The Good Fight, by Manuel L. Quezon
CHAPTER XI: THE JAPANESE ATTACK
ON MONDAY, the 8th of December (in the Far East), between five and six o’clock in the morning, my valet woke me up in my home in Baguio and said that Secretary to the President Vargas (Jorge B. Vargas) was calling from Manila over the long-distance telephone and insisted that he had to talk to
me on a most grave and urgent matter. I felt in my bones that war between the United States and Japan had broken out. Nothing of less importance would have made Secretary Vargas feel justified in disturbing my sleep, for he knew I was in Baguio to recover from illness.
I took the telephone by the side of my bed and said: “George, what is on?”
“Mr. President,” came the answer, “Pearl Harbor has been bombed by the Japanese and war has been declared.”
“George, you are crazy,” I retorted. “War may have been declared but the Japanese would never dare attack Hawaii! You are joking, Pearl Harbor is the best defended naval station in the world. Where did you get that nonsense?”
“Both the United and Associated Press have telephoned me, and General MacArthur has confirmed the report,” he said.
“Do you know what has happened?” I asked.
“Nothing definite, but it seems that the surprise attack has had disastrous effect.”
“Tell General MacArthur that I am coming down to Manila to-day and tell Colonel Nieto [my senior aide-de-camp] to rush up to Baguio immediately. Keep me constantly informed of everything.”
“Yes, sir,” answered Secretary Vargas and I hung up.
Baguio was the summer capital of the Philippines. Located there is what is called “The Mansion House,” a modern building built and rebuilt by American Governors-General. It is on the top of a hill and the views from the Mansion are wonderful. A park with pine trees, flower gardens, ample lawns, a few fountains, an artificial lake, a tennis court and bridle paths form the beautiful grounds, in the center of which stands the summer Executive Mansion. I seldom stayed in this official residence. Mrs. Quezon in 1930 had built a house in Baguio, and year by year she gradually made of it a comfortable and attractive home. It is located on one of the nicest sites overlooking the city and the Burnham Park. The greatest attraction to Mrs. Quezon about our house was the modest imitation of the Grotto of Lourdes built inside the grounds. It took me a full month to convince Mrs. Quezon that she should leave our home in Pasay, outside Manila, for the historic Palace of Malacañan in Manila, but I never succeeded in making her go and live at the Mansion House in Baguio.
So when Vargas telephoned me I was with my younger daughter, Zeneida, spending a few days at our private house.
After the telephone conversation, I couldn’t go back to sleep. For several months, I had been almost certain that war with Japan was inevitable in view of the positive stand taken by the United States vis-a-vis the so-called “China Incident” and the announced Greater East Asia policy of Japan. Indeed, I feared that war was an early probability when, upon the departure of Ambassador Nomura, Foreign Minister Matsuoka made a speech before the Japan-American Policy Association which could only be interpreted to mean that if America did not recede from her stand on the pending question, Japan would resort to war between the two governments. Matsuoka spoke no longer of merely the Greater East Asia policy, he
spoke also of the co-prosperity sphere which, ambiguous as it may read to the uninformed, was plain enough to those who watched with open eyes Japan’s expansionist moves. It was a positive assertion on the part of Japan that she would not tolerate Dutch restrictions of the amount of oil she might want to purchase from the East Indies — nor, for that matter, would Japan recognize anybody’s right to deprive her of a pound of tin or rubber of tin which she might desire. As it seemed to me, the co-prosperity sphere — after the Japanese incursions into, and seizure of, much Chinese territory — and the reference to the Southern Pacific, meant this much: that the Tanaka plan for the military expansion of Japan by land
was being carried out and was about to be supplemented with the navy plan covering the conquest of the innumerable islands, large and small, in the Southwestern Pacific.
Whether Japan would have gone to war with the United States on all and every one of the above-mentioned issues, it is not important to discuss now. All I want to say is that in the appointment of Ambassador Nomura, I saw the last peaceful gesture of Japan in her diplomatic negotiation with the United States. In fact Matsuoka’s speech said as much when it was stripped of its verbiage.
