(With the governor and the mayor, September 17, 2016. Photo courtesy of Penn T. Larena.)
One of my favorite themes is the “Landscape of Memory,” which comes from a book by Simon Schama. In Manila our penchant for renaming streets, and demolishing landmarks, robs us of the ability to situate past events in our present landscape. You do not have this problem here in Dumaguete. I envy you for this, but for many other things as well: the way in which your literary community continues to be dynamic; your physical environment continues to be healthy; and how the city government has put heritage on its agenda for development.
I first encountered Dumaguete in a book titled Betrayed and Befriended, it was published by New Day in 1970, the year of my birth, and was written by James F. McKinley with Elizabeth M. McCabe. McKinley was dean of the College of Theology at Silliman, and with the outbreak of the war, escaped to the hills to escape the Japanese. Twenty-six months of adventures followed, until the McKinleys were able to escape by submarine to Australia.
Today’s centennial leads us to the question, why a park named after this person, and why at this particular time, a century ago? The coming Centennial of the Senate of the Philippines this October gives us the answer.
Washington, August 29, 1916: President Wilson has signed at 10:30 in the morning the Jones Law.
In August, 1916, the question of Philippine independence was settled –it would be a matter not of if, but when. The enactment of the Jones Law meant that independence would be ours once Filipinos could prove that we were “capable” of “self-government.” The Philippine legislature would become all-Filipino with the creation of the Senate. In Manila, the Quezon Gate was opened up in Intramuros across from Letran; here, this park was established as an act of celebration and commemoration.
Today let me focus on three stories.
Since I have mentioned the landscape of memory, here is a glimpse of Dumaguete courtest of the Diary of Francis Burton Harrison. Writing on June 12, 1936, he observed:
At Dumaguete from 4-5 p.m. to allow four Visayan Assemblymen to disembark. Quezon again put Osmeña forward to receive the honors. The President took Speth, Assemblyman Villanueva and me by motor out to see the hot springs. Many attractions in this neighbourhood. They have a “Baguio” at 3000 feet on the extinct volcano–very rich soil, and 70,000 people in or near the town; Quezon agreed that there is sufficient population here to make a chartered city with a decent hotel, this could be developed into a tourist resort. There is a crater lake, also limestone caves which are a great site for archaeology–evidences of iron, gold and sulphur exist hereabouts. They have a successful Methodist university, the Silliman… There are many mestizas in Dumaguete–it appears that when the Spanish liberals were exiled to Mexico, some of them drifted out here and to Zamboanga. Quezon remarked that they did a good job!
Here is the second story. On November 3, 1938, President Quezon visited Dumaguete and gave a speech at the Public Plaza. In this very park, this very place.
I found it interesting and let me read two excerpts from the speech to show you why.
This is the first part. Quezon said,
The Government is one thing and political parties another. Political parties are constituted for the purpose of organizing men who have the same political ideals and of helping party office seekers secure positions. Political parties are mere instruments of the people with which to choose their officials. But when, after an election, a man is elected through the efforts of one political party, he becomes the chosen official of the people, no longer the chosen official of the party. If a political party tries to use the men who belong to it and who occupy official positions to foster its aims and promote its interests, that party is unworthy of the confidence of the people. Once a man is chosen to occupy a public office, he is no longer the servant of a party, but the servant of the whole people. Therefore, it is the duty of every provincial governor, as it is the duty of every municipal mayor, and, above all, the duty of the President of the Philippines, to regard themselves as servants of the people only, and not as servants of the party to which they belong. As such servants of the people, it is their duty to do justice, to comply with the law without favor to anyone—even to those who are closest to them for political or personal reasons.
Then came another part, a little later in the speech, which explains the little sermon I just read to you. Some of the names, by the way, will still be familiar to you. Along the way, you will get an idea of the Quezonian style.
