.”

Encountered a squad of Japs who were lying near a nipa shack when we were returning to our lines. It was late afternoon and we had not yet eaten the whole day and we were going to eat in the nipa shack.

Sgt. Sinculan noticed that they were aiming at us. We fired first. They had rifles only. We had a Browning automatic. We were better armed but they outnumbered us.

I emplaced my men behind a fallen log with a thick trunk. I could hear the officer shouting loudly and the soldiers were also shouting. We remained silent.

Suddenly, they all shouted and advanced. Told men not to fire until they passed the other fallen tree before the log where we were emplaced. When they climbed over it, Sgt. Sinculan opened up with the Browning. Two fell. The others kept firing. Meanwhile six crept to our flank. I noticed it and I moved three men to our left. Sgt. Sinculan said that we had better retreat because they were more than thirty and we were only ten. Besides one of our privates was being attacked by malaria, making our effectives only nine.

I told the men to retreat slowly to the cogon but I shouted loudly to mislead the Japs “Attack men!” and everybody shouted with me and we fired and retreated. Then I felt something warm pierce my thigh but I did not feel much pain. Sinculan and I were wounded.

When we retreated, the Japs left us alone. Thought I would be nervous face-t0-face with Japs but now I know one has no time to be nervous during combat.

Will write about this patrol work someday.

 

(later)

 

Major Javallera opined the Japs will probably put their main effort on the western sector. He also could not believe that there were hardly any Japs in Balanga. “Japs are probably up to something,” he opined.

“Are you sure of what you are reporting?” he asked again.

“We walked through the plaza and the school house and then near the broken bridge and we entered the town and there were no Japs in force, only occasional patrols,” I said emphatically.

He said “You can have a week’s rest, even if your wound is very small.” He gave me three cans of guava jelly, hooray. He is quite a good guy.

Will visit my Pampangueña friend. Fred and Leonie were not allowed to go out during last few days because there was too much work.

The general said I am careless that is why I was hit. He always scolds me, but I know he likes me inside.

All in all, he is also O.K.

March 1, 1942

Bataan, MIS, HQ

Col. Torralba said the general stated that my resignation is not accepted and that I’d better attend to his papers more diligently.

Raids morning and afternoon. One incendiary bomb dropped a few feet away from the doctor’s tent. Nobody injured.

Sergeant Buenaventura and Sergeant Sulao quarreled with each other. I thought they were good friends. I guess friendship ends where a can of Carnation begins.

The doctor wants to shoot Major Javallera. He claims the major spoke ill about him before Lts. Palo and Maceda.

The boys are rather gloomy. Tired of waiting for the convoy. I still have hopes but everybody’s nerves are jumpy.

Will go on patrol duty in front tomorrow. Will find out if there are Japs in Balanga. Conflicting reports.

Went to evacuee camp near Hospital II with Major Javallera. The major wanted to introduce me to two nice girls. Only one was there and she was very shapely. Made me feel like whistling. Surely a sight for sore eyes. She was wearing khaki shorts, woo, woo.

We sat in their nipa shack on the floor. She showed me some of her pictures. She is from Pampanga. Pampangueñas have nice skin.

We played an old record in an old phonograph. I think the name of the piece was “On the telephone” or “All alone”.

She had a nice accent when speaking Tagalog. I told her how to teaxh me to say “I think you are beautiful” in Pampango.

I also asked her to translate: “Will you please hold hands with a tired soldier.”

She asked me to button the back of her shirt. The Major saw me and he said jokingly “Mabilis ka naman”. I was embarrassed but she was more embarrassed. I tried to explain that she asked me to button the back of her shirt because she could not reach it. But the major insisted on joking. Then he said: “Never mind, enjoy yourself. Anyway tomorrow you are going to No Man’s Land.”

When she heard this she became nicer to me but I lost all my interest because I was worried about tomorrow’s assignment.

Fred and Leonie will visit her tomorrow.

Will talk to men that will go to front with me. I am happy that Sgt. Sinculan will go too because he is a sharp shooter.

Javallera told me not to worry because my mission is reconnaissance, not combat. I told him “Who’s worried anyway?”