There was, however, a questioning my mind that I could not satisfactorily answer. How could Japan fight America, potentially the strongest nation on earth? Japan, already poor in material resources, had been weakened by her war on China, according to the generally accepted view. Of one thing, though, I was certain. If Japan decided to go to war she would attack the United States without previous declaration
of war. Such had been her policy when fighting any first-class power. Hence my insistence on preparing the Philippines for every eventuality as soon as I saw signs of what might come. But while I expected the surprise attack, it never occurred to me that Pearl Harbor would be the chosen target.
Therefore, the news from Vargas simply dumbfounded me. I saw at once that Japan was fully prepared for war to a degree that not even the experts had suspected. The gravest situation was confronting the Philippines.
Even so, it was not until I learned of the report of Secretary Knox, after his visit to Pearl Harbor, that I began to fear that no help could come to us in the Philippines from the United States. Secretary Knox’s report, as given out, contained only very general information, but it was sufficient to make me reach this conclusion.
Before seven o’clock, my valet came again to my bedroom. A woman reporter from the Philippine Herald wanted a statement from me. I took a pen and a piece of paper and wrote these words:
“The zero hour has arrived. I expect every Filipino — man and woman — to do his duty. We have pledged our honor to stand to the last by the United States and we shall not fail her, happen what may.”
Then I called over the long-distance telephone to my wife who, as usual, was at our rice farm in Arayat, busy making of it a sort model farm and, at the same time, a profitable investment. With my wife were my two other children –Maria (Baby), my elder daughter, and Manuel, Jr. (Nonong), my only boy.
I gave my wife the bad news and advised her not to worry about it for everything would come out well in the end. I told her also that I was driving down that night to take her and the children to Manila with me.
After this conversation, I went down to have my breakfast. Major Speth, a retired American officer whom I had appointed Vice Mayor of the City of Baguio, and Mr. Sylvester, the American engineer who succeeded Mr. A. D. Williams in the Civilian Relief Administration, were in the living room waiting for me. I had sent for Mr. Sylvester the day before to come up from Manila to study the safety of the air-raid shelters that were being built in Baguio. At the breakfast table was my daughter Zeneida. I greeted her with the news that Pearl Harbor had been attacked by the Japanese. “Daddy, how dare those Japs. . .!” she exclaimed.
The drone of airplanes was heard overhead. I asked Mr. Sylvester to go out to the porch and see whether those planes were ours, or of the enemy. He came back with the heartening news that they were American bombers. “Let us see them,” my daughter suggested, and we followed her to the porch.
Ten thousand feet high in the air were flying seventeen planes in V formation. Before we could express our joy, we heard the explosion of bombs.
“Sylvester, how could you have mistaken those for American bombers?” I shouted. My chauffeur entered the porch carrying in his hand two bomb parts that dropped in front of my house when the bombers passed over it. Fifteen minutes later, Major Speth’s chauffeur, stained with blood, reported to us that he had taken some people from Camp John Hay to the hospital. War had reached the Philippines!
I had Secretary Vargas called immediately to the telephone and I told him to inform General MacArthur that Camp John Hay had been bombed.
“Summon a meeting of the Council of State* for tomorrow at 9:00 A.M.,” I ordered.
*The Council of State is the highest advisory council of the Chief Executive of the Philippines. It had been created by Governor-General Harrison. It came to an end during the administration of Governor-General Wood. It was revived by Governor-General Stimson, and I gave it more importance after my assumption of the presidency.
After talking to Vargas, the Mayor of the City of Baguio, Mr. Valderosa, a Filipino, came to receive instruction if I had any to give.
“Just tell the people to be calm and follow the instructions previously given in case of air raids,” I said.
Hardly was I through conversing with the Mayor when more bomb explosions shook my house. These time bombs had fallen outside Camp John Hay, not half a mile from my place. The house of a Filipino was wrecked and the owner’s head blown off.
Major Speth then approached me and suggested that we go out of the house to a less exposed place. We went to the other side of the road where there was a pine forest and sat down under its cover. Once again, we saw at a distance the Japanese bombers flying over Baguio as unmolested as if they were flying over Japan. At last I decided to take my car and go through the town to see how the people were behaving. Filipino Christians and Igorrots alike, they did not seem to be unduly alarmed although they had never before been in a real bombing. They walked in the streets and attended to their business as soon as the sirens blew the all-clear signal.