Two days ago I informed the governor that I was coming here and that I wanted to meet all the provincial as well as the local officials. I have just been in Cebu where I had done the same thing; I notified the governor that I was going there and wanted all the provincial and municipal mayors to meet me in Cebu. One of the mayors of Cebu, a friend and partisan of Secretary Cuenco, did not come and I suspended him from office. He had been told by the Governor that I was coming and that I wanted to meet the mayors, but he did not come. Perhaps he thought that because he belonged to the party of Secretary Cuenco I would forgive him. Secretary Cuenco is one of the members of my Cabinet. He is not only one of the members of the Cabinet but also one who has been loyal to me politically for many years. Besides that, Secretary Cuenco is a man who has my confidence and my support. But Secretary Cuenco has been unable to save his mayor; I suspended him. The same thing happened here this afternoon. Four mayors did not come; I have suspended them. My friend, Mr. Medina, has come to me and intervened on behalf of these mayors. He tells me that they were out and did not receive the call. On the other hand, the Governor tells me that he sent word to them. Well, I want to know who is the recognized chief of this province, Mr. Medina or the Provincial Governor.
(And here, the transcript records the public shouting,”Teves!”) To which Quezon continued,
It is Strange that the municipal mayors should notify Mr. Medina where they are and not notify their governor where they can be found. If these mayors believe that there is somebody in this province who can protect them when they do not comply with the law, they are mistaken. The immediate chief of the mayors is their governor, and a mayor who does not comply with the order of the governor when the order is legal, will be removed from office by me.
(Here the transcript recorded, “Applause.”) Quezon continued,
I suppose if an American governor-general had come here and sent for those mayors, they would, have come to meet him. Let every Filipino know that the President of the Philippines has at least as much authority as any American governor-general ever had, and that a Filipino President of the Philippines is entitled to the respect and obedience of the citizens of this country because his office came from the people themselves. Perhaps I should have thought that the absence of those mayors was due to some good cause. The mere fact that Mr. Medina knows why they are absent gives me reason to believe that their absence is due to political reason. And so I am going to remove … no, suspend them. The worst that can happen to our people, once given the right to choose our own officials, is to be incapable of giving them due respect and consideration. If there is any man who believes that the Government we now have is a joke, he had better think it over again. This is a government duly constituted by the votes of our own people, a government that will impose its authority against everybody—and against the world if necessary.
(Again, the transcript records, “Applause.”)
To which Quezon concluded,
I would never have accepted the position of President of the Philippines if I were not able to enforce my authority.
Which brings us to my third story, one that binds all of you here with all of us in our family, so very deeply.
Four years later, in March, 1942, Quezon would be back in Dumaguete but under very different circumstances from his campaign visit four years previously.
Some background. On December 24, 1941, the Commonwealth had evacuated to Corregidor. They stayed in Corregidor until February 20, 1942, when they were taken by submarine from Corregidor to Antique.
The submarine USS Swordfish which brought the Commonwealth War Cabinet to the Visayas from Corregidor.
MLQ in pajamas onboard the USS Swordfish, as Capt. Chester Smith points to their route on a naval chart showing the Visayas. Nonong Quezon also in pajamas, looks on.
MLQ gives Capt. Smith a skeptical look, onboard the USS Swordfish.
Maria Aurora Quezon on board the USS Swordfish.
Maria Aurora Quezon and Fr. Pacifico Ortiz, SJ on board the USS Swordfish.
Maria Zeneida Quezon looking tired, on board the USS Swordfish. Behind her can be seen Gen. Basilio Valdes, Secretary of National Defense in the Commonwealth War Cabinet and Chief of Staff of the Philippine Army.
Maria Zeneida Quezon in a lighter moment on board the USS Swordfish.
Maria Zeneida Quezon on board the USS Swordfish. This photo was particularly useful in helping to identify these pictures as in fact having been taken while on board the submarine.
Gen. Basilio Valdes, Chief of Staff of the Philippine Army, Secretary of National Defense in the War Cabinet of the Commonwealth. He kept a diary throughout their escape from Manila to Washington.
