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.


September 26, 1944

Am very tired, fagged out. Carrying furniture and bags the whole day. We’ve moved to a small bungalow in V. Mapa. The Japs have taken our house in the name of “co-prosperity and cooperation” and a lot of potatoes to that effect.

Only happy note of the day has been the 72-hour ultimatum. You’ve probably heard that it was announced over KGEI that Roosevelt gave the Japanese 72 hours to leave Manila or else he’ll bomb and rebomb the life out of them.

Mama has been very nervous the whole day. The Japanese major was asking for one of the pianos. “Mrs. the colonel,” he said very nicely, “would like to have one of your pianos?” My mother refused, replied “you are taking our house. Now please leave us our things.” And he answered in typical Japanese fashion: “But we are not taking it: only borrow…” But Mama was adamant. What kind of an Army is this that fights a war with pianos and nice residences? Another officer, by the way, wanted Mama’s orchids. Mama said “No.” We still have the piano and orchids… Mark –“still”.

Will write again tomorrow… I’m very sleepy right now… gnight.


September 25, 1944

To write or not to write, that is the question… nope, this isn’t Shakespeare… just a terribly impatient mutt who’s praying for bombs, bombs, and more bombs.

Gerry Roxas and Tato Liboro were here yesterday. The young kids are anxious to join guerrilla units. Morale has been very high ever since U.S. planes showed up. If the raids continue, I have a feeling the civilian population will take care of everything. Come on America!

Read a Guerrillero’s poem entitled “Someday”. Here it goes:

Someday I’ll live again,

I’ll sing again

A song with freedom’s ring again.

Someday I’ll love again

My heart I’ll give again

Beneath the moon above again.

But now I must fight

For country and right

Guerrillero is the name for me

And my job to strike for liberty.

For the foe at one dark command,

From sky and shore

Swooped down on our native land

And its our no more.

So come and tramp with me

To right this hideous wrong with me

Oh come and camp with me

Up to the hills with me

For now we must fight

For country and right.

Guerrilleros, up with me

and strike with me a blow for liberty!

 

P.S. A very quiet day. No sirens; no planes; no bombs. Is it the lull before the storm?


September 24, 1944

Its been a lonely day. No bombs. No siren. Nothing but wait and wait and wait from morning to afternoon to late this evening.

We’ve moved part of our furniture already. I can’t describe how sad it feels to leave a house you’ve occupied for more than thirty years. But what can we do? These Japanese don’t know the meaning of kindness, not to mention justice.

There are rumors that landings have been effected somewhere in Camarines and in Atimonan, Tayabas. A BIBA chauffeur reported that American tanks have landed in Camarines. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I hope this isn’t a false alarm.

A 1000-ton Japanese ship was set ablaze this morning at Pier 7 by Filipino guerrillas, according to a Japanese officer who talked to Joe Meily this afternoon. He said that “the Filipino terrorists” have not been apprehended.

Sal Neri came over this afternoon. He said that members of the Military Police inspected the house of Pedro Vera and Miguel Cañizares at four o’clock yesterday morning. “They were looking for transmitters,” he stated.

Another Japanese officer came to the house this afternoon. There is no such thing as privacy these days. We had a short conversation. He told me that he came from New Guinea. I asked “How was Hollandia?” He closed his eyes, shrugged his head and said “So very terrible.”

At about 10 o’clock this morning, Japanese soldiers living in the house across the street ran to their fox holes like frightened chickens. Apparently U.S. planes were sighted. Traffic was stopped in Santa Mesa street until noon time, according to Joe Meily.


September 23, 1944

Manila’s agog. Everybody’s talking and whispering and laughing and dreaming about the raid. Everybody feels the Americans will be here before Christmas. Somebody opined “around New Year” and he was branded a low-down defeatist. A thousand pseudo-generals have sprung with theories on how easily the Americans will retake Luzon.

