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Yearly Archives: 1947
When President Quezon broke into tears
by Lt. Col. Emigdio Cruz
PRESIDENT QUEZON could not believe that the men he had left in charge of the government had betrayed him and turned disloyal to the United States. Then the question of succession to the presidency had come up, and he wanted, if possible, to consult the Filipino people and the men in the government in Manila regarding it. Although the constitution definitely provided that the Vice-President automatically would succeed to the presidency on November 14, 1943, that provision had been drafted and approved when the exigencies of war had not even been thought of, Quezon’s health was very poor, but he did not wish to run the risk of being charged with having deserted his post of leadership in time of great peril. He had left his nation in defeat and disaster to undertake the dangerous trip across the ocean to America, not to seek refuge or rest, but to work for its early liberation. He felt he had to continue to serve his country until his people decided otherwise. Consideration of health and family were secondary. Therefore, it was imperative that he should get some direct, trustworthy word from those left behind. He had to know their wish in the matter, for their wish would be his command.
Early in the morning of April 28, 1943, after the usual Mass in the private chapel of the Quezon suite in the Shoreham Hotel, the President remarked that he was not satisfied with the people he had sent to the Philippines because they had not succeeded in getting into Manila. He said that he was at a loss on whom to send.
It was then that I volunteered to go, saying that I would like to return to the Islands.
The President asked me if I was in earnest and if I was really willing to undertake the mission, which would very probably cost me my life. I answered that I was very willing to take the assignment. The President then said that since I was one of the family physicians, I should ask the permission of Mrs. Quezon, who was then listening without saying a word.
Mrs. Quezon, who regarded me as one of the family, was reluctant to let me go. She said I was not trained for such a mission. She was afraid that, like those who had gone before me, I would fail to reach Manila.
Still, I felt I could not convince myself of having contributed anything to the war effort if I did nothing more than serve the President in my capacity as a physician. So I told Mrs. Quezon that since we were already in the States where we had all the hospital facilities and the best doctors, I thought I was no longer of any use to the family. Nothing would make me happier, I told her, than to undertake the mission.
Mrs. Quezon, who was like a mother to me, gave her consent with tears in her eyes.
That same morning, the President sent a cable to Gen. MacArthur. Two days later, he announced that General MacArthur had answered: “Cruz is all right. Send him over.”
The personal and official instructions of the President and his family were given to me. As per instructions, I reported at Ft. Hamilton for embarkation.
I arrived in Australia on June 9. I reported to the headquarters of General MacArthur. He gave me a friendly welcome, and I gave General MacArthur the secret message and letters of President Quezon.
I left Perth, Australia on June 19, 1943. When Zamboanga was sighted the skipper called me up to look through the periscope. The island did not look any different from other Pacific islands, but knowing that I was looking at one of the islands of my country, which I thought I might never see again, I was overcome with joy and could not help shedding tears of happiness.
When I got to Manila I stayed for several days more, contacting some more of the men I had been instructed to see. I started back with the documents given me by Roxas hidden at the bottom of a bamboo trunk and covered by boxes of cigars, handbags, and wooden shoes.
The return trip to Australia which took 10 days was uneventful.
When I returned to the United States, I found the President very ill in bed. He was terribly excited. With tears in his eyes, he congratulated me upon the successful accomplishment of my mission.
I gave him a verbal report of my mission. I told him that the people wanted him to remain at the head of the government for the duration of the war, that they were loyal and were expecting that they would be liberated soon. My arrival in the Philippines, I said, convinced those I had met that the islands had not been abandoned, and that liberation from the Japanese yoke would soon be effected.
President Quezon was deeply moved. He asked me about Laurel. I replied that General Roxas thought that Laurel was honest in his conviction that what he (Laurel) was doing was in the best interests of the Filipino people. President Quezon said, “I agree with Manoling in his opinion of Laurel.”
I gave him General MacArthur’s message not to concern himself with anything except his health so he could take part in the landing when MacArthur returned to the Philippines. He smiled and told me he was awarding me the Congressional Medal of Valor as per recommendation of General MacArthur. He said I was the first and only Filipino to receive the medal of valor, the highest decoration of the Philippines, and he was presenting it to me with full satisfaction over the accomplishment of my mission.
The President appointed me permanent major and promoted me to the temporary rank of lieutenant colonel. I had an assignment in the Surgical Service of Walter Reed Hospital, but the condition of the President had taken a turn for the worse, and it was decided that I should stay with him as he was moved from one hospital to another in search of a drier climate.
On the morning of August 1st, 1944, I entered the room at a quarter to eight to relieve Dr. Diño. The President was awake and reclining against the back rest. He asked me to read the Sermon on the Mount to him.
After I had finished reading, the President snapped his fingers and pointed at the back of his left wrist. I looked at my watch and said, “time for the broadcast, Mr. President,” at the same time turning on the radio.
“Gen. MacArthur made a successful landing on Noonfar just 600 miles from the Philippines,” came the announcement. Almost simultaneously we clapped our hands. “It won’t be long now,” he said, and told me to step out of the room as he needed the attendant. I stayed in the lobby just outside the door, looking for the President’s favorite passage in the Bible.
