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Escape from Corregidor
by Manuel L. Quezon Jr.
(Fom the late author’s unpublished memoirs.
December 8, 2001–THE last public occasion I attended with my father (I was then 15) was when my father told the UP audience on Taft Avenue that if bombs started to drop and people was killed because there were no shelters, it would be because of the Civil Liberties Union. My father had planned to build air raid shelters all over for the safety of the people but Roosevelt had asked him not to use the special powers given him by the National Assembly because of the Civil Liberties Union. I have never liked the CLU since. If widespread bombing had occured in Manila, people would have died because of the CLU. In their self-righteous so-called defense of rights, they sometimes block higher rights —and those people should have been hanged from the lamp posts.
During the speech, my father was shouting. I never remembered any of the subject matter of my father’s speeches — what 15 years old wants to sit through hour-long public speeches — at least they seemed hours long — but that speech I do recall. The smart-alec UP students laughed.
In 1941 — December 8— the war came. The day World War II started in the Philippines, my mother, my sister Baby, Jovita Fuentes and I were at our (then) hacienda in Arayat, Pampanga, just about half an hour from the Buencamino hacienda in Cabiao, Nueva Ecija. As it was the Feast of the Immaculate Concepcion, Patroness of the Philippines and also of Cabiao, we went to Cabiao; we had the usual enormous breakfast of adobo, tinapa, eggs and God knows what else. I suppose Jovita Fuentes had to sing at Mass. Then we went back to Arayat, where we soon saw the smoke rising above Fort Stotsenberg, as the Japanese that had bombed it flew right over us. Jovita Fuentes fell into a ditch from fright. My mother signalled me to join her under a shrub or trees lower than her (she was only five feet tall). My sister Baby did not join us in hiding. She was one of those enviable individuals who was inmune of from fear, and bent over double with laughter at my mother and myself, hiding under the little shrub. My father was in Baguio resting at the outbreak of war — apparently he was having a resurgence of his TB, although I did not know.
That evening my father picked us all up and we we moved back to our country house in Marikina for safety. Marikina had a very well designed air raid shelter.
Government people kept coming and going. There were lots of meetings, and finally what turned out to be my father’s last cabinet meeting before evacuating to Corregidor. It was held under the shade of a large mango tree in our Marikina house, where PSBA is now.
What I was doing in the open-air Cabinet meeting I do not know but I do recall that my father got telephone reconfirmation of MacArthur’s approval of my father’s instructions — the cabinet members were to do everything to protect the Filipino people, short of swearing allegiance to Japan and the rule was followed by the Filipinos. It did them little good, as they were all tried for collaboration. Only Pres. Roxas’s amnesty saved them.
Except for our departure for Corregidor — perhaps not that — I was never told what my father intended — I was just told to move whenever we were to move.
On December 24, 1941, when we were brought to the Presidential landing to board the Mayon, the largest interisland steamer at the time, painted all white — it was obvious we were going to Corregidor. We were given life jackets. An air raid started and the ship could not move — I think the ship’s engineer was missing. But the Japanese did not know who were on board — the Philippine government. Perhaps they did not care. It was especially frightening for a terrible scary-cat like me — a terrible experience, being marooned in the bay not far from the Manila Hotel. Fortunately, no bombs were dropped on the ships. Perhaps the Japanese intended to use the ships later.
Finally, the all clear was sounded and finally we got underway. As I recall it, we reached Corregidor towards evening. The previous time my father had brought me to Corregidor, months or a year before, we were received with a 19 gun salute, in broad daylight. Now it was a humble arrival. We were brought to the hospital side-tunnel of the Malinta tunnel. At midnight Father Pacifico Ortiz, S.J., our Chaplain, said mass for us and the soldiers, in Latin of course. It was either at that mass or the New Year’s Mass that he preached to comfort us, speaking in our Lord’s words “Put your hand in mine,” referring to the darkness of the war.
Corregidor became our home from Dec. 24, 1941 to Feb. 20, 1942. If the war had not come, we should have been hearing Midnight Mass in the richly carved wooden chapel in our home in Pasay. Noche Buena was meant to be the re-inauguration of our own house in Pasay, where we were to live instead of in Malacañan. We never saw our home again, except in ruins, as was the case with our Marikina house — the Japanese or the Makapilis, or in the case of Pasay, perhaps the Americans had destroyed them.
As our Corregidor stay was prolonged, things became worse. At first we had some minutes’ air raid warning, then Cavite fell and there was no warning — shells from Maragondon would just come over, my eldest sister, Baby with her mission in life (as Nini said) of perpetually making puns, punned — May Aragon doon. The lovely presidential yacht, the Casiana had been sunk of Corregidor and US soldiers used to dive underwater to bring up bottles of liquor, champagne, etc.
I recall one air-raid that was terrifying. We were sitting outside the hospital tunnel on the small platform under a tent, where my father used to spend the day. Suddenly, siren! How we got my father inside, I don’t remember, but obviously he could still walk. But I recall my mother starting to run but with just a half-step she stopped dead and looked around for her children. Baby who was one of those irritating people who literally never experienced fear, was bent over in laughter. She had spotted Carlos P. Romulo running down the hills towards the tunnel as fast as he could, which anyone in his right mind would do. But when he saw Baby laughing, bent over, he suddenly stopped and walked. His rather foolish male pride came into operation, even though he and Baby could both have been killed. My mother shouted “Baby!” I still remember her voice and we all made it safely to the tunnel. Then the bombs started to drop closer and closer until an absolutely deafening explosion came. I thought a bomb had entered the tunnel and the lights went out. We were already in the sub-lateral we occupied, with the only light being the sanctuary lamp of the curtained-off little chapel. How long we continued sitting in the dark I do not recall.
During the raids, my father made no sound at all that I recall. He used to say that the brave man was not the one who had no fear — but the one who felt fear and still did his duty.
In the tunnel my mother prayed of course and we were comforted by the presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. I imagine my father prayed too, but he must have prayed in silence.
As the days went on, the shelling became more and more frequent, though I think never at night.
When my father and Don Sergio Osmeña were reinaugurated, on December 30, 1941, the ceremony was held outside one main entrance of the Malinta Tunnel. All I remember is that High Commissioner Sayre addressed Vice-President Osmeña as “Don Serjoe Osmanyo.”
On the 19th of February, 1942, Fr. Francisco Avendaño came to Corregidor to say mass on my mother’s birthday and complained to my father about the lack of food on Bataan. He also complained of the American treatment of the Filipino soldiers. One Filipino who I think was too sick to stand, was kicked by an American.
At midnight that night we boarded the submarine Swordfish. During the night we traveled on the surface, where the sub could make better speed, above 20 knots per hour. Underwater it could make only about 8 knots per hour. After a good night’s sleep, there was an alarming sound of a siren, the signal that we were submerging. On the surface the sub had moved with the waves like any other ship. The moment we submerged the sub became almost completely motionless, as there were no waves underwater. We spent the whole day submerged until we landed at San Jose de Antique. I must be one of the very people who ever received Communion under water. We were given tongue sandwiches and I threw up. The reason was the heat. Commander Smith had decided to attack Japanese troopships in Subic before picking us up (most irresponsible really) and naturally the Japanese dropped depth charges. As a result, half the air-conditioning system did not work and it was hot as hell. There were a lot of red lights meaning no smoking but the sailors were merrily smoking away.
As we were passing Mindoro, we were allowed to peep through the periscope. The sky looked a non descript color. At one time also there seemed to be sound of propellers which was alarming —possibly an enemy war ship — but it turned out to be the movement of fish tails. We remained submerged all day and surfaced after dark when the sea was quite rough. Then we approached the shore, I seem to recall there was some problem with identifying the people signaling from a boat to pick us up. If only the people on the boat had realized how close they came to being sunk, but finally we were put ashore to drive to Iloilo. I recall distinctly leaning my head and shoulders against my father’s dark brown leather jacket in relaxation, feeling safe. Fortunately during reminder of our stay in the Philippines I did not realize we were in danger all the time.
When we arrived in Iloilo later that night, we went to sleep in comfortable beds and awoke to the sound of the thin horns of Iloilo streetcars the following day. I am under the impression that we stayed at the Cacho mansion, but it may have been one of the Lopez Mansions. We spent the day there — I do not know whether my father saw any government officials. Of course, Iloilo at that time had not yet been occupied by the Japanese. Our nighttime ride from Antique to Iloilo was the first of a series of night time drives in the Philippines until we escaped.
That night we boarded the Princess of Negros, which must have been a slow ship. We went to Guimaras on the way to Negros, but spent the day there, taking a lunch, up to the river to a house where Father Ortiz baptized an infant with me as sponsor. I never saw the baby again and do not even recall his name. We disembarked from the Princess because we might be spotted by Japanese planes. We reembarked at night and went on to Bacolod where we arrived the following morning.
