villacorta

Excerpt from Manuel L. Quezon’s autobiography, The Good Fight

Chapter III: I Join the Revolution

IN PANTABANGAN, I presented myself to Colonel Villacorta, a good and valiant soldier but almost an illiterate man. He had fought from the beginning of the first insurrection and never laid down arms even after the Pact of Biaknabato. He was only too glad to take me. He had known me in Baler, for he had been in command of the forces that had besieged the Spanish garrison there.

Villacorta made me a second lieutenant and a sort of aide-de-camp. When we arrived in Cabanatuan, General Llanera, having heard of a hideous crime committed by a band of ladrones (highwaymen) in the town of Aliaga, ordered Villacorta to send some of his men to go and capture the band. Villacorta gave me the mission, and in Aliaga I was informed that this band had attacked the house of one of the richest people in the town, taken everything they had and murdered everybody in the family, not excluding the children. After two days’ hunting, I caught the whole gang. They were court-martialed and executed in short order. I was promoted to first lieutenant in recognition of this service.

For several months I was stationed in Cabanatuan. When later Aguinaldo, pressed by the American advance, transferred the seat of his government form Malolos to Cabanatuan, I was detailed to form a part of his staff. The General in command of all the forces operating in Luzon was Antonio Luna, a highly educated man who had spent many years as a student in Spain and in France. No braver soldier was ever born in any clime or any land. Whenever a key position was at stake, he always took personal command of the Filipino forces and was the last to retreat. At Calumpit, one of the most bloody battles fought during the war of resistance against the United States, he was wounded, but did not enter a hospital. 

Soon after Aguinaldo had gone to Cabanatuan, the Filipino Congress held a session there. It was generally believed that at this session the Congress had decided to appoint a committee that would go to Manila and negotiate peace terms with the Philippine Commission sent by President McKinley on the basis of Philippine autonomy under an American protectorate. But General Luna, having heard of the action taken by the Congress, came rushing to Cabanatuan and arrested the members of the Congress whom he found there, including those who had been appointed members of the committee. That was the end of the Malolos Congress as well as any attempt to negotiate peace with the American Government. It was also rumored that General Luna, after insulting some of the members of Aguinaldo’s cabinet who had approved of the action of the Congress, demanded from Aguinaldo their dismissal. Whether the rumor was true or not, the fact remains that after Luna’s trip to Cabanatuan, to which place the Congress had returned, the members of the cabinet presented their resignations and they were accepted. On the other hand, Aguinaldo prevailed upon Luna to release the members of the Congress whom he had arrested. 

General Benito Natividad, who was seriously wounded in the battle of Calumpit, was brought to Cabanatuan in a hammock carried by his men. General Natividad was one of the right-hand men of General Luna, and by orders previously given by this general he was to be taken to Luna’s headquarters in Bayambang. Colonel Sitiar of Aguinaldo’s staff instructed me to escort General Natividad to Bayambang. After safely placing my patient in the hands of his friend and chief, I departed the following day for Cabanatuan. Upon reporting that my mission had been performed, I found that I had been promoted to the rank of captain.

Not long afterward Aguinaldo once again transferred the seat of his government from Cabanatuan to Angeles. We made the trip on horseback from Cabanatuan to San Isidro, where we found a force composed of at least three thousand men under the command of General Gregorio del Pilar. General Aguinaldo, after reviewing his guard of honor, ordered all the officers who were then in San Isidro to come up to his residence, and there, without any explanation for this unexpected as well as unusual procedure, he made us swear that we would fight by his side against all comers. Very early the next morning, we proceeded in the direction of Bayambang where we arrived late at night. On this trip for the first time I saw General Aguinaldo dressed in his military uniform with his insignia as full general. I asked him if he was celebrating some happy event, and he just smiled and said nothing.

Before midnight it was rumored in Bayambang that Luna had been murdered in Cabanatuan by the personal guards of Aguinaldo who were left in that town to protect his mother and wife. While this terrible news was being whispered all around, we received orders to board the train which was to take Aguinaldo with the forces of General Gregorio del Pilar to Angeles. Angeles was the headquarters of General Concepcion, another of General Luna’s trusted men, who was in command of the forces which were facing the Americans in San Fernando. General Concepcion was evidently unaware of our arrival, for he showed his surprise when he was faced by the Commander-in-Chief of the Filipino forces. The following day an official announcement was made of the killing of General Luna and that of his senior aide-de- camp, Colonel Paco Roman. His two junior aides were put in prison.

The brigade defending the line facing San Fernando was the crack brigade of the old Philippine Army. It had been organized by General Luna himself and was composed of veteran soldiers of the defunct Spanish Army and commanded by officers who had also served and fought many battles under the Spanish flag. Quietly but hurriedly, General Aguinaldo recalled these officers, sent them to other brigades, and replaced them with his old trusted officers of the Revolution.

We did not remain long in Angeles. From there we went farther north to the town of Tarlac where Aguinaldo, in personal command of the Philippine Army since Luna’s death, remained for several months. While in this town, I lived in the house of Colonel Alejandro Albert of the Medical Service, whose kind wife was one of the most widely read Filipinas of her day. She treated me like a son, and I can never forget her generous hospitality. It was in her home, too, in Manila, that I found haven whenever I needed lodging in after years. When I became influential in the government of the Philippines, although Colonel Albert belonged to the opposition party, my first recommendation to Governor-General Harrison was the appointment of Dr. Albert as Under-Secretary of Public Instruction, a position he held until he was no longer physically able to perform the duties of the office. 

While in Tarlac, I received orders from General Aguinaldo to go to Baguio and replace the officer in command of the garrison there until another officer could be sent to take my post. It was my first visit to the place which has been, since Governor-General Taft’s day, the summer capital of the Philippines. It was a long trip from Tarlac on horseback to the high altitude of the Baguio mountains. 