All of a sudden I heard a noise. I rushed into the room and found the President coughing spasmodically, with blood coming out his mouth and nose. He was being held by the attendant. When I got near his side he said, “Trepp.”
I rushed downstairs and called Dr. Trepp and dashed to the chapel and told Mrs. Quezon to pray hard for the President.
Then I went up again and gave the President stimulants. I requested Dr. Diño to call up Dr. Hayes.
Dr. Trepp was holding the President, who was at that time in a very cyanotic condition. His pulse became very weak, so I went down and called Mrs. Quezon.
Mrs. Quezon and the children entered the room. She tried to go to the bedside of the President. The President waved her aside to spare her feelings. Then I saw the President gasp so we turned him upside down to get the blood clots out of his air passages. A big clot was recovered. I started giving him artificial respiration. I was still astride him giving artificial respiration when Dr. Hayes arrived. The President breathed a few more gasps. He died fifteen minutes after ten o’clock in the morning of August 1st, 1944.
Notes on the Eve of July 4
By Teodoro M. Locsin
Random Thoughts and a Trial Balance of the First Year of the Philippines Republic
June 28, 1947–HOW free is the Philippines? How real is Philippine independence?
To answer those questions best, one should first take a look around, compare and take notes. How free and independent is any nation in the world? Today two giants bestride the world: the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. A third giant, the British Empire, is on the decline. The rest are political satellites or economic dependencies of either of the first two powers, or their uneasy neighbors. The world is slowly coming into unity—it is in the throes of the last great revolution preceding the creation of a single world state—and national independence, in the insular sense of the term, is a conception that is increasingly obsolete. The world must federate or perish.
Toward the United States the hand of almost every nation is stretched for aid, at the same time there is the haunting fear of “dollar domination.” An unreasonable attitude, perhaps, for if you are seeking a loan, if not an outright gift, you must consider, in fact you will only get the loan or gift if you accept, the lender’s or donor’s terms. Yet, even as one receives, one resents. The creditor, though one goes to him gladly and willingly enough, is the object of hard thoughts. And such is human nature that one finds it easier to forgive one’s enemies than those to whom one owes favors.
In this regard, the United States should not be surprised if, in giving but at the same time bargaining, the recipients should accept and at the same time prove resentful. America, perhaps, should give freely, without conditions, without reservation, regardless of the kind of government of the country she gives to. Perhaps she should help and strengthen those of rival ideology. Then she would no longer be accused of exerting pressure, of resorting to political dictation. Then se would be universally praised if in private considered a damned fool.
Toward the Soviet Union, those communist persuasion look as to a New Rome. Salvation lies there. The triumph of the Soviet Union is the triumph of the workers of the world. Russia comes first—thus the native communist line goes, for if Russia succeeds, can communism in every country be far behind? In brief, the communist denies that he places Russia’s interests over and above his country’s. In his mind there is no opposition between the two. His country’s and Russia’s interests are one. That is the Marxist outlook, the Leninist view.
The question, therefore, does not arise in the communist mind as to the possibility of Russian domination. All communists are of one faith. As the Pope of Rome is to all Catholics their spiritual father, so Stalin is to communists everywhere, their political mentor and guide. Russia is where they fly to, when trouble comes. Russia, which had provided safe harbor for such distinguished refugees from counter-revolution as Madame Sun Yat-sen and Bulgaria’s present communist boss, Georgi Dimitrov. Russia can do no wrong.
In the Philippines, the searching and liberal mind harbors no similar illusion, that the United States can do no wrong. At the same time it is confronted with benefits undoubtedly received from the United States, with aid actually extended, with favors conferred. The United States has been a friend, but is it nothing else? Is it not also, by the conditions of dependency it has helped to create, a threat to Philippine independence and sovereignty?
A year of republican existence shows the Philippines politically free—but economically bound to the United States. The United States has supported and maintained the present government of the Philippines; had it withdrawn its support, that government might have collapsed in less than the 12 months of its existence. Inflation, unemployment and social disorder would have gripped the country.
The Begging Attitude
American money has kept Roxas in Malacañan. The alternative to American relief is trouble. Let the Americans withdraw and who will provide the arms to equip the Philippine Army and the money to pay the man now in the field containing the forces of agrarian revolt?
The Philippines is politically free—have no doubt about that. Its government has granted base sites to the United States after negotiation and without duress. What has been given has been freely given. Both parties agreed to the terms.
The Philippines has exercised other acts of sovereignty—at the same time the independence of a nation is no different from that of a man. An empty sack, it has been well put, cannot stand alone.
The Philippines asks for American loans and relief, it has opened, in exchange for the payment of war-damages, its natural wealth to American exploitation. The exchange has been ratified by popular vote in a national plebiscite. Nobody stuck a gun in the back of the people: they wanted American money and were prepared to pay the price for it. If the Philippines is not as free as it might be, that is the will of its people and government. Nobody forced it to give anything away.
Which is not to say that it is independent and free. A man who has mortgaged his property, who is increasingly in debt and sees little prospect, as he conducts his affairs, of achieving solvency, cannot be said to be free. He is tied to his creditor. Need compelled him to it, but he signed that mortgage deed willingly enough.