Humor is always involved with our family. My chronology is shaky so I am not sure whether the following funny episode happened when we landed in Bacolod or later at some other part. My father covered his face with his usual large white handkerchief and told the rest of us to do the same, which we did or did not, depending on whether or not we had suitable handkerchiefs. Some local officials approached and greeted my father, “Good morning, Mr. President”. He got quite angry at us for not covering our faces, which he blamed for his being recognized. He did not realize that his get-up, with his jodhpurs and large handkerchief and, I think, a soft white hat, and riding whip were instantly recognizable all over the Philippines, whereas our faces were not. We (the rest of the family) had a good secret laugh over it, not openly because he would have been even angrier.
I do not know who provided the cars, but we drove to the Lizares hacienda where Sonia and Lety Lizares were staying. I do not recall whether their respective husbands Peping Coroninias and Manuel del Rosario were there, but definitely Letty’s daughters and Minnie were, and became my playmates while we luxuriated there. Luxuriated is the word, after our stay in Corrigidor and our brief stop-over in Iloilo. Sonia and Lety had known me since I was a little boy. I do not remember how long we stayed, but my father took advantage of our stay to confer with government officials, among them Gov. Alfredo Montelibano, who was the uncle and later apparently guerrilla commander of Teddy Locsin. I suppose our stay there was supposed to be a secret, though how any kind of secret can be kept among Filipinos with their wagging tongues is beyond me.
One evening we drove up a zigzag to a lovely but not large house in an hacienda owned by the Aranetas. It was called Buenos Aires a very appropriate name because it was so nice and cool. I do not recall whether we went back to the Lizares hacienda or went on to our next stop on the trip which ended up in a rest house in Canlaon Volcano. We stayed there for some time, how long I don’t recall. It seems I felt quite safe there. The rest of our party must have been there too. I remember that at some time Don Andres Soriano went on a reconnaissance flight. I suppose the plane belonged to our Army Air Corps but I can’t be sure. I think they spotted a Japanese destroyer, probably the one which finally towed away the Princess of Negros, and which ended up with the Japanese announcing on the air that my father was dead. How we learned of the broadcast I don’t know; it was very brave of Don Andres and his pilot to be scouting because they could have been shot down by the destroyer. I do not think there were many, or any, Japanese Air Force planes in the area as yet.
After sometime, for purposes of security I suppose, or perhaps my father received a message from MacArthur that we should join him in Australia, we set off again. The move was supposed to be a secret but somehow my sister Baby knew where we were going and with her predilection for punning , she said “A donde Bais.” According to my sister Nini, Baby felt her mission in life was punning. I believe Bais was in Negros Oriental and belonged then to Tabacalera or some other Spanish company.
Later —how much later escapes me– we went on our usual long caravan at night. I was in the back seat of the car with Dr. Trepp my father’s Swiss TB expert and Director of Quezon Institute. It seems my mother’s driver Pedro Payumo (“Pedro Taba”) was driving — how he managed to come along I don’t know — but I distinctly remember his asking us to keep talking as he was sleepy and it was dark but we — at least I — paid no attention and went back to sleep even though we could easily have fallen into a ditch.
It turned out that our destination was Dumaguete , which was pitch dark. There were a lot of people on the side of the road with bundles or cardboard boxes on their heads and also the church bells were ringing. It turned out that the people were alarmed by the sound of the PT boat’s engines which sounded like airplane engines. The PT boat had been sent to pick us up. We drove to the wharf and boarded the PT – boat. How we all fitted in the PT-boat, I don’t know. My mother and I entered the cabin where I put my head on her lap. I suppose the rest of the family were in the cabin but I remember only my mother and the cabin was pitch dark.
After sometime there was a loud conversation on the deck and sparks could be seen. I was scared to death as usual but after a short time the sparks and the commotion stopped and everything went back to normal and we continued the high speed trip. Later on I learned that, with the rough pitching of the PT-boat a torpedo had slipped about half way out of the deck torpedo tube, the sparks being the result of the torpedo’s motor having been started. Someone had the presence of mind to fire off the torpedo. If the torpedo’s fuse had struck the deck, the torpedo would have exploded and that would have been the end of us.
In the early morning light, we were put ashore in Misamis Oriental in Oroquieta. That silly episode of my father’s being recognized the moment we went ashore may have been then.
We went to two places, one of them being Oroquieta, where we met the Ozamis sisters and, I think , Senator Jose Ozamis also, then Governor of Misamis Oriental. Perhaps it was then that my father talked to Commissioner Teofisto Guingona, whom somehow I understood was in charge of Mindanao. I turned over to him for safekeeping the case that contained my two .22 cal rifles and my .25 cal automatic pistol. For some reason I remember the encounter as being at night and I usually have a pictorial memory.
After spending the day with the Ozamis family —very mestizo looking— we set off by car for Bukidnon and the Del Monte plantation where we arrived at night. We were put in very comfortable company houses. I was put in a room with Dr. Trepp and fell sound asleep.
The following morning I was shaken awake by Dr. Trepp saying in a loud voice, “ Nonong wake up, wake up, it is air raid.” There were twin engine Japanese planes which flew over the area and went on, but no air raid.
I had been to the Del Monte plantation once before with my father and it was so beautiful. This time it was still beautiful but there was an overpowering smell of rotting pineapples, because no one was picking the fruit. Many years later, someone wrote that, during the days we spent waiting for the Flying Fortresses to take us to Australia, we spent every day in the hills surrounding Del Monte. I have no such recollection and when I checked with my sister Nini, she had no such recollection either. She recalled something else, Americans in Del Monte, which I do not recall.
We knew we were waiting for Flying Fortresses to take us to Australia and after a few days we were roused in the dead of night and drive to the airfield where there were two Fortresses waiting for us. As we drove to the Fortresses, I started to talk and my mother told me to keep quiet —I suppose my father was very pensive and my talk was out of place.
The fortresses were new models (I knew all about practically every airplane and its various models). This model had tail turrets, the latest version. Some of us — my family and others, but I do not remember who, climbed into one Fortress and the others climbed into the other. It turned out that we were in one plane and Vice-President Osmeña in the other, I suppose to increase the chance of either my father or Osmeña surviving if anything went wrong — the planes being shot down or crashing, I suppose.
My father and mother sat on a mattress on the floor. I think my father was given oxygen during the night —the cabin was not pressurized. I do not know where my sisters sat. I sat at the radio-operator’s seat, at a table. I suppose the radio transmitter could not be used or the Japanese would have spotted us.
I had always wanted to be a pilot, but as the plane picked up speed I was not excited, I was scared. I started asking God not to allow the plane to take off, but of course it did. As the plane climbed I fell asleep with my head on the table. All through the night we were bouncing up and down –it was a very rough flight. We could not really fly very high, among other reasons because of my father’s condition I suppose. Also, perhaps there were not enough oxygen masks to go around. Through the night I slept on and off. At one point of I noticed it was raining, then I saw clouds over the ocean. My nervousness at take off was gone. As day dawned the sky cleared and finally we landed at Bachelor’s Field in Northern Australia. I did not realize from my aviation reading that touch down was a little rough, not perfectly smooth.
I remember getting off the plane and being taken to a mess-hall for breakfast, together with the rest of the party, then were set to prepare to take off for Alice Springs.
Anyway, we were transferred at Bachelor’s Field to another plane, a Douglas DC-5, a bit smaller than a DC-3 and intended to replace the DC-3, but war broke out in Europe and Douglas changed to producing twin engine bombers. KLM was always up to date and the DC-5 had been delivered to KLM. The Dutch Airline had a very reliable service from Holland to the Dutch East Indies and the DC-5 had escaped to Australia, having an auxiliary gas tank in the cabin. Aside from the Dutch pilot and co-pilot, there was a young American US Air Forces man on board, whose presence I do not understand because I think he was a machine-gunner and there was not machine gun on the DC-5.
As we walked out to the DC-5, a smartly dressed Dutchman in a KLM uniform saluted. My father asked him “how do we fly?” and the Dutchman answered — “About 3,000 meters” (about 10,000 feet ) which apparently disturbed my father. He asked the next smartly dressed Dutchman the same question and the man, apparently the Captain, answered “We fly as Your Excellency wishes.” which pleased my father. Apparently some agreement was arrived at and we took off. This was in the morning and as the air started to warm up unevenly, I had one of the bumpiest flight have ever had.
