October 15, 1944

Hooray, there were here again… this morning. They came at about 10 o’clock, after Mass. Of course, you know who I mean by “they”.

Japanese planes went up this time. People said there were many dogfights around Caloocan. Several civilians were killed.

I saw a heartbreaking sight. An American aviator bailed out. First, he looked like a toy dangling on a white umbrella. Then his figure became more distinct and people started shouting “Parachute, parachute!”. When he was just above the housetops, Japanese soldiers started firing at him. I even heard the rat-a-tat of machine guns. Made my blood boil, this slaughtering of a fellow that’s defenceless. Can’t conceive how the Japanese can interpret such an act as bravery.

No more raids this afternoon. The radio is announcing this results. All-clear has been sounded. A Japanese major –our neighbor– visited us this afternoon and there was a smile on his face. “We drove them off,” he boasted and “12 aircraft carriers were sunk”. I wonder if that’s true. Maybe there is something to it because not so many bombs were dropped and they didn’t come back anymore. I’m sure there was not much damage this time, as compared to the first raid. First of all, the Japanese were not caught by surprise. Secondly, they had enough time to spread their supplies and to even intercept. I didn’t feel the ground shaking like last time. And unlike the first raid, I actually saw many Japanese planes scouring the skies. I’ll listen to KGEI tomorrow to see what America has to say about this raid. Personally, I have a feeling they didn’t do so well. I hope I’m wrong.

Several of the boys that came to the house to play basketball believe this is the prelude to invasion. “The raids won’t stop anymore,” they say. One fellow said this was Halsey’s fleet on its way back to its base after the Formosa raid. Oh well, let’s wait and see….


October 14, 1944

Today’s the first anniversary of the Philippine Republic, heh, heh. Puppet Laurel declared: “The first-year of the Republic has been a success”. He forgot to say that during this republic’s first year, the people have had less and less food. The BIBA has distributed rice only three or four times. There has been no peace and order, no….. oh why crab about it.

More houses are being taken. Revilla’s house is being taken by the MP and so is Dr. Vazquez’. Tio Gabriel complained to Mayor Figueras because Japanese soldiers entered his garden and take a bath under one of the faucets, and they enter his house and sit on his porch!

Tio Phil said that the Japanese will commandeer cars beginning today. We better hide the Buick. As a matter of fact, a Jap went over to the garage of Tia Mameng and wanted to commandeer her car. They’ve taken her house, now her car. When will these people leave us? Tio Gabriel said that someday they’ll take the air we breathe.

People expect bombing today. I’m crossing my fingers. There are many Japanese planes flying right now….


October 13, 1944

Manila

Tribune headlined U.S. raid on Taiwan. They claim that a hundred U.S. planes were shot down. I wonder how much damage was done. Question is now being raised as to whether the U.S. will attack Formosa before the P.I.? Or is the Formosa raid just a diversionary attack? Or will they head for the Japanese mainland immediately?

All-clear sounded this afternoon. People are disappointed. “When, when, when will they come?” is on everybody’s lips. Some think “Maybe they won’t be here before Christmas” but nobody doubts that “they’ll be here before January”.


October 12, 1944

Haven’t written for more than a week because I’ve been sick. Got attacked by malaria again. Thought I had ice in my blood. Shivered like the dickens. Went to Lolo Pepe’s house yesterday. When I entered the door, I knew something wrong was happening. There was nobody around. I went to the old man’s room. Everybody was crying. He was agonizing. Cancer. He died at exactly 3 p.m. He is resting now. He was a grand fellow. He wanted to live, I think, just to see how this war was going to end. His daughter said his last word was: “I can’t anymore.” May he rest in peace.

Alarm sounded this afternoon. About fifty Jap planes went up, practiced formation flying, simulated dogfights and imitated the way U.S. planes dove over the Bay Area. It was a poor imitation. They’ve got a new type of plane. If the Americans return or rather when they return, we will probably see good dogfights.