While I was on my way to the main street of the city, Colonel Segundo of the Philippine Army, Commandant of the Military Academy in Baguio, reported to me the damage done at Camp John Hay. “How are your cadets?” I asked him. “They are all right, sir,” he answered. Since there were no air-raid shelters either at Camp John Hay or at the Academy, Colonel Segundo had ordered the cadets to disperse under the pine trees with their rifles and ammunition belts whenever the air-raid signal was given.
After the ride through the city, we went to the house of Major Speth which could not be seen well from the air and spent the rest of the day there. Once in this house, I sent for the Major of the Constabulary who had been charged with the duty of rounding up the Japanese nationals as soon as war broke out. He reported having performed his duty.
By noon, I was again called to the phone by Secretary Vargas.
“The Japanese,” he said, “have bombarded Clark Field and the whole place is now afire,”
“What are the American planes doing?” I inquired. Vargas did not know nor did I direct him to find out the answer. Up to this day, I never addressed that question again to anybody, for reasons that I shall state in the proper place.
My aide-de-camp, Colonel Nieto, arrived in Baguio late in the afternoon and gave as the reason for his delay that the road between San Fernando and Angeles was clogged with traffic due to the bombardment of Clark Field. He said that the whole camp was ablaze.
As the sun was coming down behind the high mountains of the Benguet road, my automobile ran down the zigzag way to Manila. How could I foresee that it would take a long time before I could go back to Baguio again?
The eagerness of the Filipinos to fight, as well as the utter ignorance of our recruits and policemen at the beginning of the war as to how futile it is to try to kill, with rifles and shotguns, the Japanese flyers, is revealed by the following instances: In my house in Mariquina there were some soldiers of the presidential guard. Whenever they saw airplanes passing, flying low over my place, they would fire at the planes with their guns which, of course, made them targets for the Japanese machine guns from the air. At last it became necessary for my aide, Colonel Nieto, to stay among the soldiers to prevent them from committing this kind of near-suicide. The same thing was done by Filipino soldiers stationed at Camp Murphy, located about one kilometer from my house. The worst case, however, was that of a policeman
in Quezon City who, on seeing a plane passing only a few hundred feet over his head, drew his revolver and fired a shot at the plane. He was instantly killed by the aviator.
On my way to my farm in Arayat, which is about two hours by car from Manila, General Francisco, the Chief of the Constabulary, accompanied by the Constabulary Commander of Central Luzon, Major Rafael Jalandoni, met me on the road as I had previously directed them to do. I asked them to follow me to my house on the farm where I intended to discuss with them the general situation.
As I reached the balcony of the house where my wife was anxiously awaiting my arrival, I saw in the west a big fire and asked Major Jalandoni: “What is that?”
“The effect of the bombing of Clark Field,” he answered. “Some hangars and some of the fuel stores have been hit, but most of the planes escaped, since those that were destroyed were only dummies, according to my information.” Such also was the information obtained by General Francisco.
I greeted my wife who told me that the children were already fast asleep. Then in a corner of the balcony I listened to the report of General Francisco. He had ordered that all the Japanese nationals in the Islands be taken to concentration camps, but be treated well. Our own people, he said, were loyal, although he was keeping watch on the Sakdalistas (members of an organization headed by Benigno Ramos, a well-known pro-Japanese) lest they might turn fifth columnists. I reminded General Francisco that in agreement with the American military authorities, the Philippine Constabulary, under my direction, would continue to be responsible for the maintenance of public order and would assist the Civilian Emergency Administration in carrying out the measures which had been promulgated for the protection of the non-combatant population. General Francisco assured me that as far the Constabulary assignments were concerned, I could be certain that the men under his command would prove equal to their duty. After instructing General Francisco to take necessary precautions so that at any time day and night I might be able to get in touch with him, I gave him leave to return to Manila.
To Major Jalandoni, I said: “Jalandoni, you know that much as I regretted dispensing with your services as my aide, I decided to have you appointed to your present post because most of the disturbing elements of Luzon are to be found in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija. I rely upon you to see to it that peaceful citizens are protected against robbers.” The little fellow, only about five feet, four inches high but decorated for extraordinary valor in action, stood up at attention and said with evident determination: “I shall not disappoint you, sir”
I left the balcony to call Secretary Vargas on the telephone.
“Any more news, George?” I asked.
“Nothing more, Mr. President,” he answered.
