November 6, 1944

More bombings yesterday at 12, 2 and 4. Then early this morning at 4 and at 8:30 the Pier area was strafed and bombed. There were many ships there because several Jap divisions arrived. They probably came from Singapore.

Just received a phone call from Ning. He says that a bomb hit Paco Bridge. It was probably accidental. So far practically all bombs have been directed at military installations. In fact, most of the casualties have been caused by the shrapnel from Jap AA guns. One shell burst right in Julito’s room destroying his wardrobe and the walls of his house. His Jap neighbor ran to his hous to find out what happened. The Jap said “indiscriminate bombing by the Anglo-Saxons”. Then Julito picked up one of the fragments and it had a Jap inscription.

Right now we are still under ‘alert’. That means I can’t go out of the house this morning because the Jap sentries stop everybody on the way. They ask for passes or permits and I haven’t any.

There were several fellows here yesterday and the conversation was all about the bombing, of course. Julito thinks they will land in Luzon before Elections. James claims that Atimonan is already being shelled. Mama expects landings somewhere in Batangas. If Mama is right, we may see Romulo and Osmeña and Valdes and good old Mac before the 15th. Batangas is just about fifty miles from Manila.

Deputy Military Governor Figueras was here last night. He said he was called by President Laurel because the President had issued a confidential order “conscripting all able-bodied men from 15 to 50 for labor purposes”. Personally, I believe that labor conscription is worse than military conscription. Under military conscription, you at least get armed and then if you feel like turning around, you can do something about it. With labor conscription, you become human fodder. Imagine having to work in airfields, shipyards and military establishments. Figueras said Laurel told him “Fix this order up to make it look voluntary. The Japs demand Filipino labor for their roads, airfields and military installations.” Figueras said he will try to fix it up to permit substitution. This is a bad arrangement, in my opinion, because only the rich will be able to ‘buy’ substitutes. Figueras said he told Laurel that all young men will go up to the hills if this is publicized. It must be enforced quietly through the neighborhood associations.

Paier, our Swiss neighbor was crying yesterday. He received word that his best friend Carlos Preysler died in Fort Santiago (he must have been tortured to death). Teddy Fernando, a friend of mine from the Ateneo, was arrested a few months ago and his wife recently received word that she may get his corpse from Santiago. After this war, there will probably be many Jean Valjean stories about Santiago.

I’m still very depressed about the news of Eking Albert’s capture. He was actively engaged in guerrilla warfare especially after his daring escape from Muntinglupa Prisons where he was a military prisoner. Raul, who is also in the hills, wrote me a sad account of Eking’s capture. That means that 3 of my close friends are gone. Paquing who disappeared in Cabiao; Johnnie Ladaw who died in Bataan and now… Eking. Of course, there is a chance that Paquing is still alive. Who knows, he may still be in some underground unit?

I’m going to take my breakfast now. I wonder what it is. I haven’t eaten eggs for months now. It costs ₱10. When will I taste bread again and ham and… oh well. Probably it will be a little rice and dried fish because the cook was not able to go to market yesterday. And I don’t think he’ll be able to go today also. It’s good we still have a little supply of canned goods, which we bought four years ago. Heard Dunn of CBS kicking about corned beef the other night in a broadcast to America, imagine!

There goes the siren again….


November 5, 1944

Just came out of the shelter so I’m quite dirty right now. The bombing was quite stiff and the mud on the sides started to scatter all over the place. I can’t stand the shelter so I went out to take a look at the dogfights. Saw a plane shot atop Camp Murphy. First it started to spin downward and then there was smoke and finally it lighted up in flames. I didn’t know whether to be happy or sad. I don’t know whether it was Jap or U.S. The bombing began at about 8 a.m., just after Mass and it ended at 8:30. They came back again at 10. I wonder if they’ll come back before this afternoon.