Vice President Sergio Osmeña looking serene on board the USS Swordfish.
How the photos were identified when they were found a couple of years ago: comparisons of public domain photos of Commander C.C. Smith, skipper of the USS Swordfish, with the photos of him talking to MLQ.
Items in the background of the photos matched almost perfectly with surviving examples of near-contemporary US submarines.
Items in the background of the photos matched almost perfectly with surviving examples of near-contemporary US submarines.
Andres Soriano, at that point Treasurer of the Philippines in the wartime government of the Commonwealth, begins our story. This comes from Philippines Magazine Vol. 2 No. 1 (August 1942):
IN THE ISLAND OF NEGROS the President made his headquarters for nearly a month. Members of his government scattered to the nearby islands, where they organized local resistance to the Japanese, and arranged food shipments to the beleaguered American and Filipino troops on Bataan.
The President was in frequent communication with General Mac Arthur and his staff on Corregidor. but was not informed in advance of the Genera’s orders to go to Australia. On March 17, I flew from Del Monte, in the southern island of Mindanao, to Bacolod. I had seen the General board a Flying Fortress the day before, and had brought a letter from him. In it General MacArthur invited the President to join him at his new headquarters in Australia. The President immediately accepted.
Now Quezon, in another article in the same magazine, takes up the story:
“About midnight, we drove down to the pier for our rendezvous,” President Quezon recalled later. “The PT boats had not arrived yet. Instead, I found a telegram from General Wainwright, advising me to cancel the trip because a number of Japanese destroyers had been reported cruising in the Mindanao Sea that day. Obediently, we turned around and drove back toward the place where we were staying.
“A few minutes later we were overtaken by a car that was literally flying up the road. A tough-looking sea wolf, wearing a heavy black beard and a fierce expression jumped out and introduced himself as Lieutenant Bulkeley.
“‘I most strongly urge you to reconsider,’ he told me. ‘I guarantee to get on through safely to Mindanao.’
“This voung pirate was so self-confident and seemed I decided to disregard General Wainwright’s warning. I was ready to let Bulkeley try to take me past all the Japanese destroyers in the world. Of course, if Bulkeley had come to me in his shore uniform and without his beard, as he did in Australia the next time I saw him, I would never have put my life in his hands. Shaved, he looked like such a youngster.”
Now let the article itself continue the tale for us:
But it was Bulkeley’s equally cool courage that saved the entire group from death before morning.
Nearly 100 persons owe their lives to the quick work of Bulkeley, Ensign George Cox, Jr. of Niagara Falls, New York, Chief Torpedoman James D. Light of Vallejo, California, and Torpedoman First Class John L. Houlihan Jr. of Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts.
The story of that perilous moment at night in the Mindanao Sea is told best by the Navy Department.
“The safety of all on board was threatened at one juncture,” this statement reported, “when heavy seas broke the retaining pins of two torpedoes, leaving the deadly missiles partly out of their tubes, their mechanism set for action. All were faced with death.
“Lieutenant Bulkeley, Ensign Cox, Chief Torpedoman Light, and Torpedoman Houlihan calmly set about to release the torpedoes. Despite the heavy seas sweeping flie small boat, the four made their way aft and employed a hammer to motivate the firing mechanism. The torpedoes plunged into the ocean.”
Writing a few months after these events, Francis Burton Harrison, recorded the version Quezon told him on June 22, 1942. It fleshes out some of the terse details in both Soriano’s and Quezon’s published accounts:
Told the story of his shift in plans during his escape to Australia in going from Dumaguete by speed boat with Lieutenant Bulkeley across to Mindanao. Wainwright had wired him that there were five Japanese destroyers in the straits, and it was inadvisable to go now–better to postpone. But Colonel Soriano together with Major Fernando of the Philippine Army Air Corps had just spent several hours in one of those old planes off Negros waters. They had sighted only one Japanese destroyer, which at 6 p.m. had gone off towards the Sulu Sea. So, after midnight, when he and his family, having received Wainwright’s warning message, had gotten nearly all the way back from Dumaguete to Bais (20 miles), Soriano caught up with them in the dark, and he and Bulkeley advised Quezon to turn around again and take the chance of getting across that night to Mindanao. Quezon accepted.
