Home all day. There was no work, and there was no place to go. At noon, waves of Japanese bombers circled and circled over the city unopposed and untouched. Is this the meaning of open city?
The declaration of Manila as an open city would mean its complete demilitarization, the removal or destruction of all military installations, and a hypothetical freedom from bombing. The cases of Rome, Paris, and Brussels, which were declared open and were not bombed, were cited as an argument for the declaration of Manila as of the same category. On the other hand, who wants to be like Rome, Paris and Brussels? Look at them now.
There is, besides, no guarantee that the enemy would, in the present case, respect the “open city.” The declaration would create a “right” which the enemy may or may not recognize. One man’s right may be another man’s inconvenience, and convenience is the sole law of war. We would have, therefore, for the declaration, immunity of a sort, if it pleases the enemy, and against the declaration, what amounts to surrender.
Meanwhile, as the headquarters of the United States Army Forces in the Far East, along with Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the commanding general, left the city, Manila prepared to assume the supine role of non-combatant.
This morning the enemy raided Nichols Field –what is there left to raid? More reports on yesterday’s raid on Port Area placed the number of persons killed at 43, those wounded at 150. At Atimonan, the enemy’s landing force advanced a mile inland a short distance but was driven back by our force. The enemy, however, continued to bring up more reinforcements and Tayabas, where there had been previously little more than desultory patrol activity, now flamed into the third major battleground of the Philippines. Davao and Lingayen are, of course, the other two. USAFFE headquarters declared itself satisfied with the conduct of American and Filipino troops.
Listening to the radio in the evening, I caught an announcement that “the city will be evacuated within 24 hours”. Later, the announcer carefully corrected himself and informed his listeners that the evacuation of the city would “begin within 24 hours”. It was, as far as I was concerned, the worst moment of the war. I must leave home, books, work. A sense of utter loss washed over me. At the end of the broadcast, it was announced that the city to be evacuated was Cebu, not –as many misunderstood– Manila.
Merry Christmas, after all.