December 22, 1944

President Jose Laurel, Chief Justice Jose Yulo and all cabinet ministers left early this morning for Baguio. The presidential convoy was accompanied by two truckloads of Jap troops armed with mg’s, two trucks of Malacañang guards, one car of P.C. men and one car of detectives. The convoy consisted of thirty or more cars. The President and the Chief Justice and Ministers left with their families. All Aviles, San Rafael and the vicinity of Malacañang were surrounded by a protective cordon of policemen, P.C. men and M.P.’s since last night to early this morning because all the puppet leaders and their families slept at Malacañang. Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, Jap Commander-in-Chief was said to have attended the last conference of the President and cabinet at Malacañang last night. Yamashita reportedly assured the puppets that the Japanese Army guarantees their safety. The Open City declaration was also informally discussed.

Amid persistent rumors regarding probable declaration of Manila as an Open City in view of continuous movement of Jap troops and installations and the transfer of the seat of government and the Jap Embassy to Baguio, first concrete indications were obtained from Mayor Leon Guinto’s office where draft of Open City manifesto is reportedly being drawn. President Jose P. Laurel will subsequently announce the Open City declaration formally, according to rumors. Manilans feel relieved at the sight of outgoing large numbers of Jap troops. Some fear the Sakdals might take over the reins of government. Others hope the G’s come in and drive out the Japs and Sakdals. Greatest wish is that the Americans “hurry up about Mindoro and land in Luzon proper and dash over to Manila whose gates gave been left open by Japs.”

Man being battered during the recent zonification of barrio Teresa, Sta. Mesa, two days ago, died of skull fracture. Blood oozed out of the man’s nose, mouth and ears. A total of 12 persons were killed in raid zonification. Victims were bayoneted to death.

Dr. Antonio Sison, president of the U.P. and head of P.G.H., was taken by the Military Police last night. The MP’s were dressed in civilian clothes.

In Rosario and Binondo districts, Japs picked up people in the streets this morning. They forced the unlucky ones to work with Jap soldiers. George Dee, prominent Manila businessman, was made to work for an hour in Rosario. Mr. Tong, laison officer of Chinese Assocation, tried to ask for an exemption, claiming that he had work to transact with Japanese officers. The reply was: “Military needs first. You help build the barricade.”

Saw three truckloads of Jap dead. The trucks were covered with leaves.


December 21, 1944

Significant developments. Puppet P.I. government moving to Baguio. Laurel and all Ministers including Manuel Roxas scheduled to leave for Baguio last night. Jap Embassy also hurriedly packing to transfer to Baguio. Jap Dept. of Information burning papers, will continue propaganda in Baguio. Speaker B. Aquino remained in Manila, promised to go up after wedding of his son Billy. Minister Antonio de las Alas expressed fear Japs will eventually bring P.I. cabinet to Tokyo. Gen. Paulino Santos, head of P. Constabulary, will reside in Malacañan. Japs planning to give Sakdals thru Makapili more extensive powers in Manila government.

Further indications Japs vacating Manila: big shipyard and iron works in Findlay & Miller docks being dismantled; ammunition dump in Pinaglabanan being transferred. All telephone installations of buttai 2944 in City being removed. Jap leather factory in Aviles has stopped work. Wives of Jap civilians left by train last night. Preparations to move sick Jap soldiers from Quezon Institute now underway. Non-stop movement of troops, trucks, tanks, artillery in Manila roads. Soldiers are in full pack. Trucks loaded with supplies and baggages. Roads leading to the outskirts of Manila filled with Japs leaving the city hurriedly.

Manilans agog by these new developments. Morale of people has risen to skies. Jap morale evidently on the downgrade. An old Jap who had been here 10 years said: “What do you think of all these things?” Manilans think Americans will be in Manila by the 15th of January. Landings will be effected “maybe before Christmas or New Year”. People suspect landings in Batangas. Everybody is in gay spirits. “No better Christmas could be had!” some say. Talk of open city revived.

Barrio Teresa, Sta. Mesa, zonified yesterday morning. All houses in said barrio searched. About 400 males corralled near Sta. Mesa market. Everybody made to sit under sun. One man being battered with a blunt instrument kept shouting, pleading: “Somebody please kill me, please, please, please.”

Victor Pagulayan, assistant manager of Naric, dying. After leaving Fort Santiago he was brought to the hospital. Several liters of water have been taken from his lungs.

