May 7, 1945

IT WAS 1,246 days ago today when I started scribbling the first page of this notebook. It has since then become my inseparable companion, my vade mecum since that treacherous attack on Pearl Harbor which started the conflagration in the Pacific. After three years and five months, I am closing it today, bidding it goodbye more with nostalgia than with joy, as a friend who is leaving.

Today, after five years, eight months and six days, Germany surrendered. The war in Europe has ended. Technically, the war in the Philippines has also come to an end. The Imperial Army, destroyed and disunited, is no longer an organized army but scattered groups of desperate people running amuck. The liberating forces are landing without opposition at all important points in this archipelago and are pinning down with their pincers the remaining members of the “invincible” Japanese Army who are nested in caves and crests of the mountain ranges. The mopping up would be a task more or less tiresome but the danger has subsided.

As I look back on the days past—writers commonly preface their work by referring to their achievements as mountain tops and as valleys what they left behind—I had to force myself into fighting the temptation of moralizing, into which many new writers fall.

There is one point I want to emphasize, now that it can be discussed clearly and intelligently. During the Japanese domination, speaking and writing were risky. Spiritually, morally and culturally, we were suppressed. We were separated from the Japanese by an impenetrable, unscalable wall. They never associated with us. We never succeeded in understanding them, being intimate with them, or having an interchange of opinion, sentiments, ideas and ideals. When we chanced upon one of them who seemed to be different, one who seemed to have unveiled for us something of the Japanese mysterious, inscrutable character, we would feel we had made a marvelous discovery, having found a rare breed. We told our friends about it. And these friends skeptically warned us:

“Watch out. Don’t be too sure. There is no telling what that Japanese is up to.”

Or perhaps another would say, “A Japanese said that? I don’t believe it.”

And the wall of separation became taller and thicker.

On the other hand, prudence or caution prevented us from speaking out openly before our neighbors if they were not of our trust. We would rather keep quiet. They could be spies who could denounce us. The shadow of the Kem Pei Tai or the thought of Fort Santiago cast fear even among the most courageous.

I confess I am not among these. I was writing my notes daily or weekly with fear and trembling. Now that I can speak and write in any way I want before the army and civilians, before friends and foes alike, these fears appear ridiculous and unfounded. The fact is that many have started their diaries but never closed them. To start it is an implicit indication of sympathy; to continue with it, a confirmation of pro-Americanism; and to finish it, an open profession of faith.

Several times, I had been at the point of relegating these innocent creatures to the waste can or to the fire. Whenever the curiosity of the police dogs seemed to direct its obstinate sniffings towards my room, the fear of endangering myself and my companions placed me on the verge of making an act of faith. Providence which saved me and my brothers in many occasions from the hands of bloody Herod—from the dungeons of Intramuros and the prison chains of Baguio, among others—also saved these people from a painful and hardly spirited death.

The moral chain which bound my conscience or my subconscience according to the degree of the threat of danger, did not permit me to be as outspoken as I wanted to be. Unconsciously, I tended to tone down my statements, glide along the surface of these rugged events and cloak the interpretation which might seem subversive against the new order which was nothing more than an old disorder.

No matter how hard I tried to assume the stoic position of an independent observer and outwardly tried to play the role of an impartial chronicler, convincing myself of foolhardy thought that this would lessen the danger, actually neither was the risk diminished nor did I succeed in maintaining a balanced and neutral attitude.

Such is the texture of the individual and collective spirit, such is the nature of events and experience, that only a statue can remain indifferent. I was either for the Japanese or against them. There were neutralities which killed. There were positions which were impossible to maintain throughout the three years.

The sphinx-like temperament is reserved for certain people. Neither our western Christian education nor the profession which we pursue permitted us to feel one thing and say another without blushing. The art of cunning or the masked trick of covering a dangerous intention with honeyed or high sounding phrases, are monopolized by certain conquerors who feel an achievement in the conquest of land rather than of the spirit. The noble warrior who has the conscience overflowing with the bounty of his cause and of his resources, manages arms and souls with as much skill as with frankness. Never does he employ deceit and cunning.