How long will American money be poured into the islands and keep its government going and the people out of the breadlines—and out of the radical camp? And has such aid been as effective as it might have been?
Today, as fast as the United States is pouring money into the Philippines, money is leaving it. There is a fearful disparity between Philippine imports and exports. Meanwhile, Philippine industrialization—which free trade, in the opinion of many, has rendered complex and difficult if not impossible—is largely on paper. When American dollars run out, what then? Will the Philippines then be able to stand on its own? Or will it collapse like an empty sack?
Must the Philippines be in a state of perpetual economic dependency on the United States—like an idiot child or a lunatic ward, a hopeless cripple? Ahead are only more and more American loans, assuming that one gets them all. Not discernible are a balanced budget, full employment and agrarian peace. Before us is only the perpetually extended hand. The begging attitude.
Meanwhile, much of American relief is going into the hands of a few who, as in China, are slowly and quietly consolidating their economic monopoly over the islands’ resources. One hears, more and more often, of this million-peso deal and that multi-million-peso transaction in which some great industry or business passed into the ownership of a Malacañan-connected few. One hears of trips abroad by some Liberal where money is being secretly cached. Rumors only, perhaps—but the air is thick with them. Everywhere one seems to smell corruption. Thus it was, before the Czarist throne fell—it had no American hand-out to prop it up. Where are the classic capitalist virtues of hard work, honesty and thrift?
Meanwhile, a new prophet, accusing the present administration of puppetry, comparing it—the last insult—to his Jap-dictated own, has risen. Jose Laurel, president of the Japanese puppet republic of the Philippines, promise or hints at salvation from American relief ad loans. Under him as President, his people would be sovereign and finally free of the Americans. Philippine independence would be, after so many centuries of alien rule, a reality.
His attacks are well received, for he is appealing to a legitimate and inemdicable sentiment: the nationalist one. One is shame-faced at biting the hand that fees one, but the desire for economic independence in addition to political freedom is in every true citizen. In the end, a man becomes calloused and think’s that if the Americans are giving us money, it is for a purpose of their own, and to thank them would be superfluous and even impractical. It is a bargain, involving in no way the sentiment of gratitude, and both parties benefit by it, and pay the price agreed.
Besides, how little of it is going to the people! Let those who owe the Americans pay them. Those who become rich overnight, who ride in limousines, who own tall and imposing buildings: the surplus millionaires, the import magnates, the flourishing professionals. The people—most of them—still live in nipa huts, go without medical attention, are little more than peons to their landlords, scratching a bare living off the earth. They own nobody a thing,
What America has given has not reached the right people. In the midst of recrimination, it should be of some consolation to her that the firmest faith in her still abides in those she has least benefited, that among the common people to whom only the littlest bit of her great beneficence has filtered remains a warm and unshakable confidence in her ideals.
Meanwhile, I remember Luis Taruc—the last time I saw him, before that famous exchange of letters with Roxas, before he took to the field. Today he is an outlaw, he faces extermination. There is no hope for him. He will die.
Even then he knew that he would die. He was prepared for what he called his martyrdom. In the eyes of the law he is worse than a brigand, he is a rebel against the government, an enemy of the state. But for his convictions he was prepared to die, to give up his life for something outside himself.
That is reassurance, to know today that there are such Filipinos. His side may be the wrong side, or his methods wrong, or his ideas not right—but he was ready to sacrifice all so that, as he thought, those who live after him may live better, more decently, as freemen. In a time and in a country where the men in authority seem to have only one thought: money, loot—it is comfort to know that there is still iron in our spirit.
Ideologies change, philosophies are overthrown. The social order of today is only a historical footnote to tomorrow. But one thing stands, without which nothing much can be achieved under whatever social order: integrity. Character.
If a man is a man, in such times of change as these, it is enough. He may be wrong, but how many are wrong and are not even men! He may be an enemy, but one respects him.
I, for one, find it good to know that there are, when everything seems for sale, Filipinos who cannot be bought, who stand for something outside their own comfort. For it is not enough to have the right principles, one must have the necessary integrity and strength of character.
Ah! Money! Money!
May 10, 1947
Men, Women, children, Aye, Even the Educated Professionals of Northern Luzon are Afflicted with the Hunt-For-Hidden Treasure craze: the Burning Desire to Become Rich Quick.
By Ramon Silen
Agoo, La Union
IF you see a group of men with picks and shovels and crowbars at dusk way up North these days, one to ten they are not on their way home from their places of work, but ten to one they are on their way to search for hidden money. The hunt-for-hidden-treasure bug has so terribly bitten the people that even women and children spend sleepless nights digging here and there in earnest search.
The craze started way back in the latter part of 1945, two weeks after the liberation of Baguio from the Japs. Two GIs came down to the lowlands, with their jeep loaded with boxes, to visit the girls whom they had befriended before their final and successful drive into the summer capital. The women thought the boxes were stuffed with eats and drinks as had always been the case before when American friends visited them. But they were in for one of the biggest surprises in all their lives.
The boxes were taken to the house of a young lady by the name of Itang. After a few minutes the other girl friends of the GIs came in. When the boxes were finally opened black and moldy objects greeted their eyes. The girls looked at each other questioningly. Frank, one of the Americans, picked up one of the objects, and let it fall on the wooden floor, with a clinking sound. “Ah! Money! Money!” chorused the girls. In no time at all the girls each had a handful of the coins. With their bill-like fingernails they scraped off the rust and mold on each coin. They were all silver pesos!
