WWII DIARY OF
COMMODORE RAMON A. ALCARAZ
Nov 5,1942. Go Beng's Truck came to pick me up at 0830 three days ago (Nov 3) at my Tennessee residence for my trip to N. Vizcaya. It was a pleasant surprise to see Mr Go Beng himself who told me he was going to Tuguegarao. Before bidding my wife goodbye I introduced her to Mr Go Beng, then started our trip with me seated in the front seat with Mr Go Beng and the driver. There were five other passengers accommodated with the merchandise area. I developed a good rapport with Mr Go Beng who owns six trucks trading merchandise from Manila to Cagayan Valley. Trucks like he has are rare with shortage of fuel and travel very slow with the mixture of alcohol and gasoline as fuel. We finally arrived in San Jose, N Ecija (after a short stop in Cabanatuan for lunch) at 5:00 P.M. or eight hours that normally only takes four. We stayed overnight in San Jose and early the following day, Nov 4, we were climbing the rugged Cordillera Mt towards Santa Fe, the first town of Vizcaya. The area we just passed is an excellent place for ambuscade, reason for not traveling at night. We then passed the town of Aritao and had lunch in Bambang after which we proceeded to Bayombong arriving at Bayombong Hotel at 1400H.
While checking at the hotel, the Manager, Mr Verzosa, handed me a note from Lt Col (not Major anymore) Manuel Enriquez that he wanted to see me ASAP. I have an excellent accommodation and at 1700H, Pablo Naval knocked at my door and once inside, told me the bad news that LCol Nakar and his men were captured by the Japanese at Jones, Isabela area and that LCol Enriquez took over the command while the rest of the units are on the run. Naval told me that Enriquez wanted to see me ASAP and since he knows where he is, I agreed to go as soon as it gets dark. He had a caretela ready and took off towards Solano as soon as dusk fell. At barrio Bonfal, we debarked, walked about two kms westward and arrived at the place where I will meet Enriquez. It is 9:00pm and I waited another half hour at this place which is at the foot of the mountain, where a group of men that included Enriquez arrived.
Manolo Enriquez was excited and embraced me like a long lost brother. Needless to say I was very happy and grateful. He then introduced me as Major Alcaraz, handing me my appointment with the 14th Inf. He said it was unfortunate Col Nakar was captured but we have to carry on the mission. I was to Command the new N. Vizcaya Bn to compose the company under Capt Guillermo Aban and the company under Capt Fernando Asuncion together with the BC Company. Capts Aban and Asuncion were introduced to me and then we moved to another room for confidential intructions and info that include the fact that the 14th Inf is on the run, the need for secrecy discipline and that he is moving his Hq to Baguio area. I demanded that there be no written communications, that messages between him and me would be transmitted vervatim by an intelligent loyal courier for which Pablo Naval was agreed upon. It was also agreed that our initial activities are to lay low, organize and collect intelligence while I familiarize myself with the people and terrain of N. Vizcaya.
I stayed the entire evening catching up events with LCol Enriquez as we slept on adjacent cots. He told me he will inform other unit Comdrs in the Field like Maj. Romulo Manriquez, Capt Patricio Dumlao and Lt Luis Casumpang about me and the new Bn I will command. He also mentioned that Don Juan Elizalde is our Financial Supporter and that other associates like Col Alfredo Ramirez and Capt Juan Calvo may contact me later.
Early this morning, after breakfast, Pablo Naval escored me back to barrio Bonfal where the caretela was waitng and I went back alone to Bayombong Hotel. After lunch, I dressed up with my BC uniform as 5th Class Inspector, and reported to Hq, BC Bayombong whose Senior Inspector Antonio C Diano '19 is so happy to welcome me. I found that we have a BC Company composed mostly of former PA and Phil Scout soldiers many of whom are Bataan veterans. I like my assignment here specially the temperate climate like Baguio. My reporting formally to this BC post makes my written obligations signed as a POW fulfilled. I feel free again!