My mother sat beside me and I tied a white hanky over my eyes. Every time the plane bounced my mother called out — “Sagrado Corazon de Jesus,” or “Corazon Sagrado de mi Jesus!”— I would lift the blindfold from my eyes to see if we were about to crash. We were flying over the Australian desert, with rocks all over the place. I finally started to sing hymns to my mother to calm her down. All through the flight, there would be a slight increase and then decrease in the vibration of the engines and I could see that the propellers would be rotating smoothly and then slightly roughly and smoothly again. I turned out that there was a slight nick in the propeller, how acquired I can’t guess. This went on until we landed at Alice Springs five hours later. We made a slightly rough landing in Alice Springs. When we got out of the plane, it turned out that the men were wearing sun helmets with long veils over their faces because there were large horse flies all over the place, a phenomenon I had never seen before and have never seen again. They were what we call bangaos and would not be driven away. If you tried to drive them away, you might squash them with your hand.
Vice-President Osmeña’s Fortress did not land after us. As it took longer to arrive, someone —I forget who— urged my father to continue our flight but he flatly announced that we would not continue until the Vice-President arrived. Our original Fortress had continued the flight with us and looked for the Vice-President’s Fortresses, but to no avail. Night fell and we stayed at a small inn. My mother and I saw a cat catch a small mouse, which disgusted us. All through the night we could hear drunks throwing up.
The following morning we had breakfast and our Dutch plane took off to search for the Vice-President’s plane. In a very short time the DC-5 returned followed by the missing Fortress. It seems the Dutchmen were better pilots than the Americans. While our original Fortress had no trouble finding Alice Springs — possibly by following our little twin-engine DC-5, the Vice-President’s place was lost. At least the pilot had enough sense to land in the desert before running out of fuel. Then the Americans spent the night firing off flares and rockets. When the Dutchman found the Fortress, it took off for Alice Springs. Finally Don Sergio was able to continue with us, to Adelaide this time. It was another five hours’ flight. This time, I sat beside my sister Nini, to get away from mother’s exclamations. I did not overcome the fear of flying then instilled by my mother for years.
When we landed in Adelaide towards evening we spent the night. The following morning we went to a church to give thanks for our safe flight. As we came out, my father had his first encounter with Australian English. Perhaps we were the first non-Caucasians those Australians had ever met and they were very friendly and also curious. They asked “Did you come today?” which they pronounced “to-die.” I am sure he was able to figure the question out right there but later on he embellished the exchange by saying that he had answered, “I came to live, not to die!”
We took an overnight train to Melbourne. During the day, I saw a plane overhead, and for the first time since Dec. 8, I was not afraid. The following morning we arrived in Melbourne where we were met by Gen. MacArthur.
We heard of the fall of Bataan on April 9, my sister Nini’s birthday, in Australia
However, discussions started in our government over going to the States. I do not know whose idea it was originally, but my father wanted to stay in Australia, I suppose to return more quickly to the Philippines after liberation. Don Sergio Osmeña wanted to go to Washington and when my father disagreed he said: “Send me.” I don’t know why it was decided that our whole group should go to the States — perhaps MacArthur urged it, to pressure Roosevelt to send more aid quickly to the Philippines. We sailed for the States on the President Coolidge. The Coolidge had been converted into a troopship but some twin cabin had been left in their original condition and the dining room and lounge had been left untouched. It seems there was some kind of band because there was dancing in the evenings.
At the beginning of the voyage — I had no map and thus did not realize what a long voyage it was to be — we were escorted by a New Zealand warship. Sometime later, the escort duty was taken by a US navy ship which accompanied us until we reached San Francisco. As usual my roommate was Dr. Trepp. We were a large number. From the Philippines we had lost one member of the party, Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos who had insisted on remaining in Mindanao — he was finally executed by the Japanese for refusing to swear allegiance to the Japanese and for maintaining his loyalty to the United States.
However, while we were sailing to the United States, I still thought we would be going home anytime. During our voyage, we had one little exciting episode. We started to zig-zag violently; probably they had detected a submarine. But after a while, the zig-zagging stopped. It was probably a false alarm or, the submarine being under water and therefore very slow, we outran it. The rest of the voyage to the States was uneventful. Finally, we passed beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, which was still undergoing its finishing touches of paint when we went to the States in 1937. We were safely in port.
We were taken to the Mark Hopkins Hotel, considered one of the best at the time, where we stayed for about a week. This time my roommate was Col. Jaime Velasquez. There were newsmen swarming outside my father’s suite and when they knew who I was, they started to interview me but one of our group stopped me.
After some days in San Francisco, to give us a rest from the voyage I suppose, President Roosevelt’s special railroad carriage (called the Ferdinand Magellan) was sent for us and attached to a transcontinental train. It was a four or four and a half day train ride to Washington.
The start of a journey has always excited me. We had to drive to Oakland, CA, to catch the eastward train there. When we arrived at Union Station in Washington, DC, at the exit to the Station there was FDR standing beside his car and we were photographed in memorable poses. I was so moved my lips were trembling. We were driven to the White House where we had lunch and dinner. We were entertained by President Roosevelt who was a great raconteur. Mrs. Roosevelt kept walking in and out and when I met her in a corridor, she smiled “The mail, always the mail.” She seemed terribly tall, as did every one else, which is no wonder since I was only 5’2”. We spent that night at the White House, where I was put in an enormous (to me) bedroom alone. I had the impression it was the Lincoln Bedroom but I may very well be wrong.
The following morning we were taken to the eighth floor suite of the Shell Oil Company at the Shoreham Hotel, where we stayed for a time. Then we moved to the Pat Hurley estate in Leesburg, Virginia, about forty minutes from Washington, where we stayed for the summer, until our permanent quarters at the Shoreham, were ready.
Before deciding to stay at the Shoreham, we took a look at a Waldorf Towers suite way up — the Waldorf is about 34 stories high. Since my father was terribly acrophobic, the project was dropped and thereafter whenever we went to New York we stayed at an 8th floor suite at the Waldorf.
On Corregidor my father was always outdoors in a tent, away from the dust in the tunnels, but of course he had to be active when we went to the Visayas then Australia via Mindanao; and then in the United States, having settling down in Washington, he resumed a normal life, which was a mistake. His condition worsened. Dr. Edward Hayes, the doctor who had treated him in the Monrovia Sanitarium in the thirties, came to Washington and the plan was for us to go out to California. Unfortunately, my father changed the plans.
When I graduated from high school in June of 1944, my father was already bedridden in Saranac Lake, New York.
By the first of August, 1944, a month and a half after my eighteenth birthday, my father was dead.
by Teodoro M. Locsin
Reflections on Ninoy Aquino’s “The Filipino is worth dying for”
August 23, 1986–WHEN NINOY AQUINO was arrested, together with thousands whose only crime was love of truth, justice and liberty, no voice of protest was heard; there were no demonstrations by those still “free.”
Traffic flowed smoothly. Business went on as usual. The Church went on in its non-militant way, preaching submission, by its silence, to the brutal rule. Marcos’s Iglesia was all for it, of course. Thus was upheld the judgment of the Communist Prophet: “Religion is the opium of the people.” Politicians went on their, to use Shakespeare’s term, scurvy way. But what else could be expected of them? But what was heartbreaking was the general indifference to the death of liberty. The Filipino people did not give a damn.
Except a few. The unhappy few who found their cries against the death of liberty met with indifference if not scorn. Ninoy and Cory would afterward speak of how those they thought their friends pretended they did not know them!
There were no demonstrations of any consequence for years and years. When Ninoy, in ultimate defiance and despair, went on a hunger strike, masses were held for him at St. Joseph’s Church in Greenhills. A hundred or two showed up. An American Jesuit, Reuter, and a Filipino, Olaguer, said mass for Ninoy, witnesses to his cause. The currently most conspicuous member of the order busied himself with constitutional law and judicial resignation to Marcos’s “revolutionary” government. A banker showed up. No other demonstration for what Ninoy was slowly, painfully, starving himself to restore: the rule of law, not the rule of one man.
To be a prisoner is to be dehumanized. It is to be no one. Nothing. You have no rights, no control of your life, no existence except what your jailer allows you. You eat, sleep, and live at his pleasure. You remain human only by saying No!
From Camp Bonifacio, Ninoy and Diokno were taken to Fort Laur where they were stripped naked and kept incommunicado in separate rooms, singing the best way they could to tell the other that they were still alive. After weeks and weeks in their sweatboxes, they were taken back to Bonifacio from which Diokno was finally released after two years. Leaving Ninoy alone. Thus he lived for five more years. Years during which he would watch the trail of ants on the wall and try to make friends with a mouse and go into a frenzy of physical exercise in that windowless room to keep his sanity. But still No! to Marcos and his rule.