In his diary, Ramon Alcaraz on March 22, 1942 heard the following through the grapevine:
Pres. Quezon is still wavering on whether he will leave the Philippines or not and is hiding somewhere in Negros Oriental about 100 miles north. Alarmed and greatly disturbed by this report MacArthur summoned Lt. John Bulkeley and ordered him to locate and “persuade” Quezon to join them at Del Monte with Lt. Col. Andres Soriano as guide and a few men of Gen. Sharp to assist. Using PT-41 and PT-35, Bulkeley and Soriano were able to locate Quezon hiding in Bais, Negros Oriental. At first, Quezon refused to budge and it took some “persuasion” by a pirate looking Bulkeley for Quezon and party to finally relent and board PT-41 & PT-35.
On their way to Cagayan de Oro, PT- 35 went aground and her passengers were transferred, packed like sardines that upset Quezon, to PT-41. Military Honors was rendered by Gen. Sharp on Quezon upon arrival at Cagayan de Oro Wharf. MacArthur lost no time placating the hurt feelings of his Compadre and so before midnight of March 16, Quezon and party boarded a B-17 at Del Monte and headed for Australia. Shortly, thereafter, MacArthur and party boarded another B-17 that took them to Bachelors Field where he declared his famous “I Shall Return” on March 17.
By this time, of the original 6 PTs, only PT-41 of Bulkeley’s PT Squadron remains. Lt. Bulkeley was left behind and given instructions by MacArthur to reconnoiter the Southern Cotabato Coast for possible Allied landing sites when MacArthur returns as he intended.
Which brings us back to the events as they were actually happening, courtesy of Gen. Basilio Valdes, who kept a diary during their escape from the Philippines. Here is the same series of events recorded as they happened. His entry, for March 15, 1942 gives us a sense of the constant movement and constant hide-and-seek with the enemy, taking place:
Attended Mass and received Holy Communion. We received news of destroyers (enemy) moving on the east coast of Cebu. In the afternoon we received a flash that an enemy destroyer was patrolling the channel between Guimaras and Negros. Stopped a while in front of Pulupandan. Vice-President Osmeña suggested we leave early. I tried to delay the departure to obtain more news. Two enemy planes flew twice over our house apparently observation planes trying to examine the coasts for ships. At 6:15 p.m. we left for San Carlos. When we were near Vallehermosa I saw a Philippine Army Lieutenant and two enlisted men looking at the Tanon Channel/Strait. I inquired from them if they had any news. They said that an enemy cruiser had entered the Southern portion of the Tanon strait and had anchored in front of Tampi. Two enemy planes were circling over the ship. Suddenly one of them dove into the sea and disappeared. Probably due to engine trouble. We proceeded to Vallehermosa and went to the Headquarters of the unit commanded by Colonel Ballesteros. The information given was confirmed. They further told me that our boat the Princess of Negros had left San Carlos and was hiding behind Refugio Island. We proceeded to San Carlos. When we arrived I received two telegrams one from Colonel Hilsman advising us that the trip was not safe, and another from President Quezon ordering us to cancel trip. We saw the Captain Panopio of the boat and he told us that he would try to escape and hide the boat elsewhere. We returned to Panubigan at 9:30 p.m. Flashes kept on coming, keeping us awake till 1:00 a.m.