Nov. 8,1942. When I reported to my new BC post three days ago (Nov 5), needless to say N Vizcaya BC Sr Inspector Antonio C Diano '19 my superior and BCA classmate, was so happy to welcome me at his office where we had a private conversation. He knew my Lanao assignment but I have to tell my "malaria story" that allowed me to escape from reporting there but said nothing on how I was sent to Bayombong. He briefed me about our BC Co and expressed his desire that I relieve the present CO (Insp M Alvarez) who belongs to the first BCA graduates and no previous military experience. He commented that we are lucky to be assigned to a sparsely populated province with a temperate climate like Baguio whose peace and order is manageable now that the guerrillas are on the run since the capture of Col Nakar '32 and death of Capt Agustin Prudenciado '33.
Nov. 6, a Friday, Sr Inspector Diano accompanied me to the offices of the provincial officials and introduced me to the provincial governor Demetrio Quirino, Prov Fiscal Atty Madarang and Judge of the Court of 1st Instance, Nicanor Roxas and the Mayor of Bayombong, Victor Bobila, who happened to be there. This serves as my courtesy call also on them and I was welcomed warmly by everyone. Sr Insp Diano, however, warned me to be careful of all of them as they are appointed by the Japanese administration whose loyalty is uncertain, great remarks by a USAFFE comrade I shall remember.
Nov. 7 is a Saturday and I formally took command of 1st N Vizcaya BC Co from 5" Cl Insp M Alvarez. I conducted Saturday Inspection of the Co and took my lunch at the Company Mess with the EM. After lunch, I gave a few remarks regarding services for our people during our present trying time. Our BC Company occupies the former St Mary's High School with spacious buildings and parade grounds.
I am still staying in Bayombong Hotel but am looking for a house to rent. Today, being a Sunday, I went to Church to thank my Divinor for All His Blessings and Guidance in being safe here. After Mass, I met the Parish Priest Fr Lambreth, a Belgian who is outspokenly pro-American after learning I am a USAFFE Officer who saw action in Bataan and was a POW.
Nov. 10,1942. This morning, I made a courtesy call on the N Vizcaya Kempei-tai Chief, Lt Kumatsusaki at his office. I was warmly received knowing we are expected to work together om peace and order. When I asked him if he knew Maj Suguiyama and Lt Fukushima, he said he worked with both of them before specially Fukushima. Our rapport became better after I said Lt Fukushima is my friend. I then asked him what problems we have on peace and order and he said since the capture of Col Nakar '32 in Isabela, head of the Grla Gp operating in Cagayan Valley, and the death of Capt Agustin Prudenciado '33, peace and order have improved as the Grlas have disbanded. However, he mentioned remnants under certain Lts Quines, Dumlao. Dela Cruz, and Navarro probably under Major Enriquez in his list. He also mentioned three American officers namely Cols Moses & Noble as well as Capt Ralph Praeger with another group in his wanted list. I said I am new in the area and don't know anything but appreciated all the info he gave me. I assured him of my cooperation for the sake of peace and order for our people, with the hope that we can work together closely by exchanging information. Finally, when I asked Lt Kumatsusaki who is the overall boss of the Kempei-tai to whom he reports, he said he is Col Akiro Nagahama whose Hq is in Manila.
I noted that the Kempei-tai office in Bayombong has only three uniformed military and the five others I met were civilian Japanese men who probably lived in the Phil before as they can speak Ilocano and Tagalog. They were all formally introduced to me by Lt Kumatsusaki.
Nov. 12,1942. Today I checked out from Bayombong Hotel and transferred as a boarder with Mrs Maria Reyes who operates a Restaurant adjacent to BC Compound. The Reyes Bldg is a large two storey one with the Restaurant on the first floor and the second floor a Clubhouse with three rooms for rent. Mrs Reyes hails from N Ecija, I love her Tagalog food and her place is very near my office. The Clubhouse serves as the Hq of the Lions Club and rentable for social affairs.