“Well, I am spending the night here at my farm and will continue the trip to-morrow morning. I want to have meeting of the Council of State at eleven o’clock. Make sure that Secretary Sison is present so that I may be fully informed of the measures that are being taken by the Civilian Emergency Administration. I also want former Secretary Manuel Roxas* to attend the meeting.” My telephone conversation with Secretary Vargas ended my official conferences on that long and distressing day.
*Manuel Roxas had been my Secretary of Finance, but had presented his resignation to be a candidate for senator. He had been elected by one of the largest majorities that any senator had received. He was, and if he is still alive, must certainly now be, one of the most outstanding Filipino leaders. He had been governor of his province when still a very young man and was elected Speaker of the National Assembly at the expiration of his first term as governor and was one of my strongest supporters until we broke our political association in 1934, on the occasion of our disagreement over the acceptance or rejection of the Hare-Hawes- Cutting Law by the Filipino people. Upon the inauguration of the Commonwealth Government and after the Nationalist Party had again reunited under my leadership, I trusted him with some of the most difficult and complicated problems that confronted the Commonwealth, with most satisfactory results.
I went to bed after chatting with the family. With my wife there were at the farm her two sisters, my niece Mary, and, at this moment, all our children. Around four o’ clock in the morning, I was awakened by the noise of airplanes passing not very far away. I did not make a move for I assumed that those were our own planes reconnoitering. After an early breakfast, we moved on to Manila, the family forming quite a caravan. I went directly to my house in Mariquina to which I had moved from Malacañan Palace in December, 1940, when I had fallen ill. It is a country home situated on the cliffs overlooking the Mariquina river, with mango, papaya, banana and orange trees, and a poultry yard. It was one of the fine results of Mrs. Quezon’s industry. Adjoining this plot, I had another lot of about fourteen acres which I turned over to the refugees from Germany, for their use free of charge, except for the payment of the land tax, for a period of ten years. I had informed the State Department that I would receive several thousands of these
refugees in the Philippines and I started to demonstrate my faith in the policy I had adopted by making my own personal contribution to their care.
The first thing I learned on my arrival at my house in Mariquina was about the bombing early that morning of Nichols Field. The flames and smoke could be seen from the tower of the house. So I concluded that the airplanes that had awakened me at 4 A.M. were Japanese planes flying towards Nichols Field outside Manila.
Before noon of December 12, 1941 , I received a telephone call from General MacArthur to inform me that he was sending his aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Colonel Huff, to see me on a very important and urgent matter. I told the General I would see his aide immediately. I was in my house situated on the cliffs overlooking the Mariquina River. When Colonel Huff arrived, he told me that General MacArthur wanted me to be ready on four hours’ notice to go with him to Corregidor. I was shocked. I never imagined that I would ever have to take refuge on Corregidor. I had known for years that the fortress of Corregidor had been built as the last stronghold of the American forces in the Philippines and as a safe refuge for American Governors-General in case of grave danger. But it had never crossed my mind, even after the war had started, and Japanese control of the air had been definitely demonstrated, that there would ever come a time when I bad to go to Corregidor. I was no American Governor-General, but the Filipino President of the Commonwealth. It is true that while Major General Grunert was still in command of the
Philippine Department, United States High Commissioner Sayre, in one of the conferences that I held with him and General Grunert, brought up the question of the evacuation from Manila, in case of necessity, of both the High Commissioner and the President of the Commonwealth. It was Mr. Sayre’s opinion that we should be in the same locality. But I made it clear to both Commissioner Sayre and General Grunert that I felt it my duty to remain in the midst of my people, at whatever risk, because my presence would help to keep up their morale. General Grunert understood my feeling and thought it was right. Moreover, nothing was said in that conference to indicate that a Japanese invasion of the Philippines was a possibility as long as the American flag was still in the Islands.
After the appointment of General MacArthur as the Commanding General of the United States Army Forces in the Far East on July 26, 1941 , Commissioner Sayre again and again brought up with me the question of our evacuation. He proposed that he and I should hold a conference with General
MacArthur about this matter, but I always refused to take the initiative for this conference, and the High Commissioner failed to bring it about.
I was, therefore, wholly unprepared for the startling message from General MacArthur. I asked Colonel Huff to inform General MacArthur that I would see him that night at the Manila Hotel, that I would arrive at the rear entrance, so that we might meet without being seen by any one. After eight o’clock that night,
I went through the unlighted streets of Manila to the darkened “Winter Garden” of the Manila Hotel — an air-conditioned hall where, before the war, people used to dance during hot tropical nights. Colonel Huff was there waiting for me, and, upon my arrival, immediately went for his chief.