Perrucho was here and he was complaining about his salary. He is receiving ₱22o plus corn ration of 200 grams. That’s certainly not enough. A ‘papaya’ costs ₱50. If you take your lunch downtown, it’ll cost you around ₱300. Then, of course, the conversation was all about the war. People think Luzon will be invaded before the Elections. Anybody who thinks otherwise is considered a defeatist. Papa told us not to speak very loud because outside the house there is a Japanese sentry. The Japs are very strict these days.

Everything is quiet right now, although we are still under ‘alert’. The radio is still blacked out. If you look out of my window and the see the fields and the carabao wallowing in the mud near Tito’s shack, you’d think there was no war.

Now I can hear the motor of Jap planes. There are three of them flying near Murphy. There are four columns of smoke in the direction of Mandaluyong and another one around Pasay.

Mama’s calling me for lunch. She says we better eat early because they might come back again.

I listened to the press dispatches from Leyte last night. In fact, I’ve been listening for the last of three nights. I like the shows of Dunn, Flarety, Clint Roberts, Cummison and others. The Time Inc. story was also very good.

P.S.

This is shocking news. Eking Albert was captured. You probably heard of his escape from Muntinglupa and his guerrilla activities. He is a great loss. He had a thousand and one ideas and he had nothing but his country in mind. He is a great kid.

Because of Eking’s arrest and the arrest of Gen. de Jesus I am very cautious these days. I have made arrangements for a hurried escape, just in case the Japs start knocking at my door one of these nights.


November 2, 1944

Must hurry writing this stuff because Joe’s waiting for me outside. Nothing much today. None of the usual processions to the cemetery to visit the dead. Tribune says that Laurel will give a speech on the heroes that died in O’Donnell.

On my way to Dad’s office, I saw many Jap trucks filled with supplies. They’re spreading their dumps to minimize destruction from bombing. They’re very afraid of raids. You ought to see how they scramble to their dugouts when they hear the siren. The Filipinos laugh at them and they get sore when our countrymen stay out in the streets and watch the U.S. bombers drop their cargoes.

There are sentries in many street corners again. They’re afraid of guerrillas. The City is full of these patriots and nobody can tell when they’re going to attack the Japs. This keeps the Jap on nerve’s edge and he’s very nasty these days.

The Japs are commandeering horses. First, they took cars, now it’s horses and bicycles too, according to Sal Neri. Damaso said that he saw gasoline tins being moved into our former house. Oh by the way, they paid us a couple of worthless Jap bills for rent. I felt like laughing. I don’t know why.

Many Jap soldiers walking in the streets. They haven’t got trucks. Transportation is a big problem for them. They try to bum rides from anybody.

Saw Formosan soldiers –you can tell when they’re Formosans because they’re very thin and underfed– building foxholes and dugouts. I wonder if they’re going to put up a stiff fight in the city.

Three main questions in the minds of people these days

First: When will they land in Luzon?

Second: Will there be heavy fighting in Manila?

Third: Will the Japs bring the Puppet President and his cabinet to Japan?

There is a fourth question any everybody more or less knows the answer but ask it anyway: What will the Americans do to the collaborationists like Aquino and Laurel?

P.S.

Dad have a good one during dinner time today. “Did you ever notice the names of our three Presidents?” he asked. “Yes, why?” I asked. Mrs. Quezon’s name is Aurora meaning Dawn; Mrs. Osmeña’s is Esperanza, which means Hope; and Puppet Laurel’s wife is Paciencia, which means Patience. We had our morning, our birth under Quezon, Osmeña’s regime is now filled with hope; and you certainly have to have a lot of patience during this regime of Laurel.


October 31, 1944

It’s three in the afternoon. Vic’s listening to the radio. Papa is reading Willoughby’s Maneuvers in War; Neneng is cooking; Lolo sleeping and Dolly is looking at the planes from the window. There are many planes flying but they’re Japs. You can tell by the metallic desynchronized roar of the engines. There’s one plane flying very low. It passed directly on top of the house. There was a time –just after Bataan when I would dive on the floor when I hear a plane. I must’ve been bomb-shocked but I didn’t realize it.