Tarnished Silver Pesos
The GIs exchanged the coins for paper bills at the rate of P100 rusty and moldy silver coins to P60 paper money. All the women in the barrio ripped open the seams of their skirts, and brought out all their paper bills which they had successfully hidden from the Japs. Yet the soldiers were able to dispose of only one box of their coins out of the five they had. They drove farther south to Pangasinan to “visit” their other friends. While the people were still busy cleaning their coins one of their neighbors, a young man named Mateo, arrived home from Baguio. He at once rented the big house of Lacay Itong, the next house to Itang’s, for P100 a month. He converted it into the soon famous and successful “Bamboo Bar” in barrio Cadael between the towns of Aringay and Agoo. The formerly poor Mateo was now a rich man. Reliable sources stated that while he was scampering for shelter in the outskirts of Baguio he fell into a hole, which turned out to be a gasoline drum half-filled with silver coins. That was the source of his original capital.
Several groups of young men hurried up to Baguio to try their luck, but they all returned home empty handed.
Hardly had they settled down when another story of the same kind revived their burning desire to become rich quick: One late afternoon a GI drove his six-by-six truck to a schoolhouse in Camp Spencer, Luna, La Union, and parked it near two gasoline drums supposedly filled with rusty nails. A group of schoolboys on their way home saw the truck and swarmed around it. The driver called the bigger boys in the bunch to help him load the drums onto the truck. That done the boys waited for the American to give them some cigarettes, candy, or chewing gum. He dug inside one of the drums with his two hands, jumped off the truck, handed something to the boys, and then drove off.
The boys could hardly believe their eyes. He had given them tarnished silver pesos.
He Keeps On Digging
Here is another story, still hot from the grape-vine-telegraph: Three high school boys with a map, crowbar, candle, and matches went inside their school grounds one night. The map, the story goes, was given to one of them by a Jap PW whose friendship he had won in the early liberation days. By following the directions in the map their first strike with the crowbar made them richer by P15,000. Half of the amount was in PNB notes.
The following story came from the fisherfolk of Cabaruan, a barrio of Sto. Tomas of the same province. On a moonless night two men were idling away the young evening hours along the seashore. A ship at sea was “gunning” its searchlight into the skies over the land as it sailed toward the shore. The LCT beached and a group of men with shovels alighted from it. They dug in the sand near by. After ten minutes they struck a gasoline drum. they brought it out, gave P100 to each of the two men who had helped them, and then sailed away.
The teaching profession has also a tale of its own although not as encouraging as the others. A teacher in the town of Naguilian, La Union was pruning his fruit trees one morning. He saw a small piece of wood with Japanese characters on its nailed to one of the trees. He invited his confidantes and showed them the sign. None of them could decipher the Jap characters.
He forgot all about it for some time. But when an American friend of his dropped in at his home for a visit he remembered the thing. Both of them went to the tree where the sign was. After reading it again and again the visitor offered P45,000 in cold cash to his host to allow him to dig the buried treasure in his yard. After getting the treasure he would return the land to him free. The poor teacher rejected the offer thinking that he would do the digging and searching himself.
The once flat yard of the teacher is now full of deep and ugly holes. He keeps on digging and digging, but the treasure is as illusive as that one at the foot of the rainbow.
This story from Sta. Maria, Pangasinan, is a most discouraging one. Six men in that town struck a land mine while searching for buried treasure, and all six of them were blown into bits.
Only a week ago I met one of my friends, a principal of a big central school. He was all frowns. I asked him what the matter was.
“To hell with those crazy people!” he muttered. “One of the cement posts of our school gate is now tilting at thirty degrees, and it’s about to fall down because its bottom was excavated last night. All the breadfruit, orange, cayamita, and avocado trees in our school yard have been uprooted. If I only knew their names I’d sue them in court for trespassing on and damaging public property.”
The following morning I was with a group of professionals chit-chatting in front of the municipal hall in a northern town where my principal friend was assigned. Soon a lawyer joined our group.
“How was the hunt last night?” a doctor in the bunch asked the lawyer.
“Well, no luck so far. But, who among you can say that Engineer C (one of those in the crowd who was smiling and nodding with approbation) and I may not strike a drumful of money tonight?” he challenged.
Yes, Gentle Reader, even the educated professionals are very much at it. And worse. You bet!
A problem in Philippine history
by Sattahari T. Misah
Manuel Roxas or Jose Abad Santos?—Which of the Two Was Entrusted by the Late President Manuel Quezon with the Responsibility of Governing the Country During His Absence….
April 12, 1947–IN AN article entitled, “The Story of Roxas,” written by Federico Mañgahas in a certain campaign paper, I read something like this: “When President Quezon left Corregidor around the 21st of February, General MacArthur decided that Roxas remain with him. President Quezon, on the other hand, gave Roxas full authority to act for and in his behalf in all matters of government and, particularly, to take charge of the National Treasury.” The writer’s note states that the authority for the story is General Roxas himself.