Baguio was nothing but a forest of pine trees with Igorrot huts. There were, however, three houses made of timber; one occupied by a German, Dr. Sheer, married to an Igorrota by whom he had a pretty daughter and a fine boy; another occupied by a Dutchman; and the third by a full-blooded Igorrote—Carino—who was appointed by Aguinaldo as governor of the province. These two distinguished representatives of occidental civilization, instead of imposing their own civilization to the Igorrots, evidently preferred to adopt that of their hosts, for I saw them in G-strings exactly like those of the Igorrots. 

The Christian settlement at that time was Trinidad, about three miles from the city hall of Baguio and a couple of thousand feet lower than Baguio proper. The Spanish Military Governor of the Mountain Province resided at Trinidad, and there the garrison remained until they were captured by the Filipino forces during the Second Rebellion. Americans who have fine homes in Baguio and have enjoyed its delightful climate, perhaps one of the best in the world, and its beautiful scenery, will be surprised to hear that at the time not gold but coffee made the province of Benguet—which includes Trinidad and Baguio—famous. When I returned to Tarlac, I carried with me two sacks of coffee which I presented to my hostess, Mrs. Albert, and one small tube of particles of gold taken from the river, which I presented to General Aguinaldo’s mother. 

As a member of Aguinaldo’s staff in Tarlac, I only did office work and it became tiresome to me. I felt ashamed of the fact that although there was actual war going on I had been promoted from first lieutenant to captain without having heard, even at a distance, the whistle of a bullet. So one day I asked permission to see General Aguinaldo and told him what I felt. I requested him to send me to the front, so he sent me to General Mascardo with a letter of introduction in his own handwriting. General Mascardo had his headquarters then in the town of Porac, Pampanga. I arrived at his place at dusk and remained with him for the evening.

The following day he sent me to the front as member of the staff of Colonel Leysan, who was in command of the Filipino forces on the line between San Fernando and Porac.

Our advance post was in Bacolor. Colonel Leysan was quartered in a nipa house about one mile back of the lines and with him were staying Major Galura, the Chief of Staff, and another officer whose name I do not now remember. That night we played tres siete, a game of cards somewhat like bridge. At five o’clock in the morning the roar of small pieces of artillery made us jump out of bed. We hurriedly put on our uniforms and rushed to the line. As we were getting nearer the trenches, I heard for the first time in my life the whistle of a bullet. I ducked. Then the number of the flying bullets became too numerous to duck and I felt inside myself an irresistible impulse to run away. Before this, I had a very high opinion of my own valor. Indeed one of the reasons why I asked General Aguinaldo to send me to the front was because I felt pretty certain that I could be one of the national military heroes of Philippine history. But when the test came, I discovered that the fear of death was instinctively quite strong with me. My whole body was shaking and my knees became so weak that I felt they could only carry me if I turned around and ran in the opposite direction; not another step could they take in the direction from which the bullets were coming. What made my fear so overwhelming was the fact that I had not been to confession for a long, long time and I thought that the loss of life in this world meant hell fire. I was too panicky to be able to concentrate and make an act of contrition. Indeed, I could not even finish the Lord’s Prayer which I started to say as soon as the first bullet had whistled over my head. I was about to run away as fast as I could when I heard a voice behind me saying, “Joven, cuidado que los soldados le estan observando.” (Young man, you’d better be careful because the soldiers are watching you.) A sense of shame and humiliation, stronger even than the fear of death, brought me instantly back to myself. From that time on, I stood erect and noticed no longer the noise of bullets. My attention was now directed to the movements of the enemy and to encouraging my own soldiers. By ten o’clock in the morning, Colonel Leysan ordered me to go and tell Major Liraz whose battalion was on the other side of the road between Bacolor and Porac, to move his forces and cover our right flank, for the Americans had started to envelop us in that sector. I found Major Liraz standing, seemingly unconcerned, in the middle of the road at the head of his battalion. I had not finished transmitting the order when a burst of shrapnel cut short Major Liraz’s life. I lifted his head to see whether he was still alive, but he was truly dead. Four soldiers carried him away and the following day he was buried with the military honors due a real hero. He left a widow and seven children. 

Colonel Leysan put me in command of Major Liraz’s battalion until the battle was over at six o’clock that evening. The Americans had taken Bacolor. We had withdrawn to Porac, and General Mascardo’s headquarters had been transferred to the village of Dolores in the hills. The advance continued the following day and Porac fell into the hands of the Americans sooner than Bacolor did because our soldiers had not had anything to eat during the battle the day before, nor had they had enough rest during the night. It was a hot day when the Americans entered Porac. Although our forces had not only withdrawn but had practically run, I decided to hide in the bushes and trees that were thick back of the river, to find out what the Americans did when they entered a town. I had about ten soldiers with me, armed with rifles. At about eleven o’clock in the morning, I saw a number of Americans, some on horseback and others afoot, going down the river. I wondered if they were coming to hunt for me, but my doubts were soon dispelled for although they were armed, they dropped their rifles, left their horses, and began to undress. Evidently they had come for a swim. In nature’s bathing suits, they plunged into the water. Before I could stop it, one of my soldiers fired a shot and the swimmers ran for their guns, although not for their clothes. They immediately returned that fire in our direction and we left. 

At one of the formal dinners that, as President of the Commonwealth, I gave to new Commanding Generals of the Philippine Department, having learned that my guest of honor on this particular occasion had been under General J. Franklin Bell, I asked him if by any chance he was in the attack of Porac and he said yes. Then I told him my little experience with the swimmers and he admitted that he was one of them. In the toast that I offered to the health and success of my guest of honor—there were no ladies present—I made reference to the difference between the uniform which he wore when I first saw him in the river and the one he was wearing that evening. 