Last night, I was invited by Belgian Fr Lambreth for dinner at his Parish residence.. As mentioned before, after he learned I am a USAFFE O who saw action in Bataan, he manifested his hatred on the Japanese due to their cruelty. After dinner, he showed me his hidden short wave radio and listened to a news broadcast from a station in San Francisco that narrated gains of the Marines and the US Navy in Solomons area. The Allies are also reported gaining in the African Front. At one point, Gen MacArthur's Hq adviced the Guerrillas in the Phil to lay low and just concentrate on training and on gathering of intelligence info. This is no time for combat due to lack of firearms and ammo which can not be supplied yet, it added. Possession of short wave radios are prohibited by the Japanese as they do not want the people to know foreign news. Those with short wave radios are risking their lives.
Nov 16,1942. Since my arrival in Bayombong, I started familiariazing myself with the town area and people. I visited all sectors and met many families such as the Madellas, Mendozas, Zuraeks, Gonongs, Prudenciado-Lozano, Reyeses aside from the provincial and municipal officials appointed by the Japanese Adm. The peace and order appears artificial as the people live in fear of the Japanese that committed atrocities during the early part of the occupation. I can gauge their true feelings from the Madellas I gained rapport as one of the members of the family I knew lived in Malolos, Bulacan when I was in high school.
With permission from my Sr Inspector, I began familiarizing myself with other towns. There are only seven towns in N Vizcaya and last Nov 13, I went to Bagabag town accompanied by two NCOs. Bagabag is the northern most town, met the town officials and police chief who briefed me on peace and order. In the afternoon, I visited barrio Paniqui where Capt Guillermo Aban is waiting. I conferred with him in private reminding him to keep control of the members of his company while laying low and to keep the 15 firearms secured under his personal care. He gave me a roster of his troops totaling 55. I am impressed with barrio Paniqui and the people's attitude
The following day, Nov 14, I visited Solano town, met the town officials and had a briefing by the Polie Chief. Then I visited remote barrio Ibung at the foot of Cordillera Mt where Capt Fernando Asuncion and Cpl Pablo Naval were waiting. I was specially happy to see Naval to know that he belongs to Capt Asuncion's Co with the rank of Cpl. I adviced them in private to be careful, that they are lucky not to be in the Watch List of the Kempei-Tai and to facilitate their contact with me, I will appoint them BC Special Agents by the end of the month. Capt Asuncion furnished me also a roster of his troops totaling 53 with twenty firearms hidden at the foot of the Mt. I reminded them to lay low, keep control of the troops and gather intelligence to be reported by Naval verbally, nothing in writing.
Yesterday, Nov 15, I spent the whole day in Bambang town and today, in Dupax to meet their town officials and briefings by their Police Chiefs. It also serves as my courtesy call on them which was appreciated. After visiting five of the seven towns of N Vizcaya and observing the peace and order conditions, I am beginning to think this place is much better place to reside at present than Manila or Bulacan. I ,therefore, requested Mrs Reyes to help me find a house I can rent to bring my family in Bayombong before Christmas.
Nov. 20,1942. Yesterday I visited the town of Aritao, hometown of Cpl R Salazar one of my BC escorts and met the town officials including the Chief of Police who briefed me on the peace and order situation. They were all happy to receive me. The Mayor tendered a dinner for me and we stayed overnight at Cpl Salazar's spacious family residence. I learned that the 14th Inf Grlas was initially organized in this town in Jan 1942 from units of the 11th and 71st Divs, USAFFE, that retreated here after superior Japanese landings in Lingayen Gulf and could not make it to Bataan.
Early today we went to the strategic town of Santa Fe and met the town officials. This town is the northern most town where Balete Pass is located and acts as a cork to a bottle. Access to this province is controlled here. The Chief of Police and the Mayor briefed me of the apparent peaceful situation. In my remarks I always stressed faithful service for our people and the importance of peace and order to normal life.
By early evening I arrived back in Bayombong, happy to have completed my reconnaissance visits to all N. Vizcaya towns. I am pleased to have met all the officials I have to work with. I am, more or less, impressed with the province and the people which made me decide to bring my family to Bayombong as soon as I can.