General MacArthur gave no signs of being worried. He was perfectly calm and composed. I asked him the meaning of his message, and he explained that he was only preparing me for the worst in case the Japanese should land in great force at different places, in which case, it would unwise to keep our small army scattered all over Luzon. It was General MacArthur’s plan — as I understood him — if such a situation should develop, to concentrate his army in the Bataan Peninsula and on Corregidor where he was determined to fight until the end.
“But, General,” I demurred, “why would I have to go to Corregidor in that case? The military defense of the Philippines is primarily America’s responsibility and not mine. I have already placed every Filipino soldier under your command. My own first duty is to take care of the civilian population and to maintain
public order while you are fighting the enemy.”
I further said: “Were I to go Corregidor, my people would think I had abandoned them to seek safety under your protection. This I shall never do. I shall stay among my people and suffer the same fate that may befall them.”
General MacArthur was not in the least ruffled by my answer. He simply said: “Mr. President, I expected that answer from such a gallant man as I know you to be.”
He tried to convince me that it was not a question of running away from my countrymen. He reminded me of our agreement to declare Manila an open city, to avoid its destruction by enemy bombs and also to save the civilian population from the cruel effects of modern warfare. He pointed out to me that so far the Japanese had only been bombing military objectives and that if they should continue to follow that practice, as under international law they were bound to do, when we left Manila there would be nothing there to require my presence.
Then I asked: “Do you mean, General, that to-morrow you will declare Manila an open city and that some time during the day we shall have to go to Corregidor?”
He gave me a most emphatic no answer. He did not even seem to be certain that we would have to leave the city at all. He informed me that the force under the command of the Filipino General Capinpin had succeeded in preventing the landing of the Japanese in Lingayen Gulf, about one hundred miles to the
north of Manila. Evidently he was only preparing me in advance to leave the city on four hours’ notice. Noting, I suppose, that I still hesitated, he reminded me of the fact that the safety of my person was not a mere personal matter, but of great import to the Government of the Philippines of which I was the head.
He asserted that it was his duty to prevent my falling into the enemy’s hands. He was also of the opinion that as long as I was free, the occupation of Manila, or even of the Philippines, by the Japanese Army would not have the same significance under international law as if the Government had been captured or
My parting words that night were: “General, I shall convene to-morrow the Council of State and hear their views,- then I will let you know my decision.”
In the course of the conversation, I had asked General MacArthur whom I could take with me in case I should decide to go to Corregidor with him. He told me frankly that conditions in the fortress did not permit the evacuation of many civilians to that spot. Therefore, I could only take such officials as I considered absolutely necessary, and also my doctors in view of the bad condition of my health. However, he advised me strongly to bring my family along.
Two other persons only were present while the conference was taking place — my inseparable aide-de-camp, Colonel Nieto, a strong chap who had many times taken me in his arms like a child whenever I was too sick to go up a staircase, but not sick enough to obey my doctor’s order to stay in bed, the other man was Lieutenant Colonel Huff, aide-de-camp to General MacArthur. Neither of them heard what was said
between the General and me.
When I got home, I called my wife aside and repeated to her everything that General MacArthur had told me. I wanted her advice. She felt that it would be very painful to leave and be away from our people. “But this is war,” she said, “total war — and the Military Commander should know better what should be done to win it.
“The winning of the war,” Mrs. Quezon added, “is the only question before us. Nothing else matters.” I agreed. She had put her finger on the right spot.
“How about you and the children — will you come with me?” I inquired. Instead of answering my question she asked me another: “What do you want us to do?”
“I want you to remain here. The Japanese will respect you and treat you with every consideration. I have always dealt with their nationals in the Philippines with courtesy and justice. And you have done the same.”
Mrs. Quezon answered: “I shall do as you wish, but my preference is to be with you. Remember the sacred words, ‘For better or for worse, in sickness or in health till death
doth us part.’. . .
“However,” she counseled, “let us think the matter over to-night and to-morrow we should hear what our children have to say. They are grown up enough to be heard.”