Here Valdes brings us to the Great Dumaguete Escape. His diary entry for March 18, 1942:
We left Panubigan at 8:30 a.m. Arrived at Bais Sugar Central at 12:30 p.m., tired and sleepy. Slept a good siesta until 3 p.m. When the President sent for me. Worked decoding some telegrams. At 10:30 p.m. Left Bais Central for Dumaguete arriving at about 11:30 a.m. We waited for Soriano who had gone to Zamboanguita to meet the U.S. Navy torpedo boats. We boarded the torpedo boats at 3:30 a.m. On board were the President and his family, Vice-President Osmeña, Major Soriano, Colonel Nieto, Major Cruz, Captain Ortiz and Miss Labrador. In the hurried embarkation because the Captain of the boat was in a hurry, many members of the party left their suitcases on the dock. We started at 22 knots an hour and soon we were making 30. As we entered the open sea it became rougher and the boat at times hit the water with tremendous force. Suddenly we heard a small explosion followed by a noise of exhaust vapor and the interior of the torpedo boat became impregnated with the smell of burning gun powder. There was a commotion among the crew. Suddenly, the Captain rushed to the place where the noise came from and in a few minutes he had the trouble under control. During the commotion Soriano told the President to come out and breathe fresh air and he refused saying: “No, I want to die next to my wife and children.” When the captain came up to the command tower he told us that the connection to the torpedo had been detached due to the rough sea and it had set the torpedo for explosion. What he did was to shoot the torpedo out, loose, at a cost of $10,000.00. That was a narrow escape. Had the torpedo exploded we would have been blown to pieces.
So by this time, from Soriano, Quezon, and Valdes, we have the story. But there’s more.
Original caption reads: “At Dumaguete Lieutenant John Bulkeley picked us up with motor torpedo boat late on the night of March 18. The trip was rough but we landed safely, early the following morning, at Oroquieta, on the north shore of the great island of Mindanao.” (Photo from Philippines Magazine, Volume 2 Number 1 – 1942.)
From the stories of adults, let’s include one eyewitness account by a young teenager.
Wartime advertisement showing the PT Boat of Bulkeley to good effect.
That young teenager was my father. Near the end of his life he wrote down his recollections, and here is a portion I’d like to share with you:
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.
Now if there’s something our family appreciates, it’s a sense of humor. Here is another, related, story from my dad’s recollection of their escape:
(This photo is prewar, not from March, 1942. Most likely it is a photo from 1937-1939 taken while disembarking from one of the inter-island steamers of the time. But shows MLQ with that habit of covering his face with a handkerchief.)
In the early morning light, we were put ashore in Misamis Oriental in Oroquieta. 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.
(MLQ with John D. Bulkeley in the United States. Bulkeley also ended up evacuated to Australia by Flying Fortress, and was brought to the United States where he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. He would participate in the D-Day landings in June, 1944.)
And let me now bring the tale full circle, back to Andres Soriano who continues the tale:
The trip was rough but we landed safely, early the following morning, at Oroquieta. on the north shore of the great island of Mindanao… After only a brief pause we continued to Jimenez, then to Dansalan, and from there proceeded to the headquarters of General Sharp, where we waited a few days for the planes that were to take us to Australia, Three Flying Fortresses dropped down on our field at dusk on March 26. We boarded them about midnight, and nine hours later we were breakfasting in Northern Australia. Even there the President’s party was not entirely safe from the Japanese. While having breakfast we re- ceived word that a flight of bombers was heading our way. We soon were in the air again, heading for Melbourne, by way of Alice Springs, where we spent a night.
ARRIVING SAFELY at the United Nations headquarters in Australia. President Quezon rejoined General MacArthur five weeks after leaving Corregidor.
(MLQ and MacArthur reunited in Melbourne, Australia. Life Magazine photo.)
(Maria Aurora Quezon, Mrs. Jean MacArthur, Mrs. Aurora Quezon in Melbourne, Australia. The fatigue of the escape from the Philippines is clear on their faces.)