Felixberto Bustos wrote in his book, “And Now Comes Roxas,” that President Quezon dictated two Executive Orders before leaving Corregidor. One such order delegated to Roxas all extraordinary presidential powers conferred on the Philippine Chief Executive by emergency legislation. The other fixed the presidential succession. In case of death or incapacitation of Quezon, and subsequently, of Osmeña, the presidency would go to Roxas. In the same paragraph, Bustos farther stated that copies of the documents were furnished the President of the United States through the US High Commissioner and the originals were buried with other valuable papers of Roxas in Mindanao.
United in their claims
Mañgahas and Bustos were united in their claims that President Manuel Roxas, then an army man, empowered to exercise the emergency powers granted Quezon by the Philippine Congress, was the direct representative of the latter and consequently, supreme head of the Commonwealth Government of the unoccupied Philippines. They were also united in their purpose in releasing this historical account of Roxas’ life—to boost the latter’s popularity among the masses. Both were motivated by a common desire—to help Roxas become President.
Let us now turn our attention to a Filipino who died in the support of his convictions, of the Philippines, of America and the world, of those high ideals for which they all stand. Let us have a glimpse of how he died during the dark days of the enemy occupation. Let us read T.M. Locsin’s “Last Decision” (FREE PRESS, Nov. 30, 1946). In his note accompanying the picture of Jose Abad Santos and his family, the author states that Santos was the direct representative in the Philippines of the Commonwealth government in exile. Reading the article, we learn that at the time of his death, Santos was acting for and representing the President of the Philippines (the most logical man under the American system of government because he was then a member of the cabinet). In conclusion, we are told by Locsin that the Japanese subjected Santos to intensive investigation because they learned that he had been appointed by Quezon to represent him as head of the Philippine government in the islands; that he was liquidated by the Japs because he refused to obey their demands one of which was to make a broadcast asking General Roxas to surrender. Was Santos then the supreme head of the Philippine government who had been asked by the enemy to make a broadcast to General Roxas to surrender, or a mere secretary of justice asked to make a broadcast to his superior urging him to surrender?
This account of the life and activities of Jose Abad Santos would seem to disprove the contention of the two gentlemen, Messrs. Bustos and Mañgahas, who were ahead in claiming the honor for His Excellency, the President, Manuel Roxas. On the other hand, the writing of the biographical sketch of Santos by Locsin must have been inspired by the occasion—National Heroes Day. The occasion demanded that Jose Abad Santos be eulogized and Locsin had to do his best to magnify the dead hero.
As a teacher, the writer can tell his geography class that Tayabas is now “Quezon;” and that the Turtle Islands will soon be a part of the Philippine map. He can tell his history class that Tila Pass in their history books must now be read as “Tirad Pass.” He can cite authorities for all of these. But how can he tell with certainty the same class who was the direct and true representative of the Commonwealth government in exile?
For the benefit of thousands or should I say “millions” of history teachers and students who want to know the true history of their country during the Japanese occupation, Messrs. Bustos, Mañgahas, and Locsin would settle these conflicting theories. They should restore our waning confidence in their ability to deal with facts. Their writings have more influence on the minds of the youth than all the teachers in the Philippines combined.
To the above question, as to who was the official designated by the late President Manuel L. Quezon to represent the Commonwealth government during the Japanese occupation, President Roxas had this to say:
“When I met President Quezon at Del Monte in Mindanao a few days before his departure for Australia, I inquired about Jose Abad Santos. The President told me that he had chosen to remain in the Philippines. He had stayed in Negros with the approval of the president and was by him entrusted with the power of supervision and control over the courts of justice in all unoccupied areas.”
This is an excerpt from a speech delivered before the Supreme Court by then Senate President Roxas during the memorial services for the late Chief Justice on December 2, 1945. On the same occasion, however, then Justice Roman Ozaeta went further and said:
“When President Quezon left for the United States via Australia, he gave Chief Justice Abad Santos the choice to go with him or to remain in the Philippines . . . He said: ‘I prefer to remain, carry on my work here, and stay with my family.’ The President, probably against his will, respected that decision and entrusted him with the heavy responsibility of governing the country during his absence.” Until further evidence is available, this is the best we can do. —Teodoro M.. Locsin
REPORT ON THE PLEBISCITE
April 5, 1947
The struggle to preserve the purity of the franchise is a never-ending one. At the times and places described below, the forces of genuine democracy seem to have lost the battle to forces of arrogance and corruption. There can be only one answer. Let those who truly believe in honest elections resolve with increased firmness and determination to fight for them, in spite of temporary defeat and discouragement.—The Editor.
Report from Iloilo
March 12, 1947
To An American Friend:
The plebiscite is over. For the next 28 years you will have equal rights with us in the development of our country. As the saying is, “The people have spoken.” In this case, however, it seems to me that this means, “The people who compose the Board of Election Inspectors have spoken for the people who did not vote.” Let me explain.
False rumors and false hopes
by Gregorio Borlaza
Sustained a nation in its darkest hour
April 5, 1947–FRANCE fell in about three weeks after the start of the German offensive. Thailand fell in a matter of hours, and Singapore, reputed to be the impregnable Gibraltar of the Far East, fell much sooner than generally expected. But Bataan and Corregidor stood for almost half a year, giving the Allies precious time to prepare Australia as the base for the reconquest of lost Pacific territories and the ultimate defeat of Japan.
