Some twenty planes made a thunderous attack over Nichols, catching the guardians of the city unaware. They did not hit as accurately as on the first day.
In San Pedro, Makati, bombs were dropped off-target. A boat in Manila Bay was bombed several times but it remained firmly afloat.
A Japanese official attributed this poor hitting precision to the fact that the pilots were Canadians, not Americans. That was a consolation for the Imperial Air Force which had already lost supremacy of the air in the Philippines since the first day.
A good part of the Japanese officialdom is gradually being convinced, not only of the possibility of losing the war, but also of the improbability of winning it. The troops are a small ignorant herd who, upon landing on this soil a few months ago, were asking if they had embarked in Australia. A number of officers are worried about being forced to commit harakiri should they lose this last battle. One Catholic among them, on being advised that it was prohibited for him to commit suicide, remarked that he and his family would be dishonored and could no longer live in Japan.
Tokyo radio, in announcing the landings in Leyte, added that the Filipino and Japanese defenses furiously counter-attacked the invaders. This reports, however, were not repeated in the Philippines for lack of any semblance of truth. What appear credible to us, however, are the rumors that the Constabulary strongholds are passing over to the invaders. We were told that the insular police of different towns, with their rifles and baggages, have taken to the mountains to join the guerillas. In Calamba, the Constables have gone into hiding in the mountain thickness, a pattern which we had observed at other times. The guerillas are becoming active, mobilizing ex-USAFFE officers and chaplains.
With the first attack, whole towns have moved to the mountains. In some districts and provinces, the guerillas are in command. They cannot do so, however, in Manila, where it is risky for them to come out in the open.
Joy! Joy! The Yanks have arrived. They landed on the same place where Magellan set foot on firm land when he discovered these islands which he called St. Lazarus. The news of the landing in Leyte spread like wildfire. We took the news as probable, without reassuring ourselves of its certainty, but the exultant Filipinos believed it without a shadow of doubt. Tokyo had admitted it, although the local press still refuses to put its stamp of approval.
Gen. MacArthur and Pres. Osmeña were heard delivering messages over the radio. MacArthur announced that he had complied with his promise to return and, God willing, he would proceed with the re-conquest of the Islands. Osmeña declared that the legitimate government has been restored in this country. Reports have it that General Valdés, Soriano, Romulo and a nucleus of the exiled Philippine government has also arrived.
No one—not even the sharpest strategists—predicted where the landing was to be made. Some guessed that it would be in Mindanao, or at some gulf in Luzon, or in some island in the Visayas, but not one of them singled out the place where the landing was actually made. After the fact, everybody admitted that the Bay of Leyte, formed by Leyte and Samar, was the least guarded, least defended and most strategic point for the developing operations. Situated almost in the center of the archipelago, it is one leap from Mindanao, from Luzon, and from almost all the islands of the Visayas.
There were two questions over which the amateur strategists were heatedly debating: one was whether the attack would first be directed against Japan, Formosa, or the Philippines. The events settled this controversy. The other was whether the Allies could launch their offensive against any of these three fronts before putting an end to the war in Europe, or whether they would have to liquidate the European end of the Axis in order to bring to the Pacific sufficient transport ships, machines and forces to push through this great undertaking.
Those who held the second view felt that Japan had about half a million men in the Philippines—some had counted about a million—with the facility to reinforce that number anytime needed. America had to transport at least another million and this would mean ten million tons of shipping. This was what Tokyo said two days before the landing. But these are now Byzantine questions. What should concern us are the developments of the war.
There was an alarm today but the raiders did not pass overhead, giving our shattered nerves a respite from the thunderous experiences of the past days. The raiders, at least, had been considerate enough to allow us to sleep and eat in peace, although the mere sound of a car was enough to make us stand on our toes. This was true among us who had experienced the explosion of bombs over our heads. We were perhaps the most affected, or to put it mildly, the most terrified. There were some exceptions—the Fathers who watched the bombings from the tower where they could see but not be seen.
A bomb fell yesterday near the Legazpi-Urdaneta monument, up an enormous crater, burying alive thirty-one persons who died of asphyxiation. They were in a shelter nearby. At the explosion, mounds of earth and a big uprooted tree covered the entrance.
The Luneta was turned into a forest of anti-aircraft guns. There was such a shower of exploded shells and stray bullets that even those who stayed in light houses could not be protected. If anyone was spared by the metallic fragments, it was someting miraculous. A roof of GI sheets and a wooden floor were as easily pierced as if they were made of paper.