After Porac, General Mascardo appointed Leysan his Chief of Staff and ordered him to his headquarters in Dolores. Leysan took me with him as his assistant. It appears that General Aguinaldo had appointed General Mascardo as Commanding General of all the Filipino forces operating in Central Luzon, which at that time was the only real field of action. General Mascardo, who was a hero in the First Revolution against Spain when he had been wounded four times in four different pitched battles, was an expert in guerilla warfare, but knew nothing about military strategy and tactics, as did his predecessor, General Luna. As Colonel Leysan had served with ability and distinction as officer of the Spanish Army, Mascardo rightly considered him well prepared to be our Chief of Staff. 

The first few weeks of our stay in Dolores were marked by lull and quiet in the lines. This was not unusual for since the campaign started the Americans would give us respite from time to time. During these quiet days our needs for relaxation took the form of certain emotional outbursts. We had dances and courted the fair girls of Pampanga, either in the unoccupied towns or out in the villages where some of them went to hide. A brother of General Mascardo who had lost his left arm in a hand-to-hand fight in the First Revolution, was making love to a girl in Guagua. Although the town was no longer defended by Filipino troops, the Americans on their part had not occupied it, so Major Mascardo was able to visit his girl. He always went with about fifteen men, all of them including the major on horseback— I will not call them cavalrymen because they were really not. We never had a force of cavalry except what General Luna organized, composed of fifty men as his personal guards who accompanied him everywhere. 

One day Major Mascardo invited me and Lieutenant Betus to go with him for they had planned to have a little dance in his girl’s house. We arrived there about two o’clock in the afternoon so as to have time to take a bath and change our clothes for the dance which was to begin at five o’clock. By four, we were notified that a troop of American cavalry was in the outskirts of the town. Instead of escaping as we should have done (and we had ample time to do it), Major Mascardo decided that he would show his girl the brave man that he was. So he invited us to come to the street with our rifles ready to fire as soon as the American cavalry came. 

In the first exchange of shots, Mascardo fell dead with a bullet through his head. The rest of us ran for our lives. We were not pursued by the enemy, and by nightfall I sent a courier to find out if the Americans had left and what had happened to the major’s corpse. The courier came back with the information that the cavalry had returned to Bacolor, had taken his watch and everything else of value that Major Mascardo had with him, carried the dead officer to the Presidencia or town hall, laid him on the municipal council table, and left a letter for General Mascardo in the hands of the mayor of the town. I went back and found the body of Major Mascardo no longer in the Presidencia but lying in the parlor of the girl’s house placed on a bed with four lighted candles around him. The whole town was there mourning for the death of a patriot. 

The letter addressed to General Mascardo was handed to me. It was written in English on a sheet of paper with no envelope. I did not attempt to read it for neither I nor any one else in the house understood its language. Taking the letter, the watch, and the money removed by the Americans from Mascardo’s pockets, which were handed to me by the mayor, we went back to headquarters with the corpse carried in a hammock. General Mascardo raised hell with us and gave definite orders that thereafter no one should go to the unoccupied towns except with his permission. At the headquarters, there was an officer, Major Kunanan, who was educated in Europe and knew English well. The letter as translated by him to us read more or less as follows: “To Major General Mascardo, Commanding General of Central Luzon: I regret to have killed your valiant brother. As evidence of my admiration for him and my high regard for you, I had his body carried to the town hall, placed it on a table, and entrusted everything he had with him, including his revolver and his rifle, to the mayor of the town for delivery to you. I beg to express my sympathy in your bereavement.” 

The letter made a profound impression on all those who knew of its contents. What a different picture it gave us of the kind of men the Americans were from that depicted by the Spaniards in the early days after the declaration of war by the United States against Spain. 

Sometime later we were surprised by the arrival of two Japanese officers—Captain Hara and Lieutenant Nakamori. They came with a letter from General Aguinaldo informing General Mascardo that they were military observers sent by the Japanese government. Both spoke English, but Captain Hara was the only one who ever joined in our conversation. Nakamori went to the front and Hara remained at headquarters with us. 

At last General Mascardo instructed Colonel Leysan to formulate a plan for an attack against Angeles—the town farthest north along the railway line occupied by the Americans. My general thought that there was something wrong with the American Army when they remained for so long a time without attempting to make further advance. Captain Hara was consulted. The plan contemplated an attack against Angeles from three sides—north, east, and west. On the south, there would be a force prepared to intercept reinforcement that might come from San Fernando, the next town to the south. We started to advance at four o’clock in the morning. It was a fiasco. One company commanded by a very excited captain began firing before their bullets could reach the positions occupied by the Americans. At this time our ammunition consisted of cartridges reloaded in the most primitive way, and our weapons were old Spanish Mausers and Remingtons which we had taken from the Spaniards. Their effective range was not more than three or four hundred yards. The Maxims, which the Americans had, started on their deadly work and we had to withdraw before we could even get within range for our guns. 

General Bell, then a major or lieutenant colonel of the volunteers of the American Army, soon returned the compliment to us. We found one morning while we were having breakfast at headquarters that he was at the head of his cavalry and attacking our small garrison there. By following a trail, he had succeeded in going through our lines unobserved. Fortunately, we were all dressed and our horses were ready, for General Mascardo was about to go out for an inspection trip. So we jumped on our horses and let loose our bridles. By a mere matter of five minutes the whole staff of General Mascardo, including himself, escaped from falling into the hands of Major Bell. 

