Remembering World War II in the Philippines
By Angeles Javier Aureus +
Wife of Leon Sa. Aureus
Guerrilla Captain Tangkong Vaca Unit, Libmanan, Camarines Sur
As Interviewed and Transcribed by her daughter, Leonor Aureus Briscoe
January 28, 2004
In December 1941 when war broke out in the Pacific, we — my husband, Leon, and I — were in the mountain of Lagonoy, in the province of Camarines Sur in the Philippines. We were both working at the mines owned by the Moll family there. At that time, I was pregnant with my first child, Vicente. When we heard about the bombing at Pearl Harbor, all the workers at the mines left for home to join their families, with the exception of Leon and me. Leon was in charge of the office, so the owners asked him to stay to help put things in order at the office.
Then Leon looked for someone who had a sailboat that could take us to his hometown, Libmanan. My youngest brother, Hilarion (Elen) was with us at the time and Leon asked him to bring one can of gasoline on the boat. Leon instructed Elen to take charge of the gasoline and if we were stopped by the Japanese on the way to Libmanan, Elen was supposed to drop it into the ocean.
After sailing for two days we arrived in Libmanan on February 23, 1942. The next day I delivered my first child, a boy, and three days later, we had him baptized and named after my father-in-law, Vicente. (My father-in-law was .one time alcalde mayor of Libmanan.) That same afternoon, Leon said he was going to Naga to meet some friends about starting a rattan business. His father, the old man Vicente, would look after me and the baby while he was gone.
On the morning of February 27, 1942, Leon’s uncle came by the house, very much agitated. He asked me if Leon was home. I said, no, he was in Naga. He said it was too bad because there was no more train to or from Naga; the last train was burned in Sipocot, along with two Japanese soldiers and another man who died in the fire. The two Japanese soldiers were assigned to bring rice supply from Libmanan to Naga. We heard that a group of guerrillas had stopped the train and burned it using a can of gasoline. I ran to my father-in-law and told him the news, adding that Leon could not come home because there was no more train. My father-in-law said not to worry because Leon knew how to take the boat to Libmanan from Naga.
Later that day, Leon arrived with two companions. I met him at the door and he asked where his father was. I told him he was in his room. He kissed me and asked me to attend to his companions, while he went to see his father. The men were carrying pistols and flashlights. Leon had a pistol, too, and a typewriter. The men introduced themselves as Captain Juan Miranda and Lt. Simeon Ayala. I told them that I was so happy and relieved that Leon was home because the last train burned down in a fire in Sipocot. They said they knew about it because they — including Leon — were the ones who burned the train, using the can of gasoline we brought with us on the boat from the Lagonoy mines.
When I heard this, I began to shake uncontrollably. Blood was running down my legs to the floor. Alarmed, Capt. Miranda ran to get Leon from his closed-door conference with his father and they rushed to my side and carried me to my bed, while Lt. Ayala called the doctor. The doctor gave me medicine to stop the hemorrhage. That afternoon they carried me with the baby to a covered boat which took me to the farm of Leon’s Uncle, Tiborcio Aureus, in Capilas. That’s where my baby and I stayed while Leon became active in organizing the Bicol guerrilla resistance movement in the province. He organized everything, including the boy scouts. During this time, a lot of Japanese forces had arrived in the towns and took control of Naga, the center of the province. They were so brutal, torturing and killing people suspected of connections with the guerrillas. They were responsible for a lot of looting, and the local people suffered so much under their rule.
Leon was very busy contacting guerrillas in other towns, collecting arms and ammunition from people who had them. He also appointed barrio captains in every barrio and got people to join the guerrilla resistance. Because of his underground work, we had to be careful and I had to go from barrio to barrio under the care of the barrio captain. I had two bodyguards assigned to me, plus my brother Elen, who was always with me in my hideout. I also had a maid to attend to me and the baby.
The original founders of the local guerrilla movement were Elias Madrid, his brother Policarpio Madrid, and Leon, who was the brains of the organization. Elias got his relative, Juan Miranda — who was in the Philippine Constabulary at the time war broke out — to be the captain. Every one of Leon’s brothers came up to join us only when the Japanese were looking for Leon’s relatives.