During the three years of Japanese occupation, we witnessed innumerable cases of hypocrisy, Machiavellian in some cases, infantile in others. We did not have any direct proofs that the Americans fought like gentlemen and that they played it clean, isolated as we were within the Sphere. But we could sense it. We felt that we had known them well enough not to believe the atrocities and hypocrisies attributed to them by their enemies. During these past three months with them, our intuition had been transformed into a full vision, verified by personal experiences.

Is this a defense? An allegation? It is nothing more than a soliloquy exploding out sentiments suppressed for so long under the Sphere.

We end with the hope that the Philippines get speedily rehabilitated physically, economically, morally, and spiritually.

 

[The diary ends here]


April 29, 1945

The Headquarters of General MacArthur announced today the entry of his troops in Baguio, after wiping out the Japanese defenses. It took the liberators four months at the cost of a great number of men and materials to scale the mountain, blow up machine gun nests, seal thousands of caves and exterminate their defenders, and take possession of this city. Like mountain cats, the remaining Japanese continue fighting in the eastern slopes and from the top of Mt. Sto. Tomas which overlook the zigzag. An important nucleus of resistance is the Cagayan Valley. The two Ilocos regions, La Union and part of the Mountain Province, have been liberated by guerilla forces.

Thousands of residents of this summer city had been infiltrating through Japanese defenses until they reached American lines, guided by Igorots who are as loyal as they were experts in avoiding Japanese attention, in climbing rocks and jumping over precipices. Many had died in the bombings of Baguio, others succumbed to the hardship of two months of wanderings in caves and mountains or a week on the road until they reached Tubao where they were picked up by American troops.

Recto, Alunan, Paredes, Sison and De las Alas, the ex-ministers of the short-lived Republic had been captured and detained. Manuel Roxas was liberated. Laurel, Osías and Aquino fled to Japan. We could not tell whether on their own volition or forced by Yamashita. Part of those liberated had been brought to Manila and many of them are quartered in the University of Santo Tomas. They had lost their homes in Baguio and their old houses in Manila had been destroyed.

The Army in Baguio did not commit the same systematic abuses and massacre as what was planned and executed in Manila, Laguna, Rizal, Batangas, Tayabas and in other provinces. Either they did not receive the order or they simply failed to implement it. Of course, it was easier for the victims to evade their henchmen and elude their herodian plans in the thicknesses and ruggedness of the mountains. However, at the last hour, the wriggling tail of the dying dragon killed numerous groups of unsuspecting persons, the incapacitated, the helpless who could not save themselves in time. Hundreds, or perhaps thousands of innocent lives were sacrificed.

A number of Japanese civilians and soldiers have passed over to the American lines. Among them are Mr. Yokoyama, the Japanese consul in Baguio; Mr. Okano, the head of the Religious Section of the Army and a good Catholic who had given not a few favors to the American prisoners and to the members of religious congregations; Mr. Matsuda, a professor of Nippongo, and somebody else whose surrender or capture we are not sure about.


April 1, 1945

This martyr city spent the most gloomy but the most hopeful Holy Week in its history. The wounds of its passion and crucifixion are still open and bleeding. But the hope of resurrection hovers over its dead, its wounds and its ruins.

Manila, the city of big churches and convents, has lost many of them. Ten parishes, eight convent temples, not to mention the great number of chapels, bear the mark of the tragedy.

Religious fervor has intensified. The recent experiences have awakened many, and have changed others from good to better. Among the scorched and gaping walls of roofless temples, among rubble and ruins, the faithful congregate and take a more active part in the sacred mysteries, with greater devotion than if they had stood before altars resplendent with lights and ornaments.

The piety, firmness and simplicity of the Catholic American soldiers are a living example. The devotion and frequency with which they receive the Sacraments cannot but impress both their non-Catholic comrades-in-arms as well as the Filipinos who are non-Catholic in practice. A chaplain recounted that he had converted eighty soldiers and that he is giving instruction to twenty-five more.

In the field of combat, there are no atheists.


March 20, 1945

Our new friends repeatedly asked us if we had not feared that such human slaughter would occur; if we did not have any inkling that the Japanese would make such a bloody exit.