These eyewitness accounts give us an insight into how people remembered these events when still fresh in their minds, and how they recorded them as they happened, or looked back on them after decades had passed. Let me add there is one more source, which was a New York Times story from the time by Nat Flotd. It gives us many more details: how Bulkeley impatiently set off from Mindanao to go to Dumaguete; how, upon arriving in Dumaguete, the PT boats, originally meant to be in Zamboangita, discovered it would be impractical to pick up passengers there; how they moved to the dock; and other details down to what each passenger was wearing at the time. This telex copy of the article comes from the papers of Andres Soriano:
Here are the relevant extracts from the New York Times story:
…Fifteen hard fighting fire tested men of United States Navy leaped to dock at tiny Mindanao port dawn morning as motor torpedo boat nosed in after four hour dash through ring Japanese ships. In motley dress and beards of Captain Kidd’s pirates these tough young Americans walked businesslike precision towards end pier with array Tommy guns riot guns pistols rifles at ready. Crowd curious natives kept off pier saw Quezon step from deck to trunk and climb three feet higher onto dock.
President stepped landward after third leg trip from Corregidor. Wore two light leather jackets riding breeches black leather bedroom slipper. Concerned because wife be unable climb dockward Quezon silent as sailors brought planking. Landing among aides in thin light of overcast sky he gazed toward village eighty thatched and iron roofed bamboo nipa houses set in middle coconut grove stretching out sight both sides and fading into mountain background. Hollywood never produced more perfect scene never selected cast more perfectly never costumed actors with more abandon nor set fast paced action against more sweeping picturesque setting.
Within few minutes family remainder party appeared deck seventy seven foot seagreen craft crossed makeshift gangplank advance ragged formation townward. Major Andres Soriano in charge party led way followed by presidential aide Lieutenant Colonel Manuel Nieto closely followed by trusted loyal friend then President Quezon Major Doctor Trepp. Mrs. Quezon accompanied by Chaplain Ortiz she wearing dark blue dress white figures dark serapelike shawl wrapped shoulders. Daughter Zeneida white schoolgirl dress blue spots walked wearily head down braided hair swinging. Drowsy eyed son Manuel Jr. scupped along khaki shorts. Daughter Aurora (Baby) strode head up light green pajamalike slack suit dark jacket talking Miss Aurea Labrador housekeeper also slacks. Osmeña sharp contrast party crew stepped briskly in trim peagreen topcoat dark green suit matching Homburg. Osmeña walked with uniformed Major General BJ Valdes. Rear helping sailors with baggage was widely traveled valet Ahdong.
Quezon family went immediately into first house after passing through silent staring crowd villagers all white clothe. No word sign recognition passed between crowd and member party ensuing minutes took Soriano find car take family home local headman for brief rest before attending Mass at town’s church then proceeding automobile trip inland.
Ferry job across hundred miles rought black water carried out by Lieutenant John Bulkely US Navy and officers crews two motor torpedo boats. Trip touch and go several times during night but seamanship grit luck brought party through safely.
Bulkeley informed just before sunset his Mindanao anchorage three enemy destroyers seen during afternoon in waters near Oriental Negros destination. Told unordere go but could own responsibility. Trusting speed darkness armament Bulkeley shoved off dusk sailing dead reckoning moonless night making destination twenty minutes ahead time. Squadron flagship PT41 accompanied PT35 into small dark cove answered unintelligible flashes light beachward. Shouts brought natives out in outrigger banca shiny skinned Filipino crawled aboard proving be fisherman who served more than nine years US Navy.
Soriano came aboard second banca… Soriano had seen report destroyers neighborhood but he flew observation biplane four hours before dark saw only one. Meanwhile decided impractical embark party cove asked Bulkeley go fourteen miles Dumaguete dock. While lying-to PT35 blinked message. Signalman 41 read aloud as came “ – — bottom” last word in rush at higher pitch. 35 backed engines pulled off found had hit fish trap and floating planks utter darkness. Hull planking parted boat making considerable water. Pulled alongside 41 crewabandoned 35 which allowed drift beach for salvage by beach guard.
Skipper Ensign Anthony Ankers Journton Texas and Los Angeles morose over loss boat but executive officer Bond Murray Danielsville Georgia and crew unregretted that moment because previously feared overworked engines fail seaward where rescue highly improbable.