This unexpected and unwelcome visit of the enemy forced Mascardo to transfer his headquarters to a safer place at the farthest end of a small valley. To reach it, one had to go between two hills which exposed the would-be intruder to cross-fire. I was left in command of two companies guarding the entrance to the valley. Not having learned my lesson properly from the previous surprise attack of Major Bell, and confident that before the Americans could reach our place some resistance would be offered by our forces in the front line, I preferred to stay in a rather nice farmhouse, somewhat distant from the hills where the forces under my command were located. The Japanese Captain Hara stayed with me. We had hardly been one week in this new position when one morning we were notified of the approach of Major Bell by bullets going through the house. Captain Hara actually flew, for in one second he had jumped on one of the two horses we had at our disposal tied near the house and was galloping without saddle at full speed. I jumped on the other horse to take command of the companies that were posted to defend the approach to General Mascardo’s headquarters. I had just taken my position at a point on the hill to the left side of the entrance to the valley when I saw the American cavalry approaching cautiously. I got my field-glass and recognized the man whom I thought was commanding the troops. From the descriptions given us, I felt certain he was the same man who had killed Major Mascardo—the man who almost took us prisoners in Dolores. I decided to kill him with my own hands, so I took a Mauser from one of the soldiers near me and watched him approach. I waited until my chosen victim was near enough even for our almost useless cartridges. I put my finger on the trigger and just as I pulled it he dismounted and the bullet struck his saddle. The horse ran away to the hills and later in the day we got it and its saddle with the bullet embedded in it. I aimed again and again until I fired ten shots, always missing my target. I gave it up and returned the rifle to the soldier. 

By this time, Major Bell had mounted another horse and after a while withdrew with his force. Evidently, they were merely reconnoitering. 

I went to General Mascardo’s headquarters; it was deserted. I looked for him and his staff and found them on the other side of the hills, on the bank of a river. By noon Captain Hara appeared still mounted on his unsaddled horse. 

“Where have you been?” I asked him in Spanish. The Japanese, theretofore always solemn in words as well as in action, his face as blank and unmoved as that of a marble statue, was now glowing with joy and happiness and literally shouted: “Nacimiento! Nacimiento!” 

Captain Hara spoke to us in English through our interpreter, Major Kunanan, but this time he managed to express his feeling in one Spanish word, nacimiento, which means birth. He doubtless meant to convey the thought that he had gotten a new lease on life. Thus, my first experience with a Japanese army officer did not conform with the utter disregard for life which they showed many years later in the conquest of the Philippines. 

After the occupation of Angeles, all the forces in Central Luzon were dispersed and took to the hills, since it had become impossible to maintain our lines. Aguinaldo had fled from Tarlac and was sharply pursued by the American forces. He was almost captured before he could reach the Caraballo Mountains. Only the determined resistance put up by General Gregorio del Pilar at Tila Pass—where this young general lost his life to save that of his chief—gave Aguinaldo a chance to get to Palanan on the east coast of Isabela, the remotest and most isolated town in Luzon. Here Aguinaldo remained for many months in hiding, his own generals not knowing where he was, although he continued to communicate with them. General Mascardo himself, pressed day and night by Major Bell, had withdrawn his own brigade to the mountains separating Bataan from Pampanga. But Bell made it so difficult for us to get food supplies from the Filipinos in the plains of Pampanga that General Mascardo decided to send me to Bataan which, according to our information, had not as yet been occupied by the Americans. I was to look for the best place to which he could go with his remaining forces.* 

With twenty soldiers, I proceeded immediately to comply with this order. I took as guides two Negritos, the nomad aborigines of the Philippines—tiny little fellows, black with kinky hair. The trip was one of the hardest I ever made in my life. We walked barefooted up and down the mountains and swam rivers infested with crocodiles. Our food consisted of a little rice and salt, and when we slept at night we lay on the ground covered only by the sky above. On the third day, we came down to the plains of the province of Bataan, and from Dinalupihan I made the rest of the trip on horseback. 

On reaching Orani, I was met by Major Vister who, only two months before, had captured a small launch carrying a few American soldiers and made prisoners of them. The launch had gone to Orani and had run aground in shallow water— an accident which sealed the fate of its passengers. Later, the prisoners were released by order of General Mascardo. In Balanga, the capital of the province, I discovered that the Military Governor, Lieutenant Colonel Bautista, together with his forces had abandoned his post and with the scanty funds of the government, had run back to his old home town in Cavite. Two former bandits during the Spanish regime who had styled themselves generals when the first revolution broke out but who never received recognition for General Aguinaldo for their “patriotic services,” had gathered their old gang and on their own authority replaced the deserting revolutionary chief. Although I did not intend to recognize their assumed military rank and power, I nevertheless sought their advice as to the place best suited for General Mascardo’s headquarters. They received me with undisguised displeasure for which I later found the explanation. This, however, did not stop them from giving me the information I wanted as they told me that the forest between Bagac and Morong on the China Sea coast would be the best hiding place for my chief, General Mascrado. 

I went to Bagac and satisfied myself that the old bandits were right. So I sent the information to General Mascardo who, within fifteen days, followed me with all his forces— about three hundred men armed with rifles and five rounds of ammunition apiece. Before Mascardo’s arrival, and while I was in Pilar, I had received information that a house in a barrio of Balanga had been pillaged by a band of men armed with rifles. I went to the place with my twenty-five soldiers and in the house which had been robbed, I met the two self-styled generals with about forty men, some armed with rifles and others with bolos. From the look on their faces, it appeared clear to me that they were ready for trouble if I attempted to investigate them. So pretending that because they had taken charge of the case, I felt that I had nothing more to do with it, I left the house with a courteous bow. 

As soon as I was out of their sight, I concealed myself with my men in the bushes from which I could see them going back to the town. Half an hour afterward, they were gone. I returned to the house and asked its owner for particulars about the robbery. While making this investigation, a man came looking for his hat which he had left the night before. I asked him why he had been there and he plainly told me that he had been a guide for the bandits. I inquired whether he knew the chief of the gang or any of its members, and without hesitation he answered affirmatively and gave me the name of the chief of the band. With him I went back to Pilar which, to avoid a clash with the old bandits who were in Balanga, I chose for my quarters while waiting for General Mascardo. 