Frankly, neither did we foresee or at least suspect such. Had we known it, we would not have submitted to it like lambs. Never did we imagine that a human being, even if he were Japanese, could go down to such a low level of brutality.


March 18, 1945

I visited Muntinlupa, the new prison site. Not a political or criminal prisoner was left. When the Americans were about to arrive, they were liquidated without let-up, until the Chief henchman, disgusted with the sight of blood, shouted, “Always kill, kill. You go.” And so was saved a handful of prisoners who were already by the death wall, among whom were Fr. Rufino Santos and a boy of nine. Days before, a group of thirty were able to escape and join the guerillas.

Now the cells are occupied by the former prisoners of Los Baños who are being rehabilitated before being sent home. I heard the story of their liberation from their own lips. As I listened I could not tell whether I was listening to a detective story of Sherlock Holmes or to a script of a Hollywood comedy. They all tallied in the details of their accounts.

At dawn of the 23rd of February, the day the liberators entered Intramuros, the 250 Japanese soldiers who were guarding the prisoners of Los Baños were starting their ceremonial greetings to the sun and the Imperial palace and their routine calisthenics. From the skies, a hundred gigantic shadows fell on the ground like shadows of great scarecrows. Simultaneously, from the thicknesses of the mountains surrounding the camp emerged some two thousand guerillas who had posted themselves around the prison camp during the night. Their firings synchronized with the attack of a hundred and fifty tanks and amphibian trucks, catching the prison guards unaware and sending them scampering to the nearby bushes like scared rats. They burned the barracks and within a few minutes, the two thousand internees were moving out of the lagoon, the men on foot and the women and children in the amphibian trucks. At the beach, other vehicles were waiting for them. The enemies posted at nearby hills, who were still asleep, finally woke up and fired their artillery, wounding a soldier and a liberated internee while they were boarding the watercraft. They were the only casualties. The three-pronged attack was as spectacular as it was successful.

They crossed the lake and landed at Cabuyao which had been liberated by the guerillas. There were some fifteen thousand of them so well entrenched that now, after four weeks, they had not been displaced from those mountains. Among those liberated were seven Dominican priests, about a hundred members of other religious orders and more than two hundred sisters.

This movie-like comedy was preceded, five days earlier, by a Herodian tragedy which undoubtedly motivated the risky liberation of Los Baños. In the nearby town of Calamba, the subhuman beast had sacrificed more than six thousand persons. This was narrated to me by six priests who stayed at El Real. The shouts of the victims of bayonet thrusts could be heard in the whole town during the whole morning. In the afternoon, the priests were arrested together with other townspeople and were made to line up along the road. Their hands were tied and their eyes blindfolded. Then the atrocity! Shrieks and shoutings cried out to high heavens. After more than an hour, they brought the priests to the macabre scene. Their turn of judgment had come amidst the screams of the victims and the grunts of the beasts. They commended for the last time their souls to the Creator. They had assumed this state of resignation born of innocence, undisturbed by the mental sensation of the cold blade that was about to butcher them.

Suddenly the heinous act stopped but not the screamings. There was a long discussion among the henchmen, after which they were untied and their blindfold removed. They never found out the reason for their miraculous liberation. They could not tell whether they could attribute it the fact that the assassins got fed up with so much bloodshed, or whether one of them who was less blood thirsty, interceded in their favor.

A few days later, after trekking through forests and fields, they arrived at Santa Rosa.

Two Dominican priests and a Jay brother did not have the same luck. They were Fr. Merino and Fr. Diez who were in Los Baños. On the day the prisoners were liberated, they were taken by a Japanese and the American amphibian trucks could not wait for them. When the people in the mountains went back to the town on hearing the news that the Americans had come, the Japanese were in town waiting for them, and massacred them, the two Dominican priests included.

Massacre was committed in all towns of those provinces. In Tanauan, the hometown of Laurel, soldiers went from house to house before dawn and killed everybody they found either with bullets or with blows. Some five thousand were slain in San Pablo. The people of Lipa were ordered to evacuate. Those who failed to do so were killed. But for those who fled, soldiers were lying in wait to kill them on the way. There was a conservative count of 15,000 dead. Even those in the mountains did not escape the bloodthirsty vampires. They were hunted like beasts in barrios and mountains. Only those who succeeded in crossing to the liberated areas were saved from the diabolic fury of these children of Heaven. That was how the Bishop of Lipa and a number of priests of that diocese were saved.