Told Leonie and Fred that the Pampangueña is very beautiful, like Dorothy Lamour. They can’t wait for tomorrow. I said her shorts were very short. Fred started to yell. Leonie said: “Shut up, this is not the U.P. campus.” Fred got sore. “I’m the ranking officer around here.” We all kept quiet. He was angry.

Forgot to ask the Pampangueña her name.

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

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 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 20, 1942

Bataan HQ, MIS

 

President Quezon and family, Gen. Valdes, Vice-President Osmeña and Col. Nieto have left for Visayas. The General said “not to tell anyone.” Not even Leonie and Fred know but I shall tell Leonie to get his opinion.

The General disagrees with my report on Group in northern road. He thinks they give good messages. I told him I am convinced they are either guessing or bluffing. The general is hard headed. Anyway he will have group-leader recalled.

The General said I have a letter from Mrs. Quezon.

 

(later)

 

Accompanied General to Mariveles. Was present in his conference with Col. Roxas. Javallera also attended meeting.

Roxas although colonel was easily the dominant personality of the meeting. He is a fluent, interesting and brilliant speaker.

Roxas explained military situation in Bataan. He said the convoy cannot be expected these days. He pointed out that Jap Navy controls Pacific waters. He stated that very few planes can be placed in Mariveles and Cabcaben airfields, certainly not enough to gain aerial superiority. “And,” he pointed out, “we don’t have fuel here, no ground crews, no spare parts!”

Roxas said Bataan troops must hold out as long as possible to give America, time to recover from initial gains of Japs who will attack Australia after Bataan.

Roxas said that Corregidor questions a lot of our reports.

Roxas said that evacuees are a big problem. They are thousands and they must be fed and they are in a miserable pitiful condition. He is thinking of sending them to Mindoro by boat that wil bring food here from Visayas.

Roxas revealed that thousands of sacks of rice good for a couple of days were brought to Corregidor by Legaspi  from Cavite.

February 3, 1942

HQ, Intelligence

Bataan

 

Given mission to Manila. Will take the Corregidor-to-Cavite route. Will bring ten operatives with me including two signal corps men. Should be in Manila by the 8th. Am excited. Can’t tell anyone about it, though. Fred just asked: “Why are you fixing up that civilian outfit?” Pretended not to hear him.

Leonie down with Malaria. He also has dysentery. Two days ago it was Fred. Even the doctor is sick. I have a slight headache.

Right now Maj. Javallera is bawling out two privates who fell asleep during their guarding hours. I pity the men. They have very little food, they work in the morning and afternoon and they even have to be sentinels at night.

Japs are now putting pressure on eastern sector. First they bomb the lines; then they shell; finally they attack. All their thrusts have been met with withering infantry and artillery fire. Some of our artillery shells fell short and exploded on our lines. Several boys killed.

Raid. Plenty of planes.

 

(later)

 

Climbed cliff of Little Baguio to watch planes bomb Mariveles airfield and Naval depot. Had a good bird’s eye view.

One formation came from east… The other from the west. When they were approaching their targets, our AA units opened fire.

Saw white puffs of smoke following path of Jap bombers. It was a beautiful sight. Jap planes looked like silver bullets sailing in clouds. AA shell-burst like white wreaths being thrown at planes.

Watched bombs as they sailed to objectives. Could hear sharp shrill sound of falling bombs. First bomb missed target. Landed between two camouflaged warehouses. Earth shook up to my high vantage point. Saw dust rise like geyser where bomb dropped. More bombs. Target burst into flames. Could feel wind blowing against my face. AA fire intensified. More white puffs below planes. Jap plane dives. Nope, it is falling. Twirls to earth. Crashes in Bay. Fires in naval depot. Many died.

Good story: Lt. Palo accompanied Lt. Mondoñedo to airforce headquarters. While Mondoñedo was talking to officers of the air corps, Palo stayed outside and talked to an old American who was wearing an old shirt, while basking in the sun.

Said Palo to the American: “Say bud, what are you doing out there?”

Said the old fellow: “Oh, I’m whittling this piece of wood.”

Palo: “What’s that?”

Old fellow: “Carving a dame.”

Palo: “You are too old for that stuff.”

Old fellow didn’t answer.

Palo: “Say Bud, have you got a glass of water?”

Old fellow took some water for Palo. Palo complained. “Haven’t you got a cleaner glass?”