Nov. 24,1942. With the concurrence of my BC Sr Inspector, I formed an Intelligence Unit initially composed of BC Sgt Norberto Aquino (Nautical School Grad), Guillermo Aban, Fernando Asuncion & Pablo Naval. Aban, Asuncion & Naval are key members of the underground 14th Inf, considered civilian informers I issued official I.D. Cards to facilitate our contacts. Sgt Aquino is my close confidant but does not know the three civilian informers are underground members.
Today, Lt Leandro Rosario paid me a courtesy call telling me he is a surrendered former Intelligence O of LCol Nakar 14th Inf, now working with Gov. Demetrio Quirino with a group that were former GANAP followers of Benigno Ramos an anti-govt subversives during the Commonwealth years. Lt Rosario said he and his group are working for peace and order and wants to coordinate with the BC.
Yesterday, Mrs Reyes found a house of the Sadang family available by Dec. 15 for rent. I found the house spacious with three bedrooms, big sala and dining room so I signed a month to month lease at P35.00 per month. The house is only a block from my office, in an excellent neighborhood in front of the governor's residence.
Nov. 26,1942. This morning I gave SA (Sp Agent) Pablo Naval his first mission to contact LCol Enriquez with following msg: "That I have visited all towns and met their officials; Aban, Asuncion & Naval have SA IDs; Units under control but laying low. I will be in Manila to get my family first week Dec to transfer them to Bayombong. While in Manila I would like to contact other associates, if possible. Peace and order good. Situation looks good". As msg is not in writing for security reason, I required Naval to repeat the msg verbally and to my satisfaction he did it verbatim to my surprise. I am happy Naval is very intelligent and a safe courier.
This afternoon, Lt Leandro Rosario,a surrendered Int O of Nakar, visited me with interesting revelations. That there are a few American POWs still in the local Japanese Army garrison who helped in the surrender campaign of guerrillas led by LCol Theodore Kalakuka, emissary of Gen Wainwright; LCol E. Warner; Capt Arnold A Warning; Lt Albert Ziegler; Lt Hurley Hieb. Rosario said Warner surrendered to Kalakuka; but Warner was responsible for the capture of Nakar in Jones, Isabela with the help of the Chief of Police of Jones who earned P1,000.00 cash reward from the Japs. However, last Oct 31, Kalakuka died of cerebral malaria and buried at Bayombong Catholic Cemetery according to Rosario. Lt Ziegler also died four days after my arrival in Bayombong due to dysentery. Lt Rosario claims that LCol Warner is also very sick with malaria.
Nov. 30,1042. Since I reported to my post as BC Inspector, peace and order in Vizcaya have been good which makes my job easy. The BC have peacetime routine sending patrols to outlaying barrios to contact our people for us to know how they feel - they do not like the Japanese. The present condition is brought by the surrender or capture of guerrilla leaders like LCols Warner and Nakar plus specific instructions from Gen MacArthur for the guerrillas to lay law. LCol Enriquez, who took command after the capture of Nakar, moved out of the province after my arrival leaving me two of his companies that are laying low.
The Guerrilla Idea originally came from USAFFE Hq in Corregidor that when Gen MacArthur and party escaped Corregidor via PT Boats last March 11, at the same night, Q-113 under Lt S Nuval transported a special US Army Commando to inaugurate guerrilla operations landing them at Zambales Coast. They found their way to Mt Pinatubo where LCol C Thorpe, Capt B Anderson and Lt R Lapham established their Hq to recruit natives. After the surrender, Bataan escapees like Maj Moses & Noble, Capt R Volckman & D Blackburn of the 11th Div managed to organize guerrilla units among the Igorots in Mt Province. Two other Bataan escapees, Capt Joe Barker and Lt Edwin Ramsey of the 26th Cav ended up in Western Bulacan where they met another escapee, Capt Alejo Santos of the 31st Div. Later, Ramsey went to Pangasinan where he organized his unit. All these guerrilla organizations were going on quietly all over the entire country and the many hundred recruits voluntarily joining is an indication on how the people feel against the Japanese. After organizing, the units went on secret training waiting for further developments.