Through the towns of Batangas and Tayabas which least suffered during the occupation, passed Genghis Khan in katana and Attila in kimono.


March 17, 1945

I made a double round of the devastated city. As I viewed the kilometers of ruins and rubble, innumerable mansions, palaces and hotels burned, blown up or razed, holding back my breath every time the stench of corpses became unbearable, my mind was filled with deeply engraved squadron of gloomy silhouettes, sketches of apocalyptic visions, and the chanting of Jeremiac lamentations. It is impossible to transcribe all these on cold mute and blind paper. Neither Poe with his raven, nor Dumas with his dungeons nor Blasco Ibañez with his horsemen, could capture in words this immense picture of desolation. For one who had not seen this, it is impossible to believe or imagine it. And even if believed and imagined, it could not be reproduced. Everyone, soldier or civilian, who has visited this place, repeated the same refrain: “I never could imagine anything like this. It is horrible.”

Let us trace this sorrowful route which I trekked, pointing out to the imagined tourist these fields of solitude and sadness, as if we were viewing a newly excavated Pompeii or some famous Roman ruins.

To the west of the University, along España and P. Noval, three blocks of houses were burning. Scorched doors revealed the frustrated attempt of the arsonists and their plan of total destruction. The Centro Escolar at Azcarraga and its surroundings had been razed.

I passed by Sampaloc where the two churches, convents and hundreds of houses showed marks of the devastating beasts. I crossed a pontoon bridge across the Pasig near the Rotonda. The whole of Pandacan, which before was covered with gas and oil factories, with warehouses and depots, is now a heap of burned steel and wood. I crossed more bridges across esteros. At the left, I could see what used to be the Paco railroad station, the shoe factories of Hike and Esco. The whole place up to La Concordia and to the south, as far as the eyes could see, are all debris. I proceeded through Herran. At one side, Looban, were the properties of Perez Samanillo. At the other side were the factories and offices of the Tabacalera: burned and busted walls. I cruised along Marques de Comillas and San Marcelino: the church and the seminary of St. Vincent, the St. Theresa’s College, the English Club, houses and more houses, walls and roofs as if eaten up by leprosy. We turned along Concepción. The YMCA was levelled. The Sternberg hospital was demolished. City Hall was battered at its rear portion. As we turned into Taft Avenue, we saw the Legislative and Agriculture buildings reduced to rubble. In front were the Philippine Normal School, the Jai Alai, the Casino Español, the Red Cross, the Philippine Columbian Club with their roofs blown off and their windows exuding tears of smoke and carbon. To the right were the University of the Philippines, the Ateneo, the Assumption, St. Paul, the Bureau of Science, all desecrated. In Baclaran, along Harrison, the eyes revolted and the heart broke at the sight of that sorry mess. Changing sceneries, we proceeded to the Boulevard to watch the protruding — not floating — Japanese fleet which was hinged rather than anchored to the Bay. The merchant and war vessels of the invincible Japanese forces, numbering some one hundred, peeped out of the water, some on their aft, others on their fore and others showing only their mast — all in ridiculous postures hardly worthy of sons of the Mikado. They would be there down on their knees for all eternity, as silent but eloquent witnesses, confronted with the desolation of today and the splendour of tomorrow: the desolation caused by the entrails vomited out from their swollen wombs. It was the navy which entrenched themselves behind the buildings and people of Manila, blowing up and burning both as the liberators hunted them and caught up with them. Among the dead and half-buried boats, the liberating vessels scour the bay, by now cleared of enemies, both visible and invisible.