41 with two oversize crews aboard turned out cove ran Dumaguete reaching midnight five hours after Japanese destroyers approached four hundred yards dock while two others waited outside harbor. Soriano been prevented landing Dumaguete 5 PM account destroyer lying between plane and runaway. He went other island refueled returned relocated ships watched leave Mindanao Sea steam into Sulu Sea.
When 41 reached Dock Quezon party in town but left account message Corregidor advising delay voyage account destroyers. Returned 35 kilometers temporary residence. Soriano Bulkelely with Vice President Osmeña and General Valdes followed automobile top speed rough coconut tree lined island road. After consultation party reentered caravan ten cars started back Dumaguete. Soriano took responsibility being able report personally on his aerial observations which made himself account unwanting accept report any eyes except own…
Quezon stepped from leading car on dock took three pages foot gangplank 0245. Standing beside Bulkeley peered intently group men nondescript garb dirty faces almost frightening in starlight said hoarse voice “Who are these people?” Satisfied with Bulkeley’s “These men my crew Sir.” After making certain wife children okay dockward went aboard saying “Someone will have [to] hold me” rickety plank.
Soriano busy half hour getting party aboard sorting baggage some which left but Treasury engraved plates loaded. Soriano gave word 0315 Bulkeley ordered skipper George Cox Watertown New York get underway. Souther Cross third way up sky as heavily loaded boat roared seaward slapping spray over crews gripping handrails deckward [and] Soriano Nieto other hardy members party open pilot cockpit. President rode enclosed pilot house walking up down during few interludes relatively smooth riding otherwise in sturdy rattan armchair. Mrs. Quezon Chaplain Ortiz sat nearby prayed most four hour dash. Prayers answered when boat imperiled twenty minutes offshore came through safely while officers considering advisability dropping couple torpedoes lighten load tremendous jolt from heavy sea broke retaining pins both aft torpedoes. Torpedoes slid half out tubes hung there with mechanism working raising temperature “hot run.” Akers port deck kicking warhead attempt dislodge partially successful when 41s torpedoman James D. Light Vallejo California reached tube fired charge sending torpedo on into sea. Starboard side 35 torpedoman John Houlihan Chicopee Falls Massachusetts who sitting tight knot men amidship deck lee machine gun turret realized danger when tube started hissing. Fought way aft through men rushing forward he tugging special hammer his wet pocket. Houlihan reached tube fired impulse charge with blow hammer shooting torpedo remainer way extube. Bulkeley also ran tubeward arriving time hold Houlihan keep from going overboard while wielding hammer. Although undanger explosive detonating seamen crowded deckward feared equally disastrous explosion compressed air flask which part propelling mechanism. Tense moment soon ended but commotion aroused curiosity passengers below. With deck again safe Soriano’s reassuring voice rang down through packed compartments “Nada nada nada.”
Remainder voyage uneventful though very rough. On reaching quiet waters near destination dock whole party crew took deep breaths relief. Soon Quezon climbed pilot house into cockpit his face showing weariness from hard nights journey but eyes still full fire.
Quezon party left Corregidor month ago went Island Panay submarinewise. Later crossed narrow strip water to Negros small interisland boat which since been captured.
Japanese converted their use.
I have shared these stories because by doing so, a story dear to us now belongs to you too, for we are bound together by these experiences, I would not be here today if it weren’t for the part Dumaguete played in these events.
As a postscript, in July, 1946, Quezon’s remains were brought back to the Philippines and he was reburied in Manila in August, 1946. At that time memorial services and requiem masses were held throughout the country. Here are two photos of Dumaguete in mourning –for the man who had made part of his great escape from its dock.
“The Requiem Mass given by the Municipality of Dumaguete to our beloved late President Manuel L. Quezon.” Circa July-August, 1946
“The Requiem Mass given by the Municipality of Dumaguete to our beloved late President Manuel L. Quezon.” Circa July-August, 1946. Moonlight Studio, Dumaguete