Diary of Juan Labrador, O.P.

September 23, 1944

Although the alarm sounded, the musician of the sky was actually playing its music elsewhere today.

How big were the casualties of both sides in the raids yesterday and the other day? After releasing conflicting figures, the local press adopted the data given by Tokyo, which had more precise information on what was happening here. Out of the 500 attackers, the number of American planes shot down, but the figures given seemed to be inflated. Yesterday, official sources reported that out of the two hundred planes, nineteen were shot down. Another exaggeration. The damage done in military installations was allegedly insignificant. However, anyone who saw the fires could not believe that.

More than 20 ships were sunk in the bay. The only information I have of the airfields is the report about Nielson Airbase, which I received from someone who lived about forty meters from the base. According to him, twenty-eight planes were burned, the strips were destroyed and the hangars were reduced to their framework. Several hundreds of workers and Japanese soldiers were killed by enemy machineguns. This base is the smallest among those installed around Manila. At both sides of the street along Baclaran, mounds of debris from a portion of Nichols Airbase could be seen. Fort Stotsenberg in Pampanga was greatly damaged by heavier bombs. Those who heard Radio San Francisco were more inclined to believe the figures of casualties in these three raids; namely, about five hundred planes, seventy ships, aside from the total destruction of Piers 1, 3, and 5, and the partial destruction of the monumental Pier 7.

More than two thousand port workers who lived and worked in the vicinity of the piers have taken refuge in the Cathedral where they are sheltered. The attacking forces have left them without food and without employment. Because someone ran amuck and killed a soldier, the Japanese have cordoned the vicinity of the Cathedral from all passers-by and searched a number of houses.

President Laurel has declared Martial Law over the whole Philippines, “there being an imminent danger of invasion, and such being required by public security.”