Received a letter from a friend in Baguio. She wrote it a week ago. There are no more mail deliveries. If you want to send a letter, you’ve got to look for some fellow who’s going up or down from Baguio who’ll be kind enough to play postman for you.

Went downtown this morning. I was soaked wet by the damned rain. It’s been raining since yesterday afternoon. There seems to be a weak typhoon somewhere. Saw carromatas being commandeered by Japs in Avenida Taft. Heard too that Tio Charlie’s car was taken by Jap soldiers somewhere in Tarlac. He was evacuating to Baguio because the Japs took his house. Saw Feling Avellana who was trying to sell his wife’s ring. “I need it for food”, he explained. Life’s getting tougher these days.

The Tribune says the Americans are shelling Lamon Bay. That’s about 60 miles from Manila in a straight line. Why don’t they hurry up because this waiting and waiting is killing me? Somebody told me the suspense is like waiting for the bride to appear in Church. Saw Emilio on my way home. He was looking at the map.

I can hear the sound of blasting somewhere in the direction of McKinley. I’ m afraid the Japs are planting mines.

Heard the G8s have been tipped to expect landings on either the 3rd or 4th.

Listened to broadcasts from Leyte to America by the different newspapermen there. Liked Cliff Roberts’ “personal report”. Time had a good story on the naval battle off Leyte Bay. Courtney had a good report on the rehabilitation work in Leyte.

P.S.

Heard that Romulo gave a nationwide instruction to the Filipino people. It was short, dramatic: WORK OR FIGHT!

There are no more planes flying. The sky is also beginning to brighten up. No more rain. I hope the typhoon blows far out of here and then maybe they can commence landings in Luzon.


October 29, 1944

Went to Mass with Mama and Neneng at 6:30. It was still dark. We didn’t bow before the sentry and he said nothing. Maybe he was in a happy mood. The Japs are in a happy mood. Their Propaganda Corps has been telling them for the last four days of great naval victories in Sulu Sea. Our Jap neighbors were drinking and feasting last night and shouting “Banzai! Banzai!”. Right now I can hear the radio saying something about outstanding victories in the waters east of the Philippines and that the American fleet is almost entirely crippled. Now he is boasting that MacArthur’s troops are stranded on Leyte. (Wait, I hear the roar of planes, many planes)

I can’t see them but I’m sure there are planes above. Maybe they are Japanese. There have been no raids these last four days. Some people are quite disappointed though many say that its just the lull before the storm. I’ve been trying to take bets that there will be landings in Luzon before the 7th or 15th and no one wants to call. The Japanese however interpret this lull as proof of the sinking of many aircraft carriers in Philippine waters. In fact, I can hear the radio saying this very thing right now. “The complete absence of raids in Manila for the last four days is proof,” he says, “of the crippling of the American Navy in the waters of…..” (Wow. That sounded like a bomb. More bombs. Yes, I can see planes diving at Nichols Field. Yes, that’s the direction of Nichols Field. There are hundreds of planes, Papa and Mama and Neneng are running to the shelter. My gosh, Vic and Dolly are in Church. The Japs have been surprised again. Now the siren is giving the air-raid alarm, late again. The poor commentator has to eat his words. Now the AA guns are barking. But the planes don’t seem to mind. They keep on attacking the airfields and the Pier areas. Now I can hear machine guns, strafing probably. There’s not a single Jap plane intercepting. The Japs in the next house are now very silent. I can see them crouching in their foxholes. The Filipino boys in the fields behind the house are watching the planes and they are smiling. I got to leave now, AA shrapnels are falling nearer and nearer the house. I think I heard several drop on the cement pavement near the garage. Yes, Ma is calling for me. She gets nervous if all her chickens aren’t around her. I can hear more strafing. And there goes a big bomb. It shook the whole house. This is a pretty long raid. There goes another bomb and another…… Wish I could tell that radio commentator “So you’ve sunk all their carriers?”