The old fellow said that he drinks out of that glass.

Then Palo said: “Do you mind if I lie down on this table. I am tired.”

“That’s o.k.,” said the old man. “I’m dressing up now. Leave you for a while, lt.”

After about an hour, Lt. Mondoñedo finished his business with the air corps officers. When Mondoñedo and Palo were walking out of the HQ, they saw the old man dressed in a General’s uniform, with stars on his shoulder straps.

Palo stood at attention. Nervously he said: “I’m sorry, sir.”

Gen. George said: “That’s o.k. lieutenant. But don’t you ever make the same mistake with a capt.”

Palo is now in bed.

February 2, 1942

HQ, Intelligence, Bataan

 

This place is getting to be a Post Office. Lorrie Tan wants a letter sent to his family. Manny Colayco wants his family contacted. “I left them with nothing,” he said, “I don’t even know where they are,” he wrote. Tony Perez has a letter for his sweetheart and one for his mother. All letters were censored. Received word from Fr. Hurley in Manila. He asks that news be given the Superior in America that “everything is o.k. with Jesuits.” Will refer this matter to Ortiz in Rock. Other men were here begging, pleading that we be kind enough to “send this little or just this two or three words to this and that person.” The General is very angry. He has ordered all agents and officers to stop bringing personal notes. He said: “This is an intelligence service not a Post Office.” Fred said the General has become very strict because he noticed that one of the letters which somebody wanted delivered was addressed to a German in the suspected list of the Philippine Army. We are having the American sergeant who wrote the suspicious note called to this HQ tomorrow.

Talked to Tony Perez this morning about penetration in Mt. Natib. He said they walked for two days and nights without stop, clambering cliffs, clinging to vines at times to keep their body steady, in a desperate effort to escape encirclement by the Japs. He said it was a pity some of the weak and wounded were left behind. There were men he said offering all their money to soldiers to “please carry me because I can no longer walk.” He said that he and a friend carried a fellow who had a bullet wound in the leg. “Some of the boys” he said “fell down the precipice because the path was very narrow, in some cases just enough for the toes.” He expressed the opinion that if Japs had followed their gains immediately and emplaced a machine gun near the cliff, they would all have been killed. “It was heart-breaking” he said. “There we were trying to run away from Japs and sometimes we had to stay in the same place for a long time because the cliffs were very irregular, at times flat, at times perpendicular.” He said that most of the men discarded their rifles and revolvers to reduce their load. Most of our artillery pieces were left, he stated. “We were happy,” he recounted, “when night came because it was dark and the Japs would have less chances of spotting us but then that made our climbing doubly difficult because it was hard to see where one was stepping especially when the moon hid behind the clouds.” He opined that the Japs probably never thought that one whole division would be able to escape through those precipices in the same way that we never thought that they would be able to pass through the steep cliffs of Mt. Natib. Fred said he will write a poem entitled “The Cliffs of Bagao” in honor of the Dunkirk-like retreat of the 1st regular division.

Leonie is also thinking of writing a book on Bataan. He says it will be fiction. It’s much easier that way, he stated.

Fred and Leonie keep on making notes of every incident and story they see and hear. Fred will write a non-fiction book.

I wish I could write a book myself but I don’t think I can. Maybe I’ll just write a couple of article for Free Press or Bulletin.

Received a letter from Baby Quezon. She wants to send a note to Miss Mary Angara. The General said we shall make an exception for the President’s daughter.

Life here is getting harder and harder. I noticed everybody is getting more and more irritable. Nerves, I think. Food is terribly short. Just two handfuls of rice in the morning and the same amount at night with a dash of sardines. Nine out of ten men have malaria. When you get the shivers, you geel like you have ice in your blood. Bombing has become more intensified and more frequent. The General is always hot-headed. Fred and Leonie are often arguing heatedly. Montserrat and Javallera are sore at each other. And I… well, I wanna go home.

 

January 31, 1942

HQ, MIS, Bataan

Good news. Troops of Segundo have reentered our new lines. They escaped Jap encirclement by clambering precipices on Western coast for two days and nights. The men looked thin, haggard, half-dead. They all have a new life. Segundo arrived with troops dressed in a private’s uniform. Japs were slow following initial successes. Some boys, unfortunately, fell while clambering through very steep precipices. In some cases, men were stepping in ledge only half-foot wide. Some of the wounded were left to mercy of Japs. Others were carried by companions. I will try to see either Feling Torres or Manny Colayco. They belong to the 1st Regular –if they are still alive.