Indications rise that RICCOA, newest rice agency, may be able to distribute around 600 sacks for Manila before Christmas, if Japs permit. It is reliably known that Japs have recently decided to take “all rice that can be procured from Central Luzon because of military needs.” Rice to be harvested will not be deposited in Jap bodegas in City. Harvest will be stored in warehouses along Central Luzon. This again indicates Jap intention to leave Manila. This will naturally worsen food situation in City, increase hunger-deaths. Doctors of San Lazaro hospital estimated that deaths due to chronic hunger in city around 500 daily. Many walking in streets can be seen suffering from vitamin deficiencies. Beri-beri rampant especially among lower classes.

With all these significant developments, I am of the opinion that Gen. Yamashita recognizes the untenability of defending Manila. The more troops he keeps here, the more will be sacrificed. Manila is indefensible due to its many exits and entrances. Consequently, Yamashita has taken away from city all material and people like the puppets whom he would not like to see in the hands of Americans. He has sent the bulk of his troops to the north. He has sent a minimum force to guard the coasts of Tayabas and Camarines and Batangas, most possible landing points. Yamashita realizes that his troops in the coastline will only be decimated by U.S. aerial and naval bombardment. Coastline of P.I. is flat and open. No natural protection to defenders from skies. Yamashita expects to make his stand in the north with his back to Japan. There he has natural protection, mountains, cliffs and food.

People are waiting for the zero hour. When, when will it come? Opinions range generally “from Christmas” to the first 15 days of January. Up to now the furthest I’ve heard is “around the month of March.”

Meanwhile collaborators have changed tune, speak differently. Even Aquino is changing his opinions. Opportunists, perhaps.

Guerillas are increasing in numbers. Some believe capitol of Batangas, taken by guerillas, with aerial support.


December 17, 1944

Landings in Mindoro.

Heard people talking about it in street-corners yesterday afternoon. The news spread like wild-fire: landings in Mindoro, Mindoro, Mindoro.

The Japs are stumped. American planes had complete dominion of the air over Luzon. They kept flying over Manila all day yesterday.

From the morning of December 15th to the evening of December 17th, Americans were in the air, bombing, strafing, reconnoitering. Traffic of trucks, movement of troops and supplies, were completely paralyzed. Bridges in Calumpit and Pampanga were bombed. Japs couldn’t move around in their cars, trucks, trains and boats.

Not a single Jap plane flew up to challenge the Americans.

Many and varied comments from people yesterday: The bombing was very accurate. The American planes circled over targets many times before dropping bombs. Japs have spread their dumps in private houses. Guerillas have given information to the Americans. Accuracy was important. They had to hit targets in between residences of civilians to minimize destruction and casualties. I saw an American plane flying just above the rooftop of our neighbor’s house. It flew very low.

Radio reports that 245 Jap planes were grounded in the Luzon area.

This morning in church the people forgot about the non-stop three-day raid, talked about the landings in Mindoro. Many people that were already depressed by the ‘delay’ in Leyte because of the Jap stand in Ormoc coupled by the bad weather, had happy faces in church this morning.

Consensus is that the Americans will finish with Mindoro in “a couple of days” and then “they will land in Luzon proper before Christmas.”

Some think: “New Year’s” …Happy New Year!

People believe landings will be effected in Batangas. It is very near Mindoro. “You can swim across,” said someone.

Personally, I believe the Mindoro landing is just a feint. A diversionary move. Main effort will be exerted in the eastern coast of either Tayabas or Camarines.

MacArthur now has the Jap Commander-in-Chief guessing. “Where will Mac land?” is the question today. Second question: “When will he land?” As far as I am concerned, I don’t care where, I only care for the ‘when’. I am damned tired of waiting.

Greatest surprise to most people has been the Japanese admission that landings have been effected by Americans in Mindoro. This is a great change in their news dissemination policy. Previously, they kept quiet about such landings. Now they have announced it as soon as possible.

Japs probably realize that they can no longer fool the people. You can’t talk of “Japanese aerial superiority” when Americans skylark without a single Jap interception. You can’t say there are still no landings when you hear the roar of cannons.

Japs probably want to prepare the people’s mentality. They want to prepare them for the big thing: the landings in Luzon.

Japs have not yet admitted Leyte campaign is finished, because they keep saying that their para-troop units have captured several aerodromes in Leyte.

Meanwhile food prices are going higher and higher. The masses can no longer afford the food. No rice. No viands. Only vegetables at prices that are fantastic.

The people say: “Never mind all that… as long as they return!”


December 16, 1944

I went biking yesterday to see the effect of the bombing yesterday and to hear the comments of the people.