By the year 1943 the guerrillas were well organized and they sent some men to contact other guerrillas in neighboring towns. Miranda was sent to Isarog and Albay to contact Captain Padua. Turko was with Miranda and had joined us after Wenceslao Vinzons was captured and killed by the Japanese. On their way to Isarog, they met the men of Capt. Buenaflor who had a woman in their custody, who was to be executed in the forest because she was found out to be a Japanese spy, pointing to people she identified as guerrilla sympathizers. Capt. Buenaflor’s men shaved off her head and they were on their way to execute her when Miranda met them. The two guerrilla leaders - Turko and Miranda - fell in love with the woman and wanted her. The rivalry between Miranda and Turko took over the woman led to fighting between the two camps, resulting in the death of one of our rifle men. In the end Miranda won the woman and Turko separated from our group. By the time Miranda brought the woman to our camp, she was already pregnant.
Then Leon was assigned to go to Marinduque to contact Mayor Lapus and his men to join a mission to collect arms and ammunition. At this time, a truce was declared between the Japanese and the guerrillas. It was agreed to stop the “sakyadas” to give the local people a chance to plant. Everything was on “lie low” and there was to be no fighting during this truce. Lt. Sibulo and Lt. Mariano Aureus, Leon’s youngest brother, were assigned to campaign in the lowland barrios to get the people to work on planting their ricefields.
Lt. Sibulo and Lt. Aureus were passing by the Sipocot River when they saw some Japanese soldiers taking a bath on the river. Their uniforms, shoes, guns, and ammunition were spread out on the river bank. Unable to resist the opportunity, Marianing and Lt. Sibulo picked up everything that they found along the riverbank and took the items to thek camp. Of course, the Japanese were very angry and sent a letter to the guerrillas warning them to return the guns, etc. in 72 hours. When they didn’t get any response from the guerrillas, the Japanese went to Libmanan and hauled off Leon’s sisters and aging father and threw them into the garrison in Sipocot.
On the first day of their captivity, Leon’s sisters were not given any food. The next day they were given cooked camote and water. Fortunately, the Japanese released my father-in-law because he was taken ill and suffered a severe asthma attack.
Meanwhile, in Leon’s camp, the guerrillas held a big meeting about what they needed to do to help Leon’s sisters. Miranda and other officers were willing to return the firearms to the Japanese in exchange for the freedom of Leon’s sisters. But Leon disagreed, saying if his sisters were killed; it was part of the war. He reminded everyone that if we returned the firearms, the Japanese will use them to kill us. So he thought of a plan to rescue his sister. He ordered some of the men to get as many firecrackers that they could get from the local stores. Then he divided the men into five groups and strategically placed them in five different points from which they would open fire at the Japanese guarding the garrison. This way, the attention of the Japanese soldiers would be divided five ways and the firecrackers would make it appear like the guerrillas had more superior firepower.
This tactic enabled a group of Leon’s men to enter the garrison and kill the guard. Each of the men took one prisoner to escape. They jumped into the river and put a water lily on top of their heads with only their nose out of the water to breathe. This is how they saved Leon’s sisters from the Japanese who were looking for them. They stayed in the hideout for a while without going to town. Their attack on the garrison was very successful because of the diversion created by die firecrackers and the plan was well organized and executed. When the Japanese found out that their prisoners had escaped, they got very mad. They offered lots of money for people who could guide them to catch Leon and me. We were both wanted. Because I was pregnant with my second child, they thought if they could catch me, Leon would surrender. We knew of their plans because Leon had planted Filipino spies in the office of the Japanese, so we were able to get some news about they were up to. The Japanese began combing the mountain from six points and with the aid of a helicopter. Because of the truce, some of our men had gone down to the town to visit their families so they didn’t know what was going on in our camp.
One of our men who worked in the building of Camp V was captured by the Japanese. He was tortured badly and was forced to guide the Japanese to Camp V. That day my hideout was burned and I was housed in the hospital close to my hideout. As there was an epidemic of diarrhea he had the supply house cleaned, then he went to the hospital to get me and brought me to Camp V where I stayed in the supply house. That afternoon we got a report that one of our men was captured and tortured and that he would guide the Japanese to our camp. The supply house was at the back side of Camp V. Because I was in the camp, Leon decided to sleep with me in the supply house. If I had not been transferred to the camp that day, for sure Leon would have been killed because when the Japanese opened fire on the Camp, the first volley of gunfire was directed at the site where Leon’s bed was in Camp V. When Leon was out, the one who slept in that bed was his youngest brother, Marianing, but at that time, Marianing was in the lowland campaigning to get the people to plant. So that night the one who slept in Leon’s bed at Camp V was Elias Madrid’s son, Antonio. He died in the surprise attack by the Japanese, along with my cook who was with me in the supply house. On the first shot, it was directed at the site where Leon slept. Luckily he was with me in the supply house. At 2:00 a.m., we walked from Camp V through the forest and climbed two mountains. When we went down the mountain we saw a house with a light. We went direcdy to that house, without knowing it was the house of the barrio captain whose wife just delivered a baby. The barrio captain was cooking chicken with upo and he served us the chicken stew. We all drank the soup which tasted so good because we were all so hungry.