We continued our tour through Malate and Ermita. What used to be luxurious hotels and beautiful mansions now appear denuded, roofless, revealing their interiors, tattered and bleeding. Others which were of stronger materials, appear intact but their internal wounds are so serious that their interiors are torn down, as if abused by seven heavy spirits. Hotels, clubs and official residences which were the last bulwark of the suicidal assassins look like the Egyptian tombs of three hundred years ago. All the warehouses and offices of the Port Area are in ruins. Only the new Customs building is partially usable. I did not even attempt to cast a glance towards Fort Santiago, this dungeon of torture and martyrdom of thousands of heroic souls during the past three ominous years; these infernal dragons which during the month of December and January last, had devoured hundreds of illustrious lives so mysteriously; these crematories where more than two thousand men of Intramuros died of thirst and hunger during the past month. Resolutely, I entered the walled city, with a holy fear and a revolting feeling, thinking about the victims and the henchmen. Heavens! This was the abomination of desolation of the holy city. The lordly ancestral mansion of families belonging to the noblest lineage in the Philippines, the Colleges, convents and churches of three centuries of history, the hospitals and government edifices founded by the first Captains General were nothing more than mounds of dust being blown by the winds — the dust of the centuries.

In the midst of this jungle of corroded and desecrated walls the church of San Agustin still stands. It is providential that this temple, the oldest in the Philippines, the only structure that withstood the earthquakes that rocked the city from 1645 to 1880, the imposing and historical building around which the social and official life and history of the Spanish Philippines evolved since 1606 when it was completed by the Augustinian Antonio Herrera, son or nephew — it is immaterial which was which — of the divine Herrera who was immortalized in the Escorial, tomb of Legazpi and the first captain generals, this artistic monument of times past, remains standing on its feet and that its wounds could easily be healed. It is a drop of balsam in the sea of bitterness which drowns the whole religious and artistic soul.

The Cathedral, the churches and convents of the Franciscans, the Recollects, the Capuchins, the Jesuits, Sta. Clara, which made the City of Legazpi sacred; the hospitals of San Juan de Dios and St. Paul, the College and Abbey of Sta. Isabel, municipal building, the headquarters of Spain, Fort Santiago, and other monuments and relics … fallen leaves shaken by the savage wind. The University of Benavides, with greater destruction than the temple of the Sun, is like the pyramids. The thick walls are like a ring broken into pieces; only a small part remains intact. Its fortresses are in ruins.

Saddened by the tour I made of this sorrowful way, I left the sacred place. I turned my gaze and it pained me to see the skeletal remains with its dented head towering over the ruined fortress. It was Letran.

I crossed the river through one of the pontoon bridges built over the foundations of the former Jones bridge. The zapos, as our Mexican friends called their enemies, did not respect either God or Mammon. The whole of the commercial district from Quezon Boulevard to the sea, and from Azcarraga to the Pasig had been dynamited and burned. I cast my sight through the length of the Escolta, Plaza Cervantes and Dasmariñas, then cruised along Rosario, turned to Rizal Avenue — all a jungle whose cedars and oaks showed their mutilated trunks, burned, blackened and divested of all verdure and foliage, and whose shrubs had been chopped off: such was the view presented by those modern skyscrapers and the old Chinese establishments. The breadth of a giant — a portentous machinery recently imported — was blowing over those pulverized and dislocated bones, charred and smashed, flying all over the vast ossarium, and prophesying, like another Ezekiel — over the numerous skeletons both metaphoric and human. In the manner of a great restorer, it infuses the breadth of life into the remains capable of renovation, reviving what appears to be a recently excavated mausoleum, and collecting the ashes, burying them with glory.

I went into the district north of Azcarraga and I was surprised to see an area of two kilometers, as long and as wide as an airfield or a football field. It was the district of Tondo, burned by the soldiers of Yamashita, Japanese and Filipinos, and levelled by the motorized spades of MacArthur. In the midst of all these, lay the skeletal remains of a Church.

The pearl was polished and cleaned, but it had lost the greater and the better part of its luster. More than two-thirds of its area carried the mark of the apocalyptic beast. The official count has not yet been completed, and already seventy-five thousand buildings have been reported destroyed. The loss was estimated at two billion pesos. This estimate included only the fixed assets. The cost of others is incalculable. I noticed that in these devastated areas were situated the more sumptuous residences, banks, flourishing business houses, factories and the best equipped offices. All these were a total loss. What the Japanese did not steal, the fire devoured. What the fire did not devour, the bombs pulverized.