Years more of solitary confinement, then a heart attack, with Imelda showing up at the hospital with a rosary (not the one with the inverted cross or the other with the face of an animal that were found in Malacañang after her hurried departure) and permission granted for Ninoy to leave for the United States for heart surgery. Freedom at last—freedom in exile. A death in life for one who misses his people. A sense of total irrelevance. For what is a Filipino like Ninoy—not one who went there to make it his home, to be an American—in that country? Home he must go.
Against all the warnings: Imelda’s, Ver’s….Against the advice of friends. What did he hope to accomplish by his return? Reconciliation, peace, restoration of Filipino liberties. He would address himself to the “good” he believed was still in Marcos. Did he ask his children what they thought about his going back? Yes, and his children said they would abide by his decision. Did he ask Cory what she thought?
“You are the one who will suffer, Ninoy,” said that long-suffering woman. “You decide.”
So he went home to death.
Why did Ninoy go so willingly enough to a fate he must have considered a possibility if not a probability? Why do men—and women—say No! to injustice and force? Why do they opt for good at the cost of their lives?
For love of country? Out of sheer patriotism?
Here is a mystery of human nature that defies solution while humbling us. Evil we know, and understand, knowing our nature. But good is something else. As martyrdom, it has had, history shows, a fascination for some. The cynic would say it is mere inflation of the ego. But how explain the slow martyrdom of Damien who lived among lepers, ministering to their needs, and finding a mystical fulfillment when he could say: “We lepers.” Ego-inflation still? If that is the supreme desire, then the cynic might try life in a leper colony. He should never think more highly of himself then. But cynicism is only fear—fear of knowing what one is. To debase the good is to rise in self-estimation. If all men are vile, then you are not worse than you might think you are. You just know the human score. To face and recognize goodness is to sit in judgment on oneself. Avoid it.
For us? Because, as he said, “The Filipino is worth dying for”? In spite of his indifference or submission to evil until the final sacrifice that reminded him of what he should be? Because Ninoy expected neither appreciation nor gratitude for what he did for until then a graceless breed? “He who would be a leader of his people must learn to forgive them,” he once said. Look not for praise or reward. The daring is all.
For what good is for all, whoever they are?
The mystery of human goodness is—according to one who has thought long and hard on the question—the final proof that, evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, God is good. For from whom else could what is good in man have come if not from Him?
The Week the Free Press Said Goodbye
By Gregorio C. Brillantes
The January 3, 1942, issue marked the end of a world, the close of an era: never again would the country recapture the peace and the relative innocence of the 1930s, and the war would spawn changes more enduring than physical ruins.
December 12, 1964—ACROSS the bay, in the late afternoon sun, a black cloud hung over Manila: smoke from burning oil dumps in Pandacan. The crowd gathered about the wooden platform erected near the mouth of Malinta Tunnel could hear the explosions rolling across the graying water from Cavite and Nielson Field, as demolition squads, the tail end of a retreating army, set fire to ammunition stores that could not be transported to Bataan. There were about a hundred and fifty of them gathered about the platform, soldiers and marines and a few civilian officials, a quiet, subdued group, without the easy bravado that they wore so well in the earlier days of that disastrous month, their eyes straying from the ceremony before them to watch for the approach of bombers. For now the skies belonged to the enemy, and so did a large portion of the land.
But the words they heard as the day dimmed across the country spoke of hope, pride, courage, and, incongruous as it might have seemed then, of victory. It was the second inaugural of President Quezon and Vice-President Osmeña, who had swept the elections that previous November. There were no cheering throngs, as in 1935; no parades except for ragged processions of USAFFE troops withdrawing into Bataan; and in the place of brass bands, an American nurse played a faltering “Hail to the Chief” on an accordion. Quezon and Osmeña were inducted into office by Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos, there was a ripple of applause, and then the President began to speak, haggard in his wheelchair but his voice strong and youthful with the old eloquence.
It was Tuesday, December 30, 1941—and it is a measure of how far the nation has traveled since then that the words should reach us now with a hollow, ancient, stilted echo, the faith they expressed remote and almost unrecognizable.
“At the present time we have but one task—fight with America for America and the Philippines,” Quezon said. “Ours is a great cause. We are fighting for human liberty and justice, for those principles of individual freedom which we all cherish and without which life would not be worth living….The war may be long-drawn and hard-fought, but with the determination of freedom-loving people everywhere to stamp out the rule of violence and terrorism from the face of the earth, I am absolutely convinced that final and complete victory will be ours.” He had been feeling dejected for days; the rumored convoy from San Francisco had failed to arrive, and he was considering, it was later said, some sort of accommodation with Japan that might take the Philippines out of the war. But he had reason that afternoon for optimism: he had just received from President Roosevelt a radiogram assuring the Filipino people that “their freedom will be redeemed, and their independence established and protected” and that the “entire resources of the United States stand behind that pledge.”
Quezon read Roosevelt’s message to his Corregidor audience, adding: “My heart, and I know, the hearts of all Americans and Filipinos in this country are filled with gratitude for the reassuring words of the President of the United States. My answer, our answer to him, is that every man, woman and child in the Philippines will do his duty. No matter what sufferings this war may impose upon us, we shall stand by America with undaunted spirit, for we know that upon the outcome of this war depend the happiness, liberty and security not only of this generation, but of the generations yet unborn….” Replying, US High Commissioner Frances B. Sayre expressed “America’s gratitude and pride for the loyalty, devotion, the gallantry, with which the Filipino people have entered this great struggle by America’s side.” General MacArthur’s brief remarks brought the ceremony to a close: “For 400 years the Philippines has struggled toward self-government. On the threshold of independence came the great hour of decision. There was no hesitation, no moment of doubt. The whole country followed its great leader in choosing the side of freedom against the side of slavery….This basic and fundamental issue will be fought through to victory….”
At the command post of Brig. Gen. Albert Jones in Plaridel, Bulacan, the men had neither the time nor the inclination for such lofty rhetoric. Officers chain-smoked over maps; dispatch riders came and went on motorcycles; truck convoys rumbled by in a storm of dust, headed south for Calumpit. Formerly commander of the Southern Luzon Force, Jones had been ordered north of Manila to delay Homma’s advance across the central plains and cover the last stages of the USAFFE withdrawal over the Calumpit Bridge.
Earlier in the day, a Japanese tank-infantry force had reached Baliuag, some five miles north of Jones’s command post. As a result of some mix-up in command, Wainwright’s 71st division, which was supposed to hold the town, had retreated to Bataan. Jones knew he had to push the Japanese back from Baliuag, to keep Calumpit Bridge open at least until New Year’s Eve and save the general withdrawal from total disaster. For the crucial job he had only ten tanks and half-a-dozen 75 mm. self-propelled guns.
After a covering barrage the tanks, commanded by Lt. Col. William Gentry, smashed into Baliuag and knocked out eight of their armored adversaries. As Gentry pulled out of the burning town, the 75’s again opened up, routing what remained of the Japanese force. The successful counterthrust gave Jones the respite he needed; a deadline, on which depended thousands of lives, would be met; and the bridge at Calumpit would not be blown up until after 5:00 a.m. on New Year’s Day, when, with the last of his rear guard, he crossed the Pampanga River and headed west for Bataan.
In Manila, in a building facing Mori’s Bicycle Store on Rizal Avenue, on the day of the inaugural rites on Corregidor and the tank battle in Bulacan, another group of men were also engaged in a concerted effort to beat a deadline, to finish a job before the enemy arrived.
On the third floor of the Free Press building—the editorial offices of the magazine since 1922 and its third home since 1908—Mr. Dick’s staffers were working with a sort of controlled frenzy on the last sections of the FP’s “Farewell Issue.” Outside the sun shone palely through the smoke rising from the piers, and on the Avenida, only an occasional streetcar passed, or a gang of looters, or a truck loaded with evacuees; and in the office there was the sense of an entire world ending, the knowledge that the Japanese were not far from the city, but also there was the conviction somehow that help from America was on the way: America had lost the first round but it was the next one that counted, and the war would soon be over, in three months at the most. Meanwhile, Mr. Dick spoke uneasily of what had happened in Nanking, T.M. Locsin was worried about the safety of his treasured books, and Filemon Tutay announced that he had hidden a revolver—“just in case”—in a sack of rice. Was it true that fifth-columnists had poisoned the water supply? Was it safer to stay in Manila than in the provinces? No one, it seemed, knew the right answers; the present was a dreadful question mark, but by next summer, almost everyone felt sure, they would be back at their desks.
The Japanese took over the Free Press building as enemy property, confiscated magazine files and carted away most of the office equipment; liberation, ironically, destroyed what the Japanese spared, reducing the building to a gutted hulk. Mr. Dick spent the war years as an internee, first in Fort Santiago and later in a hospital. During the first months of the occupation, Mr. Dick’s men used to meet at office manager Floro A. Santos’s home in San Juan; but the group broke up finally as the war dragged on and each man went his own way: one worked as a bartender, another drew portraits for a living, a number joined the resistance. The Free Press was not to resume publication until February 23, 1946; but scarcely anyone on the staff during those last days of 1941 doubted that the Free Press would be back in the streets before the end of the coming year.