P.S.

Raid’s over. Now I can see Jap planes flying, four of them. They are flying very low. Still no radio. I’ve got to have our short wave fixed. The only trouble is they might inspect this house and this is no time to get imprisoned, not when liberation is almost at hand. Oh I guess I’ll take a chance. They say Mr. Romulo gave a swell speech the other day. Tear jerking, said a friend.


October 24, 1944

There are bombers flying. Nope, they’re pursuit planes, plenty of them, about fifty. They’re up too early, I think. Ben’s looking at them and he says they’re Japs. Yes, I think he is right. I can hear that familiar metallic roar. Tia Mameng is nervous. She says there’s an air-raid signal. “I heard the siren”, she is telling Papa. The old man is still sleepy and he is saying “You can be sure there won’t be any bombing.” “why not,” Tia Mameng is asking. “Jap planes don’t go up when there’s a raid and they’re up now.” Vic is opening the radio to verify. Now, its not a raid. They’re playing a boogie number, “In the Mood” I think. Wait… I think that was an AA I just heard. Yes, siree, the guns are firing at something. It’s a raid, and the Japs have been surprised again. The radio is still playing “In the Mood”. Wow, I can see U.S. planes right here from the porch where I am typing. There goes five, ten, twenty, wow… so many…. heading for the Bay area. Now the house is shaking but they’re bombing the other side of Manila so I can still type. I want to give you a blow by blow description of this thing. Nope, change my mind. It’s getting too close. This blow-by-blow story might end up with this bum blowing up too.

P.S.

The radio announcer is excited. “There is an air-raid,” he says. There goes the siren giving the air-raid alarm. Caught asleep again, heh, heh.


October 23, 1944

It’s five days since I’ve last written because I’ve been too excited. So many happy things have taken place which you’ve probably heard. They’ve been very unexpected but certainly most welcome.

Well, first there’s the landing in Leyte. The consensus was that they would land in Mindanao or perhaps Luzon so Leyte was quite a surprise. The Japs have admitted the landing but they’re trying to belittle it. Its been placed in a small corner of the front page. A lot of emphasis is being placed on the Taiwan affair. They’re tooting their horn about the aircraft carriers sunk, which to me is plain baloney. It seems they even had a sort of victory parade in Tokyo. People here think the Jap leaders are pulling the wool over the eyes of the Japs and that ought to be easy because they’re chinky-eyed.

What really was a great surprise was the res-establishment of the Commonwealth Gov’t on Philippine soil. I’m not a very sentimental guy, but when I heard Osmeña and Romulo and Valdes and the rest were already in the Philippines, I wept like a kid. And when I repeated the story of how Mac landed to Dad, his eyes got moisty.

Everybody is jubilant these days. When you walk the streets, people greet you with “Have you heard? They’re here.”

The question now is when will they land in Luzon? When will they be here in Manila? Most pessimistic version is that they’ll be here around the 31st of January. Conservative estimate is one month. I think that if they land in Batangas, they can be here in a week. But I think I’m letting my anxiety get the best of me.

Anyway, there’s one thing definite, certain, they’re going to be here and it’ll be very soon. Quite anxious to see Baby and Nini. Gee, I wish their old man pulled through. Sometimes I think he’s still alive.

Yes, men like him, never die. He is the greatest man I’ve met.

It’s raining right now. A lot of people think the weather is keeping the Americans from attacking Luzon. Darn this rain…

Trains are loaded with Jap soldiers. Emilio says they’re going to the Bicol regions. They expect landings there. In the provinces, all forms of transportation are being commandeered. They take even push carts. Saw several carromatas and calesas in a Jap truck. How can such a poorly equipped army win this war?

I’m going to hear the radio now. Somebody said you can hear the Voice of Freedom again.