Behind the devastating plague of the Japanese marauders was an army of parasites — the looters and opportunists — who, hardly had the demolition troops blown up a building, preyed on whatever was saved from destruction, more violently than the fighting men. Many of them paid highly with their lives in the hands of their competitors or by stray bullets or by booby traps or bombs, planted by the retreating Japanese. But they could not be contained.

Those who saved their lives had only their lives to save. They lost their property and belongings, one or all the members of their families and, in many cases, one or more parts of their bodies. It was as if an anarcho-communist revolution had broken out devastating houses and properties. Like death, it was a major cause of the loss of property. There were no poor nor rich: all that was left were mendicants. Those who were rich before were now poor, and the poor of some years ago became rich for a while and are now poorer than before. The rich had given up their wealth in the material sense, and had grown the wiser morally and spiritually. Those who were not poor in spirit had been impoverished in both senses. How public morality has degenerated! Less of heroes, more of the timid, much more of the coward. The unfortunate travellers who were left alone by the Japanese thieves after divesting them, were further robbed by others of what they had been left with. Others died on the way. Only a few who went through, having been saved by some Samaritan who at the expense of life or death, came to their rescue. Each one showed his true color. The gold was melting, the tinsel piling up in dumps.

If not for the limitless generosity of the US Army, we all would have died of hunger. They fed those who did not have anything to eat nor the means to obtain it. They fed and clothed those who had lost everything. Those that they employed, they paid with a good wage, selling them food and clothing. The government did not have a single centavo in revenue, nor were there any prospects of having any within several months. The PACU was spending some half a million pesos a week merely for salaries and wages in the city.


Manila, March 6, 1945

I returned to Manila, this time for good. These officers were so accommodating that they were willing to go two hundred kilometers just to please us. But, in order not to absent themselves from their posts during their tour of duty, they travelled during the unholy hours of the night. Never had I experienced such cold weather in the Philippines. It reminded me of Siberia. Our host, a phenomenon that he was a captain at 24 and weighed 280 pounds, had to put on his leather jacket. With my frail body and with my tropical garb, I was shivering all over.

The mountains to the east of Bamban were still shaking under the thunderous pounding of our friends in the 43rd Division. Without giving enough time for rest and the disposal of casualties suffered in Rosario and the road to Baguio, the High Command transferred part of the Division to Zambales and part to Camp Murphy in New Manila for a mopping up operation of Clark Field and Antipolo.

That night, when I heard their cannon rumbling, I whispered a prayer for our liberators, our best friends who up to this time were still with me, the bravest and the most generous.


February 27, 1945

The last night I spent in Manila was the first that was exempt from the thunder and lightnings of war. I returned to my rural residence, From 7:30 in the morning to 7:39 in the evening — the return trip was not as enjoyable and as fast as when I left. Inhaling dust, I watched the interminable caravan of vehicles going towards Manila. Each time, we stood amazed by the numerous war equipment produced by the Americans and landed here by the army.

Some 25 kilometers north of Manila, I saw by the bridge of Meycauayan a dozen of Japanese prisoners, withered and starved. They had just been captured while awaiting a chance to attack the Americans who would pass by the bridge. Such attacks were frequent — on bridges, in encampments, always at night and suicidal, with hand grenades or bayonets. The damage they caused was insignificant in comparison with what they suffered. But, either on their own will or upon orders, they had to die, killing in the process. It was easy for them to die, but they found it difficult to kill. For what could they do with their antiquated arms against automatic rifles which could discharge thirty rounds or more? They were searching for immortality and they found it. They wanted death and glory — not death or glory — and the G.I.’s gave it to them wholeheartedly. It was an insatiable thirst, this suicidal and destructive fanaticism. It was so irritating, inexplicable, exciting and the cases involving it so typical, crude and frequent that we always tended to deal on this sempiternal topic without exhaustion. And the more we delved into it, the more we found it inexplicable and unpardonable.