We had a double feast today; great activity in the morning and doubly great in the afternoon. Without previous siren warnings the planes attacked at 7:15 a.m. and caught the sleeping guardians of the city by surprise. Before the anti-aircraft guns could be positioned, the enemies had dropped their loads and spun back to the skies beyond the reach of ground fire. There was not one red marked plane in sight the whole day. It’s either that they were not given the chance to take off or they were discarded for good. Anti-aircrafts barkings were fewer. Only the guns near the bombings were fired, unlike before when the air vibrated with activities and the city was draped in smoke. On the whole, the thunder was still terrific, but there were fewer shelling victims. It’s surprising how there could have been less accidents when people were all out in the streets watching and enjoying the fight in the sky.
I found the internees the best indicators of oncoming raids. They were the first to identify American planes. All I did was watch these internees as they pointed to the skies and applauded noiselessly.
From the time the alarm signalled to the time the all clear siren sounded, which sometimes lasted the whole day—the internees stayed closed in their rooms, zealously estimating the movements of the planes. When a bomb exploded, they would rush to their windows, until they were finally warned to hide themselves either by the Japanese loudspeakers or by Japanese guns.
The Philippines yesterday celebrated the first anniversary of its independence in peace, thanks to the resounding defeat of the invading Americans in the Taiwan waters. We could be sure that the punishment was such that the Americans were forced to abandon their idea of proceeding to the Philippines to cut short our independence celebration. We knew very well that the American aircraft carriers were sunk or damaged and the Americans were being driven in flight by the Japanese Air Force.
I was reading this dogmatic editorial when the air raid signal no. 1 sounded, and within a few minutes, anti-aircraft shells were exploding above the clouds. The Japanese fighter planes, emboldened by the editorial, were flying confidently overhead when the American bombers came without having learned about the sinking of their aircraft carrier. Bombs exploded so loudly from Nichols that they could be heard in Balintawak, as a giant umbrella rose from the airfield.
Eighteen out of sixty American planes were downed according to Japanese propaganda. Tokyo found the figure too low and increased it to thirty. Both agencies are giving a decisive importance, and as we supposed, a very inflated one at that, to the battle being waged at the east of Formosa. Tokyo radio arrived at fifty-three American ships sunk or damaged, twenty-thousand Americans killed, and one thousand planes shot down. The Manila news agency was more conservative, scattering flying leaflets in the streets and sending out a van through the city with streamers announcing the resounding victory.
Today is the first anniversary of the Republic. Due to existing conditions—Formosa is under air attack—the celebrations were limited to some ceremonies at Malacañan. The projected parade before the legislative building was suspended. The suspension was attributed to the lack of transportation for the students and employees who were supposed to attend. Only the President’s family and some Japanese officials were invited to Malacañan. The public had never attended such ceremonies, nor is it interested in the welfare of the Republic, which they consider to be moribund and liable to collapse anytime, either violently or by natural death.
From the speech of the President we could read some points which seem to have been intentionally inserted but which the Japanese failed to censor. One such insinuation referred to the unnecessary restrictions or unwarranted inferences, or interventions from friendly foreign nations. It was not necessary to point out which nation he was referring to. In another part, speaking of the guerrillas and of their uselessness for purposes of the military or for purpose of deciding the result of the war, he concluded: “In these days of mechanized war, the decisive factors are the forces of industrial production and natural resources. The Japanese have recognized the great productivity of their enemies, and their only hope of victory is the heroism and bravery of their suicide squadron.
Requiem masses are being celebrated in different churches in Manila in memory of the late President Quezon whose birthday we commemorate today. The masses are well-attended, in spite of the fact that invitations had been secretly made, for fear of the Japanese mascots who might consider the ceremonies hostile. In the past, only the President and his family attended the mass at Letran, after which he would join us at breakfast. Today neither the President nor the chapel was around. The new Letran building would probably not exist for long, as the new occupants are converting the building into an anti-aircraft fortress and if the zealous Americans learn about it, they will certainly destroy it, and kill women and children as they did in Tokyo.
Yesterday morning, the news of the death of President Quezon spread in Manila. The news was confirmed by the Press in the afternoon and unfortunately it was true. It was a great loss for the country. With the change of the present regime, a man of Quezon’s energy, prestige and ability was needed to reorganize, reconstruct and pacify these devastated and discouraged islands. The first President of the Commonwealth had directed the destiny of his country, for the last twenty years, fought for and defended the Philippines and died just when the triumph of his cause was to be realized. The void he left during these critical moments was difficult to fill. May God take him into His eternal repose.