Here Leon left me behind while he took off again with the other men to return to Camp V to check how many of our men died during the surprise attack. They found out only two died, Antonio Madrid and my cook, a young boy named Jose. Then Leon decided to have me go to another hideout in another barrio, Malinao. After four days, I delivered my second child, a girl, born under a big tree. The ones guarding die area was the Ornante platoon under Lt. Moso and Lt. Mirasol. When it was time for me to give birth, they sent for a partera (midwife) to help me deliver the baby. They came back with no one because the partera was afraid to attend me. So they went back and got her to come at gun point. After the midwife cut the baby’s umbilical cord, they dressed me and the baby and off we went to another barrio because it was too risky to stay there; the place where I delivered my baby had been spotted by the Japanese. Because I was too weak right after giving birth, I was carried in a hammock borne by eight men who took turns to carry me. I could hear their heavy breathing and took pity on them so I asked them to rest and look for a horse that I could ride. They were able to find a horse and I rode on the horse on our way to Tinalmud, a barrio of Pasacao. Later Marianing came to join us, staying by my side to guide my horse. We had to cross a river and my horse was following Marianing’s horse. He successfully crossed the river without any mishap, but my horse slipped and I got sopping wet up to my neck. I was so afraid I’d get sick because I just had a baby. But I did not feel anything.
The Japanese continued to comb the mountains every day looking for me, knowing I was pregnant and I would not be able to travel far. Leon was worried about my safety so he decided to send me to Batangas, to the place of Juan Trivinio’s mother in San Juan. Leon looked for a big sailboat to be manned by people who were used to sailing on the ocean. He put Lt. Pasilaban in charge of our expedition. We left for Batangas after Leon briefed the men. If anyone asked, I was supposed to be from Batangas married to Mr. Pasilaban who is from Pasacao. We used a code to write to each other. I signed my letters, Pablo, and Leon signed his letters, “Lolo Victor.”
Leon stayed behind to “fight the Japanese to the last,” so long as his family was safe. I carried with me a letter from Leon to Dr. Castillo, one of his classmates in the University of the Philippines. He asked him a favor to help him get some ammunition from the Japanese since they were staying in the house of Mrs. Castillo (uncle?). Carrying Leon’s message was so dangerous because we had to go through Japanese sentry guards.
When I arrived in Batangas, I hid Leon’s letter in my shoes, then I went to the market with Mrs. Trivinio. We had to go down from the calesa to greet the Japanese guard, “Arigato!” I was so nervous, but we were able to get through without any problem. The only time I went to town was to do the marketing. We stayed two months in San Juan, Batangas until one of Mrs. Trivinio’s neighbors started asking questions. She was wondering about me, that I had small children without a husband and I had two men with me plus my brother. One day when we came home from the market, we found out that one of my guards had been questioned about who I was. But Santos never said anything about who I was. Because he wasn’t talking the interrogator picked a red hot pepper from Mrs. Trivinio’s garden and forced Santos to eat it. Santos ate the hot pepper as long as he wasn’t made to talk. When we arrived home from the market, Santos was having a high fever, the color of his skin was lavender. Mrs. Trivinio asked my other guard to fix a glass of coconut milk and she made Santos drink it. Then they gave him a bath and the next day, he was able to make “poopoo.” Early in the morning we left for Pasacao because spies were on my trail. While I was still in Batangas, Leon ordered his men to prepare a hideout for me. When I arrived we went directly to my hideout in the mountain of Pasacao. I was so surprised and happy to see my hideout was a big house, not a bahay kubo made of anahaw. It was nicely built with a hanging garden full of orchids and flowers. I felt so comfortable there. I was pregnant with my third child.
While I was in Batangas, lots of American soldiers were arriving in the Philippines. Major Barrows, Lt. Wood and Lt. Ensor were assigned to stay with our group. He had his own hideout as his headquarters called Kalayaan Command. Salvador Bigay, who was Leon’s secretary, was assigned to him. During this time, he was the head of all American forces in Camarines Sur. Leon said they came by submarine. He gave us lots of chocolate bars, carne norte (corned beef), cigarettes, and other canned goods. At that time there was an epidemic of dysentery and Major Barrows got very sick. Leon brought him to my hideout so I could attend to him. While Maj. Barrows was sick he assigned Leon to take charge of his headquarters. Even the American money was given to Leon for safe-keeping.