In Calasiao, I saw a vast expanse of land surrounded by wired fence. I was told that it was a concentration camp for those captured in the northern sector. The prisoners could be seen walking, working or resting. The police had to be on watch, not to prevent their escape but to protect them from being attacked. They knew that if they escaped, they would not only be unable to find anyone to give them refuge, but they would certainly be cut to pieces either by the guerillas or by their countrymen.

The American Army took few prisoners. The Filipino Army turned in only dead ones. Sometimes the MP’s had to defend the prisoners from the infuriated populace.

A war correspondent gave me an account of the following interview he had with a captured official:

“Who do you think will win the war?”

“Japan”, grunted the ill-humored Japanese.

“How will Japan win, with such a tremendous inferiority of arms?”

“Japan can never lose.”

“You mean Japan never loses?”

“Never.”

“Not even in games?”

“Not even in games.”

“Did you not lose all the games, some ten years ago, against an American team which went to your country?”

“No. The Yankees made more points, but they lost the games. They did not know how to bow, how to laugh and how to greet. They made more goals, but they lost the contest.”


February 25, 1945

Corregidor and Bataan of historic memories were taken with relative ease. History did not repeat itself. The small but epic peninsula was cleaned of Japanese by an American division which two weeks earlier had landed in Subic. Troops also landed on Corregidor from the air and from the sea in a simultaneous landing screened by squadron fire. The air drop operation was very difficult as the small island did not have sufficient landing areas. Never had there been such a big casualty in so small an operation. The invaders had to finish off the seven thousand defenders, with only some twenty prisoners taken.

What end did the Japanese High Command want to achieve with their plan of suicidal extermination of the troops, either by their own hands or by the hands of the invaders? If a handful of valiant soldiers would take after Leonidas and his three hundred Spartans, that was understandable. But that hundreds of thousands or that the whole Army would be sacrificed for a national objective, only fanaticism or desperation could explain. What would the military leaders achieve through the extinction of almost the whole masculine population and great part of the feminine population of the country? To kill a number of thousand enemies at the expense of millions of their own soldiers, sacrificed to the Imperial idol! In many occasions, groups of soldiers wanted to surrender, but their officer prevented them at gunpoint. The few who had been captured, yielded to force or against their will or their officers were powerless to intervene.

The civilians who escaped the murderous claws of the Japanese were able to save themselves either fortuitously or through the intervention of some good-hearted Japanese — we have to do justice to some of them who saved others at the risk of their own lives — and always by a providential act of the divine mercy which knows how to counteract the most notorious plans. Both the annihilation of the civilian population and the mass suicide of the Japanese army and people had been premeditatedly planned by order of the Imperial government which wanted to drown national defeat and humiliation in blood. After my disaster, the deluge, but a deluge in which even the saving arc of civilization would perish — that is, if the arc would be capable of saving anything. Such was the plan of these Oriental fanatics. War is hell. Men are transformed into demons converting the earth into an infernal fire.

What faith can we have in science, in civilization, in humanitarianism? Or in other deities of modern paganism which have despised the true God in its search for its messiah among self-manufactured idols? Someone started believing that all is futile, all: men, ideas, culture… even religion. Could it not be pride, concupiscence, effeminacy that had unleashed this deluge of passions, afflictions and punishment over prevaricating humanity? Would that the Lord leave the triumphal arc of salvation soon, and that he would not turn away from men!

In all the battlefronts, the bloody scenes witnessed in Manila were reproduced. The Army of Yamashita was divided into five sectors, each one isolated from the others, thrusting back and forth with impotent strokes like the dying quivers of a severed reptile’s tail. The main body of the Japanese Army was bottled up in the mountains of the north by the American divisions which were operating from the Balete Pass and the P. Villaverde road up to Aringay, passing through the hills between Rosario and Baguio. This body was separated from the rest of the Japanese troops when the American 6th and 25th divisions cut through the north of Nueva Ecija until they reached the opposite coast near Baler. There was no other way left for the invincible Army of Yamashita but a desperate annihilation, shielding themselves behind the mountains and the populace. From cave to cave, they were hunted and exterminated like dangerous animals. Many were dying of hunger, sickness or misery. Others were found emaciated, naked and so weak they could not even lift their arms.