Despite the very tense situation, Manoling’s wedding went on. Very few guests were able to attend the wedding, according to Vic. The Casino Español was unable to serve the breakfast because the servants didn’t show up. Vic Fernandez had to improvise on the organ because the organist was not able to go to church. The bride arrived late and the priest didn’t say Mass anymore. When my brother congratulated Manoling, the lovesick Romeo closed his eyes and sighed: “Ah, I made it!”.

Biked downtown with Joe Meily to see people. Most of the stores were closed. There were many people carrying bundles, perhaps evacuating. Saw many sailors lying on the grass under the trees in the Sunken Gardens. The poor fellows looked haggard and shell-shocked. A cochero said those sailors swam to shore.

Visited Ateta. She was beautiful, as usual. She was dressed in blue and I’ve got to admit my heart skipped a couple of beats. She’s not the type of girl that makes you feel like whistling when you see her. Her beauty inspires respect, the kind of adoration you’d give to an angel.

Sentries wouldn’t let me pass through Ayala Bridge. Joe had a permit but the insolent sentry wouldn’t even look at the pass. He just shouted “Kora!” and pointed his bayonet at us.

Still no water. The servants took three cans of water from a nearby well and I took a bath with that. The telephone has been dead the whole day. So far nothing has happened to the electric service.

Several AA shrapnel fell near Tio Phil’s house, killing a horse and a cat. One servant of Tio Charlie was wounded in the arm by AA shell-bursts and Tantoco’s milk-boy was killed by a stray bullet.

Provincial reports reveal that more than 120 Japanese planes were destroyed in Clark Field, Pampanga. About 80, were downed in dogfights. Our Japanese neighbor boasts that four U.S. aircraft carriers have been sunk off the eastern coast of Tayabas.

Two air-raid alarms this morning but no bombing. Saw four U.S. observation planes flying very high. There were still fires in the direction of the Bay area but I couldn’t ascertain what was burning. A Japanese soldier said it was oil.

Two Japanese soldiers went to the house today. They asked for water because they were thirsty. Supplies from the Piers are being transferred in residential districts. One of the soldiers said that he came from New Guinea; the other from Singapore. I asked “How many soldiers are going to defend Luzon.” One of them said “More than a million.”

President Laurel declared war on the U.S. and Britain. Somebody said “What’s the difference?” Everybody knows, that Laurel is just a puppet, making a strong effort to show that he isn’t.

Papa has been busy the whole day asking the Japanese authorities to give us a few days to transfer our furniture. They agreed very reluctantly. They need private houses very badly because they are afraid to live in barracks. They’re hiding under the skirts, so to speak, of the civilian population.

Will try to tune in on KGEI. Am very anxious to know what America has to say about the raids on Manila. The Americans in the concentration camp in Santo Tomas must be excited these days. I’m sure they saw the planes and felt the ground shaking. Must stop writing. Somebody is ringing the doorbell.


September 22, 1944

Didn’t know we still had baloney these days until I read the Tribune. It was crying out loud about Filipinos being angry due to the inhuman acts of American aviators.

More baloney: Laurel declares the Philippines under martial law. The problem with our puppet president is that he doesn’t leave his room in Malacañang. If he only took the trouble of going downtown, he’ll know who’s running this country. You can’t walk around without showing some piece of paper with Japanese scrawl to hundreds of Japanese soldiers posted in every street corner. If that isn’t martial law then what is!

The Americans came back this morning again with more bombs, hooray. They dove at all the ships in the Bay area and they destroyed Piers 3, 5 and 7. The tower of the Customs Building has disappeared and the warehouses at Malecon Drive were wiped out by incendiaries.

U.S. planes flew very low over the heart of Manila. Two planes circled below the dome of Binondo Church. People waved handkerchiefs at them and the aviators coolly waved back. Japanese sentries looked on sullenly. The happy incident was marred by Philippine Constabulary soldiers at the Oriente Building who machinegunned the low-flying planes under orders from Japanese soldiers. The bombers circled around the Oriente Building, headquarters of the Constabulary, dropped two incendiary bombs and flew off.