A Japanese visited Tio Phil and told him that 700 U.S. ships were sighted north of Luzon including 100 aircraft carriers. I wonder if this is the invasion fleet, cross your fingers.


October 2, 1944

When you meet a friend in the street today or anywhere for that matter, the first thing said instead of the usual “nice weather eh” is “Well when do you think?” or “How long more?” and you are expected to say “very soon, man, maybe in a day or so” otherwise you are apt to be taken for a defeatist or a pro-Jap. And then you lower your voices and look around you and then “You’ve probably heard the latest from KGEI, haven’t you?” and of course the answer is “You bet, so many more miles to Berlin and the British Navy is already in the Indian Ocean and so many Jap planes and ships sunk here and there, heh, heh.” And of course, if the conversation gets prolonged it usually turns to the food situation. “Wothedickens, did you know how high rice is at present?” and “while we Filipinos starve, the Japs are giving white rice to their horses, to hell with co-prosperity.” And this is the usual end of all talk: “With all this obvious unfairness and oppression, how the hell can that guy Aquino and Laurel be such pro-Japs?” …. oh well!!

Still no bombing, still no landing, still no nothing…. if that’s grammatically correct!


October 1, 1944

These days, everything is haywire. Telephones don’t work. Newspapers arrive three to four days later. No gas-men nor refrigerator mechanics nor electrician when you need them. Life is getting harder day by day. Dad’s car has no battery and he can’t get a new one. There’s hardly any more alcohol for the car. And the whiskey I drank yesterday must have been some sort of a poison for my head still aches. If the Philippines is not liberated before the year ends, we will all be at the end of the rope and then God knows what kind of a life we will eke out!


September 30, 1944

Went to the Jai Alai. It will be open only on Sundays. Lost thirty pesos betting on Elizondo and Arana. I dislike the game and the players that go into histrionics and cry to the high heavens everytime they miss a shot. There were a lot of people and many of them were drinking and talking about the recent bombing of Manila. That surprise raid seems to be the only topic these days and the question is still “When will they commence landing operations?”

Went to Tommy Lichauco’s home yesterday. The Navy has sealed his house and they gave him twenty-four hours to vacate it. “We need the tower of your house,” they explained, “for strategic reasons”.

I accompanied Tommy to Deputy Governor Figueras at the City Hall. Figueras told him that the Navy was not authorized to take such an act. “That is not in accordance with our agreement,” said the deputy military governor.

Figueras called the Naval Attaché, a certain Miyasaki, who spoke Spanish well, having stayed in Argentina for quite a time. The Naval Attaché said that he told Tommy that the Navy needed his house in “a week or so or more”. Tommy denied it flatly and the Attaché began to stammer and Figueras said that the procedure would be corrected. The Vice-governor promised to assist Tommy.

Ate lunch today at the Gastronome. It was a poor meal and the bill was very high. Crame joined my table and he said that the Japanese are also taking his house. He was very enthusiastic about the bombing and he admired the bravery of the American aviators. “You should have sen how low they flew and how they dove to their objectives” he said.

Played basketball this afternoon but couldn’t stand one quarter because of the whiskey I drank at the Jai. We won the game anyway with Manolito Moran and Julito Francia scoring the most points.

P.S.

The houses of many rich landowners were searched by the Army yesterday in conjunction with officials of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. This is a desperate move, forced about by the acute rice shortage. People in the slums of Tondo and for that matter the average Manilan no longer eats rice. A sack of rice costs over ₱3,000. So that if you’re just a clerk or for that matter, even if you are a Minister, you won’t be able to afford the price of rice for your entire family, if you just stick to your salary. Leaner days are coming. Maybe we will still see blood being shed for food.


September 28, 1944

It’s been a very quiet day except for AA practice early this morning. The Japs are speeding up their defenses. They’re building fox-holes and dug-outs in their gardens. Saw seven AA guns and some cannons rumble through Valenzuela. Joe says they’ve put AA guns at Silencio, very near our old house. They are transferring their supplies into houses and churches. Jap trucks go in and out of Santa Cruz Church. Cine Oro is a volcano of shells. So is Tondo Church.