That same night I succeeded in getting hold of the man who was responsible for the robbery. I told him to make his confession or I would order his execution the following day. I sent for the parish priest who gladly performed his religious duty. At midnight, one of the old chieftains came to see me and interceded in behalf of my prisoner. He pleaded forgiveness upon the ground that the prisoner as well as himself and his companions had rendered patriotic service during the First Revolution. After exacting from them the promise that the crime would not be repeated, I dismissed the case and freed the prisoner. From that time on I never had trouble with these “patriots” and my authority was never challenged by them. 

When General Mascardo came, it was no longer safe to travel through the towns bordering Manila Bay, so he made the trip all the way to Bagac through the woods. On his arrival at this last named town, he was given a rousing welcome. Then we went to the place I had selected, where he remained until he surrendered months later to the American forces in Zambales. It should be stated here that the Filipino troops in this last named province were also under the command of General Mascardo. They consisted of about two hundred men, commanded by a colonel whose name I have forgotten, and Lieutenant Colonel Gabriel Alba, a former companion of mine in the College of San Juan de Letran. Our troops in Zambales were already carrying on guerilla warfare and they had succeeded in capturing a few rifles from the Americans. 

Once he was located in his new and last encampment in the forest between Bagac and Morong, Mascardo divided his forces in Bataan into three commands: one under Colonel Vister between Bataan and Pampanga; the second under me operated from Balanga to Mariveles; and the third from Bagac to Morong was commanded by Colonel Leysan who continued to be the Chief of Staff and stayed in Mascardo’s headquarters. It fell to my lot to be placed in command of the guerilla band that would operate between Balanga and Mariveles—the tip of the peninsula which, forty-two years later was destined to be the last stronghold of General MacArthur’s army. The two Japanese officers, Hara and Nakamori, as soon thereafter as they had the chance, went to Manila and thence to Japan. 

Following Mascardo’s transfer to Bataan, the American forces took possession without opposition on our part of the towns of the province. In Balanga where the military commander of the province was, the larger part of the forces was stationed, and there was one company each in the towns of Dinalupihan, Orani, and Orion. The other towns, including Mariveles, had only small garrisons. Upon the occupation of the province of Bataan, following the same practice that they had adopted in all the occupied provinces, the Army of Occupation appointed the local officials of the town and started to open up schools with some of the non- commissioned officers as teachers. Every man appointed to these municipal posts, whether he happened to be the same Filipino official appointed by Aguinaldo’s government or a new one, when the former was suspected of being disloyal, accepted their new appointment only with the consent of General Mascardo and upon the understanding that the appointee would continue to serve the revolution either by helping us to secure food supplies or by giving us informations as to the movements of the American troops whenever they planned to attack our encampments, or in any other way that might be necessary. 

Not long after the American occupation of Bataan, Mascardo decided to attack the small garrison in Hermosa. He gathered almost all the forces he then had in the province and we made the attack at night. Before we could do much harm to the garrison, help came from the near-by towns and we retreated, losing one major killed and several soldiers wounded. Knauber, a Scandinavian, whom I met later after the establishment of the Civil Government as officer of the Constabulary, gave a good account of himself on that occasion. With such disastrous results, we gave up the idea of ever attacking again the American garrisons and decided that the safest and most effective tactic was to ambush them whenever they went out to the hills in search of our guerillas. 

The 24th of December, 1899, arrived. To be eating only boiled rice up in the hills did not appear to me a very appropriate way of celebrating the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Hence, I sent word to the American-appointed mayor of the town of Orion that I would come down with my one hundred soldiers and spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in his town. The mayor was agreeable and assured me that if his instructions were literally followed, he would smuggle into town every man with his rifle, distribute us in different houses, and the Americans would not be any wiser. More still, he promised me lechon (roast young pig) and abundant fresh sea-food for our hungry band. We entered Orion from different places after nightfall without being noticed. The man in command of the American force was Captain Goldman whom later I met when he was Governor of Bataan after the establishment of the Civil Government. I was taken to the house of the mayor, one of the finest in the locality, made of hard wood with fine furniture and two comfortable bedrooms. Captain Goldman lived in the parish house, as usual the largest and best. The next day after the mass, as was the custom of the municipal officials during the Spanish regime, the Presidente or mayor with his subordinates, called on Captain Goldman to wish him Merry Christmas. No doubt with more sincere feelings they called on me, too. My soldiers filled up with good food, and some of them even went to the cockpit on Christmas Day. That night there was gambling in the house of one of the prominent citizens of the town—a well-known game of chance called monte. American soldiers who had already learned the game attended and bet their dollars. My whole fortune consisted of five pesos ($2.50 in American money) and I decided to back my luck against my enemies. The old adage “lucky in love, unlucky in cards,” evidently also means “unlucky in war, lucky in cards,” for with my five pesos, I won one hundred dollars which, under the circumstances, looked to me to be quite a fortune. So I decided to spend this money in Manila. It was Christmas and even then I already had a very pronounced inclination for the frailties of the so-called civilized, modern man. Indeed, my prolonged nomad life as an insurrecto was beginning to weigh heavily upon my nerves. So, with my liking for quick decisions, I instructed Lieutenant Baluyot, my second in command of the guerillas, to take the men back to the hills and keep on with the job in my absence. I gave him a letter for General Mascardo begging pardon for my temporary relinquishment of the command. 

Disguised as a fisherman, I sailed for Navotas in a fishing boat from one of the coastal towns of Bataan. Cabesang Doro, from Pilar—his full name was Isidoro Paguio—accompanied me in this sea trip. This generous man treated me like a son and later on saved my life. 