The Free Press printed only about 15,000 copies of its 24-page “Farewell Issue” for distribution in Manila. Dated Saturday, January 3, 1942, the magazine was being sold in the streets on the afternoon of Thursday, New Year’s Day, even as the Japanese entered the city from the north and south. One of those who bought copies was F.L. Pimentel, who lived then in Pasay City. For the last 22 years Pimentel kept his copy, but recently decided to “donate it to the Free Press.” In a letter to the FP editor, Pimentel recalls that he “bought it from a newsboy at the intersection of Taft Avenue and San Andres Street early on the morning of January 2nd. I rushed back to my house on Taft Ave. Extension, afraid that the Japs, who were said to be in Baclaran already, might catch me with it….I have since moved my residence a number of times—from Pasay to Sta. Cruz, Manila, then to San Miguel and later to Sta. Ana and finally to San Miguel Village, in Makati; but I brought my copy of the “Farewell Issue” with me wherever I moved. During the war and in the years since then, I have lost valuable things, but not this issue of the Free Press. I just can’t throw it away, after keeping it for so long….”
Pimentel’s copy looks its age: faded, torn in places, stained by decay, and half of the back cover missing, but otherwise intact, legible, a repository, as it were, of the heartbreaking gallantry, the pride and glory and also the fear and the chilling uncertainty of that distant time. The issue marked the end of a world, the close of an era: never again would the country recapture the peace and the relative innocence of the 1930s, and the war would spawn changes more enduring than physical ruins. To read it now is to marvel at those changes of spirit and attitude, sentiment and feeling the nation has undergone since 1941—more than half a century ago, more than enough time for two generations to be born and grow into adulthood and learn of that period of history only from books and old newsreels, as strange and unreal now in the age of the supersonic jet and the space-shuttle countdown as Verdun and the Treaty of Versailles must have been to the youth who went to war the year the Free Press said goodbye. How easy it seems today under the new nationalism to scoff at the brave slogans of those days; to pretend, even, that they never were, and that we had always been masters of our destiny—a comforting illusion but a denial of history. A nation builds on its memories, grows up and away from them; and whatever we have lost or gained as a people must be measured against what we once were.
The “Farewell Issue” of the Free Press carried on the inside front cover, under the legend “help is surely coming,” this message from the High Commissioner’s Office:
“This is the time when the courage of all the people of these islands, whatever their nationality, is being put to test. We are being afforded a rare opportunity to show stuff of which we are made.
“Anyone who has been in Manila since the outbreak of the war must be convinced that we can take it as well as the people of London, of Moscow, or of Chungking. We have all been thrilled as we read of the valor of the troops that are defending us. Let us continue to show the same courage as the boys at the front….
“Help is surely coming—help of such adequacy and power that the invader will be driven from our midst, and he will be rendered powerless ever to threaten us again. Obviously we are all hungry for news but details cannot be disclosed. It is part of our duty not to demand details, but to have an abiding faith that help is on its way….”
The editorial cartoon on the first page, entitled “Heroes All,” showed Uncle Sam telling an American soldier and his Filipino comrade-in-arms, “Boys, America is proud of you!” The text was unabashedly inspirational. “To the thousands and tens of thousands of Filipinos and Americans out there on the front lines America takes off its hat. America is thrilled by their gallant defense, by their heroic stand against tremendous odds, by their stirring feats of valor.
“Here in Manila we may think we are suffering or have been suffering, but we know nothing of the thirst, the hunger, the utter exhaustion, the weariness unto death of the men out there at the front….Stories innumerable of their fearlessness, their fortitude are pouring into Manila. No sacrifice seems too great for them, there is no hazard that they will not dare.
“Among all of them—the Filipinos—there is the consciousness that they are fighting for their homes, their loved ones, their native land. For them they are ready to lay down their lives, and gladly.
“Lacking such inspiration, the Americans, as the world everywhere has come to expect of them, fight not one whit less courageously. Over them flies their beloved flag, proud symbol of ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave,’ and they think of what the folks back home are saying of them.
“No wonder America, yes, and free men everywhere, are thrilled. For these our men, Filipinos and Americans, Americans and Filipinos, out there in the bloody field are writing a dateless page not only in the Philippines but in world history. Heroes All.”
The Free Press reprinted the cartoon editorial in its first issue after the war.
The next seven pages traced the daily progress of the war, from Monday, December 23, when “a huge enemy fleet estimated at 80 transports” was sighted off Lingayen Gulf, to Sunday, December 29, when “Manila was again bombed by Japanese planes and once more, the ships lying in the Pasig River, still there despite the fact that they drew Japanese fire yesterday, were largely responsible for attacks on the open city.
“Beginning at about 11:45 a.m., Japanese bombers carried out an unceasing attack along the Pasig River, with most of the bombs falling on civilian property. The raid lasted until approximately 1:10 p.m. casualties were light since most of Intramuros had been evacuated. However, the bombers inflicted heavy damage. Letran College and the dmhm plant burned down. The Intendencia building was again on fire. Most of the buildings near Letran College and Santo Domingo Church were wiped out by fire. The Naric [warehouse] on the south side of the Pasig went up in flames….”
According to Usaffe headquarters, “the fighting was desultory in the north but very heavy in the south.” The Japanese had reinforced their troops in the north as well as in the Atimonan area, and “continued to advance slowly.” There was “heavy enemy air activity” throughout the country. The British were retreating in Hong Kong and Malaya, but were on the offensive in Libya; the Nazis were suffering “serious reverses” in Russia. In Washington “as well as throughout the [United States], people were horrified by the continued bombing of Manila—an open city.”
The last Usaffe communiqué received and printed by the Free Press was issued at 8:03 a.m. of New Year’s Day: “In order to prevent the enemy’s infiltration from the east from separating our northern and southern forces, the Southern Luzon Force for several days has been moving north and has now successfully completed junction with the North Luzon Force.
“This movement will uncover the free city of Manila which, because of the previous evacuation of our forces, has no longer any practical military value. The entrance to Manila Bay is completely covered by our forces, and its use is hereby denied the enemy.”
The regular editorial page urged President Quezon “to take a day or two off and visit the firing line and sit down with the boys, those young heroes who are fighting like lions…..What an electrifying effect such a visit would have! For days the boys would be talking about it. How they would be nerved to greater feats, to still greater heroism!” Another editorial stressed that the government “keep the people informed of the war situation” to offset the “insidious work of fifth-columnists who are spreading rumors of the wildest nature to terrify and demoralize the populace.” A third editorial noted that “the most encouraging sign in the heroic struggle being waged today is the eagerness of the boys who have been relieved from the front for a day or two, many of them with wounds, to go back to the fighting.” The same page carried a reprint of an editorial from the December 31 issue of the Philippine Herald:
“Japan is racing with time. That is why she has tried to employ Germany’s blitzkrieg tactics in the campaign against Hawaii, Midway, Wake, Guam, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Malaya, hoping thereby to get a firm hold in these regions before American help arrives….
“Our job in the Philippines therefore is to hold the enemy until help from America reaches us. We have held our lines for 23 days, and gained that much time for America to recognize her power for a telling blow against the enemy….”
Staff writer Locsin wrote his impressions of that final week, with a kind of philosophical detachment: “The war has blacked out everything in our lives but a few essentials—books as in my case, the instruments of my craft. A man has few needs, really. Peace multiplies them and gives the superfluous the urgency of the necessary. We confuse indulgence with need. The war leaves man with only the bare wish to survive with honor, the obligation to do one’s work as well as ever, without deterioration, and a new humility….
“The war reveals the parasite, the nonessential man self-confessed. He who does not produce is regarded, with suddenly clear eyes, as an enemy. In peacetime he occupies an honorable position, being then only a thief who is allowed to live on what his neighbors make.
“The war leaves only human values and human worth. It either shows a man or shows him up. Out of this new revelation may yet come a new society—a true society—a society of men.”
The Japanese bombed the city on December 24: “I was in the Wilson building and I had a ringside seat. We saw the bombers—there were nine of them, in perfect formation—gleaming in the sun….There were three strong explosions and the building shook. I crouched against a wall, changed my mind and ran to the window. I saw the bombs flower—as young Mussolini so prettily put it—in Port Area….
On December 28, “the city authorities lifted the blackout order. The city is now open night and day. The people may keep their lights shining. Few did.
“I have just gone out of the house for a breath of fresh air. I saw two or three lighted windows. The rest along the street were dark. Intramuros, however, burning on my left, made up for them.
