Father Provincial offered me a seat in the car bound for Baguio to transport supplies. This trip which we used to make in four hours now took us nine, aside from the four days of preparation and securing of permits. What delayed us most were the stops and inspections at the police outposts. They examined—without reading, for evidently they did not understand—our passes and permits to purchase alcohol, use the car and bring supplies.
At the Villasis bridge, the Japanese sentry asked for a “sigarettu”. I offered him one but he snatched the whole pack without even a word of thanks for it.
We counted no more than three cars along the way. Where have the thousands of cars gone—those confiscated by the Japanese? We met a number of trucks loaded with goods and soldiers. Some trucks were driven by American prisoners.
Bulacan is intact, so it seems, and its streets are animated. Pampanga, meanwhile, is severely damaged, with the town of San Fernando and the north of Angeles burned. A great many sugar cane plantations were also burned. Tarlac and Pangasinan are deserted, with very few houses inhabited. Nobody—neither person nor animals—can be found in the streets. These towns which were once teeming with children, carabaos, dogs, chickens, and other animals, are now desolate, and the fields, razed, without a harvest. One would think an evil hand had transformed these green fields once so fertile and so populated into the Sahara Desert.
The bridges which the USAFFE had blown up in its desperate retreat, were replaced with improvised ones. I cannot tell how many of such bridges were built over dry river beds. We still have to see how many of them will be able to withstand the first typhoon.
People are hiding in remote barrios or in the mountains. Some of them return to their homes during the day, but go back to their hiding places at night for fear of the abuses of the army and the nocturnal pillages of armed bandits who burn and kill indiscriminately. Groups of communists, bandits or Sakdalistas who had accumulated arms left behind by the troops retreating to Bataan are increasing in number and ferocity.