What made it possible for this little country, with its small Fil-American army lacking in food and ammunition, totally cut off from the outside world, and completely divested of air and naval protection and support, to stand so long against a huge, fanatical army riding on the crest of sensational, if temporary, victory? Loyalty to American, of course, and devotion to democracy and age-old consecration to the cause of liberty. But, in no small measure, also due to the false rumors and false hopes cleverly conceived and ingeniously spread among the people under the very nose of the enemy.
Shortly before the actual fall of Bataan, for instance, rumor said that the Fil-American soldiers were preparing for a grand victory parade in Manila. Several miles of convoy had been sighted; the ocean was dark with ships of all descriptions as far as the eye could see, and our troops were poised for a grand counter-offensive.
About the end of February, 1942, the people were thrilled by the “news” that General Homma, commander in Chief of the J.I.A. in the Philippines, had committed hara-kiri to atone for the undue concern he had caused His Majesty, the Emperor, by failing to bring the Bataan campaign to a quick decision. A little later, General Yamashita, hero of Singapore, came to take charge of the Philippine campaign, General Yamashita, so the rumor said, was a former classmate of General MacArthur at West Point, and as a welcome gift for his former friend and classmate, the latter (according to the rumor) sent the former a long dagger with the following message: “Should you fail in your mission, the conquest of Bataan—and I know you are going to fail—you may find it necessary to follow the time-honored Japanese tradition of committing hara-kiri. I am therefore sending this dagger with the hope that you will be so kind as to autograph it, use it in the sacred act, and have it sent to me as a souvenir of our friendship.” The Filipino masses actually fell for this and how it bolstered their morale!
During the first week of March 1942, it was bruited about that thousands of Japanese were being electrocuted daily as they attempted to cross into the American lines. It was said that MacArthur was the world’s greatest authority on the construction of electrified fortifications. He had constructed such clever devices that the Japanese instantly died if they leaned against trees, crossed streams, or walked over muddy roads. Fil-American soldiers were so equipped that they were immune to the shocks that were killing Japs like rats. Disgusted Japanese soldiers were quoted as saying, “Kohoy, kurinte; Tubig, kurinte; Putik, kurinte; Nippon sordier, patay kurinte; Bakit Hiripin Amerikan sordier, hindi patay korinte?” (Everything—the trees, the water, and the mud is alive with electricity. Nippon soldiers die because of it. Why not the Filipino and American soldiers, too?)
On March 13, 1942, we heard that Gen. Yamashita was wounded. Two days later, the people of San Pablo City were saying in hushed tones at the marketplace that he was dead! He was riding in an airplane taking a good look at the opposing lines in Bataan, and the plane was hit by anti-aircraft bullets. He was wounded in one arm which later had to be amputated in one of the hospitals in Manila. Hemorrhage followed the amputation, and a series of blood transfusions failed to save his life. This raised fresh hopes for the early reconquest of Manila, but these hopes were toned down one or two days later by a supposed statement of General MacArthur which read, “We can retake Manila in 48 hours just by changing the position of our big guns on Corregidor, but it will be an empty and temporary victory if gained before the arrival of full aid from America which is now on the way to the Philippines.”
By March 16, 1942, the Japanese High Command was rumored to have ordered the shooting of several companies of Japanese soldiers who refused to go to Bataan, afraid to die of electrocution as thousands of their comrades had died. One day, three columns of Japanese were advancing against the Fil-Americans. The middle column, upon reaching a certain point, mysteriously died before the very eyes of the other two columns. They threw their arms in the air, writhing in agony, and after a moment, fell dead. Upon seeing this, the other two columns refused to advance; whereupon, the officers at the rear ordered the soldiers who were behind to shoot those in front; at which the latter turned about and returned the fire. In this way, all the three columns were annihilated that day without our troops having to fire a single shot!
On March 19, Hitler was reported to have fled to Norway because of internal trouble in Germany. Other rumors said he had died, and the Japanese were glum at the prospect of being left alone to face the United nations.
These and many other rumors kept the morale of the Filipinos so high that they were completely unprepared for the blow that was to fall upon them early in April. When the fall of Bataan became inevitable, the masses were so surprised that they openly blamed America for having left their youth—in the flower of manhood—to their fate in the hell of Bataan. “Where are the thousands of planes promised us!” they asked. “Where are the miles of convoys? What will happen to our boys?” There was general consternation and confusion. There was almost a general collapse when Bataan finally fell.
But more rumors eventually rallied the people. Resistance in Bataan was given up to relieve our boys. There was still Corregidor which could stand indefinitely against the enemy. There were, on Corregidor, enough munitions and food supplies to last for ten years. Secret new weapons had been landed by submarines, and our garrison could engage the enemy from the impregnable bastion for an indefinite period of time. Americans had landed somewhere in Japan, according to a “dispatch” received on April 13. On May 3, we heard of big betting in Wall Street, the odds being heavily that Germany would collapse in 60 days. Meanwhile, Corregidor was shooting down a great number of planes daily with anti-aircraft guns so accurate they could draw a circle of fire around an enemy plane before hitting the bulls eye.