Mr. Paier, a Swiss, came to the house excitedly just now. He said he got a report that landings have been effected in Aparri, hooray. Pop thinks this is just “rumor”. I told James, my Chinese neighbor. He jumped with joy. “They better come quick,” he said, “because rice is now at ₱5,000”. I said “Don’t worry, they’ll be here by November 15th”. I’m crossing my fingers.

I can hear the roar of planes this very moment. Nope, they’re Jap. Their planes have a funny roar, kind of metallic and desynchronized. They’re flying very high though…


October 18, 1944

I don’t know what history books will write about this day. Maybe they’ll put it down as the beginning of the offensive for the reconquest of the Philippines. Or probably they’ll note it as just the 7th day of the naval attack on Taiwan with diversionary raids on the Philippines. To me it’s the day I had a narrow escape. A machine gun bullet struck our shelter, fortunately on the concrete side. If it had hit an inch higher, it would have penetrated the thin wooden panel and I wouldn’t be writing this now.

I don’t know how many U.S. planes raided Manila today. They looked plenty and I didn’t have time to count because AA shrapnel started raining around our garden. By the drone and by the glimpse I had, I judged there were at least a hundred.

October 18 to this tramp means nothing but several hours in the air-raid shelter, Mama nervous about Vic who refused to take cover, Neneng praying the rosary, grandpop smoking a cigar, Dad going in and out of the shelter to take a look and then to hurriedly run in when the earth begins to shake, and the dog trying to squeeze into the shelter.

Tio Charlie finally got a pass to go to Baguio. They’re all packed but they can’t get alcohol for the jitney. The Hoodoboo promised to give them but so far the promise has not been fulfilled, as most Jap promises.

It’s been raining the whole day. It’s a wonder the U.S, planes were able to fly over. Pop says the seas are very rough on days like this. The laborers who were piling Mr. Paer’s galvanized iron under the house were very happy when they saw the planes. They were scared when the shrapnel started to rain but there’s no Filipino who isn’t willing to put up with a little suffering, a little hardship in order to see the Rising Sun torn down from the flagpole.

Grandpop thinks the raids won’t stop anymore until the day of liberation. I think so too. Mama thinks “it’ll be later yet”. Mening thinks or rather hopes the Americans will pulverize Japan so we can just be freed by agreement –the easy way out. Others think these are just diversionary raids. Main objective of the fleet at present is Taiwan. Others don’t think anything. What do you think?


October 17, 1944

Still no bombs, I’m sore. We were having breakfast when the “air-raid” alarm sounded. You can’t hear it very well out here in Santa Mesa but the servants in the kitchen said the sentries have placed the red flag and that means there’s an air-raid. I opened the radio to verify and it was blacked off.

Outside the house, the Japanese soldiers were hiding behind the trees and bushes. It’s funny looking at those guys react. The Filipinos are taking it very calmly, in fact, joyously. And they’re so nervous and jittery. Our Swiss neighbor said that some ten or twenty Japs entered his garden and hid in the bushes with their gas-masks on.

There were many planes flying –about 80 of them– but they were all Japanese fighters. Some were flying very low and others could be hardly distinguished above the clouds. Then it started to rain and at about noon time, “All-Clear” was sounded.

Several people were getting disappointed. They are asking: Maybe there is some truth in the Japanese claims of 12 aircraft carriers sunk? Is that why they can’t bomb anymore? Others are angry. They say: “The Americans shouldn’t have bombed at all if they were going to stop like this. It only gave the Japs a chance to spread their dumps into private houses. They should have kept it up, bombed on and on”. Only consoling note is the fact that Formosa is being bombed and rebombed. People say that this is a prelude to the invasion of the Philippines. “They’re neutralizing whatever help Formosa can give to the Japanese here when invasion comes” according to Joe.

Tio Charlie is still here. He can’t go to Baguio because of the air-raid alarms. I wonder if Baguio is a safe place. A lot of people are going there. I think it’s a bottle-neck, a rathole. If something happens to the zigzag, you’re imprisoned there. Oh well…