“The city is lighted up, all right.
“Seven days a week. Three weeks now. Twenty-one days. More coming up!”
An unsigned article, illustrated with a pen-and-ink portrait of fighter pilot Jesus Villamor, paid tribute to “those who fight in the air.” They introduced a new element into the “mechanical, collective murder that is modern war…the personal element of individual skill and initiative….And when they died, they died—not as their comrades on the ground did, in the mud, but amid the stars….
“What do these men of the air, men such as Capt. Jesus Villamor, take with them when they go up, usually outnumbered, to meet the enemy? One likes to think that they take with them the loftiest sentiments of which they, with their unclipped wings, are such stirring symbols. And certainly, in the lull between battles, they must think often and long of the rights and obligations of free men…those ideals that fall so smugly from the lips of our orators.”
The advertisements—the few that found space in the issue—also offered their own commentary on the times. “Uncle Sam has never let you down,” declared an ad of the San Juan Heights Co., J.L. Myers, general manager. “you can be absolutely sure of that! The San Juan Heights Co. wishes to reassure its purchasers that their interests will be protected….Records of purchases are in Uncle Sam’s hands in New York City vaults and he is pledged to protect them. we wish you a new year as happy and prosperous as possible.” The monthly first-prize winners of La Estrella del Norte’s silhouette contest, held from July 1 to December 20, 1941, revealed in their entries the favorite idols of the time: Uncle Sam, Joe Dimaggio, Simon La O, the Ateneo basketball star. Yco offered camouflage paints “to make your factory or building blend with its surroundings,” and presumably save them from enemy bombs.
The last four pages contained “Sidelights on the War.” The lead item reported the death of Buenaventura Bello, president of the Northern Colleges of Vigan, Ilocos Sur, who was shot by the Japanese when he refused to remove the American flag draped on the wall of his home. Two of his sons, noted the Free Press, were serving the Usaffe. There was an account of the Japanese landing at Mauban, Quezon, by Sgt. Regulo Lippago of Abra: “We waited until they were 70 yards and then we let go. We mowed down the first wave, but as the succeeding ones came on and stretched the battle line around the bay we had to retreat. During a two-day period, we halted the enemy four times, twice in the daytime, and twice at night.” As the Japanese approached a town in Tayabas, the mayor ordered his people to evacuate orderly; while the evacuation went on, the mayor continued working “as usual”; he was the last to leave the town. “We were not robbed,” the evacuees told each other, “when we elected this man.” Another town mayor, Nicomedes Suller of San Manuel, Pangasinan, led civilians against a Japanese tank. He was killed, but not before he had clambered up the tank and emptied his revolver into its occupants. “He, too, justified his election.” According to a report from Baguio, “the Igorots know the [United States] is at war with Japan and that all Filipinos are under the solemn obligation to fight the invader side by side with the Americans. Because they are Filipinos, too, the Igorots have armed themselves and are out looking for the enemy to put him out of business.” American bombers attacked Japanese transports in Davao Gulf, sinking one. A number of Japanese planes were shot down over Corregidor. While the fighting raged in Pangasinan, farmers went about their harvesting—“a banner crop this year.” There were more accounts of the “indomitable spirit and courage of our men” in the Lingayen area—a trooper was wounded when he tried to open the hatch of an enemy tank, a company commander routed single-handedly a 30-man Japanese patrol. Thousands of civilians had returned to Manila from evacuation sites in Laguna and Rizal after learning the capital had been declared an open city. Manila Mayor Juan Nolasco appealed to all citizens to “remain calm during the present emergency….”
The last page bore, in boldface, a quotation from US High Commissioner Sayre: “Death is preferable to slavery.”
The back cover appealed to all and sundry to “stop stampeding! don’t get panicky! keep your chin up! show the world we can take it!”
And then, from the direction of Grace Park, Maj. Gen. Koichi Abe marched down Rizal Avenue at the head of three battalions of his 48th Division.
It was four months before the fall of Bataan and the men dying on the road to Capas, five months before the surrender of Corregidor; three years before Leyte, and four before the liberation of Manila and the death of the old city; and two confused crowded decades before Filipino First, the Twelfth of June and Maphilindo. The war ended long ago—“a war not of our own making,” some would remind us now—and we have traveled an almost immeasurable distance since the first bombs fell on Cavite and Nichols Field.
How vast the difference between the country then and now—more than time separates us from the “Keep ’em Flying” posters and “God Bless America,” the soldiers in denim and pith helmets riding off to the front in commandeered buses, and Manila waiting for the drone of planes in the blackout. We have since grown in nationalistic age and wisdom, and the suave slogans and the simple loyalties of that era are perhaps best forgotten, together with the ugliness, the terror. But certainly some memories from 1941 are worth cherishing: the country was still young and unmaimed in spirit, patriotism was not an uncommon virtue, and men believed enough in a way of life to fight for it with courage and honor.
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
by Teodoro M. Locsin
“Do not cry. What is the matter with you? Show these people that you are brave…. This is a rare opportunity for me to die for our country: not everybody is given that chance.”
November 30, 1946–THE dead are many, and the heroes are innumerable. Courage, so rarely evident in peace, in wartime becomes commonplace. Men die gladly and with a will for what they call their way of life, their country, their liberty—although men have died to uphold a tyranny. The enemy, too, have their dead.
Men die in war in many ways. They die in the trenches, in cities under bombardment, in the air—a new kind of death made possible by the genius of the two brothers who launched the first plane—and in the sea, by drowning. These are the common casualties of war. They die in the hope that they would not die, that they might not be hit, that they would escape and live. They die just as they are thinking that the bullet or bomb has not yet been made with their number on it.
It is one thing to be in a trench with other men and have the enemy shooting impartially and not too accurately at all of you. It is not the same as having a gun pointed at you, and to be asked to do what that stern and terrible judge, your conscience, will not let you do.
This is the story of José Abad Santos. A Filipino, like many others. A man, like how few! Perhaps he died foolishly. Uselessly, perhaps he should have done what the enemy asked him to do. Perhaps he should have chosen life—to work in a government imposed on his people by the enemy, to collaborate with the invader for the cause now proclaimed by another man as that of “national survival.” He chose to die. Foolishly, perhaps uselessly. But bravely.
On that there is no issue.
It would have been so much easier—to live.
President Quezon took Abad Santos with him to Corregidor. There he administered the oath to office to the President as his second inauguration. He left the island fortress with Quezon and Osmeña for Negros the day after his 56th birthday.
Before Quezon left for the United States, he asked him if he wanted to go with him or remain in the Philippines. Abad Santos said: “I prefer to remain, carry on my work here, and stay with my family.”
On April 11, 1942, he and his son, José, were captured by the enemy in Cebu. When the Japanese learned that he had been appointed by Quezon to represent him as head of the Philippine government in the islands, he was subjected to intensive investigation. The Japanese blamed him for the burning of Cebu City.
Today his family knows—through an American officer who had taken part in the investigation of the Japanese officers responsible for his death—that the enemy demanded of him two things: to make a broadcast, asking General Manuel A. Roxas to surrender, and to take part and hold an important position in the puppet government.
He would do neither.
“I cannot possibly do that, because if I do so, I would be violating my oath of allegiance to the United States,” he was overheard by his son as replying to the Japanese demands.
Much of his life he had passed judgment and sentence on other men. Now he passed judgment and sentence—his last—on himself.
The Japanese took him and his son to Parang, Cotabato. They were forced to go through jungles with their baggage on their backs. He was, according to his son, all this time in high spirits. He was marching on to death for the Philippines.
The next day they were placed in a truck and taken to Malabang, Lanao. Three days later, a Japanese interpreter told Abad Santos that he was wanted at the Japanese headquarters. There he went to return a few minutes later to his anxious son and to tell him calmly: “I have been sentenced to death. They will shoot me in a few minutes.”
When his son wept, José Abad Santos smilingly admonished him: “Do not cry. What is the matter with you? Show these people that you are brave… This is a rare opportunity,” he went on, “for me to die for our country; not everybody is given the chance.”
The father and the son knelt down and prayed together. The father embraced the son. Then José Abad Santos walked with serene eyes, to his death.
The son heard the volley of shots. That same afternoon the Japanese interpreter took him to the place of his father’s grave. The Japanese, though an enemy, could recognize courage and paid tribute to it.
“Your father,” he addressed the son, “died a glorious death.”
Today José Abad Santos lies in an unmarked grave, but he lives in the hearts of his family, in the memory of his friends, and in the reverence of his countrymen.
United Behind Quezon
July 15, 1939–“AYE!” With a tired roar that echoed hollowly in the dark bowl of the Rizal basketball stadium in Manila, one night last week, the Nationalist party convention approved the proposal to amend the Constitution, so as to allow the reelection of the President.