But Corregidor, too, was one day to fall, and when it did on May 6, 1942, rumors were no longer capable of raising false hopes in Filipino hearts. But they were no longer necessary. The foundation of the underground resistance movement had been laid. Underground newspapers were beginning to circulate. Nuclei of guerrilla organizations were rising everywhere, and the people looked upon them as the symbol of their new hope.
The Plight of the Displaced Population
By Federico Y. Ayson
As usual it is the innocent bystander that gets hurt
February 22, 1947–THE decision of President Roxas to wipe out vestiges of lawlessness and banditry in Central Luzon and adjacent provinces carries more social and agrarian import than meets the eye. The extermination of these roving, elusive lawless elements would go a long way, so it is hoped, towards the early establishment of normalcy in these areas. But the top government brass should also know that it will bring to an end a condition that is undermining the confidence and faith of hundreds of rural families now evacuated to towns in the troubled zones.
In Tarlac province—or in any other province harrassed by these lawless groups for that matter—many farm people have been forced to evacuate to town suburbs and poblaciones. From barrios and sitios where encounters between government agents and the dissidents were anticipated, the populace was ordered to move into safer areas of refuge. These migrations started as early as last October after the palagad (early crop) was harvested. From then on up to as late this week, (February 7) they have continued in anticipation of a full scale operation to be pursued with relentless, volcanic fury until the very last bandit is rounded up. For so it was rumored.
To obtain a comprehensive, realistic view of the overall situation that led to this exodus of farmers, we need to focus our observation on the barrios and remote sitios of La Paz, Concepcion, Victoria, Capas, Bamban, and Tarlac. Barrio populations of these towns bordering the Tarlac-Nueva Ecija-Pampanga boundaries have sought sanctuary along national highways, provincial roads and in the poblaciones, carting their harvest, scanty essential personal belongings, poultry, etc., with them.
Huddled close together, the evacues have thrown together make-shift bamboo and cogon dwellings they call their homes. Clusters of these thatched affairs dot both sides of highways and provincial roads. The congestion, the abject poverty and filth cannot escape attention. Practice of sanitary measures in general, is nil. Added to the squalor is the food problem of Mr. and Mrs. Barrio Farmer. Food reserves which they expected to tide them over to the rainy season have been seriously depleted.
The problem of these people goes deeper than the congestion in housing; it transcends questions of hygienic and sanitary ways of living. They are looking forward to the fulfilment of promises to restore peace and order. They know that in the vast rehabilitation plans of President Roxas, their contribution can best be made on their home farms. They dream of peace—the genuine, lasting kind of peace that will enable them to return home and till the soil and produce.
To them, the issue is no longer one of social or agrarian progress. From their experiences it is wholly a matter of plain banditry—robbers spreading terror, plundering and murdering with innocent farmers and their families bearing the brunt. They know that the administration is instituting colossal agricultural reforms. They interpret the promulgation of the 70-30 crop sharing measure, among others, as an example of an enlightened, progressive agrarian policy.
The plight of this displaced farm population seems to be ignored at present because the recent harvest has pushed aside the spectre of famine. In addition, the administrations attention is concentrated on the March 11 plebiscite. So the problems of these “little giants of the farm” are temporarily relegated to the background. However, if we are to restore normal agricultural production, their desires must be attended to, before it’s too late. We cannot guarantee national stability if the farms do not meet the food needs of the people. We must not expect self-sufficiency in sustenance from the soil if our farmers are huddling for protection in the suburbs of towns.
That is why these displaced farm people are restless. They rejoice that the government has progressed from parleying and temporizing to a firm, tenacious and determined policy. The sooner the whole mess is cleaned up, the earlier they can go back to their farms. For only them will there be security of life and property, so they can work and produce. On them—these displaced farm people—depends to an appreciable degree the success or failure of our economic progress. Let us attend to them.
ROXAS AND THE PRESS
News giants of pre-war days now in government service
By Inocencio V. Ferrer
President, Negros Press Club
February 22, 1947–NOWADAYS when newspapermen meet, they usually talk with nostalgia about Malacañan press conferences when Manuel L. Quezon was the “Big Chief”; others of the days when Sergio Osmeña hardly gave press conferences and reporters depended mainly on Malacañan press releases to satisfy the hunger for news of the then newly liberated readers of the Philippines; but their tete-a-tete often ends with a wise-crack at the expense of the so-called liberal administration! But whether or not one looks back at those days with longing and remembrance,—those days will never come back, and President Manuel A. Roxas is at Malacañan to stay and to perform the acts and deliver the sttements which are the daily headlines of the newspapers of the nation.
It is worthy of note that many newspapermen do not seem to see eye to eye with the President on matters of national concern. Many a post-liberation columnist has made and continues to make a name for himself and circulation for his paper by discoursing on the alleged sins of the present administration, or the frailties of the New Leader. Nevertheless the cold, naked truth is that, under the Roxas administration, members of the press are winning recognition and honors never before accorded them under any other president of the Philippines.