We stayed in Malabon in the house of Cabesang Doro’s friend long enough for me to secure clothes that would give the appearance of a university student. I entered Manila without the slightest difficulty and spent my holidays in the house of Colonel Albert, the same man who, for several months, had me as boarder in Tarlac. The house was located in what was then named calle Ronquillo (Ronquillo street), just in front of the quarters of the military police in the suburb of Santa Cruz. I thought the safest place was where no one would suspect that an insurrecto would dare be. By this time, the American soldiers had learned a few Spanish words, such as “buenos dias” (good morning), “mucho bueno” (very good); the correct Spanish expression, however, is “muy bueno.” Buenos dias and mucho bueno were frequently exchanged between my adversaries and myself. 

In this house, I learned that Aguinaldo’s family had presented themselves to the Americans and had been set free, although they were closely watched. They were guests of Señor Leyva, one of the rich widowers of Manila, whose son, a real athlete, had been the aide of Aguinaldo and had been murdered by robbers in Pangasinan. 

From my gambling winnings, I bought one chicken and a basket of fruit, and with the double purpose of leveling suspicion and paying my respects to my Commander-in- Chief’s family, I called on them. Not much was said between us. We were afraid that even the walls had ears. 

New Year’s Eve was celebrated in Manila by the men not on duty in the Army of Occupation, in the old American style. 

Lastly, on the morning of New Year’s Day, which is also my Saint’s Day, I went to the University of Santo Tomas to hear mass. My old professors were glad to see me. They invited me to breakfast assuming that I had returned to the ways of peace. They were amazed, and I guess scared, when they discovered that I was still an insurrecto. They tried to dissuade me from going back to the hills. “Further resistance is of no use,” they asserted, “and then the Americans are fair. They treat the Filipinos well, they have allowed the reopening of the schools, and President McKinley has promised to grant us self- government in due time.” The Spanish friars who previously had reviled the Americans had evidently become their friends. I was unmoved. “Dewey,” I said, “fooled Aguinaldo once. McKinley would fool us again.”

Shortly afterwards, I reported to General Mascardo’s headquarters. At that time only General Mascardo and the men staying with him had even a limited ration. The rest of us ate if and when there was food to be had. Almost everybody, including General Mascardo himself, became affected with malaria and a few of our soldiers died from this illness. I myself woke up one morning with very high fever and sent for my very dear friend who had remained in the town of Pilar. He appeared with a man whom he called a doctor. This fellow had been a sort of a nurse in San Juan de Dios Hospital during the Spanish regime, had settled in Pilar, and became the town physician. He brought with him some pills which he gave me to take, all at once. It was not long before I felt that I was dying. They sent for the parish priest who administered to me the last sacraments, and gave me also a five-dollar gold coin. It was the first American gold coin I had ever seen. I have an idea that the famous “doctor” had given me an overdose of aspirin, but I survived, and when I was strong enough to be moved away, Cabesang Doro brought some men and a hammock to carry me through the town of Pilar to the beach where a fishing boat was ready to take me to Navotas. The people of Pilar, as I learned later on, watched the movements of the Americans to make certain that they did not catch me while I was being transported through the town. 

I spent a month in the house of Cabesang Doro’s friend in Navotas. This old man had amassed so much money from the fishing business that he had been able to send a son to be educated in Europe. While convalescing at his house, I read books which left in my mind some doubt as to the certainty of the existence of hell as taught me by my friar teachers— doubts which in after years contributed to my leaving for a long time the Catholic faith and joining the Masonic Order. I returned to the old church after my children had grown up. My orderly, a young man from Bohol, had accompanied me on this trip and most generously devoted himself to helping me regain my health. This boy is the only man to whom I had owed so much but whose services I was unable to repay at a later date. By the time I was in a position to do something for him, he had joined his Maker. 

Once I had fully recovered, I decided to return and rejoin my comrades in arms. This time, instead of using my usual means of transportation, I preferred to go on one of the Yangco launches then making daily trips between Manila and Bataan. Through a messenger, I notified the Presidente of Pilar—a man whom the American garrison considered a loyal Americanista—of the day and time of my arrival on the Yangco launch. This I had to do so that I would not have to go in the regular rowboat that met the passengers on the bay to bring them ashore. As I boarded my little banca (canoe) the man paddling it delivered a letter to me from the mayor in which I was told not to come to the outskirts of Pilar at the mouth of the river during the daytime, but to remain instead in the bushes near the beach. He knew that a scouting platoon was going to the village some time that day.

When night came and the platoon did not come, I went to the outskirts feeling certain that the danger had passed as it was not customary for the American forces to venture outside the town at night in small numbers. I intended to proceed to the hills after dinner that night, but before I had finished my meal the people of the village came rushing through the street to their houses, and I was notified that American forces were approaching. I went down and hid under the house which was fenced with bamboo. After a while, I realized that every building was being searched and, indeed, two soldiers came to the house under which I was hiding. They found my little valise containing my picture and that of a young lady I was courting while I was in the province of Pampanga. This discovery apparently convinced the platoon that I was in the village and they did everything to force the villagers to confess where I was. Whether it was because no one really knew my whereabouts at this moment or that the people simply wanted to protect me, the fact remains that, evidently exasperated by their failure, the American troops burned the houses in the village. These all being made of nipa and bamboo, the fire spread everywhere, including to my hideout, in five minutes. In the face of what I thought was certain death, I had to decide whether I preferred to be burned or shot, and as far as I was concerned there was only one choice—the less painful of the two. I looked out to the only street of the village. It was full of soldiers. I signaled to my orderly who was hiding with me to get ready to run. We jumped out, running toward the river which was less than twenty-five yards from our hiding place. Several shots were fired in our direction. I reached the river and dove all the way to the other side. When I reached the opposite bank I flew rather than ran, for in my athletic days in the College of San Juan de Letran, I was one of the faster runners. They did not pursue and after midnight I cautiously approached the village to find out what had happened. Not a house was left standing. The Americans had left for dead my orderly who had been shot through the body three times. As best we could, we attended his wounds and that same night had him taken to Navotas on a fishing boat, there to be treated. He was saved although he remained lame for the rest of his life. 

