Diary of Felipe Buencamino III

September 21, 1944

Note: after the last previous entry, April 20, 1942, the diary resumes at this point.

U.S. planes bombed Manila this morning and afternoon. They came from the northeast like a hundred daggers stabbing through a cloudy sky. They were dark, thick-set, chunkily-built, short-winged, heavy-nosed birds. They had an ominous roar, that rose in an ever-deepening crescendo. They were flying confidently, serenely, masters of the tropic sky. They looked like eagles flying above old familiar haunts, searching for the hawks that once surprised them out of their nests. They were returning to their old home and in their wings they carried tons of revenge.

Mike and I were watching four Japanese planes simulating a dogfight while AA gunners fired smoke-shells at them. Then all of a sudden, Mike shouted: “Look!” He pointed a vast formation of light bombers. We started counting, 20, 40, 80, we gave up the idea. They were so many and they were coming from all directions. Then the AA guns started firing at them and the cannonading began to shake the house and the sky was filled with shell-bursts that looked like flowers blooming. But the planes flew on, on, on, steadily towards their objectives. Dad ran to the garden to watch the planes. They were flying in the direction of Nichols and Murphy. I ran to the window upstairs and I saw a sight that filled my heart with joy. Mike beside me had tears in his eyes. We saw those planes circling around Murphy and then one by one, they dove, dove, dove and the earth began to shake and the windows in my room started to rattle and then columns of smoke and flames rose from where they had dropped their cargoes. The girls ran to the air-raid shelter because by this time pieces of shrapnel were falling on the tennis court. A stray bullet pierced through the roof in grandpop’s room but no one was hurt. This was at 9:40 a.m. I looked at the time because I have been waiting for this sight for more than two years –since the bloody days of Bataan.

The planes came back again at 10, 10:30 and 11. Everybody at home was happy. “It won’t be long no.” Said Mike. The Japanese across the street were very nervous and the sentries ran to their houses to get their steel helmets. It was a funny sight.

In the afternoon, a Japanese soldier who spoke broken English came to the house. He said that the Pier area was bombed and rebombed and that two of his friends were killed. The poor soldier was very nervous and papa told me to give him a glass of water. But before I could get the water for him, the bombers were back again. Joe Meily and I climbed the roof of the garage and we watched them circling over the Bay area. They were flying very low but not a single Japanese plane came up to challenge them.

By night time, there were a dozen fires all around Manila. My aunt and cousins slept on the lower floor of their house “just in case they come again”. While I was just about to sleep, there was a very strong explosion that almost threw me out of bed. Vic says it may have been a time bomb. Then the phone rang. “At last, its fixed!” Says Vic. Bustamante was on the line. He reported that several people were killed in Quiapo by AA shrapnel. He also said that Manilans might have water by tomorrow morning as the Metropolitan Water District was doing its best to repair the broken pipes. I haben’t had a bath the whole day.

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