On the following day and before the meeting of the Council of State which I called for eleven o’clock, the family council took place. Every member of the family was willing to do as I wished,-but, like their mother, who had said nothing to them of our conversation the night before, they preferred to go with me wherever I went.
Despite this unanimous sentiment on the part of my family, I was still determined not to subject them to the horrible life that I knew would await us on Corregidor once we were beleaguered there.
At eleven o’clock that morning, I held my first meeting with the Council of State after the Japanese attack on the Philippines. Almost everyday I held those meetings until my departure for Corregidor.
It is simply unbelievable how the average Filipino reacts in the presence of peril. All the members of the Council came on time to attend the session, not one showing the slightest sign of either fear or worry. I felt ashamed of myself, for I knew I was both afraid and worried.
Those present at the meeting were: Vice-President Sergio Osmeña, Speaker Jose Yulo, Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos, Majority Floor Leader Quintin Paredes, Secretary of Finance Serafin Marabut, Secretary of Justice Jose P. Laurel, Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources Rafael Alunan, Secretary of Commerce and Communications Sotero Baluyot, Secretary of Public Instruction Jorge Bocobo, Secretary of Labor Leon Guinto, Secretary of Health Jose Fabella, and Secretary to the President Jorge B. Vargas, who was also Acting Secretary of National Defense. The former Secretary
of Justice, Teofilo Sison, who was then at the head of the most important war organization of the Commonwealth, the Civilian Emergency Administration, was of course present, as well as the Chief of Staff of the Philippine Army, General Basilio Valdes, and the Chief of the Philippine Constabulary, General Guillermo Francisco. Senator Roxas also came in the uniform of a Major of the Philippine Army, inducted into the service of the United States. This Filipino official, one of our most able, upon the creation of the Philippine Army in the first year of my administration, with other members of the National Assembly entered the Military School for Officers in Baguio and he with the others had been commissioned
as reserved officers of the Philippine Army. On learning of the declaration of war between the United States and Japan, Senator Roxas asked to be called into active service and was appointed by General MacArthur his liaison officer with the Government of the Commonwealth.
At the meeting of the Council of State, I addressed myself first to General Valdes to find out if the whole Philippine Army had already been inducted into the service of the United States, what their total strength was, where they were distributed, etc. I also wanted to know from him the strength of the United States Army then stationed in the Philippines. General Valdes reported that on September I, 1941, ten divisions of the Philippine Army were inducted into the United States Army, that of these, seven divisions were in Luzon, two divisions in Visayas, and one division in Mindanao, a total of eighty thousand men, that the United States Army consisted of ten thousand Americans and ten thousand Philippine Scouts. Then I asked General Francisco to report the actual number of the Constabulary Force, the steps he had taken in accordance with previous instructions, and such other information as he might have. General Francisco informed us that he had about six thousand men distributed in the provinces of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, that he had given orders to round up all the Japanese and to take them to internment camps. He also mentioned the splendid service that was being rendered by the volunteer guards which had been organized by the Civilian Emergency Administration in every city town, and barrio in the Philippines, and placed under the supervision and control of the Constabulary. These
men, according to General Francisco, were working day and night without compensation, guarding the roads and bridges against possible sabotage, and were also helping in the evacuation of the civilian population from dangerous zones that had been so designated by the Military Command.
After hearing the reports of the two Filipino general officers about their respective assignments, I requested former Secretary Sison to inform the Council of the activities of the Civilian Emergency Administration. He confirmed what General Francisco said about the magnificent work that the
volunteer guards were doing, pointing out the fact that they were receiving no compensation. He also reported that in the air raids of the day before against Clark Field in Pampanga and that morning against Nichols Field in Pasay, no heavy casualties had been suffered by the civilian population for the Japanese had bombed only military objectives, and those with surprising accuracy. I asked Secretary Sison the situation as to food supply, and he said that Dr. Victor Buencamino, the Food Administrator, had ample supplies in store, and that he had no fear the people might be starved even if the Japanese blockaded the Islands for several months.