I went back to the hills, this time with murder in my heart. I was determined to take revenge. Practically every man in the little village followed me, armed only with their bolos. They were just as resolved as I to get even with our foe. For several days we waited until at last the news came that a force from Balanga was getting ready to cross the mountain and go to Bagac. Walking all night long, I led fifty men armed with old Spanish Mausers and only two rounds of ammunition. These were the Sanda Tahanes* from the burned barrio of the town Pilar.  

I took my men and ambushed them on either side of the trail at the back of the mountain that divided the two coastlines of the province of Bataan. By noon of a very hot day, a force of about thirty Americans headed by an officer on horseback came up, men and animal with their tongues hanging out from heat and fatigue. 

At the first discharge of our rifles the horse ran away with his rider and instinctively the tired soldiers followed their leader. We killed two whose corpses I had buried. It was my last engagement with the American troops, for from that time on my malaria came back and I was never well enough to indulge in any guerilla warfare. I picked out a hut in the mountains of Bataan, which the American troops never reached at that time, but which became familiar to them during the recent Bataan campaign. 

The American forces had occupied the whole province of Bataan, but the Filipinos including those living in the towns were still loyal to the Revolution. They told us the movements of the American troops and occasionally, whenever they could, sent us some food. 

About the end of February, we received reports to the effect that General Aguinaldo had been captured in Palanan. We did not believe it. We thought that it was part of a plan to dishearten and induce us to quit, for, by that time, there had already been organized in Manila a political party which was cooperating with the United States to bring about the restoration of peace at an early date. However, the news about the capture of Aguinaldo became so persistent that, at the end of March, General Mascardo summoned me to his headquarters and gave me orders to surrender to the American forces. I was to try to find out if the capture of Aguinaldo was a fact. The General said: “You have served your country well as a soldier. But you are sick and have been suffering from malaria so long that you simply cannot stand this hard life much longer. It is better for you to surrender. The Americans will let you free as they have done in the case of most of those who have already surrendered. Go back to your university, continue with your studies and finish your career. Our country needs men with education. You will be of service to our people in other fields. Besides, I have a special mission for you. I want you to find out definitely if General Aguinaldo has been captured. If he has, try to get in touch with him and tell him of the situation of our forces here in Bataan and over there in Zambales. Ask him to instruct me whether I should surrender or continue on fighting till my last man.” 

With a heavy heart, I took leave of my General and started for Mariveles without saying good-by either to my comrades at headquarters or to the men under my command. General Mascardo did not want anybody to learn of the mission he had given me. 

One early morning in the month of April, 1901, clad in a worn-out uniform of a major of General Aguinaldo’s army, emaciated from hunger and lingering illness, I walked down the slopes of Mariveles Mountain, accompanied by two soldiers, to surrender to the American post stationed in the little town of Mariveles. The mayor of the town, a Filipino, had previously negotiated my surrender with Lieutenant Miller, the commandant of the post. I was met at the outskirts of the town by Lieutenant Miller, the first American with whom I had ever come into personal contact. After an exchange of greetings, Lieutenant Miller told me through an interpreter that I could consider myself free and should keep my revolver and my dagger, but that he would take the rifles carried by my soldiers and would give them in exchange thirty pesos each. I handed Lieutenant Miller my dagger as a present. (This same dagger he sent back to me soon after I was elected President of the Commonwealth, thirty-five years later.) Lieutenant Miller invited me to come and stay in his headquarters until the next day when a launch would take me to Manila. During the day I turned over in my mind whether I should tell Lieutenant Miller of the special mission which General Mascardo had confided to me, and having come to the conclusion that by so doing I would sooner find out whether General Aguinaldo had been captured or not, I decided to do so. Lieutenant Miller said: “Of course, it is true that General Aguinaldo has been captured; he was captured by General Funston in Palanan. He is now a prisoner of war, but he is living in Malacañan Palace where the Military Governor, General Arthur MacArthur, lives, and where he is treated with the utmost courtesy and consideration. I will inform Manila of your mission at once; perhaps they will let you see Aguinaldo with your own eyes.” 

That night before I fell asleep I heard shooting in the streets of Mariveles. Later, I learned that the detachment operating between Orion and Marivales had attempted to attack the garrison, but withdrew after an exchange of a few shots. I assumed that my old comrades, believing that I had deserted them, intended to punish me. On the other hand, Lieutenant Miller now suspected that my surrender was a stratagem. My calmness when he entered my bedroom with a revolver in his hand convinced him of my innocence and without further ado he left the room. 

On the afternoon of the following day, a small launch carried me from Mariveles to Manila and I was conducted directly to the Malacañan Palace— the holy place from which Spanish Governors-General had ruled the Philippines, and which I had never seen before. I was ushered into the office of General Arthur MacArthur, the father of the hero of the Battle of the Philippines. Fred Fisher who, in after years, became a member of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, acted as interpreter. He told General MacArthur in English what I had said in Spanish; namely, that I was instructed by General Mascardo to find out if General Aguinaldo had been captured. The American General, who stood erect and towered over my head, raised his hand without saying a word and pointing to the room across the hall, made a motion for me to go in there. Trembling with emotion, I slowly walked through the hall toward the room, hoping against hope that I would find no one inside. At the door two American soldiers in uniform, with gloves and bayonets, stood on guard. As I entered the room, I saw General Aguinaldo—the man whom I had considered as the personification of my own beloved country, the man whom I had seen at the height of his glory surrounded by generals and soldiers, statesmen and politicians, the rich and the poor, respected and honored by all. I now saw that same man alone in a room, a prisoner of war! It is impossible for me to describe what I felt, but as I write these lines, forty-two years later, my heart throbs as fast as it did then. I felt that the whole world had crumbled; that all my hopes and all my dreams for my country were gone forever! It took me some time before I could collect myself, but finally I was able to say in Tagalog, almost in a whisper, to my General: “Good evening, Mr. President.” 