The responsibilities were turned over to Leon, not the two other Americans. On the day I was having labor pains with my third child, Leon received notice that some arms and supplies would be dropped in the mountain of Ragay. Maj. Barrows sent Leon to meet the supplies in Ragay as he still was not feeling well. Leon had to leave me with a partera because he had to go to Ragay. When he returned, I already had my baby — a girl. He was looking forward to a boy who would be his Junior. But because the baby was a girl, he said, we will name her Leonor.
With the fresh supplies of arms and ammunition, the guerrillas were able to fight side by side with the Americans. First they attacked the Japanese garrison in Sipocot. Next they attacked the garrison in Naga and they were successful in clearing these towns of the Japanese. The Japanese were leaving, moving towards Legazpi. With plenty of arms and ammunition, our combined Filipino-American forces were very strong. Next, they attacked Legazpi and just Like that, all the Japanese in the area were gone. Legazpi and Naga were the hardest to liberate because they were overrun by lots of Japanese soldiers, but because we had lots of arms and ammunition, and Filipinos and Americans fighting fiercely side by side, the liberation of Naga and Legazpi was a big success. Leon came to my hideout to break the good news and promised that very soon we would come out of hiding and go to town. When the people in the mountain heard the news, they were very happy; many of them came to visit me bringing chicken, camote, bananas, eggs. In return I gave them some parachute materials.
So we went home to Libmanan. We went direct to the church and prayed, thanking the Lord that we were alive and safe. When the priest learned that we were in the church, he asked his boy to ring the church bells. The whole town was surprised to hear the church bells ringing and ringing, so they hurried to the church to find out what was going on, some of them in slippers and not fully dressed. When the people came, the priest said he was going to say a Te Deum (thanksgiving) mass in our honor. Then we went to the old house of Papa Vicente, Leon’s father.
Later we rented the house of Dr. Villaluz. It was a big house, big enough to accommodate the Americans who were still in town. We had a big program and all the American officers and soldiers were invited to come to Libmanan to attend the affair. There were lots of speeches. We had a flag ceremony during which we lowered the Japanese flag and in its place, raised the American and Philippine flags. Captain Miranda raised the American flag, while Mrs. Angeles Aureus raised the Philippine flag, and one of our women soldiers, whom we called “Tandang Sora,” lowered the Japanese flag. After the flag raising, I sang a duet, “Bayan Ko,” with one of the soldiers. After the program, we all proceeded to the house of Dr. Villaluz where we had a big party. The house was full of Americans who slept on teheras (cots) up and down the hallway. My children Vince and Patsy were carried by American soldiers on their necks; they were even taken on rides to Naga and Libmanan by helicopter and got lots of chocolate bars.
During this occasion, Tobal Buenavie and Leon discussed the possibility of doing transportation business together in Pasacao where there was no means of transportation except by sailboat. So I went to Pasacao and rented a big house. I converted the upstairs into a hotel and the downstairs, a bodega. All the people going to Manila had to pass Pasacao and we had all the boats or lansa under our control. There were other hotels in Pasacao but I always got the customers first because that was the way they were given priority to board the boats. They took the lansa to Lucena and from Lucena they took the bus to Manila. Only when my hotel was full would the customers go to the other hotels. It was the same with the bodegas. Because I controlled the lansa business, customers went to me first to use my bodegas before they went to the other local bodegas. So I was making very good income.
When the Liberal Party held a political convention, Leon and Miranda went to Manila to attend it. Leon told me that if the delegates were called to Manila, I should ask Tobal to give the delegates free transportation in our lansa. So all of them got a free ride, even their companions. Leon brought with him P10,000.00 expecting he would be the LP candidate for representative. But Miranda wanted to run and ignored their blood compact earlier righter after the war broke out and they were organizing the guerrillas. They agreed that if they survived the war, they would support each other through thick and thin — Tobal, who is a businessman, would be supported by Leon and Miranda; Miranda, who is a military man, would be supported by Leon and Tobal; and Leon, who is a politician, would be supported by Tobal and Miranda. It was Diana, Tobal’s wife, and her brother who witnessed this pact when the three — Leon, Miranda, and Tobal — cut their hands to get blood and mixed it in a glass, added a little wine and drank their blood. Miranda broke the agreement. Poor Leon -who had the money, gave way to Miranda because he didn’t want our men to be divided. He spent everything we had earned, even when he lost the opportunity to become the candidate for representative. Tobal was very mad about this betrayal; so was I.