Streets were empty. Traffic was paralyzed. Army trucks and cars moved around with camouflage nets. Many sentries posted in street corners.

42 civilians were wounded in Parañaque. Saw them in corridors of the P.G. Hospital. Most of them were hit by Jap A.A. shells which fell short.

Raid yesterday was non-stop –from morning to afternoon. I saw fires burning in the direction of Grace Park and Nichols and Murphy and McKinley.

People from San Juan say that a low-flying plane strafed a Jap truck crossing the bridge killing 4 persons. Consensus of opinion is that much damage was done to military installation.

Last night, conversation was on probability of landings. Some believe Americans have landed already somewhere in Luzon.

Heard three big explosions last night –one at 2 o’clock also.

Raid again.

N.B.

Vic and Neneng wounded. A Jap shell landed near the house. Yesterday 3 exploded but no one was injured.


December 15, 1944

A lot of things have happened during these last two weeks.

Flying fortress have appeared twice but at night. Japs got excited. To houses that still had lights on, they shouted and threatened “Close light! Close light!”

Yesterday, we had an all-day raid, from morning to afternoon. I saw the Jap planes flying very early. “That means”, said someone, “there is going to be a raid because the Japs always hide when the Americans fly over.” Sure enough, there was another raid, hooray! And not a single Jap plane put up a fight –at least I didn’t see any.

The Americans were flying very low –sometimes above rooftops. One fighter flew just above the house and I saw the U.S. insignia. The people in the field started to cheer and cheer.

Now everybody thinks “there is probably a landing in Luzon already” and some think “they’ll be in Manila before Christmas.”

Must stop writing. There is another raid.


November 12, 1944

Typhoon is over, the sun is up again and the sky has brightened to a clear blue. The bird that perches on the tree near my window is there again, fluttering its wings and in a while I’m sure it’ll begin to twitter.

No planes this morning. Everybody was expecting them today because they’ve visited us every Sunday morning for the last three weeks. We woke up early this morning because we thought the planes were sure to come. There were many people in Church and everybody hurried home because “they’ll come around breakfast time”.

Instead of the planes came bad news. Ramon Araneta who was brought to Fort Santiago two nights ago died in one of the dungeons. The Japs called up his daughter and said that she could take her father’s corpse. Mrs. Araneta does not know that her husband has died. All Manila knows about this “sudden” death. Everybody thinks that Ramon was tortured. The Japs went up to his house at midnight, searched every nook and corner, every drawer, behind portraits and tapped the panels and floors, questioned his wife, daughters and servants. They they told Ramon to dress up and they took him with them. I was in their house yesterday and three Japs investigated one of Ramon’s maids and they brought her to Fort Santiago also.

This death has shocked Manilans and if the Japs think this will intimidate the people, they are very mistaken. The reaction has been the contrary. More young men want to go to hills. Vengeance is in every heart. His burial will probably look like a demonstration as Ramon is very well known. His death is the fourth in a row. First, Teddy Fernando; then Almazan; recently Preysler, whose wrists and ribs were smashed; and now –Ramon Araneta. Conversation now-a-days is nothing but of Jap atrocities. The greatest propaganda agency for America is not the Voice of Freedom or KGEI or Free Philippines but Fort Santiago.

General impression downtown is that the Leyte invasion has bogged down because of the typhoon and mud and arrival of Jap reinforcements. Some think Luzon liberation will begin only after Leyte has been completely liberated. Others insist that Mac will “pocket” Japs in Ormoc and then “hop” on to Manila.

Meanwhile, Japs are getting stricter, more brutal and desperate. Filipinos have to submit to the indignity of being searched by Jap sentries in almost every street corner. Fort Santiago has arrested many Bataan and Corregidor veterans. They are alarmed at reports of enthusiastic collaboration of Filipino populace in Leyte and Samar and great activities of guerrilla units. It is not an uncommon sight to see dead bodies thrown in public highways. Four days ago, a naked corpse with ten bayonet stabs was sprawled in the small plaza between the Legislative Building and City Hall.

Food situation is getting more acute. Yesterday, a man entered the house and he was thin, haggard, skeletal, with a wound on his feet. He asked for “a little rice or soup or anything”. More such walking-corpses can be seen all over Manila as Jap trucks speed through streets loaded with sacks of rice and vegetables.