Consider the following facts, for instance. Recently a leading political commentator in the United States hailed the Philippines as the recognized leader of dependent nations and oppressed peoples of the world and as ranking sixth among more than fifty signatory nations of the United Nations. These honors came to the Republic largely because of General Carlos P. Romulo, permanent Philippine delegate to the UN, who is one of the most versatile editors the Philippines has ever produced and, in pre-Pearl-Harbor days, was publisher and editor-in-chief of the now defunct DMHM newspapers of Manila. Another DMHM newsman who has been the recipient of the bounty of our Liberal administration is former Press Secretary Modesto Farolan, the first Philippine Consul-General to Hawaii. Farolan was formerly general manager of the DMHM.
A check-up of the roster of diplomatic and consular offices established by the Republic reveals the amazing but gratifying fact that, as a general rule, a former Manila newspaperman is on the payroll. The Philippine press is ably represented on the staff of the Philippine Embassy at Washington, D.C. by former Pangasinan Congressman Narciso Ramos, a former Manila reporters; A. L. Valencia, president of the potent Manila Press Club and former Bulletin star reporter; and Pilar N. Ravelo-Guerrero, also formerly of the pre-Tojo Bulletin. Newsman Ramos is minister-counsellor, while Associated Press Correspondent Valencia is Ambassador Elizalde’s public relations spokesman.
And who does not remember Salvador P. Lopez who used to preach to newspaper readers via the Herald’s “So It Seems” column? Well, if you do not know, Lopez is in New York City now; a member of Ambassador Romulo’s staff. Also with Romulo in America is former Manila reporter Renato Constantino.
Felixberto G. Bustos, free lance journalist and author of the book that helped Roxas to the presidency, is on the staff of the Philippine consulate in New York City and his boss is former Justice Jose P. Melencio, himself a writer of some distinction.
With Other Bureaus
When the Philippines sent Senator Salipada K. Pendatun and others to the UNESCO conference at paris, a newspaperman was in the entourage in the person of United Press correspondent Rodolfo L. Nazareno. J. C. Dionisio, short story writer and West Coast journalist, is at present with Consul-General Roberto Regala in San Francisco.
Not all writers and reporters are as gifted as Carlos Peña Romulo or as lucky as those who have landed sinecures abroad. Other have to stay at home and keep the printing presses rolling. There are, however, some who are doling praiseworthy work in the government service. Outstanding among them is personable, veteran Bulletin reporter Johnny C. Orendain, who, as President Roxas’ Press Secretary, is the official Malacañan spokesman. Private secretary to the President is Federico Mangahas, he who wrote the perfect prose of the “Maybe” column of the Tribune of yesteryears. Then there is D. L. Francisco, ace FREE PRESS feature writer, whose exposes and “unsolved mystery” articles were arresting the attention of the nation when FREE PRESS Staffman Leon O. Ty and I were still trying to find our journalistic souls by writing poetic trash for campus magazines. Francisco is the PRO (public relations officer, to you) of the Manila police department. Another writer with the police department is Delfin Flandez Batacan who, before his promotion as technical assistant to Malacañan Police Adviser Angel Tuazon, was in the legal section of the Manila police.
I am sure many FREE PRESS readers have been wondering what has happened to Leon Ma. Guerrero, Jr., who, as Totoy, used to thrill them with “Times in Rhymes” and, as himself, gave them those spicy and meaty stories and articles of the pre-war FREE PRESS. I have been told that Leonie is alive but he is busy with protocols and diplomacy now at the department of foreign affairs. Also at the foreign affairs office is former newsman Carlos Quirino; while Manila columnist Teodoro L. Valencia is the secretary of the Philippine board of censorship for motion pictures.
I understand Ligaya Victorio Reyes and Leopoldo Y. Yabes are now members of the present bureaucracy; and that Poet Fred Ruiz Castro is now a colonel and head of the judge advocate general service of the Philippine army, while his chum and co-worker on the Collegian staff, Macario Peralta, Jr., is now a retired one-star general and the chairman of the Philippine veterans’ board. Writer Nicolas V. Villaruz is now special prosecutor of the People’s Court; while former College Editors’ Guild vice-president Arturo M. Olarga is justice of the peace of Manapla, Negros Occidental.
Even provincial journalists and editors have not been overlooked, so it seems, by the President. Publisher Fernando Lopez of the Times of Iloilo is the present mayor of Iloilo City, while former Commoner editor Vicente T. Remitio is the mayor of Bacolod City. Former News Clipper editor Melanio O. Lalisan, of Bacolod City, is assistant provincial fiscal of Negros Occidental and with him are assistant provincial fiscal Jose. T. Libo-on and Special Counsel Joaquin Sola who have been active in Negros journalism and still are as members of the Negros Press Club, an association of editors and writers of Negros Occidental.
But the highest honor ever paid by President Roxas to a reporter was that given to the late Benito M. Sakdalan, veteran metropolitan newspaperman who figured in a sensational case a year ago. The President personally and officially lamented his death and Executive Secretary Emilio Abello and Press Secretary Johnny C. Orendain paid him tribute and joined in his final rites.
And when one calls to mind that everytime the President goes on a junket trip he inevitably takes with him a retinue of reporters and newsphotographers, verily it can be said that under Roxas the press and the writing fraternity are having a Roman holiday.