There seems to be a move to change Gen. Segundo. Col. Berry will replace him, I understand. I don’t think Segundo is at fault. His troops have been fighting since December in Camarines. His men are recruits, volunteers, mostly untrained civilians. His division has not had a bit of rest since campaign in Southern front and when Japs first attacked Bataan front, they chose his sector.

Plans are being laid to send ships to Visayas to get food supply. Some officers may be sent on trip.

Two boys from Manila are now under investigation. They are Norman Reyes and Luis Albert. Norman claims he came to Bataan because he wants to broadcast over Voice of Freedom. He is a radio announcer. Major Montserrat is now questioning him. Leonie says Norman is O.K. They may send him to Corregidor but the General does not want to take chances. Japs have many spies. Leonie vouches for Norman. Luis Albert says he came here to get money for wives of soldiers left in city. He says he was sent by Red Cross. Major Javallera doubts Albert’s story. He will be sent to HPA. The General is very cautious.

No raid today. Funny, but I never pray for no raid.

January 30, 1942

HQ, MIS, Bataan

 

Filipino officers in USAFFE may get same pay as Americans, according to General. There is no reason why an American should get higher pay than a Filipino doing the same job with the same rank. Both are undergoing the same risks and both are human beings. To hell with the superior air of some Americans!

Beautiful message from MacArthur to Roosevelt. Wrote Mac: “Today, January 30th, your birthday anniversary, smoke-begrimed men covered with the murk of battle rise from their fox-holes in Bataan and batteries in Corregidor, to pray reverently that God may bless immeasurably, the President of the United States.”

Heavy raids today. Japs hit Cabcaben and Mariveles airfields.

Saw P.I. Army planes flying at three o’clock in the afternoon. Three of them. Good sign.

Reports from City indicate people cheered by raid on the 27th. Manilans started shouting recklessly. Some said: “They’ll be back in a week.” Japs started to run and hide, according to operatives. It must have been a great day in the old city.

No confirmation of rumors about Batangas landings.

Received letter from Mr. Romulo.

The General repeated his intention to send me on secret mission to Manila.

The general joked me. He said all unmarried girls in Manila will be married to Japs. “Too bad about your G.F.,” he said.

 

(later)

 

Operative just arrived from Manila. He carries a note from mama. He says the folks are all well and that Mrs. Osmeña was at home when he gave them my note. Mrs. Osmeña wrote a small letter to the Vice Prexy. Leonie also received a note from Annie and a knitted sweater. This is a great day!

January 29, 1942

HQ, MIS, Bataan

Japs have encircled the 1st regular. I wonder what will happen to the boys there. This is a great calamity.

Apparently, Japs crawled through precipices of Mt. Natib. After penetration, they made a flank maneuver and concentrated fire on rear of Segundo’s line.

Reports from radio indicate Japs are wild about their victory in Singapore. Jap planes have dropped copies of Tribune announcing Tojo’s independence promise and Tribune page carrying signatures of members of executive commission agreeing to Jap aims.

Ration reduced. Food supply fast decreasing. For brunch, we get two handfuls of rice.

The general said he might send me to Manila or Nueva Ecija one of these days.

Morale slightly on downgrade. Some skeptical about convoy.

Had a silly discussion on a silly subject with Fred and Leonie. “Are whores capable of true love?”

 

(later)

 

False alarm. Major Javallera came in shouting: “I have sighted the spearhead of convoy.”

Called up off shore patrol to check up. Officer in charge says: “Its just the gun-boats in Corregidor. They moved over to the other side.”

Men are weary. Some still full of hope. I have often seen men stand on high cliffs gazing out into the sea looking for the convoy.

Rumors that a Negro Army has arrived and landed in Batangas.

Rumor that the convoy has reached Visayas.

While going to HPD this afternoon a plan strafed truck before my car. I dove out of car and hid in clump of bushes on side of precipice. Bruised my knees.