“Nay!” A half-hearted and scattered cry in opposition went up, after hours of resounding but futile debate.
An undisputed majority sent up an “Aye!” again, the following morning, approving another amendment, to revive the old senate.
The “Nay!” was even weaker.
For three days and nights last week, the party which rules the country met in the stifling shadow of a gathering typhoon to deliver itself of a series of historical mandates to its members in Malacañan, in the Assembly, in the cabinet, in every important office of the government. The mandates, expressed in resolutions, were to:
1. Change the Presidential term from one six-year period, to two four-year periods;
2. Revive the old bicameral legislature;
3. Create an administrative body to take charge of all elections;
4. Revise local governments to make them more, responsible and efficient (presumably, along the lines of the Quezon plan for appointive mayors and governors);
5. Readjust the three-year terms of assemblymen, provincial and municipal officials, so as to make them fit the new four-year presidential term;
6. Reaffirm loyalty to the coalition platform, including independence in 1946;
7. Request President Quezon to call a special session of the Assembly;
8. Ratify Presidential and Assembly action on the JPCPA report;
9. Congratulate President Quezon for his social justice program, and to request him to remain in office (that is, take advantage of the reelection amendment);
10. Congratulate Party President Yulo for his handling of the convention;
11. Increase the representation of governors in the Nationalist executive commission, from five to 12, thus putting them on a par with the Assemblymen.
The Sheep and the Goats
The convention was opened formally by Speaker Jose Yulo, in the afternoon of July 6. The morning had been devoted to the dry, and unexpectedly confused, routine of approving the credentials of the delegates. Every assembly district had been allowed three delegates, outside of the assemblymen themselves, and the provincial governors.
However, in many cases, the assemblyman and the governor concerned had not been able to agree on the delegates to be chosen, and had each appointed a separate set of three. This mix-up was unsolvable at the last minute, and the party heads decided to recognize everyone. Speaker Yulo, as president of the party, was reported to have signed the credentials of about 900, instead of the original 500, delegates.
But this large-scale hospitality had its limits. Efforts were made to exclude delegates known to be hostile to the amendment proposals. Paulino Gullas, a member of the 1934 constitutional convention, a delegate from Cebu by appointment of Assemblyman Hilario Abellana, faced ejection by party officials at the last moment. But the ouster had started too late; Gullas’ credentials had already been signed together with the others.
It was needless however to separate the sheep from the goats. The overwhelming majority of the delegates were under implicit specific instructions to vote in favor of the amendments. Several assemblymen opposed to the movement, among them Abellana, had not even bothered to attend the convention. The La Union assemblymen, reported to be antis at first, heatedly denied any convictions along that line.
Even Mrs. Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay, the daughter of that stolid revolutionist and oppositionist, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, and herself a Popular Front candidate once upon a time, loudly proclaimed in advance her intention to vote for the amendments. Mrs. Suntay is a member of the Cavite provincial board; she campaigned for Manuel Rojas, the rebel Nationalist candidate for the Assembly, last year, and has apparently joined the now controlling Rojas branch of Cavite Nationalists.
The only opposition was expected from Lanao Assemblyman Tomas Cabili and his three delegates. Cabili, the only member of the constitutional convention who refused to sign the Constitution, apparently was now, by an ironic turn of fate, its sole defender.
So that when Speaker Yulo rose to address the convention at the end of the first day, he faced an audience that was in almost complete agreement with everything he was going to say, and he faced, beyond the audience, a nation which had almost always been in complete agreement with everything his party had said.
“The leaders of our party,” he read from a prepared script, “conscious of our duty and responsibility to the nation, have seen fit that at this juncture we should pause and evaluate the progress of our preparation for the day [July 4, 1946], and for the days that are to come thereafter, and decide whether under the surrounding circumstances, the political order that we have established can lend assurance to the accomplishment of the ideals so patiently and reverently waited for by our people.”
Such an evaluation, he continued, has “led our leaders to feel the necessity of the continuance of the present order, particularly as regards the leadership of the man who has laid the foundations of the Commonwealth government, and put into practice the new social justice policies enunciated in our Constitution. Unfortunately for us,” said the Speaker pointedly, “we are confronted by the provisions of our Constitution, which would not permit such an eventuality.”
What was the Constitution doing? It “unnecessarily curtailed the right of the people to a free selection of the chief magistrate of the nation,” for it prohibited reelection of the President. It was “depriving the people of the right to change the chief magistrate for a long period of time namely six years, a period of time which, in the hands of an unscrupulous president, may lead the nation to decadence or destruction.”
The remedy? It was “the free and untrammeled exercise of the right of suffrage!”
Only one paragraph did the Speaker of the Assembly devote to the bicameral proposal, which would shear his house of half of its power. “And no less important,” he said, “is the necessity of guarding the nation against the possible onslaught of radical theories, now the preoccupation of many nations—and this can be met by effecting conservative reforms in our legislative body.”
The thunder of agreement that signaled the end of the party president’s exhortation forecast the quick approval of the “reforms.”
Next day however there was unexpected opposition. Cabili had announced he would not speak against the Constitutional amendments. But a foe, far more dangerous and eloquent than the Lanao assemblyman, one who had attacked presidential reelection long and loudly on the floor of the Assembly, had taken his place.
Leading the three delegates from his district, the fiery Batangas gamecock, Eusebio Orense, crowed a challenge. For two days, he and his three men, would strike many a sharp blow against the party leaders. And with him worked Gullas, annoyed by the attempt to oust him.
One of the Batangueños, former Rep. Rafael Villanueva, started the fireworks by challenging the legality of the convention. The delegates had not been appointed, he argued, as provided by the party rules—by municipal and provincial conventions. The objection was swiftly and irrevocably tabled.
Assemblyman Pedro Hernaez, smarting under a recent party snub, questioned the presence of Popular Fronters (Mrs. Suntay) in a Nationalist convention. Again the objection was buried.
The delegates scrambled over one another to file resolutions supporting the Constitutional amendments. A resolutions committee of 36 members, under Secretary of Justice Jose Abad Santos, had to be named to coordinate all these enthusiastic efforts.
“As A Free Man”
The committee reported out an omnibus resolution for the amendment of the Constitution with regard to reelection and the senate; the revision of local governments “with a view to making them more responsive to the actual needs of the people, thus rendering such governments more responsible and efficient”; and ratification of the coalition platform.
The party rebels made a brave show of speeches against the resolution, when it was submitted part by part to the convention, but they were crushed by a well-organized majority. Orense spoke in vain.
Villanueva denounced the reelection proposal as undemocratic and expensive; he sneered that the Assembly had started the movement in payment of President Quezon’s efforts for their reelection last year. So incensed were the legislators by this accusation that they persuaded the convention to strike Villanueva’s remark from the record.
Gullas gave the key speech for the rebels. “This is a free country. I shall speak and vote as a free man,” he began to a flutter of applause. “This resolution permitting the reelection of the President with a shorter term, with retroactive effect, is couched in general terms. The purpose is clear.
“This resolution is indeed a tribute to the leadership of President Quezon. I have voted for that leadership. I am following that leadership. But I shall vote against this resolution; for, in principle, I voted against it on the floor of the constitutional convention; because the constitutional precept prohibiting a presidential reelection was inspired by President Quezon, and the Constitution containing such prohibition was unanimously approved by that convention and overwhelmingly ratified by the Filipino people. I am voting against the resolution because I wish to be consistent with myself….”
FREE PRESS Poll Quoted
“Only a few days ago,” argued Gullas, “a straw vote conducted by the FREE PRESS, a non-partisan and widely read weekly in the Philippines was concluded. The result was against reelection. Of course, it is not an absolute indication of how the public will vote. But it clearly shows which way the wind blows. It is a barometer of the sentiment of the people. Like a finger on the pulse, it counted, as it were, the heartbeats of the nation.
“If that is not sufficient, two months ago, a debating team from the University of the Philippines toured the country from north to south, from east to west. The members of that team will tell you that in practically every town, the home team selected to defend the negative side of the question of presidential reelection. They will tell you that the public reaction in practically every city they visited was decidedly against the reelection of the President.
“What does it all mean? It means that the public wants you to give the Constitution a fair trial. They want the Constitution to reflect the stability, not the instability of our government; they want the Constitution to be permanent, and not transitory; enduring, and not reflecting the passing whims of the leader or party that may happen to be in power.”
The best heads and tongues of the party rallied to the defense of the amendment; sponsored on the floor by Assemblyman Jose Zulueta.
