Diary of Eriberto B. Misa Jr.

December 2, 1944

Instead of twiddling our thumbs a full day, my father decided to look over Balanacan harbor to be able to render a more complete report on the air-naval battle we witnessed there exactly a week before. Balanacan is near Argao so we were there in half an hour of paddling. Evidence of the recent air-naval battle was all around. Reddish oil was still oozing from the two cruisers of the “impregnable” Japanese Imperial Navy — now in Davy Jones locker — sunk by the “dwindling and demoralized” force of American Navy planes. Along the shore of the cove were debris, boxes, straw, blasted launches and bloated naked bodies – Jap bodies. We put ashore to get a good look. The stench was sickening and suffocating. Some bodies were decapitated others armless or without legs. We saw arms and legs and heads without their bodies … a striking picture of Japan’s defeat. A lot of paper littered the shore.

The day after the air-naval battle, the shore was given a once over by our men for any arms worth salvaging and for any chance scrap of useful military and naval information. We already had a sheaf of such military and naval papers in the portfolio we carried. Yet my father and I kept scrutinizing papers as we came to them. One blasted body in an advanced stage of decomposition was still dressed. I was ordered by my father to search its pockets! With a sour face I approached, puffing out clouds of smoke from my cigarette to counteract the unbearable stench. As lightly as I could, I opened the pockets. All were empty but one. From it I drew a notebook. After looking it over we decided it was a diary. After this, until we returned to Argao, I did not know what to do with my contaminated hands!