Far Easter University and San Beda College which are being used as garrisons by the Japanese troops were also strafed. Several civilians were hit by stray bullets but more deaths were caused by the anti-aircraft guns of the Japanese.

Joe Meily said a ship near the Boulevard was hit by a bomb and a lot of hundred-peso bills were blown to the shore. Some of the bills reached Ermita and Malate and the people scrambled for them.

The Japanese are taking their supplies out of the piers because they expect more bombings. They’re quite sad about the fact that their planes don’t even go up to challenge the Americans.

There were no bombs dropped this afternoon. Maybe they’re resting. Joe was disappointed.

This is bad news. We’re going to leave our house. The Japs are taking it. They said “So sorry” to Dad’s appeal. Mama is crying. I told her to stop. “Anyway ma,” I explained, “We will get the house back in a few months. They’ll be here soon.”

Am very tired. Perhaps due to the excitement of the last two days. But it doesn’t matter. My heart is happy.


September 21, 1944

Note: after the last previous entry, April 20, 1942, the diary resumes at this point.

U.S. planes bombed Manila this morning and afternoon. They came from the northeast like a hundred daggers stabbing through a cloudy sky. They were dark, thick-set, chunkily-built, short-winged, heavy-nosed birds. They had an ominous roar, that rose in an ever-deepening crescendo. They were flying confidently, serenely, masters of the tropic sky. They looked like eagles flying above old familiar haunts, searching for the hawks that once surprised them out of their nests. They were returning to their old home and in their wings they carried tons of revenge.

Mike and I were watching four Japanese planes simulating a dogfight while AA gunners fired smoke-shells at them. Then all of a sudden, Mike shouted: “Look!” He pointed a vast formation of light bombers. We started counting, 20, 40, 80, we gave up the idea. They were so many and they were coming from all directions. Then the AA guns started firing at them and the cannonading began to shake the house and the sky was filled with shell-bursts that looked like flowers blooming. But the planes flew on, on, on, steadily towards their objectives. Dad ran to the garden to watch the planes. They were flying in the direction of Nichols and Murphy. I ran to the window upstairs and I saw a sight that filled my heart with joy. Mike beside me had tears in his eyes. We saw those planes circling around Murphy and then one by one, they dove, dove, dove and the earth began to shake and the windows in my room started to rattle and then columns of smoke and flames rose from where they had dropped their cargoes. The girls ran to the air-raid shelter because by this time pieces of shrapnel were falling on the tennis court. A stray bullet pierced through the roof in grandpop’s room but no one was hurt. This was at 9:40 a.m. I looked at the time because I have been waiting for this sight for more than two years –since the bloody days of Bataan.

The planes came back again at 10, 10:30 and 11. Everybody at home was happy. “It won’t be long no.” Said Mike. The Japanese across the street were very nervous and the sentries ran to their houses to get their steel helmets. It was a funny sight.

In the afternoon, a Japanese soldier who spoke broken English came to the house. He said that the Pier area was bombed and rebombed and that two of his friends were killed. The poor soldier was very nervous and papa told me to give him a glass of water. But before I could get the water for him, the bombers were back again. Joe Meily and I climbed the roof of the garage and we watched them circling over the Bay area. They were flying very low but not a single Japanese plane came up to challenge them.

By night time, there were a dozen fires all around Manila. My aunt and cousins slept on the lower floor of their house “just in case they come again”. While I was just about to sleep, there was a very strong explosion that almost threw me out of bed. Vic says it may have been a time bomb. Then the phone rang. “At last, its fixed!” Says Vic. Bustamante was on the line. He reported that several people were killed in Quiapo by AA shrapnel. He also said that Manilans might have water by tomorrow morning as the Metropolitan Water District was doing its best to repair the broken pipes. I haben’t had a bath the whole day.