(later)

Fred had a tiff with an American lt. who refused to obey Fred because he is “a Filipino captain”, Fred put the Yank in proper place. Congrats.

January 28, 1942

HQ, MIS

Bataan

 

Gap in western sector widening. Japs penetrating Segundo’s line in force. 1st regular division in wild retreat. Hell has broken loose in this area. Many dying, dead.

No reinforcements can be sent to bridge gap. No more reserves. 1st regular given up for lost. Japs following successes slowly, surely, cautiously.

USAFFE line will be shortened to stabilize and consolidate front. All divisions packing up to make last stand on Pilar-Bagac road. If this line, if this last front line breaks, our days are numbered.

Went to eastern front to see conditions there. Everybody is moving, retreating, to avoid being outflanked.

Saw Jesse Hocson of Ateneo pep band. He is a lieutenant. He said they were told to retreat. He was looking for Juan Fernandez, Capinpin’s aide. Jesse looked very tired.

Leonie who was with me was looking for Manny de Leon but the 201st engineering corps had changed area. We saw Fr. Karasig S.J. who offered us some coffee which we gladly received. Karasig asked me about Morita. He said “Let’s not talk of the fighting.” The father was in a good mood.

Saw Jaime Mercado walking ahead of his troops. Jaime had the same familiar stride but he was very black, sunburnt, unkempt. He looked very much older. His troops were retreating.

Saw Toto Cruz towering over all around him. Leonie talked to him.

Everything down the road troops were groaning under their packs, hastily moving back to the new line. The boys looked weak, thirsty, hungry, dirty, and very, very tired. Some were sleeping in the roadsides to get some rest.

January 25, 1942

HQ, Intelligence Service, Bataan

 

Talked to some of the boys of the 21st at the front yesterday. Japs have tried to penetrate their lines during last few days but to no avail. Boys are complaining about very little food ration. Many were very anxious to get a smoke.

Japs have dropped a lot of “surrender” leaflets in front lines. Leaflets are about the size of the palm. Front sheet reads: “Ticket to Armistice”. Lower caption states: “You and any number of your friends can walk with these leaflets to our lines. We shall bring you back to your homes.” Back cover of “ticket to armistice” carries picture of some home in Manila or picture of Jap soldiers playing with Manila kids. Almost everybody in front line keeps these tickets as souvenir. There are no cases of desertion. The men know that this is a dirty Jap trick and that they will shoot any of us on sight.

Boys in 41st division are raring to attack Japs. Some of their patrols found the dead body of a young girl. She was evidently abused. Her hair was recently curled. Her dress was smeared with blood. Her finger nails still had manicure. She was a pretty Filipina. Her handkerchief was partly torn. On one side of the handkerchief was the name Erlinda. Troops under Lim have adopted as fighting motto: “Remember Erlinda!” Leonie is now writing a radio script for Voice of Freedom on Erlinda.

Corregidor censored part of our SYIM stuff for tomorrow. Fred had an article describing hard life in Rock, the damp air of tunnel as I described to him and the boxes of ammunition inside the main tunnel. Corregidor claims this gives out information to enemy. Fred explained to the General who in turn called up Corregidor that the intention of SYIM editors was to make boys in the front feel that men in Corregidor are sharing hardships with them; that SYIM editors merely want to paint Corregidor officers in better light, because boys in front think that fellows in Corregidor are having an easy life while boys in Bataan fight and starve. The article remains censored.

During broadcast this evening, I slipped into Montserrat’s tent and got some of Javallera’s canned goods. Now Javallera suspects Montserrat took it. The two majors have decided to separate tents. Major Javallera will put up another tent. He says “It’s better to be alone.” Major Montserrat feels the same way. The general is already aware of the canned stuff mystery. He told me he suspects it is Major Panopio taking the canned goods. Meanwhile Fred, Leonie and I are having the time of our lives laughing at the old fogies. Leonie suspects the doctor knows we three have something to do with the canned goods of Montserrat and Javallera because he has seen us eating in private and laughing to ourselves. Fred said “Let us plant the empty cans in the doctor’s tent.” Leonie suggested: “Let Philip put it under the general’s cot.” The plot thickens…

 

(later)

 

Heard that a certain Capt. Wermuth, an American, will be given a third or fourth decoration for distinguished service…