“Good evening,” he answered rather coldly. 

I continued: “I have been sent by General Mascardo to find out whether it is true that you have been captured and if so to receive your instructions as to whether he should continue fighting or surrender.” 

General Aguinaldo did not answer. It was clear from the expression of his face (and very seldom did General Aguinaldo betray his thoughts) that he suspected me of being a spy. So I turned my head and showed him a scar on my neck caused by a treatment used by Filipino herb doctors in the villages to cure a fever. As soon as he saw the scar his face brightened somewhat, and he said: “I am glad to see you. How many more men has General Mascardo?” 

I answered: “About three hundred in Bataan, one hundred and fifty or two hundred in Zambales, with two or three rounds of ammunition.”

“How are you getting along with your food?” he asked. 

“Sometimes we eat nothing for twenty-four hours; most of the time we have rice twice a day, and very seldom we get fish or meat,” was my reply. 

The General then proceeded: “As you see, I am now a prisoner. I have taken the oath of allegiance to the United States and I have no right directly or indirectly to advise you to go on fighting. On the other hand, if I were to send word to General Mascardo to surrender, he might think that I am acting under duress and he would have the right to disobey me. General Mascardo has to assume the responsibility and decide for himself, whether he wants to surrender or not. If you see him, give him my best regards and tell him what you have seen, that is, that I am in Malacañan, very well treated by the Americans, but a prisoner just the same.” 

With tears in my eyes, I prayed, “God keep you, Mr. President,” and left. I went to the house of Dr. Alejandro Albert, a former colonel of the Philippine Army, and spent the night there. I did not sleep. I thought of General Aguinaldo, my country and the future—a very dark future as it seemed to me then!

Copy Paste

There are no penalties for plagiarists, no crimes for lifting written words from the Internet. Yes, you are right with that.

We only had opinions, commentaries that put you into the bad light. You said everything is a demolition job, a gimmick to sway the issue you fight. You said we overlooked your points, and focused on something that is, what’s the right word, uhm, petty.

But don’t be sad, and don’t whine. We got your message. It wasn’t hard to miss. With all the emotions surrounding it, the teleserye like happening, the drama, and everything else in between, truly, your speech is something we’ll never ever forget. Trust me.

And of course, you gave us something else to ponder—that is, honesty. This isn’t all about you copying from “mere” bloggers, Sir, but this issue is for everyone who write, whether it may be bills, speeches, articles, copies, and yes, even blog entries, FB wall posts, and Twitter updates. This is all about those who shop others’ ideas, and if not enough, even copy word for word, and then put it under their name. 

The subject here is not all about how we make a big issue on you plagiarizing, nor is it about all the so-called plagiarized materials ranging from laws, codes, and even our images (which is not plagiarism Villacorta, you even attributed that we were “copied” from God.  There’s the magic word, attribution. Nuff said) but it is about you, and others, being true, being honest to people, to yourself.

Even if there are no laws penalizing plagiarism, I believe that writers should have the decency to not copy one’s work. Yes, go on and read other’s compositions, we all need to research, to fill our minds with the pros and cons on the subject, to pack our thoughts with the opinions of others. But it is a no-no to click CTRL + C and CTRL + V to that sheet of paper. Please, when we were young, we were taught that copying from our seatmate is bad. Why can’t you follow that simple rule, even when no one’s watching around or punishing you for that?

This is not about you, being incompetent as a public official, nor is it about you, having fun as you help others on your noontime show. This is all about copying and pasting. This is about stealing the works of others. This is about dishonesty.

If you make a living out of words, maybe you’ll understand more. Writing is not easy. It doesn’t take talent, superb skills to string words and thoughts together. Writers, and yes, even bloggers, shed blood and tears just to have that catchy first one hundred words to hook their readers; they interview, investigate, immerse. It’s not as if ideas magically pop into their heads, then words playfully fill the pages. It is hard to write. It is hard to string words together. It is hard to get your ideas into paper.

There may be no laws against plagiarism. Copyright Infringement doesn’t cover the new media—which I believe, is the go-to source nowadays when it comes to researching. It is indeed, difficult to track down those who steal your words. But hey, laws will not be needed; this clamor, not pampered if all those who write will start disciplining their selves.

You can always paraphrase, attribute, and probably the easiest, use quotation marks. Do not be lazy, do not be pretentious. Admit to yourself that you’ve fallen so in love with that line that you can’t help but share it to the whole world. There are so many ways, inject your style, do not borrow others’ works. It defeats the purpose of writing. You write, you are not a photocopy machine.

Employed as a writer or not, I believe everyone should start being original and stop being copycats. That FB status will gain more likes if it’s written by you, that Twitter update will have more favorites if it’s your rant and ramblings. Your papers, speeches, notes, and all the other written words, perfect because it came from you. Wrong grammar and all, you should still be proud.

You know what, we have to thank you, Sir, for this issue. You opened our eyes into a taboo that’s been lingering for years. You gave a popular human face to a problem that Copyscape cannot solve. Suddenly, writers speak out, bloggers come out. We hate being copied, we hate not being credited.

Be polite. Respect other’s works. Be honest. Eyes may not be on you, the law may not be there, but it is your conscience that you’re fighting with. Go and abuse those quotation marks, it easier to click than the tired CTRL + C and CTRL + V.

PS: Please acknowledge me in case you share this. Lol.