Many Jap soldiers in Manila now, probably getting ready to move to battle areas. Some reinforcements to Leyte are being sent to Sorsogon where they go on small launches to Ormoc or Carigara. Very few Jap trucks in City. Soldiers walk. Army men now wear their battle uniforms, steel helmets and camouflage-nets. They stop cars, rigs, bicycles. They confiscate all forms of transportation. The Jap Army is desperate. It has its back against the wall. But before they go hungry, the civilian population will have to suffer first. Hope lies in Mac. Come on America!


November 10, 1944

Announcement of Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita’s appointment as Commander-in-Chief of Japanese forces in Philippines has served to bolster Japanese morale recently on the downgrade due to successive U.S. gains in Central and SW Pacific, Leyte landings, inability of Japanese planes to combat U.S. raiders.

Main reason for relief of Lt. Gen. Shigenori Kuroda as Philippine Commander-in-Chief of Jap forces was due to air attack on Luzon by Halsey’s fleet on September 21 which caught Japanese Army completely by surprise.

When extent of damage caused by said raid to military personnel and installations was determined, Tokyo sent Lt. Gen. Takahashi to Philippines to replace Lt. Gen. Kuroda. But the new Commander-in-Chief made a serious political blunder, a few days after holding office. He immediately ordered the dissolution of the Philippine Constabulary due to reported mass “desertions” of P.C. garrisons in various provinces. This order was made without previous consultation with Puppet Jose Laurel, who is making strong efforts to convince himself that he is not a puppet. Puppet Laurel complained to Premier Koiso because he claimed Takahashi’s act was flagrant disregard of Philippine Republic which created Constabulary. This led to appointment of Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita.

Japs attach great importance to Leyte operations. E. Masatomi, Jap editor and columnist of Tribune, privately opined that “if we lose the Philippines, we lose the war”. He expressed strong belief, however, in ability of Jap forces under Yamashita to retrieve lost ground in Leyte and pointed to unceasing Jap attempts to reinforce Leyte garrisons under Lt. Gen. Makino.

During last few weeks, more or less, since naval battle off Philippines, several Jap ships have been able to land troops in Manila. Newly arrived troops looked haggard, weary and hungry. Some were asking for food from passers-by and many were asking if this was Australia. Evidently, Japs are not being told of reverses.

Meanwhile, Japs are rushing troops to probable landing points in coastal towns of Luzon. Trains are exclusively for Army use. Trucks, cars are being commandeered. Even bicycles are being taken on the spot as need arises. Downtown Manila is now filled with Jap soldiers walking around trying to find transportation.

Food situation is getting more acute. Rice is at ₱5,600.00 per sack and a kilo of pork costs ₱250.00. A banana –only available fruit– costs over ₱3.00. It is not an uncommon sight to see lean, hungry, dirty-looking men and children begging for “a little rice or anything” in Manila streets. Some persons search garbage cans for food or scrape the rice that trickles from Jap trucks carrying supply of rice to quartermaster depots.

Former Chinese consul of Iloilo, Cabo Chan is reported forcing rich Chinese in City to contribute sums ranging from ₱20,000.00 to ₱1,000,000.00 for creation of some sort of Chinese Army for the protection of Chinese under the sponsorship of Japanese Army. Those who do not contribute are brought by Japs to Fort Santiago and are kept under lock and key until they give their contribution.

Japs are now unable to ship rice from port of Aparri to Manila due to intensified submarine activity around Philippine waters. They are making preparatory moves towards unifying BIBA with Jap rice control whereby arrangement may be had giving Japs authority to draw from rice supply of Central Provinces.

When friends meet downtown, instead of talking about weather, usual greeting is “when?” and generally the answer is “very soon, maybe before the end of the month”. Most pessimistic view is “After Christmas, maybe!”


November 9, 1944

Just woke up from my siesta because the rain was entering the window. It looks like a strong typhoon. The Weather Bureau now under Japanese control refuses to give warning as to the strength of the typhoon. Dad thinks its No. 3 but that the vortex will not hit Manila. This kind of weather will hamper smooth operation of MacArthur’s offensive in Leyte and naturally the invasion of Luzon.

Manilans are now very impatient. Everybody is asking “When?” but then everybody answers the question with “not later that this month, of course.” Some think “After the typhoon, but definitely.” Others ask: “Will it be after Leyte and Samar have been completely taken?” or “Will they just pocket the Japs and skip to Tayabas or Camarines or Batangas or in all these three potential landing points at one time?”.

Guerrillas are getting ready for the zero hour. When the time comes, MacArthur’s troops will get determined assistance from the rear. Many young men are “going up”. Maybe they’re “up” already. I have been called for next Tuesday.