At this point, the Secretary of Agriculture, Mr. Alunan, intervened and reminded us of what we already knew about the results of the policy which a few months before we had adopted, namely to make the people plant short-time crops. Secretary Alunan was optimistic as far as this aspect of the war situation was concerned. Secretary Guinto of Labor expressed gratification over the wholehearted cooperation
that the labor elements were extending to the war efforts of the Government. Then I turned to Speaker Yulo, the chief member of the Council of State after the Vice-President, and asked him if the National Assembly would convene according to law to certify the results of the general elections which had just been held.* The Speaker answered that the majority of the members of the Assembly were already in Manila. I informed Speaker Yulo that I would call the National Assembly into special session to consider war measures. I adjourned the meeting of the Council of State to convene again the following day at the same hour unless sooner called by the President. Air raid or no air raid, the Council met every day until my departure for Corregidor.
*In the general elections, the President, Vice-President, Senators, and Representatives for the ensuing administration had just been chosen, and the National Assembly, under existing law, was to convene in December to certify the election returns.
I issued the call for the special session and I am proud and thankful to say that the members of the National Assembly attended to their duties despite the daily visits of Japanese planes over Manila. When it became evident that we were completely helpless against air attack and that it was most unlikely the Philippine Legislature would hold its next regular session which was to open on January 1, 1942, the National Assembly passed into history approving a resolution which reaffirmed the abiding faith of the Filipino people in, and their loyalty to, the United States. The Assembly also enacted a law granting the President of the Philippines all the powers that under the Philippine Constitution may be delegated to
him in time of war. This act would become invalid unless re-enacted after a certain period had elapsed.
During luncheon, Maria, my elder daughter, asked my permission to organize her girl friends for the purpose of soliciting public contributions to buy Christmas gifts for the “boys at the front.” In the Philippines, public contributions may not be solicited except with the permission of the Government, to avoid racketeering. I applauded the idea and gave my consent.
Maria and her friends, Helen Benitez, Lulu Reyes, my other daughter, Zeneida, my nieces Mary and Charing, and a large number of girls from the Philippine Women’s University, the Centro Escolar University and Catholic colleges, worked every day, first to solicit contributions and later to make up
packages in the Social Hall of Malacanan. How I admired those young girls wrapping up their packages even while the air raids were going on. God bless them! The Philippines Herald and the Tribune helped the girls with their publicity campaign. The last thing that my daughter Maria did before leaving Manila was to give instructions for sending these gifts to the boys at the front. Indeed, due to this fact, we departed from Malacañan and not from our house on the Mariquina on our hazardous voyage to the south, which finally ended in Washington D.C.
In the first week of the war, although I continued to have fever every night and was being either carried in somebody’s arms or pushed about in a wheel-chair, I visited the Philippine General Hospital when I heard that many men, women, and children had been wounded in a very severe air raid on Camp Nichols. With me came my aide-de-camp, Colonel Nieto, my daughter Maria and my son Manuel, Zeneida having
remained home with her mother. As we passed through the streets of Manila and its suburbs, with the presidential flag flying on my car, the people shouted, “Mabuhay — long live America, the Philippines, and President Quezon!”
In front of the headquarters of the Philippine Army there was a long line of young men waiting for their turn to enlist. It seems that the very defenselessness of Manila made these young men the more eager to fight the invaders. I stopped my car, made a sign to silence their cheering, and said, “My boys, I am proud of you,” and went on. Later I learned that even after Manila’s fall and after our forces in Luzon had
retreated to Bataan, the Filipinos in the other Islands were seeking to enlist in the Philippine Army. If we had only had the necessary number of rifles, there would have been no lack of Filipinos to use them.
At the Philippine General Hospital, Dr. Antonio G. Sison, the Dean of the College of Medicine of the State University as well as the director of the hospital, met me in his physician’s gown, stained with blood. He looked very serious and said: “Mr. President, there are already here many wounded and many more arriving.” No more competent physician or executive have I ever known in my life than Dr. Sison. Besides all this, he has both the physical and moral courage that make heroes of men. He was also my family physician. Placing me in a wheel-chair, he led me through the corridors to see the suffering victims. Doctors and nurses were all at work. Fortunately, since the inauguration of the Commonwealth Government, I had given special attention to hospital facilities. All over the Islands new hospitals had been built and the Philippine General Hospital in Manila had been practically doubled in capacity, equipment, and personnel. So this institution was ready to meet the unexpected demands upon it.
After leaving the hospital, I continued my drive and visited other sections of the city until nightfall. Seeing the effect that my presence had upon the people, I did the same thing on different days after the air raids, until I was compelled by circumstances beyond my control to leave Manila.