The Japs have become stricter with the American internees. They were sore about the way they waved at the U.S. planes that flew very low over the camp. All the houses behind Santo Tomas camp will be leveled. Guns will be emplaced over there.

Tia Mary said that two American fliers bailed out at Porac, Pampanga. The people hid them from the Japs. The Americans asked to be brought to Tayabas.

Main topic of conversation downtown is: when will they bomb again? Where will they land? Will they try to get Mindanao first? Or will it be simultaneous with Luzon? When they bomb again will that be a continuous non-stop bombardment till they land or will it be just a trial balloon? I’ve noticed that most people think they’ll bomb again “within the next few days and that’ll be accompanied with landings around Tayabas and Camarines simultaneous with Mindanao or they might even by-pass Mindanao and Visayas”. They think “it’ll be a combined attack by Nimitz’ fleet and Halsey’s and Mac’s Army and it’ll be over in a few weeks.” There is almost unanimity in the belief that “it’ll be over before the year ends” and anybody who thinks otherwise “is a yellow defeatist, a stupid, goodfornothing pessimist”. Somebody said “But look at Davao. They’ve been bombing her for more than a month now and still there are no landings” and the poor fellow was made to pipe down with a chorus of “you’re a wet-blanket, pro-Jap!”


September 27, 1944

I don’t know whether to laugh or to mourn but the puppets among us are still trying to show that we really have independence around here and that we are free and that we are running the show in these islands. No. 1 puppet, Jose Laurel, gave a speech over the radio and he paraphrased Lincoln’s “United we stand; divided we fall” speech. Then he appointed deputy governors and other officials to suit the tempo of the martial law he has enforced in this country through the courtesy of Japanese bayonets and guns. But what is the use of all this puppet-show, this stage-lighting, this silly act that fools nobody but themselves? Everybody knows that what counts in the Philippines today is not what Filipino officials say but what the Japanese officers dictate. Laurel is nothing but an echo, a human microphone with eye-glasses and an ability to make a pretense. He probably thinks he is fooling the Filipino people with his repeated affirmations that there is going to be no conscription. But that doesn’t pull the wool over anybody’s eyes. Everybody knows well enough that the Japs don’t want to arm the Filipinos for the plain and simple reason that their heads are not going to stay on their necks if they give our countrymen bayonets and guns. Oh well, why bore you with the stupid acts of our puppets? The less said of them, the better…

Saw a heart-breaking scene today. A young fellow knocked at our door and then collapsed. My cousin revived him with water and food. He had tears in his eyes and he said that he had not eaten for days. This is just the beginning. Hungry days are fast approaching. Food supply is getting very low. Very few things are being sold at the market and at sky-high prices. An egg costs more than ₱7.00; a ganta of rice around ₱160; and if something happens to the water-reservoir, even water will probably be sold. Ate nothing but canned goods today. Beans, sardines and a little rice. Its good Mama and Papa thought of stocking up canned stuff for lean days and it’s good too that the canned goods have not deteriorated. The stuff we have were bought before the war when the slogan of the CEA was “Make every home an arsenal of food”.

Got to close this letter now. Joe’s waiting for me. We intend to bike around town. Santa Cruz and Tondo churches have been taken by the Japanese. Atop the tower of Quiapo church, there are AA guns. Tio Gabriel said that the Cathedral had been filled with ammunition. Oh well, what can you expect from these people? And then, I suppose, they’ll cry like babies and tell the world that the Americans have bombed churches, if U.S. planes drop a few sticks on these ancients relics! Manila may yet be another Cassino.

P.S.

Curfew has been advanced to 8 o’clock. Some say 7 o’clock. Its hard to verify. The sentries don’t talk in English except in their native, savage Japanese. There are no newspaper that reach this district. The Tribune newsboy delivers the papers only when feels like. And all the telephones –for civilians– are out of order.