April 21, 1942

Capas, Tarlac

F.C. Camp

Joined the grave-detail. We buried those that died this morning. Some of the graves yesterday were not dug deep enough. The bodies buried yesterday have been unearthed. The sand here is clayish because the cemetery is too near the river.

One of the boys we buried had a little piece of paper in his pocket. We opened it. It was the copy of a citation awarding him for exceptional bravery in an attack in Bataan.

(later)

Most of the boys in the camp are very depressed. They feel that “it will be a long time before we are released.”

Many are disappointed with our leaders in Manila. “All they know is to give speeches and make promises!” “Why don’t they resign from their posts if the Japs do not want to release us?”

Personally, I don’t think we will be released until all resistance in the islands has ceased. The Japs are afraid that when we are strong enough, we might start trouble again. Besides, they want to make up for the thousands of Japs who died in Bataan. The more among us that die here, the better for them.

(later)

Collecting impressions of everyone here about Bataan. It will make a book someday. Am also listening to everybody’s experience during the long walk from Bataan to this prison camp.

Apparently, the Japs gave every barch more or less the same kind of treatment, although some groups got very much worse treatment.

Consensus is that at least 15,000 died during that bloody march. Japs bayoneted men who could not keep up with the pace. Very little rest was given. Some were shot for trying to escape.

For example, there was an old soldier who took off his shoes because of blisters. Suddenly, one of the Japs clubbed him on the head. A relative of the clubbed man charged at the Jap. Both fellows were tied to a tree and slowly tortured. Their shouts could be heard by all those around, but no one was allowed to look.

Someone said that in Orani, everybody was searched. One fellow was found with Jap money in his pocket. The Jap soldier said in broken English: “Why you have Jap money? So maybe you take that from dead Jap soldier! O.K… Now you die!” And he was bayoneted in the lungs. According to the one telling the story, the Jap money was given by a Japanese officer who bought the boy’s watch.

After such exchange of stories, everybody ends the conversation with the remark: “Someday we will get even, someday.”

Very few boys in camp think that Corregidor will be able to stand. Quite a number are disappointed at America. They ask: “Where is the convoy she promised?” The great majority believe, however, “in due time, when American factories get going, Japan will be beaten.”

Must stop writing. It’s getting dark. We have no lights here.

Two boys are humming a duet. Kundiman again. I like kundimans. They are soft, plaintive, full of feeling, lonely, very lonely.

They have stopped singing. Somebody in the group is weeping. I wonder why.

(later)

Just ate another camote. Superb.

[diary does not resume until September 21, 1944]


April 20, 1942

F.C.C.

Capas, Tarlac

Found a good friend, Toots Rivera. He is in charge of one of the kitchens. He gave me two “camotes.” It was a feast.

We talked about the long walk from Bataan to this place. He estimates that about 18,000 perished in that bloody march. Someday I intend to write about it, if I don’t die here myself.

Heard from him about the cruel death of Martin de Veyra. A squad of Japs stopped de Veyra and asked him to give them his pocketbook. watch. and ring, according to Rivera. “Then one of the Japs,” explained Rivera, “started to shout at de Veyra.” Apparently, de Veyra did not want to give his ring, for sentimental reasons, said Rivera. The Jap got angry, he fixed his bayonet and thust it on top of de Veyra’s right eye. De Veyra dropped on the Japs feet, and he was left on the ground. No one was allowed to lift him.

I told Rivera that one of the sights I never forget was a dreadful hole about the size of a small well, near Lubao, Pampanga. There, the bodies of American prisoners, who dropped on the ground because they were too weak to walk, were piled high. Others were bayoneted when they refused to stand because their legs could no longer lift their haggard bodies. Inside the “hole” were many snakes crawling over the bleeding bodies of the Americans. I noticed three or four were still alive…

I also saw one American Major shout in desperation: “Hell, you damn Japs, go ahead and kill me, KILL ME! KILL ME! I CAN’T WALK ANYMORE– KILL ME!” The Jap killed him with a cruel blow that smashed the American’s cranium.