Then we returned to Libmanan because there was a train and airplane. We opened a grocery store in the market. We got two doors in the corner, one for our comprada, the other for our grocery store, and the third one for my school of hair science and dress- making. I hired a teacher who had a hair science and dressmaking school in Naga to come to Libmanan twice a week. On graduation Day, we joined with her class in Naga. At the back of my grocery estante, I set up a long table where people could play monte. My banker was Leoncia Ortiz, a rich woman. We divided the tong between us.
As to our comprada, we brought the copra to Manila and sold it to the NACOCO. For one trip of one bagon of copra, we made as much as P1,800 to P2,000.
In 1948, Leon received a letter from President Roxas to attend the World War II veterans affair. President Roxas died of a heart attack while delivering his speech.
In Ragay, we had a compadre who owed us P800.00 which he could not pay. While in his house, I saw a machine. I asked him what it was. He said it was a 16-millimeter portable movie machine. I asked him if he could give it to me as a collateral for the money he owed us. He agreed. Out of this I was able to raise lots of money — P20,000 - to use as downpayment to buy a big 35-millimeter machine. I was the first one to put up a cine in Libmanan. We called it “Cine Popular.”
Then Leon received a letter from President Quirino stating that Naga was going to be a city and Leon was being appointed the first city mayor. That’s how Leon became city mayor. Miranda had sponsored a bill converting Naga to a city. When Leon came home to Libmanan, he told me we were going to leave Libmanan and move to Naga. I objected because I was making good money from our businesses in Libmanan. But he appealed to me, saying that Naga residents were against him becoming the mayor because he was not from Naga. What would his critics say if they see that his own wife would not come and move with him to Naga. He said we could have the cine rented or get someone to attend to the business and I will just visit from time to time.
Leon’s reasoning won me over so I agreed to move to Naga with him. I sold the rights to our grocery store and closed down my hair science and dressmaking school. My students transferred to Mrs. Gonzalez’s school in Naga. I was pregnant with my sixth child (Jose Rizal) who was born just before the inauguration of Naga as a city. President Quirino and his daughter, Vicky, came to attend the inauguration. Senator Vicente Madrigal was looking for me, asking where is the first lady of Naga. Leon told him I was in the hospital because I had just given birth to a baby boy. Senator Madrigal and Vicky Quirino visited me in the hospital. Sen. Madrigal said to Leon, what shall we do, Mayor, shall we baptize the baby now and Vicky will be my co-sponsor? So Leon phoned the Archbishop’s Palace and told the Archbishop to prepare for a baptism because they were coming to have the baby baptized. Before the ceremony, Vicky Quirino asked Leon what the baby’s name was. “Jose Rizal,” replied Leon. “Why?” Vicky asked. Because he was born on the same day and the same time Jose Rizal, our national hero, was shot. Everybody laughed, including the Archbishop.
After that, Leon assumed his responsibilities as head of the city. He reorganized the city government, in all departments. He hired more employees, especially the police force as there was a growing threat of a Huk rebellion and there were rumors that the Huks were planning to attack the city. Leon went to Manila to ask for financial assistance from the national government, but the President told him that after the war, there was no money available to help the city. He told Leon, that’s why I appointed you so you can use your discretion.
Then Leon went to the Secretary of National Defense, Ramon Magsaysay, who was able to give the city some arms and ammunition.
Leon announced that the city police department was recruiting applicants to join the police force. In their interview, applicants were asked if they were willing to kill or be killed in the line of duty. The police force was increased to 80 men. Every day they had to undergo training. Leon called a meeting of all the proprietors in Naga City and told them that the city needed their help to improve the police force so they could adequately protect and secure the city. He told them about the Hukbalahap threat. He didn’t want money, just firearms.
The proprietors suggested that they rent a building to be used as a clubhouse where people could play poker, monte, mahjong, entre cuatro, bingo and all kinds of other games. All the long collected will go to the city police fund. The plan was carried out with Pading Dadi Mercado as the chairman of the club. I was assigned to enter the names in a ledger of everyone going to the club. The club was doing very well. Then came Governor Gallego and Congressman Miranda who asked the Mayor to use club funds to order supplies for their offices. Leon refused saying that the city was new and was in debt by PI5,000 when he assumed office. And the club was intended to raise funds for the city police force to help pay for their salaries. That’s how the governor and Cong. Miranda got mad at Leon and they invented all kinds of charges to get him removed as city mayor. They paid Councilor Flor Ybarola to sign a complaint of 13 administrative charges against Leon. So Leon had to go to Manila and appear in Malacanang for a hearing before Judge de Joya and three others (whose names I don’t remember) assigned to investigate the charges.