Assemblyman Pedro Sabido eloquently answered the argument that a second term might mean President Quezon’s death, by saying that the life of the nation was more valuable than the life of the President. Assemblyman Gulamu Rasul pledged the Moro people for reelection. But it took golden-tongued Manuel Roxas, drafted at the last minute, to swing the convention behind the proposal with cheering unanimity.
The vote on the proposal was by acclamation. Four delegates, however, were allowed to register dissenting votes afterward; all of them, Orense, Villanueva, Eusebio Lopez and Felipe Dimaculañgan, were from Batangas.
The rebels later denied that Yulo had invited all who had said “Nay” to put their opposition on record. Many who had raised a voice against reelection preferred to remain more or less unknown.
The party went quickly after the four marked men. Convention officials discovered that Dimaculañgan was not a bona fide delegate. Mayor Juan Buenafe of Batangas, Batangas, wired the convention: “The municipal council and the people of this town protest against the appointment of anti-reelectionist delegates. . . . We are unconditionally for reelection.”
Elections in 1939?
The reelection plan however seemed to have suffered a change. The old proposal was to hold the second election in 1941, when Mr. Quezon’s six-year term will be finished. He would then serve for two years of the new four-year term and then resign. However the plan now is apparently to hold the election this year, at the end of Mr. Quezon’s first four years, thus reelecting him for the full new four-year term.
The next morning, the convention took up the remaining resolutions, most important of which was the one on senate revival. Again Villanueva rose to object, supported by Iloilo’s Serapion C. Torre. The success of the unicameral Assembly, they argued was undeniable; why change the system?
But the only successful amendment to the amendment was one leaving the nature of the resurrected senate undecided; the President and the resolutions committee had advocated a senate-at-large. Other factions however wanted one senator for every province, or the revival of the old senatorial districts.
So headlong was the rush toward approval of the resolutions that Zulueta felt obliged to point out that the convention had no authority to change the Constitution; it could only suggest such changes to the Assembly or a constitution convention.
The Yes-men were in the immense majority, and when President Quezon arrived to close the convention, Saturday evening, he was greeted with a spontaneous roar. Moved by the demonstration, His Excellency repeated what he had told the Assembly in May: he was unwilling to serve more than eight years in all; he wanted to follow the precedent of George Washington.
He argued more at length on the need of a senate-at-large; it is believed, in fact, that one strong reason why Mr. Quezon is willing to go along on the reelection proposal is to secure the companion constitutional amendment for a senate.
But the strongest reason he gave at the end of his speech. “The only thing that I am afraid of,” he confessed, “is that after I leave the presidency the country may be divided, not along political lines, but on the choice of my successor. The country is not prepared for a great division among our people.”
There was indeed little fear of division as long as Manuel Quezon was President; the united tribute of the convention proved it once more. And if the Constitution is amended, the country need have no fear until 1943.
July 21, 1923
Details of Cabinet Crash
Chronological Summary of Past Week’s Events Culminating in Resignation En Masse of Philippine Cabinet and Council of State
THE growing feeling of dissatisfaction on the part of Filipino leaders in the government with the attitude of Governor General Wood, particularly with regard to the executive branches of the government, culminated last Tuesday evening in the resignations of the five Filipino secretaries of department and of Senate President Quezon and Speaker Roxas as members of the council of state. The resignation were accepted by the governor general.
The differences of opinion over closing the branches of the national bank, and over suspension of penalties for late payment of the land tax had already resulted in notes of protest being sent to the governor general by Senator Quezon, but the immediate cause of the wholesale resignations was the crisis brought about by the case of Ray Conley, suspended secret service detective accused of bribery and other charges. The special investigating board appointed by the governor general recommended on July 12 that Ray Conley be reinstated. In accordance with a previous agreement between Governor General Wood and Secretary Laurel, Conley was reinstated, but immediately after favorably indorsing the order of reinstatement the secretary resigned, stating that he could not have under his department a man whom he considered dishonest, and in view of a subsequent report of the special committee, stating that the continuance in the service of Conley was inadvisable. Mayor Fernandez resigned on the same day, last Saturday.
Gov. General’s Statement on Conley Resignation
On Monday Ray Conley handed in his resignation, which was accepted directly by the governor general, who made the following general statement:
“I recognize the right of Secretary Laurel and Mayor Fernandez to take action on the Conley case and advise me on this matter, but I do not believe their action or their advice should be final insofar as my own criterion of the merits of the case is concerned.
“True to the agreement I had with the secretary of the interior, I ordered the reinstatement of Conley in view of the first report of the investigating committee which stated that I may reinstate him.
“In explanation of the apparently conflicting stand taken by the investigating committee in its last report, the members pointed to the advisability of the separation of Conley from the service in view of the circumstances surrounding the affair and of the general hostility provoked by the case.
“Conley has submitted his resignation, and it has been accepted. Only two charges against him were proven and neither affects his efficiency as a police officer. The two charges are that he is keeping a woman and that he made certain false statements.”
By this time, however, affairs had reached such a stage that the resignation produced little effect in calming the agitation. The same day members of the cabinet, together with Senators Quezon and Osmeña, Speaker Roxas and several members of the legislature conferred in Senator Quezon’s home and a tentative agreement was made to submit their resignations. Several conferences were held during Monday and Tuesday between the principal parties concerned.
The Final Crash
On Tuesday morning the cabinet finally came to an agreement to resign after considerable discussion, particularly between Secretaries Laurel and Santos. The latter made numerous attempts to reach some agreement between the governor general and the Filipino group, but his efforts as intermediary proved useless, and about four in the afternoon, Senator Quezon, accompanied by Senator Osmeña, Speaker Roxas, and Secretary Abad Santos, went to a conference with the governor general that lasted over two hours, but without favorable result, and at 10:30 in the evening the cabinet members (excepting Secretary of Public Instruction Gilmore) accompanied by Senator Quezon and Speaker Roxas went to the Malacañang and submitted their resignations, which were accepted immediately by Governor General Wood. The resignation of Mayor Fernandez had been accepted earlier in the afternoon.
Appeal to Harding
In addition to the letter of resignation, Senator Quezon issued a statement announcing his intention of appealing to President Harding, and a cable was sent, giving the causes which led to the cabinet resigning en masse, and stating that a delegation would be sent to the United States to expose personally to the President the alleged disregard of important rights and prerogatives heretofore granted to Filipinos. A meeting of the Independence commission has been called for next Monday to make more definite plans for such a delegation.
Vacancies Filled Temporarily
The executive department of the government is not, however, at a standstill, for the undersecretaries automatically took over the duties of the superiors, and at a meeting decided that for the present at least, they would not resign. Acting Secretary of Justice Luis Torres was on Wednesday appointed also to the position of acting secretary of the interior, as Governor Julian Ocampo has not yet accepted the post of undersecretary offered him last week.
City Engineer Artiaga has been appointed acting mayor, and the municipal board at a meeting Wednesday evening promised their cooperation.
Attitude of Democratas
Leading members of the Democrata party have held several meetings during which was discussed the attitude they intend to take regarding the situation. After a gathering held in the home of Judge Sumulong on Wednesday evening it was announced that a formal meeting would be called for this evening, at which the following viewpoints of leaders would be discussed:
By Judge Sumulong: That this question should not be considered national, its origin being too insignificant, as it concerns a simple detective. It has been taken advantage of to provoke this question, as a result of which no one but the secretary of the interior should have resigned.
By Representative Ponce Enrile of Cagayan: That the coalition party be asked if in reality it is a national issue, because in case it is, an effective form will be asked, namely, the resignation of all undersecretaries and bureau chiefs—in other words, bring about a complete paralyzation of the government.
By Representative Padilla of Bulacan: That the Democrata party should clearly define that this is not a national question, and that the Democrata party should be entitled to two of the positions vacated, that of the secretary of the interior and that of the mayor of Manila on the ground that the majority of the provincial governors elected are Democratas and the municipal board of the city is wholly composed of Democratas. However, these positions should not be accepted now unless the Democratas are invited to occupy them as a result of abandonment by the Coalition group of their posts.
By ex-Representative Montenegro of Manila: That the Democratas accept whatever positions may be offered to them. What is happening here is exactly the same as in other countries: a cabinet resigns and another of different political affiliation is formed.
It was reported by Democratas present at Wednesday’s meeting that some members of the Manila police force, who were stationed around Judge Sumulong’s house, tried to enter the building, but after a conference with the chief of police Thursday morning
Officials here believe that Wood’s differences with the Filipino officials are due to the determination of the radical Philippine independence party to divest him of most of his powers over internal administration.
His decision against immediate separation of the islands from American control did much to strengthen antagonism despite his efforts to protect Filipinos from a reckless waste of their resources and their exploitation by self-seeking interests.
When Wood assumed control two years ago he found the islands in a state fast approaching bankruptcy as a result of extravagant appropriations of a wasteful administration.