Pagulayan was brought to Fort Santiago yesterday. He was very ill with probably stomach ulcers. His sons came home and they were crying. This is the second time he is brought in. Papa guaranteed his good behavior with his life. My dad is very sad.

Dids Adriano was taken in also. They said he was buying grenades for guerrillas. He was apparently brought in by a Jap spy who “planted” the grenades.

Colonel Juan Moran was also picked up by the M.P. He was apparently lured by the notorious Madame Pansani who they claim is a spy also working for the Japanese.

No planes today. Japanese or American. Once a truck passed and I thought it was a plane. Japs are able to sleep these days. They are sure there will be no bombing while the typhoon continues. I hope the Americans arrive when the sky brightens.

And they better come before the year ends because the food situation is getting worse and worse. Rice costs ₱5,600 a sack.

Today’s Tribune announced Yamashita, Singapore’s conqueror, is the new Commander-in-Chief of the Philippine sector. There were also a lot of news stories about how Jap Kamikaze unit dives into aircraft carriers. Somebody remarked: “Why do they toot their horn so much about their readiness to die?” What about those American pilots diving at the Jap airfields and strafing from a stone’s-throw altitude?

Good crack I heard: Jap communiques always speak of planes that have not yet returned to their base after a daring attack on enemy positions. Somebody said: I was trying to see in today’s paper if those planes have already returned to their base.


November 7, 1944

Saw some of the Jap troops that arrived recently. They looked haggard, unkempt, underfed. Their shoes were made of black cloth and some were dragging their feet. Their uniforms were very dirty and smelly. Many of them were asking the people downtown f they were in Australia. No doubt Japanese people are being duped by their leaders.

Listened to the Voice of Freedom from Leyte yesterday. Heard Brig. Gen. Romulo speaking. I immediately recognized his voice although at times it sounded tired and far away. Then the Philippine National Anthem was played and I felt like crying. The last time I heard the Voice of Freedom was in Mt. Mariveles. I was lying on the ground, shivering with malaria. Brig. Gen. Lim of the 41st and Brig. Gen. de Jesus of the Military Intelligence Service were listening too. It was April 8th, the night the lines broke in the eastern sector. The Voice said: “Bataan has fallen but its spirit will live on forever….” there were other weary-looking, haggard Filipino officers under the tall trees of Mariveles that night gathered around the radio. All of us had tears in our eyes. Gen. Lim wiped his eyes with a dirty handkerchief and Gen. de Jesus turned around because he did not want to show his feelings.

Heard Clift Roberts speaking from Gen. MacArthur’s headquarters to Blue Network last night. He was poking fun at Radio Tokyo. He said that the soldiers in Leyte listened to Radio Manila and Tokyo for fun. Imagine the difference! Here under the Jap rule, we listen at the risk of our lives. One man was shot for listening in on KGEI.

Walter Dunn speaking to CBS described the rehabilitation work now being undertaken in Leyte. He said bananas cost 1 centavo each; now they cost ₱2.20 in Manila; Eggs at 3 centavoa piece in Leyte and here it costs ₱10 each; corned beef, .13 and here ₱25.

Its raining this morning. Maybe there won’t be any raids. I watched the planes yesterday afternoon hitting Murphy and U.P. site in Quezon City. They kept circling and diving over their objectives and there was practically no ground nor air resistance.

I don’t know why but my Jap neighbor came to the house yesterday. He was full of explanations. “We are just drawing them in”, he explained. I did not say a word. He also stated that their Number 1 General is here. General Yamashita, conqueror of Singapore. Gen. Kuroda is now in Baguio, he revealed.

Walked down V. Mapa with Johnnie and Eddie. We didn’t bow before the sentry. He got sore, called Johnnie. Eddie and I remained on the other side of the street. Johnnie bowed before him. “Discretion is the better part of valor,” said Johnnie.

Jap Military Police are now very active, taking people to Ft. Santiago on mere suspicion. One house near Johnnie’s was raided by about fifty M.P.’s with fixed bayonets. They arrested two doctors living there. According to rumors, the two doctors have already been killed.

The Japs have their backs against the wall. They are fighting a losing fight. Their actions are desperate. They’re commandeering all forms of transportation. Any rig they see, they take. They got all horses. They’re taking bicycles too. Filipinos can’t even ride streetcars these days. Its only for Japs. Everything in the market is being taken by them. They are the only ones using cars. Most Filipinos walk. Somebody said “They might take our legs too.” One fellow laughed at the idea. “I’m not wisecracking,” said the first fellow. “If they take our lives, why not legs.”