In going to Manila for the hearing, we had to occupy one bagon (car) of the train exclusive for the use of our lawyers and witnesses. We had six lawyers who volunteered their services - Dominador Padilla, Tomas Garchitorena, Jose Fuentebella, Atty. Tabora, Lorenzo Rosales, Atty. San Juan. In addition we had six lawyers in Manila who were classmates and friends of Leon in UP. After their first presentation, only five lawyers attended the hearings daily. Atty. Fuentebella who was the head of the Nacionalista Party in Camarines Sur, volunteered to defend Leon, but when he heard that he was adequately represented, he decided not to come anymore.
When we went to Manila, I had to bring our own food, drinks, mats, and blankets. I had cooked rice wrapped in tin foil, chicken and pork adobo, casag (crabs), shrimps and bananas. We stayed at Pading Johnny Cheng’s house in Harrison. I did the cooking with the help of my maid and one boy. During one of the hearings, we were stranded in Manila because there was a typhoon that hit Bicol and there were no trains, buses or airplane going to Bicol. Our lawyers were worried about their families in Naga. And Leon and I were worried because we had run out of money. Leon could not eat or sleep because of these worries.
So I went to Pading Johnny Cheng and asked to borrow a car. I went to the Senate and appealed to Senator Madrigal for help. I explained our problems. Right away he told his secretary to charter an airplane that would bring us back to Naga. When I came back, I broke the good news to everyone and they were full of praises for me. They were all very happy, including my maid and boy, who were very excited about riding an airplane for the first time.
The decision on the 13 charges was excellent. When we came out of Malacanang, I spotted Flor Yabarola. My blood was boiling and I wanted to wring her neck, but our lawyers stopped me. After the hearing, on the night before we went home, Pading Johnny entertained our lawyers at the hotel.
Leon resumed his responsibilities as mayor of the city until election time when he was forced to run for congressman under President Quirino’s ticket. The party lost. So he retired from politics and devoted his time to run a community newspaper, the Bicol Mail.
Later, I became the manager of a bowling and restaurant business in the heart of Naga City, named “Oasis” by Plaza Rizal. For decor, we had a native Philippine motif — a bahay kubo at the entrance with a lamp hanging and a banana plant on the sides of the door. I catered all kinds of banquets - political, social, and wedding, birthday parties, etc. All my waiters were in uniforms - black pants and white polo shirt with bow ties. My floor manager was Augie (Cabrera), a bakla. I targeted husbands and wives to come to the Oasis for night clubbing. And it was very successful, until I became pregnant with my 7th child (Nene Corazon). When it was time for me to deliver, I rented out the place and the business deteriorated.
I devoted my time to helping run the Bicol Mail. After my three older children graduated from high school, they went to Manila to study in U.P. After their first year in college, we decided that I would stay in Manila and attend to my three children. I bought the rights to an apartment in Gastambide, Sampaloc, near Mendiola Bridge and the University of the East, close to Malacanang and other schools (San Beda, La Consolacion) and took in boarders to supplement our family income while Vince, Patsy, and Leonor were studying in Manila. Afterwards, Vince worked in the GSIS office, Patsy worked with Foster Parents as a social worker, and Leonor returned to Naga and taught at the Ateneo de Naga and University of Nueva Caceres. At the same time she was editor of the Bicol Mail. I devoted myself to the paper as circulation manager and attended to the house and the younger children.
Patsy immigrated to Canada and after a year, got married there. Papa got sick of cancer and by November 1969, he was totally bedridden. Friends in high places arranged to have him airlifted to Manila so he could be treated at the Veterans Hospital, but Leon refused to go by plane. We had to have him be taken on the Bicol Express, in one of the first class train compartment. He was at the V. Luna Memorial Hospital for veterans until he died on December 31, New Year’s Eve of 1969.
Then Leonor got married, too, and moved to the United States with her husband. David Briscoe. We were left to take care of the Bicol Mail. Martial law was declared in September 1972 and our newspaper was closed down. We transferred the printing press to E. Rodriguez St. in Quezon City. But it was a real struggle to keep it going. When the opportunity came, I emigrated to Canada with my three children — Inday, Nene, and Boboy. And the Bicol Mail was left to the three boys — Vince, Junior, and Baby.